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Removing top off violin


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#1 JoshGillan

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Posted 13 March 2013 - 08:00 AM

So, just been learning how to remove the top off a violin, I have with me a decent quality violin which i need to take the top off for repairs, but the cost of having a professional do it would far out-weigh the cost of the violin itself. I know that you need a very thin knife/spatula and start off with one of the corners and work around and do this for all 4 corners of the violin, but is there anything else? like using a solvent to weaken the glue, i briefy remember hearing about something to do with a hair dryer?

Cheers,

Josh



#2 JoshGillan

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Posted 13 March 2013 - 08:01 AM

also, if there is anyone who has a different or full-proof way of doing so and is willing to share, i would be ever so grateful!



#3 jacobsaunders

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Posted 13 March 2013 - 08:12 AM

don’t start at a corner! rather where the chinrest was, or where the left hand sweats on the body of the violin

#4 Michael Appleman

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Posted 13 March 2013 - 10:38 AM

Whatever you do, don't twist that knife/spatula! Ask me how I know...



#5 Violadamore

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Posted 13 March 2013 - 11:19 AM

I'll moisten the area I'm working in with a Q-tip and warm it up somewhat with a blow dryer.  I use a cunning little Italian blunt ended kitchen knife that's got a thin springy blade, dull edge, and a very controllable handle, pushing it forward gently from where i started.  To me, it's important to go very slowly and carefully.  I almost always find an open seam to start from in the areas Jacob was talking about.


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#6 theknowle

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Posted 13 March 2013 - 05:55 PM

A drop of meths on an old blunt table knife works wonders for me - plus a little, very gentle persuasion.



#7 FredN

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Posted 13 March 2013 - 06:41 PM

Just as important is using a top glue that is not a revenge on the next person removing the top. My top glue is sort of silly, but never hearing of what pros use, i developed my own. My formula is 1 Tablespoon of water, 1/2 tsp hide glue, 1/2 tsp Allspice ( for brown coloring, and  some of the spices are ground to a diameter that when the glue dries and shrinks there is a weak line the spices make so the top comes off without splinters (hopefully). A 1/2 tsp of ground Clove is added for thickener and preservative. To make, hide glue is dissoved, rest added and  microwave to a quick shut off at the sign of foam. Since hide glue particles comes in shapes that a 1/2 tsp can really vary in strength, this has to be checked gluing little sticks together and pulling them apart. I keep it in the refrigerator and barely warm it so it is a liquid to pipette around the edge..

 

I hope some of our high output makers would describe their top glue for us. Undoubtedly it will be shamefully simple. (now the courage to post) fred



#8 saintjohnbarleycorn

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Posted 13 March 2013 - 07:06 PM

tasty!


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#9 Melvin Goldsmith

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Posted 13 March 2013 - 07:18 PM

A fingertip search can reveal the best place to go in....


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#10 Lusitano

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Posted 13 March 2013 - 07:25 PM

My violin was taken apart with nothing but guitar picks and a bit of warm water on a rag, The amount of force needed to pop off the plate did scare the hell out of me though.


"Searching through attics, without luck, for a Stradivari violin since 2002"


#11 arglebargle

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Posted 13 March 2013 - 07:56 PM

Alright. Hold on. :wacko:

 

Taking the top off a violin can be one of the most difficult operations in this whole business. 

I've had tops come off in a matter of minutes, and tops that have taken upwards of an hour. There is no limit to the damage that you can do to a violin while removing the top. You can create a bass barre crack, a soundpost crack, you can drive the opening knife right through the top, and on and on. Should we be encouraging people to try this the first time without help?

 

Now, I'm all for DIY learning, but this is one aspect that should be taught, in person, by a "professional".

 

As indicated in a recent post, hack away at your bridge. It's your's, and it's replaceable. But when it comes to major surgery, at least try to get a real life demonstration before you have at it.

 

Josh Gillan, please get in touch with a luthier in your area, and ask him or her to help you. If there are no luthiers in your area, then look around, find one nearby enough, and make the drive. It will be fun and worth it.  Failing all that, try to be in contact with a real live person to show you how to take the top off.  If you are polite and really want to learn, it probably won't cost you a dime.

 

Bridges, soundposts, even pegs, but not taking a top off of a violin you care about. And as for sound posts, please see the recent topic "soundpost mess".

Good luck.



#12 lyndon

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Posted 13 March 2013 - 08:05 PM

good advice!!


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#13 Lusitano

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Posted 13 March 2013 - 08:20 PM

Alright. Hold on. :wacko:

 

Taking the top off a violin can be one of the most difficult operations in this whole business. 

I've had tops come off in a matter of minutes, and tops that have taken upwards of an hour. There is no limit to the damage that you can do to a violin while removing the top. You can create a bass barre crack, a soundpost crack, you can drive the opening knife right through the top, and on and on. Should we be encouraging people to try this the first time without help?

 

Now, I'm all for DIY learning, but this is one aspect that should be taught, in person, by a "professional".

 

As indicated in a recent post, hack away at your bridge. It's your's, and it's replaceable. But when it comes to major surgery, at least try to get a real life demonstration before you have at it.

 

Josh Gillan, please get in touch with a luthier in your area, and ask him or her to help you. If there are no luthiers in your area, then look around, find one nearby enough, and make the drive. It will be fun and worth it.  Failing all that, try to be in contact with a real live person to show you how to take the top off.  If you are polite and really want to learn, it probably won't cost you a dime.

 

Bridges, soundposts, even pegs, but not taking a top off of a violin you care about. And as for sound posts, please see the recent topic "soundpost mess".

Good luck.

Im still speechless about that soundpost "hole", i honestly don't understand how that sort of damage can be done through the F hole with a simple placer...

 

The above advice is very good, bad DIY repairs often times cause more damage than if you leave things be and have a proper luthier work on you instrument. Even something as cleaning/polishing your instrument can cause permanente damage unless done by a professional!


"Searching through attics, without luck, for a Stradivari violin since 2002"


#14 Violadamore

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Posted 14 March 2013 - 01:02 AM

Im still speechless about that soundpost "hole", i honestly don't understand how that sort of damage can be done through the F hole with a simple placer...

My surmise is that it was an act of determined ignorance committed with a pincer-type soundpost rotator, which are often sold as soundpost setters.  The soundpost must have been incorrectly cut (overlength) as well and may have had a rough edge on the top or been something other than soundpost spruce. Others may have their own reconstructions of the disaster.


I don't restore, I resurrect. 

It's much easier to shoot fish in a barrel when they keep handing you full magazines.


#15 Conor Russell

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Posted 14 March 2013 - 03:53 AM

Mind you, I've seen this kind of damage in fiddles where the soundpost was put up with a bit of string, the ends sticking out through either F holes, and the post tied on in the middle. You sort of have a tug of war, untill the soundpost catches somewhere, and Bobs your uncle. Minute adjustments to the tone can be made at any time with a tug here or there.



#16 Lusitano

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Posted 14 March 2013 - 03:55 AM

My surmise is that it was an act of determined ignorance committed with a pincer-type soundpost rotator, which are often sold as soundpost setters.  The soundpost must have been incorrectly cut (overlength) as well and may have had a rough edge on the top or been something other than soundpost spruce. Others may have their own reconstructions of the disaster.

 

It still is shocking! The amount of force used to cause such damage gives me goosebumps, you'd think whoever did that would have had enough common sense to know that the force being used was way too excessive! Im suprised the top plate didnt crack or warp, I keep imagining someone with dentistry equipment and a hammer trembling from muscle strain trying to place the post into position!


"Searching through attics, without luck, for a Stradivari violin since 2002"


#17 DonLeister

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Posted 14 March 2013 - 09:08 AM

Josh,

 

Since the costs would exceed the value of the violin go for it!

Have a few knifes available, maybe a longer one to go in and come in from the linings side. Use one to hold the seam open and another to work ahead of it to see if any thing wants to splinter. If splinters start to go up into the top go in the opposite direction, that's most likely to happen the whole way around.

Save any splinters because you have to glue them all back.

I might use alcohol 190 proof, if the glue won't let go, it dehydrates the glue and makes it more brittle, similar to what heat would do. Put a couple drops on the knife once it is into the seam. In my experience water makes things stickier.


I think the violin I'm working on now is going to be the best yet!

#18 Peter K-G

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Posted 14 March 2013 - 02:43 PM

As a first step I allways use a surgeon's knife or a racer blade to cut into the joint all the way around,to separate the varnish gluing ribs and plate together, this minimizes some potentail damage.


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#19 Skreechee

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Posted 14 March 2013 - 04:39 PM

There will be a time that you think you are winn9ing getting it off. Then you go at it a bit too harsh and then realise it is nailed down at the top to the top block. OMG. There is no secret formula. If you don't use the right way and know how to do it then glue the cracks outside and leave it to someone who has a stronger stomach and who can repair any damage caused. Even the best repairers crack tops. Taking a belly off well does not cause a soundpost or bass bar crack. Utter codswallop again.



#20 Jeff White

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Posted 14 March 2013 - 05:17 PM

As a first step I allways use a surgeon's knife or a racer blade to cut into the joint all the way around,to separate the varnish gluing ribs and plate together, this minimizes some potentail damage.

This brings up a good point.  Depending on what he is working on, there are different cautions.  Jacob talks about finding open seams (can't argue with that), but I'm picturing a violin that isn't worth working on (stated by the OP), and I'm picturing a very cheap newer import violin??? In which case, the op will be frustrated finding an open seam.  Also, Peter makes a good point if it's a newer production instrument, separating the thick hardened finish at the seam.  We should have asked the OP what the instrument is, though alot of the advice would be that same.  So Jason, what is it?


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