With the violin complete all that is left is to string the instrument and tune it up. It will develop more tone with time and playing, but I’m very pleased with the sound. This is a fine 3/4 size Michel-Ange GARINI made in the Vosges Mirecourt region of France for the workshop of Jerome Thibouville-Lamy (JTL) in the early part of the 20th century – probably around 1903-5.

Here once again is the ‘before’ photo

Garini violin before photo

Garini violin 'before' photo

And here is the first tune after restoration:

So it’s been quite a learning journey for me, and worth every step and mis-step.

Cheers
Jerry

Still a fair bit if work here – new sound-post, new end button, new pegs – shaped and fitted – nut shimmed and re-glued, saddle refitted, new bridge cut, and new strings fitted.

Here is nut being shimmed and refitted

Now for the soundpost. itting the soundpost. By tying two threads to the soundpost, with one leading out through each F-hole, the soundpost can be guided into position and nudged into place with the soundpost setting tool. The threads allow for rapid retrieval when the post falls out of place. The end-button was not yet fitted, enabling a good visual sighting to ensure the sound post was vertical in length and breadth.

The soundpost was cut to length after using a soundpost gauge to determine the length, and was shaped at each end to fit the curvature of the instrument.

Then the peg holes were lightly reamed to the correct taper, the pegs were tapered in a shaper – which is like a large pencil sharpener, then the pegs were cut to length and fitted to the peg box. Then with a pencil I marked the position of the string holes, then removed the pegs and drilled them with a 1.5mm drill and countersunk each end of the hole with a round file.

reaming the peg holes

reaming the peg holes

shaping the pegs

shaping the pegs

cutting the pegs to size

cutting the pegs to size

fitting the pegs

fitting the pegs

I’m now happy that the top is solid and there are no remaining structural issues. So it’s time to reunite the top with the rest of the violin. I prepared a fresh pot of hide glue and lined up the clamps, pre-setting the width so the a half turn would attach them firmly. Hide glue takes no prisoners and begins to gel off in about 2-3 minutes so it must be fully assembled by then with clamps in place.

With brush at the ready, I gently warmed the top and ribs with the heat gun, and quickly applied the glue to the top of the ribs, before carefully and quickly re-seating the top ensuring an even overhang on both sides and all round.

Then I applied the clamps on opposite sides, starting with the C bout corners and the end-block and shoulders then filled in around the sides to ensure an even pressure.

violin top under clamps

violin top under clamps

I waited 24 hours before releasing the clamps and the result is a firmly attached top

Still a fair bit of work in fitting up but we’re over the worst of it

violin Top firmly attached

violin Top firmly attached

It occurred to me that once the top is on the violin, I will need to make a new sound post as the repair will have slightly changed the profile of the interior. There are two ways to ensure the correct length of sound post: firstly, you can guess and risk wasting precious sound-post timber, or you can measure the space and cut to size.

My book on violin repairing – which has precious little on repairing cracks! – recommends buying a sound post gauge. Luckily Atria’s book illustrates the principle quite well. And just recently I replaced the windscreen wiper blades on my car…

violin sound post gauge

You see, the spine of the old wiper blades consisted of two thin strips of mild steel about 1 mm thick and 3 mm wide and about 300mm long. I decided to get dangerous with a pair of pliers.

Once I bent the two pieces so they would nestle into each other with opposing ends (already rounded so they won’t scratch the violin timber) I found a piece of clear plastic tubing (fuel line) – although you could use a drinking straw – and bound the two strips together with the tube, and then bent the ends over so they would be easy to grasp and slide the two pieces against each other to make the measurement. I also inserted a small timber wedge from an offcut so as to provide a good friction fit that would retain the measurement while extracting the tool from the F-hole.

And here is the result – a functional sound-post gauge.

violin sound post gauge

And it works well. Happy luthiering :-)

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