Violins under the name Michel-Ange Garini were made around 1900- 1920 in Vosges, France in the Mirecourt region. This violin came into my hands via a luthier friend in Canberra who had decided it was uneconomic to repair.

Garini violin as it came into my shop

Garini violin as it came into my shop

It was clear to me that I had some challenges ahead. The violin is nicely constructed and finished with good attention to detail – some of which is only evident after disassembly.

The violin has a dark red oil-based varnish and appears to have been varnished after the fingerboard was added, so the top remains unfinished beneath the fingerboard. This appears to have been a hallmark of some Mirecourt violins, notably the one restored in 2005 by MysticViolin in the USA. That one was made by Justin Amédée Derazey or his factory in Mirecourt. There are images of that restoration at stringrepair.com. Over the next several weeks I shall blog the restoration process of the Garini violin.

The first stage was a visual and tap inspection of the instrument. There may be other issues, but the black arrows on the image point to the four major cracks in the top plate. One of the cracks is close to, but not touching the bass bar, and two of the cracks run about one-third of the length of the plate.

Garini violin damage. The arrows point to the major cracks

Garini violin damage. The arrows point to the major cracks

It was clear I would have to carefully remove the top plate. First step is to heat the seams with a heat gun in order to soften the hide glue.

Applying the heat gun to the upper seams

Applying the heat gun to the upper seams

This process was alternated with the careful insertion of the paint scraper – it is strong, flexible and has a very thin blade. The scraper was inserted using a walking motion using just enough force to keep the blade moving against the heated part of the seam. Slowly the plate separated cleanly from the ribs.

Inserting the scraper to separate the plate from the ribs

Inserting the scraper to separate the plate from the ribs

It took about half an hour, but finally the plate was fully separated from the ribs.

Inside the violin

Inside the violin

The back is of one piece nicely flamed maple and was undamaged. The top plate will have the cracks glued and reinforced with small sycamore buttons. And that will be the subject of subsequent posts.

I’ll leave you tonight with a pic of the label – if anyone has any more information about the maker I would love to hear from you

Garini violin label

Garini violin label

Cheers
Jerry

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