Instrument Care by Claire Curtis
violinmaking

Instrument Care

by Claire Curtis

part 1: Prevention
part 2: Maintenance
part 3: Repairs

Do-it-yourself Repairs

I HIGHLY recommend that all repairs be done by a qualified luthier. However, some people enjoy attempting a repair on an inexpensive instrument, and parents often attempt to repair a child's instrument. There are some repairs that can be done by the layperson.

Here are some guidelines:

Do nothing that is irrevocable or will harm the instrument.

Don't try to fix anything unless you know what you are doing.

Be prepared to pay a professional to repair your 'fix'.

Now that I've said that, what repairs can parents or players do on their own?

Fittings are not part of the instrument, so they are fair game for self-repair. You can safely:

Ebony components are glued to the instrument, but they can be replaced. Therefore you could:
Difficulties arise when a fingerboard, nut, or saddle needs to be reglued.
	Never use any glue but hide glue on a violin! 
Few non-luthiers use hot hide glue. There is a liquid hide glue on the market, but it is prone to creeping. It is fine to use on the nut, which the strings hold in place, but a fingerboard glued with liquid hide glue may slip. If you are forced to do an emergency repair with liquid hide glue, plan on having it reglued by your luthier eventually.

The body of the instrument should be approached with the greatest of caution. Most repairs to the body are best left to a professional luthier. In a pinch, you could glue an open seam (not a crack!) with liquid hide glue. Your luthier will probably have to reglue it, but it will hold for awhile.

It is best to have your luthier check over any repair that you do. A professional luthier has the tools and skills to repair your instrument properly, and the expertise to adjust it for the best possible sound.