Thursday, 9 January 2014

Violin repair job - Part 1

One of my friends has asked me to have a look at his old violin with a view to repairing it. It was his mothers and the last time he remembers it being used was in the late 1950s. In all that time it has not had any strings on it and has lost various components.
It appears to be one made in Germany or Bohemia in the early 1900s or late 1800s. It has a head scroll in the shape of a lion or large cats head. I identified the violin type as being a European Tyrolean Lion Scroll violin.
See this forum entry


The body seems to be primarily made from maple and the top seems to be spruce.There is no great figure to the wood that was used in its construction. The purfling around the edge of the top plate is a single channel. The top plate has become detached from the upper rib in the area where it would be held under the chin. I wonder if sweat has taken its toll and caused the glue to fail. This needs re-gluing and I have some hide glue to do the repair.

Tyrolean Lion Scroll Violin

The rear is in good condition

The top plate and rear plate have
come apart in a few places - top bout rear
shown here

Bottom bout rear


The tuning pegs don't appear to be right as two of them are considerably larger and longer than the others. From what I have researched I see that they should all be the same length and size. My customer has said that he is OK changing them to all be the same. Any parts I take off I will bag up and put into the case.
The neck and fingerboard are in good condition. The neck appears to be maple and the fingerboard ebony.
My customer said he remembered it having a tongue that stuck out but that is no longer present. I've told him it would be difficult for me to make another tongue and stick it in place as there is nothing to glue to in the mouth.

Tyrolean Lion head scroll
Tongue missing though

More detail of the peg box

Dissimilar tuning pegs
They need to be replaced
Not sure if it supposed to have the wedge under
the fingerboard but it doesn't look good aesthetically

Slight crack to the rear plate but it is still sound


The ivory tailpiece appears OK but the bridge is long gone. I will be able to fit a new bridge and shape it to the sound board quite easily. Fortunately the sound post is still intact and in-place despite the strings being long absent.
An old string remains in place on the
ivory tailpiece


The violin still wears its original finish and I have no intentions of devaluing it by re-finishing. I will probably give it a wipe over with some beeswax.

This will be an interesting project to do and give me a little insight into the care of a fiddle and hopefully I will be able to bring it back into use.

Glue repair

I've been using Titebond hide glue to fix the front and rear plates. I don't have any spool clamps so my small 8" F clamps have been pressed into use. I warmed the glue first of all and brought the shop up to temperature. I glued a small section first of all after cleaning the old glue off the wood with some sandpaper.
I left it 24 hours to cure and it is strong. So I am now doing more of the repair to the plates.

Small clamps used carefully with
some Titebond hide glue.

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