Violin Explained

Repair, Restoration & Regulation

Repairs

are usually basic glue jobs, externally repairable cracks, bumps, chips or opening of seams that are most frequent. Repairs cover all types of work done when restoring. The significant difference is that repairs focus less on finer details that old instruments need to remain as close to original as possible. Although repairs should also be as close to invisible as possible, restorations often take a lot longer to make damage and past repair invisible. Cost vs. value when looking to restore a cheap(er) instrument is mostly not viable. That said, when we take on repairs the aim is to do it as neatly as possible.

Note! If and when we see that your setup and regulation wasn’t done before your purchase (or done correctly), being critical for worthwhile playing or learning experience, we advise that it is seen to as a part of repairs.

In many cases (especially with cheaply made instruments) if, for example, the neck has broken off because it was glued on badly to start with, and we see that the projected-height-to-the-bridge is too low or high, it becomes an opportune moment to correct this which will have a huge effect on the final setup and regulation.

Restoration

is where the finesse of any luthier’s workmanship and ability becomes illuminated. Requiring a detailed understanding of structural influences (often, how past repairs negatively influence an instrument), colour matching and corrections for final finishing. Once all corrective work has been done it becomes playable with a perfected setup and regulation.

This kind of work is suggested for better unknown and known master-made instruments. Essentially, restoration is meant to bring back the intended beauty and functionality of a worthy instrument – without changing or altering the original form or colour as far as possible.

There are times when we restore cheaper instruments because it was handed down, therefore with sentimental value, which is not to be trifled with, or it is just a really well made Trade Instrument.

Setup & Regulation

is where adjustments are made on an existing instrument that essentially works. Going through all the details from pegs to the end button. Ensuring that everything in between fits really well and has the correct relative measurements. How the strings relate and respond to fitting on the nut, over the fingerboard, on the bridge, relative to the sound post and the back stop to the tailpiece. How the sound post fits and sits is critical and related to the last item in this exploration, Voicing. Basically, how all the parts fitted adjustments work together either makes your instrument easy or hard to play on and/ or delivers a pleasing sonic experience.

Despite there being a long list of exact measurements for all the different instruments and their sizes, we have an axiom that we feel best describes a perfect setup:

The sum total of the parts, in a perfect setup, is derived from regulated irregularities; whereby irregularities are compensated for by introducing other irregularities – inducing a balance of relative forces.

In most cases violins (all the way to basses) are sold as-is from China or other places without the setup & regulation having been done or done particularly well. This makes playing the violin hard to do and harder still to get a good sound from … of course there are always a few lucky strikes when buying directly off the shelf.

Voicing

– sound post regulation – is generally used by professionals and more seasoned musicians who are aware that, even with a perfected setup, their instrument will sound and resonate differently depending on how the Sound Post is fitted and positioned. The simplest way to understand the sound post is to think of it as a graphic equaliser. How well it fits, its thickness and its relationship to the bridge all contribute to how the instrument sounds.

Note! Even a violin made by Stradivarius with a thin and too tightly fitted sound post will sound like a poorly made instrument – despite a set of good strings. In the same way a cheaply made instrument can be the best version of itself once setup and the sound post has been regulated, adjusted or tuned.

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