A violin is a wonderful instrument which has a one-of-a-kind tone. It is a member of the string instrument family, but is traditionally not played using the strumming technique. The player uses a bow to slide it across the strings, to produce a tone. It is also one of the fretless instruments, which are way harder to play that those with frets. It is believed that the older the violin is, the more valuable it becomes. Therefore, you will generally find classic models available for thousands of dollars.
Just like any other musical instrument, the parts of a violin can get damaged due to wear and tear. Minor repair work can be done by yourself, but if it is major damage, you need to take the instrument to a professional technician. However, minor tasks such as repairing the bridge or a small crack can be done by yourself only. Read on for some tips regarding the same.
Tips on Repairing a Violin
Repairing the Violin Finish
If you feel that your violin seems too dull and needs to be refinished to make it look new, note that the varnish is not just meant to give a fresh feel to the instrument, but also to act as a sound enhancer. If you purchase a new violin, you should just wipe the body gently with a soft cloth. However, excessive daily rubbing will clear out the varnish. Remember that the violin has to be refinished not more than two times a year, and possibly only by a luthier. You can brush up the gloss of the instrument by using a polish of a good brand. After cleaning dust particles off the surface with a soft towel, use a little amount of polish on a dry smooth cloth, and rub the surface very gently.
Repairing a Violin Crack
A violin is also vulnerable to extreme temperature changes, which is why it may develop cracks on the body. These cracks ought to be repaired as early as possible, so as to prevent them from spreading to other areas. The violin may either have a crack on the seam, or on the surface. A seam crack can be fixed by gluing the seams together using a hide glue. If it is a crack on the surface, doing it yourself is not a good idea. The repair needs to be done only by a luthier. A luthier will open the top of the instrument, and place patches or cleats to fix the cracks.
Repairing a Violin Bridge
The bridge on the violin is one important part which keeps the strings in place. It is slightly straight on one side, and more curved at the other. Repairing the violin bridge is an easy task, since you mostly need to get it repositioned to solve common problems. In some cases, like a crack on the bridge, you might need to replace it altogether. If it has gotten out of place from where it used to be, you will have to loosen the strings, that would in turn loosen the bridge. Adjust the bridge to the correct place.
Due to the tension of strings, it may happen that the soundpost that is placed inside the hollow body may get disturbed, which is when you need to seek professional help. If you need to change the bridge, loosen the strings a bit more, replace the bridge, place it in the right position, and then tighten the strings back again to tune the violin. Make sure that the strings go in their respective notches on the top of the bridge.
Repairing a Violin Bow
If the bow is bent or cracked, it has to be replaced. Repairing a bow usually means re-hairing it. Both ends of the bow consist of wedges (hardwood plugs) which are to be taken off using a knife or a metal pick. Cut the hair and remove any hair particles left at both ends. Get a set of horse hair from a musical instrument shop for re-hairing the violin. For standard bows, you generally have to choose around 150 strings. Cut them at a proper length, a bit more than that of the bow. Make sure there is still slack left, which will allow hair tension to be adjusted properly. Set the hair onto the head and the bottom end, and put new wedges to secure.
These are the DIY steps that you can follow for repairing a violin. Remember, tasks such as mending cracks and refinishing requires services of a luthier, unless you are a violin tech yourself. To fit a bridge, the professional may charge about $50, whereas crack repair would cost about $75 per job. The costs for services may vary as per the severity of damage and what needs to be replaced.