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Repair and Restoration

repair
The repair and restoration staff are all graduates of the Chicago School of Violin Making with over 60 years of combined experience. We pride ourselves on being able to bring out the best sound out of each instrument as well as in the quality of our workmanship. All repairs are done in the shop, from gluing a seam to bow rehairs, and even major restoration projects. There is always someone available for repair estimates, which are free of charge. Appointments are not necessary but strongly recommended. You can reach us at repairs@semanviolins.com

Tonal adjustments are a collaboration between player and maker, and appointments can be made with any of our makers. After a standard evaluation of the instrument, and any repair problems are addressed, the player and the maker discuss changes that need to be made to improve the sound of the instrument. Appointments are necessary for tonal adjustments.

Corner Replacement

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Throughout the life of an instrument, the edges are bumped, scratched, and sometimes knocked off completely. The upper right corner in particular is often victim to the triumphant end of a concerto or symphony. The violin in this repair has been worn down over many years and needed to be replaced before the damage got beyond the purfling and on to the top of the instrument.

One of the main goals of restoration is to leave as much of the original material as possible, which is why we chose to leave the purfling in place and use it to shape the new corner. We first remove the damaged edge of the corner and then find a piece of replacement wood that matches the rest of the top. This particular corner is fit in three different sections, each piece is hand fit and then glued in to place to seamlessly match the existing edge. Once everything is glued, the corner is then shaped to match the other corners and then varnished and gently aged so that it appears as to be original. While we take ownership in our handmade instruments by signing our names in them, the mark of an expert restorer is one that is never seen.

Top Patch

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This violin was a major restoration project before it could become part of our inventory. The top of the instrument had multiple cracks in the area of the bridge, soundpost, and bass bar. This area of the violin receives all the pressure of the strings, and cracks in this region can be devastating to an instrument. A top patch is put in place as a reinforcement even after the cracks are glued.

The process starts by first pouring a plaster mold of the outside of the instrument, this creates a perfect cradle for the instrument as well as ensuring that the shape of the top doesn’t change while work is being done on the instrument. Then the shape of the patch is traced on to the interior and that section is hollowed out in preparation for the fitting of the patch. Once scraped and cleaned, the patch is then roughly fit to the curve of the top.

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Small cleats are temporarily glued into place around the patch, so that it doesn’t move during the final fitting and gluing. Soft chalk is used for marking high spots, when in place, the patch is hand cut to fit precisely in the patch area and the glued. The patch is then cut down and shaped to the original thickness of the violin top, and then colored to match the rest of the inside. The result is a reinforced top that is made stronger than the original, yet still to the thickness and shape of the original inside of the violin.

While this may seem like a major repair, many old instruments have this done in one way or another. Time takes its toll on old instruments, and as violin makers we do our best work to restore them to their full potential.