This is how we make luthiers work
August arrives and finally many of us seriously consider making a good setup of the instrument. Thinking about the regular maintenance of the classic bowed stringed instruments, I have compiled their most common repairs.
This article is based on my own experience, the advice of Carlos, my luthier, two fantastic websites that talk about this subject, Orchestra Central, and Johnson String and the advice of a blog I love. So let’s go for it.
The six most frequent repairs
1. The bow
- The re-hairing of your bow should be done at least once a year, so that the contact with the string is perfect.
- The screw of the bow can also get damaged, and when it occurs the bow can not be tightened up. Finally, the top wedge that holds the hairs at the tip of the bow rarely may come off.
- A problem that very often occurs to me is that the pegs slip, or that on the contrary, they are so tight. I usually paint them with a pencil so that they move smoothly, or I give it rosin or chalk to tighten them. I would want the pegs of the double bass to be placed in cellos… life would be much easier.
- Why does this happen? Because of changes in air humidity. On days when the air is very dry, the wood will “shrink”, so the pegs will become slippery, and on wet days the wood will absorb moisture from the air, “getting fatter”.
- If you have just replaced a string and it breaks, there may be a rough spot on the two contact points of the string: the pegbox or the fine tuners. Or, you may have placed the string too close to the pegbox wall. When changing strings, be sure to replace only one string at a time.
- When the bridge drops, first check that there are no cracks at the top of the instrument. If there is a crack in the top, or in the bridge, or if the bridge is deformed, take the instrument to a reputable repair shop immediately.
- If you don’t see any cracks and you dare, loosen the strings a little bit (don’t loosen them all at once, the soundpost can be dislodged by the lack of pressure). With both hands, slowly put the bridge back in place, with the feet of the bridge aligned with the notches of the “F” shaped holes.
- As you tune, be careful that the top of the bridge is not moving too far forward.
- What to do when the soundpost falls down? You will notice it because your instrument will not sound, and the soundpost will dance noisily inside it. This situation can occur after a hit, a lack of tension in the strings or, once again, a drastic change in the humidity of the environment.
- When you take it to your luthiers, you’ll see that they hook the soul from inside the “f-holes” with a long metallic instrument, and they reposition it. Sometimes a new post is cut again.
- As soon as you notice them, take your instrument to the luthier so they don’t get worse. The most common cracks appear along the side of the instrument due to moisture changes.
6. Strange sound
- If your instrument emits buzzes, it is most likely that there are cracks, loose and rattling fine tuners, old or worn strings, problems with the chin rest, or some combination of these. Check everything and if the problem continues take it to the luthier.
In short, we should take the instrument to the luthier at least once a year, and keep it away from changes in humidity and ,of course, from accidental shocks. I hope that these guidelines have been useful to you, for any consultation or suggestion, I wait for you at this email.