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Why doing your own repairs might be a bad idea

Elizabeth Ward

I don't do repairs so I have no axe to grind on this one.

I saw these two violins in an online auction (not ebay but one involving a specialist auction house).  I liked the look of the violin on the left and the price was good.

Or so I thought until I collected it.

What should have been quite a nice violin from the 1930s had been repaired by an amateur, badly.  My neighbour who has zero knowledge of musical instruments but is good at general DIY would have done a better job.  For a start, a lot of regluing had been done on the seams (not visible on the picture) and the glue used was a white wood glue which didn't look pretty but OK at least it worked.  What really astounded me was the soundpost.  First look inside showed a soundpost that looked thick even for a cello.  My stockroom manager noticed that it was in completely the wrong place (I had just been so astounded at the thickness that I saw nothing else) and also spotted that it was plastic.  Further inspection showed that it was glued in.

No returns of course because those do not apply to auctions except ebay.

It went in the queue for our repairer with a note saying "good luck!" but if that plastic dowel won't come out, the only value the violin has is for flower arranging.

Properly repaired it would have sold for about £400 I think.  Maybe repairing it at all was not economic.  But at the very least, if someone who knew what they were doing had put a soundpost in, it would have been playable!



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