Repairs of instruments

Repairs of instruments
   We cannot part with the reader who has thus far accompanied us in our labours, without making a few remarks on the important subject of repairs. So many fine instruments have been ruined and the beauty of so many more tarnished by the mal-addresse and ignorance of some so-called restorers and repairers, that we think we shall be serving the admirers of the violin by warning them against entrusting valuable instruments to incompetent hands. A few notes will serve to illustrate the chief subjects for care and some important items in fitting instruments properly.
   1. So-called repairs have been frequently so clumsily done, as to damage old and valuable instruments to an extent impossible to remedy.
   2. There are many instances where wood has been taken out of the instrument under the idea of improving the tone. This is a fatal error, and when the mischief is discovered it is replaced by new wood. Others have done the same under another erroneous impression, that it will give strength to the instrument to enable it to bear the increased pressure caused by the higher pitch used at the present time. Whatever the notion, the result is always bad. The grain of the new wood does not come level with the old, and causes a sudden check to the vibration. The glue also lying between the old and the new wood deadens the sound. Some repairers have been guilty of this practice to a great extent, and many fine instruments have been thus damaged. Let no one under any plea tamper with the thicknesses of wood in a good violin.
   3. The sound bar used by the old masters (as we have before stated) and others of that period, was much shorter than is now used, and consequently all have been changed. The present bar is quite sufficient to bear the increased pressure required in our time, without resorting to any other means. If an alteration be required an experienced repairer only can know the kind of bar required.
   4. The necks of the old instruments were short; they have therefore to be lengthened if found in their old state. A good repairer will splice a neck in so as to be scarcely perceptible. Much of the ease and comfort of playing depends how this is done.
   5. The sound post is a very important item in fitting an instrument. There is a marvellous power in this simple contrivance. It should fit as though it were part of the back and belly. An instrument can be frequently cured of a bad description of tone by the slightest move of the post. Those subject to what are termed wolfy notes can be remedied or the bad notes shifted to less important ones. It is a mistake to suppose there is a particular place for the sound post in all instruments alike. It depends upon the model of the instrument to a great extent. High models require the post nearer the foot of the bridge than flat models. Others require the post thick or thin. The regulating of the post should only be entrusted to the skilled hand, and we would impress upon amateurs that it is better never to shift the post themselves. Many instruments have had the sound holes spoiled and the surface of the wood inside gored by unskilful tampering with the post.
   6. The bridge is another very important agent in regulating an instrument. No general rule will serve for this matter. Some instruments require the bridge thick, others thin. Some a close grain and others the contrary. The bridge should be fitted as accurately as the post, and as though it grew from the belly, the feet touching equally all round.
   7. Tail pieces are better quite free from ornaments, which frequently cause the instrument to jar disagreeably.
   8. The strings are of great importance. They should be adjusted to be in perfect fifths. This is essential, otherwise it is impossible to play double notes correctly in tune. It may be done with a little trouble. When the instrument is in tune on the open notes, place the finger across the strings, for example, at B on the second string, and F on the first string. If the fifth is imperfect, tune one string a shade higher, and try again. If then perfect it requires a smaller string. If not, tune a shade lower than the perfect open fifth, if then right when tried as before, it requires a thicker string.
   We have seen a little instrument advertised to accomplish this important matter without trouble.
   THE PERFECT FIFTH'S GAUGE. - "This useful gauge is marked with such precision as to render all strings gauged by it in accordance with each other producing perfect fifths, enabling the performer to execute passages of double notes with the greatest facility and correctness, at the same time effecting a considerable saving of time and expense by entirely superseding the old method of obtaining fifths by changing the strings." It is manufactured and sold by Mr. John Hart, 14, Prince's-street, Leicester-square, London.

Violins and Violin Makers Biographical Dictionary of the Great Italian Artistes, their Followers and Imitators, to the present time. With Essays on Important Subjects Connected with the Violin. — London, LONGMAN AND CO., PATERNOSTER ROW.. . 1866.

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