Small Violin Repair

Small repairs can be as tedious as large restorations. The trouble is finding the perfect piece of wood to match the original 100-year-old violin top.

Luckily when I removed the top to start the repair I found the old bass bar was carved into the top rather then fit to the top the proper way. This allowed me to split the old bass bar out, and use the piece of spruce that was original to the top! A perfect match, so the hard part is done, right? Next I was able to fit the spruce onto the edge at the broken corner leaving plenty of extra so I could match the corner to the outline of the instrument.

I will spend the next few weeks varnishing the corner to match the original varnish. Then I can fit a new bass bar before closing the top and doing the final set up.

This instrument should sound great with a well fit bass bar and proper set up!

It will also look pretty having all of its corners back!

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“King James”

I always seem to grow attached to my instruments as I build them, how could I not? I spend so much time focusing on every little detail that I get so use to having them around and working on them! But this violin is going to be hard for me to see go off to a new home.

This violin means a lot to me because I made this after James Fegley. Although I was never lucky enough to meet Jim, I am fortunate because I wouldn’t have any of this without him.

He started Fegley’s well before I was alive and I think he would be proud that I am carrying on the Fegley name.

This is a Stradivari copy that I made over the last few months. It has a mostly original James Fegley scroll that he started to carve and never finished.

Making this violin truly one of a kind. Normally I would have just kept the scroll but I thought it would mean a lot more to be completed and go on to enjoy making music. So “King James” will forever live on to make music!

“King James” “King James” “King James” “King James” “King James” “King James” “King James” “King James”

Bridges, Bridges, Bridges

Proper set-up goes a long way when wanting the best sound out of your instrument. It is important to keep a close eye on your bridge, sound post and strings along with a few other key parts on the instrument. You wouldn’t buy a brand new car and plan to never get oil changes or service.

This is a relatable topic to instruments; these instruments are made out of wood… things do move around! The weather is a key factor in things moving around on instruments from one season to the next!

That being said it is important to properly maintain your instrument. Bring it in for yearly check ups and get it looked over!
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Wladek Stopka Violin- 1991

I know, I know… lately all I have been writing about are modern instrument makers, but I can’t help myself. Being a modern maker myself I cannot help but admire newer instruments. This Stopka violin is no exception, made in 1991 it is a great violin for the value and very hard to compete with.

I have seen Stopka violins sell for over $10,000! And even at that price I believe that they are a bargain. Stopka is well known for his tone and has won many awards.

Wladek Stopka specializes in Stradivari copies, don’t we all copy Stradivari and follow in the masters footsteps! This Stopka violin is very fairly priced at $6,500 and I do not see it lasting very long!
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Carving a Stradivari Cello Scroll

Sharpen those gouges and get to work! A lot of people ask me how I carve my scrolls so I figured it would be much easier to show you pictures of some steps. This is a Stradivari Cello scroll. Stradivari had a very clean making approach; he would scrape almost to the point where all of his tool marks were removed.
Although I find inspiration in fine old instruments, I myself as a maker, love leaving tool marks behind. I like to think that in 100 years when my new instruments go into a shop for a restoration that they will say see how he left some tool marks behind! It gives each of my instruments personality and it shows that these instruments are truly made with hand tools….
Scroll side view
Cello Neck Block
Cello cut out
Stradivari scroll
Cello fluting
Cello Scroll Back

Stradivari F-holes- 2014 Violin

The amount of steps I go through in order to complete one small step in the making process drives me crazy sometimes! Crazy I tell you! It’s one small step after the next and if the previous step wasn’t executed properly then it will have a ripple effect throwing each step off the slightest bit. So this is why I like to make in my studio at home.
Music in the background helps but proper lighting and a sharp knife will do the trick. Measure 5,000 times and cut once. It never hurts to take a break to let your eyes rest and before coming back to work.

These f-holes are for a Stradivari violin that I am currently making.
f hole 1
Stradivari 2
Stradivari 3
Stradivari 4

Stefano Trabucchi- $11,000

A modern Cremona instrument made in 2003, this Trabucchi really has a brilliant look with a very wide flamed, one-piece back. Not your average modern Italian maker who would focus more on a tight, narrow flamed maple for the back of the instrument.

Trabucchi’s work boasts the knowledge and skill from years of experience as a maker in Italy. Notice how strong the outline of this instrument looks, it is almost masculine in a way that the edges were left so refined and bold.

This violin has a great even tone and is a fine example of a modern Italian masters work.
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Stanley Kiernoziak- $14,000

I don’t blog nearly enough… I hate to admit that it is hard for me to sit in front of my computer when I see my workbench and tools right next to it waiting for the next project! I will try to be better about taking the time to write about some of the fine instruments I have collected so far, key word there is try! So don’t be too hard on me.
Although I am a great fan of fine older instruments I am a realist, not all of us can afford the luxury of a million dollar Stradivari so most of us start with fine copies by modern makers.
One of the better modern Violas I have come across is a Stanley Kiernoziak made in Chicago in 2005. Kiernoziak studied in Poland.

He is known for being very successful with his violas making for the William Harris Lee Company; his number of violas made far exceeds violins and cellos, smart man! Everyone loves a modern viola! Kiernoziak’s instruments are known for their strong projection and warm tonal qualities.

So much so that he was awarded a VSA certificate for tone in the quartet competition. I have seen Kiernoiak’s viola sell for over $17,000. This particular Stanley Kiernoziak viola is a 16” and is one of my favorite modern violas I have in the shop right now, as a maker it is refreshing to find inspiration in a modern instrument.

Make an appointment to stop in and play it!

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Sullivan/Stopka Repair

This year I have been doing an intense repair on a Stopka Viola, which is owned by a client of mine. It came in with an unfortunate sound post crack. We had to remove the top and get the crack glued back together. The crack ran almost the whole length of the viola top, but I was able to get it glued back together quite cleanly. Once the actual crack was glued I was able to get started on the real task, fitting the actual patch. I feathered the original top to less then half of a millimeter! And then continued to fit the patch until it fit perfectly. Tedious and time consuming this is a good example of why I only take on a few intense restorations per year because they really need all of my attention to execute properly. After the patch was fit and glued I could brace my crack with some small cleats and glue the top back on. A few weeks of some careful varnish retouch we were back in business!

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