Master Violin Maker & Restorer
Here are some Violin, Cello & Viola restoration projects carried out by Katrin Gabriel recently.
Work carried out on an Amati Cello: The centre joint of the back needed to be rejoined. The back was taken off the ribs and the two halves were spot glued onto a board each.
In some places the arching near the joint needed to be raised slightly to correspond to the height of the other half of the back piece. This was done using very soft wooden wedges.
On one of the halves of the back, a piece of wood was missing and was replaced first, before planing the entire joint.
A new top block had to be fitted as well as some new linings and the rib cracks were re-inforced from the inside with veneer, to stop them from opening up again.
On the front of the Amati Cello the arching on the bassbar side needed correcting with a half-plaster cast and a sandbag filled with warm sand.
These are a few snap shots of work carried out on an Amati violin: This is the front after it had been taken off the ribs, before work started.
This the Amati violin front after it had been cleaned and tidied up.
The old belly patches were replaced, the cracks cleaned, glue and re-inforced and a new bass bar was fitted. Some of the old half-edging was also replaced.
The ribs needed to be raised as over time the rib height had gone below 26mm, it was decided to just stock them up rather than use the feather edging method (to save original wood). Unfortunately due to very extensive worm damage, two of the original corner blocks had to be replaced. The other blocks were raised to accommodate the new rib height.
The top linings were replaced, as they were either not original or totally destroyed by worm. The back had some wooden straps fitted, as the thickness was below what is reasonable for a good sound and for structural soundness.
The rib height has been raised. Despite baking the wood used for the extension, it still came out a bit lighter than the original wood.
The bassbar side of the ribs after applying varnish to the new wood.
The treble side of the ribs after applying varnish to the new wood.
Work carried out on a Ceruti Viola: A damaged back.
The pieces of wood have been glued back and an old crack next to it has been opened and cleaned.
The finished back, all previously damaged areas filled and retouched.
Pictures of work carried out on a Guadagnini front. The work was shared by three violin restorers and I was given the top. All the old patches had to be replaced.
The front required new edges all the way round, most of the purfling was not original and was removed.
There were three areas where the purfling was original and was preserved.
Thinning down of the lower patch.
The patches are finished, the outline and the edges of the front are not yet shaped, no bassbar has been fitted yet.
This Lockey Hill Cello needed a neck graft. The neck root was carefully removed from the top block.
The open Cello and the grafted scroll.
The neckgraft next to the open Cello. The paper on the pegbox covers the bushings to protect them from dirt whilst the scroll is being handled.
This Pressenda violin needed a replacement edge, a lot of playing had worn down the original edge on the back considerably.
The back of the Pressenda violin after the edge on the back had been replaced.
An underlaid edge was fitted, which anchors the replacement edge firmly on the underside of the back. A plastercast was made beforehand, which is not in the photograph.
The wood for the new edge was chosen carefully to match the grain of the exisiting wood. It was also baked for several hours in the oven, to achieve a darker hue more in line with the original wood of the back.
The new piece of wood is glued and held in place by clamps.
The finished violin!
This lovely Tononi violin had quite a dent in the rib due to excess pressure from the chinrest. It was opened up and with a wooden outside mold and a warm sandbag on the inside, the dent was removed.
The Tononi violin after the rib had been straigthened out.
To increase the thickness of the plates around the soundpost area some supporting straps of wood were fitted on top of the existing wood where the plates were too thin. The violin sounded a lot better afterwards.
This Vuillaume violin had accidentally been sat on by the player!
The damage consisted of a soundpost crack and the breaking off of a big chunk of the front.
Everthing was glued back into place.
Luckily, fresh cracks are much easier to repair than old ones, provided all the pieces are still there, and the result was almost invisible.
The finished violin…