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Antique Violin
Old 09-25-2012, 04:06 PM   #1
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Antique Violin

We have a violin DH's grandfather made in 1956. It's beautiful and DH loves it. We've kept in the original case for years so it's in pretty good shape. It needs cleaning and new strings. We're thinking we'd like to have it restored and placed in a display case. If any of you have suggestions on how we can find someone to do this at a reasonable price, we'd really appreciate it. We’re just not sure where to start. Bonus if anyone knows of anyone in the DC area who would be good at this.
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Old 09-25-2012, 05:17 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Purron View Post
We have a violin DH's grandfather made in 1956. It's beautiful and DH loves it. We've kept in the original case for years so it's in pretty good shape. It needs cleaning and new strings. We're thinking we'd like to have it restored and placed in a display case. If any of you have suggestions on how we can find someone to do this at a reasonable price, we'd really appreciate it. We’re just not sure where to start. Bonus if anyone knows of anyone in the DC area who would be good at this.
Both of my sons were/are violinists. Any big city has skilled violin makers. Call a university or conservatory with a music department and find a way to speak to a violinist or violin performance professor. He can recommend the best artisans around. These same people can restore yours if it needs it. It may not.

The display case is another matter. Does your husband like to play it? If so you want it easily accessible, not just on display. Is it perhaps quite valuable? In this case you likely do not want to display it but just shove it under the bed in its case. Easily pulled out but not open to prying eyes, maids, repairmen, etc. These people may be fine, but their sons, brothers, boyfriends etc. are not necessarily equally trustworthy.

Ideally string instruments are kept in temperature and humidity controlled enviroments, but a violin maker can tell you about this.

Ha
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Old 09-25-2012, 05:47 PM   #3
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Both of my sons were/are violinists. Any big city has skilled violin makers. Call a university or conservatory with a music department and find a way to speak to a violinist or violin performance professor. He can recommend the best artisans around. These same people can restore yours if it needs it. It may not.

The display case is another matter. Does your husband like to play it? If so you want it easily accessible, not just on display. Is it perhaps quite valuable? In this case you like do not want to display it but just shove it under the bed in its case. Easily pulled out but not open to prying eyes, maids, repairmen, etc. These people may be fine, but their sons, brothers, boyfriends etc. are not necessarily equally trustworthy.

Ideally string instruments are kept in temperature and humidity controlled enviroments, but a violin maker can tell you about this.

Ha
Thanks Ha for your timely reply. In reply to your questions:

- No DH, doesn't play it, nor do I;
- Not valuable to others, but is to us since his Grandad made it;
- We live a very simple life and don't have maids and others that would spot it in our very modest home.

Thanks again
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Old 09-25-2012, 06:06 PM   #4
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I played the violin as a child, but I donated my 1906 VC Squier to the CSO when my Mom gave it to me as an adult. Many people swear that a violin (any wooden stringed instrument) loses it's tone if it's not played. As Ha mentioned, temperature extremes, UV and/or low humidity can also destroy a violin or other wood stringed instrument. Unfortunately your violin may have lost it's "voice" somewhat already, and if you're not going to play it, spending money to restore it may be wasted other than cosmetics. You may just want to replace the strings (any violinists can do it easily, you could with following a YouTube video) and you can carefully clean it up using products designed for wood, just use them as sparingly as possible. Or better yet, Google to find the safest ways to clean a violin. Best of luck...

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Old 09-25-2012, 08:10 PM   #5
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I don't know much about violins but I do know a bit about guitars. Restoring a truly vintage/highly collectable guitar usually reduces the value by up to 50%. I suspect it may also hold true for a vintage violin. A few minor dings and finish checks are to be expected on an instrument that has been lovingly played for many year. As already mentioned, make sure the room or case you store it in is properly humidified. For guitars it is recommended about 45% relative humidity but you get a lot of opinions on that. I suspect a violin would be about the same.

If you don't play, no need to be concerned about the loss of tone. If stored for extened periods without playing I would research how much tension to keep on the strings. Speaking only of guitars, the neck can warp if you have too little tension on the strings. Many years of a guitar stored in tune will eventually lead to other issues such as a need for a neck reset. These are fragile instruments made from wood pieces glued together, eventually something is gonna give!
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Old 09-25-2012, 08:57 PM   #6
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Speaking only of guitars, the neck can warp if you have too little tension on the strings. Many years of a guitar stored in tune will eventually lead to other issues such as a need for a neck reset. These are fragile instruments made from wood pieces glued together, eventually something is gonna give!
Worried because the strings are pretty much shot and have no tension. May not be an big issue as far as value since this is treasured mainly because DH's grandpa made it. Still a concern though. It's precious to us.
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Old 09-25-2012, 11:09 PM   #7
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Amazon is one source for strings. Google is your friend for how to tune and care for the instrument, but certainly protecting it from excessive heat/cold/dryness/dampness is important.
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Old 09-26-2012, 09:08 AM   #8
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Worried because the strings are pretty much shot and have no tension. May not be an big issue as far as value since this is treasured mainly because DH's grandpa made it. Still a concern though. It's precious to us.
I'd follow haha's advice and check with a local university or conservatory. I'd guess that you are correct, it has personal value to you, but probably no real value to others (but check!). In either case, they can tell you how to care for it, and direct you to a qualified repair place, and you can supplement that with google. But eyes and hands on by an expert is really needed.

Maybe a child in the family would play some day? Having a family heirloom like that would be cool. My own Grandfather played, but he had a stroke by the time I was growing up, so I have no idea where that instrument went.

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Old 09-26-2012, 11:28 AM   #9
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Worried because the strings are pretty much shot and have no tension. May not be an big issue as far as value since this is treasured mainly because DH's grandpa made it. Still a concern though. It's precious to us.
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Old 09-26-2012, 11:49 AM   #10
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I don't know much about violins but I do know a bit about guitars. Restoring a truly vintage/highly collectable guitar usually reduces the value by up to 50%. I suspect it may also hold true for a vintage violin. A few minor dings and finish checks are to be expected on an instrument that has been lovingly played for many year. As already mentioned, make sure the room or case you store it in is properly humidified. For guitars it is recommended about 45% relative humidity but you get a lot of opinions on that. I suspect a violin would be about the same.

If you don't play, no need to be concerned about the loss of tone. If stored for extened periods without playing I would research how much tension to keep on the strings. Speaking only of guitars, the neck can warp if you have too little tension on the strings. Many years of a guitar stored in tune will eventually lead to other issues such as a need for a neck reset. These are fragile instruments made from wood pieces glued together, eventually something is gonna give!
+1 (and Ha's advice)

Just out of curiosity, was grandpa a luthier or is this a one-of-a-kind?
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Old 09-26-2012, 11:52 AM   #11
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+1 (and Ha's advice)

Just out of curiosity, was grandpa a luthier or is this a one-of-a-kind?
Had to look up luthier Yes, he made many stringed instruments including violins and guitars. He was a musician and his wife was a signer. They lived in Ankorage and performed in local establishments.
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Old 09-26-2012, 12:40 PM   #12
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+1 to Ha's advice.

I'm a violinist and amateur luthier. Get it cleaned and checked out by a professional. This shouldn't cost a huge amount, but it's easy to damage the varnish with improper cleaning. Don't tighten the strings or put new ones on until a luthier has made sure it's set up properly.

If you think the instrument could be valuable, a violin shop can also do an appraisal (usually for insurance purposes).

What a great remembrance to have of your DH's grandpa!
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Old 09-26-2012, 12:54 PM   #13
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I wholeheartedly agree that, without expert advice, you shouldn't fiddle with it...

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Old 09-26-2012, 12:56 PM   #14
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Old 09-26-2012, 02:53 PM   #15
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Had to look up luthier Yes, he made many stringed instruments including violins and guitars. He was a musician and his wife was a signer. They lived in Ankorage and performed in local establishments.
In that case, it might be worth investigating if he had a reputation as a violin maker. There may be some value there beyond the intrinsic.
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