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Common Repair Problems and What To Do About Them

The Johnson String Instrument repair and resoration shop

Soundposts | Cracks | Buzzing | Broken Strings | Bridges
Seams | Slipping Pegs | Broken Tailgut | Bows

Instruments:

  • The soundpost of your instrument falls down (causing it to rattle around noisily inside your instrument). This can happen for a variety of reasons: the instrument may have been dropped or hit against something jarring; the strings may have lost their tension all at once (note: when changing your strings, be sure to replace just one string at a time); or the instrument may have been exposed to a drastic change in ambient humidity.
    If your soundpost falls down: First, loosen all of the strings to take the tension off of the instrument. Bring the instrument to a trusted repair shop where a luthier or qualified repair person can set the post back up. In some cases, a new soundpost may have to be cut.
  • The bridge falls. First, check the top of the instrument to make sure that no cracks have formed. If there is a crack in the top, or in the bridge, or if the bridge is warped, take the instrument to a trusted repair shop for immediate repair. If you don't see any cracks, you may choose to attempt setting it back up yourself.
    If your bridge falls: Loosen the strings just a little bit (do not take the tension of all of the strings all the way down, as that may cause the soundpost to fall down--see above). Using two hands, bring the bridge slowly back up in to place, with the bridge feet aligned with the f-hole notches. The strings should be centered over the fingerboard. As you tune the strings up to pitch, take care that the top of the bridge is not being pulled forward too much towards the scroll. Gently, with two hands, bring the bridge to a straight position.
  • You spy a crack. Take the instrument to a qualified repair person immediately. If you wait, the situation could worsen. Do not attempt to glue the crack yourself.
  • A seam opens along the side of the instrument. This is not uncommon, particularly during major changes in ambient humidity. You may notice the open seam after hearing buzzing from the instrument when you play. Bring the instrument to a qualified repair shop. Do not attempt to glue the seam yourself.
  • The instrument is "buzzing". Check for: open seams; a loose fingerboard; loose and rattling fine tuners; old, fraying strings; a loose chinrest, or a chinrest which is making contact with the tailpiece; or some combination of these. Check for things which need tightening first: you may be able to correct the problem easily. Bring the instrument to a qualified repair shop if you are unable to solve the buzzing.
  • A peg is slipping, causing the string to go out of tune, or is sticking, making tuning very difficult. If a peg keeps slipping or sticking, remove the peg and apply Hill's Peg Compound to the shiny parts of the removed peg. The product, made especially for pegs, will provide the traction needed for slipping pegs, or the lubricant needed for sticking pegs. Bear in mind that changes in humidity have a significant impact on pegs, causing them to swell or shrink. Players often must push the peg in a bit more firmly on days when the air is dry, or pull out the peg slightly on very humid days. Continued problems with pegs may mean that the pegs no longer fit well in the holes of the peg box. Bring your instrument to a luthier to see whether the pegs need replacing.
  • A relatively new string breaks. Take note of where the string broke. Your instrument may have developed a rough spot at the peg, the nut, or the fine tuner. Or, if the winding of the string is too close to the pegbox wall, it may have been subject to sufficient stress to cause it to snap. See this helpful page to learn more about installing strings.
  • The “tailgut” (the cord that keeps the tailpiece attached to the instrument) breaks, and the instrument appears to "explode" - the strings fly loose, the bridge pops off, and the soundpost may fall down. Do not panic! This usually looks worse than it is. Take the instrument in to your repair person right away. It can usually be fixed on the spot.

Bows:

  • The hair on your bow has turned very dark, or doesn’t bite like it used to. It's probably time for a rehair. This is recommended at least once a year, more often if you play a great deal.
  • All of the hair pops out of your bow at once. Don’t panic - the bow is not ruined, it has merely lost the “wedge” holding in the hair. Your bow repair person can fix this easily.
  • The hair won’t tighten. The bow screw may be stripped, or the button loose on the screw. Take it in to a bow repair professional.
  • The hair keeps breaking around the center point of the bow. You should check for
    bow bugs.”

Johnson String GUARANTEES all major repairs for as long as you own your instrument!

Expert guaranteed string Instrument repair and resoration

Instrument Repair and Setup: JSI offers expert repair and restoration, as well as custom setups and tonal adjustments for violins, violas, cellos, and basses.

Bow Rehair and Repair: Bow repair and rehair services are available for violin, viola, cello, and bass bows.

Please contact us for more information.