Your violin is a delicate, yet powerful musical instrument. The rich sounds and melodies you can produce with it will often leave an audience full of breathless rapture, transporting the listeners into realms of imaginative splendor and graceful escape from the ordinary world. However, none of this delightful enjoyment can happen if your violin is feeling under the weather.But, don’t despair. Fixing some of the most common violin problems doesn’t always require a trip to your local trusted music shop or a Luthier (professional stringed instrument maker); you can perform minor repairs at home. The most important thing to remember is that if for any reason you are unsure about performing the work yourself: always take your violin to a qualified professional. The last thing you’ll want to do is worsen the situation—or what’s even more dreadful—damage your violin beyond repair with your personal attempt.
There are many common problems that can afflict your violin. Being extremely susceptible to changes in temperatures and humidity, your violin’s seams, strings, and pegs often require minor fixes. Depending on the severity of the problem, you can generally deal with these types of situations on your own. But it’s also a good idea to speak with your instructor, go online for information, or call a professional shop if you notice certain problems, such as cracks or warping. Allowing a craftsman to restore those types of damages immediately is always the best solution.
Things You Can Fix—Find Supplies
Strings —Worn out strings pose a sound problem. They are nearly impossible to keep in tune, making it difficult to play. While it’s a good idea to stock an extra set of strings for an emergency, you should also replace your strings at least every six months. And, since different string types/brands produce variations in depths of tone and volume, you can discover new heights of ability by experimenting with different qualities and types. Check this link out if you are interested in learning more about violin strings.
Loose/Tight Tuning Pegs —With tight pegs, rubbing a little graphite from a common pencil on the sides of the peg can help; it acts as a sort of lubricant. However, loose pegs are caused by one of two situations: a prolonged, extremely dry environment (like winter in a cold climate), or improperly winding the strings.
When you wind your string on the peg, if it’s done incorrectly, it places undue stress and pressure on the peg and you’ll find yourself suffering from constant slipping problems. Although you can solve the situation temporarily by applying peg compound or drops, it won’t work forever and it perpetuates a problem that will eventually require a professional peg replacement and/or peg hole re-bore (which can be quite pricey).
The best solution is to wind your strings correctly so that the force of the string helps aid the “stickiness” of the peg. Don't despair if it takes a few attempts to get it right. Many professionals still struggle with peg problems because they were never taught the correct way.
Begin by inserting the ball end of the string in the tailpiece and the peg end in the hole. Rather than pushing and turning the peg at the same time at first, gently direct the string to the side of the peg box (opposite the insertion point) with your thumb, and wind the string next to the box—without pushing the peg in—until the pressure is able to hold the string in the tailpiece securely. The string will wind close to the wall of the box, and then gradually work evenly back towards the insertion hole on the peg. Proceed to tighten the string completely using the push and turn motion.
Starting the winding process at the right place makes a huge difference. The additional force of the string will help keep your pegs from slipping, plus, it’s very simple to adjust if the string becomes slack: you simply tighten it by turning the peg.
Things You Shouldn’t Mess With—Find a Luthier
Certain repairs shouldn’t be attempted by anyone but a professional. Don’t try to fix:
- Large seam separations
- Cracks of any type in the wood or anywhere on the body of the violin
- Repairs to the scroll box
- Large or deep gouges
- Soundpost adjustments
Although you can temporarily re-glue a fingerboard or chin rest, it’s best to have a professional perform these tasks so that it will last.
When In Doubt
Repairing your violin takes patience. Luthiers practice their craft daily, so if you’re even slightly unsure about performing a repair yourself, consult a professional. You can solve pegs dilemmas by becoming adept at stringing your violin, but if the problem involves a great deal of work, your best option is to consult a qualified luthier who will have the tools and the experience to perform the work quickly and correctly—often for much less than you might think.