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Performing a neckset and soundpost reinstall

Posted by Mandogryl on Friday, August 7, 2009

Well, I had a bit of a set-back with my nice old fiddle. It’s the one I had found and had to glue the neck back onto, but the box is in very good condition. Well, I glued that neck on, but darn it the clamp must have slipped and the neck angle was not quite correct. It was a little bit shallow. So shallow that I had to make a bridge that was radically low. But I strung it up anyway, and to my untrained ear I was quite pleased with my accomplishment. At jams other fiddlers would look ‘er over and comment that with more neck angle she would be louder, but I was happy.

One hot and humid night a week ago I decided to perform a neck-set. I took the fiddle to my shop and removed the neck, started warming some hide glue, cleaned things up, practiced my clamping etc., and glue it back on this time with the correct angle. Wouldn’t you know it; the sound post fell. Of course… with no pressure on the top. It had stood straight as a toy soldier all those years prior to my taking possession, but that night it fell. No big deal. I retrieved the post and took it out for examination. To my surprise (and delight) I discovered that the post was hand-carved – not a sawn-off dowel. This made me happy for some reason. I also found the pencil written numbers 189 inside on the bare wood, along with its 1719 Strad label. So I took my time and re-installed the post which took me over an hour to get right. Strung it back up and my bluegrass jamming friends were right: It is so much louder now, and to my untrained ears the tone is much nicer. I uploaded 3 pics in my photo album.


4 comments on “Performing a neckset and soundpost reinstall”

bj Says:
Friday, August 7, 2009 @6:34:24 PM

I'm glad you got it sussed out. I have a feeling you're going to be the Go To person for fiddles in another year or two in the St. Albans area.

I'll mention this since it sounds like you didn't do it this way. One of my luthier friends told me to put some light tension on the strings prior to installing the post. Not full tension, but just enough to keep the bridge standing. Makes sense that it's easier to place the post if you can see where the bridge foot is. He also insisted I buy a dental mirror so I could check and make sure the post had full contact top and bottom with the plates. Of course, I could never get it right, and decided to just pay him to do it. I have a feeling he knew that was coming. :-)

Mandogryl Says:
Saturday, August 8, 2009 @3:13:51 AM

That is a great idea, that of having light string pressure on the top while making the subtle adjustments.
Makes alot of good sense.
Thanks for that, BJ!

bj Says:
Saturday, August 8, 2009 @10:42:58 AM

You better check the luthier books before you do what I've suggested. Though Steve is a luthier, I'm not, and it's better to make sure of what's what, since I may not have passed it on accurately. I do know that soundposts are tricky, and if not done right they'll damage the fiddle. The guys on the forum speak highly of maestronet's forum. And there's a lot of good info online.

Humbled by this instrument Says:
Thursday, August 20, 2009 @10:38:16 PM

I yanked my soundpost out of my Eastman and set it back in at a salient angle. Now it sounds great, fuller, louder, not so...muted and "tinny?" Anyhoo, I also strung it with my Helicores which seemed to help, at least to my ears. I've been warned, however, that the post could poke through fifty years from now. Brah! I'll deal with it then.

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