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Jun 28, 2021 - 12:51:53 PM
47 posts since 11/27/2011

Just when I thought my saddle woes had come to an end I picked up a nice 70's teller violin with the saddle inlet into the top. I think its been out before, and was on the way out again when I got it. The inlet is angled forward and the bottom is no longer flat, i'm guessing some spruce came out the first time it pulled up. Before I attempt a repair I wanted to see what folks thought the best options where.

Some options I can think of....

1. Level out the seat and either, add a thin shim or cut a new saddle since the saddle sides would be below the plate. Problem I can see here is the plate is thin and I hesitate to make it thinner.

2. Cut out the plate entirely to the ribs/block and fit a new saddle

3. Slather the saddle with tite-bond....... :)

I wanted to ask is there some advantage to inletting a saddle such as this? Seems like much more work and being glued to spruce sounds less than ideal in the strength department?


Edited by - marcusb on 06/28/2021 13:12:39

Jun 28, 2021 - 2:45:19 PM

2393 posts since 10/1/2008

Well..... trim it out an cut a saddle to fit or trim it out and fill it with spruce and then trim the spruce to fit a new saddle. So your choices are to do the work once or do the work twice . . . . hmmmmm

Jun 28, 2021 - 3:38:51 PM

2009 posts since 8/27/2008

I'd cut it down to the block and make a new saddle. I don't know why saddles are sometimes put in that way.

Jun 29, 2021 - 8:14:22 PM

5620 posts since 7/1/2007

What most pros do, IME, is to gather up the pieces, soaking them off the saddle if necessary, and glue them back in place with hide glue. My mentor Vlad also uses a mixture of water-based wood filler and hide glue to fill minor, hidden chips. In short, you clean off the old saddle and level the bed up to its original contours if at all possible, using as much of the original material as you can, and lightly re-glue the saddle. I have no Idea the reasoning behind the half-inlet saddle, but I don't see any reason against, either.

Jun 30, 2021 - 8:11:34 AM

567 posts since 3/1/2020

Like KCFiddles said, it’s best to preserve as much as possible of the original wood. Missing wood can be replaced where necessary to level it again.

It’s my understanding that the theory behind putting a saddle in halfway through the plate is that it allows the top to avoid having wood cut out with the grain and with right angled corners. The idea is that having a continuous piece of spruce beneath the saddle avoids the stress buildup on the saddle, which would then reduce the chances of saddle cracks from shrinkage or when removing the top.

In practice, I haven’t found that putting a saddle in that way really stops cracks. In fact, I’ve seen a lot of cases where the wood under the saddle ended up splitting out exactly along the lines of the saddle. I don’t see it as a bad idea, just not one that makes an important structural difference. However, it is a part of the working method for some makers and therefore deserves to be kept intact.

Jun 30, 2021 - 9:15:09 AM

2009 posts since 8/27/2008

I diasgree with the above posts. Unless it's historically relevant the saddle should be replaced in the best way, rather than gluing little shards back together to reconstruct the builders percieved intentions. But that's just me. I'm sure you'll get good results either way.

Jun 30, 2021 - 6:21:52 PM
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5620 posts since 7/1/2007

Originally posted by Brian Wood

I diasgree with the above posts. Unless it's historically relevant the saddle should be replaced in the best way, rather than gluing little shards back together to reconstruct the builders percieved intentions. But that's just me. I'm sure you'll get good results either way.

When you work on somebody else's instruments, you have liabilities to consider, and you are expected to work up to accepted standards. One of those professional standards is to preserve all original material whenever possible. Another is that all repairs should, as far as possible, be reversible. I'll agree it may not be important on a junk violin, but who's to make that determination on somebody else's instrument?  I've also found that if you don't at least keep professional standards in mind first and foremost, even when making warranted exceptions, you'll most certainly forget to maintain those standards one time when it IS important, and do irreversible damage when it IS important. 

This week, I'm working on a violin that will eventually be worth $6000 -$8000, that I bought for a few hundred because some untrained yahoo didn't know what he had and started a bad repair on it. I also bought a nice Duerer last week for a few hundred because some untrained jackleg turned a simple saddle crack into a sorry mess that takes about 40-50% off the price of the fiddle, and I don't yet know whether I can undo it without doing more damage.  I certainly know that any of my minimally trained colleagues would have done that original repair so it would have been very hard to even find, and completely reversible if need be. and NO harder than doing it wrong. 

I see far too many instances every week of repairs by people who don't know and don't care and don't want to know. And I spend way too much time fixing their foul-ups, so today it's a tender subject with me. I bought a total of four fiddles in the last week that had been seriously devalued by ignorant yobboes. This is especially aggravating because most of the time it's literally easier to do the work right, but you can't to it with duct tape and Titebond.

Jun 30, 2021 - 6:32:11 PM
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318 posts since 1/5/2009

I have too agree with Michael on this subject. I too find to many poor repair jobs. They take longer to correct and cost the customer more.

Edited by - Fiddlemaker5224 on 06/30/2021 18:33:11

Jun 30, 2021 - 6:45:58 PM
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567 posts since 3/1/2020

As the saying goes,

"El que sabe, sabe"

"He who knows, knows"

Jun 30, 2021 - 10:21:12 PM
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2009 posts since 8/27/2008

Yeah, I agree with all the above . No bad repairs. Set the saddle well. No bad habits or losing your integrity.

Jul 4, 2021 - 12:06:57 AM



47 posts since 3/16/2021

^This. (referring to KCFiddles first reply) There really isn't a practical way to do it otherwise.
I've used water soluble wood filler in small repairs that don't show and I have also used Dep "plastic wood" which is wood pulp partially dissolved in acetone, methylene chloride and alcohol. It dries nice n' hard, is easily workable and from using it I'm guessing it has acoustic properties similar to soft wood.
I've used sanding dust and hide glue but found it dries extremely hard and darkens a lot. I only use it now for tool fixtures.
To go in and make a repair like this is both challenging and rewarding, especially if you see the instrument years later and find your repair is still going strong.

Edited by - 46davis on 07/04/2021 00:09:03

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