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Violin Top Removal

Violin Top Removal

by George Manno

Originally published in American Lutherie #5, 1986 and Big Red Book of American Lutherie Volume One, 2000

One of the most difficult repairs to perform on a violin is removing its top after it has been glued with a yellow or a polyvinyl white glue, such as Titebond. These glues do exactly what the name implies: Their main objective is to close the separation between the rib and the top or back permanently. Violins are built in such a way that they can be taken apart if necessary. On many occasions, we have seen instruments come into our shop that were repaired by amateurs using whatever glue was available at the local hardware store. Apparently, thoughts of future adjustments to the neck or bass bar are not considered. Efforts to remove the top without damaging it after such glues have been used were, for a time, a cause of great distress to us.

We have found a way to dissolve such a bond without harming the table, ribs, or back. Using a number of thin artist’s spatulas, a syringe, and some warm vinegar, along with a lot of patience, the removal of the top can be done successfully and the repair completed in a few days.

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