Posted on

Violin Q & A: Limits of Regraduation

Violin Q & A: Limits of Regraduation

by George Manno

Originally published in American Lutherie #10, 1987 and Big Red Book of American Lutherie Volume One, 2000


I recently regraduated the top, back, and sides of a violin. I took the top down to 2.5MM in the center, the upper and lower bouts down to 2.2MM, and the ribs down to .9MM. I refit a new bassbar and put the instrument back together. The instrument sounds so much better after this tonal adjustment, but I have to keep fitting a new soundpost every month or so. I have noticed a slight bulge in the soundpost area of the top. My question to you is, should I remove the top and put in a soundpost patch, or treat the underside of the table with potassium silicate to stiffen up the wood?

What you did to the violin in question is not considered by most makers and repairpersons to be a “tonal adjustment.” What you have done is to prepare the instrument for an early grave. Nothing you do now is going to save it. Forgive me for coming down so hard on you, but regraduating an instrument to such radical proportions leaves the instrument, in my opinion, unplayable, unrepairable, and worthless. I hope that the violin we are speaking of does not belong to a customer of yours. I suggest to anyone reading this to remember that, when repairing an instrument, keep in mind the factor of irreversability in your work. Wood does not grow back once it is carved away!