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Monthly Archives: July 2010

The cello that I’ve been writing about over the past few months isn’t far off completion. I always string instruments up before varnishing to be sure that they sound as they should. If adjustments are necessary and the top needs to come off, it seems better to do it before any colour or varnish is applied. This one was played by several decent cellists and I’m glad to say they had no complaints about the sound – a good response across the strings, although there’s a rather fierce wolf between F and F# on the G string and, to a lesser extent, on the D string too. It may prove necessary to fit a wolf note suppressor but I’ll defer judgement on that until it has been strung up again after varnishing. One of the cellists however, was helpfully critical about the shape of the neck – he thought that I had left it a touch too wide. So I reshaped it before starting to varnish.

Here’s the instrument strung up in the white:

And here are a couple of photographs after a few coats of varnish.

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A while ago, I wrote about repairing the damaged soundboard of a cedar topped guitar. And I’ve recently had to deal with a similar problem, this time caused by the lid of the case falling on the guitar as it was being lifted out. The damage wasn’t structural but it did leave some conspicuous dents.

The soundboard had been finished by French polishing and I reckoned that simply re-polishing the damaged area would be almost enough. However, first, using a hot (but not too hot) iron and some wet kitchen paper, I steamed out the dents. When dry, I lightly sanded the area before brushing several coats of clear shellac into the places where the polish had been chipped off. After a couple of days to allow it harden, I sanded again with 1500 grit paper to level the area and then re-polished the whole of the lower part of the soundboard in the traditional way using a pad to apply the shellac. Another few days for the shellac to harden, a quick buff up with some burnishing cream and damaged area was almost invisible.

But not completely invisible because, viewed in certain lights, the repaired areas were just identifiable as slightly paler patches. You can see them in the photograph below. I had exactly the same problem with the last repair and I don’t know how to eliminate it. This time I tried exposing the bare wood to UV light for a few hours before applying any shellac but I’m very doubful that it made any difference. Maybe I should have left it under the UV light for longer. If anyone has a better idea, I’d love to hear from them.

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