Soundpost patch – Italian violin by A. Gavatelli

Posted on | February 15, 2009 | 3 Comments|


The owner of this violin had been trying to shine up her violin with a cleaning solution, which are sold in small bottles by many violin shops in Canada. Overtime the rosin and sticky residue left by the cleaner had built up a thick dirty layer over the front of her violin.

I don’t recommend or sell any of these cleaning products. A soft cloth is the best thing to wipe rosin off your instrument, together with periodic cleaning by a professional luthier. (See for a trained luthier near you)

My assistant spent 2 hours cleaning the front and discovered a soundpost crack. (a crack under the bridge and over the soundpost)

To prevent the crack becoming worse and effecting the sound, we recommended to repair and reinforce the crack.

To begin my workshop made a cast in plaster of the front before removing it from the sides. (below)


The front was removed and the crack cleaned and glued. Using a template the position of the reinforcement inside was decided on and the spruce patch prepared.


The patch was inlaid into the front. The ‘patch bed’ was carved out and carefully scraped to a perfectly smooth shape. The depth of the patch bed was 2/3 of the of the original thickness of the front, leaving 1mm spare. The plaster cast supported the front during all this delicate work.


The new spruce patch was fitted using the ‘chalk fitting’ technique. Chalk is applied to the patch bed and the patch is gently pressed into the place. Where the patch touches the patch bed it leaves chalk marks on the patch and indicates where wood needs to be cut away. My assistant removed wood from the new spruce patch until the chalk showed a perfect fit. fitting-patch1

The small upright supports at either end of the patch are there to locate the patch in the same position every time.patch-in-bed1

The patch was glued and clamped. Next it was trimmed down close to the level of the front


The patch was carefully scraped to blend level with the original. Since the original thickness of the front was good we made the patch the same.


This completed the internal work of reinforcing the crack. Some varnish work on the outside was needed. The crack was sealed with varnish and filled to make the crack completely invisible. Below shows a close up of the thin stripe of varnish applied to the crack waiting to dry, before final finishing.

This repair will prevent the crack from opening up in the future.




3 Responses to “Soundpost patch – Italian violin by A. Gavatelli”

  1. Agustín Elizalde
    March 15th, 2009 @ 3:49 pm

    I’m considering buying an instrument from that maker (alcide gavatelli). I live in Buenos Aires, and the violin looks very nice an has a good sound (very nice materials). But I’m not an expert.. I’m just a musician. What do you think of the violin? do you like it? In my case, the instrument is from 1936, very nice wood and condition.


  2. Charline Dequincey
    April 13th, 2009 @ 6:57 am

    This technique rocks! I love it (and I finally visited your blog! youhouhhhhhhhhh!)

  3. Tobias Hepp
    June 29th, 2009 @ 9:34 am

    I have a cello by the same maker, same year of production.I have some problems getting certificate as the maker later changed the way of doing edgework more in tha manner of Degani. Could you please mail me some fotos from this violin ( only taken from outside), would be areal great help!Thanks a lot!

    Tobias Hepp

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    Guy Harrison Violin Maker
    792 Gladstone Avenue
    Ottawa, Ontario
    K1R 6X9
    Tel: 613 569 4803

    1997 Silver medal for viola in the Mittenwald International Violin Making Competition, Germany.

    2010 Bronze medal for violin in the Mittenwald International Violin Making Competition, Germany.

    2014 Workmanship award for violin in the Mittenwald International Violin Making Competition, Germany.

    2016 Silver Workmanship medal for cello in the VSA Violin Making Competition, USA.

    Member of the American Federation of Violin & Bow Makers and Violin Society of America.

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