New neck graft

Posted on | March 15, 2009 | 2 Comments|

While making a copy of Yehudi Menuhin’s Guarneri Del Gesu violin, my assistant and I have also been making a cello. It’s inspired by the ‘Castlebarco’ 1699 Stradivari cello at the Library of Congress and the ‘Servais’ 1701 Stradivari cello at the Smithsonian. Both are in Washington D.C., which I visited a few years ago.


Our cello back and sides are in poplar wood like a number of Stradivari’s cellos. And the scroll is carved from pearwood, which is a good solid hardwood for the pegs to fit into. Both poplar and pearwood are plain in appearance and match well together.

To have a beautifully figured maple neck, which I personally prefer, I grafted the plain pearwood scroll onto a maple neck- in the same style as the Stradivari cellos.

The method of grafting I used though is new. It’s a technique I heard about at a meeting of the American Federation of Violin & Bow Makers.

The traditional method cuts wood from the front of the peg box to accept the new neck graft. With good varnish retouching this can be made completely invisible- but as the decades pass the joint often begins to appear as an ugly joint line.

The new technique removes nothing away from the front of the peg box and the new neck graft is hidden within the walls of the pegbox and covered beneath the top nut. It will make varnishing around the scroll much easier on our cello. This method would also be useful when fitting the first neck graft to an old instrument, to save as much original wood and varnish as possible.


On right: the maple neck graft is glued into the pearwood scroll. Next the pegbox will be carved out and the scroll finished.


2 Responses to “New neck graft”

  1. Rachel Bontemps
    December 16th, 2010 @ 7:49 pm

    Hello Guy and Charline,

    Guy, you have a very interesting blog. Thank you for sharing those new technics of repair and for posting the pictures of your work.

    Rachel Bontemps

  2. Barbara-Ann Lewis
    November 27th, 2012 @ 4:01 pm

    I have never done a cello neck graft, but just received for repair a school cello with the neck broken off a hint of an unseen screw or nail imbedded in the endblock of the mortise (detected only by a very strong magnet). The scroll and pegbox look okay, but the fingerboard and neck are broken. No label inside the cello.

    Would your method be feasible, and worth doing, for this school instrument?

    Thank you for any comments or suggestions.

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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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