Quick Repairs to Do in an Emergency
Here are some simple repairs that can be done before a performance or when your favorite violin shop is closed.**
| Slipping Pegs | Buzzing | Fingerboard Fell Off | Hitting Multiple Strings | Slipped Tailgut |
There are several reasons for slipping pegs.
The pegs do not fit. No matter what you do, you cannot get the peg(s) to hold.
To tell if this is the case, remove the string from the peg and see if the peg wobbles in the string hole of the peg. If it does wobble- get professional help for a peg adjustment/replacement.
The string hole is too close to the pegbox wall.
When the string hole is too close to the pegbox wall, the peg cannot be pushed in far enough to hold the tension of the string. Solution: pull the string off, remove the peg from the instrument, drill a new small hole in the peg (appropriately sized to match the string thickness), put the peg back into the instrument, and set the string back in place. **Lashof Violins does this adjustment for free, so if you're squeamish about drilling into the peg, bring it in for an adjustment.
The peg may just need to be lubricated.
Humidity changes in the air will cause pegs to expand and contract. A little LAVA brand (bar) soap put directly on the peg where it rubs in the peg holes will do wonders for both slipping and sticking pegs. In dry winter months, using a case humidifier like The Precipitube Humidifier will help maintain a constant level of humidity which will also help prevent slipping pegs.
Click here to learn more about Slipping Pegs!
Here are some common causes for buzzing.
Buzzing at the Upper Nut
The string has worn the groove in the nut all the way down to the fingerboard. Remove the string and slip a thin piece of leather or piece of paper under the trouble spot. When possible, get the instrument to your repair person/luthier for a nut adjustment.
Buzzing all the way up the Fingerboard
- The bridge is too low or the fingerboard may be warped. Take a piece of compressed cardboard (like the kind that comes inside a new dress shirt). Cut a couple of thin strips of cardboard and place them under the bridge feet while being careful to not let the soundpost fall--a little light, continuous pressure on the top of the instrument above the soundpost should suffice. As soon as possible, get your instrument into the shop for assessment and repair.
- The winding of the strings around the pegs may be contacting one another. Check your pegbox to make sure the windings of the strings are not touching other strings or the pegbox walls.
A Woody-Buzzing Sound
Check the chinrest and make sure it is not touching the tailpiece--this is a very common problem with center-mounted chinrests. Move the chin rest over a little if it is making contact. If a small adjustment doesn't work and your chin rest is still making contact, take your instrument to a repair person to have the chin rest adjusted to clear the tailpiece.
If the chin rest isn't the issue, check all around the edges to see if they are tightly glued. If you find an open spot, put a slip of paper in the opening to stop the rattle.
Finally, check to make sure there is no buildup of funk (most likely a hardened rosin residue) in the "f" holes at the points. Use a business card to gently clear the debris.
A Metallic-Buzzing Sound
Check the fine tuners and make sure they are not touching the top of the instrument.
If there seems to be a lot of play in the threads of the fine tuner screw, remove the screw and apply candle wax, Lava soap, beeswax, or crayon to the threads of the screw and return the screw to the fine tuner assembly.
Check to see if the little plastic protector that comes on some strings is loose behind the bridge. This plastic tube is a protector for the top of the bridge and should be placed as such. (See "Good! Bad!" photo above.)
Fingering tape applied to the fingerboard causes buzzing.
The fingerboard is designed to have a slight curvature along its length to allow the strings to vibrate. With tapes applied, this curvature is compromised and the tapes can stop the string(s) from vibrating.
We at Lashof Violins prefer to use a Silver Sharpie® Metallic marker to apply marks to the fingerboard because it does not stop the strings from vibrating. Additionally, Sharpie® marks can be added or removed with less damage (or sticky mess) to the neck than tapes.
Another common problem with fingering tape is that the adhesive breaks down and the tapes actually shift, causing the student to play out of tune. The Sharpie® marks do not in any way hurt the surface of the fingerboard and we are comfortable enough to mark all our stock bows with the same marker because of the ease of removal.
However, if you're uncomfortable with writing on the fingerboard at all, we also recommend checking out products like the First Frets or Don't Frets Fingerboard Markers. These products are not without their faults--they can still cause buzzing-- but we find them to cause less trouble than individual tapes on the fingerboard.
Click Here to Learn More about Buzzing
If buzzing still persists it could be a number of other things - see a repair person.
In a pinch, lightly wet both gluing surfaces (where the fingerboard attaches to the neck) with warm water, place the fingerboard back onto the neck, and use a painters-style tape to tape the edges (on the unvarnished portion of the neck) for as long as possible. Tune the instrument at the last possible moment and remember to loosen the tension again when you are done.
Do not attempt to re-glue or use glue on the instrument. The wrong type of glue will cause damage to your instrument and cost you more when your repair person has to remove the incorrect glue and repair/replace your fingerboard. See your repair person as soon as possible and when not using the instrument, loosen the strings.
Your bridge is probably too flat. Put small pieces of tape (or small slips of paper) on the bridge under the string until it is high enough to work properly. As soon as possible, see a repair person.
Re-thread the brass nuts onto the tailgut; pinch the nuts with pliers and heat the ends of the tailgut (see image on the left) until they slightly balloon. Finish by adding a drop of Crazy Glue to the threads.
Then get to your repair person as soon as possible. No one wants strings flying into their face and exploding tailguts can cause damage to the top of the instrument. Your repair person will not only be able to replace your tailgut, but they will make sure to adjust the length to help your instrument sound its best.
Having Other Troubles? Cracks? Strange noises? Not comfortable with the suggested temporary solutions?
When in doubt, remember this phrase: If you have apprehension, lower your string tension, and get it to the shop for a repair intervention! Lashof Violins is not far away!
**These repairs are to be done only in emergency situations and are not a replacement for repairs done by a qualified repair person/luthier.
Lashof Violins does not accept responsibility for damage(s) done to an instrument or bow as a result of these suggestions.