Repairs & Restorations
Cardiff Violins started off as a workshop, originally working mainly for musicians from the BBC, the Welsh National Opera, local amateur players, teachers, and music students.
Today, the workshop is still very much at the heart of our activity, and all our customers’ instruments are dealt with in-house. We offer the following services :
Routine maintenance :
Any or all of the following work may be needed :
- Peg fit
- Fingerboard shoot
- Work on nut
- New set-up (See our set-ups below)
- New strings
- Bow rehair and cleaning
- Varnish retouch
- Tonal adjustement and balancing
This includes all the work needed to bring an instrument back to its playing condition, despite deterioration due to age, lack of care or playing, storage in damp places, worm damage, etc. This my involve any or all of the following :
- Peg bushes
- Resetting proper neck elevation
- Repairing any crack anywhere on the body
- Retouching the varnish
- Resetting up
- Rib shortening
- New bass-bar
- Tonal adjustment and balancing
This includes all the work needed when an instrument has been broken in an accident. It may be any or all of the following :
- Neck graft
- Peg box repairs (bushes)
- New pegs
- Button graft
- Crack repairs anywhere on the body
- Sound-post crack patches (front and back)
- Varnish retouch
- New set-up (see our set-ups below)
- New bass-bar
If your instrument has been damaged in an accident, please contact your insurance company immediately to proceed with a claim. You will then need to bring your instrument over to us for an estimate of work. The quicker you act the quicker you can get your instrument back. However, repairs can take a long time. If you are insured with one of our partner insurance companies, we will lend you an instrument whilst we repair yours. If you are not insured yet for your instruments, do not wait for an accident to happen. Visit our Insurance Valuation page.
Approved repairers for the Benslow Trust
Our set-ups can include any or all of the work below, depending on the condition of each fitting.
- New set of pegs fitted, or existing pegs made to work
- Nut corrected or replaced, to achieve correct string height at the nut end, proper spacing between the strings, and comfort of playing in first position
- Fingerboard shot or dressed in order to achieve the correct string clearance, avoid buzzes, and remove any unsightly grooves in the ebony
- Bridge fitted to achieve the correct string height, comfort of playing, and a balanced sound.
- Sound-post adjusted or replaced, as needed
- Tailpiece fitted with correct measurements
- New strings fitted
With the aid of sophisticated modern electronic equipment, instruments can be played in to achieve the sort of maturity of sound that would normally take months or years to achieve.
"Having taken my viola into Cardiff Violins for advice as to what I should do in order to get the best out of my Viola, it was recommended that I should opt to have a professional bridge fitted in order for the viola to produce the best sound possible. I knew myself that the bridge I initially had was below standard however I was a little sceptical at first as to how much difference a bridge would actually make to the sound quality. I was assured by Chris that if the new bridge did not improve the sound quality then he would put my old bridge back on and iI would not be charged. I decided to take the plunge and having returned to test the results I was absolutely amazed! The tonal qualities that my Viola now produces is nothing short of perfect to what i was looking for, Chris spent at least half an hour with myself making sure it was exactly to how I wanted it to sound, a lovely caramel sound however still retaining the clarity and brightness that I have always preferred on my Violas. In my opinion, the cost of having the bridge fitted along with the consultation to make sure it is to my liking is well worth it!"
Nick Jones, violin and viola teacher, 07412 555859
"…Chris also did a set up of my own modern violin and changed the bridge, which has transformed the instrument so it sounds better than ever…"
Sebastian Rudnicki, freelance violinist, London (see Sebastian's full testimonial on the testimonial page)
"I can't thank you enough for the considerable time and trouble spent on restoring and voicing my violin and viola.
Your quest in satisfying my demands on workmanship and tone production with these instruments, is both reassuring and very much appreciated".
Richard Crabtree ARCM
Prof viola and violin
RWCMD Cardiff, Trinity College London
"I recently came accross an Italian cello which needed considerable work undertaking to correct the neck angle and realise the playing potential of the instrument. Chris and I spent considerable time going through the options of what would be possible and also cost effective. I must admit that I was nervous when Chris explained the work he recommended, but I was amazed at the level of craftmanship that Chris and his team achieved, and in fact, you would never know that a repair had been done!
I'm always impressed by the work that Chris and his team undertake and I have huge respect for the values that they work by - a real passion to do the right thing for the musician and also to ensure the instrument can perform to its full potential, which mine now does…the cello sounds awesome!"
Alex Woodward, cellist,
Swindon, Cardiff, Bristol
I have been playing some of the Bach Cello Suites this week - and the tone and resonance is outstanding. Not sure what you did with the new bridge, and sound post placement, but it has made a good instrument exceptional.
I have now just got to learn how to get the best out of it. So, major thanks!"
Gavin Stoddart, Burnham-On -Sea
"Chris King was first recommended to me by a dealer in London who suggested I was making unnecessary journeys to the capital for work on my violin, when there was an excellent repairer in Cardiff. That was thirty years ago, and since then I have had major work done by him on my 1879 Audinot. He repaired the scroll after an encounter with a frenzied viola player's "down bow" left a nasty crack. He also restored the varnish on the back after the violin had been left in storage in 100 degree heat at Kong Kong airport, melting it and even fusing it to the case. Both repairs were immaculate. Over the years Chris has provided me with excellent bridges, tonal adjustments, bows and rehairs. He and Cecile always make time to remedy any problems I might have, and we are very lucky in Cardiff to have such a wonderful, friendly service close at hand."
Richard Newington, 1st violinist in the BBC National Orchestra of Wales, Cardiff
"Thank you for all the time and skill you have lavished on my cello. I am still discovering its full potential but it is already clear that the tone quality is now better accross the entire register than it has ever been before and the ease with which the instrument responds is a transformation and a joy. My pupils are always greatly inspired and practise far more when they have one of your cellos. I now find myself sharing their experience. Thank you so very much!"
Chris Holland, cello teacher, Guernsey
Our bridge options
We offer a number of different bridges to choose from, to suit different needs.
School instruments sometimes need a new bridge, and people are reluctant to pay more than what the instrument cost them, especially if the instrument doesn’t belong to them. We may be able to adapt a previously used bridge. However, as it still takes time, the minimum charge is £ 30.
Good quality wood, and bridge and sound-post fitted to exacting standards to provide comfort of playing and a good well-balanced sound. This is the best option for inexpensive instruments and young players.
Option 3 : risk-free bridge
Our most popular option by far, this allows you to explore how your instrument can sound without taking the risk of having to pay for it if you don’t like it, in which case we simply put your old bridge back on and you pay nothing. This version includes the finest French bridges made to our own specification, exacting standards of fitting, instrument being played and assessed, tonal adjustment and balancing, time spent with the player to adjust the instrument to match their tonal preferences to achieve the best results.