Please get in contact to arrange an appointment.
As well as being an instrument technician I’m also a player, and I understand the importance of getting things just right so that your instrument is not only structurally sound but also feels as good as (or maybe even better than) new.
Before undertaking a repair I’ll make sure there aren’t any other underlying issues that could prevent you from getting the best out of it. The checkup process is free; there will be no work carried out until I have been in touch to discuss options.
Although I can give you a cost estimate prior to meeting, I usually prefer not to quote for a repair until I have examined the instrument fully. In some rare cases, such as internal structural issues, it may be necessary to carry out some exploratory work on the instrument to assess to viability of certain repair options. If this is the case I will talk you through the necessary considerations.
I offer bow rehairs for violin, viola and cello. Prices are as follows:
Double Bass: variable
I generally aim for a fast turnaround, so you should get your bow back pretty quickly, however guaranteed next-day service is also available for an additional charge.
Common Instrument Services
Violin, Viola or Cello
Basic setup service includes basic instrument clean, bridge check (making sure it is standing straight, aligned squarely etc.), chinrest tightening, tailpiece tweaks, nut slot depth correction to deal with uncomfortable string action in first position.
If the instrument is very dirty then more time may be required to clean it. Whilst this is partly aesthetic, a buildup of grime, especially rosin, can actually damage the varnish over time. Depending on the type and condition of the varnish, it may make sense to apply a coat of French polish or beeswax polish in order to protect and maintain the existing finish.
Work on the soundpost is the common addition to the basic setup and a ill-fitting or badly positioned post can be the root cause of many mysterious tonal issues including buzzes, wolf notes and uneven balance across the strings. It may be possible to work with the existing soundpost, however a new post is often be required to give the maximum scope for adjustment.
Simple action height / bridge curve alterations can often be performed with existing bridge, although a new bridge may sometimes be required if the old bridge has warped, the string height is too low or the fit is too bad to correct. Sometimes a new bridge can also generally improve the clarity of an instrument. A different style of bridge can often be used to adjust the tone as well, especially on cello.
If the pegs on the instrument are sticking or slipping then it may be possible to lubricate them and perform small adjustments of the fit, however sometimes a new set is required. In severe cases it my be necessary to plug and re-create the holes if they have been worn beyond a certain point, prior to fitting a new set of pegs.
A fingerboard reshoot can be done to remove any grooves created by the strings as well as lumps and bumps which can cause buzzing and intonation issues. In some cases, the fingerboard may be too concave, leading to excessively high string action in 3rd and 4th position, regardless of how it is set at the bridge. In cases with severely worn fingerboards there may not be sufficient material left to create a perfect profile, and in this case a new fingerboard is really the best option.
Structural issues such as cracks and open seams are always worth repairing as soon as possible. Different options are possible to budget and general value of the instrument.
Guitars, Mandolins, Banjos etc.
A simple setup includes fretboard clean & fret polish, truss rod adjustment, nut slot lubrication & string change. If you fingerboard is excessively crusty, I may need to charge more for a deep clean / scrape. For mandolin and banjo, this also includes bridge position check. And for banjo specifically also includes head tension and tailpiece tension.
A more advanced setup may include action height adjustment. Either raising or lowering to try and achieve a balance of tone and playability. Some instruments may also require intonation compensation. Modifying the bridge or saddle in order to make the instrument play in tune across all strings, up and down the neck.
A fret level may be necessary when some frets are higher than others causing certain notes to buzz. The process is followed by re-establishing the top profile of the frets and polishing them. If there is visible fret-wear then this can be more of an issue, as the frets must be lowered until the marks disappear, and in some cases it may actually make more sense to replace worn frets entirely, but either way, at least a partial leveling is then required to blend them in
As with bowed instruments, a new nut is required if the old nut has broken, is worn down, or if you want to upgrade (e.g. plastic to bone.) I usually make the new nut from scratch to make sure it fits your instrument perfectly. The standard material is bone, but ebony can also work well on some instruments and may be preferred if you are opposed to animal products.
I also offer specialised services for banjo such as railroad spike installation (5th string capo), and replacing the skin. Plastic heads or natural vellum may be preferred; plastic requires less maintenance and is generally quicker to install however some players prefer a natural skin and some banjos may require it if they have non-standard dimensions. A new skin, especially a natural one, will really stretch over the first few weeks, so I would recommend you book a return visit so I can check the tension.