Repairing major damage: it can be done!

Repairing damaged cello

Occasionally a customer comes to us with a well-loved instrument that has suffered terrible damage in an accident. It’s always devastating for any musician wondering if a repair is possible and satisfying for us if we are able to restore the instrument back to full health. In this case a customer came to us with a cello that had suffered extensive damage after an accident. The accident had caused a massive and complete break on the rib, front and back of the top right quarter of the cello and cracks in the body at the front and back. The customer literally brought us the instrument in pieces.


Cello damage

Tung who did the restoration says ‘it was a bit like doing a jigsaw’. The first step to repairing the cello before removing the front from the rib structure was to put back in place the broken pieces from the front of the cello. Using an organic dissolvable glue we meticulously replaced the broken pieces and clamped them until they were fixed. We then repaired the cracks on the front of the cello again using natural glue and stretcher clamps.

Repair to front

Once the front was back in one piece and strong enough to support the clamps required for the repair to the ribs, the next stage of the repair was to replace the pieces of broken rib. Again, using a special organic, dissolvable glue and a matrix of clamps. Once this part of the cello was stable, we were finally able to put the final missing pieces from the back in place, clamping the pieces using specialist aluminium repair clamps.

Repair to ribs

Once we had re-built the structure, we were able to take the top off the cello, now we unglued a few sections that we had already fixed to both the front, back and ribs and improved their alignment, we used linen reinforcement to strengthen the repairs and the cracks, before finally refitting the top onto the rib structure. Throughout the process we had to work very carefully to ensure that we were maintaining the exact original structure of the instrument ensuring that we were confident about each piece we replaced before gluing.

Rib repair with open cello

Finally, now all the parts had been put back into place, we undertook a meticulous re-touch to the restored areas to colour match the damaged areas and render the repairs invisible to the eye. This was followed by a special varnish filler and clear coats of varnish to complete the finish. Tung describes the repair as ‘incredibly satisfying’, adding ‘we were all horrified when we saw the damage that this poor cello had sustained and are extremely pleased to be able to give it back to it’s owner in great shape’.

Repaired cello

Cello Back

We run a large-scale repair and restoration workshop operating to the most exacting standards and all work is carried out by gifted craftspeople using time-honoured techniques as well as innovative methods at the forefront of current knowledge. We offer a complete range of repair, restoration and set up across a range of instruments and although we are always horrified to see damage such as on this cello, accidents do happen and we are here to help.

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