Common Cello Repair Problems & What to do
Bridges, Buzzing/rattling noises, Cracks, Slipping pegs, Open seams, Soundposts, String problems, Broken tailgut
BRIDGES: If your bridge falls, first check the top of the instrument to make sure that no cracks have occurred. If there is a crack in the top, or in the bridge, or if the bridge has warped, call us as soon as possible to bring it in for a repair assessment. You might choose to set it back up yourself, but it’s still worth bringing it in to make sure everything is in the right place as this can affect the sound. Here’s how to do it, loosen the strings a little (do not completely remove the tension of all of the strings; this may cause the soundpost to fall down). Using both hands, place the feet in the marks that they usually make on the front and slowly pull it back up into place, the bridge feet align with the f-hole notches although an exact position may need checking. The strings should be centered over the fingerboard. As you tune the strings up to pitch, check that the top of the bridge is not being pulled forward too much towards the scroll. Gently, with both hands, bring the bridge to a straight position.
BUZZES & RATTLES: The instrument is buzzing or rattling. The very first thing to check for is open seams; a loose fingerboard; loose and rattling fine tuners; old, fraying strings etc. Check for things which need tightening first: you may be able to correct the problem easily otherwise bring it in for a check-up if you are unable to solve the buzzing.
CRACKS: If you see a crack or white/light coloured line. Do not delay in bringing it in for a check-up. If you wait, the situation could get worse. Do not attempt to glue the crack yourself this could make the correct repair very difficult and add possible loss in value.
PEGS: A peg is slipping, this causes the string to go out of tune, or possibly it’s sticking, making tuning very difficult. It may be possible for you to paste the peg using Hill’s peg paste, remove the peg and apply Hill’s Peg Compound to the shiny parts of the removed peg. This product, especially for pegs, provides the correct grip that is needed for slipping pegs, or the lubricant needed for sticking pegs. Changes in humidity can have an impact on pegs, causing them to swell or shrink. When it’s very dry you may need to push the peg in a little more, when it’s very humid you’ll need to slightly pull out the peg. If problems continue with your pegs this may indicate that they no longer fit well in the holes of the pegbox. Bring your instrument in for a check-up.
SEAMS: An seam opens along the side of the instrument either on the front joint with the ribs or the back joint with the ribs. This is not uncommon and can happen with changes in humidity. You may notice the open seam after hearing buzzing from the instrument when you play. Bring the instrument in as soon as possible. Do not attempt to glue the seam yourself.
SOUNDPOST: If your soundpost falls down, you’ll most likely hear it rattle around noisily inside your instrument and the tone/volume will significantly reduce. This can happen for a number of reasons; maybe It’s been dropped or hit against something jarring even when inside its case; the strings may lose their tension all at once (when changing your strings, be sure to replace just one string at a time); or the instrument may have been exposed to a drastic change in humidity.
If your soundpost falls down, wrap some cloth e.g. a scarf around the bridge, loosen all of the strings to remove the tension off of the instrument and avoid compressing the front. Bring the instrument as soon as possible in for repair. Occasionally a new soundpost may have to be cut.
STRINGS: One very annoying and costly problem is when a relatively new string breaks. Make a note of where it breaks. These breakages can be of course down to a faulty string but more frequently they are due to rough edge on the peg, in the nut groove or the edges of the nut, or the fine tuner. If the cotton winding of the string is too close to the pegbox wall, this can result in a break.
TAILGUT: The tailgut, this is the cord which attaches the tailpiece to the end button, if this breaks during playing it can be quite shocking, the instrument appears to explode – the strings splay loose, the bridge falls off, and the soundpost may fall down. Don’t panic! It’s very likely that it looks worse than it is. Bring your instrument in for repair right away. It can usually be fixed on the spot.
We have outstanding workshop facilities with fabulous light set over two floors with a separate machine room, photo studio and research library. We are well equipped with the tools necessary and expertise to make and carry out all repairs and restorations both minor and extensive. Our luthiers are highly experienced, dedicated professionals, recruited from the top violin-making schools around the world; our knowledge is acquired from years of experience and is transferred from generation from age to age in an ethos of sharing and apprenticeship.
Cellos require regular care and maintenance, having a check-up by our luthiers will guarantee that both your cello and you as player reach and maintain your musical potential
Our repairers are trusted with some of the world’s most precious instruments, however no matter what the value or quality of cello you can be sure that each and everyone receives our full attention – no job is too small.
In order to maintain your cello’s value, distinctive voice, condition and longevity take experience, knowledge and skill.
Many of the instruments we work on are very old and valuable and all workmanship is guaranteed. We often carry out emergency work. Minor repairs tend to take about a week whereas larger repairs are generally arranged to suit the musician’s schedule.
We also repair and restore violas, cellos, double basses and bows, and we undertake work on early and period instruments including lutes, viols and viola d’amores and of course we are well-known experts for baroque violins.
Renowned expert repair and restoration carried out by gifted craftsmen using time-honoured techniques as well as innovative and technically advanced methods which are at the forefront of current knowledge, all repairs and restorations carried out to the highest standards for instruments and bows of all levels. Benefit from the abundant knowledge and restoration expertise of its managing directors Tom Neitzert and Gary Bridgewood and their restorers. Our focus is on minimal intervention and maintenance of original material wherever possible thereby preserving the integrity and value of your precious instrument using discreet, conservative and refined repair methods.
For sound adjustments, our commitment is to explore all available options with due consideration for the characteristics of each instrument as well as the exact demands of the player. All our work is conducted in a measured and attentive manner to achieve the optimum sound for each instrument.
Day to day minor repairs and set-ups e.g. shooting fingerboards, a new bridge, glueing etc. are usually completed within a week, URGENT procedures are carried out the same day.
Please call 020 7249 9398 to request a cello repair quote.