String instruments change considerably with the passing of time: a setup that worked well several years ago may start delivering less than optimal results if it is used in a different climate zone, or simply due to usage.
We start any sound adjustment by drawing up a record of the instrument’s current condition, to be able to return to it if necessary. Then, consulting with the customer, we modify the setup, play and listen to obtain improved sound or playability.
One important thing is to maintain a continual overview of the instrument as a whole. So it´s necessary to close open seams and cracks first, as well as to re-glue loose necks and fingerboards, before moving on to more delicate sound adjustments.
Sound adjustment may comprise moving the soundpost and bridge, changing the strings and accessories (the tailpiece, the tailchord, the finetuners or the endpin of the cello), or modifying the bridge. All these parts contribute to the sound of the instrument!
Sound adjustments are only carried out by appointment. Like all other repairs, they are invoiced according to the amount of worktime and material invested.
A Hamberger soundpost is a height-adjustable device made out of a light-weight synthetic polymer (not carbon!). The ball joints at the extremities adapt to all forms of arching; the height can be lengthened or shortened thanks to a smooth-running nut that´s turnable from the outside of the instrument.
These soundposts have convinced us because of their clear sonority and the possibility of being able to precisely adjust them without having to use heavy tools.
Hamberger soundposts can be quite helpful in some cases: for instance, if an instrument sounds too indistinct, or has poor response.
Violins, violas, and cellos normally don´t lose any of their value if regularly adjusted and well-kept. In fact, years of playing can actually increase the beauty and lushness of their tone and increase the range of expression. But the instruments need to be kept up on a regular basis, since bridges, soundposts, fingerboards, strings, and pegs are subject to constant wear and tear. Your instrument’s varnish also needs to be regularly checked and maintained for it to keep its beauty and fulfil its protective role.
If you are a professional, we recommend that you bring in your instrument once a year for check-up and re-adjustment. Amateur musicians may bring in their instrument for check-up and adjustment every two years, depending on how often they play.
We check all components and glue-joints one by one: is the soundpost still fitting well? Has the bridge warped? Do the pegs fit and turn well? Everything is going to be surveyed and eventually fixed to attain optimal condition.
One of the regular jobs done at a check-up is re-shooting the fingerboard and finally polishing it to a shine (see the above picture).
If your strings are played demandingly, they should be changed at least once a year. The material for today’s strings is extremely resistant, so they hardly break in normal use. Nevertheless, any string will eventually lose its tone power and won´t be able to be played in perfect fifths with the passing of time.
The varnish needs to be completely cleaned at regular intervals; spots where the wood is unprotected need to be sealed off with protective varnish. As the upper treble bout rib is frequently in contact with the hand and very subject to wear, we recommend a rib protection film for that area.
We also closely inspect your bow; we inspect the evenness of the hair ribbon, the thumb area and thumb leather, the bow mechanics eventually needs to be readjusted, and spots where the varnish has worn out need to be repolished.
See: →Bow services
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