Woodsound Studio, The Fine Art of Luthierie since 1975 - Repairs and Restoration

Repairs & Restoration

What’s in Process?
(Go to Current Projects)

What makes a fine instrument a fine instrument, and why shouldn’t my instrument play like a professional’s? I suppose these two questions are synonymous. We see professional-level instruments that play and sound like a tin can and quite inexpensive instruments that play great and sound pretty good too. All fretted and orchestral stringed instruments must start with one absolute: the angle of neck to body must be correct! The correct angle ensures that bridge height or saddle heights are tall enough to set the proper string height to fingerboard for playability and not so high as to produce a brittle, biting tonality. Instruments with too low an action or bridge/saddle height have no power and projection (see Fretted setup or Orchestral setup for more about correct measurements).

Checking the neck/body relationship is the first step of our thinking process with every instrument we look at when beginning a repair or restoration. The type of repair we need to undertake is determined not only by the damage that exists but also whether the neck to body relationship is right.

What is the difference between a repair and a restoration? This is a question often asked of us. In my mind, the difference is whether there is a single point of damage that fixed will bring an instrument back to a state of playability, or multiple points of concern and the goal is to bring the instrument back to its original condition, sometimes better. “Restoration” is the term often associated with repairs to older instruments. Restoration is bringing an instrument—often an old or heavily played one—back to its former glory, especially when the work is quite major, due to damage and the ravages of time. A neglected instrument that has fallen into total disrepair due to lack of humidity, rough use, or water damage can require many weeks of exacting work.

We often see instruments from the 18th and 19th centuries that have had great and/or horrible work done to them. I find the detective work involved in restoring old instruments to be one of the most interesting aspects of my field. Who did what and when? Did they sign their work or will their identity be forever unknown? Problems may stem from poor workmanship or lack of information about modern and correct measurements, collapsing fretted instrument bodies, or well-built instruments that were just built using incorrect measurements or on an old standard, or the worst of all, incompetent workmanship. Amateurs abound in the field and have ruined hundreds of thousands of instruments through the centuries.

At Woodsound, we have over 75 collective years of learning and experience in the field, doing careful and inventive work, which will see your instrument returned in the best of health and to its greatest value. You will see, play, and enjoy your instrument to its utmost with the Woodsound difference.

To enhance your understanding of what we do, we offer the linked pages in the lists below to show you the depth to which we go in restoration of both orchestral and fretted stringed instruments. We hope you will enjoy the photo essays and feel the love we put into our craft and the joy we receive by sharing and educating you, our musical audience. These pages are not intended as a primer or a how to, but to let you know about a few of the restorations we have done for our hundreds of clients over the course of more than 30 years, to show you the extent of the types of work we do, and to assure you about how we will treat your precious instrument.

Orchestral Restorations

Dino Liva’s Degani Violin
Marc Johnson’s Francesco Stradivari Cello

Fretted Restorations

Fareed Haque’s Fleta & Rubio Guitars