Restorations and Repairs
Partial list of services we offer:
Bows: bow rehair, bow restoration, bow repair, re-camber service, grips, tubing, fittings
Sound adjustment: violin, viola, cello, bass, gamba family instruments
Instrument work: crack repair, open seams, peg replacement, accessory replacement, varnish restoration, fingerboard dressing, custom chin rests, sound post and bridge fitting, nut and saddle work, sound post patches, arching work, bass bar fitting/replacement
Appraisals: insurance appraisals, verbal appraisals
Restorer/Luthier Timothy Donley
Bow work, major repairs and restorations are all performed by restorer Tim Donley, who was trained through a classical apprenticeship and has been serving musicians throughout the Carolinas, Virginia, and elsewhere since 1992. Davidson Violins is pleased to offer full repair and restoration services for violin, viola, cello, bass, and related bowed instruments, such as the gamba family under Tim’s careful repair process.
Repair Manager - Frank Albert
Frank began training in instrument repair with Timothy Donley in 2008 and with Francis Morris and Paul Weissmeyer at the Violin Repair Institute in New Hampshire, earning certification in Level I and II as a repair technician. Frank and Tim work collaboratively on many repair and restoration projects at the busy Davidson Violins workshop. Frank is available by appointment to evaluate old instruments, explore electric instruments or to assist you with selecting the best bow and instrument to suit your needs.
Even beginners need good playing instruments
For the beginner, the playing position may feel awkward and achieving even small successes can be challenging. Learning a string instrument may not be easy, but it can be worth it with a well-adjusted instrument in excellent condition. Many beginners purchase inexpensive instruments over the internet, from pawn shops, and even music stores but find only frustration in their early lessons because of major problems with the instrument or bow.
Let us give your instrument and bow a free inspection. Taking into consideration your musical goals and the purpose of the instrument will help us advise you best as to what, if anything, needs changing. Many times it can be as simple as a new set of strings. For less than the cost of a better instrument, instruments which have problems such as strings that are too high, strings which play unevenly or with excessive noise, or other setup problems can be repaired.
Heirloom and historic instruments
While most of the instruments we service have been making music for a long time, we have seen a great many that have rested untouched for many years, waiting for the day they would be played again. Just when we think we've surely restored the last heirloom to be found, several more arrive that we carefully bring back to life. Restoration of historic and heirloom instruments is an important part of our business, so should an old treasure find you, we'd love to bring it back to life.
Levels of Restoration Available
There are often different approaches that could be taken with antique or damaged instruments. For example, a fine, valuable old violin destined for a promising young student might need to be fully restored to premium condition and documented in a formal appraisal. On the other hand, a hobby violinist might just wish to have the instrument playing well again, and not be concerned with cosmetic details that don't affect the structure or sound.
It's worth remembering that there have always been cheap violins available, so there are the occasional instances where the best approach is to clean it up and hang it on the wall. If you've acquired an antique instrument let us have a look at it with you and discuss your goals for it and your music making. We'd love to help you do what's best for you and your instrument, whether it's a complete restoration or installing a new set of strings and bow hair.
Bow Re-Hair Services
One of the most neglected yet important parts of playing a string instrument is the bow itself. The true magic of the violin family of instruments is the carefully crafted bow. Bow hair is real horsehair and wears out over time, much like shoes or car tires. Playing with a worn out bow is frustrating and typically leads to excessive use of rosin to compensate for the bow hair’s inability to adequately grip the string. We recommend rehairing your bow at least once every 12 months, and more frequently for the active player.
We use high quality horsehair from Mongolia or Siberia and for the finest bows the world's finest quality hair, hand-dressed in England by M. Sowden & Sons is available. Please note that beginning student bows frequently cost less than the cost of a rehair. Often folks will choose to simply purchase another student bow to save the rehair cost. Most bows worth $100 or more are good candidates for a rehair.
Many an old bow can also be restored. If you find or inherit an heirloom violin, viola or cello you may find the bow hair detached and lying all over the inside of the case. This is usually caused by "bow bugs" that have eaten the hair. A rehair of the bow will solve this, although you should not continue to store it in the original case.
We can advise you about protecting your newly rehaired bow from future damage. While not all old bows are good enough to warrant a rehair, many can be restored to like new condition. Please visit us for advice on your vintage and heirloom bows.