Warning: this post contains graphic scenes of destruction and violins.


(See sidebar on right for translation widget, links to compositions and novels, and awards etc.)

In 1996, while taking a lunchtime stroll in Durban City Centre to clear my head after a morning of work, I spotted a new violin in the window of a music shop marked R195-00, which was considerably cheaper than all others there.  The last thing I needed in my life at that time was an unfamiliar kind of musical instrument to contend with. Apart from work I had a number of work-related and voluntary organisation  committee commitments to keep me out of mischief.  I was also engaged in completing a BA degree at the time. 

Temptation overcame me, though.  I entered, pointed, and plonked down the required sum.  The sales assistant looked worried and did a lot of blinking at the price tag, but not many minutes later I returned to work carrying a violin case.

Through the university, I then tracked down a teacher in our area.  Younger Daughter took a great interest in the instrument, declared that we would have to share it, and included herself in on the lessons.

A couple of months elapsed, and we squeaked and squawked our way to some progress.  The teacher was, however, not too impressed at the violin needing to be passed from one to the other every minute or so.  Then we had a Mardi Gras, and on the morning of it I noticed a really old violin was among the things to be auctioned there at 3.00 p.m.   I duly returned at the given time, and as the bidding opened I put in a determined one at R300.00, wearing the expression of one who is prepared to keep on bidding indefinitely.  Actually, had someone bid R301.00 it would have counted me out, but that figure successfully chased the other hopefuls away and for our next violin lesson YD and I were playing in stereo.  The ‘new’  violin was dated by a local expert at 1703 and (instead of the £1 000 000.00 which one bearing the same name – Guadagnini – owned by David Garrett, is worth) it was declared a German copy of the Italian make and valued at R3 000.00.

In passing I might mention that Garrett went and fell on his, and it cost £60 000.00 to repair it.  Oops!

Anyway, after a couple of years our violin teacher moved to the Cape.  YD gave up; I tried a few more lessons with one of her advanced pupils until he became over-committed, and after that I just pottered along on my own enough to let me compose intelligently.  Meanwhile the violin of YD languished in its case and when I opened it a couple of years ago I found these bits – an old repair had given in and the whole thing had simply exploded under the pressure of the taut strings.

 Violin broken

Recently, with playing my own somewhat more frequently again, and with interest revived after a visit by gipsika, I was bitten by an urge to get the other one fixed.  Forget it!  I wouldn’t be able to play it without any arms and legs left, and it would cost both of both. 

Finally, I wondered if I could do it myself?

 Violin repaired

The answer to that, I think, lies above.  It wasn’t easy, but I completed it a week or so ago. It has taken me until yesterday to track down a set of strings in Durban.  Violin strings, and particularly the E strings, are simply not to be found anywhere here at present for some very odd reason.

Anyway, I did the restringing – helped by the new tuning widget I put in my sidebar: isn’t it nifty? – and now I am delighted with the sound it is producing.  It has a rich, mellow tone and an echo effect which makes my own violin pale to insignificance by comparison.

Anyone got a squished violin they’d like me to repair at a large discount on the R720 000.00-odd? 

© Colonialist August 2013 (WordPress)


About colonialist

Active septic geranium who plays with words writing fantasy novels and professionally editing, with notes writing classical music, and with riding a mountain bike, horses and dinghies. Recently Indie Publishing has been added to this list.
This entry was posted in Composition (classical), Music, Personal Journal and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

45 Responses to Warning: this post contains graphic scenes of destruction and violins.

  1. Zirkie says:



  2. bulldoglinda says:

    Charming story Col,you fiddled with the fiddle until it was fixed! You have such potential .


  3. suzicate says:

    AWESOME job!
    My oldest had decided he wanted to play a viola to my surprise…unfortunately, the lessons only lasted about a month. 😦


  4. Col, that is absolutely amazing. Refurbishing beautoful instruments is such an exact science and so difficult to fo properly. It’s a fantastic achievement.


  5. bulldog says:

    Great fix… well done… now advertise your expertise and fix others breaks…


  6. Music hath charm to sooth the savage breast, but does it have charm enough to sooth the ravaged violin? Great story! 🙂


  7. 68ghia says:

    Well done Col!!!
    I have a violin here, but I never took any lessons, so, did not become as good with it as I would have liked.Now it needs a few strings and the bow also need hairs.
    Also, I sometimes like to have actual nails on my fingers 😉
    But the violin still is, after the piano, my fav instrument to listen to.


  8. cobbies69 says:

    A fabulous tale and reminds me of when my mother gave me her violin when I was only 16,,she had not played it for 30 odd years, and when she gave it to me she tuned it up and played the national anthem and one other tune. handed it to me and said ‘it is yours’ not bad for some who has not touched it for so long.. the strings still held after such period. she gave it to me as I played a guitar and the only one in the family into music.. I still have it to this day.. The violin is now approx 100 years old.. thank you Col for this lovely story and my recollection. 😉


  9. The Asian says:

    Is there anything that you don’t do? 😉


  10. Arkenaten says:

    What a nice tale.
    Looks like you did a pretty nifty job.
    I was forced into a similar situation after I placed one of my guitars on a lounge easy chair for a second while I got up to answer the door. Behind me a cat jumped through an open window, bounced off the chair and….


    • colonialist says:

      One wouldn’t have thought a cat could do in a guitar. A wonder you didn’t have its gut for strings thereafter.


      • Arkenaten says:

        I should have expected this sort of comment…. 🙂

        The head-stock where the strings are threaded is quite robust even on a classical guitar. However it’s not designed to withstand the impact from falling onto the floor. It didn’t break it completely, but the crack was severe enough to require ‘surgery’
        Wood glue,and G clamps. it was fine after a few days.


  11. Sonel says:

    Well done Col! That violin looks brand new and what a treasure! Would love to hear you play. 😀


  12. newsferret says:

    Good for you, where there is a will there is a way.


  13. wow, you are a multi-talented person indeed 🙂 I love your sidebar tuner – never thought about an internet tuner, but there it is!


  14. Colline says:

    I would love to hear you play. I love the sound of the violin though, alas, I am unable to play.


  15. so much work and fun too to put something, of beauty, back into use. Of course you could just be stringing us along – couldn’t resist.


  16. disperser says:

    I feel violinated . . .


  17. Wow, your talents are endless….I love the story in this post, and was fully expecting one of the violins to be worth a fortune 🙂


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