Homewood Musical Instrument Company Birmingham, Alabama

Upgrading a Cheap Chinese VSO (violin shaped object)

to a nicely playable musical instrument


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Although the lesser Chinese VSO arrive from the factory in a less than playable condition, they can be coaxed into good playing condition with a little effort.   You will need to secure the instrument to your bench top as we will soon get physical.

I use a large Jorgenson screw clamp bolted to my bench to secure the neck.  

Remove the pegs; strings and tailpiece and set them aside for a while.   Prepare to remove the nut next.

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I use a scrap piece of rosewood as a "nutknocker".  Placed the end of the rosewood against the nut and give it a solid whack with a mallet.   Sometimes the whole nut will pop right off.    We will be replacing the nut with a piece of ebony soon. Use a sharp chisel to clean up the end of the fingerboard to a 90 degree angle.
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Since the fingerboards on a VSO are rarely suitable for playing, we will quickly profile the fingerboard.  First, we will get rid of that awful Japaned finish with a sharp cabinet scraper.  You can also use a razor blade or knife, but a cabinet scraper will really hog the finish off. (provided you can correctly sharpen a scraper)   Maybe that would be a good subject for another page.

Halfway done, what happened to the ebony?

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After all the black stuff has been removed, we can take a close look at the fingerboard.  I use a good steel rule.

Mark high spots with a pencil.

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I use a fingerboard template to check the profile of the fingerboard.
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You can buy this sandpaper file at most automotive finishing supply stores.  I glued a piece of plate glass to the platen and glued a piece of 40 grit abrasive cloth to the glass. The 40 grit paper removes wood at a good clip, you will have to follow up with several finer grades of paper to get a good finish.
Use the rule and template to check your work as you progress toward a proper playing surface. mvc-072s.jpg (30529 bytes)

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With the VSO securely clamped, you can work quickly and carefully.

coming along nicely

next page

Homewood Musical please visit my page for other repair proceedures