Our Workshop

The Sydney String Centre has a comprehensive workshop to service and set-up all musical instruments that we sell, as well as repairs and restorations to your own instrument.


Our team of luthiers have over fifty years combined experience so you know that your valued violin, viola, cello or double bass will be in safe hands. If you'd like to have your instrument or bow serviced, repaired or restored, please book an appointment by calling us on (02) 9417 2611 or book an appointment.


Repairs & Restorations


Our workshop offers services ranging from a simple string replacement to full restorations on violins, violas, cellos and double basses.  Book an appointment  to have your instrument assessed and we will give you a comprehensive guide to the necessary repairs. In most cases you will be required to leave the instrument to be assessed and one of our luthiers will contact you by email with the results. For this service, a fee is charged which can be credited towards the overall cost of the completed repairs. *Please note - There may be some instances where we are unable to perform the work required on your instrument


Bow Rehairs


Violin, viola, cello and double bass bow rehairs at the Sydney String Centre are carried out by specialist bow maker Jim Ellender. He is also able to perform bow repairs and restorations. Please allow 1-2 weeks if you are planning on leaving your bow to be rehaired. Bows need to be dropped off by close of business on a Tuesday to ensure they are ready for the following week. There are limited spaces available each week so we recommend  booking an appointment  to secure your spot.


We also offer a vegan alternative to horse hair. Synthetic bow hair is longer lasting than horse hair and does not break easily. The feeling and sound of synthetic hair is quite different to that of horsehair, however some players love it! If you are interested in having your bow rehaired with synthetic hair, or would be interested in trying a bow with synthetic hair, please let us know when you come into the store.


General Servicing


Stringed instruments are at their best when serviced regularly. Changes in temperature and humidity and general wear can affect the delicate balance and overall performance of the instruments. We recommend that your instrument be serviced every six months. When an instrument is purchased from The Sydney String Centre, regular servicing is free for the time that you are the owner of the instrument (pending our  instrument servicing terms & conditions ) as we like to know that your instrument is performing at its best at all times. We are happy to service instruments that have not been purchased from us, with service costs starting from $80. (Please note, servicing does not include parts e.g. strings etc.) 


Instrument Set-ups


The set-up of violins, violas, cellos and double basses drastically affects not only the sound that the instrument produces, but the playability and functionality of the instrument as well. All of our instruments are set-up and played by one of our professional luthiers before leaving the store to make sure the instrument is playing, sounding and functioning at its best.


Repair FAQs

+ I have broken a string, are you able to fit a new one for me?

Yes, we can fit new strings at a cost of $5 per string or for FREE if the instrument and string was purchased from us originally. Please note that this fee is in addition to the cost of the actual string.


If you are changing more than 2 strings at a time, we ask that you leave your instrument with us overnight so that the strings have time to settle in. This way we can re-tune your instrument (and readjust the bridge/fine tuners if necessary) for you in the morning. 


My bridge is broken; can you sell me a new bridge?

Each bridge has to be professionally fitted to each individual violin, viola, cello or double bass. There is much more involved with bridge fitting than just simply putting it in place. From the manufacturer, bridges are not designed to automatically fit. The bridge is always too high and too thick. As well as this, the feet will be flat and not at the same curve as your violin (the curve can vary greatly from instrument to instrument) and the curve at the top will be too flat. When we fit a bridge we correct all of these issues. Generally this kind of repair takes about 3 working days and we certainly cannot 'pre-fit' a bridge and send it in the mail. In EVERY case you will need to get the instrument to us in person for us to be able to do the work.


+ My bridge has fallen down; have I broken my instrument?

Don’t stress! You have not broken your instrument and you won’t need an expensive repair. Bridges on violins, violas, cellos and double basses are not glued down to the body of the instrument, they are simply held down by the tension of the strings. If your instrument receives a knock, occasionally the bridge will collapse. To fix this the bridge has to be propped back up in its original position. We suggest that this be done by a professional as there is a certain direction and position that the bridge has to sit.


+ My pegs have been slipping lately, they've never done that before, Is something wrong?

Your pegs could be slipping for a number of reasons. The most common reason is if there is a drastic change in the weather. The wood of the scroll and the wood of the pegs expand and contract at different rates due to the heat, humidity or cooling of weather and thus cause the peg to become loose.There are a couple of possible repairs you may need. Applying a certain type of paste to the pegs (peg paste) may help. The other reason your pegs might be slipping is down to the workmanship of the peg shaping. Pegs have a tapered edge that holds them in place, and if your pegs have not been cut correctly they will not be able to hold the high tension of the strings. If this is the case you may have to have a whole new set of pegs cut.


+ There is an unpleasant noise when I play certain notes on my cello; how do I get rid of it?

One of the most common issues that cellists have with their instruments are wolf notes. A wolf note or wolf tone is an unpleasant sound that is produced when the note you are playing matches the natural resonating frequency of your instrument. These frequencies are often found somewhere between the notes e and g# on the d or g strings. If your cello has a wolf note like this, don't worry. Some of the best cellos in the world have this issue.There are several ways to suppress or repair a wolf note, but one of the easiest ways for you at home is to use a basic wolf tone eliminator. They are fairly inexpensive and not complicated to install. The eliminator should sit approximately 1 third of the way between the bridge and the tailpiece, but this can vary from cello to cello. We recommend starting at about this distance and through a process of trial and error, moving it around until you find the best position.


+ I opened my violin case and all the horse hair has come out of my bow, I haven't touched it in years, how did this happen?

This sounds like a case of bow bugs. Bow bugs are essentially carpet beetle larvae, a common household beetle. Bow bugs love to live in cool, dark places, so if you haven’t opened up your violin case in a while, chances are they have made it their home. Unfortunately they like to nibble on horsehair, which means that violin bows do not have a chance if they come into contact with one. The best way to get rid of bow bugs is to thoroughly vacuum out your instrument case and expose it to direct sunlight. After you have done this you can think about either buying a new bow or rehairing your old one!


My bow is not tightening up any further, why is this happening?

The hair on a violin bow is most commonly made from horsehair, which becomes worn and stretches out with use overtime. The most important thing to remember when taking care of your bow is not to over tighten the bow and always loosen the hair off after playing. If you do not follow these rules then your bow hair will continue to stretch out and eventually you will not be able to tighten the bow to the correct tension for playing. If this has happened to you it’s time for a new bow or a rehair.


+ My instrument is not sounding like it used to, is there anything you can do to improve the sound?

There are a number of reasons why the sound of your instrument may have changed. The soundpost and/or bridge have been knocked out of place, or perhaps your instrument is overdue for a service and/or new set of strings. We offer sound post adjustments, string fitting and general musical instrument repairs and servicing in our workshop.


+ My instrument is producing a buzzing noise, where is it coming from?

The buzzing you hear could be coming from a variety of places. One of the most common places a buzz will occur is on the fingerboard. If the nut on your fingerboard is too low, or if the fingerboard has not been planed properly then the vibrations of the string being too close to the fingerboard will cause the string to buzz. This can be fixed with a new nut, properly cut and fitted, or planing of the fingerboard so that there are no lumps and bumps.Another reason your instrument might be buzzing is because one of the seams of the instrument has come undone. This is a more likely to happen on older instruments and will require gluing the seam back together. Finding the exact spot where the buzz is coming from can sometimes be a tricky exercise! If your instrument is buzzing please  make an appointment  to come and see one of our luthiers.


There is something rattling around in my instrument, what is it?

The sound that you are hearing is most likely the sound post. The sound post sits inside the violin flush up against the belly and back of the instrument and can sometimes become dislodged. This can happen if the instrument sustains a knock or if the strings on the instrument become loose. Most of the time we are able to repair the violin by propping the existing sound post back up again, however in some cases a new sound post needs to be fitted.

What is involved in our set-ups?


+ Cutting and shaping the bridge

The bridge is one of the most important elements on a string instrument, and can make a world of difference if fitted correctly. The bridge directs the vibrations of the strings down into the resonating chamber (body) of the instrument, producing both the volume and quality of the sound. The height and curve of the bridge also affect the playability of the instrument, with these two factors influencing string height from the fingerboard and the ability to execute smooth string crossings.  Our luthiers therefore ensure that  the bridge is cut at the correct shape, height and thickness; the feet of the bridge are also shaped perfectly to fit the contour of the belly.


+ Soundpost fitting

The soundpost and the bridge work collaboratively in producing the quality of the sound. The soundpost sits inside the violin and its location is determined by the relative position of the bridge. Our luthiers cut the soundpost so that it sits flush up against the belly and back of the instrument making sure that the vibrations of the strings have an unbroken path down the bridge, through the soundpost into the resonating chamber of the violin.


+ Peg servicing

Our luthiers ensure that each peg is cut and fitted correctly, to allow them to turn smoothly yet still hold their tuning. To help with the functioning of the pegs, we also apply a special peg paste compound during the setup process.


+ Nut sculpting

Between the fingerboard and the scroll lies the nut. The nut plays a crucial role in spacing the strings and the height at which the strings sit from the fingerboard. An incorrectly sculpted nut can lead to a ‘buzzing’ sound being produced by the strings vibrating against the fingerboard, or broken strings. Our luthiers carefully shape each nut, and ensure that the grooves in which the strings sit are completely smooth.


Testimonials


"I just wanted to send you a note to say a huge THANK YOU for the work you did on my violin back at the beginning of the year (new bridge, strings and sound post). It was sounding so harsh and awful when I brought it in, and since then I can hardly believe it's the same violin. You've transformed it back to sounding warm and wonderful again. I love it. Thank you so very much!" -  Anna | Violin Repair