Violin Setup Foundations, Level I

2023 UNH Violin Craftmanship Institute will be held online.

This hands-on course is designed for the novice and/or beginner-level student wanting to learn the basic bench skills for setting up a 4/4 violin. Whether you currently work in a violin shop, are considering starting your own business, or just want to be able to check your own (or students’) instruments for correct fittings & measurements, this course will give you the foundational information & hands-on skills that are necessary for positive results. Learning the essentials of how to properly fit pegs, the nut, sound post, end button, and discussing all aspects of correct measurements are all part of this 1-week course.

Be sure to take “Knife & Tool Sharpening for Instrument Making and Repair" (available in May) as a prerequisite to find a higher level of success with this course and your personal bench skills.

A list of tools and materials can be found in the Tools & Materials tab above, or by clicking here.

This course was previously titled "Basic Violin Setup I and Tool Use"

Tools & Materials


Violin Setup Foundations, Level I

Tools & Materials: Foundations for Violin Set Up; level 1
1 or 2 4/4 violins; older ones are fine if in good shape with no repairs needed. Suppliers offer new student violins at good prices
Violin Pegs/Count on several extra (trust me!) with shaft larger than the existing peg hole in scroll
Two or more violin bridge blanks, 4/4 medium grade (Aubert Mirecourt, Despiau 1-tree, Teller 1-star, etc.)
Two set of strings; Tonica, Prelude, or your choice
Sound Post material; 6-6.5mm diameter
Two each of violin tailpieces, tail wire, fine tuners, & end buttons (these come with new violins usually)
“Violin” knives: ¼”, ½” & ¾” (Hock blades are excellent)
Block plane; preferably a Stanley 9 ½ or similar make
Chisel; 1/8”, 1/4”, ½” or wider
1 ½” or 2” plane blade used for shaping sound posts (sharpened ready to use)
Peg Shaver; Metropolitan Music makes an adjustable one; (others by Herdim, Alberti (violintools.com), Berber)
Reamer for Peg holes in scroll; straight fluted preferred
Small, fine tooth saw for cutting peg ends (“Xacto” w/ red handle is fine, or woodcraft has a good one too)
Sound post setter 
Sound post retriever 
Sound post mirror (small round mirror that fits inside the violin F-holes)
Bend-a-light, or similar L.E.D. strip that will fit inside the violin F-holes
Mousetail coarse file for filing notches in the bridge and/or nut (very small file)
Flat, medium coarse file (0 gauge) 
Nut files (set of 4 or 5)
Sandpaper; 80, 120, 150, 220, 320, 400, 600 grit (sheets)
Small compass “dividers” (preferably with metal points on both ends)
Towel or “Violin cradle” (for violin to rest on while on bench)
Digital calipers
Flexible 30-centimeter ruler
Rigid 12”/30 cm ruler
Grease pencil (for marking bridge feet)
Soft 9B pencil
Alcohol lamp; Denatured (for removing the nut if necessary)
1mm/1/16” drill bit for peg string holes
Power hand drill (small if possible)
Chinrest key
Bridge template (comes in a set from bostonfiddle.com)
Scraper set (Japanese set is available from Metropolitan Music that is very good)
Sound post angle jig (bostonfiddle.com) – MUST HAVE!
Parchments; protects the bridge notch from the “E” string digging into it (bostonfiddle.com)
Bridge lifter
Endbutton holder 
Magnifying glasses (Optivisor, or be able to see very close work clearly)
Peg Compound
Optional tools:
Sharpening stones
Diamond stones
Suppliers (& others)
Metropolitan Music          Gewa Music              International Violin               Connolly Music
Stewart McDonald             Howard Core            Woodcraft Tool Supply        Violintools.com (Alberti tools)
Lie Nielsen Toolworks     Lee Valley                  Hardware stores                     (others)
Contact Metropolitan Music for a complete pre-packaged toolbox for purchase at a discount. When you call they can help guide your questions.
sales@metmusic.com, (866) 846-5461. Other suppliers may offer similar packages if you ask. 


Please contact instructor Charles Wolf at all4stringssd@gmail.com with questions regarding tools.

Instructor Bios


Violin Setup Foundations, Level I

  • Charles Wolf

    Charles Wolf is a retired Music Educator from California, after 35 years teaching Instrumental music in San Diego County, Orange County, and the Los Angeles City public schools. He holds a Bachelor of Music Degree in both Music Education and Music Performance, Master of Music Degree, a Clear-Life California Teaching Credential, and a Tier 1 Administrative Credential.

    Charlie found that his passion for teaching music to students quickly called him to service, and the rewards of his students’ success are many, including his ensembles being invited to perform at Carnegie Hall, Symphony Hall in Chicago, the Hawaiian Invitation and many more. Having been honored with Teacher of the Year three times in his respective school districts, the City of Chula Vista (CA) three consecutive years, named “Orchestral Director of the Year,” and twice Band Educator of the Year in San Diego County, Charlie’s awards are representative for his devotion to the Music Education of his students.

    Charlie was administrator for the Summer Arts Academy in San Diego County. For 10 years, he brought together eight individual Visual and Performing Arts components for an intensive and comprehensive session for top honor students within the Visual and Performing Arts with some of the highest-rated VAPA Educators in San Diego County.

    Now, Charlie enjoys conducting honor bands and orchestras as a means of helping young musicians receive another perspective and higher-level skills within an honor ensemble. He is a “Head Judge” in the Southern California School Band and Orchestra Association where his critiques of festivals and marching band field tournaments allow him to coach and assist other music educators.

    While still in high school, Charlie became the stringed instrument and bow repair technician for one of the largest music stores in Orange County, CA. The store serviced many of the surrounding schools and school districts, and Charlie soon became proficient in expedient and quality repairs - a specialty he enjoyed (and still does) was to re-hair bows.

    Always wanting to return to one of his first passions, Charlie owns and operates a highly successful Orchestral String Repair & Sales business called All Four Strings: selling and repairing violins, violas, cellos, and double basses, along with their bows and accessories.

    He is a student of Lynn Armour Hannings, George Rubino, Francis Morris, Paul Wiessmeyer, Jay VandeKopple, Chuck Sazone, Mike Dadonna and Robert McIntosh and returns each summer to UNH to further his depth of understanding and techniques with repairs and restorations from the amazing teaching staff. Charlie is often invited to schools, school districts and conferences to help music educators understand how to maintain a healthy orchestral instrument and to identify when there are issues that should be addressed for repair.

    He also enjoys woodworking projects at home and has his beautiful wife Magdalena to thank for her love, understanding and constant support.

This course is currently unavailable.