Violin Setup Foundations, Level II

2023 UNH Violin Craftmanship Institute will be held online!

This course is a continuation of hands-on skills found in the level 1 course and addresses additional fundamentals of a 4/4 violin set-up. This workshop addresses basic bench skills required for the repair & maintenance of a full-sized violin. Students will leave this course understanding how to properly fit a bridge, glue an open seam and discuss more detailed repairs in an open forum to find solutions for common minor repairs found with private & rental instruments. String selections, maximizing the use & sound of inexpensive instruments, alternative woods & materials now available to Luthiers, finding suppliers suitable for your needs, and many more topics will be discussed.

Participants are encouraged to take the “Knife & Tools Sharpening" course available in May to find a higher level of success with this course and their personal bench skills.

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

Tools & Materials


Violin Setup Foundations, Level II

·          1 or 2 4/4 size violins; older ones are fine IF in good shape with no repairs needed. If you’re have a violin needing a seam glued, please use another violin that’s in good shape for bridge fitting. Suppliers offer new student violins at good prices. 
·          3-4 Bridge blanks, 41.5mm and/or 42mm medium grade; Despiau, Aubert, Teller, etc. Many prefer Aubert Mirecourt and some prefer Despiau 1-tree, but it’s your decision.
·          Strings: decide if you want new strings (whichever make/model you choose), and if so, have them ready
·          Sound Post setter, gauge, retriever, etc. if sound post falls and you want to reset it
·          Peg bushings; available from suppliers (have at least 4 available)
·          Glue pot, electric hot plate and small “sauce” pan w/ lid for heating hide glue flakes
Violin knives; ¼”, ½”, ¾” sharpened and ready for use!
Block plane: many prefer old Stanley 9½, but other manufacturers offer very nice planes (see below) 
Chisel; 1/8”, ¼”, ½” or wider too
Reamer (for peg holes in scroll); preferably a “straight” flute rather than spiral
Small, fine tooth saw for cutting peg bushings (see below)
Sound Post setter 
Sound Post retriever 
Sound Post inspection mirror
Bend-a-light, or similar light to fit into the F-holes of the violin
Mousetail file – very small (coarse)
Mousetail file – very small (fine)
Flat medium coarse file; Grobet makes nice files; Cut 2, 1, 0, 00 but you’ll only need the Cut 1 for this class
Nut files (set of 4 or 5)
Sandpaper; grits beginning with 80 up to 600 grit
Small compass dividers (preferably with metal points on both ends – not a pencil on one end)
Towel and/or “cradle” for holding/supporting violin while on bench
Digital calipers
Flexible 30 cm ruler
Rigid 12” ruler; prefer one side with metric, one side standard (U.S.A.)
Grease pencil, black (for marking bridge feet)
Grease pencil, white for marking placement of bridge; post-its, blue painter’s tape will work too for this
Soft 9 B pencil (VERY SOFT LEAD)
Alcohol lamp (denatured alcohol) 
1mm or 1/16” drill bit (only used for pegs)
Power hand drill (used for pegs)
Chinrest key
Bridge template (comes in a set for Violin, Viola & Cello from bostonfiddle.com)
Scraper set (Japanese set is available from Metropolitan Music that is very good)
Parchments to protect bridge from “E” string digging in (bostonfiddle.com)
Carpenter’s Wood glue – fresh
Hide glue (flakes, not liquid)
Pallet knife – for opening a seam 
Water-color brush (not too narrow, not too wide – “Goldilocks” size); used to apply hot hide glue 
Chop stick – you’ll see J
Bridge lifter – optional but great to have
Magnifying glasses (Opti-visor, etc.) used for close up work 
Peg compound (Hill or other is fine)
Paper towels, soft cotton rags
Optional tools/materials:
Sharpening stones       0000 Steel Wool
Violin polish                 Spray Shellac (yellow can)
Suppliers (& others):
Metropolitan Music         Woodcraft Tool Supply          Stewart McDonald          Lee Valley Tools
Connolly Music                 International Violin               Violintools.com               Lie Nielson Toolworks
Hardware stores               Howard Core
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 II

  • 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.