Basic Violin Setup I and Tool Use

Important Announcement: 2022 UNH Violin Craftmanship Institute will be held online.

Basic Violin Set-up I & Tool Use is a hands-on introductory workshop that addresses the basics of 4/4 violin set-up and teaches some of the basic bench skills required for repair and maintenance of a full-size violin. Topics include:

  • Proper use of bench grinders
  • Sharpening knives, plane blades, and chisels
  • Fitting pegs in the scroll
  • Setting and making sound posts
  • Making bridges

We will also discuss string selection and sound-post adjustments (keep in mind the practice of sound adjustments takes years to master). Basic Violin Set-up is highly recommended for music teachers, musicians, shop owners, and others interested in string instrument repair. While you do not need to have previous experience working on violins, previous woodworking experience is beneficial. Basic Violin Set-Up I & Tool Use is highly recommended to as a precursor to Violin Set-Up II and Basic Repair.

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

Register by May 31 and save!  $999 if registered by May 31, $1,099 afterward.

Tools & Materials


Basic Violin Setup I and Tool Use

UNH Course: Basic Violin Set-up and Tool Use 
Instructor: Francis Morris

Two full-sized violins with ebony fingerboards. Inexpensive violins with or without pegs are recommended. They may be previously set up. We will be using these to fit new pegs, sound-posts, and bridges. They should be in good condition with no open cracks or seams. Other items needed include pegs (regular thickness and thick shaft), bridges, sound-post material, and strings.

Tools and Materials:

Two 4/4 Violins, older ones are fine if in good shape with no open cracks or seams.
Violin Pegs/count on a number of extra.
Two or more violin bridge blanks, 4/4 medium grade.
Two sets of strings, Dominants or others.
Sound post material, 6-6.5mm diameter.
Two each of violin tailpieces, tailguts, fine tuners and end buttons.
1⁄4” and 3⁄4” Hock Knife Blades (one each)
Stanley plane # 9 1⁄2 or something similar
Chisel 5/8” or wider
Metropolitan Peg Shaver
Peg hole reamer
Small fine tooth saw for cutting peg ends
Sound post Setter
Sound post retriever
Sound post mirror
Mousetail file or individual files for each string (come in sets) one mousetail works fine
Flat medium coarse file (0 gauge) don’t stress the gauge
Sandpaper 120, 220, 400, 600 sheets
Small dividers
Bend-a-light Pro by Steelman for looking inside instrument (Metropolitan carries these)
Ceramic Stones from Metropolitan 1000-6000 grit
Coarse diamond stone
Digital Calipers
Flexible 30 centimeters ruler
Grease pencil
Soft 9B pencil


Rigid 12"/30cm ruler (#)
Alcohol lamp (removing nut @ times)
1mm or 1/32" drill bit for peg string holes 
Power or hand drill
Chinrest key
Nut files 
Bridge template(s) (*#**)
Scraper set; Japanese (**)
Sound Post angle jig (*)
Parchments (*#**)
String lifter
Medium coarse diamond stone
Berber Peg Shaver or Alberti Design Shavers


Tool Suppliers:

Woodcraft Tool Supply                                  

Metropolitan Music Company(1)                    

International Violin Company, Ltd                

Stewart McDonald                                         

Japan Woodworker                                         

Diefenbacher Tools

Alberti Design

Lie Nielsen Toolworks

Lee Valley

Or hardware stores such as Ace, Home Depot, Lowes, Sears

* = available at bostonfiddle.com
** = available from Metropolitan Music, Cat. #29230
# = available from Metropolitan Music & Howard Core

(1)CONTACT Metropolitan Music for a complete pre-packaged tool box for purchase at a discount. The cost of the tools and box package is $465.00. The normal price would be $600, a savings of $135. Call 866-846-5461 or email sales@metmusic.com

Please be advised that having good and proper tools is critical for success in this course. Garage sale bought tools will probably be more trouble than they are worth.


Instructor Bios


Basic Violin Setup I and Tool Use

  • Francis Morris

    Francis Morris is a 1974 graduate of the world-renowned violinmaking school in Mittenwald, Germany. Subsequently he worked with Fritz Baumgartner in Basel, Switzerland, and at the shops of Hans Weisshaar and Robert Cauer in Los Angeles. Since opening his own shop in 1984, he has provided his customers with high quality instrument restoration, fine sound adjustments, and the sale and service of instruments and bows. He won an award for tone at the prestigious Violin Society of America’s 2002 competition. He is a member of the American Federation of Violin and Bow Makers and the Violin Society of America. He currently lives and has a shop in Great Barrington, Massachusetts, nestled in the Berkshires near the Tanglewood Summer Music Festival.

  • 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.