As featured in the August issue of the Strad magazine!

Creating an Online Course in Violin Restoration

This is what we all aim for when we embark on this complex procedure in violin restoration. But to accomplish a high-end, top quality neck graft is not an easy and straightforward task and I regularly come across neck grafts where either the woodwork or the retouching or both have not quite worked out. Competent woodworking and visualization skills are required as well as the ability to finish well with staining and retouching. There are so many steps involved in doing a neck graft, it is one of the most complex of all standard procedures in violin restoration and takes around 30 hours from start to finish.

During the last 24 years of doing neck grafts on a regular basis, several neck graft blocks have ended up in my box of off-cuts as I ran out of wood while fitting them. Avoiding visible joint lines is a challenge in itself. Even though it is one of my favourite procedures in violin restoration, it is never easy and requires a lot of concentration.

Not everyone has the fortune of having spent time in a top end restoration workshop and been expertly guided through the process of doing a neck graft. It can be quite daunting to embark on this task, especially if it is not something you do on a regular basis.

In this course, I guide you through each step necessary to complete a violin neck graft in chronological order from start to finish. Each step is explained first and then followed by me showing you how I achieve that part of the process. In terms of a timeline, this online course is the equivalent of teaching a 2-week course in person.

This Online Neck Graft Course consists of 2 Parts which can be purchased individually.

If you are VAT registered and live in the EU, you will not be charged VAT on top of the course fee.

Violin Neck Graft Course

This Course has the optional extra of English, Mandarin Chinese and Spanish subtitles. Other language subtitles may be added in the future depending on demand.

Part 1

15 Chapters
Approximately 6 hours of video

1 Fitting, gluing and trimming back the peg bushings

2 Sawing off the neck and chopping out the neck root

3 Introduction, choosing and planing the neck block

4 Removing the old French neck graft

5 Fitting and gluing pieces of wood into the French neck graft cut-outs

6 Fingerboard preparation

7 Establishing the 3 flat surfaces inside the pegbox

8 Transferring angles and band sawing of the neck block

9 Fitting the neck graft

10 Gluing the neck graft

11 Establishing the neck surface for the fingerboard

12 Positioning and gluing the fingerboard onto the neck

13 Removing excess wood from the neck and shaping top and bottom surface of the fingerboard

14 Establishing the pegbox, roughly shaping the neck and the nut

15 Finalising the nut and fingerboard and conclusion

Part 2

10 Chapters
Approximately 6 hours of video

1 Introduction and preparation of the top block mortice

2 Fitting and gluing the neck

3 Shaping the neck and application of filler varnish onto the peg bushings

4 Staining the neck

5 Retouch overview, application of clear varnish, scraping of the filler varnish on the peg bushings and retouching of the peg bushings

6 Application and scraping down of filler varnish along the joints

7 Retouching of the neck graft area

8 Retouching of the neck heel area

9 Applying patina, oiling the neck and finishing the nut and fingerboard

10 Explanation of the positioning of the peg holes and conclusion

Included in this course are downloadable PDF files of neck measurements, templates and a materials and tools list

“This online course offers a detailed presentation of how to fit a new violin neck from choosing the wood through to the final retouching. A task that would normally take thirty hours has been compressed into 12 hours of tuition, divided in two halves. These are subdivided into 25 chapters that break down the various operations into manageable stages, all expertly demonstrated at the bench with thorough and detailed explanations supported with clear subtitles throughout as an optional extra. The course offers a unique insight into the workshop practices of a skilled restorer and internationally respected teacher with over 25 years of experience. Neck grafts can be complicated, time consuming and not always well executed, I recommend this course to anyone wishing to learn this important and frequently required repair.”

Andrew Fairfax

Fairfax Violins

“Iris Carr’s course on the topic of neck grafts is extremely thorough, and accessible to less experienced and seasoned luthiers alike. Every step of the process is discussed in depth and demonstrated, in a video production of impressive quality. A rare opportunity to learn and gain insight from the best.”

Eliane Leblanc

Eliane Leblanc Fine Violins

“It is a true privilege to be able to observe and learn how to properly perform a violin neck graft and varnish retouching, which are considered to be some of the most extensive and demanding restoration techniques, with Iris Carr as my online lecturer. Iris herself has taught at the BVMA and Oberlin restoration courses for the past decade and is widely regarded to be one of the best violin restorers and teachers in the world. Being able to learn the know-how, at my own bench, at my own pace, and still have the possibility to ask for advice from the instructor, really makes learning these advance restoration techniques possible and enjoyable. Thank you for creating this wonderful online course.”

Allen Liang

1st year violin making/restoration student


© Iris carr restorations 2020