Milwaukee Luthier Shares Advice For Violin Repairs In New Book, 'My Violin Needs Help!'
Korinthia Klein is a luthier and the owner and operator of Korinthian Violins in Milwaukee’s Bay View neighborhood. As she’s built and repaired string instruments for professional musicians to young students, Klein realized it’s easy to know how to play an instrument yet not fully understand how it works.
In order to share what she’s learned as a luthier, she wrote My Violin Needs Help! The book shares terms, tools and information so that violin knowledge and care can be accessible to anyone, no matter what level they’re at.
"I mostly just wanted to provide teachers and students in particular with a vocabulary so that if something goes wrong with their instrument, they’re able to communicate that clearly and understand what the possible problems might be," says Klein.
Klein has come across a myriad of home fixes people try on their own before they come to her. She says it's common for people to try and glue their instruments together again, which she strongly discourages. Klein explains, "There's a lot of ... information that gets passed down from maybe teacher to teacher, player to player that aren't good ideas, usually in terms of like cleaning your instrument. We've had a lot of problems this year due to COVID, with people taking wipes to their instruments that took the varnish right off with any virus that might have been there."
It's common for musicians to have misinformation around the value of their instruments as well. Klein points out that older violins can be more expensive and that people should buy newer violins if they're on a budget. "And one of the tricky things I find in my shop is getting people to listen, when they're trying to pick out an instrument for themselves to listen with their ears and not their eyes, so much," explains Klein."But I think one of the things that's kind of cool, though, about violins in general is any of them can be repaired. It's just a matter of love and budget."
While Klein's book has plenty of do-it-yourself solutions, her number one advice is to take the instrument to your local luthier. "The best piece of advice is to just get them a checkup once a year, because you know, someone will catch anything that you're not trained to see. But for the most part, you can trust your ears and your hands."