Raising a soundpost
The previously reviewed Bela/Edgar concert inspired me to fix the fallen soundpost in my 'cello! Using the method Mr. Biava taught me, I was able to get it set correctly in about 40 minutes with a minimum of cursing. Certainly no speed record, but at least I didn't have to bring it someplace.Basically, he showed me how to make a "clove hitch", which I think I must have forgot 10 minutes afterward - I looked it up in my old Boy Scout manual - which is a knot that tightens as you pull both ends of a string, but loosens when you pull only one. Well, thats the theory anyway.
Loosening up all the strings, and using some thread to make the loop, I dropped it into one of the f-holes (actually the wrong one initially) and kind of shook the 'cello to position the soundpost, which was rolling around inside forlornly so that it was nearer the loop which now was lying like a snare trap beneath the end of the f-hole . Using a chopstick through the other end of the f-hole, I rolled the soundpost so that the tip of the post was in the center of the loop. Then I pulled the string lightly to snare the dowell, this eventually worked, and I had "captured" the end of the post. I then shook the 'cello to move the soundpost (and the lasso-ed end) down a bit so that the other end was nearer to where it would eventually stand (directly beneath and to the side of the bridge). This placement was chosen mainly from memory of where it used to be, but also there are marks in the wood in that area, some of which look as old as the 'cello (about 80 years?), so it was a safe bet. I placed the end of the chopstlck to brace that end as I raised the other with the "lasso". After about 20 frustrating minutes, I got it set to a place where I could live with it, but it still had just "a little more" to go. This is the point where tightening up the strings is critical. Giving them a little tension, I could apply a little more pressure with the chopstick at the top of the soundpost to nudge it into position without falling. Once accomplished, the idea was to pull on one end of the string and remove it. This seemed impossible however as the "knot" had been pulled very tight as I was trying to get it into position. Perhaps a different type of thread would be easier to undo. I ended up cutting one end in desparation, but once that end was cut, I was able to loosen the "knot" more easily and got it out after all.
I know there are tools to raise a soundpost that look like long hook-nosed pliers, but they are usually metal, and I think I remember Mr. Biava saying it was easier to accidentally damage the wood around the f-holes with those, and he was so handy with the string/stick technique that it was just as quick (for him?).
The great number of impressions in the wood around the spot where the post stands got me thinking. I've only dropped the post about 4 times in 20 years, I wonder how many times someone had a string and a stick dangling in through that f-hole? Who were those people?