Brian Phelan Violin Maker

Maker of fine Instruments In the Italian tradition

Posts from the ‘Repairs and Restorations’ category

Doubling a Button

Button having broken remains glued to the heal

A doubling reinforces the original button of an instrument. When a neck pulls out, or is broken out of an instrument, damage can occur in the button area . Wood fragments from the inside of the button may stay glued to the neck or as in the example photos, the entire button may remain stuck to the heel of the neckstock.

So simply regluing the neck “as is” simply doesn’t work since, as I’ve mentioned elsewhere previously, the button plays such an important role in insuring the strength of the neck insert and therefore the correct overall neck projection. Doubling the button reinforces the entire area while still retaining most of the original button. The button will show a joint which in most cases can be hidden by fitting an ebony crown. In this case I was doubling the button of a mandolin therefore an ebony crown is not necessary. This type of procedure is only really carried out on instruments worthy of such a long and tricky intervention. Such as this American Mandolin by American Luthier Claude Watson from the 1950’s

Neck Collapse including separation of button from back

So the first part of the restoration of the broken button was to carefully remove it in one piece from the heel of the neck

Button cleanly seperated from the neck

Next having removed the back of the instrument a trapeze shaped dig out (half the thickness of the instruments back thickness must be carefully excavated

An equal amount, as the depth excavated from the instruments back, must be very carefully removed from the broken button itself also. Then after making a matching template a suitable piece of matching timber (in this case Maple) must be prepared for insertion.

Paper template with thinned down matching maple is prepared for insertion.

The paper template which is later substituted with the pre-prepared maple insert.(Below)

Above all of the pieces are ready for grafting back on the button.
Button Doubled

And that’s the “how, when, and why of Doubling” a button,

This instrument can now be closed up again and a new neck inserted now that our button has been grafted back into place.


Cello by John Wheatley Dublin c.1820
A rare Irish 19th century Cello. This instrument was made in middle Abbey street Dublin sometime between 1820 and 1825 by John Wheatley. It was extremely well made, Unfortunately two centuries of use has taken its tole on the instrument and it has been opened and repaired at least 2 if not 3 times before. Some of the repairs were quite clearly carried out professionally, such as the fitting of its modern Bass bar.

Continue reading…


  • Repairs,Restorations,setup/sound adjustment and sound enhancement.Bows re-haired,New Instruments made to order.
  1. Sound Post adjustments 
  2. Fine tuners fitted
  3. Geared pegs fitted
  4. All Pick-ups fitted  …Fishman v200’s Double Bass pick-ups 
  5. Custom Electric Violins made to order.
  6. Bows re-haired
  7. Personalised Instrument inlay
  8. Instrument Valuations
Leave a comment