Repair & Restoration

Repair and Restoration

Bass Violin, Guitar and Instrument Repair

One of the consistencies in the instruments I repair and service, is that they are always cherished by their player. Often many are also historical pieces to be preserved, which adds another layer of complexity. I approach modifying and repairing instruments in the most delicate way, preserving as much originality as possible while optimizing them for the needs of modern players. As the world has progressed musically so has the repertoire. To meet this increased level of playing our instruments need advanced setups to meet the demand.

All repairs, restoration and setups begin with an in person evaluation of the instrument to determine its overall health and playability. Based on the needs of the instrument an estimate is created which outlines a customized budget to complete various recommended procedures.


Optimizing an instrument’s setup is one of the most critical procedures to improve our enjoyment playing. Instruments need to not only sound great but play great also. Strings Heights, Neck Relief and Intonation are fundamentals to a good setup. When I evaluate an instrument I measure all of these elements and listen to the player to decide what works best for each instrument and individual.

Bass Violin Repairs and Restoration

I focus my efforts on acoustic instruments

Services include:

  • Adjuster installation
  • Bass Bar installation and repair
  • Bridge installation and repair
  • Carbon Rod Installation
  • Cast re-arch
  • Cleating
  • Crack Repair
  • Crack Repairs
  • Custom Modifications
  • End Pin Installation and Repair
  • Evaluations
  • Fingerboard Installation and Dressing
  • Finish Touch-ups and Repair
  • Finish Work
  • Fret Dressing
  • Glueing
  • Inlays
  • Low C-extensions
  • Neck Carving
  • Neck Grafting
  • Neck Repairs and Resets
  • Neck/Fingerboard Replacements
  • Pickup Installation
  • Re-stringing
  • Regraduations
  • Restorations
  • Saddle Installation and Repair
  • Scroll Repair
  • Setups
  • Sound Post Installation and Adjustments
  • Tonal Adjustments
  • Tuner Repair
  • Any and All Repairs
Click on the images below to display as full screen

Neck Reset

Neck Reset – Bass Violins may require a neck reset for a variety of reasons such as repair or modernization. Many wonderful sounding older instruments are not very playable due to out-dated or incorrect geometry. A neck reset can greatly improve an instrument’s playability by increasing bridge projection and overstand height (distance between the fingerboard and top plate). This allows for better left hand access in thumb position and greater bowing clearance against the c-bouts while executing demanding repertoire. The neck is removed from the mortise then shimmed and refitted to achieve a centered location with optimal projections.

Crack Repair

The most common damage an instrument sustains is cracking. Often a result of climate extremes or mishandling, these daunting injuries often are frightening to the owner of an instrument. However, there are a few ways to repair a crack that will return an instrument to its former self. The above images catalog the process of accessing the damaged plates, reunifying the wood, reinforcing the areas and reassembly.

Blind Neck Graft

In the instance a neck cannot or should not be repaired or modified Neck Grafting is utilized. Grafting allows you to keep an original scroll and pair with a new neck therefore keeping the instrument as original as possible while upgrading its playbility. This bass was over 150 years old and had the original scroll but a terrible neck riddled with insect damage and out-dated geometry. Having never been grafted before I choose to execute a blind graft where the joint is hidden within the pegbox.

Pegbox Repair

Pegboxes are often damaged as a result of a low doorway or a small fall. If the scroll doesn’t break all the way off it can often be repaired by inlaying a crossgrain insert to reinforce the weakened area. Bass violins have over 200 lbs of string tension exerting tremendous force on the pegbox making this repair one of the most critical to prevent further damage to an instrument.

Top Re-arching

When the domed shape of a top collapses it often takes the sound and stability of an instrument with it. Many great instruments are slightly deformed due to a lifetime of string pressure and slight deformations are acceptable however when they become unstable re-arching most correct this. Using plaster casting, heat and moisture it is possible to press out a top and stabilize the arch.

Guitar Repairs

I focus my efforts on acoustic instruments

Services include:

  • Setup
  • Restringing
  • Evaluations
  • Fret Dressing
  • Refretting
  • Glueing
  • Neck Reset
  • Bridge Replacement
  • Crack Repair
  • Tuning Machine Replacement
  • Nut/Saddle Replacement
  • Finish Work
  • Headstock Repairs
  • Intonating
  • Any and All Repairs
19th Century Crack Repair


Justin Purtill

“So happy to have picked up this beauty from Nathaniel Rich the other day! It’s a real masterpiece. As soon as I played it, I knew this puppy was going to seriously affect my (already greatly diminished) social life…. because now all I want to do is practice ????. Thanks Nathaniel, I’ve been searching for an axe like this for some time.”

Justin Purtill

Guitarist, International Performing Artist

Gael Mckeon

Nathaniel and I worked together for years, when I had a shop in the Bay Area. He enriched my craft from the day we began working together, bringing a vast experience with him, informed by having learned wood and metal craft from a young age and from being a highly skilled and competent classical guitar builder. He’s a no-bull type of guy, and honest to his core. He is contemplative before a job, patient, responsible and reliable, and highly skilled. I would not and do not hesitate to recommend my former clients to him when they inquire.
Gael Mckeon

Bass Violin Luthier

Patrick Day

Nathaniel custom built a classical guitar for me in 2017. Since then I have played this beautiful instrumental almost every day. It was built to fit the size of my hands so I can play it comfortably while maintaining a great sound. When it’s time for me to acquire my next guitar I will definitely be talking to Nathaniel.
Patrick Day

Guitar Player

Michael Braun

“I love the balance, projection, and sweet tone I get out of my Hollis-Rich guitar. There is a robust sound, yet it maintains the ability to get a wide range of colors, making it suitable for many performing situations.”

Michael Braun

Classical Guitar Educator

Scott Pingel

Nathaniel Rich is very fine luthier. He has immense knowledge, highly developed skills, keen intuition, and extraordinary patience. His set-up work is among the very best I have ever seen, and he always seems to get my basses sounding and playing their best. We are most fortunate to have him in the Bay Area, and I enthusiastically recommend him!

Scott Pingel

Principal Bass, San Francisco Symphony, Faculty, San Francisco Conservatory of Music

Jeff Denson

Nathaniel Rich is a master luthier with the highest attention to detail. I have complete trust in him with my basses, from setups to major reconstructive work. All of the work he has done on my instruments over the years has been impeccable.

Jeff Denson

International touring and recording artist, Dean of Instruction at the California Jazz Conservatory

Charles Chandler

“The bass is totally awesome!!
It has simply never played better!!

You really nailed it with the sound post. The instrument is completely changed. Much freer and so very very resonant. What a difference in my life this has made. It is just simply so much more fun to come to the instrument.

I also love the neck carving adjustment. The upper neck is so much more comfortable, and it makes me feel way more confident in that area. I’m totally in love with the change!

I just can’t thank you enough for what you did!! Thanks so much Nathaniel!!”

Charles Chandler

Bassist, San Francisco Symphony

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