Lute Top Replacement

Lute Top Replacement: Finding the cause for the damage

Finding the Cause for the Damage

Before opening this instrument, a colleague suggested that such dramatic damage would probably be caused by a serious impact on the instrument. After removing the top, I noticed the unusual brace design, which led me to the conclusion that this damage may actually have been cause by material fatigue and improper brace design. The braces on the damaged top are highest and stiffest right underneath the bridge and also end right there (the pencil line indicates the front edge of the bridge). Traditionally, these braces would taper down to nothing at the bridge end, and also extend well past the pencil line; in order to spread the forces of the string tension over the entire top.
One can see very clearly how the string tension pulled the bridge into the stiff ends of the braces, forcing the top to pivot at this point and ultimately break the top.

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