Yet another astounding oud made by Toufik Nahat in 1928 recently received an extensive restoration here at my workshop. Exhibiting some of the classic motifs and ornamentation we'd expect to see on a classic Nahat. (Please read my previous blog post to learn more about Nahat ouds) Hand carved bone rosettes, mother of pearl for the fingerboard, beautiful mosaic/marquetry pattern on the soundboard, bowl and neck, and of course that famed sound of an old Damascene oud.
This was a very extensive restoration project as many difficult challenges arose and dragged out extensively over the period of a few months. To repair the many cracks on the soundboard, it needed to be removed which is a very risky and invasive operation since the instrument is 90 years of age and the soundboard in some places is only one millimeter thick! I would also correct the loose neck and really high action in this stage. A brace inside was also replaced, along with repairing some loose braces; a very critical necessary task for the instrument's structural integrity.
The mosaic binding was copied to the 10th of a millimeter and replaced when the soundboard was reinstalled to keep everything as original as possible. Unfortunately this treasure was repaired previously by an ameteur, causing some damage to the soundboard and to the rosettes.
After installing the soundboard back there was a very obnoxious buzzing sound coming from the rosette once I put the strings on it and tested it extensively. This is often the problem with these older instruments with Bone rosettes. The main rosette and the small one were "repaired" previously using white plastic pieces, and white out, and weren't contacting the soundboard. A lot of the mosaic pieces around the soundhole needed to be replaced as well. The original small bone asfour (bird) rosettes was replaced altogether with a new hand carved one due to damage and the precious bad repair.
All in all I'd have to say that this particular instrument is quite remarkable in that apart from the damage to the rosettes over time, unprofessional repair work and some other issues, it is incredibly well preserved. For example, the finish on the bowl and neck still appears vivacious as if Toufik himself just applied the final coats of finish last week.