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Steve Perry

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  1. Sounds like you have too little scoop in the fingerboard. The G string especially will start to slap and buzz and weeze. Or somethings loose or its the weather, but do check that fingerboard relief. : I have a "buzz" sound, especially on the G string when : I play very loudly. It has developed only recently, and : is not associated with any newly installed items. It : is quite noticable and becoming increasingly evident. : I have installed new strings to no avail. There does : not appear to be any cracks open between the ribs and : the top. The tailpiece as built in tuners but everything : appears tight there. Not sure where to go from here. : Thanks for any suggestions.
  2. : I was looking at purchasing a Stainer violin, it's written on the back of the body by the neck. Are these "good" violins and who made them and when? : Thanks Bluegrass guys like the better ones. Also good for chamber music sound - a bit more flute-like in tone. Be sure you get one with a fairly light top and a glued-in bass bar. These can be quite nice. Low tension strings. High tension strings seem to stiffle the high-arched instruments under some circumstances. Good luck, and dont' pay much! Steve
  3. Howdy, Working on an interesting violin with an interesting wolf, and attempting to deconstipate it! Any suggestions MOST DESIRED! The violin: Joseph Petkavage, Bayside, NY, about 1950. Amateur built. Pretty nice work. Small F holes. Top looks to 3mm in the middle thinning to 2.5 at the sides, based on the F hole sections. Back sounds thin, but who knows. Light instrument. Medium arch. Air resonance at A. Top and back plates both near D. Very tall bass bar at 18 mm, looks pretty hefty. Currently set up with moderately hard Aubert bridge and Prelude strings. The sound and wolf: Violin didn't appear to have been play much, if any. Perfect condition. Immediately on trying it out, noticed a reedy, almost harmonica sound. Which I sort of like lots. But very tight sound, constipated. Played hard for 1/2 hour. Sudden increase in volume. Then played with some other folks and the thing developed a most amazing wolf note at D. This isn't a little thing. More like a throbbing low-flying-aircraft sound. Audible upstairs, in the kitchen, outside. The whole instrument started shaking, the back vibrating like mad. The D string itself is the worst culprit, but other notes bring it out a bit. The fixes so far: I read earlier posts and some stuff on bridges. Tried all permutations of bridge and soundpost position that seemed within reason. Some improvement with post more towards the centerline. Thought about fore and aft movement. Removed the bridge, thinned the feet to 4.1mm and reduced the waist until the tap pitch of the bridge dropped. A bit more flexible than I usually make them at this point. Set it up again and now the violin has a moderate D wolf that I can play around. Still sounds a bit tighter and more constrained than it really should, to my ear. An hour of play tonight confirmed that. There's lots more sound trapped in there! And its not the fingerboard or tailpiece. I weighted and damped and whatnot those things with no influence at all. Wolf possibilities: The D tap tones of the top and back seem a bit odd. I was thinking of changing the mass of one or both. Not sure how to best go about testing this. Different bridge? Different strings? I'm not sure what to do or try! What should the back and top best tap at in an assembled instrument? How would I change this? I read about weights held onto the plates, which I could certainly try. Golfclub self-stick weights come to mind. Constipation: Could the huge bass bar be hurting it? If the reducing the top mass was a good way to approach the wolf, then trimming the bass bar would be an acceptable option if it could be the source of the constipated sound. The top feels very stiff along the bass bar when it is set up. I can't feel it budge at all, whereas my old violin (18th C German) has a perceptable amount of flex over the bass bar and sounds wonderful (but very much "violin" and I'm looking for "fiddle" with this one). I'm rapidly getting out my range of experience here. Perhaps someone else's experience can help me avoid wasting time and allow me to test some likely fixes. Thanks very much; at least the howling wolf aspect of this story is amusing! Steve
  4. : DOES ANY ONE HAVE ANY SUGGESTIONS ON GETTING UPS TO PAY FOR A BROKEN INSTRUMENT? UPS is subject to general jurisdiction pretty much everywhere because they have a major operation in all states. If you can demonstrate that the violin wasn't broken before (e.g., pictures) beyond a reasonable doubt, then sue them in your local small claims court for the damage, the shipping, and attorney's fees. You would probably want an attorney's help in setting up the claim and developing the evidence, but a local legal clinic or perhaps a musician lawyer could help. The crushed box helps lots. They didn't argue about my broken bows when I pointed out the tire tracks! If you're shipping to a cognizant buyer, then knock over the soundpost. Most cognizant buyers like to mess with the setup anyway! Steve
  5. The loudspeaker effect works with guitars. I have a fairly heavily built concert guitar that I don't play enough (afraid to scratch it - think it is the only "mint" thing I own and cost more than my car). When I'm going to use it, I play the stereo at it for an hour and the thing opens up again. On violins, I've had two unplayed ones. Both were constipated initially, then had a sudden transition after about 1/2 hour of sawing away at them, one gaining tremendous volume suddenly. Both got easier and easier to start up each time. But this didn't take long. I suspect this effect rolls off with time. Certainly, instruments played by good players develop a responsiveness that is greater than ones that sit in the corner. But maybe the ones that sound good are the ones that get played! : I understand that a new violin's sound improves in time : while being played. Can this process be : accelerated by placing a new violin in front of the : speaker playing : a violin music, or attaching to the violin's bridge a : sound pick up element : connected directly to : the output of an amplifier playng violin music?
  6. : How about hearing from some people who got good deals on ebay instead of all the complaining! 1. Oddball but pretty violin turned for $900 profit. 2. A couple of dozen student violins turned for $200 profit each, usually with about 2.5 fun hours each. 3. Two Jackson Guldan "Maestros" turned for over $200 profit - make great fiddles. 4. My own personal 18th C German violin for $400. And about 1/4 bad things, but more than made up for by the good ones. Steve
  7. : The Flesch chinrests come with and without a large hump. The one I have has a mountain of a hump. If I were to reduce the size of the hump myself with sandpaper, how would I refinish the ebony? No finish required, only final buffing and polishing. I love working with ebony. I wouldn't start with sandpaper. Ebony carves and finishes beautifully. I use a range of chisels, gouges, and knives to carefully shape parts. Very sharp and correctly sharpened. I either clamp the work piece or lay it in a support of foam to keep it or the tools from slipping. If you can't hold the piece steady you'll find that blood doesn't show on ebony! I carve from several directions sequentially and systematically to keep undulations from developing, just like I'd do a violin plate. Once I get the piece to nearly the exact shape I want, I change to either a broad gouge or a very sharp scraper used gently to even the surface. Finally I sand. I use 320, 400, 600, 1200 etc wet paper, with the sheets rubbed together first. This gets things nice and semi-polished. Then I put on some soft-scrub and buff the piece. I'll sometimes buff a fingerboard of good quality on my buffing wheel with tripoli, which REALLY polishes it up! If your eyes and hands aren't used to getting surfaces true, then you might draw up what you want and then make templates to show you where to cut and where to leave alone! One can mark the highs with pencil and then just remove the pencil marks. And if you go too far, you can inlay a piece of ebony and start over. I can't find the joints in bow frogs I've fixed without magnification. But I recommend avoiding the need to fill holes! Can eat a good chunk of time. Steve
  8. : the reviewer is simply trying to show every one that they are smarter than anybody else. : If a reviewer didn't like the performance, then it was probably fantastic and the audience loved it. I suspect you're right on. Most reviewers I've met, thankfully very few, seem to have failed in some area of musical performance and really carry a load of insecurity. Unfortunate. Often they know very much about some things, but rely on strongly cemented, marginally based opinion for the rest. Few have been successful performers, let alone soloists. For example, I recently saw Zuckerman and Mariner with the National Symphony. Zuckerman's (is there another "n"? Mornings!!!) "conducting" was panned in the subsequent review. As a performer, I didn't see conducting; I saw a soloist attempting to get the orchestra up to speed and power before he came in! Clear and obvious "Come on guys, pick it up! Play together! Hurry, I'm up in a moment!!" My Dad and I were cracking up - think we've both been there before! Went right over the reviewer's head. Suspect he'd never stood in front of a lagging support team! To their credit, the NSO pulled it off very well. They did much better than the reviewer! : steve
  9. : The A string is, in my experience, the one most reactive to post position. There's a prevailing superstition among makers that the post should be farther from the bridge than I've ever seen work in real life. The lore is that a violin with the post far south is louder, so makers move it back as far as they can get away with. Immediately, the A string suffers. It IS possible to have a nice A string if the adjustment is careful. The dreaded post position. I'm always amazed at how bad an A string can sound with the post "south," these plaintive bovine complaints instead of noise. Perhaps you could suggest a process for getting the post in an appropriate place and a range of suitable distances? On my own beat up old violin, I now have the post edge 2mm exactly from the bridge edge and directly in line with the leg, matching the position of the bass bar. My E string is still a bit shrill, but the A and the D sound alike, more or less. I'm tempted to keep moving the post "north," but the poor instrument is so sensitive that I'm concerned I'll never get my A and D balance back again! I do have the E over an ebony insert; perhaps I need to velum that instead. The little tube certainly didn't make me happy. Any insight would be most helpful. This instrument is a 1790 Georg Gutter, old-fashioned German lines. Sweet, but not loud. Steve Perry
  10. Greetings. I just obtained an Uebel treble viol da gamba. The soundpost angles towards the scroll end from bottm to top. Seems rather close to the bridge foot as well. Is this right? Does anyone know? The thing seems to sound fine, so I'm reluctant to mess with it unless it really is wrong, but it doesn't look right to a violin person like me! Any help much appreciated.
  11. Remove "z" from my address to email me. In studying many different instruments over the years, I've noticed that I always end up with low-end concert-quality instruments, quickly discarding instruments aimed at a "student" market. Typically the "student" instruments are more difficult to play than one would prefer as a student! Violins are a bit different animal, in my limited experience. The instrument's setup and careful maintenance is extremely important for sound and playing characteristics. So a good instrument for a student MUST be set up well with good strings and a nicely done bridge, soundpost in the right place. And so on. A decent bow and case figure into things as well. That said, thousands and thousands of rather nice violins are floating around. Most of these are used (violins last a long long time). Many of these greatly exceed minimum student requirements. Large numbers, when set up correctly, are very very nice to play. Many used instruments are, when set up correctly, much nicer than much more expensive new instruments. They hold their value, if bought correctly. My point: good used violins set up correctly can be an excellent deal. If a better violin proves necessary, the first one can serve for camping, travel, use while intoxicated, or whatever. The key is getting a used violin with a good setup. One needs a friendly luthier or a knowledgable amateur around to screen potentially viable instruments. Sometimes good shops, like the one here in Oak Ridge, have properly set up violins with excellent sound at good prices. I'm not sure of your price point, but the deals are out there. I set up my own instruments and do repairs, so the prices I pay are low. Add $100 or so for setup; here's some example prices: 1920s French Mirecourt fiddle, rather nice tone. $400 1790s German fiddle by listed maker in the Hopf style, lots of repairs, wonderful sound. $400 Numerous German student fiddles, many quite excellent, from $50 to $150 And so on. Good to great sound at excellent prices, with extremely careful buying and a support system. As to specific recommendations: If you like old instruments, get a beat up one. Many German and Tyrolean 18th C instruments are out there for $500 on up. Budget for maintenance! Keep in mind that the delicate antiques can be a real pain - I can't really recommend them for first good violins, but the right person can pull it off. Otherwise, the pre-WWII top-end Jackson Guldans typically sound very very nice. I can't seem to keep them around! Restoring one now and I don't expect it to stick around very long. I usually pay up to $150 and sell for $200 to $350. These are the highly flamed really flat rather red JGV ones. Pre-WWII "Nippon" instruments can also be very easy to play, typically at $150 set up. Some are a real surprise with a big sound. German instruments are all over and range from yuck to WOW. Some of the older imports with odd-ball pseudo-Italian names are really nice to play. For example, I just finished an "Enrico Robella, Milano" last night - beautiful bottom end, sweet E string, near-perfect balance, loud enough, and very easy to play. This instument cost me about $255 total including good strings. I haven't heard a modern new instrument that sounds this good for under perhaps $1400 at deep discount. If you poke around and look for local recommendations, you may well be able to find someone restoring instruments in your area. Do try several. Often restorers will pull together a "kit" with everything you need in it (I do it often). And budget for repairs! Old light violins with generations of use will need a bit of work here and there - seams opening, cracks opening, pegs slipping, and so on. Part of the game. Older instruments are a compromise, but have already depreciated, can sound extremely good, and are interesting. For the price of a good new outfit (say $1500 from Shar) one can have two reasonably good violins (a spare is so handly with old things). With care and !!!!!KNOWLEDGABLE HELP!!!! one can build a very playable, rather special outfit for under $1000. I do it all the time. But renting is LOTS less hassle - if you don't like messing with old things, that's a better course of action. Hope this helps Steve
  12. : Just curious how this construction differs from modern : violin construction. Thank you. : Tom I believe I have an instrument constructed this way. A classical Spanish guitar uses a neck that extends into the body, with the sides entering slots in the neck and the top and back both glued to the pieces of the neck inside the body. The violin I have is built the same way, with the ribs entering slots and both table and back glued to the interior extension of the neck. Seems like a strong system. I'd hate to have to fix it if anything went seriously wrong with neck angle or whatever! Steve
  13. The idea that the edges are too thick makes sense. I'll tap around a bit and see if I can tell. Probably would not be too difficult to do a bit of work on the top. The instrument has never been apart and has no cracks, so at least it is less likely to be a complete reassembly job! I'm certainly impressed with the job you did on the "Stainer." I was just playing it. Lively and mellow at the same time. Playing a gut E is taking getting used to. Takes a decisive touch on raw gut!
  14. Most seem unsuited for planters - they usually sound very good with steel strings. I've seen several and set up one before. This is one of the top of the line heavily flamed pre-war models that usually do very well! At least it is pretty. And easy to play!
  15. Greetings. I just set up a nice Jackson-Guldan violin and request suggestions for improving the sound. The instrument: Top-end JGC, probably late 20s/early 30s; tight and solid, nice instrument. Moderately thick top, feels fairly stiff, but some give with a squeeze. Neck projection standard, good nut. Old Aubert bridge, smaller than seems usual with less waist width than modern standard, but very stiff and hard old wood. Bridge feet trimmed slightly to 4.4 mm thickness, top edge crowned to 1.3 mm. Fine tuners on all strings negate afterlength setup. D'Addario "Prelude" strings. The sound: Playing with adequate medium-stiff silver-mounted German stick, new hair, excellent (at last some that works) roisin. Similar response with very stiff old German bow. All strings set off very easily and quickly and are very clear, string to string balance is very good in general. Sweet and clear singing E string, even way up the fingerboard. Response rolls off only a little down through the A, D, and G strings, but the bass seems to lack some kind of substance. The general tone remains really excellent, but without some underlying substance. Not as loud as expected. But the tone in general is extremely nice and the instrument is easy and fun to play. Really feels like something is getting in the way of the sound. I'd love to get this thing working to its full potential, but am not sure where to really start. My wife says the instrument sounds "constipated," like it has a lot more to give that just isn't coming out. I agree. The soundpost seems to be in the right place from what I can tell, but I haven't checked it's tightness. So soundpost and bridge seem to be where to look. Could the relatively light bridge, or the narrow waist be hurting the underlying substance of the bass notes? I can cut another bridge, but it is significant work to get it just right, at least for me. Or is the soundpost likely to need magical adjustments? Or are the 4 relatively heavy string adjusters making the tailpiece too heavy and interfering with the afterlength? I just don't have the experience to know the appropriate sequence for tracing down the culprit. Thanks much for any help. Steve
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