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William Johnston

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  1. When dealing with violin players there are always the players who would rather play a good sounding, great looking violin (the Strad guys) and then there are the ones that would rather play a decent looking, great sounding violin (guarneri players). I'm not saying that all Guarneri del Gesus are better sounding than any Strad but most are in my opinion.
  2. Tonewise there will be no noticeable difference between a violin with wide grained spruce and one with very fine grain. I've used both and I think that they both can sound great if used proporly. Lately I've been using mostly fine grained spruce, 30 to 40 grain lines per inch, but I'm switching back to using wider grained spruce, 15 grain lines per inch. The switch to wider grained wood has nothing to do with tone. I'm switching because I don't like the way that fine grained spruce carves. It's very nice stuff to carve when you're making the arches and graduations but it likes to chip when shaping the edges and cutting the purfling. The fine grained spruce also requires thinner wood to sound good. The wider grained spruce is tougher to carve when making the arches and graduating the plates but the edges and purfling come out nicer. Also with the wood that I've been using, red spruce, the wider grained spruce seems to be more resistant to cracking. I'm going to use more wide grained spruce in the future but will still use fine grained spruce every once in a while just because it's a little different than carving wide grained spruce. William Johnston www.angelfire.com/tx2/johnston/index.html
  3. I've heard from several violin builders and have read on some websites that the in the VSA violin building competitions violins, violas, and cellos won't have their tone judged unless they first win at least a certificate of merit for workmanship. I asked the VSA about this new rule and they said that this isn't true and that all violins, violas, and cellos will be judged for tone and workmanship and certificates of merit will be given out in both catagories. Just thought that some of you would like to know this. William Johnston
  4. The picture in this post is not from my website. If you look at the link from where this picture is being copied from you will see that it is from steveg's website not my own. In copying the picture from my website to his the resolution of the picture was ruined so this picture can hardly be called unmolested. If you want to see the real picture then go to the picture section of my website. The pictures can be found at www.geocities.com/bourbonstreet/bayou/7773/Violin.htm The Violin.htm part of the website must be typed with a capital V for the address to work. The water based finish that I use hasn't been around for 25 years so you can't prove that the finish will dry up and crack off. The water based finish dries completely water proof, no water is absorbed by it and the tone is consistant through weather changes. Like I said before, the comments in the previous post are from somebody who has never seen one of my violins in person, he only knows me from posts on this bulletin board and from my website. It's amazing how many people can judge the quality of a violin through pictures on the internet. William Johnston
  5. Speaking from my own expirience I have never once been asked to use a varnish that wears pleasently even though I offer it as an option. I'm always asked to use the durable varnish. I have seen some new antiqued violins costing over $4,000. From the ones that I saw it looks like the makers were using the antiquing to cover up their poor surface preparation before varnishing the violin. I'm not saying that all makers use antiquing to cover up defects in their work but the makers that I've visited seemed to use it for that reason. William Johnston
  6. I do pay more attention to acoustics than appearence but that doesn't mean that I don't care about the appearence. I spend quite a bit of time making the violin look good. It would be stupid not to. Whenever someone pickups a violin to play it the first thing they do is look at it and it's important to make a good first impression so the violin has to look good if you want to stay in bussiness. The thing to remember is that violins are musical instruments and are meant to be played so it is important that at least as much time is spent on the violin's acoustics as on it's appearence. A beautiful violin that sounds and plays bad is useless to a violinist and a great sounding violin that looks awful won't sell if you want to survive as a maker you have to give your violins good looks and good tone. William Johnston
  7. Something that should be pointed out is that everyone who has critisized my violins in the other postings have never seen one of my violins in person. I can say without a doubt in my mind that they have never been within 100 feet of one of my violins. These people only know of me from my website and postings on this website. Some people don't like me because I build in my own style instead of copying old violins. Some don't like me because I pay more attention to the acoustics of the violin instead of the appearence. Some dont like me because I have never been another violin maker's apprentice. Some makers don't like me because of my prices. I know of one builder that tells people through e-mails that my violins are awful. The reason he thinks that my violins are bad is because he doesn't like the color of my varnish! I found out about this guy because someone forwarded one of his e-mails to me. What can I say, you can't please everyone. I have one slight correction, building the best sounding violin isn't my biggest goal. I rank tone as second. My number one goal is to build the most responsive violin possible and this is much more difficult than building a good sounding violin. What I mean by responsive is that the violin is free from strong wolf notes, the strings don't squeek if you don't bow them just right, the violin will play as softly as possible while still being able to play loudly. I think that you could say that my goal is to build violins that are so responsive that they almost play themselves. In my opinion responsiveness is the most important part of a violin because it's no fun to fight with a violin to make it sound good and to keep the wolf notes from sounding bad. I build violins that you can play easily the first time you pick it up without learning what the problem notes are. Of course you'll be able to play them even better once you're used to them. Luckily easy response and good tone are pretty much caused by the same parts of the violin's construction so a very responsive violin will have pleasant tone but this doesn't mean that all good sounding violins will be responsive because responsiveness is harder to control than tone. A couple of weeks ago I was planning on entering one of my violins in the Arizona Violin Makers Association's violin making competition but I got the rules in the mail a few days ago and you have to show up with your violin in person, you can't just mail it to them and have it judged. I don't have the time or reliable transportation to make it to Arizona so I can't enter the competition this year. Next year I'm planning to enter at least a cello in the VSA violin builder's competition and hopefully an entire quartet. If you want to play one of my violins without buying one you can look for them there. I don't know if I'll make it to the competition in person. William Johnston www.angelfire.com/tx2/johnston/index.html
  8. The top and back thicknesses on the violins that I build often come out very uneven, sometimes more uneven than the thicknesses on old Italian instruments somes times they're slightly more even but I've never used a piece of wood that's needed even thicknesses. My guess is that violin builders started using even top thicknesses around the same time they started trying to make their violins look perfect, perfect scrolls, perfect purfling, ect. They probably thought that since they make the outside of their violins perfect they should try to give their wood even thicknesses to match it. The other reason might have been they might have thought that wood with even thicknesses would vibrate better than wood with uneven thicknesses. Whatever the reason was to start using even thicknesses was it was passed down from the builder that first used it and it's become the traditional way of graduating the top and most builders use the method becauase their teacher told them to. I 'm a completely self taught violin builder so I do things my own way. I've come up with several ways of graduating the tops and backs of violins. One of my methods can be found on my website at www.angelfire.com/tx2/johnston/index.html don't expect to get even top thicknesses with this method! Wood varies a lot in density and stiffness. Even the top of a violin will have wood of several densities and stiffnesses so uneven thicknesses are nessesary to give the proper stiffness to each part of the top, but of course the wood has to be uneven in just the right places. I use only American spruce on my violins which is stiffer than European spruce. The tops of my violins that use low arches and weak wood vary in thickness between 2.8mm to 2.0mm the tops of high arched violins with stiff wood can vary between 1.5mm to 2.5mm. I never use calipers while graduating a top and only check them after graduating out of curiosity. William Johnston
  9. I didn't write the previous post. Who did? I haven't been on the internet for four days now there's someone using my name. The real William Johnston
  10. Two. Two trees: one for the front, and one for the rest of the violin. William Johnston
  11. There's the Luthier shop in Aubrey, Texas near Denton. They might have a violin in your price range but I doubt that it would have anything handmade on it. They also make their violins look very beat up. I'm sort of in the Dallas area. I live 10 miles north of Greenville, which is 60 miles from Dallas. Check out my website at www.angelfire.com/tx2/johnston/index.html for some pictures of my violins. My violins sound as good or better than everyone elses and they fit your description of what you want. Thank you, William Johnston
  12. With real tap tuning you do just control a few pitches. By real tap tuning I mean the mode tuning recommended by scientists. With their method the top and back of the violin is carved to vibrate at specific frequencies. In theory this would only help the tone of a few notes on the violin. In practice it helps almost none of the notes. The scientists only give frequencies for the top and back to be tuned to. They give little thought to the sides, linings, and blocks. The sides, linings, and blocks are more important to a violin's tone than a well fitted bridge and soundpost so the scientists are ignoring a very important part of the violin. The method on my website should'nt have been called tap tuning but I thought that the title would attract more attention from builders than just "tapping." My method doesn't envolve tuning any tap tone to any pitch. My method involves adjusting how the wood vibrates not the frequency that it vibrates at. The tap tone used in my tapping method can be used to adjust how the entire plate vibrates. When the plate is held proporly the entire plate vibrates except for the small part where the plate is held. Because the entire plate vibrates when it's tapped you can adjust how the whole plate vibrates. Every note on the violin causes some part of the violin's top or back to vibrate so my method affects every note. My method does not involve tuning any tap tone to a specific pitch, I just want to be sure that everyone understands that I think tuning tap tones is a complete waste of time because I don't want to be associated with that method. So far I haven't written how to control brightness or darkness, or volume but I plan on doing that latter. Hope this answered your question. William Johnston
  13. I've written some pages on tap tuning on my webpage. www.angelfire.com/tx2/johnston/index.html The address is for my front page so that I can catch all of the hits on my counter. The new pages are in the violin making pages section. William Johnston William Johnston's Homepage
  14. Check out my webpage at www.angelfire.com/tx2/johnston/index.html Look in the Violin Making pages that I've written. I'm giving out the address of my homepage so that I can catch all of the visits on my counter. William Johnston William Johnston's Website
  15. Can anyone give me a phone number where I can contact this society. Thanks, William Johnston www.angelfire.com/tx2/johnston/index.html
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