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Michael Richwine

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    Shawnee, KS
  • Interests
    Making music, Chinese internal martial arts, Taoism, cooking, my dog Clyde, learning stuff.

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  1. I keep learning and confirming that time and again, as formerly unexciting instruments, with time and attention, become harder and harder for players to put down, and eventually find new homes.
  2. This discussion got me curious, because the maker I worked with tried all that stuff years ago, but doesn't pay much attention to it now, preferring to flex his plates and judge by feel. I happen to have an exceptional sounding violin open for a crack repair in my shop downstairs at the moment. It's ready to reassemble, so I went down and tapped it every way I know how, trying to leave it free to resonate freely. I held the plate in all the prescribed ways I am aware of, tapped with fingertip and alternatively the end of a piece of sound post, and was rewarded mostly with a dull "thunk", and hardly any resonance at all. Yet this violin, before I opened it, with a cracked top and sound post in an "unusual" location was outstanding in comparison with the best of the 200 or so I have on hand. Not the best of the best perhaps, but would certainly hold its own with the better ones. I don't think resonance and great sound necessarily go together.
  3. Working too many hours, sleeping too little. Too much going on at one time. The best time to proof read is before one hits "submit". Mea culpa!
  4. The place where I used to work brought in several containers a year full of Chinese instruments, and they sent one of the company's senior people to live much of the time in China and consult with the main supplier on product quality, and to oversee quality control on product that was being staged for shipping. I remember one guy telling me about his experience in the factory (working conditions weren't great, but neither were living conditions in China at the time.) They had one man who did all the bass bars for the entire factory. This guy would fit a bass bar to a back, by eye, in literally three strokes of a chisel, with maybe a couple of light passes for final fit. Took less than a minute on a violin or viola. Fit was OK; the man I was talking to was a well-qualified maker, and was amazed at this worker's skill. Myself, I'm old, half-blind, and slower than molasses in January, so that made quite an impression on me. Brought to mind tales from a French violin factory, and the kind of speed repetition can foster. BTW, M. Darnton's admonition not to cut where you're not absolutely sure is one of the best I've read over the years. Read that when I was a novice in regard to chalk fitting, and it saved me a lot of time over the years. Thanks, Michael!
  5. I set string clearance at the nut at 0.3 to 0.4 mm. I often just use a standard business card as a gauge. Occasionally I get a customer who likes to feel more resistance under their fingers, so they get higher nut and more scoop as well as a little higher action at the bridge. Most of my clients play fast and long, so they get fast, easy action, i.e. low nut, minimal scoop considering their string preference, and just enough string height at the bridge, combined with scoop and left hand technique, to give clear tone. On a separate note, I couldn't play much at all for several years due to pain from a shoulder injury. It just wasn't any fun to play. I've also had to deal with a form of neuropathy that caused some paralysis in my leg. For various reasons I can't take most pain medications. Changes in diet and lifestyle helped tremendously, with Turmeric and B12 supplementation being the most direct benefit. Lately I'm fully recovered, in my mid-70s, getting my chops back, and my biggest distraction is practicing too much.
  6. I am not an authority, but IME minor changes in fingerboard thickness don't make gross changes in tone that can't be "adjusted around", and the only reasons I've found for replacing an otherwise sound fingerboard are that the neck is bowing because the fingerboard doesn't support it, by which time the board has sometimes come loose on its own, or the fingerboard is too flexible in high positions, which is awfully thin given normal left hand technique. Always happy to be corrected. Nuts generally come off very easily, if attached with the usual two tiny drops of glue. I usually use a single-edge razor blade between neck and nut, or else a little block of wood and a tiny hammer. I usually start with the razor blade in case the nut is glued on too tight and wants to split. YMMV, of course. I mostly work on old instruments, 90 to 200 years old and replace far more lost or damaged fingerboards than I do ones that are worn out.
  7. Just a side note, but it would sure be helpful if you would have the patience to use adequate light, thereby making it easier to get decent focus so details would be easier to discern, and to perhaps organize your photos according to the sticky near the top of this forum. Looking at these thing piecemeal and in the blurry dark rather than as a well lit and focused gestalt really diminishes my interest, for one.
  8. Is it really necessary to replace the fingerboard? Maybe I'm missing something, but it shouldn't be necessary to thin the fingerboard any more than it already is, since to reduce the scoop you just have to take down the high spots and leave the low (thin) spots alone. OTOH, since the "book" scoop that I learned was 0.7mm under the G, who knows where someone would put a 2mm scoop? Hard to say for sure without a look, but should be able to leave the thin spots alone. I'm getting pretty old myself, and more and more sensitive to the nuances of setup. Little stuff like nut height, scoop, bridge curve and string height make a huge difference in how cleanly and easily I can play traditional or dance music up to tempo. Some of my country music and other fiddle clients play as many as 15-18 shows per week, and they really appreciate an easy-to-play setup as well.
  9. You can get suitable instruments made entirely in the USA for $6,500 to $9,000. Not gonna advertise here, and don't have any financial connection with them, but I know of at least one source near you. You'd have to ask, though. (thinking I may have overstepped...)
  10. I can personally vouch that you can still get a new violin good enough to win a seat on the L A Phil for $15,000, because I've seen it happen. Good new student instruments can still be had from $6500 to $9000. A lot depends on the dealer and their setup and communication skills.
  11. Probably lives within an hour of me "on the Kaw" and has mutual acquaintances, but we've never met. Anonymity has its drawbacks as well as advantages.
  12. Doesn't that look more like a "scratch graft"?
  13. Agreed. There are many better places to spend your money. There are so many decent violins available on Ebay that the market just can't buy them all. I bought that Neuner & Hornsteiner I mentioned a couple of days ago out of Munich, but another fairly nice Mittenwald violin with varnish problems sold out of California yesterday for $311 to a friend of mine. I wasn't going to bid on it because of the varnish problems, but there's no doubt it can be easily made to look presentable and will become a good player for someone. Just not in my mix. Among your local shoppers, Reverb, Facebook, EBay, and other outlets, there is no point buying anything that's not an iron clad bargain, IMHO. And don't buy without right of approval / inspection in hand.
  14. FWIW, I wouldn't ask anywhere near $2000 if I were selling it with a guarantee, all set up and in perfect condition. Considering the broken scroll, and as a reseller, I wouldn't be very interested at any price, considering I just bought a good neuner & hornsteiner for under $400, wholesale, and I can typically find good "maker" violins and high end trade violins such as H T Heberleins for well under $2000 if I shop a bit.
  15. My clientele, fiddlers, would like the birdseye maple and the long body. Can often be set up to produce the "bright/dark" sound fiddlers like. Need to have a good look at that scroll and the saddle crack. Still not gonna bring a lot of money, though.
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