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Melvin Goldsmith

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Everything posted by Melvin Goldsmith

  1. It's SO hygroscopic!...It's use will define the character of many violins made over the last 30 years or so and not in a good way.
  2. You cant really tune wood unless like a player you have pegs and strings to enable perfect tuning at every turn of the weather and humidity etc for every occasion every few minutes...A luthier cant tune a violin accurately to account for wood's inclination to vary with the climate it is in...Something just out of tune often sounds worse than something completely out of tune in general terms so in real terms tilting at windmills comes to mind...etc
  3. I'd normally expect a cello to wolf around E to F# ....I would attribute weird notes on D and A to something loose and unglued
  4. Whilst I might cook resins to color them I make most of my varnishes by cold mixes guided by what century's old painting manuals recommend for glazes etc which always has a concern for permanence and I want fragility in most cases...We get these great resins and oils from nature designed over millions of years evolution to protect trees and seeds and then assume we can improve them by cooking the hell out of them or modifying with chemicals....
  5. I found Veritas PMV11 plane blades to be a real revelation for working ebony. They are easy to sharpen but hold an edge longer than anything else I have tried on difficult ebony and believe me I am a steel and tool freak! I use CBN grinding wheels for primary bevels and sharpen plane blades on DMT diamond stones with a final polish on a Tormek honing wheel. I use the Tormek for re grinding knives but it is too slow for heavy grinding and time=money. The CBN grinder I use is an Axminster tools trade item and the wheels are these...they generate very little heat and cut real fast https://www.axminstertools.com/axminster-evolution-series-cbn-wheel-200-x-40mm-180g-105026
  6. My approach would be to listen to recordings of the Rogeri. If you like it then follow the grad patterns ( which I have not seen) . I'd actually go a bit thicker than the original in most cases l keeping the gradations in proportion aiming at strength and longevity. It's very simple to pull a cello apart and thin it and seldom required.
  7. Depends on the job....Fitting a bar is quite simple and quick but it does take a bit of preparation work. For me it's the prep work that takes the time plus selecting and making the bar and setting everything out. On one of my own makes it could be quite fast but for something old and valuable with fragile varnish a very long time. The actual fitting is simple but figuring out how to get it right and making a plan could take much more time in some cases. ....I never time it to be honest but even if you are not working to a time sheet for a job you must do it as fast and efficiently as you can.
  8. It has been a while since I posted here. I am still alive and happy. Very busy but happy to be back here. I have some work to show. Currently I am working on a copy of a Turin Guadagnini. I applied the varnish as I imagined it to look on the original violin and here it is with the final color coats on...everything needs to cure and dry for a couple of weeks before the antiquing starts. For my own satisfaction and the curiosity of others I will make a brand new version of this some day
  9. Water contamination is the likely suspect...Alcohol will draw water in all ways it can. You can feel this happen if you make a small batch of retouch varnish that is exposed to the air...soon it goes wrong just drawing in water from the air
  10. Hello Jim. Did the Strad poster supply the grads for this cello? If so I would be tempted to be guided by them in the proportions.
  11. Yes I have. ...Not with a UV torch or anything but my eyes but my instinct told me it's the same stuff....for what that's worth!
  12. I use artists hog hair short flat bright brushes that makers like Windsor and Newton or Rowney sell for oil painters as well as other makers. I use these for both very thick and thin oil varnishes. Normally they need a bit of use to get working well and I start our by using them for making varnish samples untill they are work seasoned and proven. Some brushes from the same make turn out better than others so I have my favourites.
  13. It's ideal if a maker can make a varnish they would be proud of and these days with all the information available I think that should be possible. Personally I don't think Stradivari or del Gesu actually varnished their own instruments at all. I think this was done by a third party finishing shop to their orders. There is no historical evidence for this but it would explain why the pristine Lady Blunt Strad and Chardon Del Gesu pochette look like they were dipped in the same varnish pot
  14. All the great violins have a wolf around this area...It's part of the deal you sign with the devil to play a stringed instrument. The player has to learn to deal with it. It's a bit like buying a great race car or a race horse... and you don't know how to drive or ride....Not going to be a nice experience...of course we can put a weaker engine in the car or castrate the horse if that is what is ultimately required or you can put some hours in to learn to ride
  15. I am really glad to see that some of my input here was put to good use. A home made shaver is a great way to go and what better endorsement than Bruce Carlson!. It's very easy to do with a bit of planning and I am a fiend for prefect fitting pegs. I have home made shavers for all sorts of tapers and diameters and it only takes a few minutes to make them. Thankyou Charliemaine
  16. In my opinion Milo Stamm makes the best bridges. His taste in wood is far superior to all the other manufacturers. Too many manufacturers judge wood by spectacular medullary rays above all else...Being based in the Uk I buy my Stamm bridges from Holfter in Germany. Often the standard grades at a cheaper price are superior to the other manufacturers highest prices grades. I should say I don't know Stamm and am not a friend of his or anything like that. One of the things I do judging new bridges is look back at old bridges that stood the test of time. Stamm wood reminds me of the best old bridges in many cases.
  17. It's quite a good question I think. I was brought up with quite a conventional wood work training to wear an apron. This was the first thing I ditched. An apron is just begging to be caught in machinery and no use to me as I often grip violins using my legs. I work at all times with a short sleeve shirt so my hands and arms are free of encumbrance and I wear tight fitting clothes. I keep a few changes of clothes at work to change between ebony work, murdering clients and wood finishing etc.
  18. Your work is very inspiring to see..For my own comment and your question...Well that's something I tried 20 years ago and I'd not want to go in to too many details. These days I have a few different methods after 40 years of trying and could probably get a decent result with all kind of numerous ingredients after more years of trials and testing. I have methods that I know work for me and then ideas to move forward from what I know and have seen on great old violins. I think it is important to not be constrained by the discourse and to be willing to break rules and fixed ideas. My thoughts for future experiments are as follow. I think the Old Cremonese pre treated their wood by boiling it and this explains the open maple pores and the use of very new wood. I think this already colours the wood. I think they sealed it before staining it and I think from evidence I have seen the stain was chemical aggressive and volatile. This would concur a bit with Brandmairs finding of some kind of stain but I am not a huge fan of that work...I'd like to leave a conclusive thought but I am always looking to try a new idea
  19. Yes, I agree....the beautiful natural ingredients we love will fade...some more than others....I think some of this is why the research misses them and it is always a factor to think in that the fade will still look nice....It's SO complicated!
  20. Oh No!...this is just my theory!....I did try it about 20 years ago with a great result that I intend to revisit when time allows...I keep trying all kinds of things! I think we need to keep thinking in terms of layers and the optics of layers and a historic 18C desire to make things look like gold or opulent rubies and the commercial desire to make violins look stunning.....and to remember that they were very smart and would use whatever they could find to commercial advantage. A lot of what we see now of the old stuff is quite faded. Somewhere in my mind I remember a visit to The National Portrait Gallery in London and seeing a Holbein painting where a jewel was represented by a blob of red lake varnish over gold leaf...It always stayed in my mind.
  21. One thing we can do is to look at our results under UV light and compare to the old Cremonese. I pulled out a few pics of my own work to show what I do. My personal theory yet to be fully put into practice is that the Old Cremonese sealed the instruments in the white with a quite oil rich clear varnish only in the wood and then applied a chemical oxidizer facilitated by heat to obtain a gold color. This would explain why there is no end grain darkening because the wood is already sealed before the stain comes in.
  22. As a violin maker I feel reasonably qualified to state from experience and personal failures that there is nothing quite as self satisfied or foolish as a violin maker who has just make a violin and wants to subscribe it to FFT tests or the nearest soloist...these things take years to settle in to what they will be
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