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Marc Genevrier

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    Nîmes, France

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  1. The National Music Museum sells a drawing for a Lira da Braccio (http://orgs.usd.edu/nmm/braccio.html). The drawing has a nice detail of the piece holding the tailpiece gut, please PM me if you would like a scan of that part of the drawing. Otherwise, I remember having seen a Lira da braccio where the tailpiece was attached with the same system as on a viola da gamba.
  2. I built a theorbo this year for a friend of mine who would like to learn to play it. This was my first instrument in the lute family, but I will certainly make more of them. It's so different from violin building that it may have a relaxing effect after a couple of violins or violas. Violin making is really a carving thing, my most used tools are gouges and scrapers. With lutes, the most used tools are more the plane and chisel. Plus, you don't have the pain/strain to carve hollow maple back! AND then there is the most delightful experience with cutting the rosette. Just put a good CD on, prepare a glass of good red wine and you're ready to go! One other thing I like about lutes is that you don't have the same issue and the same doubts about setting-up and sound adjustment, particularly the endless quest after the best soundpost fit and position. Once a lute is built, you can't do much to alter things, but that also meens that you don't have to (and musicians/customers won't ask you to do it).
  3. I assume, you're speaking of their ground system. Initially, they only had one : (Italien Golden Ground +) Imprimatura + Doratura Later came their Refractive Ground. Imprimatura and Doratura are quite thick and not very easy to apply at the beginning. Recently, Old Wood is shipping them with a small bottle of linseed oil or similar to dilute them and make the application easier. You may also warm them before application, it helps too. Refractive Ground is very fluid, hence much easier to apply. I suspect it is some sort of rosin oil. So now, you have three products which act as a ground/sealer before the first varnish coat. Although each one has special properties and behaves somewhat differently, one may wonder whether you really need three products. Hence, I guess it's up to you to choose which one you would like to use, it's a matter of taste and convenience. But of course, you can only choose when you have some experience with all of them. My personal choise as for now : 1 coat of each - 1 extremely thin coat only, I always vigorously wipe the violin with a rag after application to remove the excess product. Actually, I have not tested whether Refractive Ground makes much of a difference, but it's cheap and easy to apply. I like the effect of Doratura, it gives some depth to the color and a nice chatoyancy effect. Maybe I could save on Imprimatura and apply two coats of Refractive Ground, but I still have a bottle of it and I use only these products very sparingly, so one bottle will last very long. Also, Imprimatura and Doratura contain some minerals, which Refractive Ground doesn't, so I'm somewhat reluctant to switch to Refractive Ground only, because of sound issues (I'm assuming here, following some comments here, e.g. by Roger Hargrave, that minerals are good for projection). Old Wood has a nice system, but it looks quite complex and lacks the simplicity many people are aiming for. This may actually be the reason why they are now promoting simpler alternatives with only one or two out of the three products.
  4. Instead of a low angle plane, you should consider a high angle one. Just buy a spare blade for your plane and grind the bevel with a very steep angle, something like 50° or so. Works very well on difficult woods like flamed maple. In fact, a low angle plane is the worst you could choose. Companies like Lee Valley and others do offer blades with different angles.
  5. Funny, I just stumbled on this same article two weeks ago, looking for information about the lira da braccio (maybe I will have to build one for a customer). It opened MY eyes, too, and I was surprised that Christian Rault's research seems to have been largely neglected (he was already working on such things in the early nineties). Honestly, I never heard of the Freiberg instruments before, either. In any case, if one would want to build an Andrea Amati violin, say 1560-1580, this would mean that you should probably build it without bassbar and with a central soundpost. Has anyone already tried this? I surely will next time! In another book (only in french, sorry), Rault writes that Auguste Tolbecque was probably among the first ones to build "musical instruments from the past" at the end of XIXth century and that, having restored some such instruments built by Tolbecque, he could see very clearly how the techniques and views of his time influenced his making (of course, not in the right way). Rault then goes on to regret that modern makers, although they are not so largely bound to the habits and uses of our time, very often think of medieval and renaissance instruments as if they had been built with baroque views and concepts. Much food for thought, I think...
  6. Thank you very much for sharing this. Great photos, much to learn from them!
  7. Ok, thank you very much for the explanations! Thus I understand that the bridge gives no clue as to the age of the violin. I know that Milo Stamm also offers such bridges today, but I thought - wrongly - that they had been abandoned for a long time until our modern taste for authenticity brings them to the market again.
  8. Hi all, I've just took the belly off of an older saxon violin to repair some open cracks. Overall, the violin seems quite well built. It has a clean inside work, is fully blocked, has a modern neck (I see no sign of alteration here), an integral bass bar about 24,5 cm long, 9,5 mm high and almost triangular in cross section in its highest part. Quite nice wood and at about 65g for the top, this may be a keeper, who knows. No label was visible from the outside, but one is glued to the belly near the bass bar, in the upper bout: I read "Josef Volkmann aus Schönbach bei (Eger???) N°150 hat diese Violine gemacht" Please correct me if I'm wrong. I guess it means "N°150", because I don't think that there's a year date here. Also, a date would probably stand elsewhere in the sentence. Actually, there is another label on the upper block, but it doesn't give any more info. Volkmann is clearly legible on this other label, however, which helped me a lot to decipher the whole writing. The violin came with an old bridge, which looks pretty close to what I understand would be a "transitional bridge". Here it is: So, what do you think? Would you date it before about 1850? 1830? Unfortunately, I couldn't find anything about a Josef Volkmann. In any case, I will repair the cracks, leave the bar as is for now and rather spend some time on exterior work, since the varnish (and some wood...) of the belly has suffered a lot in the bridge area. Then maybe I will put gut strings on it. Thank you for your interest and for any hint! Marc
  9. Hi all. You may find the following article interesting, it has a nice overview of the prices and policies of some highly recognized makers. http://www.katherinemillett.com/PDFs/Instruments.pdf I don't know if the prices are still up to date and accurate, but this confirms the broad differences in price between some makers. Some of them, I don't even find expensive at all considering their reputation!
  10. Roger, I notice that, on your last drawing, the upper surface of the neck (glueing surface to the fingerboard) is situated lower than the upper edge of the belly. I assume that this may happen because something went wrong when glueing the neck. In any case, if I understand you right, this is the situation where the nicks are useful because, without them, you simply could'nt glue the fingerboard and correct anything. On the other hand, if the upper surface of the neck is sufficiently high above the belly, you probably have enough wood in the fingerboard to correct any incorrect tilt or height and glue the fingerboard onto the neck. In this case, I would argue that the nicks are not strictly necessary, though I understand the argument of C. Russell and, also, that the nicks may well become necessary during the procedure if you have to plane much wood from the underside of the fingerboard.
  11. Thank you Omobono, I'm very much interested in the article since I will be making my first baroque violin soon. Also, it made me realize that you can now subscribe to the digital edition of The Strad, which I find very convenient and is quite cheaper, too.
  12. There is a fair amount of dissimetry between both f-holes, too. On the Strad poster as well as on photos of Aaron Rosand playing the violin which I found on the Internet, the bridge seems to be placed about "correctly" in relation to the treble f-hole, but somewhat south (maybe about 2,5 mm) in relation to the bass f-hole. I don't know to which f-hole the 191mm given on the Strad poster refer to, but it can also relate to the actual placement of the bridge itself, not to the f-hole notches.
  13. From what I could gather recently, it seems that most people who make lutes, theorbos and the like have waiting lists, sometimes for a long time. I just heard of a swiss maker who has a 6 years waiting list! Of course, there are by far fewer lute makers than violin makers, probably by a factor 20-30, I would say. But there are also much fewer lute players than violinists. It's true also that lutes don't age as well as violins. The instruments of the old masters aren't played anymore, there are only a couple of them in museums. So there is probably almost no market for vintage instruments.
  14. Apart from the taste of the times, we can also think about the magnificent evenings in poorly lit palaces (candle light only!) or the important events in equally poorly lit churches. In such an environment, the brilliance, color and chattoyancy certainly were of particular importance. Just a thought...
  15. The last line reads "gemacht von Ernst Kreusler", that is "made by Ernst Kreusler". I'm not sure about the K in Kreusler, though, but I don't see a "T" either.
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