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Ken Pollard

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Everything posted by Ken Pollard

  1. Adam, Just ran across this YouTube video while doing a little tune research, then found your post here on Maestronet. Really nice sounding. Cool concert, a splendid memorial. Cheers, Ken
  2. Thanks for the discussion. I flip one side, for reasons of strength. At least it seems reasonable. I've never actually measured it one way or the other, so I don't know. Here's one of my tops from 2011, and I've been doing it that way since. It makes a good story, at least. I have been curious as to the tonal effects of run-out, and was interested to hear some opinions on that, above. Cheers, Ken
  3. And the citation includes this: "How did this come to be? Perhaps this story is apocryphal but my understanding is that when Richard Nixon received a contribution value of more than one million dollars for the contribution of his manuscripts to a library,...." (Boldface my doing.) Apochyphal basis of tax-code, quite an idea! It sounds like violin-makers talking about varnish. On the other hand, many of us have been puzzling about taxes for several years now. I think we can come up with good stories, too. I think the fundamental idea is correct -- that you cannot deduct the same thing twice. So if you are trying to do that, then that's something to worry about. And declaring nothing is certainly a safe solution. A couple of possible deductive alternatives that I would look into would be: (1) advertising, or (2) taking the item out of inventory for personal use, then declaring the deduction. The 2nd possibility raises the issue of inventory, which is another can of worms that many folks involved in handmade items avoid, and probably rightfully so. It could very well turn out that the deduction is not worth the effort or risk; you don't save the full-dollar amount on your taxes in any event. You simply reduce your declared income by that amount, then the tax-savings is somewhere between 0% and, say 25% of the donated item, depending on your final, real, tax-rate. Probably the best solution, financially, is to sell your fiddle, or painting, or manuscript to someone else, then let them donate it and worry about the deduction. But the possibly the best solution, karma-ly, is, if you want to donate something you made, enjoy the good will and not worry about it. I've learned things here. Thanks, all.
  4. So one can have a fiddle that looks like a dG. It is easy to underestimate appearance. A decent fiddle in the hands of a decent fiddler will sound decent. Might as well look like something, too.
  5. In tax code, there are no right answers. There are risky answers and there are safe answers. Different CPAs will give different answers, and so do different IRS agents. No one really understands all of it. Each has their own algorithm, or checklist, they go through. If the IRS claims you have underpaid taxes, you can fight it, and, depending on the situation, even come out on top. The phrase I learned when I started filing violin-business taxes nearly twenty years ago was 'tax avoidance vs tax evasion.' It is reasonable and legal to avoid taxes. Evading them is when you get into trouble. I would guess most of us US folk are happy to avoid any interaction at all with the IRS. When I make material donations for unused goods I have not made, I use fair-market value. Say I donate a set of strings for a fiddle-contest raffle. I write off my cost of the strings. That is the wholesale cost, because that is what I paid for the set. I have the paperwork to prove it. Could I declare the retail value of the strings? Possibly. I think an argument could be made for that. People do pay retail for the strings all the time (though the definition of 'retail price' has become quite fuzzy these days), so it does qualify as a fair-market value. But that's something I choose not to do. I have other things I'd rather worry about than a possible audit-flag for overdeclaring deductions. It's a safe deduction. Some overzealous agent could still call it wrong, and then I'd have to defend it, but I don't lose much sleep over that possibility. When I donate time to an event, I don't declare my time, my 'wages', as a deduction. I don't believe I could do that anyway, but I think some people try. I declare my mileage to and from the event as a normal cost of doing business. I also keep track of everything that comes in. I have good records, and I make a reasonable attempt. Again, I sleep better at night that way. If you are a hobbyist donating something you made and want to declare the write-off, get good tax advice and an appraisal. Consider, though, that if you were to donate the wood (unused), then the price of the wood is a good starting point. If you want to donate a violin, first you would have to guess whether you improved the wood or not. If you've been through a divorce in a community-property state, you have some understanding of fair-market value. A typical conclusion is that your stuff is often not worth nearly as much as you might believe. As when selling at an auction, you want more than one person to consider it worth something.
  6. "Fair market value" is the phrase here, as others have said. If one has actually sold multiple violins in the, say, $2000 range, than a justifiable fair-market value is $2000. If one has a price tag stating $2000, but hasn't sold any, than it is hard to say that $2000 is fair-market value. One could argue the point, and possibly win. Or lose. I have seen plenty of examples where $500 worth of material has been turned into something completely worthless. And I'm not implying anything about Michael M's original post here; I haven't seen any of his instruments but he does seem a careful person. Here, locally, however, I do get to see examples of hand-made instruments that have been donated to schools for, I would suspect, generous deductions on tax returns. These are almost always total junk and cannot be rehabilitated to anything near playing condition. They absorb the orchestra teachers time as well as mine only to end up in the dumpster. If you're in doubt and want to be sure, get a written appraisal from someone you are not related to.
  7. I thought I had ordered one copy this morning, using a Visa debit card, but saw no acknowledgment via e-mail nor any debit to my checking account. A few hours later, I sent an e-mail to Helen M. asking if, when she had the time, she could check to see if I had an order pending. She replied within the hour. I didn't have a pending order. Turns out there is a final "Pay Now" button that I neglected to hit. I re-ordered, hitting the final button, and within moments I had an e-mail acknowledgement, followed shortly by one from the publisher confirming the order. So, yes, Will, it is your 20th-century limitations. But unless you are getting an e-mail acknowledgement for each order, you probably haven't really pulled the trigger yet. Hope all is well with you. Ken
  8. The A-peghole is an extremely vulnerable spot, unlike those illustrated in other posts here. If you want practice carving a scroll, you can continue. But I wouldn't put that on a working instrument. I'd say Doormouse's example is quite interesting to look at (but very different than the O.P.).
  9. Yes! Don't know whose hand was responsible, but I understand the difficulty.
  10. Lots of nice details to be seen there. The purfling under the button caught my eye, and gave me a feeling of relief, or maybe compassion.
  11. Berl, I am always surprised when I can remember some detail about these things, and this just happens to be one. The July 2007 issue of Strad magazine had a story you may be interested in reviewing: "Ring of Truth" by John Topham & Derrek McCormick. They have some nice graphical plots, based on dendrochronology, showing that Strad pretty much used the wood as he bought it, with occasional lapses -- perhaps a stash forgotten in some corner, under newer stuff. I, of course, can't substantiate any of it, but it seemed interesting and reasonable to me. Omobono -- nice comparison photos as always. Cheers, Ken
  12. I like the mug, Don. And the rest of the shop. Really nice.
  13. Similar reason to Cliff's -- good memories as well as being handy. The mug is from Williamsburg, VA. Went there in 1997 for the VSA convention and enjoyed my visit. Turned out the mug just sat in my kitchen cabinet, mostly unused, so I used it to replace the soup can that had previously been holding my brushes, pencils, and such.
  14. Behind my vise? That's actually Everclear, which I use mostly for cleaning. The rum is on the other side of the shop, over by the treadle-lathe. :-)
  15. Some really neat workshops. I can never maintain mine. Violin garland in the back, pochette plates mid-bench, varnish/finish testing in front.
  16. I don't have un cane nor un cagnolino nor even any canini in this one, but the paper form can be seen in the Google preview version of Stewart Pollens' book "Stradivari." It's on the bottom of page 140, top of page 141. Here.
  17. Hi EM, I plan to be there next year as well. It's a lot of work, but such a change of pace for us, that it really is interesting. Friday night, when I get home, I unload the car then collapse, dissolute, and am prone to post twice in the same evening on internet forums. Tomorrow I will be strong. I look forward to meeting you. If you happen into the shop when it is crowded, when two or three fiddlers are going at it full force, and I'm being asked: so what kind of wood do you use? Be patient. Mention Maestronet. Use the secret handshake of the Knights Template. I'm easily distracted in such situations. Ken
  18. After enjoying reading what emviolins has written about the contest, I’d just like to add that it really is a living tradition. I’ve been going there long enough to see the music change, grow, while still staying within the basic structure. We see probably more good players in our shop in the week there than we do in any two months back home. If you’re worried about what’s going on with ‘kids’ these days, this is one sure antidote. I see kids, preteens, come in, pick up random fiddles I have laying about, and roll into amazing renditions of reels (hoedowns) and waltzes. I don’t know how they learn to pump out tone and emotion like that. I have socks older than some of those kids. Today, a young lady from Montana, perhaps 17, was playing on one of my fiddles, alternating between tunes like Mason’s Apron and the Prelude from Bach’s Partita No. 3 in E. I can’t make my fiddles work that hard, nor that far up the fingerboard, and it sure is interesting and useful (to me) to hear and watch. Not just American fiddle tunes, but highly competent Irish and Scottish tune players come by and try out a few fiddles and bows. Of course there are adult players who, while perhaps not professional musicians, have spent a fair chunk of their lives learning how to make music on this silly little box. Beautiful stuff. I stand back amazed at how effortless they make it look. This year’s swing competition was particularly interesting to me. Fun, complicated versions of old jazz standards being played back by our door as they waited for their turn on the stage. It is good and worthwhile.
  19. As usual, we're set up out in the shop room behind the warm-up area. If you're nearby, stop in and introduce yourself. Always happy to meet folks face-to-face that I've 'met' on-line. We're there 10 - 5 or so. I had three of my fiddles on the table at the start of the week, the three in the stands in the last photo. One has sold so far. Phil Stanley has some of his bows on the table as well.
  20. I attended 5 years, and wish I was going this year. Some of the varied specifics that jump out at me are: Tool-handling: watching how folks who know what they are doing stand, move, hold their tools). Sharpening Corner geometry: getting to pore over posters and book photos with someone who really understands what goes into one. Being someone from a non-art background, I really envy folks who have good intuition on curves. I'm reduced to using compasses and trying to understand where, for example, a radius changes. This was also the first place I got to see Francois Denis' book, which I then bought after returning home. I've since drawn many of the forms, built a couple, and built a couple violins off of those. Having the bowmakers there is a bonus. I've learned a lot just by hearing what they are doing. I do have a series of photos from those years on Flickr. 2008 -- https://www.flickr.com/photos/23218266@N06/sets/72157620132641002/ 2009 -- https://www.flickr.com/photos/23218266@N06/sets/72157620040968993/ 2010 -- https://www.flickr.com/photos/23218266@N06/sets/72157624318399388/ 2011 -- https://www.flickr.com/photos/23218266@N06/sets/72157626955927112/ 2012 -- https://www.flickr.com/photos/23218266@N06/sets/72157630041012813/
  21. Geesh, getting 6 friends together and tossing coins a half-dozen times is pretty easy to do.
  22. In (one of) the worst case scenarios, you pegbox could be cracked. The A-peghole is the most likely place for this to occur. You want to look at both sides, see if you have a split with the grain, particularly on the side leading out towards the scroll. Another common problem is the string hole in the peg is up against the far wall, limiting how tightly the peg can be seated. Drilling a new string hole fixes that problem. At the very basic level, remove the peg, dope it up, put it back in.
  23. Right, I do understand the idea of control and the need to make money, though I'd disagree with the 'free' part regarding Strad magazine-- we do pay dearly for it. But Sacconi is dead; profits don't help him buy groceries. It's a classic text, and, as mentioned, plenty of folks want the book, so there's still a demand for the real thing. I don't have the book, though I have read it. I would like to refer to it from time to time, and then have to go to the trouble of an interlibrary loan. Again, at no profit to the publisher/copyright owner. A digital text would make the information available. The copyright owner could make some money off the initial 'subscription.' The information, in digital form, exists out 'there' in the cloud. Those of us who use e-readers understand the concept. Even if my computer dies, I still have the version out there where I can access it. And if your house burns down, the real copy is gone, so there are things that can happen no matter what. If I wanted to print it out, I could. Or even just a section you wanted. But I'm finding fewer and fewer things that I need to have hard copies of. Just an idea.
  24. Why are we still talking hardcopy? It couldn’t be too hard to get a copy into, say, PDF form and offer it by subscription, say, $20 (US). I’d pitch in. Of course, once it’s digital, then it’s out there and hard to control. It seems, though, that enough of us could contribute to pay for the effort -- and the contribution to future makers.
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