Jump to content
Maestronet Forums


  • Posts

  • Joined

  • Last visited

Everything posted by Banzai

  1. Conor, I suspected that it might have started with a patch of dark "antiquing", given how deep it seems to go, and how smooth it is after cleaning. I wonder what kind of earth tones/antiquing would work? David, I'm starting to think that I ought to do the barest amount of touch-up varnish to try to blend, then clear shellac over to patch up the bare wood. I'm not going to try to learn to french polish on this, but I'll do my best to clean it up. On the back, find a way to smooth the cuts, make some fill varnish of shellac/sandarac/copal, then smooth everything out. I'll try not to screw it up...
  2. Thank you so much for all the advice. It is a "trade fiddle", which is the only reason I'm contemplating doing anything with the varnish/finish. That, and it's already been a bit worked over, so can I really make it that much worse? (The answer is yes, but don't blow my confidence... ) However, it is much nicer in construction than the "average" trade fiddle I typically work on. That's why I'm agonizing over what to do with it. I'll probably keep it, rather than sell it; the pictures don't do it justice, but it is really neat. I'm going to try to do as little as possible to the existing finish, even if it is just a trade fiddle. I really appreciate all the advice, and I'll start looking into more materials. I already have shellac flakes, sandarac, copal, everclear (yes, everclear...much better than denatured alcohol...), and some Hammerl/JOHA touch up varnish. And some micro mesh/sandpaper/brushes/etc.
  3. Hmmm...I just looked up triton x100. That looks like pretty aggressive stuff. I'm not so much interested in stripping off the 100 year old rosin as I am in undoing some of the most egregious damage. Besides, I think that a lot of the black/brown is more-or-less part of the varnish now. It's pretty smooth, barely tacky at all. I cleaned away all the rough build up, and that's what's left. Based on the sanded/stripped part, it looks like it's penetrated the varnish through to the wood. I have a feeling I'd have to remove a lot of stuff to clean it off. Mostly I just want to take care of those bare patches, patch up those gouges/holes, and smooth the cuts/scratches on the back.
  4. Thank you so much for the replies! I'm putting a few more pictures, hope you don't mind. When I first looked at this fiddle, I merely thought that there was some form of moisture erosion of the varnish. It looks like, even in the pale wood, there's some of the old black varnish residue that has become, more or less, a permanent part of the belly around the f-holes. But, now that you say it, perhaps it has been sanded. I swear it wasn't me. At present, the violin is in the exact condition I acquired it, save for a gentle cleaning. If that wood has been sanded bare, my going in plan is some touch up varnish, an effort to blend, and probably a touch of clear shellac to blend it all together. On the back, I'm still pondering a "fill" of the scars with a shellac/sandarac/copal mix, and then a level and polish. Thank you again for the tips and advice. Cheers! Mike.
  5. All the experts here, and no other opinions... Oh well. For those who have chimed in, are we talking polishing with rottenstone/oil/water/cloth? Or polishing with just a cloth. For what it's worth, I've done about all I can with just a cloth and some gentle cleaner in parts. If I'm going to polish away the harder edges of those back scratches, I think it will have to be with a fine abrasive like rottenstone/tripoli.
  6. Thanks for the advice so far. As far as polish, are we recommending any techniques/products specifically? I typically clean with a warm damp cloth; for intransigent old rosin I'll occasionally use a light solution with gum turpentine, after testing, but I've never actually "polished" an instrument. I'll look into that filler. For the back, I had been thinking about a light buffing, then filling the deeper scratches with a thickly mixed clear shellac/sandarac varnish. After it dries, smooth it to the surrounding surface with some pumice and a cloth, maybe a bit of 1000 and 2000 grit sandpaper. After David's point out of what he thought the bridge area damage was (Sanding! Ouch! That actually hadn't occurred to me...) I'm looking at some of the JOHA/Hammerl touch up varnishes. I figure "close enough" is better than what's going on there. I appreciate any further advice. And to reiterate; my goal isn't to transform this into a shiny new violin. I like the neat antique qualities of it. I just want to treat some of the damage that goes a bit beyond "neat" and into neglect/vandalism.
  7. I had thought about a bit of JOHA touch up varnish there, or maybe just a very basic shellac, maybe using some amber and garnet shellac flakes to add some hue. I don't really want to remove any varnish in an effort to fix those spots; that particular endeavor likely has poor outcomes. The back makes me sad, because it is otherwise so very pretty. I've cleaned it the best I am capable of without risking damage/change.
  8. So. For a while now I've had a fun hobby/side business doing repairs and setup of old, mostly trade fiddles. Many of the German persuasion. Bridges, boards, nuts, pegs, seam repair, cracks (not soundpost or bass bar)...I like to think that by now I do some decent quality refurbishment and setup work. I recently came across a really neat old German fiddle that I'm very excited to get playing. I've mended a crack, and cleaned it up the best I can. New fingerboard, and getting ready to start on the nut. Normally I don't touch varnish/finishes. However, this old fiddle could be a beauty, and has seen some rough treatment. How would the experts here address this damage? I'm linking some pictures; on the belly there are some spots of bare wood, and what look like tell-tale fine-tuner gouges, and some spots around the bridge feet that look like moisture damage of some form. On the nicely figured back are a lot of scratches that go just a hair into the wood, and some bare wood down by the end block. I'm not going after "shiny fiddle" look. But I wonder if it's acceptable somehow to undo a bit of the rough treatment. I know that the standard answer is "don't", but it seems unfair to not do a little.
  9. To clarify, my fiddle is 14", with calipers (or rather makeshift calipers, but same method), measured edge to edge of the plate. I suppose my question is, "why?", since it seems many other measurements are taken from the neck root/stop. When I was mentioning the neck/body stop lengths, I wasn't intending quite as you interpreted, Bruce. What I was getting at is that the difference in corpus length is about 4-ish mm if you measure from neck root to end, as opposed to end to end on the plate. And I was wondering if that may acccount for the seeming 4-5mm of variance I often see in the length measurements of some instruments. I've actually draw a mould template, which measures 13 3/4" (approximately.) If measuring the corpus length from the neck root, it's a dead ringer match for all the other measurements of an instrument that I do not have access to photos of, only all-over-the-map measurements. If measuring plate edge to plate edge, it's a little bit long. Of course, I haven't been able to even discern if we're talking calipers, or over-the-arch. So frustrating. I guess if she's long, I can just claim that I was experimenting with a "long pattern" design.
  10. It appears, in the research I've done, that there are no accepted standard practices for the measurement of a violin; I can find measurements for the same violin, in multiple reputable sources, with wildly divergent figures. For instance, in measuring, when one says the body should be 14" long; is that from the neck/body stop? Or is that the overall lenght of the back or belly plate? Or does it matter, since the variance between the two methods will be about 4-5mm...which appears to be an "acceptable" range of lengths when one compares and contrasts, say, Stradivari's fiddles to Del Gesu's fiddles. The previous was a rhetorical question...obviously I believe it matters a great deal, or else I wouldn't be asking. My own fiddle measures 14" plate length, with a measurement in mm close in range to what I've read for many of Del Gesu's instruments, which are often described as "short" or "small" compared to others. Are widths and lengths over the arching with a flexible rule, or via a caliper? The apparent lack of scientific methodology, and the lack of an established standard practice, greatly frustrates my well cultivated notions of empiricism. Especially as I prepare to attempt to make an inner mould.
  11. Ain't that the truth. I didn't really want to play solo, particularly at my rather meager talent level. My sister insisted though. Some pieces I had organist accompaniment on, and she was terrific, given the fact that I live "long distance" and never had an opportunity to practice with her. It took some doing to convince my sister that indeed she did NOT want me to play the wedding march for her. I received lots of compliments, but I'm still somewhat sheepish about it, as I do think that my lone fiddle didn't impress all that much. But...the Scottish tunes were undeniably the best, though they weren't traditional wedding fare. Also, look into a violin arrangement of the Bach Cello Suites. The prelude for the first suite is particularly nice, and the cello suites are far easier than the S&Ps. (The S&Ps are really quite beyond me...at least beyond my confidence to play in public. I struggle through those on my own "personal development" time, or whenever I want to despair for my playing ability and hate myself for not being better. )
  12. I played my sister's wedding, and I used the book that MingLoo linked above. However, I found a version of Pachelbel's Canon in D on Sibelius that was much prettier...it was a more polyphonic translation. I threw in a few Scottish Airs...the audience loved those the most, I think, since they were something different. Songs like "Neil Gow's Lament for the Death of his Second Wife", "Coilsfield House", "The Hills of Lorne", "Hector the Hero", etc. The Wedding March sounds thin and uninspiring on violin. Leave that one to the church organ if you want grand. On violin it's a very...simple...tune. You will of course have to learn Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring along with Canon in D.
  13. I thought it was pretty cool at least, even if it is Caltech propaganda. Fan Tao of D'Addario
  14. This must be so rough for Mr. Holmes. I wish I could see the look on his face about this thread not going away... But, the thing is, I don't see why it has to go away. Unless someone actually engages in name-calling, insults to one's personal attributes, or outright deliberate libel, this is a valid discussion. Maybe it's "mean spirited" to some, or even "online pillory" (I liked that one!), but there are, I feel, valid reasons for this. 1) Does anyone think this is a real GDG? I gather not. I don't have an eye for identification, but I know statistics, and probabilities are strongly against so many previously unidentified Cremonese instruments migrating, by the grace of God, to Brewton Al so that Mr. Thorton can find them. There is nothing untoward about discussing the very dubious provenance of this instrument. 2) Given the validity of discussing point #1, does anyone think that asking a cool $20M for said instrument represents a journey down intellectual paths that are nearly unfathomable for the rational? I certainly do. The claim of the fiddle's provenance could have been the most discussion worthy part of this; the asking price has eclipsed that already remarkable claim with something so outrageous as to now require discussion in conjunction with point #1. 3) Does anyone think that people are entitled to their own facts? If you do, then this discussion may be very offensive indeed. People are entitled to their opinions, certainly, but it's been a disturbing trend in society at large, I think, to avoid telling people that they are wrong simply because one wouldn't want to offend. Imagine if newspaper articles ever actually said "that's a lie" about statements by a public figure, instead of treating facts as if they are actually irrelevant and all that matters is giving everyone equal air time. Would it be wrong to engage in "online pillory" of a figure that proposed teaching in public schools a flat-earth geocentric universe? No, I think not. What if he viewed this board? Still no. Mr. Thorton has made a claim, and he has stated this claim as fact...not opinion...and has claimed it as fact based on his own non-reviewed and non-validated determination. One is not entitled to one's own facts. All three of these things are valid discussion points. I do not believe that conspicuously avoiding stepping on of toes at the expense of all critical discussion should be the defining principle of this board. That would get both boring and insipid in short order. By the way, can someone answer my above question about whether listing prices are variable based on asking price?
  15. Shame on me for stoking the fire, but I have to ask: I'm not very familiar with the workings of e-bay. Does e-bay charge you for listing, whether you sell or not, and is that listing fee dependent on the price you list at? My wife seems to think so, but she couldn't verify, and I didn't want to list something just to find out. If this is the case, that would be some serious coin dropped on a delusion.
  16. I went with medium...no reason not to, since I had no other "baseline". On first impressions I can't think of a reason to change. Of note: The "new" more pliable Zyex is close to the same tension in medium as the "old" Zyex in light. Also, the medium are very close in tension to Dominant...a low tension synthetic. I haven't compared tensions to Pirastro's offerings, but I have a feeling that the Zyex heavy will be more on par with, say, Evahs. I hope they keep them at $35 a set too...and why shouldn't they? Let's face it, it's just synthetic petro-chemical goop in the middle, and it's less labor intensive than gut strings from what I can tell. D'Adarrio doesn't market or package as well as Pirastro or Thomastik...after playing these strings I'm starting to wonder how much of that I was paying for. Whatever the case may be, with the dollar faltering so badly against European currency, this may be a great time to try these strings from a price perspective.
  17. Yesterday I received my "new formulation" Zyex strings in the mail...granted, I never tried the "old formulation" so it's all sixes to me at this point. My comparison is against other strings. I should start by admitting that my musical skills and experience do not come close to many of the posters on this message board. You should know that before reading my review...I'm a passable fiddler of less than 3 years who nevertheless has enough talent to play his sister's wedding (fairly well, may I add) at the two year point and also be able to play moderately long sets of Scottish music by memory. I have started to fumble through Bach. That's about it. Anyhow, on to my "first drive". Dominants have been my string of choice for my short "career". I started with Pro-Arte's, and the upgrade to Dominant was one I never looked back from. I have tried other strings though: A brief test of Evah had me eager to rip them off and put my trusty Dominant's right back on. I also was lucky enough to be sent a free set of Wondertone Solo...I liked them, particularly the lower strings, but they were comparitively unremarkable, particularly the characterless "A" and the extraordinarily thin and bright "E". I used them until played out (with a different E), and "played out" was defined by when a month later the metal windings at the bridge started separating and the core material began to cut into my bridge. Ugly. But I was happy, once again, to return to Dominant...and I knew I would be at the first playing of Wondertone. Zyex may be different. Initial visual impression: I have to admit I was worried. The A had a snarl of scraggly aluminum windings around the ball end protruding from the silk. I was able to separate and trim them, but it didn't bode well, considering that I had never seen that from other strings. The multi-color spiral is nice, but isn't as visually precise as Pirastro's offerings. However, that does make it look more "hand-made". Feel: They feel...fine. And fine like nice quality, not fine like "alright". They seem as pliable under the fingers as Dominant, which is a trait I always admired over Pirastro's synthetics, which feel a bit stiff to me, particularly at first. Of note, the A string is not smooth like the rest. You can feel the ridges of the aluminum winding, and if you scrape a fingernail down it you can hear the texture. Interesting. I don't know if a far more advanced player would find that an impediment for rapid and frequent shifts. My own shifts are more slow and elementary, so it doesn't slow me down. Tuning and Stability: This impressed the heck out of me. They tuned up easily, and the stability was nothing short of astounding. Dominants, when new, have to be stretched many, many times that first playing. I tuned the Zyex's, then had dinner. When I returned they were a bit flat...but not much. Then I played a slow air...still in tune. Then an entire set of fiddle music...still in tune. Then another air, or maybe a lament...still in tune. Then a dance and a strathspey...ah, now I hear a bit of flatness in the strings, and my fingers are creeping up of their own accord. No problem, I re-tune...and go the next half of my practice without touching the pegs. I was so incredulous I stopped several times just to make sure. I'll probably go back after typing this to check. The near instant tuning stability compared to my standby Dominants is simply amazing. Sound: This is what really matters, right? For starters, I prefer a smoother, warmer string. My fiddle has TONS of volume and can tend towards slight brightness...a bright string can be piercing. I hate brand new Dominants...that metallic edge is unpleasant. But I love Dominants long after many consider them "broken". With age they get very stable, and very mellow. The set I just took off had been on for a year. Anyhow... The Zyex strings have a quality of tone that is in that "warmer" timbral area, a bit like some well loved and long played Dominant, or even like Obligato. (Never tried Obligato on my fiddle, just on a friend's; so this is not a valid data point!) However, they have some "oomph" to them, and a richness of tone and overtone, that played in (or played out! ) Dominants simply don't have. I personally feel they sounded more complex than the Obligatos as well...but again, different fiddles under my ear. "Ooomph" or punch behind the warmth was what really struck me. Can a warm string "sparkle"? That adjective often is applied to bright strings, but these seem to have it. The E is very, very well matched to the set...at least right now. It's robust and round, and didn't whistle on me once. (As opposed to the shrieking banshees that are the Dominant steel E or the Wondertone E ) It sounds to me fairly similar to the Thomastik Special Program E (which I strongly suspect is a Vision E)...round like a Hill but with a muscular clarity. If the Zyex set retains the same punch it has now beyond the initial playing period, this is a well matched set indeed; something refreshing when so many other sets are so poorly matched to their Es. If they fade, a Hill E may be a good match. (As an aside on E's, I've found that the wound Dominant E, while a horrid fit for a new set of Dominants, blends very well with a broken in set.) The next couple of weeks will likely tell the tale, but Zyex may be my new favorite. It's an epiphany on the order of my upgrade from Pro-Arte to Dominant way back when. To summarize: Some minor irregularities, visually, in the workmanship. Soft and pliable under the fingers, but the winding on the A is peculiar and "ridged". Outstanding in initial tuning and tuning stability...this would be valuable to a performer. Warmish sound, though not dull...the sound has a punch and authority to it that makes the warmth very interesting and pleasant to listen to. Sorry to go long, but after participating in the last thread before deciding to order these, I figured I'd post since there was a dearth of information. It's amazing to me that, at $35 a set, these have not caught on the way Thomastik and Pirastro strings have. I don't understand, but on first impressions D'Addario has won a convert in me. Cheers!
  18. Interesting. The press on the Zyex string is that they're supposed to be warm, not bright...and the new ones are supposed to be pliable as well. Well, I have a set on the way. Maybe I'll get some Obligatos for Christmas to try side by side.
  19. Mano, Deleted with just one post? I personally strongly encourage you to stay a while and read this board...you may change your mind! It's a helpful and encouraging place, though it sometimes spins off into trivialities and even sarcasm and ridicule. I'd challenge you to find a board that doesn't. As a cyclist, I also post on Bikeforums...the Road Cycling forum there is full of type A personalities and athletes who LOVE locking horns over nearly anything. I think it's fun, but some don't. Did you read the e-bay listing in question? If you can tell me that you honestly didn't laugh, even a little bit...then you are a somber and serious man indeed. My wife and I laughed our butts off at both the combative "answers" in the listing, as well as the urge to drop $6M on e-bay based on the verification of Mr. Thorton's very own two eyes. Wow.
  20. Wow. I'm impressed. If you have played both, how do you think they sound compared to, say Obligato? Both are reputedly a "warm" and "gutlike" string. For all I know, the synthetic goop in the core could actually be the same!
  21. Bwaaa ha ha ha ha hoo hoo hoo haa haa haa hee hee. Hee. Ahem. Del Rio. In my newcomer's brief here I was informed the percentage of the population whose highest education level didn't include high school. It's horrifying, as is the endemic poverty here. Of course, I'm just passing through. Dwight probably knows the financial state of the schools better than I do.
  22. Dwight lives in Del Rio. You should come visit...I promise that you won't judge him anymore after that trip.
  23. OK, I have to ask. How many student cellos (or any cellos) are there in Del Rio? Seriously. I was walking around "downtown" the other day and I stopped by a store that I noticed advertised "Violins" in its stock. Oh...my...god. What I saw were three incompletely strung up wooden "cereal boxes" with painted on "purfling"...two of them had the bridges on backwards and obviously in the wrong place. It was horrifying! I was told, with due gravity, that those were the "student instruments...for students to learn on." I hope my expression wasn't obvious, as I thought to myself; "I hope no students are learning on those things...what would they learn?" On a totally different tangent. My teacher back in Salt Lake inherited her grandmother's violin...a very nice instrument, that some shop, somewhere along the way, had decided to glue the sounpost on. She took it to Peter Prier's for restoration...the staff was horrified. After taking it apart, they took pictures to show future students what NOT to do to a violin.
  24. Or, to put it another way: at that price there's not a lot to lose. It's an inexpensive enough experiment, so I ordered a set, should be here by the end of the week. So...did the packaging say "Made in China"?
  25. Violins are made of wood. Wood can last a long time, if properly cared for. But not forever. It's an organic material that decomposes, as do all organic things. In time, decay will claim even the great instruments. Those violins are already "hybrids"; both the work of the original maker, and those who have replaced parts over the life of the instrument...so obviously the process has begun. Of course, you could attempt to mimic the natural process of mineral substitution...in other words, create petrified wood. You would need a really strong arm though to play that fiddle...and it might affect the tone. But it would certainly last for ages!
  • Create New...