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Roger Hargrave

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Everything posted by Roger Hargrave

  1. In my opinion, most successful modern varnishes (admittedly not all) attempt to emulate those of northern Italy C 1550 to 1750. Such varnishes usually (not always) do this, by artificially ageing all or part of the material in varnish film. This might involve oxidizing the drying oil by various means. Or, it might involve oxidising the resins before varnish making commences. Occasionally, it involves oxidizing the whole vanish during or after the cooking process. And finally, it might involve oxidizing the varnish after it has been applied. Visually oxidisation usually works well, but it can have serious consequences for the violin, the varnish and the player. I do not intend to examine the various methods here. These can easily be found on the net, save to say that quite apart from the (unavoidable) cooking process, many recipes also involve dangerous chemicals such as nitric acid. Some of which will not only affect skin and lungs but can also cause varnishes to disintegrate in the long term. Historically, all drying oil varnishes were cooked and blended with their various resins. Because of the very real danger of fire, varnish cooking, was only allowed outside city walls. I am just going to give you a simple way of preparing a varnish that will do the job. But please, do not believe that this method is not potentially dangerous, because it is. As for stains dyes and pigments I have written enough about why NOT on Maestronet. I believe on the bass blog there was quite a bit, but I don’’t know how to access these earlier posts. More when I find the time.
  2. I’m just back after a long pause and I’m having difficulty remembering how to use this site. I hope that you will bare with me if I ignore some post while I go on my merry way. I like the odd message that helps me to think about the topic, but please, I don’t need any more posts about such rubbish topics as the Messi Strad being a fake.
  3. I did not write Aha That would be telling. But I promise I’ll get around to that later.
  4. David you don’t need this. When I was at the violin school back in the 1970s, we were shown a film made by an old (probably much younger than I am now) cello maker. At the end of the film he varnished his finished cello with a clear oil varnish. I think one or two coats only. Of course, even back then, as mere first year students, we all knew he was wrong, but he wasn't. The problem we all face when trying to reproduce any classical varnish, is that what we are seeing today, is not what the great violin makers saw when they applied their varnishes. Varnishes, like human skin, suffer from the effects of time. Even if they are not damaged physically, they will gradually deteriorate in the kindest atmosphere. Without going into their various properties, Italian oil varnishes were generally based on either linseed or walnut oils. Other drying oils existed, but in Cremona the thriving linen industry, provided the flax seed from which linseed oil was extracted. In Venice, a completely different state, walnut oil appears to have been king. These drying oils are also evident in the painting schools of each province. As a general rule linseed oils dry more quickly, and walnut oils have a tendency to crackle and wrinkle. In fact, the physical nature of these different drying oils meant that drying times and certain other characteristics were always slightly different. However, while these are important distinctions, they do not fundamentally alter the basic nature of the varnishes used by most classical Italian violin making schools. For the most part, these varnishes would have been prepared and applied in a similar manner. During the life span of any varnish, it will be subjected to many adverse influences which will eventually lead to its gradual degradation. Of course, deference’s also depended upon which if any resins were fused or mixed with these oils. Some films will soften and possibly wrinkle, some will harden and fracture. Some will deteriorate quickly while others will remain relatively stable for a long time, Nevertheless, as a general rule, oil films (including their accompanying resins), become darker with aged and paradoxically more transparent. (Although the overall transparency of any film will depend upon such factors as crackling, wrinkling, thickness and the amount of dirt it attracts and absorbs.) The point I am trying to make here, is that with the best varnishes and the worst, this tendency of oil varnishes to darken and become more transparent is almost always beneficial. So basically, whichever kind of drying oil varnish you chose to make, unless it can be artificially oxidised, it will never look like a classical varnish. If I can offer one final piece of advice before I go to bed. Do not attempt to colour varnishes ever. Never, not ever, because no amount of added chemicals, colour, dyes or stains will do the business. And be sure, that adding or mixing two colours (no matter how clear) will kill the transparency of any varnish faster than adding coal dust. Although there is an exception, right now, I'm off to bed.
  5. An absolutely perfect illustration of worn varnish. I have already copied it for future use. Thanks David!
  6. Either he/she or you misunderstood what is meant by fit. Fit is the most important factor for the health of the instrument. So it goes without saying that when the post is in the optimal position for sound, it should also be fitting the plates exactly. Too often people find the best sound position, but ignore the fact that the post does not fit perfectly, thus risking damaging the instrument permanently.
  7. Wallmart is a supermarket and I've seen them for sale in Walmart. But that was a couple of years ago so maybe they've stopped.
  8. Change the word probably to certainly and I am in full agreement. I have been a 100% violin maker since 1987 and it was hugely rewarding, but not financially, at least for the first ten years. My wife bless her, always had a steady job and that kept me in boiled beef and carrots over this period. Being a full time maker ain't easy, but it's worth a try. And if you are making as an amateur don't expect too much. After all you are doing it for fun. I don't suppose you would not expect to earn money with another hobby. If you want to make money get a paper round. If you invest the same amount of time it takes to finish a fiddle you will earn much more, but it won't be as much fun.
  9. This is close enough, although I usually simplify it to: Away from bridge opens or frees the sound (more volume), but too far away and the sound looses focus. Closer gives you more focus but eventually stifles the sound. Mostly however, I find that tightness-tension is the main key. Tightness depends on the flexibility or otherwise of the plates, but as a general rule, once in the "right" place, the post should fall over if the ribs are squeezed gently. The correct fit is most important of all, but only for the health of the instrument, otherwise it has little bearing on sound. Like everything else, in the end it is trial and error. Lick it and see! Here is a tip: When fitting the post I always make sure that the slot for the setter is facing forward. That way you will know if one of your posts has been moved. Generally, on a new fiddle I start with the post at least 1mm inside the outside of the foot. This allows for later adjustment when the instrument has been played in. I set the post about a bridge foot width behind the bridge. Most of the big shops used half a bridge foot; but they are clearly wrong. Like bass bars, Sound-posts have no rules but my rules, or your rules, or someone else rules. Just stick to the rules - whichever ones you choose.
  10. The problem is that guns can also be purchased in supermarket in the US. And I fail to see how so many of you are making light of this. I only hope that none of your kids are ever killed by a gun legal or otherwise.
  11. Actually according to the Hills Antonio Stradivari married Francesca, the daughter of Francesco Feraboschi, and widow of Giovanni Giacomo Capra, who committed suicide with an arquebus[1] on the Piazza St. Agata (now Piazza Garibaldi), in April, 1664. [1] An arquebus is an early type of portable firearm usually supported on a tripod or a forked rest.
  12. Again Bill I am not refering to single shot weapons. I know that you have the kind of wilderness that we can only dream of. I also have hunter friends. My doctor is a hunter. What I am talking about is this lust for automatic and even assult weapons that are capable of cutting most animals and children in half. Surely these are unnecesary? I have to leave now and I will be away for most of the day so I will not be answering any more mails for a while. Good luck.
  13. Heard it all before I'm afraid. Its not crazy people with guns that kill. Its alowing guns to be sold to crazy people that kills. I could go on, but was talking about automatic weapons, guns that can kill so many by just squeezing the trigger once. The statistics alone must be evidence enough. Sure there are mass shooting in Europe, but nothing to compare with the United States. And since loosing my bees again this last year I agree with you about glyphophate, but I am talking about what each individual can do right now - today.
  14. A fine looking instrument Christian. I particularly love the way the light illuminates your edge fluting as it passes through the corners. Sometimes you can just see the sound. The thing about most utilitarian objects is that when they look right, they generally feel good and work well. This is the reason why cleaver dealers and violin makers can often predict how well an instrument will sound simply from its appearance. The argument being that someone so tuned in to the aesthetics of appearance must ipso facto be tuned in to the underlying principal behind the entire project. Throughout history this has been true of every utilitarian object ever made, from arrowheads to Viking longships. (Not too over the top I hope.) [RH1]Do two rights make a wrong here? Or are we OK?
  15. This is an open letter to all my violin maker friends. I know that the vast majority of you abhor guns and gun violence. Unfortunately, I am also aware that a number of you own many weapons; including automatic pistols and so-called assault rifles. It seems to me that this fixation with such deadly arsenals is linked entirely to either fear or macho aggression. Each individual must know in which category they belong; although it doesn’t really matter. No-one needs automatic weapons of any description, certainly not for hunting or protection. Make no mistake, by purchasing and owning such weapons you make yourselves culpable whenever such senseless acts of gun violence break out. I urge all of my violin making colleagues, if you have them, please give up these weapons. Have them destroyed; I was about to say before it's too late, but it is already too late. I am sorry if you are offended by this intrusion. I remember that some of you were ofended last time I commented on a mass school shooting, but I have been offended by every outbreak of gun violence that I can remember, and since I recently turned seventy, that amounts to an enormous number of dead children. In the USA alone there has already been 1856 gun-related deaths this year. (Up to 16th February.) At least in our profession let's stop it - please.
  16. I recently read that this particular sign was used to ward off evil spirits, in particular witches. It also appears on a Strad mould. As kids we used to draw them for fun with a compass, so maybe that's bull shit. Daisy wheel witches’ marks at All Saint’s church in Litcham, Norfolk
  17. I just checked my notes made in 1979. There were fifty six bars upright in a plastic bag. (Yes they did have plastic bags back in the 1970's). The only thing worth adding is: 'Most of them, (the baroque bars) look as if they were made from belly off cuts, mainly from the thin end of the wedge. Not much to suggest the wood was carefully selected.'
  18. I remember these bass bars and many more from the time that I worked at Hills. In fact I seem to remember telling Stewart about them. However, these figures and Marty's graph serve perfectly to illustrate the problem of using such information. Firstly there is simply not enough data. But as I remember these bars, some were cut on the slab some were quarter sawn and some were half slab. Simply choosing slab or quarter is not correct. Certainly not on the many more that I saw. On some only two or three year rings were present while others had up to ten. I did not measure their densities, but I would eat a neck block if they did not vary considerably. Quite apart from these details, this information does not take into account the fact that all these bars were tapered. They were not tapered as most modern bars are tapered; from top to bottom, equally along their entire length. They were tapered by planing off the sides before gluing them in place. This meant that from their widest point (usually fairly central) their widths narrowed markedly towards each end. Moreover, the application of this tapered also varied considerably, depending on their height and the angle of the plane. Then we come to the final shaping process. Here the only thing I can say is that most appear to have had a fast back shape with the widest and highest point being at the bridge position. Neither am I convinced, (again not enough evidence), that the pressure on bridges was greater because of a raise in pitch and or heavier strings. It can even be argued that early baroque strings applied more pressure on the bridge. I am sure that there are details that I have forgotten, but that must be enough to put a stop to this information being used to come to some sort of conclusion, when in fact, this information can only be used to come to some sort of confusion. For whatever reason(s), finishing and shaping bars, gradually became heavier, but I believe this was largely a much later development. Unfortunately, the (17th century) Cremonese bar illustrated below has one end missing. The pencil mark indicates its original length. The side profile shows the ‘fast back’ look with the highest point at the bridge position. It also shows the long chamfer at the end. However, of greatest importance is the fact that the bar is obviously too thin for any so called ‘spring’ to have been effective. This is highlighted by the top profile, which shows that the bar also becomes narrower at both ends. This narrowing was caused by the fact that they tapered their bars, by planing either side, before gluing the bar in place. It is worth considering the fact that these baroque bars were many times lighter than modern bars and yet they did their job for a very long time; some for more than two hundred years. Many original bars were not removed until the 20th century, perhaps (being cynical) when makers realized that easy money was to be made by replacing bars.
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