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Everything posted by stringcheese

  1. I regard the instruments in which I deal as "student violins". But that covers a lot of territory, depending on the level of the student. It includes things occasionally up to about $10,000. In this rather broad range, the primary consideration is structure and function. Will it stay together and stable and work like a violin. Once you get into historic or collectable violins, it's a whole different world. Yes, there is some overlap in these two worlds, but the divide is real. Rue's cutlery analogy is quite valid. There are historically important or collectable violins that are, let's say, a little shaky. And there are no name instruments that work nearly as well as anything out there. And everything in between.
  2. In the fretted instrument world the question is: How many guitars does a guy need? And the answer: One more!
  3. One thing to remember: the history of the modern guitar is much shorter than that of the violin. 100 years for a guitar is really old and really predates the modern guitar. 100 years for a violin is contemporary. The modern guitar really evolved in the 1920s and '30s and the electric guitar in the 1950s. Even the classical guitar in its current form only dates to the late 19th century, and it has progressed considerably since then. At one time the thinking in the guitar world was that guitars were life limited and that old guitars had little value. That began to change in perhaps the 1960s. There is a lot more to it than that, but that's a starting point. Guitars and violins work differently, are built differently, and valued differently. But remember, Stradivari built guitars.
  4. The Caspari pegs are not geared. They have a screw which adjusts the pressure of the peg against a bushing, but they are one to one ratio, just like wooden pegs. They can work better than badly fit wood pegs, but generally I find that they do not work as well as correctly fit traditional pegs.
  5. For guitar nuts and saddles, the answer is light weight but hard. Once upon a time, ivory was the standard. Then when that became problematic, lots of makers went to plastic. The early stuff was crappy injection molded plastic. Terrible stuff, soft, mushy, wear prone. Bone is vastly better, but some of the modern synthetics are quite good. As for brass, just put a mute on your instrument and be done with it. Give me enough brass and I can make a good guitar sound just like a 29.95 special. For me, the material of choice these days is bone. For violin nuts, ebony. In all cases, well made and accurate is the critical thing.
  6. See stuff like this all too often. There is a school of repair that I refer to as "If some glue is good, more must be better." Or often enough, even worse.
  7. I spend a fair amount of time in the place I not so fondly call "soundpost hell" cursing the guy who invented the thing. Nonetheless, I have occasionally gotten it on the first try. Not often, but it has gotten better over time. There's just no substitute for practice and patience.
  8. WOW!! Thanks for that. Doug is an old friend and one of my inspirations.
  9. Michael asked about the Herdim adjustable shaper. I mentioned earlier in this topic that it is what I used for years, but it has the same problems as the other adjustable ones, including wearing of the aluminum. I even made an angled shim for smaller pegs to obviate the need for a wide range of adjustments. That helped a little, but the cure was a set of Albertis. Just no contest.
  10. OK, which one is bigger, a violin or a viola? Answer: They're both the same size, the violinist's head is just bigger.
  11. Never dealt with the Hells Angels, but was a Harley mechanic in a past life. Some of the hard core biker guys were actually decent dudes. (Yeah, I got stories.)
  12. Listen to Jacob. This ain't a dovetail. It's a mortice and tenon joint, and well fit glueing surfaces are critical. Completely different than the dovetail joint used on better fretted instruments. On a guitar dovetail, you should be able to string and tune the instrument with no glue in the joint, and there is a small gap between the front face of the neck and the corresponding face of the block. On a violin neck, I'd use only good strong hide glue, on a guitar neck I actually prefer Titebond, because the strength is in the wood of the joint and the glue will plasticize at a lower temperature if I ever have to take the darn thing apart again. Incidentally, I have had a number of violins with guitar style neck joints. Hope I never have to reset the neck on one.
  13. I have one of those somewhere, but I gave up using it years ago. For a long time I used a Herdim adjustable shaper, which is a heavier duty version of the same thing. With enough fussing it would work, but not always that well. Then I sprang for Alberti shapers and it was a revelation. Worth every penny. There was a discussion of these on this forum not too long ago. Also, Iburkard mentioned the quality of the wood. Yes, makes a big difference, but again, the Alberti shapers will turn pegs that my old shaper would make into scrap. Sorry if this is a little off the intent of the discussion, but there's just no comparison.
  14. The only times I've had to do this, I repaired the crack first, then fitted the bar carefully, then cleated the crack. Once the cleats were in place I carefully notched the bar until it seated again. I don't know that this would work in every case though. There are people here who know more, I'm sure.
  15. These things were made in huge numbers and unfortunately lots of them are still around. They came in many grades but most of them were at the lower end of things, like this one. You may be able to learn something from working on one, but there are limits because of the crude for the Stradivarius label, as I said somewhere else, the emphasis should be on the various part. If you want to learn to work on instruments you'll learn more by working on things that are even slightly better. If you want an instrument to play, find a decent basic violin that has been set up correctly and it'll take you a lot farther. You want something that you can outgrow for the right reasons, not the wrong ones.
  16. First admission. I'm primarily a fretted instrument guy. I claim that I got started because I couldn't afford a guitar that wasn't broken and could never find anyone who could fix it correctly. Admittedly, that was nearly sixty years ago, and the repair of many fretted instruments just wasn't done back then. The conventional wisdom was that they had a limited life and after enough time you should just replace the thing. But building and repairing things runs in my family (cabinet makers, clock and watch repairers, etc.) so I fixed the darn things. When in college, a friend took his guitar to a local store to be repaired, and when he got it back I looked at it and said "Heck, I can do better work than that!" So I was repairing guitars in my dorm room. Later I had the opportunity to maintain instruments when I was in the army. When I opened my current shop 40 years ago, I had a partner for about a year who was a violin guy. He later moved to the southwest and went on to the higher end of the violin trade. I then hired various people to do violin work many of whom didn't work out for various reasons. Then I had the good fortune to fall in with someone really good, who had worked in some top tier shops. When he decided to move on, he sat me down and said "Now you're gonna learn to do this right." Since then I have had help from a number of other really good people and I thank them all. That's the short version of the story.
  17. The pegs are not geared. They are mechanical friction pegs, one to one ratio. They clamp against the side of the peg box and the clamping pressure is adjusted by the screw. They may be marginally better than a badly fit ebony peg, but absolutely no match for well fit ebony pegs. The Caspari pegs are just a newer version of the same idea and not much better.
  18. Had a few Meisel/Micelli instruments over the years, some pretty nice, but about 25 years ago I had one that looked good but sounded terrible, tight and nasal. Sold it to Jack Frye, who regraduated it and made it into a really good sounding instrument.
  19. I agree with the above. The Dampit is not the best solution, but a lot of people have them, and if used incorrectly they can do some serious damage. Nonetheless, it is possible to use one correctly, and knowing what you are trying to do and how to do it is the first step. Yes, expecting it (or anything else of that sort) to work while the instrument is kept out of the case for long periods is just wrong. Whatever you use though, the length of time you'd typically have it out to play is not the issue, as long as you put it back in the case with a proper humidifier, used properly, when you are done.
  20. I'm not quite so down on Dampits as some are, but they do have to be used with care. We spend a fair amount of time showing people how to use them (or any other humidifier) carefully and correctly. The big thing is to make very sure that they don't drip. In dry conditions, don't add more water, add a little water more often, no matter what you are using. We spend a good deal of time every winter and spring dealing with problems caused by low humidity during the heating season. Our back room (where the humidity is kept at about 55% all year) often has a rather large rack of instruments recovering before we can work on them.
  21. In the very early days of Ebay I bought a few things for what I considered fair prices and of decent quality. I still have one of them. But the quality quickly went down and the Hype quotient way up, so that these days, it's about the last place I look, either to buy or to find comparable values.
  22. Actually, threes such a thing as a better grade Jackson Guldan, but it is of more conventional construction. I have one at the moment labelled Guldan Special that's actually a decent student fiddle, if a little garish in the coloring and shading of the varnish.
  23. My first thought is that the case is a great deal older than the violin. The violin appears to be a pretty standard cheap trade instrument from maybe the 1950s or '60s. The case is likely from 1900 or so.
  24. Try D'Addario Preludes. Decent for the money, can be purchased in bulk if you're a dealer. I usually go up a grade or two, but I trust these guys for accuracy and consistency of production.
  25. I know this thread is a year old, but I believe I'm working on this violin at the moment. It is a pretty nice early 20th century German trade violin, with good internal work, a nice bass bar and not overly heavy. I don't know for certain that it's Schmidt, though it well could be. I've had a lot of Schmidt violins over the years with various labels but I don't recall this particular one. Then again maybe I have seen it. It's not the top of the heap, but it's a long way up from the bottom. With a good bath and set up it'll make someone a nice instrument for a fairly reasonable price.