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Everything posted by viola_license_revoked

  1. ~sigh... i have the cheapo adjustable peg shaper. blade setting at the mouth dictates the usability of it. but you'll need a psychology degree to get the blade and guide to accept one another. the adjustable guide wiggles, the taper is not constant. you correct as you turn. like holding on to your un-closable door while driving. avoid it. but you do what you can with what you've got. it does work. for the first 15 minutes anyway. one could buy the wirbelshc....something if money was no problem. it's only €10,000 plus your first born. shipping and fondling not included. not sure about the shake-the-fiddle-to-its-senses device. but the theory sounds applausable and it does resonate well . if one was not opposed, and admittedly less sexy, why not try instead or also, a few hours a week, some elbow grease and some Kreutzer. i need the exercise and i think busting up the strings make more of a difference than busting up the fiddle though, especially if they are nylons. just saying... ********** anyway, and i think this is not new: if anyone is starting out like me, i suggest making a few simple tools before we roll with the major league. we have a ways ahead to collect awesome tools. relatively cheap 1075-95 steel makes great blades. a small plane, knife or gouge is quick and cheap to make. just harden, skip tempering- unnecessary for smaller tools, i think. making can teach interesting things. razor sharp is possible at minimum expense. i should clarify i come from the pan-asian division of the neanderthal school of viola making and don't own any awesome tools. but i have a lot of sand paper. and i like ice cream. peace R
  2. the following is the viewpoint of a non professional anything. ok, i'll bite. i've got nothing to loose. hello RogerKugler its awesome to hear what you want to do! i wish you all the very best, and you are about to have a lot of fun along the way. i suggest you involve your son all the way... he may have a couple of personal requests etc. as a professional woodworker, you already know more about woods than i do. but here are my 2 cents worth: 1. search also International Violin Company or ebay. since i make only crappy violas for myself, i use poplar from home depot. "you can do it, they can help" 2. top. i prefer wider grain for violas. doesn't hurt to have a pretty back though. you can dump as much science or discovery at it as you want, but there hasn't yet been an epiphany of any reliable sort for the lovely viola in the last 400 years. tastes and logic has been as flighty as it has been since the viola was invented. viola making can stump anyone. 3. no. the neck's first purpose is to function as a sturdy handle. but how it "sways" does affect tone, in terms of damping and bla bla bla. there's been very notable violas of the Brescian school that look like hell. 4. any hard wood will make a good back if you care to break with convention. cut is more important to me than looks. stability is more important to me than origin. pretty ain't worth much if it don't work. but that's just me... 5. i ask why not? its been done before. so i think its ok. just take note of your cut. it will warp according to your cut given time, and cut does make the back stronger or more compliant bla bla bla cheers VLR
  3. ah, i see your point about the neck falling due to settling wood. i meant "fresh" glue when i said "new" glue. sorry for the confusion. my point was that a sudden catastrophic incident will cause the button and back to crack and break. i think i've seen more commonly, that over a long period of time, the glue between the neck block and heel fails, followed by a rapid deterioration of the joint. this is often followed by the button breaking off. there is no doubt in my mind that as you, Melving and many have said that a properly fitted mortise is a very strong joint. especially when its new. i think things are made clearer to me after i read Martin Swan's post. i do fiddle around with poorly made trade fiddles and their "air fit" most of the time. and perhaps i'm getting overly distressed by that. thank you for that. i understand what you are saying. i should work on my joinery.
  4. its the glue! its the glue! this thread addresses an important building concern for me. the heel of a neck is more likely to lift off the neck block over time than shear off the button (ultimate tensile vs shear). when glue fails, the mechanical fit alone cannot withstand playing stress, string stress and the fact that we players just plain use the neck as a handle to carry the fiddle around. as such, the remaining part of the system i.e. the button is left to defend the Alamo until it also fails catastrophically. new glue will of course not exhibit said weaknesses, i have also smashed new fiddles on the bench and like Melving describes, the button almost invariably prefer to hang on to the heel than the back, because it was pre-scored to do so. as an amateur maker, my "method" of joining the neck to the body is using one clamp over the the fingerboard and button. i'm always suspicious that i can't see under the fingerboard and though i can see the squeeze out, i'm not sure if the heel is ever making as good contact to the neck block as i can tell it is making contact with the sloped ribs and button. i.e. the clamp applies force on one plane only. as glue cannot be depended upon for structural strength, i'm always unsure how long long it'll be when the neck separates from the the neck block. in case of a bigger instrument, this might perhaps be an even bigger concern. i have seen a bunch of broken bass heels where the neck makes minimum contact with the neck block. thus relying on the ribs for structural strength. until the long heel breaks in half anyway... i have seen at least one cello do that as i've described earlier, so this is a common occurrence in my amateur book. long story short, its not a matter of how strong but how long will it last, until it takes the button along for an unwanted ride. its dehydrating and shrinking glue vs ever present stress on the joint. perhaps a different joining technique can avert this concern, such as Janito's UTSDFLDP suggested joint. ray
  5. back from my nap. in my dreams i remembered years ago a friend asked me to clean up his old cello because he was selling it. when i removed the old strings, i realized the neck was loose and basically held in place by the button. i could actually flop it a bit back and forth a little. if this had gone unnoticed for a long time, i'm sure the flexing of the neck joint from playing, string change and tuning over a period of time would have snapped the button. another thing that kept recurring in my nap was the ever popular nail or wood-screw-in-the-button repair technique. over time, the ribs get ripped out, the button snaps and you guys know the rest... so long story short, i think the button does provide quite a bit of reinforcement to help keep the heel in place, but it does this at the risk of breaking along the purfling because that's an accident dying to happen. like a trombone slide. who the heck came up with that brilliant idea? 4 long thin slides moving around at break neck speed. usually with obstacles in the way... back to sleep.
  6. psst... got an address? i got all kinds of fiddles, what you looking for? thank you for the encouragement J.A. i think the experts would know this one but i'll take a stab at it 'cause i can't keep my mouth shut: from my personal lack of experience, i just think its not a fair fight. you have the strings on one side, and the heel pivots on the neck block with nothing but water-soluble glue to keep it in place on the other side. add to that the hundreds of times you thump on the fingerboard every time you play one of those bleeding-heart concerti. i think among the many many common problems with older fiddles, such as warpage, chin rest clamp damage, sound post crack, falling neck etc, button damage is fairly common. so the poor button has been pre-scored to fail. engineered to take some of the edge on either side with it as it fails. its just not fair. it is not so much the thickness of the button but the tear-along-the-dotted-line effect of the purfling that i find troublesome. its hard to think about when you are building a new fiddle, but the trouble won't show up until later. ok, back to afternoon-off nap. the fiddle peddler, ray
  7. *gee golly* thanks! the dremel with a purfling router guide work best for me (and a dead man's switch). i don't know how to make a router guide, so i bought one: here or here. i use a a 1.27mm bit for 1.3mm purfling because i have butter fingers. i'm always one heartbeat away from cardiac arrest every time i do purfling. i take it up as close as possible to either side of the button and use a knife to do my squiggly motive. i can never make any two the same so they look different every time. please copy and steal by all means. its not like i have a patent or copyright on it. chances are someone else has already done it in the last... 400 years. i can't even give away the fiddles i make. greetings, ray
  8. thank you Ben for those kind words. i am very humbled and have been very presumptuous in my previous post. i don't mean to suggest i have somehow found an answer to a question that's been puzzling people for centuries. perhaps it works for me only because this is all i know. thank you. regards, Ray
  9. hi Anders you'll gonna think i'm nuts, but try whistling the opening theme to the Andy Griffith show, its in G. check with youtube if you like. or hum the opening to the Tchaikovsky violin concerto, F#, D major. that was etched into my head because i heard it a million times when i was a kid. the opening bassoon solo in the Rite of Spring: high C. bla bla bla... these are all tones that stuck in my head. i've been playing for 26 years and i still can't figure out what a tuner is actually good for. actually its more like i don't care. maybe i'm just sloppy. hmm... personally, i do not think color is a good analogy to sound. i do not hear pitch color. i hear in chromatic increments because that's how i was taught. so baroque pitch sounds like a different key to me. it's still cool. if i hadn't heard a baroque piece performed in period practice before, i would just assume it is in the key it was presented to me. if it was exactly 1/2 or 1 and 1/2 step flat, i wouldn't think twice about it. if it was between a note i do know and its neighbor, it gets uncomfortable for a minute than i get over it and accept it as it is. an Eb is only an Eb because someone said it was an Eb. it gets more interesting when i listen to music from other cultures where the western 12 tone division ain't the thing. i grew up listening to Chinese, Indian and Malay music because i'm from Singapore. it gets really interesting sometimes. i like it. its fun with sounds. in terms of performance, leading tones and warm flat thirds decide pitch center for me. i'm not "coloring" like my teachers want me to think. i'm just changing it because the Pythagoras math in my head tells me it sounds better that way. not to mention playing viola in a quartet sometimes makes me decrease the pitch distance between my lower strings to keep up with those screeching violins. any exciting orchestra performance with a rousing end is likely to be 1/4 tone higher than that ppp solo it started with. if perfect pitch was a hindrance, the union would have banned excitement from all performances already. i don't care that the piano sounds compromised. i like that it is stable, according to the artistic tastes of this era. i do not think perfect pitch is something you are born with. i think it's a matter of NOT getting in your own way. if you are a musician, it might have been erroneously drummed into you in the early years that perfect pitch is this mystery skill that only the best can have. i think it depends on how much music means to the particular kid we are teaching. i often ask my youngest students to sing me the song we are working on before they take out their instruments. those who think playing is fun get it right away. and of course those with a parent waiting outside with a big stick also get it. from that we can expand and teach them key recognition, dictation etc, those who don't care... don't care. bla bla bla. older kids have already been tainted by un-nice expectations, such as behaving more like adults. (oops) its harder for them to unlearn to relearn. my 50+ year old kids have a much harder time trying to unlearn what had been sanity for them in decades. its hard for them to think i can teach them anything being younger than them. for me, music has made such an impact on me when i was young, i know what the tempered chromatic scale sound like, just like i've learned from experience which way to point my chisel when i carve a scroll. what i would really like to have is a perfect metronome in my head can perfect time be taught? who's got the secret to that one PM me please. and don't tell anyone else. greetings r
  10. hi Oded i'm trying this myself. i also set my neck over-enthusiastically deep into the body. if one of my joints fail, its probably because the fiddle broke into bits and pieces... greetings ray
  11. hi Carl any pictures? greetings r
  12. welcome back the violin in essence is a box with a handle and some strings on it. i suspect the average person will not need a Del Gesu to get through life, the chinese makers interviewed in the videos yapkv posted earlier in the thread pretty much know who their targeted clientele are. personally, any wood that makes a tone is tonewood to me. what you do with it is another matter. i agree with you that a maker should build according to the availability of resources on his or her part. the hunt "for the best deal" often expose biases that really mean nothing in the end. the Chinese makers in the videos pretty much thought about the same things you and others have mentioned. particularly, the maker who spoke about his CNC carver and knew full well how much money he was earning and how much his instruments actually sell for in Korea, Germany and what used to be their biggest market: the US. he saw no need to change things. the host somewhat iterated the difficulties of earning a living as a fiddle maker, which isn't all that different from a few instrument and bow makers i've met in the US and Canada. nothing romantic there. especially whenever rent is due. its hard to win. we are playing with an open deck here. the house deals whatever it wants, so to speak. yeah, i agree! Beijing can be a "hard" town like any other. i've visited a few cities in Europe, China, Asia and here in the US. lived in a few different ones. i agree the concentration of smart people and not so smart ones are about the same as in my neighborhood. ( discounting the purple crack house 'round the corner and its visitors. and the occasional swat team.) greetings r
  13. hello disclaimer: "I've had no formal training, but this is what I do..." professionals: please do not try this at home... i have no disposable income to speak of, so i have some idea of what you must be referring to. due to my lack of expertise and experience ( as in zero woodworking training etc), i found an electric bending iron to be much easier to use because i can dial in the heat. i can use a propane torch just fine but must say that personally, i find it safer and more controllable with an electric. its worth every penny i spent on it. other ways i've tried: can you cut a form/jig/clamping caul with say a band saw? you could strap it down and blow at it with a heat gun for the c bouts. slowly clamp in the tight curves as you do so. the gentler curves can be achieved without heat at all if you let the wet pieces dry while clamped to a form. i made all my small carving tools and have one gouge, 3 chisels and a couple of homemade scrub planes and store bought flat ones. a couple of saws and peg tools. files etc, nothing you can't get at a local hardware store. i'm lucky i get to borrow some power tools once in a while. home depot is where i get some of my tone woods. its an expensive hobby... i do not collect tools because i want to make fiddles, not collect tools. and i try not to dive too deep into building traditions, philosophies, theories and science because more qualified people are already doing that. its not my dept.i'm not trying to out do Stradivarius. haven't needed a book from day one, everything you need to know to build an amateur fiddle is on google. here and elsewhere... maybe thats why my fiddles look funny... welcome and many good wishes for the exciting trip you are about to take. do share. greetings r
  14. disclaimer: "I've had no formal training, but this is what I do..." hello, i'm not sure if i'm wise enough to call myself an old timer. so please disregard this post if found to be unqualified. for 20 of the last 26 years i've been playing, i've penciled sticky/new pegs. just two or three little strokes of a 2b on contact points will do. to fix slipping pegs, i clean the peg and peg holes. the assumed prerequisite would be that the pegs are properly fitted in the first place. i also think different woods fit differently. i would prefer boxwood pegs 'cause i like the way they turn, but for 4 good boxwood pegs, i can buy a block of rosewood to make many pegs... i'm cheap like that. greetings. r
  15. HI Josh i would suggest that use your old case if you can. hang up the old chinese fiddle and spend all you've got on a good fiddle, good bow and decent strings. go chinese again, but at a much higher quality. they have quality and price points that are hard to beat because of ridiculously cheap labor and mass production. never mind the fancy pegs, tailpiece, maple shoulder rest with gold plated this or that and etc. you are shopping for a good, stripped-down workhorse to help you achieve new musical heights , not a suped-up, well painted stuffy fiddle. look up southwest strings or shar. they are competitors who would love to have your money, so take advantage of their trial programs. i know a couple of local shops i trust around here. but unless you already know them pretty well, and that they specialize in strings, they may not have the most competitive price or availability of stock for you. some guys will put their names on chinese fiddles and sell them for a substantial mark-up. ask someone knowledgeable that you trust, hopefully your teachers, for comments on which ones play and sound better. hopefully there is no conflict of interest. for under $1000, its more about WHICH instrument rather than WHAT BRAND. having a brand on it already tells you it is mass produced, so you are looking for the best in a bunch, not which company made it. good luck r
  16. disclaimer: "I've had no formal training, but this is what I do..." hello just wanted to add what has worked for me: 1. the scoop is going to be most extreme around the middle of a vibrating length of string. thus if you lay a straight edge on the fingerboard, that point is going to appear about one step above where your pinky would go when playing in third position. it is not a perfect scoop from one end to the other. for violins, what has worked for me is a scoop of about 1mm or under on the bass side and just about 1/2mm or a little under on the treble side. if the scoop ends up too far from the nut, it would not be as effective. buzzing may still occur if the scoop is too close to the nut, your fingers will have to work harder than they really need to in order to push the strings down. its not difficult on a short fingerboard. it may be harder on longer cello or bass fingerboards. 2. round off the trailing corner of the nut on the treble side (facing the fingerboard) just a little, so that as you play half position, you first finger will not wind up scraping a sharp edge on the nut. 3. a radius gauge would be helpful. 4. i would hollow out whatever i can get away with to cut down on weight. very rarely, if there is already a hollow in the neck, the additional space may let dehydrated hide glue break up and rattle inside all that space. so use judgment. this sounds stupid until you actually have it happen to you. 5. i would not glue on my fingerboard with the strongest glue i have. greetings r
  17. hello just out of curiosity, i just wanna ask how would the viola, cello or upright fit into all this? what would be the analog? i guess? is there a "secret" to a Montagnana cello vs a Forster? greetings r
  18. Hi Chet, great work! the F holes on your viola sort of reminds me of a Gabrielli i've seen. i love violas that do not conform to the norm. (they play the best ) have fun at the show and all the best please do share more pictures. thanks for posting R
  19. thanks jezzupe. for me it's a bit like driving a well traveled highway. always pay attention to the rear view mirror, but focus on what's ahead and try to get there in one piece. of course without legit training, its more like driving in the break-down lane. thanks! i'm addicted to making etc. more to come yes! try it for yourself! i also recommend bending tops for fun, at least once. for small instruments like violins, a one piece bent top is ridiculously cheap and fast to make if you source it right. (wait-time is involved though) ------------------- greetings forum, r
  20. ha! i need to have one of those! yes! i didn't know you could do that. i've taped my bridge to the fiddle and have torn off a few splinters a couple of times. why i never thought of a rubber band is beyond me. the giant pencil must also come in handy for writing giant reminders on the wall. i think the video making must have been at least as fun as the fiddle making. does look like an awesome event. we accomplish the most when we collaborate. i wish you many more Fiddle Races. i think years and years ago maestronet might have had a collaborative violin making project too. wonder what ever happened to that... or maybe it was all just in my imagination. greetings, r
  21. thank you Steve its such a simple idea with significant consequences isn't it? honored to have anything of mine mentioned in the same sentence as Wilkanowski. if i can acquire 1/10th the skill of Wilkanowski or Benedetto or Jonathan Wilson of Togaman guitars, i would die happy. i'm not a neat person, this scroll is definitely not my best example. but i think where string-hole is drilled in a peg decides if the string is going to under uneven sideways tension. i offer another picture. this is viola #2 from 2008/2009. have a nice day VLR
  22. greetings furom just saw this the viola race *like* i' think i'll use their method to set my neck angles too! or at least i think that's what i saw... may be i'll even attend viola making school one day. r
  23. thank you Joe much respect and wish i could attend one of your workshops. one day... my "finishing/coloring" process is crude but entertaining for me. 1. scrape for texture, distress to obscure manufacturer defects. 2. amber-tint wash bare wood. aniline/alcohol 3. add brown aniline tint to water based soy polyurethane (don't know how/can't work with high voc at home) 4. slop on about 10 thin colored coats with sponge and fingers, work some areas more than others 5. wet 400 sand between last coats. 6. a few final clear coats. 7. rub down with paper towel each coat takes about 10 minutes to dry. a couple of hours overall. not exactly Stradivari. i try to emulate, at least in my imagination, the professional examples that i really like (pictures attached) ray
  24. greetings forum completed a fiddle yesterday. just had enough time to put finish on it on tuesday and had it loaned out to a pint-sized violist yesterday, so i didn't have time to record sound... too bad. instrument # 6, 2011 15 1/4". 2 piece bent sitka top, 1 piece poplar back. maple neck/sides. water poly. 355mm string length. comments welcomed. thanks. VLR