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Dwight B.

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  1. Here's one I made. I found a guy with a woodcutting laser, and he cut a hole this shape into the tailpiece. From there, I filled it with a mixture of epoxy and bronze dust, and sanded/filed it down when it dried.
  2. Hello Maestronetters! I'm lucky enough to be heading to Italy next week, and I've convinced the missus that we should spend two days in Cremona. Aside from visiting the museum and wandering the town, we don't have a specific agenda. As amateur player (and as an even more amateur maker), are there any must-see recommendations out there? Thanks!
  3. I think it depends on what kind of playing you're doing. If your interest is in classical, I'd argue that theory can wait. However, if your interest is in fiddling and playing in groups, theory is crucial. I've been playing for almost 30 years, and within the last 5, I've shifted from orchestral to bluegrass. With classical, I did just fine with a rudimentary grasp of theory, since the notes are really all laid out for you. But when I started playing with bluegrass players, theory was an obvious weakness, since you need to make your own decisions on what you're going to do for backup or breaks.
  4. For what it's worth, I recently decided that my fiddle's whistling e-string was 100% due to the brand of the strings. I've been playing the same fiddle for 20 years now, and have always used Dominants. But about 5 years ago, I switched to Helicores, and also had some bridge and soundpost adjustments. From that point on, it had an obnoxious whistle. I had multiple visits to the local shop to try different soundpost and bridge adjustments, but nothing worked. But earlier this spring I changed back to Dominants, and it's like I'm playing on a brand new fiddle again! Addie's chart above totally fits what I saw...
  5. This is great. It sounds like using this step could've helped mitigate some issues I had on my last two fiddles. On my #5, the neck needed retouching after putting the fingerboard back on. And on the one before that, the projection was a little low. On that one I didn't have to touch-up the neck because I varnished with the fingerboard on (which gave me a different set of troubles!) Anyway, I just started #6, and I'll be sure to incorporate a small step. I love the kinds of things I'm learning on this site. Thank you all!
  6. Hmm... not sure why that post didn't capture the rest of my question, but here it is - A couple months back, I noticed that another local maker does a similar step down from the nut to the top of the peg box. Now that I see Celia's example, I'm starting to wonder where this comes from. Does anyone know what the benefit of doing this step is? Thanks! Dwight
  7. Hey everyone, I was reading the thread about bench-made vs. factory instruments, and it made me think of an unrelated question I had. In the thread, a violin made by Celia Bridges was mentioned: http://www.sharmusic.com/Instruments/Violin/Professional-10K/Celia-Bridges-Violin-1997-Ann-Arbor-MI-USA.axd#sthash.UBYuiVoc.mblOVkbd.dpbs If you look at the picture of the scroll, there's a step down from the nut, down to the top of the peg box. I first noticed this step on a fiddle made by a local violin maker a couple months back, and decided it's just how he likes to do it. But now that I see it again, I'm wondering - what's the benefit of doing it like this? Do many makers do this?
  8. I've built my last two fiddles with spruce I bought from Simeon Chambers, and maple that I got from Lemuel Violins (www.violins.ca). I really like both suppliers, and feel they deliver a top notch product. Last summer I was visiting family in Seattle, so I took some time to drive out Whale Bay Woods (www.whalebaywoods.com), located in Quilcene, on the Olympic Peninsula. I believe it's the same operation that's also known as the Wood Well (www.thewoodwell.com). They had several barns filled with different cuts of wood, and it was such a kick to be able to spend a couple hours there picking some pieces out. In the end, I picked up a beautiful 1-piece maple back for a fiddle, and enough maple and spruce to build a cello. I haven't started working the wood yet, so I can't speak to anything there, but I can say they were a pleasure to work with and I felt their prices were very reasonable. I was like a kid in a candy store... this pic shows their shop, and the wood that I picked up - the cello wood on the scale, and the fiddle wood on the right.
  9. Thanks everyone, I appreciate the feedback. I was hoping there are no issues, so I'll keep moving forward. Happy holidays! Dwight
  10. Seasons Greetings! Last month I finished building my 5th fiddle, and I'm already itching to start the next one. I feel it's a compulsion. I started getting this neck block ready, but now I have a question about the end grain pattern. I first cleaned up both ends, so that I could look at the grain and decide which way to plane the top so that it was as parallel as possible to the rings. On my last fiddle, the neck block had very consistent rings, so this process was fairly straightforward. However, with this block, the rings that will be closest to the fingerboard are very irregular. The first picture shows how the grain looks (it's the same on both ends of the block). I can plane the top, so that it matches the grain on the left side of the block, but then the grain on the right side will still be 15 degrees or more away from flat. Do any of you see any concerns with me using this block? It's a beautiful piece of wood, so I want to make sure I understand the risks (if any) with not having clean and parallel growth rings. (Sorry for the bad picture - the growth rings aren't that dark on this piece of wood, so they're a little hard to see). Thank you! Dwight
  11. I'm a novice maker with talents that don't come close to the awesomeness I see on this site, so I'm usually just lurking. But I'm close to finishing my #5, so I'll come out of the shadows to share what I'm working on. I got the pattern for this one from the Strad Poster of the Del Jesu cannon. One pic shows the whole thing right before I set the neck (a month ago), and the other is right after I finished the ground layer (just last night). I also put in a pic of the tailpiece... I found a guy who does laser engraving into wood, so I had him cut the University of Wyoming logo into the tailpiece, which I then filled with powdered brass, and solidified with epoxy. I thought it could be a fun little touch... Start to finish, I'll have been working on this violin for about a year and a half. And as a longtime lurker, thank you to everyone for everything you share on this site. You are truly an integral and very appreciated part of me learning this craft!
  12. This is an interesting thread, and the price of varnish is something I’ve been thinking about recently too. For what it’s worth, I thought I’d throw in my newbie two cents... I’m currently working on my fifth violin. When I made my first two, I was on a very tight budget, so I found a nice looking figured 4/4 maple board at my local hardwood store, knocked apart a thick (and warped) spruce paneled door from my parent’s house, and I went to work. This might sound sacrilegious, but for the varnish I used stains and a varnish top coat from the Minwax set of products. I didn’t know better, but I was happy with the finished products! After that, I graduated to nicer wood, and oil varnish from International Violin. Now for my latest, I’m building a fiddle based on a lot of the knowledge I’ve gained on this forum (while quietly lurking for the last couple years), and I ordered varnish from Joe earlier this spring. I’m one final coat away from having a finished violin, and LOVE the way Joe’s varnish is looking. But, my learning curve has been steep. Just last month I ended up stripping everything back down to the ground layers. It was a gut wrenching decision to strip the varnish off – especially considering the price and the time I had already spent. Just speaking for myself, I know I didn’t have the skill level to use “real” violin varnish on my first two violins. If I had tried, I likely would’ve ended up eating marshmallows cooked over a fiddle-shaped fire in my backyard. I’ve heard a lot of people say that when you invest this much time into a project, you should get the best materials possible. But for me, the right approach was definitely to start frugally. In my opinion, at the newbie level there’s nothing wrong with using finishes that aren’t standard for violin making. You’re still learning aspects of finishing that will translate to using nicer finishes, and you won’t feel the sting of making expensive mistakes. Plus, if your friends/family/colleagues are like mine, none of them would know the difference anyway!
  13. For what it's worth, I've had the same problem with my Helicores, except for me it was on the E. Whenever I would do a fast run up the A string and go to an open E, it would make a terrible squeak, and I could make it happen 4 out of 5 times when i tried (much to the delight of my wife, I'm told). Moving the soundpost didn't help, so two weeks ago I replaced my E a spare Evah Pirazzi that I had. Hasn't happened since, and so me and the missus are both happy again!
  14. Interesting, I hadn't considered a third option... I guess you'd have to varnish the body, attach the neck, finish shaping the button, and then varnish the heel of the neck while blending the varnish into the body?
  15. Thanks everyone! I'm glad to hear the consensus is to leave it as-is. I was worried that I wouldn't be doing it "right" by leaving it on, but now I'm jazzed to get moving again. As for the varnish, I'm planning on ordering some from Joe Robson in the next couple of weeks...
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