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Mountain Luthier

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    Phoenix, AZ
  • Interests
    Violinist/violist chambermusic enthusiast, luthier and toolmaker.

    See my tools @

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  1. Incomplete labels are even more fun to fuss over. I think it is a "tell" that it isn't what it is labeled.
  2. I found a Gunther Von Aue viola with a Bobelock case in a pawnshop in Bloomfield NM.It had a violin bridge, tape on the fingerboard and a gummi bear stuck to the back. $316! It has a market value $1800-2500. I spent $300 for a better bow and strings and fit a new viola bridge myself.
  3. I bought a wreck of a cello 11 years ago. It took me to the cleaners fixing it myself. It got me hooked on this business. I got $500 for it in 2014 which I count as a $1000 loss, but the money helped me furnish my new apartment. Repair work and tool sales quickly put me back in the black.
  4. I've got a violin labeled Walter W. Curtis 1923 Stockton California in the shop for refreshing the setup. Owner purchased it 28 years ago from an Arizona string shop. She had it appraised at $2500 for her divorce property settlement. Same shop that sold it to her serviced it 6 years ago... said it had a fake label in it. Needless to say the shop is out of business. Examining it, I don't think there is any reason to believe it is anything other than what the label says it is. It certainly looks its age. Was there a Walter W. Curtis? What can you tell me about him?
  5. I like the arching of #3 the best.
  6. I attended a chamber music workshop last summer where we had a coach who spoke about timbre. He had us sing as a choir in a pleasant voice and recorded the result. He talked to us about sing with a "forward vowel" sound, bright edgy to our ears. We recorded the strain of music again and compared the result. The second example was brighter clearer...more transparent and it projected better.
  7. Here's a great arch calculator: http://www.handymath.com/cgi-bin/rad2.cgi?submit=Entry I just carved my cello plates from the inside. My plate has a height of 26mm. To arrive a at a decent plate thickness in the center of the longitudinal arch from the inside, I aimed for 20mm. I changed the input unit to cm. length of span height of arch radius of arch 66cm 2.0cm 2.732m The cross arching can be determined at key points ie bridge line, at upper and lower points, fullness of upper and lower bouts and some points between. length of span height of arch radius of arch Bridge line 22cm 2.0cm 2.732m Upper bout 33.5cm 1.4cm 1.00m Lower bout 43cm 1.3cm 1.78m I included margin for gluing surface to the ribs and blocks. I draped a fine chain to check the arching as I refined it. The chain does what this math does. This is a first for me to carve archings from the inside and graduate on the outside. It's an adventure. https://www.flickr.com/photos/14995534@N05/sets/72157639727623634/
  8. I ran into a pretty good violinist and cellist and set to work organizing a summer concert. https://www.flickr.com/photos/14995534@N05/14698552303/ Our program: https://www.flickr.com/photos/14995534@N05/14688176051/ Also getting ready for Silverton Fall Colors Chamber Music Fest 2014 https://www.flickr.com/photos/14995534@N05/14675025477/
  9. Hair handling takes some practice. My "Frust" is getting the hair properly spreading the ferrule as I set the wedge. I am tossing in my sleep about salting the frog end of the hair with enough powdered rosin and pinching it into a broad ribbon with stained glass pliers and heat. What I attempt with the comb doesn't always hold. It likely takes more practice than rehairing a few bows to master this. I think isolating the problem of spreading hair and setting the wedge in the ferrule is key.
  10. A bit confusing having all those other pictures. Implies comparison and "value". I think a certificate should be a numbered document on watermarked security paper that can be referenced with a houses book of business.
  11. It is not the violin represented in the certificate. Look at the back.
  12. I had a small accident in the shop where I was handling a bass that was set up. It was horizontal in a cradle I'd just made for varnishing, When the bottom slipped out and dropped 30cm to the floor. I heard an ominous pop. I quickly inspected the seams,. To my relief all was in order, but there staring me in the face was the womperjawed fingerboard. The bass was tuned up to full tension. I took the opportunity to measure the 2mm bow in the fingerboard joining surface and decided installing a carbon fibre rod would be necessary.
  13. The labels are on my watchlist.
  14. Bescian styling in the stubby corners, but the scroll is something else. Looks newly varnished.
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