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cmjohnson

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Everything posted by cmjohnson

  1. Greetings. I recently came into a collection of old violins at an estate sale. They are mostly incomplete instruments, made by a luthier named Nick Youngblood. The few things I've found of his that were dated bear dates of 1929 and 1930, and I finished one or two of his violins to playable condition. The workmanship is in the "obviously self taught" category. These are not incredible instruments, but they do have character. I have something approaching 30 violin bodies which are just ribs and a back. There are a few completed instruments that I would call "highly experimental" and some broken ones, too. I'm not looking to get rich off of this "treasure trove". I'd just like to pass on these things to other enthusiasts who may want to have them and possibly use them for practice, or complete them and see what they get, or maybe just hang them on the wall. If anyone is interested in these, post here and I will post pictures of them, listed individually, and you make offers on what you want. I'm not going to set any minimum prices. I simply know that I'm not likely to address any building out of these instruments for years if ever, and I'd rather put them in the hands of somebody who is more likely to take action on them than I am. Money isn't the issue here. Getting these into the hands of some people who would like to experiment and/or complete some of these violin projects is the objective. I think there would be something very nice about someone taking these 80 year old violin bodies and finally turning them into musical instruments. I think Nick Youngblood would be really happy for that to happen. I brought one or two of his instruments back to life, and now I'd like for someone else to have a turn. Chris
  2. I have acquired a nice piece, quite large enough for a one-piece neck blank with some good, usable sized remnants left over. And, I have a deal for a second piece as well. The sustained ring you get out of a piece of Pernambuco like this is really amazing. I have never encountered such a tonal character in a piece of wood before. Chris
  3. I feel that I must express my irritation that apparently, people who have pieces of Pernambuco that would nicely fit my requirements seem to be concentrated in Canada, and I'm in the US. (Florida.) This puts treaty restrictons in my way. It's not making me happier with every passing second. Chris
  4. This has been highly productive and given me several good possibilities, including possibilities with woods I hadn't considered. While my objective has not changed, to use Pernambuco if I can get it, I am also interested in trying out some of the other woods mentioned. There's no reason I can't make more instruments, and after all, making instruments, of any kind, is very enjoyable. So I might as well see how different woods affect the outcome. I find it particularly interesting that Ipe is being recommended. How strange, that a wood that is finding use as patio decking, of all things, arguably the "lowest" use of wood, is also found to be suitable for bowmaking, which is arguably the "highest" use of wood. I'm very interested in trying out different woods, but I believe in conservation efforts which will help ensure a sustainable supply of the woods we want to use. Brazilian Rosewood is a long-time favorite in the guitar making world, but the only stuff coming in these days is from recovered stumps from trees cut many years ago. It'll be some time before the species recovers enough that new harvesting is likely to be allowed. Pernambuco, fortunately, seems to lend itself well to cultivation and apparently grows rather rapidly. I think it won't be so many years before it's once again available without enormous hassles. What's concerning me is the availability of quilted and curly maple. This hasn't been addressed by anyone, so far as I know, but it is known that whatever causes the quilted or curled figure is not genetic, it's a reaction to specific environmental stresses, the nature of which is not yet clearly understood. That makes it hard to reproduce at will. Seedlings from trees that exhibited dramatic curl or quilt do not exhibit those figures when planted and grown on a tree farm. CJ
  5. cmjohnson

    Rotary Tools

    I have been lucky enough to have found two Foredom tools, tossed out in junk piles, over the years. They both work perfectly well. The more recent one is complete with variable speed foot control. It seems a shame that I get extremely little use out of them, but I won't let go of them because when one of these is needed, there is nothing better for the job than a Foredom tool. Compared to a Dremel, they're in another league entirely. CJ
  6. Gilmer has none. I checked them first. I could go with any wood mentioned. I'm prepping a nice piece of East Indian Rosewood for a neck right now, but what I really want is to follow the violin neck experiment as closely as possible. Cocobolo may be good but the objective is Pernambuco if I can find it. I'll check into any leads. I've got several inquiry emails out there already. Chris
  7. Greetings. I'm now looking for a large piece of pernambuco, which should not be of bowmaking quality. By large, I mean a minimum length of 26 inches (30 would be ideal) and a width of 3 inches, or close to it, and a thickness of 2 to 3 inches. I'm sure that it's not easy to find bigger pieces of GOOD quality pernambuco which are suitable for violin bows, but frankly I'm looking for wood that has been rejected by bow makers as not good enough for that job. I would also consider similarly sized pieces of brazilwood. You're wondering what I'm up to, aren't you? Well, though I have a great interest in stringed instruments, my roots are as a guitar maker, and right now I'm gearing up to build a few guitars. If I can get the pernambuco, or brazilwood at least, then I intend to make the neck of one of these guitars out of that wood. Different neck woods give different characteristics to the guitar. Pernambuco has been used experimentally before, and it gives the guitar great sustain and a distinctive tonality. I want to try this for myself. An example of the use of Pernambuco in a guitar neck is the Paul Reed Smith Private Stock Violin model, which is an electric guitar that probably costs about 10,000 dollars. Only a few were made. (50, I think.) The same characteristics that make it the wood of choice for bows (high modulus of elasticity, high rate of transfer of vibrations through it, low rate of vibration absorption) will help contribute to the sustain of the guitar made with it. So, if you know of anyone who might have some pernambuco or brazilwood, as described, please let me know. Thanks. Chris
  8. Sometimes the body "springs" when the top is removed. This can be corrected for by putting temporary braces inside the body in critical spots. The braces are cut to the right length to support the body's correct width when it was mated to the top, but must also be cut thin enough that they can be broken and removed through the F-holes or end pin hole after the top is safely back on. The best way to cut this kind of support brace would be to to cut it across the grain, not with it, on a scrap of spruce from your last instrument top carving project. Make a stick out of this wood with the grain running across its width rather than down its length and it will be pretty easy to break when the time comes. You can tie a string to the middle of the brace and lead it out the end pin hole, or you can stick a rod in the end pin hole and snap the stick. Whatever you wish. Just make sure that the bracing sticks are in fact small enough to be extracted through either the F-holes or end pin hole. Chris
  9. I know someone who had a bottle of superglue BURST while he was squeezing it. Superglue went into his mouth. He had a bottle of superglue remover spray handy. Yes, he sprayed it into his mouth and took care of the superglue problem. He reported that it was by far the most foul taste you could never possibly imagine. CJ
  10. Since slab cut wood is not as strong as quartersawn wood of the same dimensions, I'd PRESUME that a slab cut back would be thicker than a quartersawn back in order to achieve the same level of strength. How much thicker? I'd GUESS about 20 percent. Chris
  11. These both came from the same high volume dealing violin shop that provides instruments (and repairs) to practically every student and every school within 100 miles. The KCC brand is the one they sell the most of, and that's a pretty good number of instruments. There's really no shortage of instruments that have been either damaged in shipping or by mishandling at a later time. Chris
  12. I've inspected the top and the wood is well on the quarter, without any runout to speak of. The finish is an oil varnish, brushed on, not sprayed, and this type is pretty easy even for me to touch up. The soundpost left a very clear dent in the bottom surface of the top where it broke out. The actual missing piece is nearly square. I'm very careful to be sure that the two sides of the break line up perfectly when gluing. I recently got experience with repairing a violin (same brand as this, incidentally, a Keith, Curtis, and Clifton) with two breaks in the top and frankly you'd be hard pressed to see that it was ever damaged. The alignment of the broken areas is essentially perfect. I didn't rush the job and even the cleats are nicely shaped. The biggest thing I'm concerned about with this soundpost patch is, what's the preferred form for repairing the missing area? Should I drill out the hole to a perfectly round hole with tapered sides? Oval? What's the preferredd shape? Chris
  13. Here's a pic of the damage prior to starting repairs. Chris
  14. I see it as a skill builder, and when the instrument is repaired I put it up for sale. It should be worth about 400 dollars in well repaired shape, given the cost of this particular model in as new condition, and I could certainly use 400 dollars whenever it happens to come along. Or would you prefer that I wait to attempt my first soundpost patch job on the next 25,000 dollar violin to come along with said problem? I think you'd cringe at the thought. So would I. Decently made student instruments are very good for learning repair skills. Chris
  15. I'm about to attempt my first soundpost patch repair on a 14" viola. The instrument was dropped and the soundpost blew right through the top and left a long U-shaped break in the top as well. The piece that got knocked out of the hole is not available. The U-shaped split will be easy enough to handle. (The top is already off the instrument.) I'll be fixing that before attempting the soundpost patch. I have some well matched spruce for the soundpost patch. Similar grain spacing, etc. It should match up well and if it doesn't, it's nobody's fault but mine. But, if you have any specific hints or tips on the technique and method of soundpost patching for me before I start shaving wood, I'd very much like to read them. Chris
  16. In a worst case scenario, the frog may have to be sacrificed in order to save the bow. If the screw is TOTALLY frozen up in the nut, then this is what has to be done. The frog is carefully cut off and then the brass nut is cut away and the screw is removed. Then it's time for a complete new frog. As I see it, the stick is the valuable part of a really good bow. Even the finest frog is less valuable than a good stick. Chris
  17. Well, I am no expert but if it were mine, I would open it and repair the cracks in the best manner I know. I believe in leaving nothing to chance, and cracks do not get smaller with time. This, I'm sure of. Chris
  18. So what's wrong with using a belt sander to remove excess thickness from the bridge? I may be a bit non-traditional, but to my way of thinking, what you use to trim the bridge is less important than the results of the trimming. I use a 6x48 belt/10" disc sander for a lot of work including thinning bridges and even ebony liners for frogs. Sure, I sand off a fingerprint every now and then, but it does do a better job than I'm likely to do with a chisel, and a lot faster. My first big repair was two top cracks on a good student violin, very recently. I am more than pleased with the results. You'd be hard pressed to tell that I had the top off it. It went back into place almost perfectly and the finish touchups came out better than I had any right to expect. My tradition so far seems to be to make two bridges for every one I intend to make. I always make the first attempt too short or too flat on the radius. So I then use it as a template for my second try. Chris
  19. I don't work on banjos because I only work on musical instruments. Same goes for accordions. Definition of perfect pitch: When you toss a banjo into a dumpster and it doesn't hit the sides before it hits the bottom. Why is an accordion NOT like an onion? Nobody cries when you cut up an accordion. What's the difference between a violin and a viola? There is no difference. The violin just looks smaller because the violinist's head is so much bigger. What's the difference between a violin and a fiddle? A fiddle is fun to listen to. Why are viola jokes so short? So violinists can understand them. How do you tell the difference between a violinist and a dog? The dog knows when to stop scratching. How many second violinists does it take to change a light bulb? None. They can't get up that high! String players' motto: "It's better to be sharp than out of tune." Why is a violinist like a SCUD missile? Both are offensive and inaccurate. Why don't viola players suffer from piles (hæmorrhoids)? Because all the assholes are in the first violin section. What's the difference between a fiddle and a violin? No-one minds if you spill beer on a fiddle. Why do violinists put a cloth between their chin and their instrument? Violins don't have spit valves. Why should you never try to drive a roof nail with a violin? You might bend the nail. A violinist says to his wife, "Oh, baby, I can play you just like my violin." His wife replies, "I'd rather have you play me like a harmonica!" Jacques Thibault, the violinist, was once handed an autograph book by a fan while in the greenroom after a concert. "There's not much room on this page," he said. "What shall I write?" Another violinist, standing by, offered the following helpful hint: "Write your repertoire." "Haven't I seen your face before?" a judge demanded, looking down at the defendant. "You have, Your Honor," the man answered hopefully. "I gave your son violin lessons last winter." "Ah, yes," recalled the judge. "Twenty years!" 'Cello Jokes How do you get a 'cellist to play fortissimo? Write "pp, espressivo" How do you make a cello sound beautiful? Sell it and buy a violin. Bass Jokes Did you hear about the bassist who was so out of tune his section noticed? How many string bass players does it take to change a light bulb? None; the piano player can do that with his left hand. How do you make a double bass sound in tune? Chop it up and make it into a xylophone. How many bass players does it take to change a light bulb? 1...5...1... (1...4...5...5...1) A double bass player arrived a few minutes late for the first rehearsal of the local choral society's annual performance of Handel's Messiah. He picked up his instrument and bow, and turned his attention to the conductor. The conductor asked, "Would you like a moment to tune?" The bass player replied with some surprise, "Why? Isn't it the same as last year?" At a rehearsal, the conductor stops and shouts to the bass section: "You are out of tune. Check it, please!" The first bassist pulls all his strings, says, "Our tuning is correct: all the strings are equally tight." The first violist turns around and shouts, "You bloody idiot! It's not the tension. The pegs have to be parallel!" Two bass players were engaged for a run of Carmen. After a couple of weeks, they agreed each to take an afternoon off in turn to go and watch the matinee performance from the front of house. Joe duly took his break; back in the pit that evening, Moe asked how it was. "Great," says Joe. "You know that bit where the music goes `BOOM Boom Boom Boom'--well there are some guys up top singing a terrific song about a Toreador at the same time." There was a certain bartender who was quite famous for being able to accurately guess people's IQs. One night a man walked in and talked to him briefly and the bartender said, "Wow! You must have an IQ of about 140! You should meet this guy over here." So they talked for a while about nuclear physics and existential philosophy and had a great time. A second man walked in and soon the bartender has guessed about a 90 IQ for him. So he sat him down in front of the big-screen TV and he watched football with the other guys and had a hell of a time. Then a third man stumbled in and talked to the bartender for a while. The bartender said to himself, "Jeez! I think this guy's IQ must be about 29!" He took him over to a man sitting at a little table back in the corner and said, "You might enjoy talking with this guy for a while." After the bartender left, the man at the table said, "So do you play French bow or German bow?"
  20. I just tell people that the ability to carve a top and cut curved lines and use hide glue has nothing to do whatsoever with nailing 2x4s together and using a Skilsaw. I make guitars and will make violins, and I can make very good professional speaker cabinets. But I'm not a carpenter and don't pretend to be one, but once I beat up a carpenter at a Holiday Inn Express. Does that count? http://www.maestronet.com/forum/style_emot...fault/laugh.gif Need a coop made? Better call a handyman or carpenter. Not me. My rates are far too high for you to be able to afford one of MY coops. Yeah, I'll make one...but I won't pick up the skilsaw for less than 200 bucks to start. It's just that I don't want to do it. Chris
  21. Well, I use a 6x48 belt sander to do work as fine as taking .001 inches off a piece of ebony to make a slide liner for a bow frog. I also use it to thin down bridges and put bevels on their edges. I'm pretty fearless about using big power tools for fine work, but I have a lot of experience with them and have learned how to use them gently. They CAN tear up a workpiece in a hurry, but they can also be used for fine work with a gentle touch. If I didn't have any power tools, I'd never be an instrument builder of any kind. I really mean that. Power tools allow me to do stock removal work quickly enough that I can keep my ADD-affflicted attention span on the workpiece long enough to finish it. However, as I'm getting older and wiser and learning more, I'm also learning just how good and fast some really good quality hand tools are, when used properly. The more I use good planes, the more I love them. The more I use good chisels and gouges, the more I appreciate them. But for heavy stock removal, power tools reign supreme in my garage workshop. No hand tool ever made can even come within miles of the stock removal ability of a chainsaw disc on a 14,000 RPM angle grinder. Cello backs, rough carved in half an hour. Violin backs in five minutes. But make a mistake and it's firewood right now. Chris
  22. Those little Harbor Freight planes are so cheap that you can buy a bunch of them and modify them for whatever purpose you have in mind. Reshape them into finger planes, whatever you want to do. They're a bargain. The blades as delivered are pretty atrocious but after a good regrind, they're all right. Not the best steel, but not the worst, either. I think that they could be adapted to be good bowmaker's planes, too. I intend to find out. Harbor Freight also sells a very nice little Japanese made hand saw with no set on the teeth. It cuts on the pull stroke, of course, and if used properly leaves a very well finished cut surface. It's something like six dollars. I have found that it is exceptionally good for shaping trees out in the yard, too. Chris
  23. I got another challenging repair to work on. A 14" viola with a sound post hole in the top, with a large U-shaped break going close to the tailpiece. I will have to learn to do a soundpost patch now. The top is now off it and I'll repair the breaks first. When the wood is stabilized after that repair, then I'll work on the patch. As it will be my first such patch, and it will have to involve a patch that's visible from the front, I'll have a lot to learn about this. I'm figuring that the first thing to do would be to carefully cut the hole so that it's smoothly oval or round and then dish the back of the top out so it feathers into the hole. Then fit a patch to it very carefully, using chalk for the fitting. Glue it, clamp it, then thin it back down to spec. CJ
  24. I'd just like to mention that I have a decent supply of good ivory suitable for nuts for violins, violas, cellos, and maybe even double basses. I cut it to your size specifications. The legal aspects of ivory: Within the USA, there are no laws prohibiting the buying, selling, or using of ivory. But it can not be exported even as part of something else. Importation is very restrictive but there is a small supply of legally harvested ivory coming into the USA via big game hunters. Totally avoiding any discussion of the ethics of hunting elephants, the fact is that some African nations allow hunters to hunt elephants, which helps keep their herd population under control. The hunter pays a substantial fee (at least 10,000 dollars US) in order to be allowed to hunt it. US law allows that legally harvested ivory to be brought back to the states by the hunter who took it. Legally harvested ivory and ivory from stocks existing prior to 1986 is perfectly legal to own and use within the USA. It is presumed that any ivory within the USA is legal due to the fact that it was banned from commercial importation in 1986. I don't pass judgement on hunting elephants. I simply have a small supply of ivory and will be more than happy to provide you with ivory nuts for your instruments, at prices that are very reasonable, not all that much higher than bone nut blank prices. PM me if interested. I'd post this information in the "list your own" section but for some reason it's not working for me. I get an error going to that page. Chris
  25. The luthier who's teaching me some of the tricks of the trade tells me that the correct position of the soundpost is where it causes the tap tones of the upper and lower halves of the back to be equal in pitch. If the lower half is lower in pitch, then the soundpost needs to go toward the tailpiece. He also teaches that the bridge placement should also be such that the tap tones of the upper and lower halves of the top are equal, and adjusted in the same manner. According to him, the soundpost is to be located symmetrically with the bassbar. Where the bassbar crosses under the bridge, the soundpost should be in the mirror image line under the other side of the bridge. IF he is entirely correct, then this means that soundpost placement isn't subjective, it's absolute to within a small area, not more than the diameter of the soundpost. He also adjusts the tailpiece position from side to side by scratching the sides of the bridge. If one side gives a higher pitched scratching sound than the other, then he adjusts the tailpiece until the scratch pitches are equal. I will say that after he's done setting up a violin as described, it invariably sounds extremely good. Chris
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