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David Beard

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Posts posted by David Beard

  1. 25 minutes ago, uncle duke said:

    Same here with #2. 

    Can cuttlefish or similar provide a shiny surface?  Tripoli can but let's exclude tripli - what about crushed fish bones?  

    Cuttlebone, which you can get at pet stores as a supply for birds, is special.  It's like a foam.  

    Both pumice and cuttle, in their solid rather than powdered forms, are special abrasives.   They are solid, but will erode and conform as you use them.   And they do this in away that depends on the direction of you motion.

    This makes them ideal for perfecting a surface.   Because they are solid but erode while used, they behave differently than both files and sandpapers.  

  2. Well I'm not certain.  Words are slippery.  And they don't stay put. Their common usage tends migrate and change.  Since my reading materials tend to be more than a little out of date, you might be using a common meaning today?

    From Merriam-Webster:

    transitive verb

    1a: to make shiny or lustrous especially by rubbing

    //burnish leather

    //burnishing his sword

    b: POLISH sense 3

    //attempting to burnish her image

    2: to rub (a material) with a tool for compacting or smoothing or for turning an edge

    //pottery with a smooth burnished surface.



    I seem to be stuck in meaning 2.  Meaning 1 has lots of room for your usage.

  3. 6 hours ago, Peter K-G said:

    And yes, it is frustrating when someone questioning a common truth.

    It mIght still be right, the "hearsaying/common truth". But it's so old that not many can defend it with (forgotten) evidence. Annoying isn't it!

    A while back, the Smithsonian made thickness and elevation maps of a good number Strads and Del Gesu.  To my opinion, only a very few of those appeared altered from shared common patterns that seem to hvae come from.the makers.  

    Of course, a study like that would have tried to have avoided obviously compromised instruments.  But, that survey seems to support you idea that significant regraduations where more the exception than the rule. 

  4. 47 minutes ago, JacksonMaberry said:

    Cuttlebone is interesting. It can be surprisingly aggressive if you use a lot of elbow grease, but with a light touch it burnishes beautifully.

    I think of it as a fine abrasive.  And use the word brunish to mean non-abrasive rubbing down.   ????

    Bone, and hard agate are traditional burnishes.  

    ?? I'm curious. Is this common to describe a mild abrasive as a burnish?


  5. 35 minutes ago, MANFIO said:

    Nice photos of the Tenor David, thanks for it! Put some more!!!

    I like when the instrument looks golden yellow under the sun, a bit red under hot lights, and a bit brown under cold lights.

    I'm afraid the images I have are all collected from others off the internet. I probably shouldn't be posting them at all.  Just couldn't resist.

    A lot of these classical instruments change so very much with the lighting.  With the colors existing in layers, what you see real does depnd on angle and intensity of light.

    Many wonderful classical instruments look red/orange in moderate light, brown in low or oblique light, and yellow/gold in direct strong light.

    This is the natural result with glazing layers of deepening colors from red/brown to brown/brown over a yellow/gold undertone.


  6. 7 minutes ago, JacksonMaberry said:

    ~10 microns of oil penetration is about perfect. 

    I will make bold to suggest that besides simple oil, balsaams and mixer of various combinations of oil, balsaams, resins, cooked varnish can have very similarly satisfying results.    Provided, the mixture has a creeping wetness nature the way oil does.

    I will also suggest that fine levigated pigment can be added.  The capillary action will pull the color into the wood structure in a transparent way, highlighting the wood structure in a light angle dependent way.

  7. 1 hour ago, sospiri said:

    Yes please. The idea that someone thinks they know better how thick the plates in a del Gesu should be is worrying.

    Violin making was his life. He obviously knew what he was doing. 

    Violin work goes in fashions. 

    *Almost all the classic instrument got longer FBs and new necks.

    *Some people today believe in plate tuning

    *Some people believe a top should be thickest at the center and graduated toward the center.


    For a time, some people believed in regraduating classical instruments, with Del Gesu considered too thick.

    There some story about Paganini seeking more Del Gesu's, but the 'woody' ones.  He wanted them thick.

  8. 10 minutes ago, Rue said:

    I am afraid we will have to agree to disagree! :)

    ...and the use of 'strongarmed' is also a tad offensive...

    Or was that your intent? Tit for tat?

    No.  As you say, we just disagree.

    I don't believe you mean to 'strongarm'.  I just don't believe you understand how structure and bias imposing a break down into categories is.

    You are in a sense building up an agreement among participants that 1) the differences within 'orange' or 'black' DON'T matter.  And 2) that 'orange', 'red', and 'brown' are separated categories.

    But these forced agreements are false in the world of real violin colors.


  9. 1 hour ago, Don Noon said:

    And you are certain of this, how?  If you know exactly how they looked when new, tell us how they sounded then, too.

    They were elite princessly artisan products, from a time and place that produced great art and beautiful objects.

    As you point out, there are horizons to our knowing. 

    But these instruments were well recieved in their time.  And I am willing to trust that they deserved their good reputations, and looked much as we see the more well preserved examples.  Very fine objects. And some stunningly beautiful.


  10. 2 minutes ago, Rue said:

    The polls are there as a starting point. As such they have to be kept simple. The discussion that then follows is what adds in-depth information (at least, that's the hope!).

    If someone finds something within the discussion worth delving further into, in more detail, then they can fine-tune the question and start another poll.

    Keep in mind...for those of us who are not luthiers, we are consumers/customers. I think that information about what consumers are interested in could be of value to makers, no? ^_^


    No.  Finding out the relative popularity of meaningless trival super categories is can not be useful, but it could be misleading.

    I don't think you realize how much presumption there is in imposing categories like that.  

    If you really want to shine light and learn something about a topic, don't begin by presuming you already know how it breaks out into categories.

    Invite dialog to discover the lay of the land and how it might meaningfully break into categories or polar centers that actually reflect the territory.  Then, at a later stage, some sort of well designed poll might be useful.

    I still find the stongarmed simplifications of this thread offensive to the art of making.

  11. 2 hours ago, GeorgeH said:

    I think science is the discovery, development, and testing of hypotheses, and a hypothesis must be, in the words of Karl Popper, subject to "empirical falsification."  "Empirical falsification" is the idea that a theory can never be proven absolutely true, but that there must be ways to test it to prove if it is false:

    "In so far as a scientific statement speaks about reality, it must be falsifiable: and in so far as it is not falsifiable, it does not speak about reality."

    -Karl Popper

    I'd also add that the study of science and the study of history are quite different. For example, the order of operations that Stradivarius used in making his violins are more questions of history than of science. 

    This is all sound in my opinion.

  12. 2 hours ago, violins88 said:


    Do you mean peer review is not necessary? Or important? Please explain.

    No. I mean what I said.  It is mechanism for conferring authority and validation.  It is not itself the core of science.


  13. 3 hours ago, Rue said:

    Well...you might not choose a violin for colour, but others will. 

    So...if you're selling...I  would think customer preference might factor in your varnish choices.

    And as far as the colour choices listed being simplistic, they really are not all that simple, as we've seen throughout this thread. 

    And to try and list every conceivable colour combo would be nigh impossible and even less useful.

    Grass is green. Grass comes in a kazillion shades of green (FWIW I am a bona fide expert in the colour of grass). I can just comment; 

    "Oh! Look how green the grass is after a good rain!"

    I don't need to say;

    "Oh! Look how dark green with shades of dusty blue and subtle hints of pale yellow the grass is after a good rain!"


    It just feels so wrong.

    Now if you were polling young student violinists.  They might actually buy based on simplistic color categories.

    If I called up a sod dealer on the phone and asked then describe some of my choices. If the guy said 'well, they're green' then I'd say 'fu funny man', and I'd call someone else.

    But you're polling violin makers.  I doubt any of them would consider 'red' or 'orange' as a meaningful description of any violin color.   It seems such complete factory violin approach.

    Anyway.  I guess it's just me.  And I apologize for the negative reaction.  I don't know why. But I tend to find these polls you make, trying simplify the aesthetics of violins into little simple boxes, I find them somehow viscerally offensive.  Which is definitely my problem, not yours.

  14. 10 minutes ago, Rue said:

    I'm talking about the predominate colour. They all have shades of colour.

    Why?  I have never chosen a violin for color.   I always find other things about the violin much more compelling.

    I do not understand the impulse to put something complex like real violins into simplistic boxes like brown versus orange?


  15. 22 minutes ago, Rue said:

    My "good" violin is also a light honey brown. It's beautiful. :wub:

    I tend to gravitate to the dark brown violins given a choice, but that certainly doesn't mean I don't see the beauty in other hues.

    ...er...except for the very orangey orange of course...^_^

    (My "outdoor violin is red. I don't even  have a violin in my favourite colour! :lol:).

    Are your violins one colored?

    Not brown and yellow interacting? Just brown?

  16. 3 hours ago, violins88 said:

    1. Real science means peer reviewed journals, doesn’t it?


    2. These days, I encounter people who want me to watch a video by “ xyz” to prove something. I am sorry. Slick video can be, and often is,  full of total lies. This is a real danger in modern society. People believe video!

    3. If anyone objects to this post, I will remove it.

    Not really.  That is valid academic process, and a part of today's scientific community.

    But science in a more direct sense is the collection of facts and the development of theories about aspects of nature that have a truth independent of us.

    Peer review is in that sense not science, but a kind of filtering process.  But like a jury, its conclusions confer authority, but can diverge from actual truth.

  17. There are obviously some aspects of aging in these finishes.

    Linseed oil particularly is known to continue changing and cross linking on a very long timescale.  And obviously, these finishes have physical been worn and mechanically damaged, dirtied, etc.

    But also, the art materials of the time weren't generally innovative.  Many materials had been in continuous artisan use since Roman times and even earlier.  And texts show an awareness of the long term behavior of their materials, and a priority to make objects to last very long times.

    Things like earth colors, carbon blacks, chalk, and fatty binders are so stable thay we have surviving cave paintings.

    The many forms of 'the old making started off like a modern instrument, and then became glorious through time and aging' are really absurd.

    These instrument have of course aged.  But they also started out from day one as glorious.

  18. 21 minutes ago, Peter K-G said:


    So why has it become an authorative Truth like:

    As we all know, the purfling was done after the soundbox was closed.

    The evidence being pins under purfling, quite a good hint, but shouldn't it be explained instead of being common truth.


    It's likely that purfling was done after closing the soundbox, because many has purfling over the pins.

    You have to place your bets.  

    Many modern makers do the purfling before closing.  I'm not at all convinced it's a unanimously settled question the way you describe.

    However, if we're talking about classical examples, the top and back plate outlines and purfling can be quite different one from the other.  And, the overhangs don't reliably run around at a set equal width.   And the sides aren't really square. 

    If you aren't doing any of the modern simplifications of the process, you aren't copying the outline from a source, you aren't making fixed width overhanging, you aren't strongly controlling the squareness of the sides, you aren't precise retaining shape from the mold disposition of the sides, you aren't making top and back outlines identical.  If you aren't doing any of those modern things, and you are actively relying on real use of the pegs as part of alignment, then it might be very different to coordinate all these not quite the same shapes in a modern work systems.

    But if you work the sides from mold, the back from pinned sides, the top from the sides glued to the back, and the purfling from the final outlines of the installed plates, then all the small different follow naturally off each in a completely simple way.

    I for one do believe the box was closed first.  I find it easiest to understand the totality of the evidence in that work sequence. 

    But I'm not aware of this being a universal orthodoxy.  


  19. 8 minutes ago, chiaroscuro_violins said:

    Yes, of course.  It is also fair to suggest that they finished the outline before closing, even though many modern makers don't.  

    Follow-up: what would be the reason to finalize the outline before closing the box, if not to facilitate doing the purfling before closing the box?  

    This is a genuine question.  I only know the process that I was taught.  

    Structuring the edge and channel.  These things depend on the outline.  And the channel is needed for the archings -- so before closing.


  20. I have to confess my thoughts when finishing an instrument are almost entirely focused on creating transparency and color.  

    As for sound, my concerns are very limited.  I want my total coatings to be *not too stiff, *not too massive, * full of particles of whatever nature also aides beauty so that for sound my coatings are less like a coating rubber and more like an asphalt.

    This last is just an unsupportable personal belief that a layer of particles in goo will transmit the musical signal more faithfully than a layer of just rubbery goo.

    As for the visual, *I in layers with some layers having color goals, *I think of wetting as very significant to transparency. Since balsaams and oils continue wetting fibers and particles and fibers more and more over time, I try to infuse balsaams into the wood surface and insure all my particle content will increasingly be wetted by oils or balsaam overtime.

    I believe that within those guiding principles, many varied materials can be used to create visually and acoustically great finishes.

  21. 33 minutes ago, chiaroscuro_violins said:

    I recently did a set of plates with the pins under the purfling, before closing the box.  It's fairly trivial.  

    Still, it's fair to suggest that Cremona makers didn't neccesarily do it before closing just because many modern makers do.


  22. As a teenager, I read some quote of Perlman's along the lines of 'have no gods',  question everything. Seek to understand every technique. Choose what to use.

    'Truth' with a capital 'T' is underlined with authority.  But authority is the arch enemy of truth with 't', that which is true irregardless of our awareness, opinion, or belief.

    The 'Truth' of authority made the world flat.


    Science is about using repeatable tests and lots of skepticism to collect some 'facts', and from this to hypothesis some theories about 'truth'.   All of science is meant to be questioned, fire tested, reviewed, and revised.

    'Science' that 'Knows' the 'Truth' isn't 'science'.

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