Conor Russell

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About Conor Russell

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  • Birthday 01/23/1965

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    Old Irish violins, and life in general

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  1. Here's the body. Very quick, clean, confidant work straight from the steel. Every scraper mark can be seen under the varnish. Inside, lots of toothed plane marks. The ffs are well cut, the purfling nicely put in. Theres a deep, wide scoop, and a strong round arch. I suppose it's an ordinary French violin, but I like it very much. The neck root matches the ribs very well, and the varnish throughout, and if it had a different head I wouldn't question it so much, but to my eye the head just doesn't match up.
  2. Not quite the same, but I see what you mean Martin. It came stuck to a nice violin, but I don't think they belong together. I'll post the body at some stage too. I'm not sure what it is either..
  3. Hi all. I had a violin come in with a very odd head. It's as if the maker made a decent scroll, and then decided to carve out a deep fluting in the first turn. I think I've seen something like it before, but cant remember where. Any ideas?
  4. I use a good amount of popular and willow from Italy, and I must say that the willow is far lighter. Even the lightest poplar is much tougher to cut, shape, and much heavier.
  5. I have, twice, made labels for instruments. Just a photo of a hidden brand that I thought was interesting, and worth recording with the instrument. This one is in an old Mirecourt viola. It was branded on the gluing surfaces of the neck and blocks, never to be seen unless the thing was taken apart. I've never come across another Grosselet, but he had a brand made, and it's a very decent viola, so he must have made a few. It also had a repair note, from 1756 I think, inside the front. If anyone knows another I'd love to see it.
  6. Nor did I until that lot. There's a YouTube video of an idiot rehairing a bow. He takes the hair and wedge out of the head by grabbing the hair with a round nosed pliers, and twisting it. That'll do it! I suspect that my colleague learned from him.
  7. I had a few of these come in a couple of years ago. Some genius took up rehairing, and had his day as the best thing since sliced bread. He did a lot of damage - his repair was to flood everything with superglue - and sometimes I was left to do the explaining. One very fine French bow came in, and I missed the mess behind the head, which had been covered over with muck. It was only when I went to take the hair out that I realized the bow was broken, and called the owner. I know she thinks I broke her bow to this day. Here's a photo of one of those, I cant remember which. I always looked for damage, but now I look very carefully!
  8. I don't think I would have left quite so little wood, but it doesn't take much to make the mortice much stronger. Hi Nathan, I would prepare the bottom of the mortice to make it flat when the back was open, and just fit the reinforcement to that surface. I just use a little chisel, and a plane to fit the reinforcement.
  9. I've only done a handful over the years, but I've never had one fail. A George Darby violin bow came in last week with the back broken out. It has a silver tip, with a couple of pins. He left just a few mm behind the mortice, and it lasted for the best part of a century. It only took one heavy handed rehair to break it. The player loves it, so I'll probably be asked to repair it, and I'll shorten the mortice a bit if I do.
  10. Here's a simple way to tackle it. I know that people may pick holes in it, but it seems to work...
  11. It was on his label. It's thought he was a Republican and follower of Wolfe Tone, who led the 1798 rebellion. Liberty from oppression and the 'Rights of Man' were central to that movement.
  12. John Delaney, who worked in Dublin about 1800, had an interesting label. It read Made by John Delaney in order to perpetuate his memory in future ages. Liberty to the world, black and white.
  13. On the subject of violin sizes for children, While a child may be able for a bigger violin, it's most important that they aren't rushed into a longer bow too soon. In an effort to play to the tip of the bow they can develop a habit of bringing the bow arm 'around the back', and that can be hard to correct.
  14. I think most were done to make the fiddles a bit fancier. I graft lots of my necks. Often I have used different woods for the heads, poplar, beech, cherry, or very plain maple, but always a flamed neck. Occasionally I didn't have a big enough block of wood, for a bass for example. It's no big deal on a new instrument. You don't have to worry about lining things up so much because everything is straight and new, and there's no varnish retouching to do. It might add an hour to the job.