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Conor Russell

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About Conor Russell

  • Birthday 01/23/1965

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    Old Irish violins, and life in general

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  1. Well, I'm glad I went to a good physiotherapist, rather than a good violin maker for my problem. Twenty years of crippling pain several times a year, followed by twenty pain free years speak for themselves. Anyway, my main point was that a chair that forces good posture can be a life saver.
  2. I damaged my back when I was 17, and suffered bouts of pain several times a year till I was 37. Then I was unable to work for a month, and found asports physiotherapist who straightened me out over about six weeks. She gave me massage treatments, and exercises to do. But most importantly, she had me buy a chair for the workshop, one of those kneeling ones. The back is kept straight and upright, and you're very mobile in the seat. I have never looked back.
  3. I've had success removing oil paint from very nice violin using a watered down solution of ammonia, but I knew that the original spirit varnish beneath would be untouched. This would be a disaster on most violins. I always test my cleaner on the foot of the neck if it's original.
  4. Of course Jacob is right. But as to the importance for tone, I really think it depends on what's being asked of the violin by the player. A reasonably decent player can get good use from a violin with a poorly made back, as long as the front works. So lots of people get on fine with pressed violins, for example. Better players will need the back to work too. Power and grunt, when playing in the higher positions of the lower strings are determined, I think, by the shape and thicknesses of the back.
  5. We've been practicing social distancing, with the schools and gatherings closed for over two weeks. Music has stopped, and I expect to earn nothing until some normality returns. But I don't think this will happen for months at least, not weeks, by which time I wonder will there be an economy left at all. I wonder if money will be worth anything at all. We have nearly 800 tested cases here, and 3 have died - almost nothing compared with the Italian tragedy. But we know it's coming, and really hope that our isolation will slow it down. It strikes me that governments really set the tone in crises like this. Here, our government took action reasonably quickly. But others didn't, and their people could pay a high price. Its amazing to see people still burying the head in the sand. For myself, I've decided to restore some things that have been staring me in the face for years, and to finish just the instruments I'm working on. Plant the garden, breed some good queens and make some hives, and rebuild some machines and the like with my sons. I wish you all well. Take this very seriously.
  6. All of mine are the same. The darker one is from 1935, the paler 1962. The older one is much finer, but they were always available in various grades. You can see the centre in the heel of the newer one. The violin heads were often very nice, and even good makers used them. There's a Hofmann violin in the Chimneys auction (12) that may well have one of there on it, and he was well capable of carving his own. My scrolls came from his workshop.
  7. Hi all. I have started on the repairs to a nice old cello. It's in fairly good shape, apart from some very poor old repairs to some damaged ribs, worn edges, a broken out button, and some minor cracks in the front. It has a short sound post crack in the front that will need a patch. When I first started, we learned to make a post patch oval, rather like a spoonful of wood removed and replaced. Later, in a good shop, I was shown to make a more square shape, with rounded corners obviously, but distinctly squared off. It never sat well with me, because of the amount of perfectly sound wood that had to be replaced, but especially because the patch would have a longer endgrain joint running east west at both ends. Can anyone explain the rationale behind the square shape, and change my mind?
  8. I don't know. I looked through my lot and couldn't find any model names. I remembered some of the violin heads were marked Ruggieri, others Strad, but I may have passed them on, as I can't see them now. The later cello heads from the 60s have a hole in the heel of the neck, presumably a mounting mark from a copying machine.
  9. I have a few of these from different times, some quite old. They made various models, and are often beautifully carved. The most recent were made for a famous Italian maker, and bought from the supplier in the early 80s. But those were completely machine cut, and had to be finished all over.
  10. I don't think that doing anything but the simplest job is worth it. Remaking the joint correctly will be a waste of time. The chances are that you wont be able to remove the old glue from the neck completely, so hide glue wont stick properly anyway. And the very thought of removing the top to replace the block makes me shudder. If you want to take it on, why not just reglue it with something that will stick?
  11. I think the Maidstone outfits were put together from whatever source, French or German, to make playable instruments available at a reasonable price for children to learn on. So some are nicer than others,but they were all fairly basic.
  12. I know, and I'm inclined to agree. (And I do make my own!) But sometimes it's pretty clear how thick an imperfect instrument shouldn't be. It just is!
  13. While I understand the aversion to regraduating violins, I think that for a great many instruments it was almost part of the making process. So many pretty grim sounding violins have been made playable for students. I did hundreds of trade fiddles in my time. I, and a couple of my friends have found ourselves regraduating our own instruments after 10 or15 years. All of us had the sense that the spruce had become stiffer over time, also less translucent. All of us make new with pretty thick plates, mind you. I realise that I run the risk of Jacob's wrath, and a firing squad, but there you are.
  14. It is a big repair. If I'd made the cello, I think I'd like to replace the top. The devaluation of a damaged front, plus the cost of the repairs, would outweigh the cost of a front I think. Edit. Didn't see JHs reply.
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