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Conor Russell

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Everything posted by Conor Russell

  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.
  15. Just rough quick work. Some good instruments were carved very precisely from one side of the bar to the other. I had one that was so perfect, that when I cut out the bar to replace it, barely had to scrape it to level the area. I'd rather have left it be, but there were other reasons to replace it. I think there's no reason not to regraduate violins like yours. They can work out very well if they have good arching.
  16. I can't see much on my telephone, but it looks to me like a decent JTL or the like, that's simply fallen apart. If the back joint is intact, and its just a rebuild, to clean and reglue the joints, fit a bar and reset the neck it might be worth it. It's a lot of work, but the sort of thing you do in dribs and drabs, whenever glue is hot anyway. For a customer, it would be expensive, and they would risk getting back a dog if it didn't sound well. You must buy things like this cheaply enough that if the odd one turns out bad, you're covered. If the back joint is gone, I'd look very carefully at it, because if they don't go back perfectly they'll never be right, and any distortion is a pain to fix.
  17. Too nice to be Schoenbach? Doesn't look in the slightest bit French to me.
  18. Lignum vitae is amazing. I've seen a lovely thumb plane made from it, and I'd love to try it out for bearings in a foret I'm making. Nature's answer to oilite,but better. Not sure what problem it would address in a violin nut though. I find good ebony absolutely perfect for the job.
  19. I have lending instruments too, but they're not things I will sell. Decent things with post cracks and the like. I think when people borrow instruments, they can be too careful, and drop them, or too casual and drop them. Last year I loaned a bass while I repaired a crack in the lower front from the f hole to the edge. Mine came back with exactly the same crack, and the custo didn't seem to think it was an issue. So I wont be seeing him again.
  20. Jacob, what do you think of this in principle? I've been thinking a support in the box to raise the a string, rather than shuffling pegs about. It could be done very discreetly by gluing the support to the pegbox floor or wall. But I've never done it.
  21. In a properly set up pegbox the strings have clearance. This is a fix, not a very beautiful one, the usual remedy being to reposition the pegs properly. Another trick was to turn the peg diameter down where the string goes - this having the added effect of making the peg more sensitive while tuning. When tuning with pegs, one string fouling another is a problem, because they knock each other out of tune. But also, A strings often have a very coarse wire brockade to give them grip in the peg, and that damages the D string very quickly. I've seen this pin on curly violin pegboxes, and liked it. I've often thought it's less invasive than moving a peg and it can be done in a much more refined way. Why not?
  22. It's to raise the D and G strings so that they dont foul the A peg. Usually the A peg is set low, and the D high to prevent the problem, and bushing and moving the peg is the usual remedy.
  23. My impression was that the job was to fit a patch, no more. 3 - 5k seemed a lot to me. I can see of course, that work on a very good instrument might be charged at a premium. But, no matter the cello, if a patch is needed, it's planned, the wood chosen, and fitted, in exactly the same way, taking the same level of time and care. So it's not glued in until it fits, that's that. And nice varnish is often a hell of a lot easier to retouch than cheap stuff to boot. I have a machine that I built for making patches. I simply make a cast of the patch bed, and copy it in spruce. As the cast is made under clamping pressure, the patch fits very well. The final fitting is done with a knife as usual. Fitting a patch is not an artistic pursuit for me - it's a mechanical operation, and the machine is better than I am until the finishing stage. There was a man from Germany offering a patch fitting service at the VSA a few years ago. His results were spectacular, with unbelievable detail. I think he needed a cast and a piece of wood of your choice. I think his charges were less than $100/ square inch, but I can't remember exactly.
  24. 3 - 5 thousand dollars to fit a patch in a front?
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