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jackc's Achievements


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  1. Having never really gotten the idea of the ground coat, I liked what I read and what the photos showed in a Strad article by Gregg Alf in the Nov. 2006 issue. He described his method for mixing and applying an oil-based ground coat for his violins. To quote fomr the article: quote: ...I make a traditional paste sealer of porous particulate matter--for example, tripoli--in a short-oil and high-resin medium similar to the the varnish used in the finishing process. My question is about the terms "short-oil" and "high-resin". By short-oil, is he referring simply to linseed oil, or do the terms go together to mean that the sealer has a high ratio of resin relative to oil? Would it work to take something like DMOV and mix it with tripoli and use that as a ground coat? The thing that I think will look good about this sealer is the coloring of the pores of the wood. I've done a similar thing with mahogany on a guitar and the effect was very nice. I just don't want to misinterpret what Mr. Alf is saying and create something that has to be undone. Any ideas from the collective wisdom? Thanks.
  2. Not only that, but you can buy "Old Masters Labels". see http://www.metmusic.com/store/...roduct&ProductID=27101 Right there under "Tools-> Glues and Varnish". Sheesh.
  3. I say good luck to Graham. He may save some people some money, and protect them from themeselves. And he may be able to spot some fraudsters. Let us know when you see any, Graham, of course, with all due discretion.
  4. Slowpoke - The three volumes of "Violin Identification and Price Guide" by Roy Ehrhardt are full of adds like the one you cite. While the "price guide" part is a stretch, they give a wonderful overview of the period of time where you had to have a musical instrument in the house if you wanted to have music--before radios and victrolas were commonplace. If you couldn't afford a piano, you bought a German or French trade violin from Sears or Monkey Wards or J.W. Pepper or somebody. And there are some really nice trade violins to be found, maybe made by one good maker working in the factory using matching wood for the scroll, ribs, and back. Of course, you may find one with the same label, from the same store, that was made in an entirely different factory in Mirecourt or Mittenwald that is not nearly as good. My take is that 90% of labels are authentic as Brad says. But the most interesting ones are the remaining 10% and were placed there with the intent to deceive. This is especially easy to do on ebay, where you can't really see the instrument. Coupled with poor photographs it's caveat emptor with a vengeance. There is a seller or sellers from one particular area of the US who have been selling fraudulently stamped bows for years on ebay. They are stamped (poorly) as if from the best past makers, but they never bring much money anymore. Fortunately, they are easy to spot and avoid.
  5. The real ebay pro is Jesse Kamien (Pahdah Hound). I recall Jesse saying that the ebay market is very cyclical in terms of prices realized. Sept. to Dec is strong, July August is weak, etc. But I'm not sure of the details. So this is a good time to buy if you find something you like. But I agree, pickings are slim. Nobody in their right mind bids anytime before the end unless they are trying to find out what a reserve is. And that's dangerous because you may find it and then no one outbids you and rescues you from your mistaken purchase...
  6. Looks like boxwood. I'm not sure of the style. Definitely not pernambuco. Yes the bridge is 'backards', with the makers stamp toward the tailpiece. This is in line with the too high reserve. Nice violin, though.
  7. Allan - I do have some experience in this. Not because I think it's ever a good idea for an original varnish finish, but because I've done a lot of what I would humbly call 'restorations' on some lesser quality violins and some better guitars and mandolins. I've learned this through experimentation on junkers. Before I knew better, I 'polished' some decent violins with abrasives. I've learned not to do that any more. The other caveat I'd make is to say, with apologies to Jeffrey if I'm out of line, that he works on very fine violins. I'm talking about low end trade violins, for the most part, that have already been mutilated--either over coated with some inappropriate substance or already revarnished badly. I've never tried to reduce the thickness of an oil varnish. Because the resins in most oil varnishes are soluble in things like turpentine and dissolve slowly at room temperature, I'd guess that it would take a lot of time and patience to dissolve ~some~ of the varnish layer without affecting all of it, and I'd also think that the chances of the results looking very good are slim. Alcohol may immediately affect many oil varnishes, since many of the same resins are used with oils that are used with spirit varnishes. I have had some success removing things like old gummy shellac coatings from oil varnish coatings just using alcohol on a cloth. The outer layers will dissolve quickly and at some point the oil layers will start to dissolve also. The trick is to realize when that starts to happen and stop wiping with the alcohol soaked cloth. I've removed some kind of synthetic coating from an oil varnished violin using xylene on a cloth. Those results were pretty good because the xylene did not attack the oil layer, although it will if given enough time and rubbing with the cloth. Xylene can remove a layer of dirty rosin build up, but again, if you get too aggressive it will begin to dissolve the varnish. I once removed a nitrocellulose lacquer finish from a J. B. Martinelli violin (a Roth trade name). It was a decent trade fiddle that someone had sprayed lacquer on. They had even sprayed over the fingerboard. It was so ugly it had to come off, and I rationalized that I was not the real offender in this case of varnish mutilation. That one had to be stripped completely and I revarnished it with oil. Old (1900-1930 0r so) Gibson mandolins were spirit varnished and then French polished. Many were later sent back to Gibson or repaired elsewhere and given a nitro lacquer over coat of varying thickness. These finishes are often very ugly compared to the delicate original finishes. Often they display the wide, deep, spider webbed finish checking that is never seen with the original finishes. I've had some good results removing the overcoat with lacquer thinner on a cloth, again paying close attention to when the later layers begin to be affected. I usually apply a very light French polish after the lacquer is gone. But trying to manipulate varnish layers is a very imprecise thing. The advantage with these old mandolins is that the color is applied beneath the varnish, not in it. So if you can do remove a bit of the original layers, you still can preserve the color. With a violin, the color is, for the most part, in the varnish layers, so if you remove any part of them you begin to lose color. What I understand Jeffrey and Scratchy to be referring to as surface texture is the kind of very fine finish checking that occurs with old varnishes, combined with how the varnish layer shrinks 'into' the wood over the years. This shrinkage results in the telegraphing of the wood grain though the varnish, which is a very nice effect that is necessarily destroyed by abrasive polishing, as well as by the application of additional finish, including a French polish. So it comes down to a judgement call. But to have much experience with this kind of thing, you have to have made some mistakes, as I have. Fortunately, I was smart enough not to try this on any kind of important or valuable instrument, although it's certainly been done way too much over the years. One thing to understand is the difference between what most people think of as a beautiful professional finish and what most knowledgeable violin people like to see. Stradivari violins don't look like they just came of the C.F. Martin or Gibson assembly line. Except for the Messiah, they look old, well used, with bare spots, some repairs maybe, etc. We like to see that in a new instrument if it's well done. But what most people want to see, especially in a new instrument, is a perfectly clear, 'wood under glass' look. And many people who inherit old instruments want the same thing. And there are people, even knowledgeable professionals, who will try to give it to them thinking that they are preserving an instrument when they are really only devaluing it. So, in my humble opinion, if you really don't like the varnish on these violin(s), and they don't represent anything of great value, then they are your possessions and you can do what you like to them. But if you asked 10 professionals, in particular people like Jeffrey who do great work on great instruments, 9 or maybe all 10 of them would probably tell you to leave them alone. Because, while you may like the results, others may not, and it's very unlikely that, after all your efforts, you will have done anything to preserve or increase the value of your instruments. Personally I think that varnishing, and retouching or varnish conservation, is maybe the most difficult part of violin making and repair to master. It's very hard to match an existing finish, and to get the color and texture you want in a new finish, not to mention understanding all the available resins, solvents, and colorants. But good luck whatever you do.
  8. I have to second that opinion, Brad. And it's amazing the value that some people put on these violins, most of which are not very good instruments. Also, a few more trade names, Carlo Robelli (in use today by Sam Ash Music. Usually very cheap instruments although I've seen some decent looking violins from the 1930s or 40s, I'd guess.) J. B. Martinelli (Roth firm, decent shop instruments) Angelo Ferrari (Sears, c. 1912, before they began making automobiles )
  9. Submitted without comment: Vioin by Bernardel and Steve De Lupot
  10. The current Metropolitan Music catalog has a history of the firm (as well as offering Juzek labels, sheesh!), and they claim that Old Johnny Juzek was an accomplished maker and did exist. Other Juzeks came to NY and started Metropolitan Music, and they sell Juzek instruments today. But like you, jaf, I still wonder if there are any instruments that actually came off the bench of John Juzek. I agree with your assessment, although how would any of us know? I think that at least some of the Juzek Master Art violins of the 1920s came out of the Karl Herrmann factory. Herrmann's shop made the Andreas Morelli violins, some of which are really nice, and identical to some of the good Juzeks. Herrmann also made some that are labelled Carlo Micelli, a clever Italianization of Karl Meisel. I've had several supposed 'experts', one in particular who is quite well known, tell me that a Morelli I have was a Juzek, and another tell me that it was definintely a Carlo Micelli. All 3 are German trade names, and it really looks like Herrmann was willing to produce them for other firms with their label--and why not. This is business. In defense of the well known 'expert' he has never spent much time learning about German factory violins, why would he? For some reason he's much more interested in them home-made Eyetalians. The German factories certainly had some good violin makers working there, and the best models might have been completely made by 'master' crafstmen. But they still had to put a Juzek or a Morelli label in the violin, so how much pride in workmanship would they have? Who knows. That's why buying a trade violin with a name like Juzek or Morelli or even Roth is a gamble. Juzek quality is not very high normally, Morelli is better, and Roth on average the best except for the shop instruments which are good but not great. Having supplied the NY Public School system with a gazillion Juzek instruments, Met Music certainly lowered the average quality of the Juzek gene pool. Many of them have markings in the wood, so you know they were abused by students and probably were no great shakes to begin with. Sorry to drone on. I'm done now.
  11. How many violins do you think Heron-Allen made?
  12. When I open my light box and remove a violin being varnished, it's quite warm inside, maybe 110-120 degrees F. Is this good or bad in terms of drying speed? The heat results from the closed box having no ventilation. It would on the one hand seem that an elevated temperature would reduce drying time. On the other hand, the vapor pressure (if I'm saying this right) would be increased by the closed box such that any volatiles, like the turp in the varnish, would evaporate slowly, as the air in the box would quickly be saturated with vapor. OK, it's clear that I don't really know what I'm talking about here, which is why I'm asking the question: Should I have some air moving through the light box?
  13. One trick I learned in cabinet making days was to use planer shavings as the "abrasive" when stripping. They not only remove the softened varnish but also absorb the varnish and stripper and are easily disposed of. They neither abrade the wood nor remove any ground coat or color that may be in the wood from age or whatever. But they are very difficult to remove if they get inside the Fs.
  14. Can anyone describe what changes have been made to the Messiah Strad? I assume that Vuillaume may have changed the neck and bassbar. Or does it retain the baroque form, since it was hardly ever played? I realize I could probably find this info out there on the web but I'm being lazy. Thanks.
  15. I agree with Scratchy but the real authorities won't comment on an active auction.
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