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Everything posted by Ernst

  1. I have a Czech fiddle from the WWI era that has no corner blocks. The label reads Georg Klotz made in Czecho-Slovakia. I'm assuming it was made shortly after the end of WWI because of the way Chechoslovakia is printed. I'm thinking it was made during the joining of those two countries into one. It's trade fiddle quality with a lot of dings and wear spots. The back is one piece slab cut. There's actuallly a knot in the sound board. I'm assuming quality materials were hard to come by immediately after wars end. Structurally it's in great shape and not a bad sounding fiddle. It seems to do best with Tonica or Helicore strings. The tailpice is a synthetic Wittner with 4 fine tuners built in. When I had a wooden tailpiece on it I experimented with the difference in tone between a synthetic tailpiece string and a plain gut tailpiece string. To my ear the gut string sounded better, more low frequency response.
  2. I like a tailpiece with 4 fine tuners built in but it sweems to me that the plastic or metal tailpiece negatively affect sound. To my ear the best tone comes from a wooden tailpiece with 1 fine tuner. Dove Schmidt carries a wooden tailpiece with 4 built in fine tuners. He sells it for something like 20 bucks. For me this is the best of both worlds without breaking the bank.
  3. I need to apologize. I've read posts that discuss using ozone generators and I've also read one where the luthier micro waved his plates. The result was wood that's very crumbly. I asssumed you were talking about the same type of treatments. My apologies.
  4. When I see how crumbly the shavings are it makes me afraid of plates cracking. I know you guys did your home work on this but I can't help getting that feeling. Does naturally sun aged wood get that crumbly?
  5. I guess I didn't realize there was that much difference because I was thinking inches instead of cm. Thanks Manfio Ernst
  6. Being 16" violas they're not much larger than a full size violin. In the pictres the bodies look fatter than a violin. Aside from that and using viola strings what gives them that viola sound? It's got to be way more than strings otherwise you could put viola strings on a large violin and have a viola. Is it arching and plate graduation?
  7. Fabulous and perfectly proportioned scroll. Of the two I like this one better. Maybe it's the one piece back? Do you make mainly violas?
  8. Yes Craig, things we're waaay out of control but the mqjority of posters minded their manners. As I recall there were only a few who turned threads into foul, lewd commentaries. I won't name names but you know the people I'm talking about. Anyway, if the moderators started a new soapbox it probably would degenerate into something similar before being shut down. There's always a few who would cause trouble. Too bad, except for the foul posts I found the old soapbox humorous to read.
  9. I use a 5" powered bench disc sander. It's fast and you can do a very precise job with it.
  10. Nice clean work, a pleasure to look at. It probably sounds as good as it looks too.
  11. That sounds like it would be good for somebody like me. Can I ask you how much the set costs?
  12. To my ears higher frequencies do project better. I can hear the difference in violins and as mentioned above in guitars. Body size does affect projection also. When you're going from a 20 inch viola to a 16 inch viola that's a 20 percent reduction. This projection difference is quite pronounced in accoustic guitars also.
  13. I don't post often because I have nothing to add. Many posts are highly technical in nature and honestly above my limitted knowledge. I don't make fiddles but I do restore what I call old barn fiddles. I buy my varnish; spirit and oil so I have nothing to add in those topics. Grounds and coloring are other issues I don't have to worry about. If I ever completely refinish a fiddle I'll deal with it then. My fiddles are naturally antiqued and I feel that adds charactter to them. I don't deal with arching or cycloid curves because the plates are already made so I work with what I have. IF i regraduate a heavy plate I follow a map of set thicknesses which seems to work nicely. I use Darntons formula for bass bars. My main challenges are things like getting a crack to close cleanly or resetting a neck straight and at the proper height above the fingerboard. When lurking I read the most active threads. Although most are above my head I find them to be very entertainng and informative. The knowledge I learn while lurking is invaluable in my limited violin work. Thanks to all for sharing. Ernie
  14. I use bone or white tail deer antler for saddles and nuts on all my guitars and mandolins. I actually prefer the antler over bone but as you said the center is pithy and undesirable. The brow tines from a good sized rack are usually nice material. I used to be a hunter so I have a sizeable inventory of antlers. To me there is a pronounced improvement in tone, it's crisper and cleaner. I'll have to try it on one of my violins.
  15. Ernst

    the lurkers

    Yes, it's a pity that things got out of hand and it had to be shut down. If I remember correctly the primary posters in that forum formed their own bulletin board. I don't remember the name of it though.
  16. Ernst

    the lurkers

    Not all of them. Now that the cats out of the bag I'll confess, I'm a lurker. Years ago I was an active poster, back in the days of the old soapbox. I lurk to learn. I don't make fiddles, yet, but I restore them. I've done most major operations succcesfully. From pegs to patchwork, neck resets, scroll cheeks, graduation etc. I have a friend who is a luthier and he's taught me a lot. I'm actually pretty good at setups. Beyond that I read and lurk to learn how to do things. So thank you for sharing your knowledge. Ernie
  17. Ernst


    I did ship with bridge up because it was for a student and I wanted her to be able to play it right away. I also ship customer and transport to trade show with the bridge up so that the soundpost won't fall. I tune the fiddde a step lower and wrap the bridge (between belly and strings) with dense foam until it's like a little cheese roll. Add a piece of tape to the roll and the bridge can't fall down.
  18. I've always been fascinated by this type analyses and believe it could be a very useful tool. Michael worked with it a few years ago and gave me a few links for trial software; alas I never had the time to pursue it. My experience and knowledge is likely not as good as many here but I do have one thought to add. Do you not think that the strings used would be a significant wild card in the you tube comparisons; particularly when analyzing the older masters. To my knowledge they played on unwound gut strings which should favor low frequency sound. I believe most of them did switch to a steel e string for dependability which could explain the high frequency similariities. Just a thought and thanks for sharing your work. Cheers!
  19. Hi Marie, long time no see. At least I haven't been on Maestronet in a long time. My grandvhildren are always around; ages 8, 6, 4, and a toddler of 14 months. I give them toy instruments of their own to play. They dance and have a ball while I practice. It works well with the livelier music and not so bad with the slower stuff. BTW: I was at two music festivals this summer with my friend John (same last anme as yours). If you recall I once asked you if you were his daughter Marie. Cheers !
  20. Thanks David. I can see where the micro-track recorders would be much more convenient but i'm pretty well satisfied with the MRS-4 that I have. I've even made a few CD's with it The Kel HM-1 is very interesting .
  21. quote: Originally posted by: Michael Darnton .............There's a new machine from Zoom that appears to trump both though, if it meets the promises it makes. I notice on the various forums that the Edirol fans are rabid to the point of irrationality sometimes, which makes accurate comparisons problematic. I'm really tempted to buy the Zoom machine just to see how it works. . . . I'm not sure which model you're referring to but I can share my experience with a Zoom MRS-4 redcorder. It's a 4 track digital recorder that I bought about a year ago. There's two 1/4 inch mic inputs so you can't use a balanced mic and it comes with a 32 MB smart media card which isn't very large. Also it eats batteries like you breathe air. Now for the good points. It's portable, simple to use, and makes recordings that are astonishingly professional in sound quality. I have used it for violin recording, whole band recording, and seperate track recording when doing a mix. It will record in stereo or mono and it allows headphone monitoring while recording. You can lsiten to 1, 2, or 3 tracks while recording another and or listen to an electronic metronome at the same time. It also has a multitude of built in effects but I seldom use them. I usually mixdown into my PC and then add any effects I want with Sound Forge software. I bought a 128 MB smart media card to give me more recording space and an AC adapter to eliminate my battery budget. I paid $167.00 US for mine but the price has gone down to $125.00 or so. I have a decent Santa Cruz sound card in my PC and decent recording software but the Zoom recorder beats them hands down. In a nutshell - Highly Recommended. If you're looking at the 8 track model or somethng even more advanced I imagine it would be even better.
  22. Ernst


    I also use deer antler for nuts and saddles on fretted instruments. I've put it on quite a few guitars, mandolins, and even a mountain dulcimer. It increases volume and sustain and usually brightens the tone. I like it better than bone. The center or core of the antler is not very useful; nor is the base where it grew out of the head. There was probably too much blood supply there when it was growing and the material is porous. The outer part of the antler is excellent however, and the best pieces come from the tips or what huntlers call the points on the rack. I'm not at all familiar with the laws but elephant ivory can apparently be legally purchased in the US from the following source. Link to ivory sales I've never done business with them but they seem quite reputable and they have an incredible supply. The prices don't seem high when you consider the scarcity of the material but that's an area that I have no experience in. PS: I have an old bow with an ivory frog. It's actually laminated with an ivory core, then ebony on each side, and once again ivory on the outside of the ebony. The adjusting screw is solid ivory shaped like a peg head with a silver button on the end. The bow is pretty and draws a sweet tone but the stick is too weak to be useful. I also have one of those ivory cueballs. The outer surface is very yellow and checked. If I ever cut it I'll let you know what it's like inside.
  23. I've seen prices for better makers in the $3000 to $5000 range. I don't know how hard they are to sell though. I also see a lot of regraduated & varnished white chinese violns in the $700 to $1000 range. Some luthiers give them a flashy model name and they seem to sell very well. I don't believe that a multiplication factor of materials is a good method of determining a violin's price. Hand made violins are not comparable to landscaping or factory mass produced gizbuts. I'd say that labor costs and craftsmanship of finished product far outweigh materials investmet. That's just my opinion - I'm still struggling to sell the barn fiddles I refurbish
  24. Ernst


    There is a freezing process used to treat steel but I've never heard of it being tried on wood. It's a cryogenic treatment so it's safe to say that it was not used on earlier period instruments. It involves a slow freeze to several hundred degrees below zero F. and an equally slow thaw followed by a light warming to about 150 degrees F. The process re-aligns the molecules and eliminates inherent strain. I tried it on two rifle barrels. My freezer (in the lab) only goes down to minus 235 F. so it wasn't really cold enough to be truly cryogenic. It worked wonders on one rifle, sifnificantly improving the accuracy. On the other there was no measurable effect. I've read that race car drivers treat their engine parts in a similar manner. I can't imagine this process doing anything to the molecules in a piece of wood but I'd be interested to learn more about it.
  25. The higher frequencies travel better than the lower ones so a thick top could favor the higher frequencies (bright). If it's too thick to vibrate freely the fiddle will be muted. I have regraduated these trade violins (for practice and learning) and they can turn out remarkably well. Normally I wouldn't bother. A good setup and strings generally will make the Czech trade fiddles playable. I've worked on two fiddles with the metal wire tailpiece and they both improved after I installed an adjustable nylon one. Of course at that time I also set the correct string length and after length so part of the improvement was due to that. I would do this first and then adjust the sound post as needed. That's just the order I do things in but it seems to work for me. If the old tailpiece is odd get rid of it. You can replace both tailpiece and tailgut, they are not very expensive. For this type of fiddle it would cost less than a set of mid level strings.
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