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Everything posted by propolis

  1. The images look like what comes from a scanner. That would account for the aspect ratio distortion and color halo, and might account for the odd-looking fingerboard end.
  2. I got a box of it a while ago, and cut some of the pieces into half-inch sticks for easier handling. Went through the band saw like stiff meringue. I don't think it dulled the blade any, but that was one or two changes ago. There are some fairly gaudy colors in the mix that I ordered. I don't think I will be using them soon. I can think of one or two kids to give those to, by way of endearing myself to their parents. It is really powdery stuff.
  3. An experienced worker can tell some things about steel by the color and "shape" of the sparks flying from a grinding wheel. I am not an experienced worker. The few times I've hardened a knife or chisel, I've done as Oded suggested, and not bothered with tempering. I only use those tools for light precise shaving anyway, and have not had any problem with chipping their edges. There is one small chisel I made from salvaged steel... hardening the tip left a clear dividing line between zones, most obvious after polishing the flat side. The side with the bevel still has a little rainbow on it a few millimeters back from the edge. Cool stuff.
  4. ... and here we find the nail smitten promptly and directly upon its head. The number of times a post goes in and out of a violin while being trimmed to fit is beyond my counting. A fellow came to my workshop with a Gemini setter one time, and said it had only taken him ten minutes to stand up a post with it. At that rate, fitting a post would become an all-day affair, and I've got other things waiting to be done.
  5. Bless his knuckles. (and his heart, and every other bit) The Korg CA-30, being a general purpose chromatic tuner, is suitable for tuning just about any instrument you can get your hands on. I happen to believe that the cello is the finest instrument playable by human hands, so power to you. The bit about equal temperament vs. just intonation might be more than you need right now, but Pablo Casals said this about it: "Do not be afraid to be out of tune with the piano. It is the piano that is out of tune. The piano with its tempered scale is a compromise in intonation." I'm with the ones who favor tuning the A string with the tuner, and then going by justly tuned perfect fifths on down. That way your C string may be about six cents flat with respect to a nicely tuned piano, but the cello will be in tune with itself. For extra fun, learn to bow harmonics, and then you can take any two neighboring strings and tune a unison between the octave of the upper string and the fifth+octave of the lower string. (I use the edge of my thumb for the octave, and some other finger, say 3, to catch the third harmonic node closer to the bridge.) Adjacent-string drones are fun, anyway. I was taught to get a G major scale in tune (one octave, on the middle two strings) by keeping both strings going, using one as a drone. There are only two notes that doesn't work so well for: the C and the F#. for the C, bop over to a low open C drone, and for the F#, rock up to the open A alongside it. Too much typing already, so I'll stop. Well, just one more thing: David Burgess pointed out the difference between overtones and harmonics in reply #32, and that shows up big-time when a string goes false, but players call them harmonics anyway...
  6. I was taught to stab the post about 1/3 of the way down from the top, in some little shop out in the woods. I have fussed over the geometry of my violin post setter, and have ground the point down to a 3mm chisel tip, with the flats left rough from filing. There is more room to move around in a cello, so I use the setter just as it came. For fishing a fallen post out of the cello, a 24" flexible gooseneck parts grabber is handy. It came with four prongs at the business end. Didn't need that many, so two of them got snapped off.
  7. I am more concerned about deleterious effects introduced by the operator. If someone needs training wheels on a soundpost setter, what business do they have poking around inside a violin anyway? To release the post from the Gemini setter, the restraining cord needs to be unthreaded. Others have noticed that this setter is unsuitable for retrieving a post. The cord must be re-rigged before another attempt at standing up the post, which strikes me as a colossal waste of time. I have inspected one of these gadgets at close hand, and I echo nonado's opinion that it is a solution in search of a problem. It seems to be aimed at school orchestra directors who must occasionally resurrect a fallen post in a "show must go on" kind of situation. That is a very small niche market, with a slim to negative return on investment in such expensive gadgetry.
  8. It would be astonishing to find that silk from the mulberry-eating silkmoth (Bombyx mori) has never been tried for violin strings. After all, Chinese spike fiddles such as the erhu have historically used silk strings...
  9. Wow. I've seen deer ticks on Martha's Vineyard, and they are bitty little things, easy to miss. It seems that the Lone Star tick is about as small. Anaphylactic shock is nothing to play around with. Be well, kind sir.
  10. Couple of things: Sorry to be an entomological stickler, but mites are arachnids. I am unaware of mites that eat bow hair, and would appreciate better information. The bow bugs I am familiar with are insects from the order Coleoptera, or beetles. @Oded, is the sensitivity to red meat something that abates with time, or is it there to stay? Thanks for mentioning it; I had not come across that.
  11. Malcolm Gladwell's Outliers is an interesting read, and perhaps relevant here. Quickly stated, his thesis is that reaching exalted pinnacles has less to do with a formulaic syllabus or even individual potential ability, but is more about belonging to a fortunate cohort, being in the right place from the right background at the right time with appropriate preparation. The violin market is sparse enough that even mediocre journeymen may need a little bit of luck finding their way in, such as a shop that happens to need help, and a preceptor who is willing to work with the skill set a given individual may present. In my case it was a fellow recovering from some repetitive motion damage who needed rental setups and repairs done while he came back up to speed. Doing setups does leave some shavings on the floor... fit enough rental soundposts, and you will not be scratching your head about which end is up when a nicer violin appears. As has been mentioned, becoming a well-rounded polymath, what you might call a Renaissance man, takes lifelong application. Acoustics is fun stuff, but getting fluent in the math needed for beamforming, convolution, and anisotropic material modeling may be over the top for a lot of bowed string workers.
  12. Uw Engels ####ing enkel boete. (Sorry for the bad Babelfish translation.) I have worked both at ground level and in the basement. I prefer working where daylight comes in the windows. Light from a north-facing window (in the northern hemisphere) helps when working with color. There are times when the shadows from a single light source are useful for seeing the contours of subtly curved shapes, so curtains or blinds are useful. There are times when the edge of a window, or a fluorescent tube, are optically advantageous for seeing the compound curves of a fingerboard. I prefer the band saw, stationary belt/disc sander, drill press, grinder, and sharpening station to be in a separate room. Running water is nice to have, but is not strictly necessary. Things go much better if temperature and humidity are controlled in the entire space. At least one work surface needs to be immobile, able to withstand the forces that accompany rapid removal of waste from a hardwood workpiece. My main work bench is built out from a stone wall, and spans 2,25 meters, with another 1,5 meters for occasional tool storage and "entertainment" such as audio system and aquarium, leading into an "L" shape which serves as the bow station. Something like the classic "kitchen triangle" may be applicable. Storage space needs to accommodate instruments in progress or awaiting repair/restoration, small parts (I use corrugated bins on about 5 m of shelf space near the ceiling) and pieces of wood. Parkinson's Law applies: if space exists, it will be filled.
  13. I lube both nut and bridge with graphite, except for the E, because that's the way I was taught, by a fellow who learned a lot of his violinmaking from Doug Cox. Shallow straight notches with a mousetail file, and then chamfers on each side of the top for the same reason. That leaves less maple under the string at each face of the bridge, so it may more easily form that lengthways curve you mentioned. I do believe I can feel the effect of the graphite when pulling a bridge back, and I like it.
  14. It has been a while since I've seen any discussion of even-numbered overtones pulling the bridge in the scroll/tail direction. Something about foot fit along the front and back edges being critical to get the benefit of that. Sorry, that was hearsay and unsupported speculation. I do remember hearing Ken Meyer say something about number of turns around the peg affecting the sound of a cello, fewer being better. I believe he gets good results, so I'm willing to listen to what he says. The way I took that, it had to do with keeping the nut end of a string a bit less mobile in the "sliding through the nut slot" direction. Offered without further comment for your consideration.
  15. I have seen it happen, graphite notwithstanding, with a Jargar cello A string cutting the nut right down to the board. The winding did look a bit loose on that one.
  16. Does anyone prefer to start with billets of ebony instead of tapered rounded hollowed fingerboard blanks? Do billets cost less than blanks of an equivalent quality? Does "equivalent quality" even apply here? Somewhere in the debris field of my workshop, in a corrugated parts bin labeled "rasps," I've got a stash of board blanks, enough to last another while. I guess I'll need to be choosy about who I share them with.
  17. Flyboy, you seem to have missed my point, which was that it is a laughable bureaucratic misunderstanding of how the work is done, to think that it is possible to "finish" a fingerboard overseas and ship it to the US for installation, without further modification, on an instrument. Next thing you're going to tell me is that bridge maple is an endangered species. You are right about one thing. I don't use Teller bridge blanks.
  18. OK, here is a message for the watchers: Wooden items intended as components of musical instruments cannot be treated as interchangeable parts, to be finished overseas by the supplier. Sorry, my legal naiveté is tantamount to wilful ignorance, and I plan to keep it that way. I recognize the difference in world view between hands-on artisans and legislative rhetoricians, and I do believe the rhetoricians do not add a lot of value to anything. If anyone thinks the customs equivalent of a "chain of custody" can be obtained or maintained on the fingerboard of a trade fiddle, I want some of the fun stuff they are on. Opportunities abound for shenanigans in the exotic wood export/import trade, and it could be interesting to see what the real story was, after the heat has died down a bit. I am not holding my breath.
  19. That is more matter of courtesy, respecting human sensitivity, not so much about what the instrument can actually stand up to in musical service.
  20. Nope, sorry. Last week a fellow showed me a "del Gesu" with really old strings, a red tailgut, and a settled neck. I agreed that it was an old violin, possibly 60 years or more. He covered his disappointment pretty well.
  21. The bow does not put only downforce on the strings. Consider the lateral forces, for example in aggressive collé or martelé bowing, or that chunky chop thing so favored by a certain segment of today's youth. That is where the rubber really meets the road. Crunching numbers is fun, but oversimplification in aid of making the analysis tractable can lead to errors. Mathematicians call a problem "ill-conditioned" when small input changes make for big differences in the solution. That has something to do with why we use fine tuners on E strings. Simple common sense tells me lifting an E string enough to shift a tone filter tube causes discomfort in my fingers. That same sense of touch tells me how much effort it takes to scoot a bridge around on the top. I feel no discomfort when lifting a violin by the strings. It is no secret that a tenth or a fifth of a millimeter's worth of bridge movement can affect a violin's sound. When my bridge is out of place, I put it back where it belongs. It doesn't go out of place from the way I pick up the fiddle. Your mileage may vary; some people are klutzier than others.
  22. One of my favorite ways to take hold of an upright cello is by the overstand of the neck root. No pressure on the fingerboard...
  23. If I am handling a strange fiddle, I hold it by the neck and chinrest as described above. The way I sometimes pick up a violin by the strings puts no side force on the bridge at all, and puts less force on the strings than vigorous bowing would do. I am still waiting for a credible reason not to do that. I am quite familiar with the force needed to scoot the feet around on the fiddle's top.
  24. If I am doing something wrong, I would like to be told so in credible terms post-haste. Generally, with the left hand, I hold a violin by the neck. Quite often, picking one up from a table with the right hand, I will take it by the strings around the bridge, as if they were a lunchbox handle. I usually have something else to do with that fiddle, so I don't stand around with it that way. It seems like a natural place to take hold. It may relieve the downforce on the table, and add to the tension trying to rotate the neck joint, but I have a hard time believing that to be significant in any reasonable larger view. There is safety in redundancy; if a string broke just then, there are three more. The only reasonable single point of failure is the tailgut. In the astronomically unlikely event that it were to break just then, I have to hope that a reflexive grip/lift on the strings would save the violin from hitting the floor. There are only so many what-ifs that a sane person can live around. At the bench, those bets are off. I wouldn't hesitate to put a violin in a full nelson if it were necessary or possible.
  25. I don't think this is about CITES. Does the Lacey act also cover the importation of biological pests? I suspect that the justification for destroying maple neck blocks is more about the supposed risk of bug infestation and not at all about endangered species. It has been mentioned elsewhere that baked or fumigated wood is not all that useful to instrument makers.
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