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CamQTR

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  1. Hi all, Follow up report, I rebuilt the Lewis viola. It was fun, but a lot of work. I learned some valuable lessons. First, the top did not pop off. It was all white glue! It took a lot of heat, vinegar, alcohol, and patience. It gradually came off with some splintered damage. Inside, the bassbar was at the wrong angle, pointing too much inward at the top. The bassbar wood was coarse with little knots! Both plates were very thick, from 5mm to 6mm all over. On the top plate, there were circular marks from a rotary sander. There were also gobs of white glue around the blocks and label. I regraduated both plates, approximately following the measurements from the Strad Archinto viola. I put in a new bassbar at correct angle. I also set the neck a little higher and remove a lot of wood from the neck and from under the fingerboard. Interesting labels. Under the first label which said "Made in Germany", was another label saying "Made in Western Germany". End result? Some improvement. Definitely more responsive, resonant, in higher positions. I was disappointed, but the viola's owner was very happy. I learned that you can't change a cheap fiddle into something different. In future, I'd prefer not doing repairs, but now that people know that I make fiddles, they keep bringing stuff to fix!
  2. Hi Brad, I'm currently facing the same problem. Last week I did a search on "top", found several old threads discussing top removal and replacement, there is one discussion about mixing lycopodium spores (old fashioned photography flash powder) with hide glue, but no info on where to get this powder. I like your DAP idea. Up to now, I've used plastic wood as a filler. I'm thinking I'll have to remove each splinter, then whereever possible, I'll glue it back to the opposite plate where it was torn out. This is on a factory fiddle which was glued with a lot of white glue. Gobs of it sitting inside on the back plate! It took me two days to get the top off, lots of little damage all around. After this, I'm going to try to avoid repair work! Cam
  3. Hi all, My viola renovation customer asks if there is any way and/or advantage to placing a microphone or transducer inside of an instrument. ( The top is off of his instrument, hence the question.) I've never heard or read of this. I think most of the successful mic' systems use a transducer in the bridge. Can anyone contribute here? Thanks. Meanwhile, the viola overhall/renovation project is interesting, enjoyable etc, I'll update that thread when I get it all put back together again. Cam
  4. Hi Dean, When I was in Junior High, age 13, Jackie Robinson visited our school and spoke to an assembly of the students. (This was around 1965 or '66?) I don't remember his speech, I remember that after his speech, the students ran up to the podium to shake his hand. I was caught up in the excitement, and I shook hands with Jackie Robinson. As years went by, I grew to appreciate this moment more and more. Thanks for sharing your special story! Cam
  5. Hi all, Thank you for all the suggestions etc. I have the viola in my possession now, and the obvious problem is that the neck is crooked. If you line the bridge up with the fingerboard, the bridge foot is not over the bass bar. (Again!) If you line the bridge up by the center, then the A string is right on the edge of the fingerboard. I will probably pop off the fingerboard to see if I can get the neck loose. After that, I'll probably shave down the neck a bit, it seems a bit bulky. Then I'll see if different strings, longer after lenghth etc help any. This viola is a Lewis and Sons, "The Lewis" model, made in Germany. A good instrument for me to practice my skills at neck removal. Re: getting a trumpet, it's odd that I've never heard nor seen a trumpet player in the subways. Plenty of violinists though.
  6. A customer wants me to regraduate (thin the plates) and/or trim (maybe replace) the bass bar, to increase the sound/volume of his viola (16 inch). I've told him that this would most likely affect the tone, but not necessarily volume. The customer says that trimming the braces of guitars can increase the volume, thereby he's jumped to the conclusion that reducing mass in plates and bass bar will increase the sound. I've tried to dissuade him, but he is excited about this, his idea. I'm now considering the project as an exploration/learning experience plus small fee. (I need fees.) I'll have him sign a paper acknowledging that I don't guarantee any particular result from this procedure. This customer is a street musician, playing daily in the subways and public places around New York City, so he could genuinely benefit from more volume (or projection?). Can anyone comment, is there someway to improve the instrument for this guy? The instrument is a fairly new (20 years or so?) factory instrument, nice but nothing special. Tone is a bit stronger on the higher strings. (This is not the same viola I discussed a few days ago) Thanks, Cam
  7. Yes, very nice, I hope the return to cruzeiros does not shake the economy too much, maybe this came from the recent meetings between Bush and Lula!
  8. Someone brought me an old 15 inch viola today. A and D strings sounded okay, but the lower strings lost power, the C string sounded like a rubber band! I couldn't see any cracks or open seams. Then I noticed that the bridge foot was not above the bass bar. To test, I positioned the bridge toward the treble side so the foot was above the barr, now the lower strings sounded better. I cut a violin bridge to fit, and the instrument came to life. Is this okay? I don't think the bass bar was in wrong position, I think the instrument was too narrow for the commercial bridge blank feet. I didn't want to pop the top and look, I'm not a pro! Comments? Thanks! - Cam
  9. Hi Matthew, Many thanks for sharing so much detail with us. I was working up towards a bass, from violin to viola, then a guitar, but now I've changed direction. Now I'm building small violins, 1/4 size, for children. Maybe I'll get back on track thanks to your pictorial documentary. Bigger is better! Cam
  10. With regrets, I must add another mistake to the list. This one is bad. When I was preparing to glue the bass bar to my first 1/4 sized violin, I found that my home-made clamps for bass bar ( V shape, bird-beak shaped clamps) were too small. I could only use three of them. To cover the other spots along the bar, I used two deep-throated C clamps. I put somekind of foam/plastic packing material as padding on the lower arm of each clamp. Then I glued the bar, screwing down the clamp screws on top of the bar, everything looked nice, BUT.... Next morning when I unclamped, I saw that the C clamps had cracked and deformed the plate! Reason was that the padding did not support the plate! The plate was cracked and pushed out, and flattened. Easier for me to start over on the top. So, next time (I've already started a new top), I'll make new V clamps to fit the 1/4. And with all other clamps in future, I will not use thick spongy material for padding. Will someone please cyber-kick me? Thanks! Cam
  11. With regrets, I must add another mistake to the list. This one is bad. When I was preparing to glue the bass bar to my first 1/4 sized violin, I found that my home-made clamps for bass bar ( V shape, bird-beak shaped clamps) were too small. I could only use three of them. To cover the other spots along the bar, I used two deep-throated C clamps. I put somekind of foam/plastic packing material as padding on the lower arm of each clamp. Then I glued the bar, screwing down the clamp screws on top of the bar, everything looked nice, BUT.... Next morning when I unclamped, I saw that the C clamps had cracked and deformed the plate! Reason was that the padding did not support the plate! The plate was cracked and pushed out, and flattened. Easier for me to start over on the top. So, next time (I've already started a new top), I'll make new V clamps to fit the 1/4. And with all other clamps in future, I will not use thick spongy material for padding. Will someone please cyber-kick me? Thanks! Cam
  12. Nossa!!! Para bens pra voce! - Cam
  13. Hey Seth, I've never been able to get the neck perfectly straight, in all my 5 violins and one viola, so after violin number one, I developed my secret technique. (Don't tell anybody.) I don't bore the hole for the tail pin until after the neck is on. Then I position the tail pin slightly left or right, depending on the misplacement of the neck. Of course, this may throw my bridge feet off by a half millimeter, but so far, I'm very happy with the sound of my fiddles. And hopefully, I'll get my neck straight one of these days! Cam
  14. Yes, I've got it now. The distortion actually started in the top bout, with the sides sticking outward a bit. I squeezed them in, then clamped, then squeezed in the sides of lower bout. This elongated the ribs near the lower block. Then I used Brad's suggestion to lever the block slightly, now everything fits clean! Thanks again Maestronetters, as always! Cam
  15. I'm working on a Pfretchzner factory fiddle, the ribs were crushed by the chin rest clamps, near tail block. I removed top, glued the cracks etc of crushed area. Now time to put top back on, but the ribs on BOTH sides of tail block do not line up with original glue line around the top plate. They are bending to inside of the top plate, about 2 mm. I'm trying to heat this part of the fiddle with heat lamp, then bend the ribs outward. Not succeeding yet. Any suggestions ??? Thanks!
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