Urban Luthier

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Everything posted by Urban Luthier

  1. My first couple were sealed with diluted shellac, similar to what is described on Michael Darnton's website. It is simple, effective, easy to apply and affordable -- you could do a lot worse! It appears Michael is updating his thoughts on varnishing. http://www.darntonviolins.com/violinmagazine/
  2. Interesting -- although I confess I skipped ahead . As an alternate point of view, many modern plan makers don't believe in chip breakers (e.g. Karl Holtey). In the end, all that matters is the iron gets the job done as efficiently as possible!
  3. This thread now comes up as number 1 in Google when you search for "john Harte violin". So hopefully anyone considering the purchase of the violin in question will be able to educate themselves fairly quickly.
  4. There some leading makers already have a more sustainable approach to ebony use in their studios. David Rivinus for example http://www.rivinus-instruments.com/DesignConcepts.htm
  5. I couldn't agree more. I paid $60 at a local exotic wood dealer for blackish ebony billet from which I was to get 6 oversized viola finger boards. Although there are some lighter streaks, the wood can be easily stained with india ink. others might reject the wood because of the colour but there is no reason to do so from my perspective -- it is nicely quartered, dense with small pores. I refuse to pay 60$ plus for a pure black fingerboard blank, while perfectly good wood rots by the wayside I do wish taylor included a 'reforestation' plan in his dialog. A part from that -- he is doing the right thing. Chris
  6. Taking a break from my current violin project and started a treble viola da gamba this week. The inlaid interlace patter has over 40 separate pieces -- some smaller than 1 cm. Not absolutely perfect in may spots but good enough for the first time around. The detail is double life size. Chris
  7. One of the maddening things about this situation is the way the search engines work -- but there is a silver lining. If you do a search on "John Harte Violin", the Google search engine gives the dealer's site a higher ranking because your name, John and the link to the dealer's site are listed together and link back to the dealer's site itself. The upside is that our maestronet thread now ranks number 3. If we keep posting we, should be able to get it to rank number one. Hopefully any net savvy violin purchaser would do a search on your name before purchasing that violin and come across this thread. Corporations spend considerable money protecting their brand, the sad thing is the average luthier doesn't typically have access to the same legal muscle to protect themselves. Good luck sorting this out Chris
  8. I know this is slightly off topic... Everyone has their own feelings on tonewood -- it is a personal choice, but I would tend to agree with Ben however. I have collected some nice north american maple that works for me. The challenge I've run into in Canada is most of the good tone wood suppliers here tend to cater to guitar making luthiers rather than the violin family so stock is sometimes hit a miss. There is a fine selection of material from reputable european suppliers, but the currency uplift and cost of importing wood from Europe in small batches is simply uneconomical for a maker like me with a very low output.
  9. I find this workflow fascinating Michael -- very effective, especially if ones design objective is arching consistency form instrument to instrument. I attended the auction of Joseph Kun's workshop materials a number of years ago. On display was his router system for roughing out the arching of his instruments. If memory serves, it was similar to what you were doing but not as advanced. I don't think his system could map out purfling or f hole placement for example. cool stuff Chris
  10. HI Lyndon The difference isn't as extreme as it is in other examples illustrated in the book but there is a difference. I'm afraid my vocabulary isn't sophisticated enough to accurately describe the difference, but the sides and body under UV light look pale, opaque almost chalky orange in colour, while the heel of the neck appears to be more brightly coloured under UV closer in appearance to what the same section looks like in the natural light photo. Perhaps others with more experience would comment on this affect Chris
  11. Vuillaume adjusted the neck on the Messie. When you look at the UV photos in the Strad varnish of the Messie one can clearly see a difference between the presumably undisturbed retouched varnish around the neck and the undisturbed varnish on the back and sides of the instrument. I'm the first to admit I haven't read the book all the way through (it can be a bit of a mind bender at times) but the scientific analysis of the undisturbed varnish on this instrument appears to have the same characteristics of other well preserved Strads. Chris
  12. Ben, Melvin -- both looking fabulous!
  13. in response to Jacob's interpretation of your post... I only mean that someone playing in half position is more likely to brush their knuckles on the shoulders of the scroll than in first position
  14. Perhaps Nathan is referring to 'half position' which is further up on the neck on the cello. This would seem to make more sense Chris
  15. I'm alway reluctant to post replies like this because I don't want to sound arrogant or give a false impression of my abilities, but anyone who has varnished a violin will regonize the realitivily unpolished appearance of the messiah. The texture on the belly, the fine bumps, my goodness the thing has dust spots embedded in the varnish! I may not be using the right vocab here but I saw it years ago behind glass, where this un polished looking texture is clearly visible. The varnish texture can also be clearly seen in the excellent ashmolean catalogue. Chris
  16. Seeing them together mush have been a real treat for those lucky enough to be there! For the rest of us, the photos posted on the Tarisio site clearly show the similarities between the two instruments. Even the texture of the varnish (something quite hard to capture in a photo) looks unmistakably similar. Chris
  17. Looks kind of similar to another famous Strad doesn't it!
  18. Funny you should mention the word caricature Bruce... kind of reminds me of van Meegeren's Vermeers. People can see what they want to see. No one looking at van Meegeren's Vermeer creations today would take them for an actual Vermeer -- they have an un mistakable 1930's graphic style about them -- people wanted to believe they were real. Although the Courtauld van Meegeren seemed to dupe everyone...perhaps I should start using 'Bakelite' in my varnish... Chris
  19. There is plenty of research on the topic wireman24. Check out Stewart Pollens book on Stradivari and his website, the Strad has published several articles on the topic featuring John Dillworth and others (including results of dendrochronology analysis). The Strad varnish book by Brandmair and Greiner has scientific analysis of the Messiah varnish.
  20. Hi Craig you may not have the right codec installed on your computer. Try playing the video from https://vimeo.com/44458776. You can switch between HTML 5 and Flash players -- this might work for you. Chris
  21. sounda like Melvin is burnishing the face of a scraper
  22. Couple of other photos to fuel the conversation. The image on the left shows a collage of different types of maple on my bench. The violin billet (left) is red maple, the semi-carved violin back is euro sycamore, the mandolin neck billet on the right is big-leaf maple and the foreground is quilted maple. The second image shows the red maple next to the big-leaf. Note the difference in colour, size of summer growth and colour of the winter growth. This stuff is hard to capture on camera -- especially one that screws with the white balance like mine, but Bruce's reference to 'Rose-tan' for the red maple captures the colour as I see it. The red maple I have is hard but not supper hard. As Michael and others have noted, I'm not a fan of the quartered look of big leaf for violins, but I've seen some spectacular quilted big leaf mandolins Chris
  23. Thanks for your kind words Michael. Actually I think the stuff I have is a different species of Maple altogether. I have a few pieces of what I believe is called Red Maple, possibly from the great lakes district. Its natural colour is a warm red/pale rose hue and the growth is medium to fine. I find it a little harder and less porous than European maple. I'm not sure but I think Raymond Schryer may use some of this stuff in his work. Perhaps someone in the know could confirm. If I'm not mistaken, big-leaf comes from the west cost (Oregon?) I love the look of quilted Big-Leaf cut on the slab. I'm not a fan of Big-leaf cut on the quarter as some of the stock I've seen has very very wide summer growth and thin dark winter growth you mentioned above. Chris
  24. There is a Tasmanian Blackwood, but it has the appearance North American black walnut. As for african Blackwood, a friend of mine who is a furniture / tool maker, considers African Blackwood to be as tough as mild steel!