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polkat

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Everything posted by polkat

  1. Another recent post here about the bass bar got me to thinking about springing the bar. I don't do it, but I was wondering when this technique got started, and what is the intention of it? I assume it is to help the top plate retain it's shape against the tension of the strings, but are there other reasons? Thanks!
  2. I haven't really noticed the extra weight on the violins I own and have installed them on. Yes, there is a weight gain, but it seems insignificant to me. The Perfection pegs I have installed did have the plastic heads (including a visable seam from the casting process). I smoothed off the seam with mild sandpaper and painted the heads and the exposed shaft a boxwood color. Looks good and works fine. My interest in the other pags was the 8.5:1 ratio, but responses here indicate that the gearing is not smooth. That's a big negative for me so I guess I'll stay with the Perfections. There seems to be some resistance to these peg types as they are not traditional. I think this is rather odd. I realize that the desires of the customer drives the market, but the violin is one of the few stringed instruments that has resisted improvements over the years based on the idea that "...over the centuries the violin has become as good as it can get." Well, I also play and make guitars and mandolins, and I would never consider putting friction pegs on them, as was once the norm.
  3. Stephane's first full size violin (following a number of years playing the 3/4 his father bought him-maker unknown) was a gift from Gregor Krekorian. It was a Tua made in Nice, year unknown. Also, when he started playing with Gregor he was lent a violin by Michel Warlop. It was a Pierre Hel made in 1924. He kept and mainly used this violin at least until the early 60's. It has been said that this violin has a history of being passed from player to player, but in fact Stephane kept it until he passed it on to the museum. He also owned a Cappa and a Gagliano, the latter of which he played mostly in his Diz days. He may have owned a Maggini but I don't know. Then in the early 80's he purchased the Giovanni Guadagnini (circa 1750) which he loved and played almost exclusively until the end of his life. An appendix at the back of the Paul Balmer Grappelli book discusses his instruments. I have no doubt that he owned other insruments throughout his lifetime, including at least one electric (stick type) violin (don't know the make), and at least one viola. Of all the recordings I have ever heard of him, the best tone came from the Guadagnini, hence my interest.
  4. Watching the Grappelli DVD last night as he played his circa 1750 Giovanni Guadagnini, I noticed that the violin looks huge under his chin, particularly in the lower bouts. He was not a large man, but about average and maybe a bit smaller then myself, but he had a large chin. My own Strad based violins look considerably smaller under my chin. So I got to wondering (knowing very little about Guadagnini violins), was there a noticable difference in the sizes of full size classic violins? If so, do any patterns exist for the Guadagnini's of this period? Thanks!
  5. polkat

    Strad P mold.

    Yes, that is the image I am working with. I have used photoshop to erase it down to a simple outline (which matches fine with the original image) but I'm wondering; if I increase it's length (for printing) to fit the overall mm number given for length, will the rest of the image match correctly? I've tried this in the past with other mold pictures and computer printing, and have had questionable results. I am trying it this way as...well, I'm poor, and can't afford the books suggested. Has anyone else tried this?
  6. polkat

    Strad P mold.

    Thanks Lyle, and everyone else. I am working from a rather common image. I can see a P on the left side closer to the C bout, and there's a sentence in the upper bout area near the neck block that ends with a 1705. Is this indeed the P1705 mold? Also, are there any opinions as to which P mold (P or P1705) is better, and why? Thanks!
  7. Does anyone have dimensions for the Strad P mold? I want to copy it, and I have a good straight on photo, but want to check the dimensions after I blow it up to size. Thnaks!
  8. I grew up in the Blue Ridge mountains of Virginia in the fourties and early fifties. We were poor and up there if you wanted something you didn't have, you learned to make it. My grandfather made and repaired violins and other instruments for local musicians as a hobby. They were localized in style, but he did follow a Strad pattern. I started as a player (and still am), but I took an interest in what he was doing, so he taught me what he knew. I still make instruments mostly for my own use, but in recent years I have paid a lot of attention to this board and others, as well as books to improve what I do.
  9. skiingfiddler said... >>I remember reading somewhere that Joe Venuti, or maybe it was Stephane Grappelli, regularly did his scales. Must have been Venuti. It's well known that Grappelli hated to practice and rarely did (although I have to believe that he did so in his earlier years). Can you suggest an arpeggio book that might help? Not being classically oriented, I don't recognize the musical suggestions given. Thanks!
  10. I'm an early intermediate level player. I play mostly swing jazz violin, standards, and some gypsy jazz. I have no problems with improvising and picking good notes and runs to play, but I have a problem with playing fast. When I try to push my speed, my left hand simply won't follow my brain and i end up sliding around instead of playing clear notes. I'm okay with slower to medium tempos, but not the faster stuff. I always practice runs slowly at first, and try to build up tempo, but my fast stuff is hopeless. What have others here done to help themselves with this problem (I know that I'm not the only one)? Thanks?
  11. I've often wondered how much of this can be atributed to many years of sound posts being installed even slightly too tight. Even with a new violin, once the soundpost is installed, even with the proper pressure (if that can be defined), looking at the inner edge of the treble F hole usually shows it slightly higher then the bass side, so a long term distortion process begins almost immediately. Many years of this will indeed distort the arch. But I don't see how it can be avoided.
  12. Thanks for the responses guys! I expected most of what has been said, and I feel now that previous statements I've read about violins having their best sound in the white were possibly written by those who have had bad experiences with poor varnishing (or the wrong choice in varnish itself). Actually, it has been my experience that varnish indeed can improve the sound when the proper materials are applied in the proper manner (just as it can effect tone negatively if these considerations are ignored). I just wanted to hear agreement with that. I also agree that the thickness of the finish can relate to the thickness of the graduation in a positive manner, though I don't have any idea of how to calculate this. In my own violins I generally use the thinnist coats I can get away with, and they usually sound quite fine (to me anyway).
  13. This question may sound like one from a rank amateur, and...well, it is. I've been making violins (as an amateur) off and on now for years. I am self trained (heh, heh), and have always wondered when I've read and heard luthiers say that a violin in the white has the best sound it ever will. I've read that the reason for carefully choosing a finishing system is to help keep any distraction from the tone to a minimum, while also properly protecting the instrument in an asthetic manner. But I've also read that the finishing system used on golden period instruments considerably contributed to their fine tone quality. These two statements seem to contridict each other, and it seems obvious that one of them is wrong. I'm wondering if someone here can respond about whatever it is that I'm missing. Thanks!
  14. Okay, I'm a little confused here (and I am no classic violin expert). If Vuillaume, or anyone else for that matter, actually made this violin, an instrument that for nearly 3 centuries has been accepted as the ultimate pristine example of a Strad, why would he deny the credit for making it? What possible advantage was in it for him to let it stand as a real Strad? Yes, I think the shroud has been proven to have covered someone at some time, but they haven't come close to proving just who!
  15. In another thread I started about Strads molds, pictures of some of his tools came to light (for the first time for me). One is a thicknessing punch which I found quite intriguing. I have heard of using a drill press to preset thicknesses and then chisling down to the depth of the holes (I usually just carve the plates while checking with a thickness gauge). I am assuming that Strad used this tool in basically the same manner as the drilling idea. I'm guessing that the depth is adjustable (though I can't really see this in the photo of the tool), but at what stage were the plates before this tool was used?
  16. Sorry, double post (how do you delete one of a double post?).
  17. What is the history of these tools and pieces? Didn't one of Strads sons sell them all to a single person after his father's death? Did they reside in museums for a while? I notice that the cradle appears to have suffered some wood rot and is partially broken. Or am I mistaken?
  18. Do pictures exist of the various Strad molds, particularly the PG? Thanks!
  19. I've replaced wood in other tops, so I wouldn't be too worried about trying it. However, this piece (whatever it is) is quite nicely fitted, just too dark. I wonder if, after removing the varnish from this area, there might be a way to lighten the exposed wood before touching up again? Otherwise, I agree to leaving it alone.
  20. Then there's a question about how much total contact area should be at the bottom of the foot (where it actually contacts the top). Most published numbers are 11.5mm by 4.4mm (or similar to that), which works out to around 50 sq mm per foot. I haven't studied this, but it seems to me that variations here would effect viabration transfer. No?
  21. I've had this old Sanctus Seraphin copy for years. It came to me in pieces and I restored it, and now play it most often. It has an old damaged spot on the outside edge of the treble F hole (appears that a chimpanzee did most of the soundpost setting) which was repaired at some time with a piece of wood that is so dark (walnut maybe) that I was never able to match the varnish on. My digital camera is pretty old and bad, so I have used a black line to mark out the wood I am talking about. At least I think it is wood. It has no grain what so ever. This is actually a nice sounding violin, and I'd like to take another stab at blending this in. Should I try cutting it out and fitting spruce? What would you do? Thanks!
  22. I have an image I want to post in the Pegbox section, but for the life of me I can't figure out how to, and can't find anything in the Help section. Who can help me?
  23. Well, I normally play Dominants on this quite warm violin. I was thinking about switching to Eudoxa (normals-wrapped) for the G and D strings, a Thomastik Precision A, and maybe a Pirastro Gold Label E string. This is apparently the setup that Grappelli used in his later years, and I'm a big fan of his tone. I certainly realize that such a setup won't sound the same on every violin, but I'm interested in trying it anyway. I have noticed that his bridge was much flatter then usual (much like a fiddlers bridge), and was wondering if it was cut that way because of the gut lower strings.
  24. The standard published string heights (over the end of the fingerboard) have always worked fine for me when stringing violins with synthetic (or even steel) strings. I wish to try some gut strings (for the first time) on one of my personal violins. Should the bridge be raised for this? And by how much (in general)? Thanks!
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