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Everything posted by polkat

  1. I think it's also a matter of perspective as well as experience and playing ability. I've told this story before and most don't like it, but I once had a bow made of hickory (of all things) from the mountains of Virginia. I should point out that this was a well made thing, not just a mountain stick. It was the best playing bow I've ever owned. Beautiful sound and balance, and fine adhesion to the string. This was a fluke of course and I've never seen another like it, and I wouldn't buy another alternative wood bow today, but I think it speaks to the craftsmanship of the maker, aside from the quality and type of materials used. And with quality pernambuco becoming rarer every day, perhaps it's something to keep in mind.
  2. It's been my experience that it can make a great deal of difference. The weight and balance of the bow, the spring, and even the quality of the hair used can create a completely different response a given instrument.
  3. Please excuse what may seem like an idiot's question, but I'm quite courious; are there any methods to determine the time between when the tree is cut, and when the violin is actually made?
  4. Yes, I meant what Brad said. Did it last night with thin glue. I did open the plate from the neck to a few inches past the crack, and found a tiny piece of grit that I must have missed before, directly under the crack, so I think that my thought that the original clamping must have induced the crack was correct. Also, with the crack loose, it would still only barely flex open at the top and could not be gently seperated at all, so I still think the crack was forced apart at the top and not completely through. Anyway, here's how it looks now, and since it's just a throw in the car and take to the campground, it's fine with me....
  5. Thanks lyndon! It doesn't buzz or effect the tone as is. I am the customer (it's one of my personal players), and for my own stuff I'm a bit less critical about this kind of thing. I don't care if the crack on this lower level instrument shows, as long as I can get enough glue in to keep the crack stable. In fact, I just studied the underside with my mirrors and can see no evidence that the crack goes all the way through (usually you can see them on the underside simply by pushing on the top of the crack), so maybe I'll get lucky until I can fix it proper.
  6. Kind of reminds me of the old Chanot (SP?) cornerless style. Can't open the pic, but is the scroll pointed up or down? The F holes are not Chanot, but there were a lot of copies of his stuff made around the turn of the last century. But who knows?
  7. The picture shows the upper treble bout of the top plate. I had to shoot a lot of angles just to get the crack to show. This is on an old copy I restored for my own use. The crack wasn't visable (maybe not there) when I glued the plate back on maybe 3 months ago, and the purfling is not cracked. I'm guessing the clamps cracked it while gluing and I just didn't see it. To make sure it won't spread, I'd like to try wicking some glue into it without removing the plate again if possible. It will just barely appear open a tiny amount if I put pressure on the outer edge, but I may be seeing things. Can I effect a repair on this without cleating? Thanks!
  8. jezzupe, very interesting! While it doesn't directly show a shoulder rest (except possibly in the upper image), there is definately an attachment for one. Assuming this is true, we can now trace the shoulder rest to at least 131 years ago, and probably longer! And I am sure that pad type rests go back much further. I played with a pad in high school in the early 60's (yes, I'm old), and hated it for the feel and because it muffled the instrument. But I remember seeing more modern looking rests even then. So I'm betting that shoulder rests, other then pads, have been around for at least 1/3rd of the violin's history. My interest in this is two fold. First, I like violin history, but second, as I mentioned before, I'm interested in creating (not for money but for my own use) a rest that simply pads the area where the violin plate edge touches the collarbone. I've met several players who, like myself, prefer to play without a shoulder rest (again, not argueing that this is the best method), but find it painful after a short time. However, the technique of stuffing some foam under my shirt just doesn't work for me. It won't stay and feels too weird, and doesn't work with T-shirts. Any ideas on this?
  9. The first actual (American) patent I can find for something that is actually a specific shoulder rest (actually a shoulder rest/chin rest combo) and not a pad, is dated 2/9/1909, issued to G. Becker as patent number 908541. You can find it at the US Patent search site. In the text it is referred to as an improvement to such rests already available! From that we can deduce that such rests, at least like this one, were already available on the market, if not in common use (but one assumes that they would not be on the market if they didn't sell, and therefore must have been used by some players). Unfortunately, Becker does not reference the patent or patents or device that he is improving on, and considering the date, it's possible that some similar devices actually had no patents (though not likely). An interesting side note is that, if one studies patents, it will be seen that often the actual device eventually sold does not always resemble the drawings patented, although they must include the basic features to protect the patent.. This assumes a lot I admit, but to me it indicates that specific shoulder rests were in use at least on or before that date. Another interesting patent issued to a Colbertson on 4/29/1930 as patent number 1756676, seems to be designed to give a padded edge to the bottom plate for players that did not normally use a rest, but didn't like the feel of the plate edge on the collarbone. It is similar to something I tried to come up with a few years ago but failed. There are many other patents listed as one approaches the present. Again, I am assuming a lot here, but this info seems to indicate that specific use shoulder rests (not pads) were in use at least by the turn of the last century, and are not a recent development, although considering the lifespan of the violin, I suppose it could be considered recent.
  10. Well, if I remember correctly, the Pro Arte are a perlon core string while the Prelude's are steel core. So making a rough guess, I would think that the Perludes would be brighter. But by rough I mean it has a lot to do with what violin you have them on. The same set of strings can sound different on different fiddles.
  11. This is not an arguement of the 'for or against' type. That arguement will never die. I am more interested in the history of the shoulder rest. Numerous websites that I've read talk about how it is a fairly new invention, yet I have seen patents for shoulder rests (not pads) that go back over a century. Does anyone know anything real about this device's history?
  12. Yea, it can be very strange sometimes. I've had at least two or more unlabeled violins that I bought for nearly nothing out of junk shops for repair wood, that turned out to be very sweet sounding instruments. I once had a bow made out of hickory of all things, that was one of the best playing bows I ever owned. But these are flukes. I also tend to equate craftsmanship with tone, but there are some surprises out there!
  13. Original poster here. Yes, I meant Strad, not Strat. Perhaps I'm not yet educated enough in violins to ask the proper questions, but something about Strads has always bothered me a little. I have read in many sources, including here, that over the centuries many Strads, after having left Strads workshop, have been repaired, modified, regraduated, even (sadly) revarnished, and of course most of them have had the necks replaced to the modern size. I'll assume that most of this past work was done by highly reputable repair people, although surely some shops of lesser repute were involved as well. I am wondering how much of the better or lesser tone quality of these instruments as played today has accidentally been at least partly the result of this work, beyond the original sound that Strad acheived? I've read that if we could travel back in time and play the instruments just after completion, we'd hear a different sound then we do today. I understand that age alone is no doubt partially responsible, but I think that the above has had it's effect as well. Maybe I'm just not sure what I'm asking.
  14. Strat, like most luthers of his time I suspect, made some...ahh, less then desirable sounding instruments, or lower of quality. Have any of these also become well known, and has there been any research as to why they sound inferior compaired to his better known violins?
  15. Nice pics, but no, this is a tightly would pure yellow silk with no spirials or other colors, would so tight that no pattern is seen in the silk. I figured that IDing this string would be difficult but thought I'd ask. I might suggest a Gold to him. Thanks for the response.
  16. A client wants to replace a broken E string which he says he loved the sound of, but doesn't remember the brand. The peg end is missing and he doesn't remember the silk color, but the tailpiece end is wrapped with plain yellow silk and has no ball, just a loop (ball probably removed for tuner). It is steel. Anyone have an idea?
  17. Another thing I've noticed that may not be important, but I'll mention it anyway. Quite a few of the bows I've seen made earlier then around 1910 have these bigger eyelets, sometimes so big that the groove in the stick is a bit wider then standard (sometimes out past the hex edges) to accomodate the eyelet. When replaced with a smaller eyelet, even if adjusted properly, the frog is sometimes less then perfectly stable on the stick. Again, this may not be important, but it exists.
  18. I had an older Wolf Forte maybe 25 years ago that would go very low and worked pretty well for me, but sadly it was stolen (weird the things people select to steal). I've looked at a new one, but the design seems a tiny bit different, and they don't go as low. I will experiment with one and report back.
  19. Thought I'd ask this here as some luthiers have stores as well. Seems the violins I've made or restored for myself sound a bit better when I use a shoulder rest. I know it's a matter of perspective, but it seems that if my shoulder is not actually touching the back, the sound is better. Although I've used them in the past, I'm take it or leave it about shoulder rests. Not because they lock me into position (I can look around and move my head just fine when using one, and it seems my vibrato is better with one), but because it seems to raise my head too much....just doesn't feel right. Anyway, does anyone make a rest that is very low in profile, nearly touching the back plate? I'm thinking of modifying an old Kun I have, but thought I'd ask.
  20. As have I. I should point out that when I first started with violins I read a number of articles stating that "the modern bar is too big" or "too long" or "too short" or not high enough or...well so on and so on. I experimented with these ideas, and while I was lucky in that most of the bars I replaced didn't degrade the sound too much, they didn't improve it much either. I came to the conclusion (possibly wrongly) that the bar is the bar, and unless it's cracked or damaged, has pulled away from the glue joint, or has visually distorted, or you are regraduating the plate, changing or modifying the bar can be useless work.
  21. Original poster here. After reading all the posts, I'm convinced that I'm still cutting bridges correctly. But as a maker and (mostly) repairer who also plays, it bothers me a bit. I'm certainly not the youngest dog in the pack, and I fear my playing technique is beginning to suffer. Maybe I should try something like David mentioned...perhaps a slightly smaller radius (rounder arch).
  22. Fully agree with Brad. There are so many things that can effect the tone of a violin that I would consider replacing or modifying the bass bar a last resort, particularly if the violin sounded good recently. I have a few violins made in the 19th century that still have their original bars, and still sound great. It's so much easier to experiment with the strings, bridge, post position, etc. etc. that I wouldn't even consider the bass bar (unless you are regraduating something). And as Brad suggests, a new bar might end up sounding worse! It's possible, and if the client doesn't like it, you've got more work to do (free work) if it doesn't work out.
  23. Maybe this pic will clear up what I'm asking. What I'm asking is if the pic is correct? I downloaded this a few years back (probably from this website, so I apologize for using it if someone here owns it!). With the above idea, the bridge is first marked with an arch using a 42mm template at a height that, if cut there, would lay the strings perfectly flat along the fingerboard (assuming that the fingerboard is also shaped with a 42mm radius-I understand that is standard). This could be traced with a pencil, then the arch is drawn at half the pencil diameter lower. Then marks are placed on the bridge above the first line at the standard string heights (above the end of the fingerboard) as shown. Then the 42mm template is used to connect these dots while drawing another arch, and that is the bridge height cut to be made. In other words, what is the best way to cut a new bridge with a classical arch placing the strings at the proper height? You'd think this would be an easy question, but for some reason lately I'm having trouble with it. Don't get old!
  24. Lately it seems that all the bridges I cut are a bit too flat. I keep hitting adjacent strings to the one I'm playing, when I don't want to. This is fairly new for me. This might be great for a bluegrass player who plays a lot of double stops, but I'm a jazz player and it's no help! Am I correct in remembering that the standard bridge arch is cut to a 42mm radius? And how does this relate to the arch of the fingerboard? Thanks!
  25. I'm sure that one fear we all share is that once we get rid of something...once it's actually gone...we will need it again for use or reference of some sort. People hoard things for all kinds of reasons, maybe it won't be available in the future, or the cost will climb to inhibitive heights, or it might become a collectors item. Usually this turns out to be not the case. I have a folder on my computer simply called Violins. it's the biggest folder on my computer. It was full of stuff I haven't referenced in years. Last week I deleted almost all of it, and it's amazing how much more space I now have on the hard disk. Plus....my computer seems faster now!
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