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polkat

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Everything posted by polkat

  1. Well, this is a little embarrassing, but it was my first attempt at serious crack repair. Here's some pics..... The lower bout on the bass side was broken off in 4 seperate pieces. The longish cleats are actually over two cracks. The centerline has begun to spilt at both ends and is repaired and well as a few other small cracks. On the outside only one crack is plainly visable. The plate is actually quite strong, but even a simple knuckle tap test results in a rather quiet dull thud. My idea at the time was to try and save the original plate, but I feel that it's seen it's last days. Should I not consider this a strad type plate? What are Seraphine copies a copy of? Should I ditch this plate for another? Like I said, the instrument isn't worth much (but it is to me).
  2. I have an old Seraphine copy made in 1888, that was given to me free many years ago, because someone stepped on it and snapped the top into three seperate pieces (oddly, the rest of the instrument was undamaged). It's not valuable, as it has seen many other repairs and several refinishings. At the time, I was just getting into violin making, so I decided to try repairing the top, and did successfully, making a jig to hold the top pieces aligned while I wicked glue in the cracks and planted a number of small cleats. The cleats were small and nicely shaped, and the original cracks are still very tight. Okay, big deal and waste of time some might say, but I was new to violin work and I really liked the fiddle (still do) and wanted to save it. But in the years since then, the tone has constantly degraded, and new top cracks have appeared needing further repairs (could be bad wood I suppose). I have no doubt this is the cause of the degrading tone. Or am I wrong. How far can you go with cracked top repairs before enough is enough? I don't have the time these days to carve a new top for this thing, so I've been considering replacing it with a fully finished plate that some companies offer. Are they any good, and who offers a cheap one (or does anyone out there have a basically reusable Stradish style 4/4 top they'd sell me?) PM if so. Thanks!
  3. Last year I repaired a crack in a soundboard (spruce) taken from a personal violin, clamped it up and put it aside to do other stuff.....and forgot about it! I just found it again. The crack joint is nice and tight, no problems. But a very fine hairline of dirt has collected in the crack. Wasn't there when I glued it up. Light sanding doesn't seem to help. I want to clean it out before finishing the wood, and was wondering what folks here use to clean cracks? I have been told that hydrogen peroxide works but haven't tried it yet. Suggestions?
  4. Well, while I said it has very nice tone (a bit dark, which I prefer as I play jazz), you are right that it doesn't have too much brightness. The graduations towards center from the F holes (couldn't measure much as I haven't taken it apart) are roughly 2.5mm's everywhere, and probably a little thicker under the post. Also, the finish is oil and is nice, but seems rather thick to me. Just some thoughts.
  5. I have a violin, not one I made but one I bought as I liked the wood and planned to put it away as a future parts source. However, while playing it I loved the tone, and now it will be a keeper for personal use. However, it is very quiet! Looking it over, I noticed that the F wing above the post is pushed up rather high, and I'm thinking that might be the cause of the volume problem. Haven't done anything with it yet as I'm fishing for ideas. For that matter, what do you guys listen for to determine if a violin sound post is too tight (or too loose for that matter)? I've been fitting them by feel for years, but a friend says he fits them only by what he hears. While it hasn't always been my experience, he says too tight=no volume, too loose=fuzzy tone (and I imagine there are lots of variables). So does this sound like a too tight post problem? And how do others here fit them? Thanks!
  6. I read Craing's post below with interest because tonight our local station (KHSL Chico) announced that French scientists claimed today(?) that it WAS the varnish that Strad used...but, it wasn't the ingrediants but instead the method he used to apply it! I have complete faith in the ability of reporters to get things wrong, but jeesss, haven't we been hearing all this for decades??
  7. I have to agree with Ken. I think that personal preferrence has a great deal to do with it. And not just in style but musical genre as well. Look at the old Yehudi vs Stephane thing. Yehudi was a far better classical player then Stephane, but Stephane could play circles around Yehudi in jazz. In fact, I'd go as far as to say that there is NO greatest player! There is always someone (or someone who will come along) who is better. I think the who is best question is far less important then simply enjoying the music.
  8. Well, my amp goes to thirteen, so there! :-) Years ago I tried a mix of uke strings on a violin while trying for a new sound (they were mostly plain nylon). Didn't like the sound, but you might. The one thing I do remember was that acheiving good tonation was difficult. The viabrated sloppy, and I had to raise the bridge a bit. This meant streaching the string a bit while fingering, causing the intonation problem. But...this might work for someone else.
  9. Wait a minute! By those dates, the father would have been making violins 116 years before the son was even born??? Doesn't sound right. maybe the latter was a grandson?
  10. I've fix one or two of these when, after removing the FB I've been able to tell that the board is only slightly warped but the neck is still straight. I just dropped the board in boiling water for half a minute, then clamped it to a solid bar of straight steel to dry (near a heat source). This has always worked for me, but only for slightly warped FB's. FB's warped beyond just a bit go straight into the circular file, and warped necks of course require a different approach.
  11. >>Polkat, dunno, you might be getting some bone conduction or something. May very well be I suppose, but I can hear the difference even on recordings with the mic some distance away. Anyway, like I said, I like the sound, and will redevelope my vibrato to play that way. I liked Grappelli's vibrato. Without a rest, his hand and forearm shook considerably (and I noticed that he lifted unused figers high when he did it), but the violin stayed rock steady. Then of course, he had about 20 lbs of chin and neck on the rest!
  12. Since I have seen the stop lengths of full size violins (which in general is about 195mm) vary by as much as 2 or even 3mm (with the bridge in 'standard' position), it seems to me that any stick-on 'standard' fingerboard chart for your fingerboard would at best be only generally accurate, and may be considerably inaccurate in the higher registers. If you just want something to stick on your wall as a reference go here: http://www.violinonline.com/images/fingerboard.gif But even with such a chart, it's still a matter of learning by feel where the notes really are.
  13. While I understand that many won't agree, I definately hear a better tone from the instrument when trying to play without one. Makes sense if you think about it, because the main clamping point of most rests is against the ribs, which nulls some of the transmission of sound from top to back in at least the lower bouts (I don't give credit for the post moving all the sound). I first thought this might be a change in sound only under the ear, but recordings I've made discount that idea. Or....maybe it's just me. I also don't subscribe to the idea that using a rest, or not using a rest, restricts one's movement. With or without the rest, I can turn my head and look where ever I want, while playing. I've never had a problem that way. For me it's just the sound that is different. I find this true on all my fiddles. Anyway, I plan to play this way from now on, so I suppose it's time to relearn vibrato.
  14. It's been a while, but I think the product was called "Great Stuff" by Dow Chemical. I got it at Ace Hardware. Well, it cures like a hardish foam, so at least some part of it is just air. I didn't actually weigh the instrument afterwards, but I'm a fairly big guy, and the weight difference to me was insignificant. chrisandcello is right. It can blow apart a fiddle, so I did it in increments, letting it settle and cure in the upper bouts (fiddle held upside down-filling from the end button hole), and adding some little by little. But it only took about 20 minutes total.
  15. Playing swing jazz on the violin, and rebuilding old motorcycles. Sounds sort of zen don't you think?
  16. Some assumptions being made here. I had good vibrato when using the shoulder rest, and I never studied vibrato exercizes, just always had it which is why this is rather frustrating. I decided to learn to play without the rest as I can hear, and like the change in tone without one. I also have no problem shifting without the rest, and the shifts do not shove the fiddle around. It's just the vibrato that causes problems. I can get passable vibrato, but it does shake the fiddle. My vibrato is in my wrist (not forearm) and I'm thinking maybe I need more of a forearm vibrato now without the rest? Or as GMM22 says, it will just come with time.
  17. I recently switched from using a shoulder rest to not using one. All is good, and I can hear and very much like the change in tone, but...without the shoulder rest, my palm wants to lay up against the back of the neck to get vibrato. When holding my wrist in the normal position (without the rest), vibrato just shakes the fiddle in and out against my neck (and I think my palm comes up to mimmic the support the shoulder rest used to give). It may not be as terrible as I'm making it sound, but it's quite irritating! Anyone else have this experience, and what did you do about it?
  18. Took a cheap eastern violin once and taped up the F holes. Then I went to the hardware store and bought some spray insulation. It's in a can and comes out as a foam that expands as it sets up. Squirted it into the endpeg hole until the violin was just filled. Once cured, the violin was very silent! Sometimes the stuff expands out the F holes past the tape. You can just use a razor to cut it back. Note: If anyone tries this, don't try to force more foam into the fiddle then it can take. The stuff expands as I said, and can actually split the wood!
  19. From what I've seen, a chinrest that is going to cause damage because of lack of cork or improper installation usually does the first time it's installed. If there is even slight damage and it's not going to be repaired, a chinrest can hide it to a degree if the instrument is to be displayed. In my opinion, a good chinrest in these modern times has become just as intregal to a violin as any other part, so I'd leave it on, just as I wouldn't peel off a plastic pick guard to display a quality modern guitar...but that's just me.
  20. Tea has tannin in it, and I used to use it as a stain, followed by an iron/vinegar solution wash to pop the grain of maple. I quit because it always looked rather fake to me; the darker grain turned rather black and lost it's dichrominism (?! never knew that word but you know what I mean). I remember the English Black teas (don't remember the actual names) seemed to stain the strongest, but it's a light stain at best.
  21. Well first of all, from your description, it sounds like you live in a pretty high crime area. If so, you might want to be concerned with a little bit more then just your violin! I know this is far easier to say then to do, but you might want to consider moving. I grew up in the mounbtains where crime was almost non-existant (some stolen horses or cows now and then). As I grew older, I moved to the flatlands, then to the suburbs, and finally into the city. The crime rate and violence increased with each step. Most of my musician friends (all instruments) have been through this, and it seems true that the farther you get from the cities, the less crime you experience. I'm out of the city now, but I must admit that I did have a few friends that carried a .38 in their instrument cases! I, of course, don't suggest this, but it can be that bad!
  22. IBK said...."I think that tradionalism is extremely important so that all of the instruments have a strong similarity to them so that they remain standard." I fully agree with this. On the other hand, if Strad and his contemporaries had access to power tools, would they have used them? You betcha! I feel that tridition is in the form of the instrument, a salute to those who originally defined and refined it, and perhaps less so in modern methods of actual construction.
  23. I friend in N.C. has made bridges successfully of spruce! He sent me one and it was soft and of a slightly different design, but it worked far better then expected, and didn't sound muted at all. If he's lurking around here maybe he'll speak of it.
  24. Thanks for all the replys! Noting that this violin did have the standard 130/195 measurements. It just confused as to why it seemed to play a tiny bit flat. I noticed that it had some rather old Zyex strings on it. I changed them out this morning, and, while I don't understand any logic behind it, it seems to play fine now! Weird! Can old synthetic strings become flabby? Seems so.
  25. This is yet another violin that has a string length of around 329mm. The bridge is centered on the notches, but I seem to get a lot of slightly flat notes when I play it. I could move the bridge, but then the post position might become a problem, and I like to set things right when they are wrong anyway. I'm assuming that the correct fix for this is to reset the fingerboard/nut, but do you all consider 329 too long?
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