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Stephen Churchill

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Posts posted by Stephen Churchill

  1. Also interesting is the source of the patterns.  The pattern for Strad's "Greffulhle" 1709 is clearly printed the 1567 "La vera Perfettione del disegno di varie sorti di ricami" as pointed out by Mr. Pollen's on page 274 in his latest book.  The title translates to (according to Google) "The true perfection of the design of various sorts of embroidery".  


    Can the mastic stand bending, or was it carved, then bent and filled?




  2. Stephen, There doesn't appear to be a South American contribution on your list as yet.

    What about this one?




    They claim instruments by Guarneri, Rugeri, Guadagnini, Santo Serafin, Gobetti and Cappa, as well as more contemporary makers.




    Hi Omobono,  Thanks for the link, yes I'd like to get more museums from all over the world.  There's no doubt you're in luck if you live in Europe but what about the rest of us :)

    I'll add this entry shortly.




  3. thanks for the latest additions.


    Omobono: I've added 

    • Croatian Academy of Sciences and Arts, Zagreb 
    • Conservatorio di Musica San Pietro a Majella, Naples 
    • Escola de Música do Conservatório Nacional, Lisbon


    The The Palace of The Legion of Honor, still lists the Heifetz del Gesu as 'not displayed', but I included the instrument link you provided in the description.


    The MET entry is now updated with BassClef's pictures here: http://stephenchurchill.ca/resources/1142-2/the-metropolitan-museum-of-art/ 

  4. OK! I finally found the Ashmolean, but it is far too well hidden for such an important collection. Perhaps you could find a better way of showing the location on the map. This is especially important in view of your point C. Also the Ashmolean only gets four and a half stars. Off hand I would rate this as one of the worlds finest and most important collections. I'm rooting for 5 stars. It would be difficult to find anything better. I am nevertheless very impressed by what you have so far achieved. Has it been reviewed for the Strad yet?


    Hi Roger,

      The 4 1/2 stars is a general google rating of the Ashmolean.  Its seems on the map it get put underneath the Bates collection, though its higher in my listing.  I'll try to fix that.

      I haven't approached the Strad, I hadn't considered that.  I'll see if I can find contact information on their webpage.  



  5. A little note as to the principal exhibits in each case would be helpful,


    Academia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia, Roma. - The "Tuscan" Strad 1690, Strad Mandolin and Tecchler viola.

    I realize this is a huge job.


    Hi Omobono,

       I've included these if you click on the museum links on the page.  Where I could find information on the displays.  Helping to verify this, especially in smaller museums.



  6. Stephen,


    Congratulations on starting this highly important project. MN will give you lots of great feedback. Focus on the missing data, and circulate this widely. I think you should go on TOBI and violinist.com to get another audience. Fly this past experts such as Chris Reuning. 





    Hi Michael,

        can you elaborate on TOBI?  I haven't heard of that before.




  7. http://www.maestronet.com/forum/index.php?/topic/329111-are-these-violins-as-good-as-claimed-photos/

    Check out this collection it moves around but was at the met in NYC recently.

    You can use my photos with credit to BassClef from Maestronet.


    Hi BassClef,

      You raise a good point.  There are many collections that could be tracked as well.  CIMCIM includes (CIMCIM International Directory of Musical Instrument Collections) includes collections, but given that access to the public is limited I haven't planned to include collections in the list, for now.

       If the collection remains on display, at least most of the time, I will include it.



  8. Thanks for the comments and inputs!  I agree much more research can be invested here.  


    There are three criteria that come to mind:

    A ) 'Fame' - Famous instruments/Instruments from famous makers.

    B ) 'Historical Significant' - Instruments which are famous for other reasons.

    C ) Size of the collection - Large collections of instruments.


    Also I have focused on violins, with some coverage of violas and cellos.


    Based on this I made a single 5-star ranking:

    ***** – Must see!  Multiple famous violins, usually with a large collection.
    **** – Very interesting, some famous violins, typically with a moderately sized collection.
    *** – Interesting, some historically significant instruments or a large collection
    ** – Less interesting, often region specific
    * – Limited interest, small collection of stringed instruments (dozens), no specifically ‘famous’ instruments.
    The links on the page open up detailed descriptions of the museums, and I've included a description of how many relevant instruments are there and what famous ones are there if I could find it.  I think we should include caveats if there are dubious assignments -- this is where input from more experienced members would be invaluable.
    The goals of this list is to inform people of where they can see:
     a ) where they can see exemplar instruments 
     b ) expand understanding of violin making history, including expanding people's understanding beyond the cult of Stradivari :)
     c ) help people find museums they can visit both in their region (including small displays), and if they travel abroad. 
    I will add:
    - Tullie House Museum and Art Gallery
    Czech Museum in Prague
    Academia Santa Cecilia: 

    - Museo Nazionale degli Strumenti Musicali

    The Markneukirchen museum

    Roger:  Thanks for your input!  The Ashmolean is included in the map, perhaps i have the location incorrect, I'll reconfirm.
    Please send more suggestions and inputs!
  9. Hi All,

      I've been working on compiling a list of museums with significant collections.  I've created a google map for easy geographical reference.  

      I'm looking for input on the displays, if I've missed any significant ones, and for pictures if anyone can contribute (referenced of course).  The list is here.




    (I hope the link works)

  10. Hi,

    I'm touching up a friends 1/8 Suzuki (1974) for his daughter. I'm just putting in a new soundpost. I've never put in a 1/8 before. Any suggestions? going from the bass f-hole instead of treble? should I get a smaller post setter?



  11. Interesting info, thanks. I am also very curious about built-in electronic controls for volume and effects, etc. Are there any pictures of your completed one?


    Sure, I built the first as my first instrument - its rough. I actually took the parts out of another electric. It has a built in pre-amp and the volume controls are on the side. The pickup is a pizo-electric pad under the bridge.

    I have seen some with a volume adjustment on the jack like this: http://www.musiciansfriend.com/accessories/shadow-sh-940-violin-bridge-with-built-in-pickup/300147000000000 or on the tailpiece: http://www.barberatransducers.com/violinpickups.html (bottom of page).




  12. I'm just curious whether anyone here has made or is making electric violins. Are there any good instruction books out there on making one. I would be interested in doing it once, just for the sake of doing it.

    Hi Dick,

    I'm making my second. Not out of passion, but practicality (portable & near silent).

    I'm not aware of any books. You can get the concept idea from looking at available ones.

    My lessons from the first one are:

    1. make it light (solid bodies are nice on electric guitars, but those guys have a strap).

    2. if you play with a should rest, make sure there is somewhere to put one on. You often see a u-shape at the bottom where the lower bouts would be.

    In both of mine I used a standard neck and finger board. The principal of an electric instrument is a solid mass which the stings vibrate against. The more solid the longer they will vibrate. I left a spot for a the clamp-on jack so that I can put on a standard violin pick-up bridge.

    I guess one deep question would be can you accurately reproduce the tonal qualities of a acoustical violin in an electric. That's certainly not what I'm attempting here. My first electric was my first instrument a solid hunk of birch. It actually plays well and has a decent round tone. I expect this one to be better, as there is more opportunity for the maple to resonate due to the structure. Its also way lighter.

    I'm not that familiar with amplifying, I'd love to hear people's experience with the pick-up bridges, etc out there.

    Not done yet, but here are a couple pictures. In this case I'm -attempting- to make it a break-down electric, the neck,partial upper bout, and lower-bout/shoulder rest support come off. I'll name it the EMP: extreme modern pochette :)



  13. Its a complex topic. As discussed in other threads here, the violin making industry operates much like an art market. Hence, very competitive and certainly not logically :) My brother tried entering the art photography market many years ago. In that area the world was divided into commercial photographers and 'art' photographers. Your success depended allot on who you knew and their opinion of your work. If you had the acceptance of the elites, you were an instant success, if not, you toiled in obscurity. Maybe there are some parallels with making violins. In the end, you have to do this because you love it.

    On the topic of secrets, Sacconi was referring to the ancient 'lost secrets' of the 'great' makers and specifically Strad. This is a little different then modern trade secrets. This is based on the belief that if you can recreate Strad's workshop and his processes you too will make Strad quality violins... Its probably more likely that Strad make the best violins he could with what was available to him at the time, and that any ancient secrets were ones created in myth by historians. If you read Sacconi you'll find that he believes there are no secrets, just a man who had a great eye, a great skill and a passion. This is why Sacconi put 'secrets' in parentheses.

    Modern makers no doubt have their own 'secrets' but I think this partly experience and mostly finding the ways of doing thinks that work for you. Forums like Maestronet are great for breaking down some of the barriers in sharing knowledge. Personally I believe that there are few true 'secrets' out there. As a violin maker you have to find the ways of making that work for you, perfect them and make the best violins you can. Then everyone will wonder what your secret is :)


  14. Wenge is a nice african hardwood. It's not as dense as ebony, but has a nice grain structure. Its very consistant in grain lines and color tone (almost too much!).

    It splinters easily but is not toooo difficult to work. However, the grain texture is much wider then ebony and some nicks and gouges naturally appear in the wood. I don't plan to fill the grain, I do not expect this to affect the playability of the finished instrument.

    For this electric I may make a matching tailpiece and/or chinrest.

    info and picture of the grain:


  15. Thanks guys,

    I've used CA glue finished before (on some wood turning projects), including on Ebony. It takes a great shine if you like, with a buffing wheel. But its effectively a plastic finish and prone to scratching over time. I'm pretty senstiive to the fumes and try to avoid it these days.

    I thought of mineral oil, but given Jeffrey Holmes post I think I'll avoid that. If only for glueability contamination.

    I'm not looking for a shiny surface, just grain wetting. I think I'l try a couple coats of thinned drying oil. I have tung oil and like the product, but I think I'll just try some stand oil mixed with naptha.



  16. Hi, I'm putting together a maple electric/take-down violin. I've prepared a wenge fingerboard and I'd like to highlight the grain of the wood.

    Any suggestions on an acceptable coating for a fingerboard? Shellac? Tung oil? I don't want it to interfere with playability (I'll be playing it), or turn ugly with wear....



  17. Hi all,

    I have the good fortune to be going to Paris this summer and was curious if anyone know what was on display there in museums, etc.

    For that matter, does anyone know of a list of 'famous' violins on display around the world. I'd have thought there would be some dedication to Vuillaume maybe...

    I'm aware of the ‘Davidoff’ 1708 Stradivari violin at Cité de la Musique, but haven't found any other references in my quick google search.



  18. Please excuse the blue machinist dye on a couple of the parts. I'm considering getting the aluminum parts colour anodized. It would also be very attractive built from nice hardwoods.


    Impressive! I agree it would look great in a nice exotic hardwood too. Maybe cocobolo with brass knobs.

    If you don't mind me asking where did you get your branding iron? Looks like a brass tip, is that something you had made at a shop?



  19. Hi Stephen,

    I don’t measure Q- how are you measuring this?


    The Quality Factor can be estimated by dividing the resonant frequency by the bandwidth at the 1/2 power point, which in a plot of power in decibels at 3db below the peak. So effectively the frequency of the mode divided by horizontal thickness of the resonant frequency 3 db lower then the very peak on the FFT plot. I haven't made a test of how consistent my measurements are yet.

    I'm curious if this is how makers are measuring Quality Factor (given that the peak is dependent on the source of energy - how hard one might be tapping, it may cause small variations in measured Q). Also is this the quantity that some makers are referring to when they talk of damping... From what I've seen here there is no consensus on whether allot or a little damping is better. I guess that might depend where it is in the response of a plate and how that relates to the spectrum of the completed violin.



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