Joel Pautz

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About Joel Pautz

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  1. Violin geometry references

    I've been skimming through Stewart Pollen's "Stradivari" this morning, and it touches on a couple of the questions I had in the section discussing the Viola D'Amore. Right up front Pollen's brings up a tracing that appears to be of a 'damaged or distorted instrument" (mss. 349 & 350). I know its been already mentioned that the paper patterns lack lay-out markings, and that the significance of a distorted pattern probably indicate a lack of distortion being the norm in his personal patterns, but until I learn more I think it's interesting that Strad was fine expending that paper on a distorted pattern. After all it appears that he was very stingy with his molds, and in the next passage Pollen's mentions a guitar form in Paris (MM E.901.4) that Strad changed into a cornerless Viol form by, among other things, adjusting the bottom bout "through the addition of strips of veneer held in place with small wooden pegs." These adjustments allow the mold to conform with paper pattern MS 368 which Pollen's believes was the basis for the mold's shape, but honestly, without the layout markings, I'd probably do it the other way around. So, Strad was comfortable with basing a project off a quick tracing and a few key measurements while an instrument was in the shop, and he wasn't concerned with distortion, at least at first. Perhaps he felt he could true it up later. Apparently this was all he needed to start with though, similar to Mr Denis only needing a few key measurements of Ben's Viol. It also appears that Strad was indeed using his molds to their fullest, modifying them as needed. Would anyone care to elaborate on what this process would have looked like? Excuse my ignorance in terminology, but do any of you think it to be the case that this drafting/ measuring, geometric, etc. knowledge was purposefully absent from these patterns in order to prevent shop hands from having access to a more prestigious skill? I'm still also interested if anyone has come across curious idiosyncrasies in their research that I guess would be an example of an 'exception to the rule'. Kind of like a Del Gesu back joint that's off angle, or the fluting going off the center line of the scroll. These curiosities always interest me, and I guess they show what that maker was mindful of, and what he wasn't. I believe Roger pointed out in his bass thread that the Amati family were scaling up their scrolls for larger instruments, but others in Cremona started from scratch. Do any of you feel that the Amati were working at a different, perhaps higher level of understanding than the other cremonese workshops when approaching a new pattern, or were they all using the same toolkit at the same level?
  2. Violin geometry references

    Thanks all for sharing your insights, expertise in this thread, it has been a great read. I have a couple basic questions I'd really like to hear some of your thoughts on. First, if I recall correctly, I was taught in violin making school that one of the strengths of the internal mold was it's ease not only in being copied/ transferred, but also modified: need to remove a little? Trace a divider along the edge, cut down to the line, and blend with the greater curve by eye. Want to add a little? Thickness a rib, glue it to the form, and again, blend by eye. Have you encountered evidence that cremonese masters were using the internal mold to it's fullest capabilities (transferring and or modifying the form without without starting from scratch)? I'm not suggesting that they would be daunted by starting from scratch, just asking if they were open/ aware of other options. Second, Stradivari was making what we would consider today to be a wide variety of instruments, and doubtlessly based some his work on models he had encountered. Do we know what procedure he followed in these instances? Would he have taken a tracing and measured key lengths as we would today, or was drafting out the instrument the measuring process he would have used? Did he alter these forms, or are they a faithful representations of the norm at the time? The old masters seemed to less than fond of rigid attitudes in some areas of their work - alternating between slab and quartersawn orientation (I understand that Da Salo even used slab tops occasionally). They paid no mind to whether the rib structures flame was oriented the same way around the garland, or the orientation of the back flame (pointing up or down). It was all good. I understand that the instrument can not function if its proportions are way off, but I'm curious if any of you have encountered examples that made you say "hmm - they could have cared, but apparently they didn't".
  3. DIY string jack

    Thanks, those are great suggestions. I'll do some thinking while I'm traveling out of town the next two days, and perhaps try putting something together over the weekend.
  4. DIY string jack

    Hi all, I started drawing out a violin sized string jack based off this design I found online: http://www.scavm.com/Bridgejk.htm I'm thinking I'd like to divide it a little more equally in half (with a taller base) and make feet at the bottom to ensure that pressure is distributed over bassbar and soundpost. I was wondering if anyone could comment on what makes a good bridge jack, design flaws to be avoided. Thanks, Joel
  5. Original Baroque Fingerboards

    One last idle question - the Jacob Stainer tenor viola at the NMM's fingerboard is supposedly pear (looks like a 1 piece board with no side borders built around a core to me by the way). Are any of the Amati fittings or Da Salo fittings pear? Stainer's lion head scroll on the 'King' violin is also pear if I remember correctly.
  6. Original Baroque Fingerboards

    Thanks for the responses everyone. It's getting late, so I'm just going to share some pics for now. The last two pics displayed in the gallery at the bottom of this page are supposed to show details of the c. 1574 Andrea Amati viola at the Ashmolean. The tiny reference book I own "Stringed Instruments" by Jon Whiteley states that "the tailpiece is old and probably original" and that the new fingerboard was built to match it. Another pic of this tailpiece is attached below. The Brother's Amati violino piccolo is remarkably well preserved, with original fingerboard and tailpiece intact. Whiteley says the Ashmoleon's Brothers Amati viola retains its original tailpiece, with a replaced fingerboard made to match. The Gasparo Da Salo 'Ole Bull' / 'Jewel Room' violin supposedly retains its original fingerboard, although it has been lengthed. A Google image search pic shared by Tarisio's blog is below. Whiteley supposes that the fingerboard on the Gasparo Da Salo viol below is original, with the tailpiece built to match it. He also suspects that the Da Salo viola (at the Ashmolean) retains both its original fingerboard and tailpiece. MS 129 (stradivari fingerboard) was posted here by Davide Sora. I posted 2 Google image search pics of the 'Lady Blunt' fingerboard (provided by Tarisio) below. As you can see, there isn't much to go on regarding fingerboard variations or tool marks here - I'd love to hear more on that if anyone has seen these up close and is willing to share. Perhaps someone has opinions regarding the originality of some of the fittings on the Ashmoleon's instruments though? I'd rather not go back and find the quotes tonight, but Whiteley, and Karl Roy agree if I remember right, but Roger Hargrave was more skeptical in the Jacob Stainer violin article I mentioned at the top. Oh, that reminds me, the Stainer Tenor viola in the NMM (referencing the Strad magazine article) supposedly retains its original fingerboard with a later tailpiece made to match it. Pic of the poster is added below. Joel
  7. Grooves along fingerboard

    Hi Bruce, Honestly I've never put much thought into it (d'oh!) - an unrestrained bow riding, jostling alongside the fingerboard made sense to me. As you pointed out this wear can be found on both sides of the board, and I've assumed that playing wouldn't do that; or that if it did, it would wear much more unevenly between treble and bass sides. I figured it was one of those odd quirks. Now that I think about it, I've been assuming lots of things - for example, that scrolls in the books often have more wear on their treble side than on the bass (I've never bothered to tally this up). Thinking about this, I figured that the majority of people are right handed, and therefore it made sense that most instruments would twist in the same direction while being put in their coffin case. Haven't really thought about it since. This is all probably grade 'A' bull though, and I shouldn't be so comfortable with my assumptions. Since even baroque necks were slightly angled back, and the drop off is so steep, I can visualize the top's edge at the neck acting as a fulcrum for the bow - but the wear that would be realized in that scenario would probably be fairly obvious to diagnos. Barring that instance, I can't think of of any reason off the top of my head why the bridge area wouldn't recieve the brunt of the wear. Thanks for indulging me, and since I don't think I've done it yet, thanks for participating on the forum! Joel
  8. Original Baroque Fingerboards

    Hi all, I've been reviewing what I can about the original set-ups of Cremonese and Brescian instruments (although I'm always interested in other traditions as well if anyone wants to share). I noticed a couple of the fingerboards had a centerline joint visible at the tailpiece end - 1664 Andrea Guarneri Tenor viola, and the 1690 Stradivari Tenor viola in Florence. I started wondering if it was common practice in cremona to use cut-offs from the top and back to build the fingerboard. Reading up on Hargrave's 1987 article concerning a relatively unaltered 1679 Jacob Stainer violin, he says "The top curve of the board is very flat, and it has a very tiny saw or file cut in the center at the end (see drawing). This "notch" is about the size that a string would fit into. I have no idea as to its originality or use". Centerline joints can be just as useful as a scribe line or notch, so I started wondering if these joints had a function. However, the original Strad fingerboard MS 129 isn't joined down the center at all - it's just a willow core with maple edges on either side (bass and treble). I think I can see joint lines indicating that the 1613 Girolamo Amati pochette fingerboard is of this variety as well. I don't see any centerline scribe line or notches on these two. The 1669 Andrea Guarneri viola seems to have a different variation of border edging as the fingerboard end face doesn't seem to correspond with the grain along the underside of the board. The 1721 Stradivarius 'Lady Blunt' fingerboard seems to have a single core with no edge border. Just was wondering if anyone else could add a little more concerning original baroque fingerboard variations, or about any tool marks they might display which could shed light on method or process. I'm assuming that the pinhole at the nut end of the 'Lady Blunt' fingerboard was added later for display purposes. Also, if anyone can offer some more definitive answers concerning which fittings might or might not be original in the Ashmoleon's collection, I'd really appreciate it. I haven't been able to purchase the new text yet, and I'm seeing contrasting opinions in the older sources I own. Thanks, Joel
  9. Grooves along fingerboard

    I associate wear of this type with the use of older coffin style cases that didn't restrain the bow properly, or the musician's handling habits of holding the instrument upright, neck and bow both in the left hand. In other words, wear caused by the bow resting along the fingerboard.
  10. Identification of approximately 200 year old violin

    This thread is already full of my chatter; I promise to deliberate before contributing to other threads, but I think I'll ride this one out to the end. I'm seeing some variations in the outline between Blank Faces's post and the OP's fiddle - I'm not seeing as much flatness across the upper and lower block (OP's outline looks like it flattens out there more), and the C-bouts on Blank Face's post look closer to non-converging lines when they terminate - the OP's C-bout curves definitely converge. Side note: I'm wondering if in some cases the rib joint angle can shed light on the construction methods used as well. At a certain point an obtuse angle just doesn't seem to lend itself to the clamped together ends we've discussed in the past, and I would think blocks would be much more necessary (until you arrive at a Chanot style fiddle of course ). The F-hole positioning in Blank Face's post is much more in line with the OP's than on the fiddle I shared earlier. I think I saw the curved lower wing and didn't pay attention to much else.
  11. Identification of approximately 200 year old violin

    Well, for what it is worth, I thought I saw similarities between Gerard's violin and these two Füssen diaspora-like instruments. https://maestronet.com/forum/index.php?/topic/324287-violin-id-and-quandry/& https://maestronet.com/forum/index.php?/topic/327595-help-id-instrument-maker/ If anyone would like to point out something I missed, please do. Thanks everyone, especially you Gerard. Joel
  12. Identification of approximately 200 year old violin

    It does seem like Gerard is walking a very thin and wandering line. The instrument has open seams - he wants to do more for the instrument than just glue the open seams shut, but anything further is constrained by the ticking clock. Removing the top makes an utter mess of the edge - he opts for a more permanent fix by replacing the edge, but doesn't (to the satisfaction of other professionals) make an equal effort towards addressing the other issues that require attention. Does anyone feel like sharing a bit about how they plan a targeted, well-coordinated repair? What issues would have taken precedence in this case, and where they might have sought compromise? Some constructive criticism? Blank Face, would you mind sharing your thoughts behind a Markneukirchen origin? You've been playing these ID games actively much longer than I. I'm also curious about impressions as to the overall age of the instrument (the lengthened neck seems the most credible evidence), bassbar (original? / premodern version, or simply a regional variation?), and any insight regarding the linings / block situation for built off back instruments (For example, do you expect to find extra thick ribs when encountering linings were likely not original to the instrument?) Thanks, Joel
  13. Identification of approximately 200 year old violin

    Thanks for the on point replies - hope we both get to learn something about this fiddle soon. I'm sure your wife will be thrilled with all of your work! Joel
  14. Identification of approximately 200 year old violin

    I've worked in shops where a very slight shim similar to the one you described was inserted in between the upper block and the neck root as a quick fix to raise the projection. We called it a 'New York Neck Set'. We didn't remove the top, we just trimmed the shim flush with the top edge before regluing the fingerboard back into place. Does your shim noticeably add length to the neck, or does it seem directed more towards adjusting the projection? I cropped your photo of the upper block. To me it looks like there is fresh (lighter colored) wood peeking out on the lower left and right corners. I guess in retrospect this could just be fragments from the top still glued in place. It looks like the original stain / finish applied to the instrument bled through - perhaps if the bottom of the bassbar soaked some of this color up you could tell that it is indeed original - but the glue barrier might have prevented this bleeding from entering the bar, so no color present would be inconclusive. I wouldn't read too much into the shallow height of your bar - this instrument was never intended to meet the standards we regard as the norm. As yet, I'm not seeing the other signs I'd expect to see in an instrument from the baroque era. Another detail I missed regarding the misleading age is the lack of bushed peg holes from a well loved, well handled instrument that's 200+ years old - when does that even happen? The outline/ rib mitres seem to indicate this instrument was built off the back to me, along with the pool of hide glue visible between the ill-fitting upper treble block and the top. If the rib structure had been built around the blocks I'd expect the work to be neater because it's much easier to do it neatly that way. If my suspicions are correct, I would not be surprised if this instrument never had any earlier linings either - it was simply built without them. I'll let someone else weigh in on this.
  15. Nicolò Amati / Stradivari connection

    It is very strange that Strad's other work doesn't feature decorative sculptures - all the rest of his cupids are simply inlaid, correct? He wouldn't be the first instrument maker to outsource figure carving to another artisan though. Pollens mentions a Cremonese sculptor Giacomo Bertesi (1643-1710) as a possibility, due to a similarities between his cupids elsewhere, and the one on the Stradivari harp. Not to get too off track from this great discussion on how decorative features / techniques get transmitted between regions, etc. but I've come across a few interesting side notes that I feel could add further context. First, in Roger's article on the 'Alard' Amati, he mentions that during this period we are discussing (1670's), Girolamo II had come onto his own and his hand is visible in the bulk of the shop's production. Girolamo II (born 1649 according to Pollens) would have been only about 5 years younger than Stradivari (born 1644), and Nicolò was already in his early 50's at the time of his son's birth. Pollens states that beginning in the 1670's the Amati dynasty began to face additional troubles from which they never truely recovered; it was then that they started "selling or taking out loans against their property. For example, in 1698 they borrowed 3,000 lira with the family home as collateral. They were later forced to forfeit part of the house when they failed to make interest payments on the loan. When several of Girolamo II's loans came due and a judgement was brought against him for non-payment, he apparently fled Cremona and did not return until 1715." In a "Stradivarius" exhibition essay "A Brief History of the Violin and its Makers", Charles Beare states that the "1680's are remarkable as the only period when the appearance of Stradivari's violins remained largely unchanged for several years, with pale golden-orange coloured varnish on well figured maple backs cut on the slab, but towards the end of the decade a stronger personality becomes detectable, in part because of purfling of more substantial width, but especially because the arching curves of both plates were better conceived for more powerful tone production." For what it's worth, Roger Hargrave mentions that Girolamo II appears to adopt these newer arching concepts in his work (I think it was in his post 1700's work?).