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About Ken_N

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  • Birthday 06/20/1955

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  • Location
    Goodrich, Michigan
  • Interests
    Violin making. Art (just got some oil paints, been doing water color). Driving the back roads. Music, especially orchestral and Christian rock.

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  1. I looked at this today, and realized I wasn't thinking. Something new? Hah! My violins are at 3.2 - 3.5 in the middle. Maybe the one out of .3 sg. Engelmann is 3.6 or more. The latest Gofriller may be thinner, it feels quite light. The thickness in the middle is usually set right away by the way that I work. The guitar belly is 5 all over now, and I might go down to 4.5 mm. I had the center thicker, and didn't like it. It is pure catenary curve, and all over even seems to work, at least on this one. Violin backs are always 4.5 and up; 7 mm on one viola. Maybe I'd go thinner if it was Walnut, or Padauk. But we aren't going crazy here; are we? Maybe so. At least in spurts. That's how I work anyway, in spurts. Easy to stay focused intensely for 2-3 hours, but hard to remember what you did, because it just happens as soon as you think about it. Like when you make varnish, and can't remember what you added, when, and how much.
  2. Peter has the right idea here. Listen to him. I wouldn't worry about the weight at all now. It could be that the piece of wood you have will never get to 60-70 g. So? It's your number 3, and your work looks very good. Look at your thickness numbers. They are very even. I would leave the center alone. I'm not afraid to leave the center at 5 mm. But I'm not afraid of anything. I'm sure that you've learned a lot already. Leave the center alone, and learn to let go if you have to. I like to rough the inside, rough the outside, and then see what it is doing. If it seems stiff, I'll leave the inside alone, and thickness it from the outside. If it is already ALMOST flexing, I'll cut the inside deeper first, maybe even tightening the curves. Before I get near finishing; 4mm plus thick or so; I put the f holes in. Then they will be incorporated with the arching. After adding the bass bar, the plate will stiffen up. I don't finish the recurve until the body is glued together, so I have no idea what weight, or tap tune I finish at. Every one that you do you will learn something. I'm doing an arch top guitar now, and it is the same, but different. The back is thinner than the vague thickness given in a book I bought, 2.5 - just under 6 mm, but it doesn't seem too flexible. It taps around 330. Maybe that's not the real note, but there are a lot of notes around there depending on where you hold, and tap it. Like Don said, maybe you are hearing something different. When the back of that guitar was 450 grams and not 350 I thought the that tap tone was 330, and now it is STILL 330. But is is far more opened up. I used Flamed Birch for a violin back that was very low in pitch from the beginning. But it was very resonant, just low. It worked fine. Cut the f holes. Put in a bass bar. Finish it up before, or after gluing it together, and move on to the next lessons: varnish and set up. It's never ending learning. But you have to just do it. Don't let paralysis get you. On the next one, maybe try something different. Or work on perfecting that model if you like it. Don't be so hard on yourself. It looks really good.
  3. I've used American Sycamore, not too odd I guess. Good sound wise, at least they seem to be, but my varnish didn't make you say, "Oh, that's nice." Flamed Birch does look nice, and it works well, at least with a .3 sg Engelmann top. It seems like the very deep curl is actually showing up now on the long arch. I never noticed that before. I'd make something with that again; if I found it. I have other strange things going, but I'll wait until they're done to show them. It is sooo gloomy still here. And cold too. Sick of winter. Poor lighting: the carpet is tan, not blue.
  4. The numbers were when I started. Now it is 4 around the edge. 3-3.5 in the recurve and across the bouts. The center is from 4-6 mm. The thickness flow gradually downwards from the middle. They don't rise at all until maybe 20 mm in. I want a 10 mm fancy edge, like would normally go around a sound hole. I'll finish tuning it when it is glued on the sides, and the edgework is in. I tapped it just now listening to an online tone generator. The lower three are balancing on the center, and tapping the edge. The other five are holding around the edge, and tapping around the plate. There are notes all over the place. 65 C2 82 E2 109 A2 165 E3 235 Bb3 330 E4 350 F4 370 F#4 Maybe you could just call it E. It's no where near flimsy. The belly is still thick, I want to put the f holes in before I thin it. It is 350 grams too, and is basically 6-7mm thick, and 5 around the edges. It is very resonant. It will end up lower than the back. It sounds way higher, but it is just so lively. A quick check gave: 82 E2 165 E3 195 G3 388 G4 It has some flex already. Not quite as much as the back, but more than the back had when it was 30% heavier.
  5. Well the mold worked, but if I were to make another model guitar, it would have on outside mold. It is far simpler. The sides will need some coaxing to get where they're supposed to be. This photo shows the high arch on the back. I don't know if it is normal, but the cutaway made a crease in the arching that adds a lot of stiffness. It is 350 grams now. I started doing the recurve at 500 grams. The tap tone did not drop, it only became more flexible, and there are more tones all over. It is at 370. It seems really high doesn't it? Maybe that's not M5. Whatever; it's been there the whole time. I made a little plane to smooth out the groove for the truss rod. I wasn't going to use one, but "everyone" insisted. I drilled 3/16 holes along the length first. It worked great. Now I'm fitting the joint for the head. The birdseye for the neck wasn't long enough to cut out the head with the neck, so since it is supposed to be a late 18th century guitar from Guadagnini, I used the typical v joint. It isn't too hard, but far more trouble than a scarf joint!
  6. I would add that it is a great opportunity to hang out and talk with fellow makers. The times before, after, and in-between presentations are lots of fun, and you can learn lots of things. I was given tips on how to fix a spot where glue pulled varnish off. I did it, and it worked. We had some nice instruments in a few times; like the ripply David Burgess, and a copy by Roger Hargrave. An old English Cello and another that looked like the Amati 5 string were very cool too. I didn't go to school, or work in a shop, so those kind of things are great to me. The presentations are well done, and I always learn a lot. But then I'm pretty empty in the first place. You could sit with Joe Curtain, and share his compass, show him your drawings, and your latest unfinished instrument with the fixed varnish spot. If you have no shame.
  7. I guess my tastes are a little different. I like mainly Yes, King Crimson, ELP, Jethro Tull, Sting, The Who, Spirit, Wishbone Ash, just found Spock's Beard; that sort of thing. Jars of Clay, MercyMe, Switchfoot, Coldplay, Larry Norman and stuff like that are other favorites. Not to forget Pink Floyd, and Led Zeppelin. This one is easy on the ears:
  8. Wow, it's been that long since I checked the forum? Have to go back a page to find the posting. Always willing to share, and his work is so neat. An inspiration to a hack butcher like me. Usually I find out someone died when I ask about them at Christmas and people look at me puzzled and say, "Oh, he died back in May." No one told me. A week isn't so bad. I thought guitarists were the only ones who didn't know how to cut their strings. Condolences to family and friends.
  9. I made a form the other day for the arch top guitar. I used a 2 X 10 X 4' piece of Fir(?) from Menards. Curly grain and insect holes. Looked very cool. It is collapsable. I don't think I'll glue the back on though, probably just the linings. I'd glue the back for sure if it wasn't a cutaway. My Chinese bending iron, that isn't even very good for violins after extensive filing, is even worse for bending guitar ribs. But it was tall enough for an archtop, so it worked. The blocks on the bottom raise it high enough to glue the blocks on at the right height, so there is room to put the linings on both sides.
  10. Ken_N


    I use quartersawn American sycamore. It looks cool, and the interlocking grain makes it nearly impossible to split! Get it wet, a hot iron, like John and Julian said, and usually they bend like butter. Sometimes it is more effort. But they don't snap. I broke a LOT of spruce ones and gave up on it, and some light weight, really cool looking rainbow yellow poplar too. I just go back to the sycamore. Who needs grief?
  11. That's funny. A finger patch is about the only repair I've done. (just splits and gum pockets) They're easy. The rest of it seems like a lot of work. I wouldn't worry about it, but what do I know? Always liked your name.
  12. Yes. It isn't just an offset arch. The center is offset, but the curve is wider on the bass side than the treble side. I never thought about how I was holding the chain, just about how it was getting to the points I wanted it to get to. I just tried it with the arches I drew. It works just as Marty said. He knows more about what I'm doing than I know. I am clueless. Ken
  13. Don, I'm not so sure that all of that is creep. I think that much of it was already there from the beginning. We know that Del Gesu was experimenting, just like Evan. What's wrong with having a tight stiff curve on the treble side, and a looser, more flexible curve on the bass side that could more easily drive the body? I start mine on the inside, and purposely set the inside off to the treble side. I tried to make it thicker there, and thinner on the bass side. Not much, but some. I don't think I went as thin as the poster, but I don't know about the edges because I do them after it is glued together. I didn't check the countour on the outside, but I just did, just above the outside f notch. It isn't as drastic as the poster, and no one noticed at the MVA meeting. At least they were kind enough not to call me a crazy lunatic to my face. I've been called worse.
  14. Holy moly! You have beautiful weather there. Nice tools. A man full of passion. Good to see.
  15. Ken_N


    There is this guy who does amazing pen and ink drawings on violins, cellos, and even the bridges. All freehand. I think that they look cool. I'm sure that they elevate the value of the purchased in the white instrument. Whether people play them or not, I don't know. But why not? I don't think that those drawings hurt the sound at all. Maybe he puts a clear coat on top. Even thin paint and gold leaf like done on baroque instruments shouldn't interfere with the sound. But the tradition of violins is to see the wood, through a decorative, colored, varnish. Even a so so violin done this way will have a great appeal to most than a highly whimsical work of art. Guitars have two styles; a very natural clear finish truly putting the wood on display, or painted with sunbursts, and that sort of thing. No one looks down on either method because they were both done pretty much from the start. Different strokes.