Greg Olwell

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About Greg Olwell

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    Point Richmond, CA
  1. I wonder if this is one of those instances when the owner tired of the restoration project and abandoned it. This happens often in the vintage automobile world when a project ends up being much bigger and takes much longer and costs much more money than the owner, or the spouse, has patience for. Looking at these photos, I almost hope that it ends up in a museum, just as it is, incomplete and in pieces. We can see the instrument's history, from the maker's hand, to the extensive repair work. It's part inspiration and part cautionary tale, which may make it a great learning tool for explaining the complicated issues involving violin restoration, conservation, and maybe learning when you should stop before you start.
  2. There are two decent books to help you get a handle on both the instrument's history and some of the important makers. Of course, the scholarship has increased significantly since both of these books were printed (and our now out-of-print), but they can offer a helpful start to learning. Raymond Elgar, Looking at the Double Bass Paul Brun, A New History of the Double Bass Venice is also home to the Gasparo da Salo bass used by Domenico Dragonetti. It's housed in a dark corner of the museum in the Basilica San Marco and it's hard to find if you're not looking for it. Thankfully, I found it when I was there and got a few (really awful) photos. But, here are some better ones, taken during its restoration a few years back.
  3. Guitar makers aren't all bad. I could point to a few that could teach every maker/repairer something. Don't forget, these people are used to fixing guitars that were smashed by angry ex girlfriends. It's okay, I'll show myself out now ...
  4. I'm echoing Jeezupe here a little bit, but these instruments from Luis & Clark seem to be among the most contemporary of contemporary luthiery. It's a small operation making innovative instruments, just like some of those guys in 17th century Cremona.
  5. Pretty sure that last shot is the Stainer viola:
  6. Considering that the books left by people such as Thomas Jefferson and John Adams showed them to be chronic underliners and critical readers who filled the margins with thoughts, comments, and out-and-out snark, I'd say you're in good company, Roger.
  7. I'm a bass player, not a professional luthier, so I'm only able to speak from my own experiences with instruments. But in my time, I've owned a few plywood basses and in my experience with them, the buzz is more likely to come from the wood de-laminating than something like a loose bass bar. It happens all of the time to older plywood basses, whether they're Kays or European-made. Now, I'm not saying that it's not a loose bass bar, those things happen too, but it's probably not in the top three causes of buzz. If the strings aren't old and damaged and they fit reasonably well on the bridge and nut, it's probably time to play it and listen to where the source of the buzz is coming from. With a bass this can be a two-person job. Now about geared tuners. These things are machines and typically the best thing for them is some decent lubricant for metal. On my bass, I keep a towel handy to wipe up any possible excess, but a small, controlled drop of Tri-Flow on the worm gear and between the large gear and the brass plate makes tuning much easier. One small drop on either location is enough, but again, keep a towel handy just in case. [This may go without saying, but: Don't use WD-40, unless you're cleaning the gearing. It's not lube, it's for breaking lightly frozen joints and clearing out water so that real lubricant can be added after the preparation.]
  8. He's a curious maker and has quite a following among guitar makers. He made several, but not many, violin-shaped guitars, which can sell for upward of $40,000.
  9. Strings recently profiled Niek de Groot, who uses an Amati bass. There are a few shots on his website that might be worth a peek.
  10. Skiiingfiddler, as a member of the media, I find this collegiality rule exactly the reason why a free press is so essential. It helps to keep people honest. By speaking anonymously to a member of the media, anyone challenging an established competitor (be it a violin dealer, government official, or what have you) can help to inform the public about the wrongdoings, either real or perceived. Documentation always helps to back up an argument, of course, and it's the press's duty to verify the information. This process allows people to break the "collegiality" rule without seeming like they're tattling or breaking that rule. (Which, often enough, is really more about hoping that the other guy doesn't "do the same thing to me.") Corporate spokespeople do it all of the time, politicians do it all of the time, and so can violin makers.
  11. Tony Strad sure kept a lot of secrets.
  12. Thanks for writing about this, Roger! First, those photos are art. Nicely done. It's also refreshing to read your take on building a bass, what's the same as building a violin, and the unique challenges that it takes to make a bass. It seems like so often violin makers turn their noses up at making a bass ("It's carpentry, not violin making!"), yet few really try. I'm really looking forward to seeing how it progresses and reading about the lessons you've learned.
  13. Flyboy, click on the link in my last post, it will take you to a Reuters story showing the images released by the Bulgarian Interior Ministry.
  14. The picture in the BBC story comes from the British Transport Police and is the image they are using to help in the search for the violin. The Bulgarian Interior Ministry has released two images of the violin they believe may be the stolen Strad. Anyone believe this could be a Strad?
  15. It is worth pointing out that this post from Norman Lebrect is a year-and-a-half old. In February 2012, the US Congress passed the FAA reauthorization bill, which included the provision that all airlines must update their policies within two years of the bill becoming law. This gives US airlines until February 14, 2014 to meet the new guidelines. So, as of today, an airline that has not already voluntarily updated its guidelines ahead of the deadline, still has until next Valentine's Day to comply with the legislation. The skies are not free yet, but it is happening, so in the meantime, be prepared.