Alex Kowalik

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About Alex Kowalik

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  • Birthday 10/19/1942

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    San Antonio, Texas
  • Interests
    fiddles and guitars

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  1. This is a question about setting the violin after length measurement during setup to get the best sound and playability. I know that the after length measurement should be approximately one sixth of the vibrating string length. But not always. Some violins like a different ratio. Just like us people don't all like the same beer or maybe don't like beer at all. The method in question is setting the after length to a measurement that results in the plucked after length of the G string producing a note that is one octave (or should it be one octave and a third?) above the plucked open D string note. (The violin must be correctly tuned.) And then, hopefully, getting the same relationship between the D string after length and the open A string with the measurement that has already been set for the G string. Or, maybe do the D string after length first and hope the remaining strings follow suit, as the other strings will have approximately the same after length. However, detecting this sort of relationship between the A string after length and the open E string seems to be very difficult. (Or impossible for certain old folks; like me for instance). Do any of you folks set the after length like this? or in some way basically similar to this idea? Does this procedure have any practical value for achieving best sound and ease of playing? If not, how do you decide what after length measurement you will use? and then set it to the decided-upon length? My thanks, in advance, to all those who reply. PERSONAL OBSERVATION: By my count, the phrase "after length" appears in this question a total of 10 times. The word "beer" only appears twice. Seems it would be more fun if it were the other way around. Drat! PERSONAL ASIDE: If CT had submitted this question, it would indeed be the other way around. Ha! Resquiescat In Pace, CT.
  2. I'll try, Jeff. I've never posted a picture before. If it turns out to be too big, I don't have a clue how to reduce it. It might be a couple of days before I try. Got some other stuff going on. Your suggestion about the block made me look at the glue joint between the top and ribs. The top is unglued starting a bit past the treble side of the saddle and continues around toward the treble-side C bout for about three inches. So now I know the top has to come off. Then I'll be able to tell if it's loose from the lower block.
  3. In the video tapes put out 25 years ago by Harry Wake, he shows how to apply color using the hand. But he used a brush for the varnish, I think. I'd have to check the tape.
  4. What's a good procedure for closing the open seam? I'm sure removing the top is necessary, which I've done before. I hate to do it because the top has never been removed from this 77-plus year old fiddle. It looks so unspoiled. But I would think there is no other way.
  5. Thanks Edi Malinaric. That sounds like a good way to do it. Have you done it that way? (I liked the "resume breathing" step. Good thing you didn't omit it. LOL) When I'm ready to install a new saddle I'm thinking of doing as bkwood suggested: modify the top to accept a saddle that sits on the block. Never seen a saddle like the one in arglebargle's photo.
  6. That's it. Thanks for the pic, GeorgeH.
  7. The saddle is inlaid halfway into the top. It does not go all the way thru the top. It is exactly like the picture in the thread titled "Saddle Inlaid in Top" which appeared earlier today. I never thought of the saddles that go thru the top and rest on the lower block as being inlaid before. That's a new idea for me.
  8. How does one remove an inlaid saddle without damaging the top? I ask because I have a violin with an inlaid saddle where the center seam has opened starting at the saddle and going north about 80 millimeters. I thought a too-tight saddle caused the problem. My thought is that removing the saddle is required before proceeding toward closing the seam. The violin is 77-plus years old. I bought it in 1990 and the seam was open at that time. The violin's label says it was made in "Czecho-Slovakia." Obviously, it isn't valuable. I've never played it. Thanks for any advice anyone offers.
  9. Now, that right there is funny! LOL
  10. I read his bio somewhere recently and I was AWED. 'Course, even tho I'm old, when it comes to fiddle stuff, I'm easily impressed.
  11. Thanks for the photos. I like it. I'm gonna try it.
  12. Bill: No, I didn't release the button first. And it was not free. Until a year or two before removing the neck, the fiddle had been my primary one when playing in dancehalls. Jeff: I can see that releasing the button and the sides of the heel makes a lot of sense. I wouldn't knock the scroll against something though. What I did depended on applying just enough force to crack the glue. An indiscriminant amount of force would certainly cause other damage. And surely the amount of force will vary from one violin to another. The way I did it is risky. Being less ignorant now, I'm unsure I would do it again. I'm wouldn't do it on a valuable instrument. I like the idea of cracking the glue joint of the top with Dwight Shirley's method. I think I'll try it. I have two ebay fiddles right now that will have the tops removed.
  13. I know all you guys are going to $hit bricks when you hear this. So please don't get ugly. About 25 years ago, I removed the neck from a fiddle with a couple of judo chops. Don't remember where I heard about this method. But I placed the fiddle on it's side on my bench and held the body so it stayed firmly in place. Then with one firm rap of the heel of my hand on the neck about midway between the heel and the chin, I broke that side of the neck joint loose. Then turned turned the fiddle over and repeated on the other side. The neck came out cleanly with no other damage anywhere. I then removed the top and there was no damage anywhere. Not saying anyone else should do this. Just saying what I did. One of the rare times The Force was with me, I guess.