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Everything posted by krugwaffle

  1. I'm working on an old junker fiddle right now that has some markings like that on it that are caused by traces of the glue they used on the label. All around the bass f-hole and inside the fiddle under the label is a residue of whitish paste. They didn't use hide glue for the label evidently and for some reason, they put the label in before the varnish was applied. There's about six little random smudges and a small fingerprint visible as pale traces around the f-hole. Must have been transported 'in the white' and finished in a facility different from the one it was built in. The residue was probably invisible when it was made, but over the years, the glue has prevented the wood from darkening evenly. I don't know exactly what the whitish paste glue is on this fiddle but it's extremely tough and hard. Where it touches the wood, it soaks into the grain very deeply and leaves a trace that would be near impossible to remove without scraping or sanding. The patch of glue under the label on the maple back has an almost glassy hardness that takes the edge off of the scraper very quickly. I was able to 'clean up' the rest of the interior and smooth out the rough wood but the spot under the label stands out hard as rock. Your thin line of pale wood could be a small trace of some glue from when the purfling was put in. It's hard to say. Whatever it is, it's a permanent part of the fiddle now.
  2. I'm not much of an expert as to fiddle pedigree but if the photos are accurate, I do love the color. A very rich honest varnish shade that adds warmth and compliments the age.
  3. I've noticed the same things about the bows I've had rehaired. Big bushy bunch of hair and not all are the same tension. I've taken to trimming the stragglers to get the ribbon down to a more manageable thing. I'll adjust the tension from totally slack up to where the tension just starts to pull the stick and watch the hair to see which ones are really loose. I'll take a pair of clippers and nip the most unruly hairs out. This will give you a cleaner sound. Be advised that new hair is usually noisier than you were used to in the old hair. At least until the rosin gets worked in real good. I read somewhere that between 190-200 hairs per bow is about normal for violins. I like a little less, and since I don't break 'em when I play, clipping a few wild hairs out of the batch doesn't bother me. As long as the ribbon stays balanced, and the bow stays straight, you could probably get by with as few as 50 hairs in the bunch. Fat hairs and thin hairs are a fact of life unless you want to pay a lot more for a rehair. It takes a lot of effort to go through a hank of hair and groom out all the odd ones. When I get my bow back from the shop, I'll run the ribbon through my fingers before I rosin it and if I feel any kinks or knots, I'll isolate them and remove them too. Along with any hairs that cross over or tangle with one another. It's not unusual to cut 10 to 30 hairs out before I even rosin the bow. It's rare to get a bow that doesn't need a little grooming before using it.
  4. I can't see any gain from a loose soundpost. I've had the opportunity to break in three new fiddles so far in my limited experience and each one has had the sound post loosen up in the first few months of playing. Each time I found the loose post I was investigating a problem that was developing with the sound. The fiddle gets "soft" and hard to play. No response and a hollow sound were also some of the symptoms. In most cases, I thought the strings were going bad so I'd start to replace them. No sooner than I'd loosen the tension on the strings a little, I'd hear that soundpost fall over. In the last fiddle, it fell over when I took off the E. When I put the post back in place, I realize I'm using a post that is now too short to fit EXACTLY in the original position. I only pull them in tight enough to not fall over when the strings are off so maybe I'm not wedging them in as tightly as they should be. A longer post would be needed to reestablish original position and tightness. So maybe that's what Darnton meant by a loose post.
  5. I like my Ming. It's a workshop prototype so I really can't tell you what model it is. I paid $2500 for it a little over a year ago but I believe it will market for over $4K if you can find one. Very powerful full tone. When I bought it, the varnish was still very soft and was curing very quickly so it wasn't that old yet. It was very bright and brash on the A and E strings but now they have grown fuller and more equal to the other strings. I keep putting off sending it to my luthier to get the finer points of setup done because it keeps playing so well. It needs to have the strings lowered at the nut and the fingerboard planed a little as there's just a tad too much scoop in the neck for me. It's a personal preference, one with which you may disagree. If you're spending up to $8K, you should be able to find an excellent Ming for that price. Be advised, though, to audition anything you might think of buying. When I purchased mine, there were three or four other Mings that came in all at the same time. I tried them all and mine was definitely the pick of the litter. None of them were mediocre, but the one I ended up choosing stood head and shoulders above all the others.
  6. I'll recommend Steve Perry's 'Gianna's' fiddle shop to anybody. He stands behind his products and provides very good quality priced at excellent value. I own a Gianna's Choice Old World Classic which I understand he imports in the white and finishes himself. Very nice construction and the easiest to play of all my fiddles. I also purchased a Ming Jhang Zhu prototype from him last year that continues to outperform any expectations I could have for a $2K fiddle. I've not found anything else like it on the web for less than $4600. I also got a good deal there on an Eastman mandolin and a Joseph Sandner bow. Steve's is a full service shop. I've had fiddle checkups and modifications done, bought cases and just stopped in to browse his selection. Nowhere on the internet will you find a couple dozen tuned fiddles and a whole cabinet full of rosin'd up bows ready for you to try out. That in itself is well worth the little extra you might pay to deal with a real music store. Knowing what you can get for $2K, I can't imagine what you'll find for $4K!
  7. It's highly possible you've gotten a bad string with that set. I've had that happen to me before. In my case, the G had corroded and turned white where it touched together wrapped up in the package. In a couple of spots, it had actually bonded to itself. I was still new to this sport so I didn't know that would effect the quality of the sound until I strung the fiddle up and started to play. Everything sounded good but the G had almost no volume at all. I tried cleaning it with fine steel wool but that didn't help at all. I ended up putting my old string back on and using it until the set wore out. Another thing you might want to check is the tension in the afterlength area. I don't know why it matters but before I started lubricating my bridge notches with graphite, I had a couple instances where the bridge would get a strange strain thing going on with freshly installed strings. It's like some of the strings would slip normally and have proper balance of tension on either side of the bridge while one wouldn't. This string gets tight when tuned but since it's stuck in the bridge, the afterlength either stays slack or the bridge twists some and this will cause the string to act weird. Usually you can find out if this is happening by pulling the top of the bridge a little with your fingertips. If there's a tight string, you'll hear a pop when the tension releases. Sometimes twisting the tailpiece a little from side to side will cause tension to equalize over the bridge too. Time to get a pencil and load up your bridge notches with a good helping of graphite.
  8. I've only installed three sets of Perfections but I've never used any glue either. The only drawback I've seen is that over time if the fit loosens, the peg will twist tighter in the hole when it's tuned. It usually only happens when you're trying to slacken the string. It feels funny when it happens because the string will suddenly slacken at the regular peg rate and require much more turning to tighten again because of the gear reduction. Currently this is happening on just one of my fiddles. It may be because of the fact that the pegbox is made of very old wood that has just been recently carved. It's still settling in to it's new form and it's new climate. The walls are a little thinner than normal too. So far, the pegs might have slipped an additional half-turn more than installed depth. Lately, they've stopped twisting and haven't shifted at all. More than eight months without an event may mean they're through. If it makes it through the winter dryout, that should be it.
  9. He might have something here. If the "endpeg" is cut slightly eccentric, it could be used to tune all four strings at once! Regardless, you got to give him credit for one of the most robust saddles I've ever seen.
  10. I don't know how to tell you this, G'dae but what you bought there might not be a violin but a fiddle instead. Them's not sweat stains. My limited experience as a bluegrass fiddler tells me those are beer marks. Yeah, I hate to break it to you but, this fiddle's been honky-tonkin' at some point in it's life. Now, it's nothing to be ashamed of. Some of the best violins have a fiddly dark-side. Just don't be surprised if the Chopin or Mozart you play has a little Southern Twang to it... The stains are just 'added character' to the violin's back story. Like the others have said, the stains don't look that bad. Just put off doing anything about them until some day when you're having a luthier do some other upgrade or something. He can take care of them then. In the mean time you'll just have to get used to a double-shuffle instead of a detache'!
  11. Have you thought of visiting any of your local fiddle stores and asking them if they have any suitably trashed instruments already in need of repair that you could have for little cost? Maybe get in contact with local schools with music programs and request their cast offs. Most every high school has a pile of junk that their contract repairman refuses to touch. Fix some of their stuff, show them your ability and you'll have more work than you can handle! I don't dismiss the smashed 59¢ eBay fiddle but after you've finished all the work, all you've got is a fixed smashed 59¢ fiddle from eBay. With the 'beyond repair' lots from the local shops you might find a gem among the kindling.
  12. Well, I could have told you this was a complicated topic, pigcat. You file a little off your bridge and next thing you know, they bring psychoacoustics into it! For me, projection means being heard. What do I have to do with my little acoustic box that will make sure others around me are aware I'm actually playing and not just waving my arms around. The subtle nuances that make the tiniest note shimmer and gleam above the din of the orchestra are lost on us bluegrass folks. It's kinda funny, but I do make use of the "Bel Suono" thing. I think it's also called "the singer's formant." I call it narrowbanding and in bluegrass it's also known as "the high lonesome sound." A way for the vocalist to improve his projection. A way to get out and get heard over the thumping bass and the chorus of guitars. Narrowbanding drives more of your vocal power into the 3-6kHz range giving you a little more carrying power without having to scream. Have you ever listened to a pond full of singing frogs? Next time you're out at night, stop and listen to the frogs as they make their sounds. Try to count how many different frogs you can hear. The surprising thing is you can hear them all pretty good. Frogs use all sorts of tricks to get their calls out and get heard. Each species occupies a different part of the audio spectrum. Each member of the species times their call to avoid being blocked out by another frog's call. They're not like a crowd of people all talking at once, you can hear each frog distinctly. Sometimes I use their example of how to find holes in the music through which to be heard.
  13. I feel that projection is a combination of several things. Not just volume, but where the volume is directed. I only have three fiddles so I can only speak from this limited experience. I use the sound of my fiddle reflecting off my surroundings to judge projection. If I can hear my fiddle reflecting off the audience, I know the audience can hear it too. My first fiddle is not very powerful, and poorly focused. An oar paddle I use to practice. If I'm using it to play with a string band, I can barely be heard by other musicians around me. Not much projection. My next fiddle is very loud under the chin but from 5 feet away it sounds like a bumblebee in a jar. All the sound is being projected into the players face and none is making it out to the listener. I've done everything I can think of to remedy this situation and it still does it. Must be something in the wood. My last fiddle is very powerful. Banjo picker feels my sound in his pot skin from 25 feet away. Not so loud under the chin but I can hear it echoing off the rows of seats in an auditorium or off the parked cars around the outdoor pavilion. I think this is what you're talking about, eh pigcat? Now, I've heard other fiddles that have a little different kind of projection. A quality that makes their sound stand out. Old time fiddlers like instruments with a chiming, tinny sound that will cut through the drone of the other instruments. Even though they're not loud they can still be heard. Their projection will depend on what they're being played along with. Change the combination and they could be covered up by something like a piano or tambourine. I don't know how you'd go about measuring this projection other than to get someone to play "in ensemble" while you move around in the audience and decide for yourself how well the instrument projects. Not practical all the time but could be an experiement to conduct whenever the opportunity presents itself. I do this whenever I can convince another fiddler to try out my instrument. Differences in style usually won't effect the projection too much. These differences can be averaged out by listening to as many different musicians playing the same instrument as you can.
  14. Improper afterlength can cause the exact problem you're experiencing, marmotte. Changing out the tailpiece may have left the strings too long, especially if you went from a tailpiece with no fine tuners to an all in one with fine tuners. I've noticed that they usually make the all in one units very small so they can be used on full sized as well as fractional sized violins without the need for stocking different units for each. I have a Thomastik metal tailpiece that came on my beginner's fiddle that's smaller than a 2/4 size tailpiece. You can still use this tailpiece if your tail gut is adjustable and can be made long enough to get your afterlength down to a normal setting. I use a 56-60mm afterlength. Most nylon tailguts won't allow more than a few mm's of adjustment, and you don't want to risk unscrewing the nuts too much. There should always be full thread of the nylon cord remaining in the nuts or they could pull off the ends of the tailgut and allow the tailpiece to break loose. Very exciting!!! You could use an old mandolin trick to see if adjusting the afterlength will have any effect. Take some rawhide cord or some leather strips and interweave it through the strings in the afterlength area. Anything that would mute the sound would work. If this knocks down the reverberation that you're hearing then the afterlength is the cause. A piece of duct tape or masking tape would probably work too. Don't get it too close to the bridge or it will act as a mute. Try loosely taping over your tailpiece too, just in case it's resonating with your strings. Plastic isn't the best non-resonant material to use for tailpieces so it might be adding to your problem. You want some resonance in the afterlength. If it's set too short the sound will be deadened or pinched sounding. Properly set you should hear a nice singing resonance without the flooded bathroom reverb effect.
  15. So, did all the changes influence the sound the way you hoped they would? Did the closer ff's make it more focused or brighter? I remember you were asking about this on another thread. You're building them so fast, I wonder if you've got time to observe the effects of your alterations before you're turning out the next masterpiece. The problem with making so many changes at once is you're never quite sure which was the change you wanted! Great work by the way. Again with the beautiful varnish and color! Thank you for sharing your wonderful artwork with us.
  16. Room acoustics can have tremendous effect on the sound of a violin, pigcat. I was never aware of how much until I started playing a violin. As a guitarist, the instrument is a room unto itself to some extent and it carries its own acoustics. A fiddle uses everything in it's environment to color it's sound. Just the effect of the ceiling. Our sound source is so much closer and more directed towards the ceiling than any other stringed instrument. The type and strength of echo from the ceiling will directly effect your sense of how you sound. Try playing in a venue that has big paddle fans revolving overhead! It's like the old rotating Leslie speakers... Where I work, there are several of these huge anechoic chambers for testing electronic equipment. They're designed more for RF absorption but work acoustically also. I took a fiddle in one to test it with a spectrum analyzer and it was as if I had forgotten how to play. The bow made the strings vibrate but it sounded horrible. Like a tenor singing with his nose pinched tightly shut. It was as if both the fiddle and I had terrible head colds. I didn't know what to think of the spectra we were measuring. They couldn't have much meaning when the sound is so lacking the dynamics and nuances of the environment. Talk about a hostile venue! I'll take the old bathroom or gymnasium any day!
  17. That is a very ambitious project, for sure Matthew. I've never carved the back of a bass scroll before but I have decorated picture frames and boxes of various sorts. The best thing I can say is just take your time. Patience, patience, patience! You've got a lot of very fine work to do there and you'll just have to take it a bit at a time. For the work I've done that's similar, I wasn't able to obtain the control I needed with a mallet. I was better off using large handled gouges and chisels pushed by hand. The mallet is great for stamping in the edges and marking out the outline but when it came time to shape all the individual parts, I would switch to hand power. Of course, maintain scary sharp edges at all times. Chips happen. A lot of chips are just waiting there for you to disturb the surrounding wood so they can fall out. Thin cyanoacrylate would wick into and reinforce the endgrain edges of your design, but I think it would later blemish any finish you would apply. Maybe adjust the moisture content of the wood or heating it would help? Somebody out there might be able to help you. Well, Darren beat me to the 'wet' suggestion so there you go! Good luck on the work ahead. It goes slower and slower until you can't tell you're making any progress at all, and then you're done!
  18. Now, if the pictures were too good you would be suspect that he cut and pasted them from a professional site! I feel sorry for the guy. He lists the pegs and the strings as being brand new. I don't know how they do it up in New Yawk but, new pegs usually aren't mounted up to their shoulders in the pegbox and new Dominants usually don't come all corroded and kinky lookin'. I'd bid $5 but I know it's going to cost me a fortune in shipping & handling. If a big Bostonian appraiser tells you "that this violin was one of the best examples of Hammig's work that he had ever seen" isn't there usually an appraisal sheet to go along with that or what? Well, he didn't say he took it there to have it appraised. Definitely one to keep an eye on...
  19. This was my first impression too. Most sub-sized violins are barely playable much less actually capable of such a challenging piece. Not to mention the aerial technique required of a matchstick sized bow.
  20. Nail polish is usually some form of nitrocellulose lacquer. It's usually loaded with thickeners and glossyfiers and all kinds of cosmetic stuff but it's base is the lacquer. Not intended as a bonding agent but will work as one. A lot of the old-style "household cement" glues were made with nitrocellulose. Super glue is cyanoacrylate which, may appear similar, is really different stuff. It's been years since my involvement with model aircraft so I don't know if the jury is still out concerning longevity. Modelers who build static balsa and tissue models were just starting to ask if the newly arrived CA glues would last as long as their old Amberoid and Duco cements would. For fiddle purposes, I would think the cured nitrocellulose would last as long as cured acrylic. Might be more yellowing and shrinkage with the nitro....
  21. Your postsetter should be sharp! Most of the commercial soundpost setters are way too thick and dull. They're not sharpened properly to stick into the vertical grain of the post. I use an old dental pick tool that came as part of an assortment from a flea market. The thin wire pick has been ground to a vertical screwdriver shaped point which stabs a post very easily. Being a thin wire mounted in a skinny hexagonal handle, there's plenty of room to maneouver the post through the f-hole and into place inside the fiddle. Once it's planted, I pluck out the dental pick and use any one of my other numerous assundry tools to hudge the post into final position. My most useful 'nudging' tool is a rod of 1/8" metal shaped into a shepherd's hook. The post can be wrangled around and pulled into place with the hook but it's also heavy enough for fine adjustments by tapping the post. A plain coat hanger makes a fine soundpost setter if you hammer the end flat and file it sharp. I've made emergency post setters for my fiddle cases that are nothing more than a short piece of coathanger wire with a point on one end and a hook on the other. Takes up no room and so far I've rescued at least two other fiddlers who have had their soundposts fall over while on vacation.
  22. krugwaffle

    New forum

    Just a test to see if my Avatar is working. The forum is looking good so far. I can't imagine all the headaches the System Admin. must go through just to keep this thing working. I really missed it though during the time it was down. Thanks for all the hard work!
  23. quote: Originally posted by: iburkardI guess everyone thinks of "chunks" differently; I should have said "flakes." ? What little glue there is has been spread onto part of a baking sheet, just to see what happens.
  24. quote: Originally posted by: byacey I knew one maker that used to advocate if you had a POS instrument, take it out back and smash it against a fence post. Then glue the pieces back together and re-assemble. The instrument will be found to have a much improved tone There's a lot to this train of thought. It probably won't work with just any POS but would probably cure a chronic POS that should perform much better. You know the type. The 150 year old closet queen that doesn't have a scratch on it. Not because it's been taken such good care of, but that it sounds so bad nobody could bear to play it more than five minutes at a time. Handed down generation to generation, repeatedly turning stomachs and being returned to the closet until the next reading of the will. Repeated attempts at improving setup have only been rewarded with the exact same screechy thin tight-lipped whine. A whack across the fencepost would definitely do this unit some good. Break it into as many long thin strips as possible. When it's all reassembled, it will be a fine instrument. Actually, there's probably a scientific way to go about it so it would break along all the lines of stress that are making it sound bad, but the calculations would tie up too much supercomputing time and it wouldn't take into account the chaos the fence post would introduce.
  25. I don't know much about violas but I've always used the measurement of the actual scale length vs. posing the bridge between the nicks. Part of my early learning about fiddle setup required numerous tear-down and setup cycles. In order to compare the effect of one change or another, I'd have to maintain all other aspects of the setup as accurately as possible. Measuring the length of the vibrating string from the edge of the nut to the tip of the bridge was just a lot more accurate for me than anything else. It especially helps in afterlength adjustments when you're removing the tailpiece several times to adjust the tailgut length a few mm at a time. A good clearly marked ruler will get you back to the same scale length more quickly than attempting to set the bridge feet and the bridge angle to sub-mm accuracy by eyeballing the notches. Now, there's still a lot of argument about what the proper scale length should be. I maintain that it's different for every fiddle. Others argue that it's exactly 328mm while others say it should be 13". I use a little bit of trial and error and find that a new fiddle will usually be happy within one or two mm of the 328mm standard. It has more to do with the placement of the soundpost and the bass bar than anything else. I'll slip the bridge forward and backward, right and left to see if there's any sweet spot. Once I find it, I'll measure it so I can always come back to it. Sometimes the bridge feet are directly centered on a line between the nicks, others they may be behind or in front of the line. I feel that on the fine, "bench-made" grade fiddles, the nicks were placed to indicate the builder's intent as he graduated the top and aligned the neck. But what happens as the fiddle ages? The neck pulls forward and the body arching sags. It's not long before the nicks lose their meaning. For me, it's dealing with the other end of the fiddle market. Most of the nicks on the cheap imported fiddles are there for decoration only. A friend of mine has a Chinese student fiddle with no nicks on it at all.
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