Michael Darnton

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Everything posted by Michael Darnton

  1. I would look carefully for a pin up high under the board, but it could have been cut away setting the neck.
  2. Is that the saddle at the bottom? If so, the pin is an assembly artifact, and that made a weak spot for the crack to originate from, but it's not exactly the cause of the crack, which would have probably happened eventually, anyway (I say that because it's a wide open gap, not just a crack, indicating some inherent stress). To fix this type of crack correctly it's necessary to take the top off, so there's a temptation to rub some glue in, hope for the best, and leave the full-scale repair to the next guy, hoping the crack doesn't run right up to the other end in the meantime (which it probably never will do.)
  3. In the context of the current discussion it involves the pressure between the top and back from the soundpost, which is something I adjust according to the playing style and personal preferences of the player and the characteristics of the instrument. As to how this is accomplished, I know there are several ways, and this can quickly become a religious question for some people. I do what's appropriate for the situation as it stands in front of me. Quite often the solution is simply to put the post back where the person who fit it intended it to be before some local genius started randomly slapping it around to find his personal "magical spot". Go figure. I guess that neck set can certainly be a part of tightness, as can the bar, as can strings, and there are ways to move tightness sideways as well as up or down, and if there's time I start with the thing that's the worst out of whack and try to fix it all, which is what we do in the shop with instruments we buy at auction. I don't mean at all to imply that every problem is a post problem or that there's a single solution and in fact I even have players who have several roles who know their instruments and themselves well enough to come for adjustments if they have to play something at the fringes of what their instrument will do but want to be at their best. That's an example of why I commented that I don't believe one can do the best adjustment without some discussion with the player.
  4. Giving a second look and going only by what I see, I'm going to guess that this is an amateur-made American instrument, and it might be a viol, smaller than a cello. The wood looks American, the work and varnish amateur, and the size of purfling and wood grain might be a clue that it's a smaller instrument. The crest, in that context, is just someone's bad idea.
  5. I guess it depends on the orientation of the original photo....I am seeing rays not pores. If those are pores in the first post, they are gargantuan!
  6. Thanks, Jerry. Do you think he had any opinion on bridge height when it was followed upward by appui and saddle so that the same string angle was maintained? I think that's perhaps the core of baroquecello's question. . . . maybe. Mark, sure, I get that "totally satisfied" response about 100% of the time, too, but that doesn't stop me from digging farther into what they might get beyond that, after the initial shock wears off, especially with someone new whose style isn't familiar to me. :-)
  7. This "cello" looks like a bass!
  8. None, in my experience; usually the rays/flecks are light and clear, not dark--just the opposite of what you have there.
  9. Jerry, I felt that his comment was clear; it was more that he didn't comment enough on the cause beyond saying bridge height. He was talking about a feeling of the strings being floppier under the fingers and bow at that point in the discussion. There's no recording of what was a small-group event, as far as I know. Mark, I'm surprised you don't experience that--really, it's one of the most common comments I get. Maybe it's a Chicago thing. What it usually comes down to is post tightness, in my experience, and players who like to think they know what's what will often offer that, for instance, it feels like the post is loose when it's too tight, and the other way around.
  10. As I assume most of us who do adjustments for customers know, when the player says the violin is tight, the setup is loose, and the other way around. With that in mind, I was struck by something Rene Morel said 20 years ago at a VSA convention, that players felt a high-bridge setup as being loose, and a low-bridge setup as tight, which is contrary to what we might intuit. But Rene didn't hint whether he thought that was about string angle or actual bridge height, only, if the string angle stayed the same. I've spent a lot of time over the last two decades thinking about that. I think you could make an argument for either side.
  11. I would rather work on/repair a violin that when the neck fell out the button was not glued well enough to come off with the neck rather than have to fix a broken button. Forces on a violin neck aren't really that great that the mortise plus glue shouldn't be able to do the whole job, IMO.
  12. Those costs were high, plus flights and housing cabs and food, and that is why violins were more expensive there. Come to Chicago, get Chicago prices--fair, right? At that time, at least, teachers would not take a commission, since the president's violin teacher wife had just gotten in big trouble for taking them. I have no ideas about now, but I do know that when discussed in forums the teacher commission issue is ALWAYS blown up by violin conspiracy theorists far beyond my actual experience in reality.
  13. I have done business in South Korea when I worked for another big shop. The laws are clear, and they're easy to follow, and we did. Checking paperwork entering the country added about ten minutes at the airport.The risk you run if you don't is that local shops will happily tell the customs folks what you are up to, and the customs people are eager to find out. This is just a cost of doing business. I don't think the OP realizes the complexity of what he's suggesting, though. Good instruments don't tall off cheap trees waiting to be gathered and taken to other countries; customers don't automatically buy what you show just because YOU like it. Etc. Dealing with these problems are the major part of the business; it's not just trading violins for money.
  14. Another way I have seen is to glue the extension on the bottom as well as possible, then plane the sides off the heel and add new sides. If the wood is carefully chosen and well fit, this can be almost invisible, plus the wood on the sides does all the work and the piece on the bottom is just filler, really. If you believe the bottom of the neck can make a good joint to the block, and I have seen plenty of such joints where when the neck came out it took ample block wood with it, then the OP's joint is not really a bad idea, since it just moves the potentially questionable joint up a couple mm, but the last one of these I dealt with came out just like the OP's, with a thick shim of glue where it didn't belong, just like his. So I'm not sure this is a horrible idea, but it has to be well executed, and it seems like the people who choose to do it this was are congenitally unable to make a good joint (based on these two examples).
  15. If I can offer counterpoint to that, the best guitar I ever made was a test that I made with a reject top that was so flexible cross-wise that I could roll it up into a four-inch tube. Martin historically used some really "bad" wood in their D-18 model, and it's one of their most popular models. So common legend isn't always truth. . . . If I had the potential of a lot of Ponderosa tops for free, I might give it a try before rejecting it.
  16. It really depends on your definition of "high level" as well. I run into plenty of competent, full-time, professional players who are scared to pull their bridge back. Once you've snapped a cello bridge trying to pull it back . . . well, it's a serious negative reinforcement for a lot of people. But many of these also come in regularly for check-ups, and I pull their bridge back as part of that, so it doesn't really matter as much. More often I see problems from the non-serious, amateur musicians whose last visit to a violin shop was in 1993 when their parents bought them their instrument.
  17. If someone has replaced the blocks, all bets are off as to what the corner miters originally looked like. Likewise for any replaced or tampered-with piece.
  18. Apologies if this has been mentioned and I missed it. . . I know that a lot of people don't know that when fitting bars the best way to see the chalk on the bar is to bring in a light right next to your eye as close as possible as if the light were coming from your eye, pointing the light and the bar down into the darkness under your bench, looking at the bar surface from a very low angle. The chalk catches this low light differently from the wood and it's not too hard to see. I like David's idea of day-glow chalk and UV. Maybe we should commission a special batch of ochre-colored (wood color) chalk with something that would glow in UV in it. I'd go in on a buy like that.
  19. The only "available evidence" I have in this regard is actual bridges showing that the best wood can warp if the bridge is cut wrong or not maintained and the worst wood can stay straight if the bridge is cut right and properly maintained even after heat straightening, so any theoretical evaluation of wood strength has very little to do with the issue, in my experience. This basically removes theoretical measurements from the question. On the other hand. I have seen lots of violin bridges collapse straight down, which brings up some more questions. But not cello bridges. I'm in the middle of getting a handle on this for violins, but the evidence so far is indicating cutting errors, in that I'm seeing this in supposedly good wood from supposedly good shops, consistently. The examples I've seen I am pretty sure have never been subjected to straightening. Actually, this brings up another question: I know that a lot of shops cook bridges as part of the cutting process to give them a bit of color. IF heating wood damages wood . . . but the people who do this maintain just the opposite. . . . . . . an after-shower afterthought: If someone wants to attack the problem of wood integrity, they'd better not be using Aubert Deluxe bridges, which in my opinion exhibit more wood damage from whatever process they use than I could do with heat. But I think that quite a few people have decided that's not an issue, in that case, so I'm really not worried about heat.
  20. I wet a paper towel, fold it to the dimensions needed to correct the problem as locally as necessary, put that on the microwave turntable with the bridge's concavity appropriately sitting on the wet towel, and nuke it in 15 second increments until the problem straightens out (which happens most of the time but not 100%). Then a few seconds of nuke of the bridge standing dries it out, and back it goes. Warning: without adding water, a bridge will burn before you know it, and from the inside out, so by the time it's smoking, it's too late. When this doesn't work, I follow by bending against a hotplate with a1/4" sheet of aluminum on it. Additionally, I have heard, many times, that a bridge that's straightened is weak and will bend again. I regard this as TOTAL NONSENSE. Bridges curl for two reasons, both usually correctable. The first is that the player has not properly kept on top of pulling it back, and that is not anything about the quality of the bridge. The second is that the feet were improperly cut, or the arching has tilted forward (very commonly excessively so on new instruments) and the resting angle of the bridge has become wrong relative to the top. In either case, recutting the feet so that the bridge sits at the correct angle to the top will correct the problem permanently. If you want the fix to be permanent, you MUST correct this or the bridge will bend again. But this, also, is not a bridge defect. Grotesquely cutting a bridge wrong (flat on the back, highly rounded on the front) will also usually result in a warped bridge, but again, not the bridge's problem. I have seen flat-back bridges that bend back at the top, then forward at the legs, in an s-curve! Again, not the bridge's fault, but of the person who cut it. If you don't recut the feet, and do it right, the bridge will fail. If you have consistent bridge failures, you need to look at how you are cutting bridges. We have quite a few cellos in our subsidiary's rental program, and I don't think I have yet had to replace a bridge because of "failure" other than for the above reasons. Regarding the resting angle of the bridge, I don't know how many people are aware that when a cello is put to tension the arching invariably tilts forward just a bit, towards the upper eyes, so the angle you cut with no stress doesn't stay. So cutting just a couple of degrees of backwards lean right from the start accounts for this in advance. The other thing that happens is that the post presses up on the back of the foot on that side immediately changing the fit, resulting in a twisting pressure of the legs relative to each other. I correct for that; you may or may not want to for your own reasons. You can satisfy yourself on this question by tilting the bridge backwards slightly and watching which foot lifts first on the front side, then doing the same in the other direction. Regarding the OP, there's no way to touch a bridge with water and not have the grain puff up a bit. The fix as noted, is to resand the side that was wet. Not too much to ask, I don't think.
  21. OK, I'll take Sospiri's question seriously. First, Robert Bein observed that violinists see violins as though through welding glasses (with a vague and unrefined impression of shape and color). Violin makers who aren't exposed to a lot of violins, and armchair experts have the same problem. In this case, I'd say that the things you are seeing are there in a small way, but not of sufficient density to overpower the actual points of identifying Bergonzi. This is an easy mistake to make if you aren't sufficiently skilled to tell different makers apart accurately, and in this regard heads are the hardest test of all and the last thing most people figure out. There is also the additional problem that it's rare that makers don't ever change how they do some things through time, and the opposing need to consider that there are some things they keep constant through time. So it's never just a matter of looking at two objects and seeing how they are the same or different in small details in isolation. So, yes, I see some commonalities with Guarneri heads, as well as Rugeri, Stradivarl, and the entire Cremonese school, but that's not enough to say that any of those makers, all working in a similar tradition with a variety of commonalities, made those Bergonzi heads. Second, I think you have your Guarneri family makers mixed up, but that's because you are following Roger H, who has his end-period Guarneri family makers and violins mixed up, in my opinion. Also, If you could see the real violins, you should immediately understand that the Guarneri heads you are comparing to Bergonzi don't bear nearly as much resemblance in 3D--for instance, that it's possible to look at two violins from the side and get an impression that can't survive at all when looking at them from the front or back. If I may comment on something else, the reason you have such a lack of credibility around here is because your comments are often poisoned with aggressive contrarianism, in that you seem to feel the need to make your mark as being the only one who sees the obvious thing that only you see. That is not because you are smarter; it is because you are way short of knowing what you are talking about to the necessary depth to see your own errors (thus the reference earlier to Dunning/Kruger.)
  22. I wonder how much of this issue revolves around setup; because if you don't know how violins become loud, you don't know *everything* the setup is doing in this regard and therefore you can't control that variable. . . even though you think you have done everything the same on every violin. Or maybe the violins are even from different sources as they are in the blind tests situations, in which case a lot is resting on the person who did the setup, not on the violin. Talking about tonal quality, too.
  23. If this were only a simple engineering problem, and intuition a valid method of understanding violins . . . and other things. . . Intuition is a question, not an answer.
  24. It's not a local offense. Such a comment is every bit as offensive in the US. And just as tasteless to defend under the bogus guise of "free speech."