Michael Darnton

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Everything posted by Michael Darnton

  1. I don't suppose that I'm the only person to have sat at a concert and been able to listen both live and through phones what was being recorded---I would definitely call it "distorted". I was surprised at how differet the raw feed was from the sound in the room. . . and how I'd been trained by recordings to prefer it--clearer, more transparent. Exactly the things people can never enough of when they are buying violins, and I think it's obvious that recordings have shaped tastes and lead them in a direction away from a good traditional sound. I'm fearful of what will be called a "good" violin sound in the future if this process of the snake eating its own tail continues, because the effect has the inevitability of being constantly cumulative as the actual violin in the field fails to achieve the recording's close-mic'd, volume boosted relative to the orchestra, "enhanced" clarity and brightness. I believe we have ready seen this detrimental process at work in many players' preference for thin sounding, boring, bright, loud POS violins.
  2. You need to read what you wrote, then: it is a speed vs dollar market if you choose to put something good in. That's what it is for "good" items and that is why the estimate is low. If you want dollar rather than speed, find an appropriate place to sell your bow. Apparently you already knew this when you started the thread, so why did you start the thread??
  3. No, Darlington. It's less than a mile down the road. :-)
  4. Any shop selling any violin should be willing to support a violin with their own reputation--their problem, not yours. If you are thinking of a private sale, you will be forced to do what the customer requires, which may vary. An appraisal is not a certificate and does not serve the same function.
  5. As is your objection, I am sure. We buy a lot at auctions. A huge percentage of it is attractive and nonfunctional in its sold state. Virtually none has ever been in a slap a bridge on and sell it state. I often find that someone has been inside recently and done a whole job, and the instrument still doesn't work. Things do sell for record prices at auction but most sales are not records . . . for good reason. To not know that auctions are dumping grounds--for widely varying reasons--shows total ingnorance. That's been their role for literally decades.
  6. In photos, including the one above, I notice he plays with a collapsed wrist, supporting the violin on the ball of his thumb, which would seem to negate the technical anatomical advantage, so I ask do you as well? If not, I don't think it's fair calling him as a mode for your style. I bet he would not choose to play that way now, given modern equipment.
  7. With fresh necks I make them a little thick and a little round, then there's room to make them into whatever the customer wants. The one thing I won't do, as I said, is thin. In working with players who have various hand problems or the perception that a neck is too thick or too wide, virtually 100% of the time I can fix their complaint by fine-tuning the shape without changing either width or thickness. Usually it boils down not to raw dimension, but something being in the way, or of some wood/skin interface being less sharp (Michael A's thumb probably likes being on a flat rather than something more relatively pointy by being rounded? Less pressure per unit of skin.)
  8. I have an actual shop policy of refusing to thin necks beyond normal specs. I figure I'll let someone else do it and then he'll be the one to have to explain why the violin now sounds like crap. If, however, you had a violin with an oversized neck, that's a reasonable alteration because it can later be further refined into a good, sufficient neck.
  9. I see the problem quite differently. A notorious problem with high end audio is that it mercilessly reveals bad recordings. Things you though were fine turn out to be not that great when all is revealed. And most contemporary recording is not that great. But don't blame the playback equipment for that. The list of sins of the recording industry is long, starting with microphones that automatically add "presence" (exaggerates high frequencies so that violins no longer sound like violins), and that's just the start of it. One of the old jokes is that you always knew that you were in the car or house of a deaf person by the smile pattern on their equalizer, but now without equalizers everywhere, the record company delivers that directly. The most common newbie complaint on audio forums is that a system "lacks bass" or transparency. So the industry delivers.
  10. 13mm Baltic birch works well.
  11. I think that all of us who've done sales have had the experience of someone bringing a friend in to play so they can hear violins from the other side, and how very different that friend makes violins sound compared with the actual customer. Which one is "right"?
  12. I used to believe that, but eventually came to discover that this applies only to the best (re: Michael A's comments) and worst of us. For the rest, the huge zone of normal players, there are choices to be made in choosing a violin, and some people will pick one set of defects some another set, to find a violin that meshes well with their particular skill set, so just making a blanket declaration of "good" or "bad" based on my checklist is mostly irrelevant in real-world cases. That's why no matter what we think is good or bad, people make their own choices and those choices are all different.
  13. I hope you aren't implying that Chinese manufacturing is inferior. There are plenty of examples to contradict this. What is true is that Chinese industry manufactures to specifications: if you specify garbage, they deliver garbage; if you specify gold, it may be the exact same factory that delivers gold. The camera industry is a good example of this, as is their musical instrument production, brass instruments in particular.
  14. I got into the high-end headphone thing for a while. I found it interesting that when those people named their favorite recordings, it was never about the music. One of my faves from that period is a recording in a church where only with the good phones can I hear the street traffic. Another fave from that time is because you can hear the cellos turn pages, and the conductor panting. Anyway, I enjoyed the experience, but went through it, and now I listen to low quality music from the web, through my phone's earphones quite happily. The elite headphone experience was a bit too much like my day job. :-)
  15. It's just about establishing good habits early, much like not letting your child eat on the floor with his hands even though he won't be dining with the queen in the foreseeable future.
  16. This is one of those questions where if you divide the opinions into groups based on the qualifications of the person voicing the opinion separated with sufficient granularity the answers start to make better sense.
  17. A friend of mine saw an old Hill double case at a flea market once. He opened it up, and someone had removed all the insides, and the two violins inside had been wire-brushed into oblivion. We asked him what the violins used to be, and he said that he hadn't had the stomach to look and find out. The stall owner said they'd been pretty rough looking, but [proudly] that he'd fixed that.
  18. Elemi is added to varnish as a faux plasticizer. I say faux because it does dry, over the course of years rather than months, and turns into a hard resin in the long run, after the check has cleared. In that, it would be similar to adding pine sap to your varnish. So it doesn't surprise me that a varnish with elemi would have drying problems. I have never had problems with wax in shellac. Perhaps since elemi and wax are both turpentine soluble, the elemi and wax are combining, and the solvent in the elemi is keeping the wax soft.
  19. From what I see on the heads, I think Joseph Filius had maybe two gouges. none too sharp.
  20. Ya spends yer money and ta takes yer chances. My experience with cello tailpieces after 40 years of experience is that I'm pretty good, but not infallible, at predicting which will work best on which cello, and that every cello is different. As a general rule, I'd say that a lot of adjustments are zero-sum games. Do you NEED more projection, more response, more "etc"? Because I can guarantee you that you will get less of something else to get those things--often range and quality of tone. If that coincidentally happens to be something you have too much of and want to lose, great. But there is no such thing as a free lunch.
  21. Nate's point is if you are going to do something that you aren't certain of the results, always start in an invisible place, in case you did something really horrible. The premise is that if you don't know which cosmetics will dissolve your skin, why start right out on the middle of your face? My first choice would be to pick at it with a fingernail. If it's latex paint, it might peel right off with a little careful work. One very general principle of working with potential stripping solvents is to wipe solvent dryly on a small area, wait a few to ten seconds, and try to peel (peel--lots of choices here of how to do that from a weaker solvent on a q-tip up to a lightly-used jackhammer. Repeat more vigorously if that doesn't work, or switch solvents. The concept is to not work so wet or so long that the solvent goes through what you want to take off, loosens what's underneath more easily, and then you peel off the paint AND the varnish as one layer. You want the top layer to soften, but nothing under it. Easier said than done.
  22. Regarding cleats, I have been making the bevels very long and scooped so that only the middle is full strength, and the rest is like a graduated spring. That way, there's no sudden drop in support at the edge of the cleat. My cleats are twice as long as wide, and the scoops start in the center about 1 mm apart. I don't know if it matters, but it looks cool. I tried pointed cleats a while ago under a bass bar, and discovered I like fitting round ones much better. Which is too bad, because I think the pyramid shape looks a lot cooler!
  23. Chest patches are laid on top of wood--when the wood is already too thin there's certainly no reason to remove more, usually. Just to pick a case, the center is sagging, so you bag out the sag. Then when it's back where you think it started life, you feel like the arch is too flat and the wood too thin to support the bridge, so you think maybe some more wood would support the arching better. A wood/glue sandwich doesn't have to be too thick to do a lot of work. If the top is 2.0 mm there, a half mm, or a bit more, might be enough. In order to avoid a stress riser situation, it's a good idea to thin the edges down as much as you dare (it's considered good practice for any patch to have clean sharp edges, not the ragged ones that result from thinning the patch out right to nothing at the edges-- if you thin right down to the wood, a sawtooth perimeter can result from the interlocking of the hard grains under clamping pressure), and that may continue inward for a while, too, so you shouldn't see a sudden jump in grads. Some people will fit the patch right up to the edge of the f-hole, so well that with some blacking/browning varnish on the f edge like might normally appear, the seam will disappear. Some feather the patch out just as it touches the edge of the hole so there's only one layer to see. How thick the edges of the f cuts look, and if you want to augment that may play a place in the strategy there. Given that something was wrong in the first place or you wouldn't have thought of a patch, the sound can improve, if the patch isn't excessive. I did this one about four years ago; the violin sounds a lot better, and the arch, which was collapsing to the point of causing a new crack, is holding up well now:
  24. I am actually surprised at the answers of some experienced people. I use the tool. If it is sharp enough it is sharp enough. If not, I sharpen it. Since I don't cut hair or string with them, those tests aren't really relevant to me.