Jack Devereux

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Posts posted by Jack Devereux

  1. 2 hours ago, not telling said:

    This thread promises to be as fun as that guy living in the Appalachian mountains who wanted to make varnish out of deer fat and pine tar and was going to name his violin Thoreau. He was going to use only a few sharpened spoons and a penknife, and had the wood of some trees he felled in the deepest most 'Deliverance"-ish wilderness imaginable. Ok, that never happened. But it should happen. It's always at least a little bit fun to watch folks make something that has never been done before. Or at least, that they think hasn't been done before.


    Hey, this is meant in as loving a way possible, but as someone who grew up in the deepest, darkest Appalachian mountains and is now working at a very good shop doing serious work, I’d love it if we could move beyond those stereotypes. I get as annoyed by a sloppy homemade fiddle as anybody, but those are not exclusive to any particular region, and the Deliverance references aren’t accurate or helpful. 

  2. 23 hours ago, duane88 said:

    Just because Tommy did it and had a bridge hacked out with a pocket knife doesn't mean that we have to!

     I encourage fiddlers to try a normal curve with the strings lower. Many, Bruce Greene for example, use a flat bridge with the strings widened quite a bit at the bridge-same difference, no?

    point of reference: From East Tennessee, learned to play the fiddle in Southeastern Kentucky.


    The —just because Tommy (Jarrell) did it doesn’t mean we have to— point is a really important one. For those non-old time folks, Tommy is one of the most beloved and oft imitated of the southern American fiddle players. He also played a truly awful instrument.


    Just because someone who’s playing you love managed to sound like themselves in spite of the limitations imposed by their instrument doesn’t mean you should subject yourself to those same limitations. 


    I have studied Tommy’s playing and bowing very closely, and can manage a serviceable interpretation of his music. I also play Bach on the same instrument, and see no reason to change anything about the setup.

  3. I played bluegrass, old time and Irish music for a living for years, and now work in a shop that does work for predominantly straight ahead classical players. I see absolutely no reason to do a different setup for different musics styles.


    I tried an experiment once where a friend who is a very serious old time player (wouldn’t do this to a customer) asked for a flat bridge. I laid out the bridge head with the regular curve under the strings, but swept the edges up so it appeared flatter. He loved it, said it was the best bridge shape he’d ever had. 


    I suspect the “fiddle setup” the local butcher offers is often code for “I don’t have the woodworking chops to nail a good, consistent setup.” Sorry for the rant, just as someone who takes both traditional music and really good violin setup really seriously, this is a major pet peeve. 

  4. On 4/24/2018 at 12:10 PM, Jeffrey Holmes said:

    Though easy to handle, among other things, I felt it continued to shrink for a very long time, was a bit too soft (found that retouch does better in the long run over something harder that itself) and sometimes clouded under certain retouch.  As I mentioned, I know a number of fine restorers who still get on with it very well.

    That makes sense, thanks. 


    I guess a lot of folks cosider the fact that it can be removed with xylene a positive feature of deft. You said in one of the posts above the fill you’re using can be chipped out with a knife, do you find if/when you need to remove it that works out ok? 

  5. For what it’s worth, I had a fiddle with a set of the peg heads on it and I eventually wore one out. I was gigging for a living at the time and playing a lot of old time and music that required non-standard tunings, but weirdly it was the A peg that died, which was probably the one getting wrenched on the least. It just felt like a tooth had broken off a gear inside or something, you’d turn it and feel a big clunk and it would slip. They were on the fiddle when I got it, I see no advantage to them over wooden pegs that are put in properly.

  6. Ben, very cool! Thats a lovely looking fiddle. Thanks for the photos and information, would love to see more when you get it back. When you say it’s a shame he didn’t maintain the same style after immigrating, what did he transition to? Henley says they tend to be quite big? Would love to hear anything more you think on his making, or if you know anybody to consult, my interest has been piqued. 


    Tim, I hadn’t seen that book, it looks quite good, I’ll have to put it on the list. 

  7. Leafing through a copy of Henley, I discovered I share a name with an English violin maker who later immigrated to Australia- John Devereux (although only my mother calls me John and only when I’m about to get an earful). Most people spell the surname with an A (Devereaux), so I was particularly interested that he has the same version, sans A.


    Googling hasn't turned up much, was wondering if anybody had any information on him or has seen any of his instruments. Henley seems to think highly of him, but, you know, Henley...





  8. Shameless plug for my boss (John Montgomery, who along with Michael Zirkle did these photos/measurements)- you can buy the whole set of photos in a binder notebook. Really handy for spreading out on the bench when working on stuff, 1:1 photos of F holes and scroll for making templates, and they’re printed with an eye to matching the varnish color to the original instrument, so you don’t have to worry about your computer monitor throwing the color off. I know he has a bunch of the Betts ones at the shop, and has similar folios on all the other instruments in the LOC. If you’re interested the shop phone number is easy to find, just give a call, they’re a great resource. 


    (if this breaks any advertising rules I apologize and will happily remove it)

  9. On 4/8/2016 at 7:32 AM, Ben Hebbert said:

    Looks to me like one of those awful fiddles from the 1920s, made by an accordion repair man or whatever, who wanted to look like he was upholding ancient Italian traditions so Il Duce would smile benevolently over him, so got his screwdrivers out to carve a fiddle or few... Tarasconi, Carlo Bosi, Mario Giradi, Quentin Tarantino something like that. (... yawn). If you can sell it, $850 was a steal, even with all that work.

    I laughed loudly in public at this. It’s funny cuz it’s true..

  10. Awesome, thanks! 




    I just used this site to calculate the density of a back I had laying around and came up with 2.123g/cm^3. What does this tell you? When you're thinking about wood densities do you just record and find what trends tend to work for your style of making, or do you actually seek out wood in a specific range? Are there characteristics that woods of different density typically display? 


  11. I feel like I'm beginning to have enough grasp of tool skills to kinda make a decent, repeatable box to a set of specs, and am now trying to be more systematic about documenting both the things I can control (arching, graduations, bar shape, whatever else), and the qualities of the wood I'm using. 

    I hear all these terms and concepts about wood density, modes, speed of sound, all that jazz thrown around that I don't really understand, and would like to learn about this stuff, if only for note taking purposes. Is there a website, book or something else that breaks these basic violin making acoustics concepts down? I've searched and can't seem to find anything that seems definitive. 




  12. You could have eaten off the floor of the shop I was trained in. Wasn't any big deal, every tool and supply had its specific place and went back there when it was done being used. Quick sweep at the end of the day and you're good to go. All of the high end shops I've visited seem to follow a similar protocol, and I certainly strive for that in my own space. Not nocking anybody who has a messy space, I just don't understand how you could get any work done like that. 

  13. 5 minutes ago, Jerry Pasewicz said:

    These days a Tormek.  It really is not that difficult, the cutting edge is ground parrellel to the sides of the wheel, not perpendicular.  Grinding this way it is easier to hold the blade steady and follow the existing bevel.


    That makes sense. One more question and I promise I'll stop bugging you! How big is the blank you're starting with? I was trying to put that shape into the standard issue 1/4" Hock blade. Is that size workable? Thanks!

  14. 16 hours ago, Jerry Pasewicz said:

     AI do not shape the knives on a tool rest, it is all done freehand against the wheel.

    Is that on a Tormek or a standard bench grinder? I feel like the diameter of the stone has to have some effect? 


    Davide- those are lovely! 

  15. 23 hours ago, Jerry Pasewicz said:

    Yes, mine are quite similar.  The trick in retaining the curve is how you position your hand when sharpening.  Once you get the flow of your hand movement, the curve evolves;  the curve follows the hand not the other way around....the cool follows shortly thereafter.

    That makes sense. Do you establish the shape of the cutting edge and then add the relief in the back of the blade? Are you shaping that on a toolrest similar to the one Jeffrey pictured? Angle wise do you have something specific in mind? When I have managed to get that shape right I find it more versatile than the long straight blade (though some of those pictures are making me want to revisit that style). Thanks for the input!