The Violin Beautiful

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  1. Did you glue-size the area before gluing the top on? If not, perhaps the glue was absorbed by the end grain and the glue joint was starved.
  2. I wouldn’t sand it. Clean out any dirt and sea with clear varnish, then touchup if desired. This is not as simple a task as it sounds, and it might be better left alone, especially if the wood isn’t exposed. Take it to a luthier you trust for an evaluation.
  3. Soundpost position has an effect on the prominence of wolf notes, but the cause is not necessarily the post. The brass wolf eliminators are easy to install and use for experimenting. I’m not a fan of any wolf eliminators that have to be glued in place, though. Given that a wolf can change with adjustments or environmental conditions, it doesn’t make sense to me to attach it in a way that can’t be undone by the player. For that reason, I like the magnetic eliminators like the Krentz better—the simplicity and ease of removal appeal to me.
  4. Read the article linked above and you’ll see how it can be done elegantly. Since the topic of school repairs has come up, I think it’s worth mentioning that I taught the school/rental repair people at the shop how to do this very repair, and they’ve been using it on a good number of school repairs that have come in with broken buttons. It has saved a substantial amount of time and the repairs are invisible. It does require some skill, and proficiency in touchup to match the color of the neck heel will help to make it almost invisible.
  5. If I have the top off, I will likely do a patch on the button, especially if there is any issue with the block. However, if it’s not necessary to remove the top, I think the clavette is an elegant solution, and it really doesn’t take that much time to complete.
  6. Check out the article from Triangle Strings on clavettes. That would be my recommendation for your violin (assuming the top block is solid).
  7. 5.5 mm for A string, 8 mm for C. Keep in mind that even if the string heights are to spec, other things like nut height and fingerboard scoop can impact the heights at the opposite end and middle of the fingerboard.
  8. I haven’t seen a set of them yet, but I’d be interested in examining them. I have seen some pegs made from tintul which I thought looked rather nice.
  9. Bach’s Art of Fugue would be a good place to start. Most methods for learning involve deconstruction techniques, where one can isolate voices to see how they fit together. The goal is to learn how to emphasize voices at the proper times so that it doesn’t end up sounding jumbled or flat.
  10. The Mantegazza family was famous for regraduating Cremonese instruments. It’s not a new practice and the results, although permanent, aren’t necessarily bad. I would certainly argue in favor of conserving examples in original condition for posterity if possible, but we have to accept that many of our favorite great instruments have been heavily altered from their original state. The chances of success for the OP’s violin really depend on the luthier’s ability to diagnose the issues. As has been suggested, it’s possible there are some problems that aren’t evident without actual observation, so the fix may be more or less complicated.
  11. I worked on a viola that had an inscription claiming to be the first viola ever broadcast on the radio. The player’s name and the orchestra he played in were also listed. Also, there was a cello that came into the shop that had been repaired by monks in a monastery. The repairs weren’t very professional, but they showed some skill and care. There were some religious inscriptions and a cross in addition to a long parchment strip down the center joint of the back with a Bible verse copied out.
  12. My point is that one should not assume that the bassbar is unimportant or has little effect because some people who haven’t been able to make good bars have given up and declared it impossible. I don’t think the bar is really such a mysterious thing, but I certainly don’t think it’s unimportant. If that were the case, it would’ve been redesigned or changed out for something else long ago. As far as the OP’s question is concerned, I’d leave the original bar alone or put a new one in rather than adjusting the existing one. It’s just too much of a hassle to do the work and glue it back together, just to find that something should have been done differently and the top has to come back off to fix it. If I make a new bar I can be in control of more variables.
  13. There might be a lot of disagreement about the best way to make a bassbar, but it simply isn’t true that no one knows how to optimize one. Plenty of luthiers have made and currently do make livings doing just that.
  14. I do tend to pick fittings that I think work well with the varnish aesthetically. Mismatched sets of fittings won’t necessarily affect sound but they do stick out visually and drive one mad. I remember hearing a German maker say that only ebony was acceptable on commercial violins. Other more exotic woods were to be reserved for fine violins in his opinion. I see a lot of old Germans with ebony and a lot of old French with rosewood, but it doesn’t matter to me, so long as the fittings aren’t too soft and work well.
  15. Check the fingerboard at the nut end with a straight edge just to be sure there isn’t a bump in first position. A LOT of commercial instruments have bumps there because the workmen setting them up make the wrong motion when planing and sanding the fingerboards, and the edge is worn off. Even a very slight bump will cause major issues. Another thing to consider is bridge curvature. If it’s a bit flat or if the string grooves are the wrong depths, the bow can catch a second string too easily.