The Violin Beautiful

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  1. The Violin Beautiful

    Is this cello Chinese or German

    If it came from Craigslist, there’s no telling what fittings and accessories originally came with it. The varnish looks exactly like the VC200–it’s got that satin lacquer look and the same shade of yellow Eastman uses for that model. It might be another manufacturer, but if so, it’s the same type. I don’t see anything German or Romanian here.
  2. The Violin Beautiful

    Is this cello Chinese or German

    Looks like an Eastman cello to me.
  3. The Violin Beautiful

    Stupid violinist questions

    Ever seen one of those edgeless Rigat Rubus violins? They had normal purfling, as far as I remember, but the edge was blended into the ribs, which were convex. I bought one as a curiosity a while back. Impossible to put a chinrest on, so I just used it without a chinrest when playing outdoors. The idea did not pan out.
  4. The Violin Beautiful

    Stupid violinist questions

    1) Purfling is inlaid into a channel carved part-way into the top. It sits above the ribs and protects the instrument from a good deal of damage. It also reinforces the glue surface so that the top is less likely to crack when removed. In the early life of the violin people didn’t use cases like we do now, so instruments were more prone to getting bumped. The edge might chip, but if the purfling was put in well, damage would stay outside the purfling line. Poorly installed purfling will cause trouble. 2) Integral bass bars are made by simply leaving wood in the bass bar area in making. They are not used in fine instruments because they are harder to execute well while keeping plate thicknesses even. Also, they make it impossible to orient the bar properly and keep the grain straight at the same time.
  5. The Violin Beautiful

    You Can Make a "Stradivarius" Violin

    My grandfather had that book in his library. Even though he had plenty of “better” books, he always appreciated the no-nonsense approach to making for the novice. One could do far worse!
  6. The Violin Beautiful

    Bass Bar Height

    There’s more to making a good bass bar than setting it at its proper height. If only height mattered, a bar that was the same height its whole length would suffice. Or, one could come up with all kinds of alternative shapes (there are countless examples already extant), but they wouldn’t work well. The question of density is interesting. It’s harder to quantify on paper, but I believe it does have a significant impact. I saw an experimental bar that was one height until the ends, where it was cut at a rather steep angle. The experimenter drilled holes in it to tune it to the desired pitch in relation to the top. It didn’t produce favorable results, and as far as I know, no one else felt the need to continue the experiment.
  7. The Violin Beautiful

    Bass Bar Height

    I’ve found that if the bar is too thick or too thin, the violin will lose power. Extremes tend to be injurious to sound. I will say that in every violin where I replaced a short and/or thin bar, the result was a much more alive violin with a considerable improvement to the bass.
  8. The Violin Beautiful

    Help me choose a viola, Please!

    You’ll definitely be happier if you find a good instrument that fits and has a nice sound. If you’re thinking about its long term value, however, an instrument made in Romania will hold value far better than one made in China.
  9. The Violin Beautiful

    Bass Bar Height

    At one time I would have said that the shorter bar made sense for a lower neck angle and string tension. Now that there’s more evidence to suggest that the neck angle wasn’t significantly different and string tension was sometimes as high or higher than today, it appears to be more complex a question. We can still agree that violins were originally intended for smaller and more intimate settings, making carrying power and loudness much less important. Playing demands were different, so a shorter bar was more appropriate.
  10. The Violin Beautiful

    Bass Bar Height

    I think the height has been changing over time in response to the changes in playing style. As players have been seeking a bigger and louder sound over time, luthiers have been making the bar taller to accommodate those requirements. It wasn’t too long ago that a lot of people used 11mm as a standard, and I’m already hearing some people using 13 or 14. As is the case with other measurements, I think player preferences ultimately dictate these changes. What happens is that someone who works with players has success with a particular idea. Players talk to each other and spread the word that someone has figured out how to improve sound. Then the luthier either shares his findings with others by writing them down, or they gradually make their way into common knowledge through his colleagues, who eventually go out on their own and share the information.
  11. The Violin Beautiful

    ethical question about deposits

    I don’t think it’s unreasonable to ask for a non-refundable deposit, but if you do so, it needs to be clearly stipulated in writing and should have the customer’s signature. It doesn’t hurt to be moderately lenient. If you can find a new customer for the instrument, then the need to keep the deposit from the original customer ceases to exist. What’s most important for you as a business is that you receive compensation for the time you spend on the instrument and any other related expenses you’ve paid in the work. If the deposit has been taken but no work has been done and no materials have been purchased, it’s easier to do a refund. If there has been progress made, it becomes more difficult, especially if you’re making something to unique specifications. The deposit has a few functions: -To give you some money to invest in the materials and to cover some of the labor -To secure the customer’s place in line and establish a binding agreement with you to do the work -To allow the customer to walk away from the instrument at any time during the making process without paying the full price of the instrument.
  12. The Violin Beautiful

    Gemini Carbon Fiber Clamps...Beware!!!!

    I also think their post setter isn’t worth getting, and I think it’s dangerous to encourage the teachers to reset soundposts on their own without any knowledge about placement. Anything and everything wrong can and does happen!
  13. The Violin Beautiful

    Gemini Carbon Fiber Clamps...Beware!!!!

    I have the Gemini clamps and love them. I would argue that the bass bar needs very little pressure from clamps when it’s glued—a proper fit should eliminate the need for heavy pressure. I’ve found that the screws work so smoothly that one has to be careful not to overtighten; if your clamps are buckling at the ball joint, there’s way too much tension or the alignment may be off. I really liked the Mach clamps until I found the Gemini and switched. Other clamps can level cracks or attach bass bars just as well, but I do appreciate the light weight and precision, especially when I’m closing cracks on celli.
  14. The Violin Beautiful

    Crack Filling and Leveling

    Jeffrey, I didn’t use copal in my last batch of touchup varnish because the shop was out of it, but I have some now for my next batch. What is the advantage of adding copal vs. sandarach? Is there any benefit to making retouch varnish with shellac, copal, mastic, and sandarach?
  15. The Violin Beautiful

    Crack Filling and Leveling

    Your fill varnish can be thicker than your regular retouching varnish because it’s going to be leveled and is only applied in small amounts. As for viscosity, I think mine ends up similar to that of Deft. I can generally get away with scraping after a few hours of drying. The drying time varies with humidity, though. A knife or scraper can do a good job, but they need to be quite sharp for the best results. I keep one scraper set aside just for varnish. I’ve also found that a light touch is crucial. I can sometimes level the varnish decently even if the scraper isn’t as sharp as it ought to be. I have some varnish I made for retouching from shellac, mastic, and sandarach. For extra body I have some aluminum hydroxide. For a while I had a little bottle of Bullseye with the aluminum hydroxide ready to go for fill, but I stopped using the Bullseye after finding the retouch I made was easier to use and dried faster.