The Violin Beautiful

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  1. The Violin Beautiful

    "Nicolaus Amatus" violin identification

    I’m more inclined to call it Czech based on the edgework and scroll.
  2. The Violin Beautiful

    Violin and piano pieces

    Here are a few that popped into my mind: Schubert Sonatinas, op. 137 Grieg Sonatas for Violin and Piano (I especially love the C minor) Sarasate short pieces Kreisler short pieces Ravel’s Tzigane Busoni Sonata no. 2 And of course Beethoven Sonatas for Violin and Piano
  3. The Violin Beautiful

    soundpost crack

    I’ve seen someone cause a soundpost crack in a cello top by moving an already overtight soundpost toward the ff. I could see the bulge in the top straining as the post moved and then I saw the white line of the disturbed varnish suddenly appear. Upon closer inspection, the crack was all the way through and needed a patch. I admit that I was suspicious that the spruce was a little green, but it was clear that the movement of the soundpost into a tighter position caused the damage, as it was a new instrument that was being set up for the first time.
  4. The Violin Beautiful

    soundpost crack

    The previous posters have summed it up pretty well. I might add that if a top is too thin or weak in that area, it will be more likely to develop a crack. Sometimes you can tell the post is way too tight without touching it with the setter, just by feeling its spot on the outer surface of the top. The tighter the post, the bigger the bump that will appear above it.
  5. The Violin Beautiful

    Applying Robson Varnish

    I thinned it when I first tried it on a test violin and ended up needing to apply more coats than I’d expected because I made it too thin. I adjusted my ratio in later coats and had much better luck. I rubbed each coat out with pumice to get rid of dust or irregularities. It turned out well, but I made sure to add less turpentine in later applications.
  6. The Violin Beautiful

    Workshop bluetooth speakers

    I have an Ultimate Ears Boom 2 that I chose for carrying around or putting on my bike. The sound is pretty good considering its price and versatility. I just hang it on a hook above my bench in the shop.
  7. The Violin Beautiful

    Question about “The Violin Hunter”

    Maybe “A Fiddle, a Sword, and a Lady.” It is also a somewhat fictionalized account, but it’s an entertaining read about Tartini. It’s not a book about the instrument itself, but it does offer an account of a colorful player. John Marchese’s book, “The Violin Maker” is a fun book as well. It offers some insight into the process of making that’s accessible to anyone.
  8. The Violin Beautiful

    New Article By Adam Goltry......Fixing a Broken Button

    I make a partial plaster cast any time I do a button reinforcement. I wouldn’t feel confident carving down into the back and over the glue line of the reattached button without having an exact counterform to hold the back securely and safely. Once the spot for the patch is made and I’ve fit it, the exact fit of the cast helps distribute the clamping pressure evenly. To be able to remove wood for a patch, the top block has to be out of the way. To use the gouge precisely, it’s often necessary to take the upper ribs off so they aren’t damaged by the carving. A colleague once showed me a method for doing a quicker reinforcement. The success all depended on the sharpness of the gouge and the confidence of the luthier. First, you’d get the back prepared and clamped firmly, then, using only one precise sweep of the gouge, you had to nail the hole for the patch. Once the shaving was removed, you could take another sweep on the repair piece. That way you would have a patch and a hole that would automatically have the same shape, as dictated by the curvature of the gouge (theoretically making chalk fitting unnecessary). It was a nerve wracking procedure.
  9. The Violin Beautiful

    New Article By Adam Goltry......Fixing a Broken Button

    Awesome article, as usual! I think this method is very clever, especially as it saves the hassle of making a plaster cast and having to disassemble the ribs and block, glue the button, carve out a hole for a patch, fit a patch, and then reassemble everything. And the clavette very conveniently acts as a back for the button as it’s being reattached so it can be properly aligned and held by a couple small wedges. The only concern would be taking the neck out later. I don’t think it would be obvious to everyone that a clavette had been done because the grain orientation was different from that of the heel. This doesn’t mean the repair isn’t a great option, just that the luthier has to be aware of this repair and the need for an altered course of action in removing the neck.
  10. The Violin Beautiful

    Opinion sought on very old violin

    The edges have been doubled. I wonder as well about the linings and blocks. It has had a decent amount of work done, although the most recent work doesn’t seem to be as clean.
  11. The Violin Beautiful

    unrestorable but repairable?

    The back ought to be a good reference for getting the ribs back in place. Most likely, you can still see the line where the varnish ended and the ribs were attached, determining the overhang. If you have that line, you can simply copy the curve and make a counter form for each bout. If the linings are still there, remove them so the ribs can be corrected and label them so you can reattach them later. Then you can clamp each bout to its form and gradually eliminate the warpage. With that done, reassembly should be fairly easy. If the original neck and corner blocks are gone, you’ll need to make new ones, but the traces of the overhang will again assist you in getting the positions right. I agree that it’s important to double check the existing glue joints before reassembling to save yourself from potential problems in the future. If the bass bar and linings are still there, make sure they’re glued well.
  12. The Violin Beautiful

    What defines a “journeyman” maker?

    I think the distinctions between master and journeyman are less clear in the U.S. than in Europe, at least in our trade. When you look at old instruments from European countries, you can often ascribe them to certain schools and styles. In Italy alone there were many distinct characteristics that could be readily identified because the guilds were more rigid and dogmatic. Luthiers were expected to work along a progression to eventually be independent shop owners, and the distinctions were made quite clear. Looking at historical American violins, it’s not quite as easy to nail down a school, and the approach of many makers was less structured. So many of those makers taught themselves or learned from correspondence courses or books, and a good number of luthiers were able to establish their own businesses without working for other makers first. I think we tend to judge the level of mastery of American makers by the numbers (e.g. how much an instrument typically costs, which famous player owns one, how many the maker sells, etc) rather than reviewing credentials. In recent decades, the violin making schools have grown to be major training centers for the workforce, so perhaps one could argue that there is a trend toward following the European model more closely now. There are shops now that refuse to hire apprentices without a violin making school education, and associations have been developed to recognize certain masters, and these organizations require members to pass certification standards similar to those of the guilds. I’m not trying to claim one method as superior; I just find it interesting to compare different approaches to the craft and the ideologies that go along with them.
  13. The Violin Beautiful

    What defines a “journeyman” maker?

    My grandfather worked as a plumbing contractor before retiring and making violins. In his profession, there were three levels: apprentice, journeyman, and master. An apprentice was a beginning worker who worked exclusively with one company to get a basic understanding of the skills of the trade. He could move on to the next level after he had shown a certain amount of proficiency (I don’t remember exactly, but there may even have been a test). A journeyman was a proficient Workman who would work for several businesses for a certain amount of time or work hours in order to expand his knowledge and skill through exposure to other methods and ideas. Once he had acquired enough skill and understanding of the trade to be ready to work for himself, there was a test to take to prove it. A master was someone who had passed all the prerequisites and showed a comprehensive understanding of the trade and how to operate independently. A master had permission from the guild or union to establish his own business and begin hiring apprentices or journeymen. This is how I understand the guild system. Obviously there are more details and smaller steps along the way, but I think that’s the gist. Everyone can continue to learn throughout a lifetime, however the title master is conferred as a result of showing proficiency at a specified level. It’s not intended to signify an end of learning and improvement, but to show that the craftsman is ready to operate on his own.
  14. The Violin Beautiful

    Proper installation of bridge parchment

    Yes. A couple weeks ago a customer came in with a cello that was buzzing on the A. I went over the instrument, looking for the usual culprits and not finding anything wrong. I was taking the string off to replace it (in case it was false) when I discovered the source of the problem: the parchment had come loose when someone had straightened the bridge, and it was moving around. The string had just enough rosin on it that the parchment adhered to the string and lifted off the bridge when I loosened the string. I glued the parchment back and the cello immediately sounded like it should. The customer was very apologetic for bringing it in for something so small, but I was just relieved to know that it was a simple fix, and not an issue with the instrument itself—before figuring it out I had started to wonder if a lining was loose.
  15. The Violin Beautiful

    Proper installation of bridge parchment

    If the parchment buckles too much after being installed, it’ll choke the string and hurt the tone. If the groove is too shallow or the parchment too thick, the string will lose focus and might even produce some weird overtones. Most of the time the parchment will work reasonably well, so long as it’s fully attached. It doesn’t necessarily have to be pretty to function, but it seems silly to me not to finish the bridge with the same care paid to cutting it.