Bob Sp

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Everything posted by Bob Sp

  1. You type faster than me - this almost exactly what I was writing. But I'll go further. It is a craft that combines technical methods with artistic sensibilities that can be approached according to engineering principles and studied scientifically.
  3. The easiest wood to split is when it frozen solid. We are getting nightime lows around -30° C and I have been reminded of this everytime I split kindling for the woodstove.
  4. I'm just looking at the posting times - Did either of you hear little hooves on your rooftop? Don't expect much substance today! (As he picks up his Irish Coffee and takes a big slurp............) Merry Christmas!
  5. There is a very compelling reason to sell $300.00 violin outfits and it has been alluded to in some of the posts.(And yes even a $300.00 one needs to be set up properly with pegs that work, a bridge that has been fitted and soundpost properly installed.) Cheap prices can get more instruments into more young hands, taking more lessons from teachers. Then the players who have the ability to hear the difference between their cheap violin and their teacher' (hopefully not cheap) violin, will also be driven to move up in quality. We all know violins are addictive (Maestronet is my proof :-) . And a well-hooked addict just has to go deeper and further for the rest of their lives. Isn't it fundamentally that simple?
  6. Bob Sp

    Curious Fiddle

    The new owner paid about $100.00 for it. (He was a bit vague about that.) He didn't want to spend much more than what he paid for it to get it playing. I itemized the work I saw as necessary: Peg bushings and new pegs (it didn't have any). Remove the neck, fix the button and reset the neck. (There is a lot of old glue all around the neck joint. Somebody a few decades ago has tried to work glue into the joint. Probably held for awhile.) The fingeboard isn't really playable and is probably beyond dressing. But replacing it would alter it's "charm". Bridge, strings, button and tailpiece. I warned him that digging into such an instrument might reveal other issues, so there might be more that would have to be done. I told him that fixing the first two things could be upwards of a couple of hundred dollars. He declined to get the work done. It does look like it was played a lot. It probably has quite a story behind it. And I am curious to know if these were common in the backroads of Europe. I am guessing there might similar ones in the appalachian backwoods. Cheers Bob
  7. Bob Sp

    Curious Fiddle

    I had a chance a week ago to have a look at a violin ‘curiosity’. I was able to take a few photographs of it before returning it to the owner. He wanted to know what it would take to make it playable and how much that would cost. It is a “Rubus” style instrument but is not likely one of the German or east European factory copies referred to in other posts. I might describe it as a primitive copy of a copy. And probably fabricated by firelight! The body is one piece; the back and sides are carved from a single piece of wood with integral end-blocks. The belly is two-piece of very wide-grain wood. The arching is broad. It looks like the bass bar has been glued on; it is a different colour from the belly and has an odd concave scoop under the bridge area. The neck is conventional although narrow. The scroll is why I believe it was carved by fire-light/candle-light (one candle) or by somebody who didn’t see too well out of one eye. The picture says it all. Under a layer of dirt, there is a small piece of something (glued?) inside that might be the remains of a label. The main condition problem is that the neck is loose in the body and the button has snapped at the edge of the body. The fingerboard has two wedges under it. The pegbox has very over-size holes. There is a small repair at the bottom of the treble f hole. I quoted him a modest sum to undertake a minimum repair/setup with no guaranties. He declined. It was enough for him to decide to do a mock setup himself and hang it on a wall. He had purchased it from a very elderly gentleman (now deceased), who said it had been in his family for a long time. The family had come from Germany in the early 20th century and they had brought it to Canada with them. I might have had a real hand-made gypsy fiddle in my hands!
  8. I think another factor is your choice of strings. You are increasing the total pressure onto the belly with an extra string. Lighter tension strings may have to be used or perhaps a blend of light and medium tension to give you a better bass/treble balance. This may be the simplest place to start.
  9. I have seen pencil notes inside repaired violins put there by the repairman, sometimes a name with a date but not much more. Might have been nice if there had been something about the repair. Traditional watchmakers would scratch codes inside watches they repair that would refer to their service records. Does anybody know luthiers who do that with violins? Cheers, Bob
  10. I have looked inside a few and there is usually a white powder residue.. I thought at first it might be glue residue but I now believe it is buffing compound used in polishing a lacquer finish. I have seen what might be a transluscent glue. I am considering finding one to sacrifice and deconstruct it.
  11. I am faced with repairing less expensive Chinese instruments (okay - maybe cheap is the right word). I am suspicious I am dealing with something other than hide glue and real varnish. Does anybody know for sure? I have gone through a couple of dozen threads in the Pegbox to see if there has been any mention of what kind of glue and finish are being used on Chinese instruments currently being produced. I haven't found any mention of this. I am reluctant to experiment on somebody else's violin, so I am asking here if anybody knows. I am suspicious that the finish may be some kind of commercial spray lacquer - at least on some (some are very brittle). I am seeing mostly Gewa and Menzel brands around here. Cheers, Bob
  12. I will answer the question, once I get to my mandatory 10 approved posts and am allowed to post pictures. (Yes this post is blatantly done to increase my post count to that level) Cheers Bob
  13. i am more fascinated with bringing instruments back from the brink than I am with creating new ones. I also see each old instrument as a story (Yes - like the Red Violin). And they have a voice . I am also fascinated with the role of mediator. That probably needs explanation. When we ran the violin business, I was amazed to learn how many violinists do not understand how their instrument works. There are a surprising number of players who wouldn't attempt to even change a string, who were astounded by what could be done with a better bridge, a dressed fingerboard, and who thought that adjusting a soundpost was nigh on to magic. Thus the role of mediator between the instrument and the player. I think there are others here who share these viewpoints. Cheers,
  14. "Many forms of Government have been tried, and will be tried in this world of sin and woe. No one pretends that democracy is perfect or all-wise. Indeed, it has been said that democracy is the worst form of government except all those other forms that have been tried from time to time." Sir Winston Churchill (1874 - 1965), Hansard, November 11, 1947 By the way, I have been sorely tempted go and post on the "Unsavoury" thread, but I hav valiantly resisted entering that minefield. I don't have the appetite for that much controversy. Cheers and thanks for the welcome, Bob
  15. "Democracies are supposed to exist in a state of tension." - I like that! I'm not sure about about the idea of one group's rights (regardless of size - majority or minority) trumping another group's rights. I don't see groups as having rights. I see right's being vested in the individual. And, that the rights and freedoms of the individual are there partly to protect the individual from the one critical flaw in democracy - when the majority (or at least the political party in power) use majority rule to oppress/suppress a minority. I see the expanded ability that the internet provides for more people to be vocal and to be heard is the challenge. Ignorance and misinformation can be spread more quickly than ever before because that requires little thought. The world is not simple, the forces at play are complicated, and this requires critical thinking and discussion. That takes time and the participation of many. That is happening here. The amount of ill-founded secrets and arcane processes that are associated with violins has created a mess that only now can be unravelled with logic, science and empirical experimentation. Warning - provocative metaphor coming! The violin is like the dancer with the seven veils. You can't quite see what is in there, but you are completely fascinated by the goal and the process of the unveilling. (You will notice I didn't specify the gender of the dancer inside the seven veils - part of the mystery .)
  16. I hope this thread continues with more good advice for the newcomer. If this isn't the Second Golden Age of Violinmaking it certainly has the potential to be the beginning of it. There is more accessible information about violinmaking than ever before. That poses a problem in itself. For a new student of the art, the greatest challenge is weeding out the wheat from the chaff. And there is a lot of chaff! I am returning to all of this after being away from the violin world for many years. Over 25 years ago I was half of a small violin business. After a couple of years it became obvious that in the size of our city, a dedicated specialty violin business was not going to provide two primary incomes. I moved into the background and then out. My partner had been pursuing his instrument making dream for a number of years prior to opening the shop and he continued on. A few years later he moved the business to a much larger centre and now operates a well-respected business; making his own, doing restorations and dealing in fine instruments. While I was active I found myself always interested in the repair and restoration side (which complemented my partners crafting of new). After we dissolved the partnership I ended up with several violin and cello "projects" that ended being packed away in storage. Now I live in an even smaller neighbouring city. In the last few years the number of music stores here has diminished to one and the only violin repairman is gone. After a few conversations with a couple of local music teachers I decided to work with the last store to fill the vacuum. Fortunately I can do this in my spare time and now can afford to invest in the tools I don't already own (although they were dusty). I had forgotten how I enjoyed the work, even the first job of setting up a stack of economy violin outfits in time for Christmas. It has given me an opportunity to resurrect my bridge and peg fitting skills. I've got a long Christmas vacation and its time to dig out those projects. There is nothing special in any of them - just some reasonable student quality instruments. Over the last few months I have been scanning the internet for information sources that were not so accessible thirty years ago. I keep returning to this forum for the quality information nuggets that are so freely offered. Back to my original point - if there is indeed a new golden age of violinmaking unfolding then this forum is partly responsible. Thanks.
  17. I'm not sure whether this belongs in this thread or the "Unsavoury remarks on MN" one. But I started the intro here - "In Canada - Everyone has the following fundamental freedoms: • Freedom of conscience and religion; • Freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of the press and other communication media; • Freedom of peaceful assembly; and • Freedom of association. People in a free state with rights to freedom of speech and freedom of religion have no legitimate right to ‘not be offended’. There is no right to be protected from being offended. In reality, the opposite is true and being offended from time to time is the price to be paid for having freedoms. It is also the basis for having tolerance as one of the highest moral values in a democracy. Coping with being offended is exercising tolerance and that is the responsibility of every citizen. In a society that recognizes rights & freedoms and where the citizens exercise those rights & freedoms fully, people will be offended. It cannot and should not be any other way. We are not a homogenized culture. We are diverse and pluralistic. Our cultural experiences (past and present), our religious beliefs, and our political opinions, are all different and frequently diametrically opposed. Honest and truthful expression of those facts will inevitably create offense, especially when those expressions come into dialogue or debate. It needs to be recognized that no amount of dialogue or debate will ever reconcile that diversity into a single perspective. Our democratic institutions give us the tools to cope with that. For that matter, in Canada we can’t even agree on what those institutions should be or how they should function; the House of Commons & Senate, the Constitution of Canada, the Charter of Rights & Freedoms, the electoral system, the judiciary, etc. Canada’s history shows that every step in our history has been controversial, but the fundamental agreement is that these institutions must exist. We must realise that those institutions cannot, and were never intended, to keep everyone happy. We need to express diverse opinions and then to debate, discuss and even argue our relative viewpoints. This is healthy. The real problem is when a freedom, especially the freedom of expression, is used for a hateful purpose; to harm, attack, defame or injure. That is the test to be applied and that is the limit which should not to be crossed. It is not whether a person or persons feels offended. So, are you feeling offended about something? Do a quick check. Your ideas may be equally offensive to someone else. It is part of living in a society where we have the freedom to be offended." By the way, when I get to my 10 post point I have some pictures to post of an odd Rubus style fiddle I got to see over the weekend. Cheers, Bob
  18. I have been a lurker on the Pegbox for several months now and have only recently elected to sign-up and logon. I’m still below that magic threshold of 10 posts that signifies full participation. Being a relative newcomer, it seems odd to post to this subject but I do have something to offer on the subject. A few years ago I had a series of exchanges with my daughter, (who was in her last year at university taking international studies), on the subject of respect and freedom of speech. A few days later I was at a board of directors meeting of a local non-profit organisation when a discussion occurred about ‘being offended’ by an opinion expressed in a letter. Those two events really got me thinking about what my perspective was on the subject and I wrote a letter in response. I asked my daughter to read it before I sent it and she said she used some of it in her class discussions. I am going to have to spend a few minutes on a different computer to find it and I would like to add it to this discussion. This is written from a Canadian perspective; however I doubt that alters the relevance. I preface my comments with the following assurance. I consider that offering a critical comment of an idea in a discussion, debate (or even full blown argument), is not to be equated as a critical comment of the person expressing that idea.
  19. Is it time for - Just because it is Baroque you don't have to fix it!