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Andreas Preuss

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Everything posted by Andreas Preuss

  1. I was actually talking about color going a few millimeters deep. (Mittenwald dealers washed their wood first with soap water and then put it on a sunny day on the lawn.)
  2. Well, responding to @TedN as well: Best artificial drying methods are those you can execute and control yourself. Regarding sound when choosing the neck wood, I’d say based on some experiments that the effect is zero. The most radical experiment I made was to use a pernambuco neck graft. The effect was literally zero. I myself would today definitely use kiln dried wood for the top plate. But again, I do it myself, and elaborated a process which seems to promising for some tonal advantages. For the back, I wouldn’t use kiln dried wood.
  3. If the drying in a kiln wasn’t done correctly, you should be able to see it at the color. If the outer layer is darker than the wood deeper inside, certainly something is wrong. Sometimes you have to look carefully because the difference is rather minimal.
  4. Probably most makers would go for the wood with the higher pitch, either by instinct or by some scientific parameters. i would also hammer on the end grain and I think this tells more about the quality than tipping on the side. I wouldn’t rely on acoustic testing alone. Visual criteria such as the color of the winter rings, tilt of the year rings within the log and runout are important as well. Last not least, I prefer to buy wood only as split logs to see how twisted the surface is. In ancient times shipbuilders used only wood with little or no twist for the masts of ships because they knew it is stronger than twisted wood. In general, the closer the wood (especially the top) gets to its final shape the more the wood properties become ‘visible’. So if the wood is still in the form of a wedge, the picture is very blurred. It’s the skill of a luthier to ‘guide’ the sculpturing process of the plate to its best possible performance. In this process arching height is a major aspect. I believe that arching can counterbalance to a certain degree somehow weaker wood.
  5. Despite its Guadagninish features definitely not authentic. G.B. Guadagnini became at the beginning of the 19th century an often copied maker. The (incomplete) list I was able to compile includes over 50 names of German, English, Hungarian, French, and Italian makers. Even some Factories started to label instruments with the name of G.B. Guadagnini which shows somehow the popularity of his name. It seems that Italian makers during the Great Depression often copied works of their predecessors which could be sold to American dealing companies. Unobserved by their peers in Europe they would pass them off for profit by making some ambiguous attributions to the instrument in question. So if a copy failed to have enough resemblance to G.B. Guadagnini it would be ‘downgraded’ to the name of a son or grandson, knowing that buyers wouldn’t be able to detect the fraud. Famous for this practice became the so called ‘English workshop’ in Hungary which produced on this scheme instruments for the American trade (possibly exclusively for one company) and apparently with the intention of fraudulent selling. Sometimes we find behind those instruments well known names like Celeste Farotti who made efforts to do authentic looking antiquing. Many other makers would simply make instruments loosely based on some typical features of G.B. Guadagnini with no special efforts of antiquing. I would see your instrument in the latter category and would think the wear was added at a later stage. This explains also the fake Josef Guadagnini label which was presumably added by the seller and not by the maker. Concerning the Wurlitzer company there was apparently a clear change between dealings of Rudolph Wurlitzer and his son Rembert. During the reign of Rudolph, business was governed by selling instruments no matter how. (1) (Maybe it was anyway only a sort of side business to the selling of Wurlitzer jukeboxes) One of the major salespersons in the Rudolph Wurlitzer Company was Jay Freeman who would sell anything to cover his gambling debts, so making solid authentifications for instruments was certainly not his major concern. It was only Rembert who seriously started serious dealing in high class instruments. He had trained his expertise in the then most famous dealing company in England, W.E. hill and Sons, and his knowledge propelled the business to the level of a world class violin business. I don’t have any record when the takeover was taking place, but in 1931 he was still a young man of 27 and had most likely not the lead in the company when his father was only 58. (Supposedly your catalogue bears the name of Rudolph Wurlitzer) So in summary the Wurlitzer catalogue label and the faked instrument together might be correct. It’s close to impossible to determine the maker of your copy, because there is probably no comparable instrument with an authentic label of the same maker anywhere. Dendrochnology isn’t very helpful either because those makers didn’t work from the same tree during their working lives. However for historic records it is advisable to touch neither of the two labels. (1) There is a very similar instrument selling company working in Tokyo today which started their main dealings in guitars long ago. While it is, with the background of the Internet, impossible to sell obvious fakes to customers, profit can be maximized with making high grade factory instruments made 100 years ago look like the work of a master.
  6. But then in alcohol dissolved shellac should have the same problem and it doesn’t. It always happens with certain mixtures.
  7. Depends really on the surface of the interior top plate. For fitting the bar I made a frame device with a guide which holds the bar always in the desired position. if I concentrate on the fitting without getting disturbed I usually get a very clean and almost tension free fit in 60 minutes almost regardless the surface. Without chalk on a clean surface (new instrument) altogether maybe 80-90 minutes. Because the frame has a counterpart for clamping already attached glueing takes about 5-10 more minutes. i usually trim several bars at a tIme in a bulk ready for fitting.
  8. Mike, thanks for your thoughts. i am not sure if we are talking about the same problem. It seems that you are describing your approach to color the ground. There you can certainly use water based stains, and presumably you don’t need a brush with soft hairs. With varnish touch up it is a kind of difficult to embed a water color layer in between resinous varnish layers. I do this only very close to the wood surface, mostly to camouflage in restorations the wood appearance of replaced wood. Concerning the concentration of colors, that’s a difficult topic. As a general rule I do my touch up in several layers. Therefore it’s often helpful to increase the color concentration from the lowest layer to the top layer. For touch up I haven’t found yet any brush better than Kolinski. That’s supposedly a matter of touch up approach.
  9. Right now humidity in Tokyo is still ok at 50-55%. Maybe, though this would be really fast within a few minutes. But if I keep both liquids separate this doesn’t happen to neither one. Only if they are blended together.
  10. Well, I am not a chemist to answer this question in detail. I just found out that when I dissolved the same colorant in ethanol instead of isopropanol the problem was gone.
  11. In the past I had some plant color extracts dissolved in isopropanol and this was the obvious cause that when blended with shellac dissolved in Ethanol it would cause clogging in the brush. So i abandoned isopropanol as a solvent for plant dyes. However just last week when working on a touch up I blended extract from yellow wood with orange shellac and the same problem occurred. This despite color and shellac blended well on the palette. (Otherwise I added some burnt umber to the blend, but I suppose this doesn’t matter) This might be a question @FiddleDougcan answer in depth. Are there any additives which can prevent clogging?
  12. Quality of bridge wood certainly went down. I use almost exclusively Despiau bridges but this came mostly for speed of delivery and customer care, which wasn’t so good with Aubert 16 years ago. when cutting cello bridges I started long ago to make solid feet, about 2.0-2.5mm thick. And for taking material at the legs I try to get them as ‘vertical’ as possible, even for Belgian bridges. For this reason I like very much the DESPIAU Belgian bridge model with vertical legs. (I think it is the C10 model) And to counteract material weakness I started systematically to insert carbon fiber rod reinforcements which makes the bridge absolutely unbendable, no matter how careless the owner is about keeping it straight. it also allows to go pretty thin (if necessary) with absolutely no worries. Otherwise I put some chalk under cello bridge feet to prevent them from sliding in any direction. (I believe this happens with slight shocks) Concerning old bridges, I think there was a sort of fashion maybe in the70s to make feet extremely thin, for all types of instruments violin, viola and cello. This was apparently the reason that bridges were sinking into the top at the center of the foot and Belgian cello bridges might have spread more easily.
  13. But they continued the Neapolitan tradition and wouldn’t be there without Postiglione. (Someone important to mention as a 19th century Italian maker) you are probably speaking mostly of the first part of the 19th century where the states on nowadays Italian territory had to recover from the aftermath of the Napoleonic wars. There was certainly a huge economical decline. pressenda and Rocca could only exist because piedmont became part of the French empire which allowed with their trade laws the existence of those workshops in Turin, notably the Lete workshop. (It’s a question of interpretation if you count it to Italian violin making or French violin making) However it would be a distorted view to reduce violin making in ‘Italy’ (which wasn’t an independent state yet) to pressenda and Rocca. There was Enrico Ceruti in Cremona, in Genova we have Niccolò Bianchi and Eugenio Praga, in Rome Guiseppe Sgarbi, in Trieste Guiseppe Dollenz, in Napoli Vincenzo postiglione. How we measure this in history is a different question. Weighted against the mass production in other countries it was certainly almost nothing, but for the tradition of makers on the Italian peninsula the link to make it survive into the 20th century.
  14. You are in dangerous waters. Neapolitan violin making extended well into the 20th century. Pressenda learned his craft in a French workshop. Italy as such didn’t exist in the 18th century and before. Had we asked A.S. about his nationality he’d probably answer: I am Lombardian. My language is italian. And lombardia was at his birth under Spanish rule and at his death under Austrian rule) We often ignore bluntly the history around violin making which had in my view a bigger impact on violin making history as a whole than how traditions continued within violin making history. And this not only for political history but also history of scientific, economical and technical developments. Instruments of the violin family emerged in a renaissance movement in the Italian opera world and made from there with the help of Italian musicians its path into the rest of Europe. Wars between the ruling powers in Europe during the 18th century made Italy the battlefield ending the favorable economic situation for violin makers. Technical and scientific developments overthrowing the alchemical world of the past opened makers outside of Italy the possibility to compete successfully against Italian makers on an enlarged market serving a different and less wealthy clientele. In the meantime Italian works of the past (basically made with an alchemical mindset) got step by step glorified for its apparent excellence. Further developments in the industrialization made instruments of the violin family a mass product creating probably something like 90 percent of income in this market. Handcrafted violins became a marginal field of some individuals. And this will maybe come to an end with AI aided developments of CNC technology.
  15. Absolutely! it’s just that, especially when it comes to ‘comfort’, the definition was 300 years ago quite different. None of the makers 300 years ago could foresee the radical changes in performance techniques. This made also instruments more vulnerable requiring more often cosmetic repairs. (I call it the Shostakovich attacks) And exactly this became part of motivation to at least try out some daring new things.
  16. What is a good violin? I see many ‘good’ violins which sell really fast but not for the reason that they are really good. I see also makers aimlessly carving tons of instruments with no intent to strive for the better. I am pretty sure that you forgot to mention one of the most important things: Expose your work to those who use it and get their feedback. While we need to sit down shut up and carve to get things done, the opinion about our work can be the best motivation (or fuel) to get through the pain of doing it.
  17. I believe that we are working in an industry in which any divergence from a traditional norm is a kind of taboo. The reason seems that too many attempts in this direction didn’t make the cut and this means that a new proto can only survive it it DOES make the cut. (Rightfully so, and in this respect I disagree with you.) Many theoretic concepts explain only in different ways the same thing and what looks on paper like diametrically different ideas falls only into the brackets of possible variations. (Though some defenders are willing to start religious wars against the opposite camp) I see today many theories as the invisible wall which prevents us to take the daring step of making what looks impossible possible.
  18. Congrats. If you are seeking critique and advice you need to post better pictures.
  19. Some clamps made of iron survived. i It’s very unlikely that ALL bending irons were collected to recycle the iron.
  20. It would be highly interesting to have a sound clip of your finalized violins. In the end the final result is what counts. (I mean this in a positive sense)
  21. It’s always the question in which regard the choices were ‘informed and tested’. I am tempted to believe that we often overinterpret certain practices as a result from acoustic considerations. The fallbacks of reengineering come mostly from the misconception that an envisioned alteration brings automatically the envisioned improvement. In a complicated system like the violin this is basically impossible. Most ‘inventions’ stopped there and were rightfully flushed down the toilet. But as you know, I think there are fabulous ideas which simply need to be refined and recalibrated which is a lot of work. Those inventors never wanted to invest this work in their inventions.
  22. I have to answer maybe. I once used wood from a willow tree cut in our country home. I thought it would be a sort of soft and easy to cut. However it turned out to be pretty tough material and upon research (on the wood database) I concluded that it must have been diamond willow, but I am not really sure. In any case the wood database makes it absolutely clear that there is a huge difference between different types of willow and saying willow is light and soft is only correct for some of the species but not all.
  23. Would be interesting to know from which period in Antonio Stradivaris working life the rib came from. I don’t take it for granted that he used all his life the same techniques he use in his youth. As a matter of fact I see the typical past 1700 scroll design as a result of using a jig which also contributed to the highly precise repetition of this pattern over a time span of more than 30 years.(!) I see the whole working method of Antonio Stradivari as fast, efficient and perfect. Working with a bending iron which has to be reheated in between in an open fire is a sort of more complicated than soaking and binding them over a mould until dry. I might be wrong though. Note: I find it also a bit strange that if a bending iron was common practice that apparently not one single of them has survived to our times despite that they must have been pretty indestructible hardware items.
  24. Well, they were also fortunate that they didn’t need to arrive at the tonal results of predecessors 300 years before their lifetime by guessworking someone else’s method. many (most?) choices came also from practical considerations with certainly no direct intent to influence or trigger the sound. One might even muse if not Antonio Stradivari was the first maker who got some ideas about it and systematically refined his method simply with trial and error. In my view the rib construction as a whole was dictated by tool necessities rather than considerations for the sound and choices to trigger the sound were choices for the arching and thickness especially in the edge region.
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