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    Orford, New Hampshire

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  1. I've seen some bridges warp astonishingly far and stay standing, but they can also snap from warping. If you ever have a junk bridge try snapping it in your fingers. Once they're carved they're easier to snap than you might think. Since you mention an interest in the forces at play, consider the angle of the string over the bridge. The centerline of that break angle should go directly through the bridge and stay within the bridge where the feet meet the top. If the bridge leans back the line of force falls behind the bridge and it will want to warp backwards. On violins it is more frequent that they lean forward as they are tuned and that line of force falls in front of the bridge causing a forward warp. Many of the warped bridges I've seen have an imperfection in the grain right where they warp. When we look at bridge blanks we look for long flecks on the branded side of the bridge and the consistency of fleck helps identify if any of the grains deviate from parallel to each other(which you can view from the endgrain side). It takes very little deviation to disrupt the fleck, so it's the quickest way to observe how parallel the grains are. That's one reason that many luthiers try to pick through large piles of bridges. Once they're carved, though, you loose the flat plane that helps you observe the fleck.
  2. The two factors that may have created stress there are the pin and saddle as has been mentioned, but the photo doesn't show the sides of the saddle. Most saddle cracks originate from either end of the saddle if the saddle is too tight, however, the pin made a weak spot in the middle of the saddle and the pressure may have released there instead. If there is no gap at all on either side of that saddle it may be necessary to make a little space to relieve the pressure contributing to that crack. I don't like the fact that it appears to have had glue rubbed into it, but it isn't actually closed. It indicates it probably wasn't reinforced internally, the stress that caused it is still holding it open, and since hide glue isn't a great gap-filler it isn't a tight enough glue job. Those three factors all say to me it should be closely watched and taken in for proper repair at the first sign that it is either growing longer or the crack shows any flexibility when pressed under your thumbs.
  3. I haven't tried the "powdered metal" blades, but they seem interesting. Your observation is consistent with all the hype I read. They weren't readily available when we did all our testing. I did use a variety of materials during our knife and tool testing, and found that I like different steels/hardnesses for different applications. Everything seemed to fall somewhere on that scale between A2 and O1 with the same tradeoffs between edge quality and durability. I had the same thought about Lie Nielsen being slightly more durable than the Veritas blade, but it was pretty close. I never tried the PMV-11, but I've eventually settled to like having A2 roughing tools and high rockwell O1 finishing blades so I stopped trying to find the 'perfect' all in one blade. The only steel that I've used that takes an edge like the Hock blades is my Japanese Chisel, which I think is white paper steel at 65 rockwell. We re-tempered some Crown chisels(they start out below 60 Rockwell) and the steel quality is good enough that they do very well when tempered harder. I've talked with some tool makers and I gathered that they often temper them softer because they're easier to sharpen and most people aren't looking for the crazy sharp edge that luthiers are after, especially if the typical woodworker beats up their chisels a bit more than we do. The softer temper makes it quicker to rejuvenate.
  4. Lots of good advice already. I'll second that high angle means less tearout on flamed maple and low angle is less splitting on endgrain(when planing blocks). I've used both Lie Nielsen and Veritas planes. I slightly prefer Lie Nielsen. I trained a luthier on instrument setup, and when he continued to struggle I got him a Lie Nielsen and within minutes he was convinced that he could have saved many hours of struggling over the previous months if he had that plane to begin with. I forget what plane he was using, but it was a decent, well adjusted, modern plane. He just felt the balance and ease of adjustment of the Lie Nielsen made it far easier to control for fingerboard dressings in particular. I didn't see any comments about steel, but I used to work in a shop where I did lots of setup on a sort of assembly line in high volume and we did a deep dive into different blade steels. We observed the wear under a microscope and collectively evaluated them. For plane blades the important comparison was A2 vs. O1. The Lie Nielsen only has an A2 option, but Veritas lets you choose between A2 and O1, but in my opinion(based on blades 15 years ago) the O1 from Veritas was subpar compared with the Hock blades I was used to. Not sure if they changed that. I did re-temper the O1 in my Veritas Apron plane and it preformed better, but that's a big hassle. Overall it seems to be easier to get a fantastic edge on an O1 blade than A2. The A2 blade seems to quickly wear to something like 85% edge quality, then stay there for a very long time. Conversely, the O1 blade seems to hold that fine edge a bit longer, but overall falls to the point where it needs re-sharpening a bit faster. I ended up switching to use A2 in planes for roughing and O1 in planes for finer work, so I tend to rough out my fingerboards, for example, with a plane using an A2 blade, then use a different plane with an O1 blade for the finish work. By far my favorite plane blade is the Hock O1, but they don't make stock blades for my favorite planes, so it would be special order at something close to double the standard price of the blade as I recall.
  5. Yes, it has been fun, but she is growing fast. I tried not to steer her too hard into my own interests, but when she started flipping over her little kiddie chairs trying to fix loose seats and tried to fix the loose latch of the library door, etc... I realized I needed to get her a real toolbox and let her start helping out. Still no really sharp tools or violin work yet.
  6. It just struck me that that piece of wood, which I was turning into a bench, looked rather like a good corner block for something massive. Why not a double octobass? Nice pic Michael K. I've never seen/heard one in person, but I hear the orchestra in Montreal has one, and I've been tempted to make a trip up there to see it sometime, since it's not terribly far from me.
  7. Just finished squaring up the first corner block for my double octobass. Now I just need to finish making it while my helper is still small enough to climb inside and set the soundpost.
  8. In addition to what has already been mentioned, you can think of the bridge as a low pass filter. The frequency David mentioned will set the range of the filter. So, if the frequency is 3,000 hz any mass above that waist will filter overtones above that range. So a thicker top edge or more space between the heart and top edge will give more damping in that upper range, but have minimal effect on lower frequencies. So as you remove more material from the waist it will begin to filter a broader band of the upper overtones, and as you leave more material above the waist it will increase the effect of the damping.
  9. You can also double up the springs, but the second spring is less effective because it sits behind the first and has less leverage. I do like the idea of stronger springs, but I haven't shortened mine as much as Don. Maybe I'll try that and see if I'm still disappointed in the power. I did see that you can buy those stronger springs a little cheaper than the more expensive clothespins with stronger springs. Not sure if they'd match up perfectly with whatever you may have already modified, but it's an interesting option rather than starting over trimming a bunch of new pins. http://makeyourownclothespins.blogspot.com/2015/01/stainless-steel-clothespin-springs.html
  10. I know it's off topic, but I really like the veterinary syringes. They disassemble for easy cleaning, have replaceable parts and different needle sizes available. You can put a rubber plunger tip from an insulin syringe on the tip of the syringe rather than the needle, and poke a hole to make a rubber gasket that seals so the syringe can be used to force glue deeper into a crack.
  11. Maybe check with the shop that cut the bridge and see if they made note of the neck extension at the time and/or string heights before it left the shop. Something may have changed. Ultimately, though, fingerboard relief and neck angle should be considered along with string height. Different shops may have different ways of looking at it, and may judge your needs differently. The first shop may have recognized, for example, that your fingerboard had excessive scoop in the upper positions, perhaps warped up just a hair. That would be one reason to leave lower string heights and not expect it to be a problem for players who aren't playing all the way to the end of the board. Another shop may simply look at the spec and say it's too low (even if it doesn't buzz) and/or may insist that the board should be dressed in conjunction with the new bridge to restore 'ideal' specs. What works best for you really comes down to a conversation with your luthier. For classical players I generally go for E 3 - 3.5, G 5 - 5.5 and consider the fingerboard relief as one factor leaning me in one direction or the other. During humid times I'll make the bridge moderately higher and during drier months I'll err on the lower side. The instrument will often be playable still at E 2.5 , G 4.5. If the strings are too low, though, you may start to have problems articulating the string before you ever get a buzz, but that is only an issue for advanced players.
  12. My sister was having a trigger finger issue that persisted for a long time. They were doing some injections and getting ready to do surgery a few years ago, and I tried a trigger point massage targeting the muscles in the forearm that would link to that finger. Definitely a lot of tension, and in the morning she had a bigger improvement than anything she had done over the last 6 months with the doctor. I did one more session and as far as I know it hasn't been a problem since. Or at least she didn't mention it and didn't have surgery. I would think that your PT would have addressed it if it could be addressed in this manner, however, I thought it was worth mentioning. The idea behind trigger point therapy (myofascial therapy) is that you find the nodal points that are binding blood vessels and nerves and you work those areas. Often you get get a surprising amount of relief in a short time as long as there isn't a lot of inflammation in the area. The trigger point would often cause pain to be referred elsewhere so you may find the spot in the meaty part of your forearm and get a tingling in your fingers. With the type of injury you describe, though, I wouldn't count on a referred pain to identify the spot. You would definitely want to work both the extensor and abductor. A thorough massage ought to do the same thing, but may take longer and be somewhat less effective on deep trigger points. The thumb abductor and extensors are somewhat buried under larger muscles. I occasionally have a masseuse work forearms and hands, and it actually can improve strength and control a bit when I'm too stiff. I'm not a medical professional, but I studied anatomy in school and picked up quite a bit in dealing with my own sports, work, and other injuries. Especially useful for migraines. My theory on my sister's trigger finger was that the chronic tension in the over-used muscle was causing the tendon to rub excessively, and if I could loosen up the muscle enough it would stop the irritation that causes the tendon to catch. I didn't expect it to literally work over night, but it seemed to.
  13. I was about to say essentially the same thing. I have found that a shape that moving a little more towards a V rather than a C shape makes a neck feel a lot thinner. On modern violins I often see more C shaped necks than on the older violins (even with grafted necks) played by many of the professionals I know. In comparison the more round profile has been described as feeling club-like. When I've adjusted some neck profiles even a small amount without getting thinner the players perceived a much bigger change than I really expected.
  14. Ditto on David's suggestion. When you say you tried post adjustment did you also try a slightly looser post and a softer post with wider grain? I know the post material is sort of a controversial issue, however, I have had the experience of replacing a soundpost with grain so wide there was only one winter grain on it (don't remember the reasons for replacing it). The customer felt as though their E string had become too piercing, so I put a moderately shorter post in place with a good quality piece of spruce that was wider grained (hand made soundpost) and it resolved the issue. In that particular instance. For what it's worth, in this particular instance the customer's taste was out of the norm and I disagreed that the E was piercing. I think it was pretty normal, but they liked what they were used to and seemed to be more sensitive to the higher frequencies, thus wanted the E a bit muted. For the D string I'd suggest trying to pull a little more string through the peg hole so you have fewer wraps around the peg before it goes into the hole. I know that sounds like something that shouldn't matter, and I'm still a skeptic even though I've done it many times (including blind tests) and players consistently notice the same effect. I first tried this because a luthier in Boston well known for instrument adjustment fusses over the amount of string wrapped around the peg and players keep asking me "does that really matter?'. I would typically tell them that I respected his reputation and wouldn't say what he's doing doesn't matter, but I would be really surprised if it was anything more than a placebo. When I finally tried it I was shocked at the effect. It seems to effect the lower 2 strings more so than upper strings, and some instruments are more sensitive than others. After trying it many times I have come to suspect that it's a little like systolic and diastolic blood pressure. You have string tension at rest and string tension under the bow. The only way I can imagine that this adjustment does anything is if the string is actually stretching past the first 2 wraps around the peg, which might be possible for the core of the string. I'm still a skeptic even after seeing and feeling the difference. I don't want to describe the effects of the change precisely because I'd like to get more feedback from people doing that adjustment and see if they're also feeling the same thing. Even though I've had numerous players describe the same effect in blind tests I just can't get over the fact that it doesn't seem like it should work, so I usually don't mention it if I make that adjustment. Occasionally, though, players say 'wow, that's a lot better, what did you do?' or something along those lines in which case I explain it.
  15. Thanks for all the replies. The shops where I have worked have alway stuck with the dead straight post and I've never explored the tonal implications of a little angle to it. I'll have to do some exploration and go over those other two recommended threads, too. Jerry, that example with the ruler is one that I remember you mentioning at a VSA convention, and I actually used it when explaining to the customer what I was doing. This conversation has gotten me thinking about trying an experiment with a post with a little gas spring in it, which could be altered by a set screw to drive in and increase or drive out to decrease the pressure within the chamber by a small amount. The idea would be that it would have a firm stop of length, but would be intended to replicate a similar stiffness to a spruce post. The set screw would simply be a way to adjust stiffness of the post so one could hear the effect without changing other attributes. My grasp on the engineering behind such a device isn't great, so it may be a fools errand. I'm just throwing it out there because it's been bouncing around in my head for a while and some of the engineers on MN would probably have a sense of how hard it would be to make such a device and whether it would have any likelihood of teaching us anything. I can see several potential problems, but I'm no engineer. I'm always thinking of ways to try and isolate a single variable to play with it and hear the effect, but if it were easy then someone would have already sorted it out.