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    Orford, New Hampshire

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  1. TimDasler

    Trigger finger

    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.
  2. TimDasler

    Neck width for smaller hands

    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.
  3. 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.
  4. TimDasler

    Deliberately Angled Soundpost

    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.
  5. TimDasler

    Deliberately Angled Soundpost

    I had a customer in the shop today who had only ever let Rene Morel work on her cello. Since his passing she hadn't let anyone change her setup until today. The primary issue was that the post was no longer tall enough for the cello even now in the drier season. I noticed that the post was far from straight, but was clearly fit at that angle deliberately. The top of the post was about 3mm inside the bridge foot and 3mm behind, but the bottom of the post was about 12mm closer to the rib and about 6mm towards the bridge. If it didn't fit I would have thought it had moved somehow. I made careful note of the location and traced pencil marks around the post so I could get back to that spot. His last adjustment, according to the customer, was a quick adjustment that did not include a refit, but he gave the post a couple tugs, to resolve whatever the current concern had been. I presume that was the bottom coming further out to tighten it up. I started by tacking a 1/2mm shim to the bottom of the post to test it with the same placement and fit, but more compression. Ultimately I ended up putting in a straighter, taller post with the top 3mm in and 5mm back. I couldn't get the response, balance, and well rounded tone without a pretty significant angle to the post. I ended up with the bottom a bit towards the bridge, but not quite as much as Rene had it. It does seem as though angling the post had a different effect than just shortening the post. I was able to get the quick response, but it sounded a bit choked and thin without the angle to the post. I could not get the same effect with a post standing straight. So, Rene taught me a lesson from the grave I think. I'm hoping someone (perhaps one of his former protege) might be able to shed further light on when and why he might put such a strong angle on the post. My impression is that the angled post has a similar effect to a more flexible back. It has more give because of the angle, and it is a different feel than just a shorter post. Not sure if that impression is accurate. Also, for what it's worth, the instrument is a Czech cello made by Ladislav Prokop in 1933. Seems to be a unique model (or at least one I couldn't identify) with high arching and a fairly flat table arch that dives down rather steeply rather than the gradual transition and recurve of the Cremonese instruments. At 3,000 g it's not excessively heavy and didn't seem over-built. The top has saddled a bit and looks like it had an excessively tight post at some point (or took a hit to the top that didn't leave a post crack) prior to Rene's post, which sat partially over a dent in the top, so at first glance it appeared to have a gap on one side. Turned out to be the edge of the post overlapping the dent in the top by a small margin. Thanks in advance.
  6. TimDasler

    Starting salary for violin shop tech

    I should clarify that I didn't mean to suggest that violin making school isn't worth it. I've seen lots of skilled luthiers come out of the great programs we have here in the US. I just meant to say, as JBiggs also mentioned, that you aren't going to cut a lot of bridges and do a lot of repair in violin making schools, so you won't be ready to hit the ground running in a repair shop. They'll need quite a bit of training on the repair side of things, but should be in a position to apply it well given the general knowledge and tool skills that come with 3 years of education.
  7. TimDasler

    Starting salary for violin shop tech

    Not so long ago I collected some comps for a wage negotiation with my employer. Personally, I don't see violin making school as the ideal route to a career in repair because after 3 years in violin making school you've learned a lot about the instrument, but most people still have poor setup and haven't learned a lot about repair. You'll get there reasonably quickly with the background knowledge that you have about the instrument, but not everyone wants to take on the task of doing that initial training. In general, if you are able to do student quality setup, but not up to speed, then you're looking at $14-$15/hour. If you're doing student quality setup and are fully up to speed you'll be in the $15-$16 range. If you're also able to do the following up to speed and appropriate quality for entry level professional instruments; professional quality setups, basic crack repair, simple edge repairs, pegbox bushings etc... you could be from $17-$20/hour or so If you can also do more complicated repairs appropriate for entry level professional instruments; 2 piece corners, neck resets, and clevettes could put you up to $21-$25/hour If you can do even more complicated repairs such as cheek patches, soundpost patches, edge doubling etc... you could be up to about $26-$28/hour And if you're able to do the full range of repairs including high quality retouch, neck grafts, breast patch, etc... then you could be up to $29-$55/hour These figures are based on some research from a previous shop, which was a bit out dated. When I did my comps in 2016 I spot checked their list (which is much more comprehensive than what I mentioned here) and adjusted it by CPI, which seemed to match the comps that I found. Many shops did have some small benefits, perhaps not healthcare, but sometimes a retirement contribution, vacation, paid training etc... If you're in a bigger city with high cost of living adjust it up a bit and if you're out in the sticks and cost of living is low, then it may be a bit lower. I should also point out that folks working in the sort of shops that deal with fine Cremonese instruments on a regular basis may fall on a different payscale, but that's outside the scope of what was reviewed because the readily available information is the more 'average' violin shop. Also keep in mind that the type of work that the shop does will matter both for your ability to grow in the field and in increased wages. If the shop needs 3 luthiers doing rental work and the head of the shop does all the customer repairs it's likely that you'll get hired and do nothing but low level setup and repairs. The can't really pay you $30/hour to work on rentals, so you can think of it almost as tiers and until there's an opening your wage may not match your skill. Wages for luthiers in my area are a bit low because there isn't much competition for the one big shop in the area. They get away with low wages and poor treatment of luthiers, but the clientele is spread out over a wide, rural area, thus it is hard to build a sizable shop to compete. In each area that you consider you'll find different economic challenges, so you'll need to consider that when looking at comps. One thing that I've picked up on as I was setting up my own shop is that the shop's labor rate can give you some clue as to where you're likely to cap out as an employee. You'll probably make somewhere between 20%-35% of the labor rate or up to about 1/2 of the labor rate if you're the head of a shop. That figure does not include benefits, but most shops are pretty limited in the benefits that they offer. So if the shop that you're looking at charges $60/hour for labor you don't have much chance of being paid a competitive wage if you're building your skills and intend to grow to a high level of craftsmanship. While those figures may make it look like the shop is raking in big bucks for every hour of your labor, charging 3 times the employees wage doesn't leave a giant profit margin once you consider cost of space, insurance, time lost to non-billable things (customer consults, sharpening etc...) but that's a whole different topic. I hope that helps. I do have some data that I don't want to post publicly, but PM me if anyone wants more data and comps.
  8. TimDasler

    What would you charge to repair this violin top?

    From the photo it looks as though a tight saddle may be the cause of at least the first bassbar crack if not the one beside it. Make sure the saddle has some space on both sides. Most shops that I have been around refuse to do crack repairs from the outside as a general rule. For one thing your chances of perfect alignment are much lower without the top off, but you may also have glue penetration issues and the lack of internal reinforcement is an issue. With a bass bar crack in particular you're essentially selling something that you know is going to fail, and that's not a great position for any retailer. It's also a reason that shops refuse to do repairs like that. When that violin comes in to a shop to be repaired and the luthier says, since none of these cracks were properly repaired I would consider them to be a liability. If one of those cracks reopens (which they will) the customer will get the bad news that all the cracks should be reworked because of the likely issues of poor alignment and lack of reinforcement. You don't want to be the guy they're talking about when the customer gets the news that their problems are the result of inadequate repair. That's my view on the matter anyways. As local shops start to see that kind of work it also builds a reputation within the business which will not be favorable for you. If he wants to sell an instrument that is not properly repaired tell him to send it to one of the repairable auctions at Skinner or Tarisio. Plenty of people will pay something for it so they have a project to take to a workshop or something, and he won't have to put money into repairing it first. Also avoids the risk of a ticked off customer when they get the news that the cracks weren't properly repaired before they bought it from a retailer.
  9. TimDasler

    Body Stop VS Neck Stop

    Players adjust well to proportional changes. If your stop is 5mm shorter, but it is taken all from the neck it will be more of an issue for you as you get in to the upper positions as opposed to an instrument that had a 5mm shorter stop, but maintained normal proportions. That being said, variations of this 2:3 ratio are common and you will be most comfortable with instruments that are most similar to what you already play. The neck heel will also be a factor when it comes to the upper positions. The ratio may be right, but an excessively fat heel will still make the neck feel shorter.
  10. TimDasler

    Dating Violin without Label

    How old fashioned of you. Seems like kids these days will date, but they don't want to put a label on it.
  11. TimDasler

    Cracks in Bending Ribs

    Glad to hear your most recent bend worked for you. I was just going to add that I start the tighter bends by heating the backside on the flat spot on top of the iron first and get it limbered up, then slide it into the strap and proceed warming the inside of the curve on the flatter curve of the iron before sliding it to one of the portion of the iron with the desired curve.
  12. TimDasler

    Downforce Experiment

    This sort of commentary is entirely unproductive, and has no place in this forum in my opinion. Not to mention that the validity of one's statements is unrelated to either anonymity or how much hot air you're blowing.
  13. TimDasler

    Custom suction rib system, save 80 % of time…

    I like the jig. I've been wanting to try making a suction jig for rib holding during planing and scraping, but haven't gotten to it, partially because I wasn't convinced it would hold tight enough. If it stays put under a safe-t-planer I presume it doesn't shift around, so you could also plane and scrape it in there or does it slide around if it isn't butted right up against that lip? Have you done your final planing and scraping using that, if so, did it work well for that as well? The jig I've been using instead is a flat board with 600 grit sandpaper attached with spray adhesive for a higher friction surface, then use two 1/8" wooden pins to hold the end. Two holes are drilled through the end of the rib on one or both ends, so you lose the last 10mm of the rib or so, but it allows you to plane and scrape in both directions without fear of cracking the rib. You can plane right over your pins and not hurt the plane. Don't have a clamp to work around, and when you want to check your thickness you don't have to undo a clamp. Just pick up the rib and check it. Overall, it's a big improvement over clamping down the rib, but your box is one step closer to my "ideal" contraption, which would be a box attached to a suction clamp (or shop vac works I suppose, just more noisy I think) with a foot pedal to engage and disengage or perhaps a valve that you turn to turn the suction off and on quickly so you can pick up the rib and check it easily.
  14. TimDasler

    Carving Violin Bridge for Violin with High belly arch

    This makes me question the sharpness of your plane blade and/or the quality of your bridge blanks. For years I was cutting at least 100 violin bridges a week, and I've never had this happen. The only time I broke the uvula was when my chisel wasn't sharp enough and I was cutting the bevels. Usually it was a case of being in a hurry, knowing I should have sharpened it a dozen bridges ago, but I kept working with it until it broke something. I may be wrong, but that's what it sounds like to me.
  15. TimDasler

    Bright Sound Tone

    Since you also seemed to be interested in critiques I'd say that the woodwork looks good for the most part. It is clear that you're playing with different models as you mention, so I won't comment on stylistic choices that may or may not follow the intended model. It does stand out to me, though, that there appear to be some waves in the purfling channel. More so on the back, and much of it following the flame. I use a tight gouge in this area, then scrapers focusing on the high spots. The purfling channel and edge work are the only areas on the plates where I use sandpaper, and I finish with a tight roll of sandpaper that ends up looking like a cigarette butt. It resists the pull of the grain and gives you a little more control over the shape. I also think the edgework is too crisp. I'd roll that a little more even if you aren't antiquing. Here are some closeups of the Messiah Strad, which is among the best preserved. Notice that there is still some crispness to the edge on the back, but that peak is a bit further in than yours, so the outer edge is not so square. There's also a more consistent gradual transition up from the purfling I think. There are parts of your purfling channel that are a bit abrupt coming up to the edge. That's also part of what gives the appearance of waviness in the channel. One last thing I notice is that the scroll is well carved, but has some kinks. You might benefit from adding one more scroll gouge to bridge between your flatter gouge and your more curved gouge. You don't necessarily need 7 gouges to do a scroll, but the closer your gouge is to the curve of the scroll the easier it is to prevent flat spots. Part of the appearance of the flat spot is also the result of the inside fluting. I bet it was less noticeable before the bevel, but you could have gone back and skimmed that with a gouge and scraper and evened out the appearance pretty quickly. Some of the bevel lower on the pegbox also contributes to an appearance of unevenness because it appears to change angle and/or thickness just slightly along it's path. It's hard to tell from the photo, but you may also want to flute a little deeper as you exit the pegbox and move up the scroll. Looks a little flat from the photo. So, all that being said, it's nice work overall. I'm just trying to give you the kind of feedback that I know I'm always looking for. Help me see what I'm missing and make the next one better. Nice work!