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Kev N

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  1. Yes, my apologies if I seemed to infer that the rest of the pegbox and scroll were also similar... twas not my intention. Like my absolute favorite philosopher Clint Eastwood once said, "A man has to know his limitations.", and this is not my area of expertise. By the way, Blankface, thanks for the incidental extra "identfication" indicators concerning French pegboxes and scrollwork. Some of them I had never really noticed before. Learning much here...:-)
  2. Nathan, FWIW, I did happen to post a fiddle here for ID about 5-ish weeks or more ago that seemed very clearly French in many respects. Your scroll flutes next to the pegbox reminded me of mine to some degree. Perhaps Blankface will remember it as he seemed to have the best handle on it. I had the top plate off, so everyone could see the corner blocks, cleats, etc. The body was reasonably well done, yet to me the neck and scroll seemed rather crude in comparision. In fact, the scroll was fluted much like yours in that it seemed to be hastily finished. It too had a French label (which seemed to have been replaced at some point, actually). At the time Blankface speculated that it might be Grandjon "school" in nature. Attached is a picture of the scroll fluting. I can provide much better pictures later if you like. Kev
  3. Yes, as I suggested to the OP, knowing about where the OP lives will help to know what the local folks will charge. Out here in "flyover" country a local violin place in Eau Claire, Wisconsin advertises on the web a $75 price to remove the top and do a minor (clean I assume) top repair. A few miles south in Chicago and the prices might triple or quadruple. As somebody said here, location, location, location.... Of course, I would have to charge even more to make a profit, and probably not do nearly as good of a job...:-) Kev
  4. Hi Doughbunnie, welcome to the forum. Looks like nobody (better qualified to answer!) has noticed this post, so I thought I would at least mention that some repair prices I see posted for removing the top plate and fixing a simple top plate crack seem to run around a hundred bucks. That probably has a lot to do with where you live though, as well as the nature of the crack. If you mention the region that you live in, perhaps somebody here can identify a decent local repair shop for you with a good reputation. Personally, I know little about your violin other than the fact that it is probably a common student violin. Kev
  5. Thanks for your thoughts guys. Nathan, maybe the story on why I first made it will help a little to answer the question, I hope.... I guess I didn't really mention it, but the way the jig came about had more to do with a few complicated rebuild/alignment situations than simply mounting a neck on a "normal" or new violin. It happened several years back when I ran into an old lower-end German instrument (roughly turn of the century) where the bouts were not at all symmetrical, the end pin was off, and the neck was also badly off in 3 axis (height, angle laterally and vertically due to a previous "repair") as well as the pegbox being badly twisted making it hard for her to tune or so she felt. Her leader (who she says played a Strad, but I wonder) apparently called it a "planter" . Well, every great violin has a name, right.... Anyhow, she was under no delusions as to it's value, but wondered if I would be able to do anything at all with it since it was worthless as it was. All this despite the fact that I had never even touched a violin before (although I should admit that I have spent decades doing all kinds of fairly precise woodworking and engineering work, etc.). So, there I found myself trying to figure out exactly how to make a silk purse out of a sow's ear, so to speak, and get the strings to somehow "split the difference" with all these problems and at least feel more functional. That was where all the setup advice offered here was truly invaluable. Thanks..... I realized that the best way for a noobie like me to visualize the string path and all my options with neck adjustments, end pin changes, etc was to be able to both hold everything in the desired new location, use a long straight line to take measurements and check alignment between the F holes, end pin, all along the fingerboard, etc, and try to at least balance those with the asymmetry of the bouts. That was where I realized how much a fixture of some sort could help an inexperienced amateur like me in such a difficult situation. Thus the fixture. I won't say that in the end the job I did could put any real luthier's job at risk, but at least she was amazed at how much better it sounded (do I have to mention that the bar was pretty low by that point?). It was a blast though, but I have always enjoyed being in over my head a little. And it led to an addiction, fixing the occasional violin......
  6. In recent years I have had to deal with the resetting of two messed up necks (following M. Darnton's very well written explanations on the subject) and other various alignment issues. After struggling a bit (I am still very much an amateur at violin restoration) I have gradually evolved a method of being able to hold the body and neck in the position(s) that I require. A sort of "alignment cradle" if you will. While I have seen all kinds of helpful pictures and explanations on every subject under the sun here, I wondered why I have never seen much on the subject of how to hold a violin for initial alignment checks, accurate measurements, subsequent neck setting operations, or countless other "alignment sensitive" tasks. Or am I just obsessive/compulsive/insecure about how I do such things? Or just less skilled than most of you at this kinda thing, such that I need a fixture like this (ok, that is obviously true in any case )? How do the experts (or amateurs) on this forum hold the body of a violin securely when they have to repeatedly keep rechecking alignment and other such things, say when trimming the base of a neck? Does one eventually just get comfortable and good enough without such a "crutch", or are you guys holding out on me? A few pictures are attached of the method I now use to deal with my "dimensional insecurities". I have found it most useful in discovering where the outer edges of the bouts are relative to the endpin, base of the neck, scroll end of the neck, etc., etc. Basically this is just a good quality (dead flat of course) plywood board with some T-nuts installed in the back that allow me to adjust the maple supports that hold the body in exact position relative to the centerline marked on the board. On the board itself I pencil in all kinds of alignment info. I place the violin body in a position on the supports that seems to be the best centerline/string position relative to the centerline marked on the board. I note where the endpin is and where the base of the neck attaches to the body and try to figure out how to best align everything, be that moving the endpin, adjusting the neck (if really necessary), or whatever. By simply placing a small machinist's square or two in the right place I can find the position of the edges of any part of the violin relative to the assumed centerline/string path of the body. Still to be finished is a way to make an adjustable support under the scroll position and some other details. I sprayed it with cheap shellac to preserve the pencil notations. For me, the one disturbing thing about using a fixture like this is it becomes glaringly obvious how out-of-alignment many old fiddles were originally built. Apparently the common fiddle, as we know it today, is an admirable example of "fault tolerant" design. Am I the only "dimensionally insecure/obsessed" person here?
  7. I dont know if it would bear upon the decision, but I measure about 600 grams, maybe 20 oz of compression to force the bar back onto the plate face that it had lifted from (perhaps many decades ago?) when I try and squeeze the lifted end back down. I am a bit of a beginner at this, but that seems like an awful lot of force. Which makes me want to believe that the bar had warped for some reason in a way not originally intended? I assume? I do know that there has been discussion in the past by some that "preloading" a bassbar might have some advantages....but surely this would not be an early case of that?
  8. Thanks for the sage advice guys. Then a new, but identical (except for the warp...) bassbar it is.
  9. I few days ago I started to prepare this violin (using the advice kindly offered here) for the rib (re)repair it so badly needed. So, I began by cleaning off all the old glue crude with hot water, cotton swabs and small scrapers. I have attached better pictures of the four (now cleaned and hopefully more visible) corner blocks, in case anyone is interested.. One of the first things I discovered after the glue was cleaned away was that the thin "ebony pin" that I thought was located in the bottom block was not wood at all, but a very small little nail. Oddly, it seems to align with a place on the ebony saddle, not any place on the plate proper. I have attached a picture, just for kicks. Looking closely under the fingerboard at the top block, I think I see the remnants of a similar nail up there too. Not sure if that tells us anything other than a factory way of holding the plate in place while the clamps could be applied? So far I have decided to use what I believe to be, or what Blank Face seemed to imply, was the better method (perhaps not justified for a violin of lesser value than the ones you guys normally work on, but I am having fun with this one...). So I decided to try and do the 1" taper method to the rib and the replacement rib stock. I removed the linings from the damaged rib and loosened it up from the back plate all the way back to the middle of the C bout (the glue was very weak to this point anyhow, and needed to be redone). This gave me the flexibility I needed to bend the rib out enough to create the desired taper on the inner face safely. This effort was aided by the use of a simple wooden fixture that supported the now fragile rib while I shaved, sanded and scraped the desired taper into it. The other side of the broken rib was unglued from the end block and tapered also. I have yet to make the 2"-ish (new rib stock) piece that will connect them. The plan is to make a proper form to glue these pieces together in so that they will assume the correct finished rib shape and (more or less) thickness. However, I may let the block end of the repaired rib run a little thicker on the back side and simply notch the new bottom block slightly to accept it where it occurs. I figure a tiny bit of extra thickness here can't hurt much. The main question that I have run into has to do with the bassbar. It has a surprising amount of curve in the bottom end where it has pulled away from the plate by nearly 1/4"! What's more, this bassbar seems low and thin compared to what seems to be common practice in today's violins. The original bassbar (from the later 1800s we assume??) has a measured a thickness of .175" (4.4 mm). The height is .370" (9.25 mm) in the center, tapering in a fairly traditional manner to the ends, which are about .030" thick. These dimensions all seem much smaller thancurrent practice. Would I be well advised to use a replacement of larger dimensions? What effect would that have on sound, as compared to replacing this bassbar with a new one of original dimensions (minus the strange curl)? The restorer in me wants to keep it the same as it would have originally been, but not if the effect on sound will be too detrimental. Opinions? I assume that gluing in the original is out of the question due to the stress it would put on the glue joint, and that it would just fail eventually. Thanks.
  10. Thanks for your knowledge and thoughts Blank Face, Brad and George. I appreciated it and am learning something from you guys... Kev
  11. I too had assumed that it was a BOB work, having read that bit on the subject, but then I know less than anybody here. I did discover something that may be of interest though. The label appears to be a fake. Color me stunned....:-) I noticed something hard like an old glue remnant or something from a previous label that I could distinctly feel under the present label. Upon looking much closer in the best light, I am sure I see the shadow outline of a previous label slightly off to the right and above the present one. Hopefully this picture will show what I see, as well as the telltale glue remnants just above the current label. Guess I didn't look close enough before... And the ribs to seem to meet in the middle, mostly, so I was wrong in my original post. Thanks for pointing that out Blank Face. Also, there is an ebony(?) locator pin visible on the bottom block. Remember that this violin was reworked (badly I feel) once before, so I would not if that was original. I would assume that the disparity between the quality of the work on the plates and the work on the scroll indicate factory work specialization? Would this be in or around the turn of the century Mirecourt? Thanks for all the help.
  12. ...and got a little bored today waiting for a customer to get back to me, so I went down to my shop and took the top plate off. This is what I found. Top plate with bass bar measures 64 grams for what it is worth. All surfaces inside very smooth.
  13. Hi Guys and Gals. Let me start by saying thanks to all those who have shared their expertise here. I have not posted often but have learned much from what many of you have contributed these last several years. Whether my skills have improved from it is yet to be decided...... I recently managed to pick up a possibly awful, but interesting (but maybe not awfully interesting) violin to practice more of my psuedo-restoration skills on. First, however, I want to make sure it isn't a Strad, just in case he made some violins while vacationing in France (like I have heard here that he did in Germany sometimes). I would love to know what it really is and what era it belongs to. Second, I would welcome any expert suggestions on the best approach to repairing it. The lower bout/rib on the treble side appears to have been very poorly repaired/misaligned at one time and needs to be pulled apart and properly repaired again. I assume that taking out the bottom block, shaving the ribs to about a 1/2" taper and splicing in a new piece behind them is the best way to fix that? The ribs could be much better aligned with the plates in this area too. Also, the areas under the bridge feet show what looks like, and feels like alot of wear down into the top plate wood. However, measuring with a makeshift feeler gauge under a steel rule only shows about .006" (.2 mm) wear in this area max. Should I be concerned enough to add any wood under this area when the top plate is off? It feels and looks much deeper than that measurement! What I know about the violin. ... The label wants to infer that it is French (Caussin Luthier, Neufchateau (Vosges)). It gives every impression that it had been used quite a bit and is very worn, almost to the purfling where the chin goes and the hand go. No evidence that I can see that a chinrest was ever attached (interesting). It has markings on it that make me wonder if it once was a school violin. It has an eight digit number scratched into the back below the button (school violin???). It also has a very small number (2778) stamped into the ribs near the end pin. I do not have decades of experience, but looking at the violin in person leaves me with the impression that the belly plate and the back plate have been made with noticably more care originally than the scroll/neck were. This is because what is left of the original plate edges, surfaces and purfling just seem more carefully done. The plates are smooth on the inside (however there are no cleats on the belly plate, even though it is also made of two pieces). Cleats on the back plate in the French style I think. Bass bar is a separate piece. It has 4 corner blocks and linings. From what I can see the corner blocks look like the wider versions that allowed more clamping area, like I believe was more common on French work? The rib miters seem to meet, best as I can tell, on the C-bout side. When you get to the scroll and neck, you quickly notice that the scroll is quite noticably out of alignment with the neck laterally. The scroll carving/fluting stops well short of what you would hope to see on a better violin. Actually, the location of hole for the endpin is measurably off to the bass side by a bit, so I guess that the scroll and neck are not the only things done a little sloppy. Some measurements...bottom bouts measure 203 mm, top bouts measure 163 mm, C bouts measure 106 mm, length of back plate (not including button) is about 357. Rib height in the C bouts is 32 mm. Top plate height is about 14.1 mm. Bottom plate height is 14.7 mm. The neck seems to have been cut a bit thin originally, being around 17.3 mm thick, including fingerboard, along most of its length. I cannot see any "embossing" effect on the label to indicate older printing methods, but then it is a little hard to be sure. No other visible labeling or marking inside that I can see. No "France" or "Made in France" labels to date it to the 20th century. No signs of missing labels I can see. The rosewood pegs look old, or at least show evidence of much handwork in fitting. The finish seems to be a thin feeling alcohol-solvable one. Thanks in advance for any help you can give..... Kev
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