Al Cramer

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  1. scordatura, those are really lovely photos you posted. I really like the intensity of his face and body. Thanks!
  2. That's an interesting idea. I notice you suggest a 1/16 cello as a good match to modern da-spalla. There's a luthier here in USA who says he does conversation of kid sized cellos to da-spalla, but he says you should start with a 1/8 cello. I confess I don't understand how fractional cello sizes work (I sort of get that it seems to have more do with the volume of the soundbox (Dim**3) rather than the length of linear measurements (Dim*1)). I haven't been able to find a site that gives the dimensions of fractional-sized cellos down to 1/16: if you know of one, please post the URL. Thanks
  3. Harley marty, we are thinking alike! If I had an extra 5 grand hanging around that needed spending, I'd definitely get in touch with Mr. Badiarov. Alas I don't. An idea I've been considering is: what if I took my octave-violin-tuned viola and tied some frets on it? Then I'd have a viola da braccio. I haven't done this yet because I dislike playing fretted instruments for intonation reasons; also I'm not sure what to use for the fret material (nylon fishing looks good but you need a range of diameters). The idea is to improve the sound of the instrument. If you look at pictures of viola
  4. Hi Harley -- A couple of months ago I did what you're doing, except I bought a 16.5" "gamba-shaped" viola from yitamusic. (gamba-shaped means the shoulders slope more, and lower bout is notably wider than most violas). For strings I'm using sensicore octave viola strings (the set is C, G, D, A, and sensicore also makes a "octave viola E string", so I bought the set + single E string and threw out the C). For bow I bought a carbon fiber cello bow from www.fiddlershop.com (from whom I also bought the strings). I'm really pleased by the results. It gives a big rich sound, but plays ver
  5. Wouldn't that be similar to the pencil-with-eraser idea discussed at the top of the thread?
  6. If you're interested in experimenting, you might want to check out this video:
  7. Could I add Regina Carter to the list of modern blues fiddlers? I know she's a jazz violinist, but to my ears there's a real strong blues feel to her music (sort of like Joe Zawinul, the great Austrian keyboardist). Palousian, that's a great post you made! I thought a lot about what you wrote & very much agree. But there's more to be said. Been thinking in particular about rhythm and beat. I kind of associate blues with a back-beat feel. Like it's always there, even when you're not doing it. Then there's that thing Billie Holiday did, where she'd come in just a little behind the beat
  8. My pinkie fingers are very short. What I do is: 1. right hand -- use a Russian instead of Franco-Belgian bow-hold. Since pinkie finger is just sort of floating up, it's shortness doesn't matter. 2. left hand -- scales + scales +scales. If you're in first position, use the pinkie to finger the fifths. If you're in third, feel the way the 4th finger can establish the tonality of everything. Pinkie is strong. Pinkie is smart. You just need to figure out a way to work with it!
  9. So much useful info posted here! All I can add is: the great 20th century classical guitar player Andres Segovia had freakishly small hands. Didn't stop him! It's amazing how far your fingers can stretch when you don't tense up.
  10. Did you know it's possible to practice scales in your head? At this point in my playing I'm trying to rid myself of the idea of "positions" and just move up & down the fingerboard to make fluid musical phrases. So I do lots of scales, tritone & seventh chord arpeggios, little 6-2-5-1 chord progressions, etc.. I'm finding that at least half of this stuff is mental, and I can practice it while walking my dog. I got into this idea by listening to Olympic athletes talking about their training. Skiers and gymnasts would talk about how their coaches would make them "visualize" their m
  11. Could you comment on the finish? In USA we sometimes get instruments where some shop gets in a fiddle, passes it over to the guitar guy to fix it up, and that guy sprays on some super-heavy lacquer that kills the sound.
  12. I'm totally with the people here suggesting geared pegs. I just bought 2 sets of knilling planetary pegs (1@9.mm for a viola pegbox, 1@8.5mm for a violin with really big pegbox holes) for 55$ a set. That's how I intend to solve my problems. But if you're intent on the bushing solution: I have a wood lathe because I sometimes make flutes and penny whistles and such. If you PM me with your contact info, I could try to turn you a bit of dowling from some nice granadillo wood that would likely work.
  13. It gets even worse! The way the sound is encoded (digital or analog) is hugely important. It took Neil Young years before he'd allow his stuff to go out as CDs, because he wouldn't accept the loss in sound quality. If you still have access to a turntable, check out how much richer & truer & just plain better vinyl sounded. My guess is that whatever differences exist between these mic's risks being occluded by digital encoding. Sometimes I wish electricity had never been invented. A few weeks ago we lost power in the early evening, so my wife and I lit 5 candles at the kitchen tabl
  14. Many thanks to Maestro Saunders for posting that article. I think this has been posted before on this site, but if not -- and you're interested in cheery upbeat pictures of violin production in China -- check out I suppose we've all had our own experiences with lower-end Chinese instruments. My sister asked me to do setup on a Stentor violin and a Samuel Eastman viola. There was nothing to be done for the Stentor: the finish was impossibly thick, like they'd repeatedly dipped the poor thing in a vat of polyurethane, completely choking off whatever it had to offer. The fini
  15. What a great thread! I wouldn't presume to speak for Brad Dorsey, but would like to note that he & I both live in New England in USA. In this part of the world people tend to be very pragmatic, and also hate to see stuff go to waste. On the Maine island where I live, the guys at the dump always put the lawn mowers and promising broken furniture out at the front, so people can come & haul them off and fix them up. Fixing up broken stuff and making it useful again is a big deal here. Of course, there's no point in fixing crap. But the OP said the instrument -- plywood or not