Al Cramer

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About Al Cramer

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  1. I' m interested in German/French trade instruments, 1880-1920, and wondered what people thought about the tightness of the grain on the spruce tops. I have some notion that tighter grain ought to give a better sound, but maybe I really wrong about that. Would really like to hear what people with more experience think. Thanks!
  2. My experience is pretty much limited to doing setups on ca. 1900 German/French trade instruments of no great value. For these I think soundpost position trumps bridge position. I set the bridge at the position of greatest wear on the top plate, (which is always somewhere between the outer and inner notches on the f-holes), then noodle around with the soundpost until it sounds best. Then I shift the bridge until it sounds even better.
  3. It's not for everybody, but if you've got good manual skills and a mild case of OCD (obsessive-compulsive-disorder) you can teach yourself how to do a halfway decent setup using the resources posted on the net (this site is a fabulous source of info). Also minor top cracks can be repaired externally with hide glue, without opening up the top. So if you're willing to put up with a scruffy looking instrument, and find instrument repair a pleasurable challenge, there's lots of interesting old German trade fiddles that show up on reverb.com in the 300-400$ price range. But you should only consider this if you've already developed a good model in your head for what a violin ought to sound like; and are willing to spend 3 days fiddling around with sound posts and bridges.
  4. Thanks JacksonMaberry, you were very kind to respond. I slacked the strings down to 0 tension & tried to wiggle the neck and couldn't sense anything. Then I made a new soundpost, positioned so its leading edge was 4mm back of the rear edge of the bridge; and its center was 2-3mm west (towards the bass bar) of the center of the A/E foot of the bridge. These measurements seem really extreme according to what I've read, but the results were fantastic. G/D are much stronger, but also A/E, which surprised me because I thought the move towards the bass bar would weaken their response. Re the neck vibration: can still feel it when I play G or D string. Not if I play of A or E alone; but it's present if I play double stops on both. I am amazed at how much better this fiddle sounds after 3 days of experimentation with soundposts!
  5. I'm trying to learn how to do a proper violin setup. Thanks to the many wonderful postings on this site, I've progressed in the last 6 months from "horrible" to " bad". I have a little question that I'd like to ask -- it's probably really stupid, but here goes... I'm working on what I think is a c. 1900 German factory copy of a Maggini. It's the big Maggini -- body is 3/8" longer & a wee bit wider than standard. The instrument is light (not much heavier than my Amati) and very alive acoustically: when our Border Collie barks, all the strings ring out in sympathy. The sound is very rich and nicely dark, but the volume is a bit low, so I'm experimenting with different bridges and soundposts and strings to see if I can make its voice a bit bigger . In working with soundpost placement, I've found that when the post is positioned to favor the G/D strings, I feel a strong vibration in the neck when I play. When I move the post to favor the E string, the vibration diminishes strongly. My question is: does anybody use the information provided by neck vibration to help determine optimal soundpost height & position? Many thanks!