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Al Cramer

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Everything posted by Al Cramer

  1. Thanks for your replies! I am really envious of people who have so much experience working with these amazing instruments. I am only beginning to understand how they work. You think you've learned something about bridges and soundpost placement, and then find you've done a setup that's impossible to play. Then you start to noodle with with nut heights and fingerboard scoop and struggle to relate that to what you know about bridges and soundposts, and realize that you basically know nothing...somethig very holistic is going on with setup! I am very grateful for Pegbox and the willingness of people to share their knowledge.
  2. I'm a player who has become somewhat obsessed with carving bridges and noodling around with bridge & soundpost placement. Given my limited but evolving knowledge, I'm really bugged by warped bridges, because they make it hard for me to visualize the force vectors. But I'm curious: you always read that if a bridge is too warped, it can snap and damage the instrument. Is this really true? Has anyone actually seen that happen? Thanks!
  3. Blank face, you're talking about serious restoration. I was just trying to point how much it would cost to get it to speak again if the guy did the work himself. I figure cost of instrument + cost of self repair comes to 500-600$. Which it seems nowadays can get you a pretty nice instrument from Yitamusic.. I did this myself with an unlabeled late 19th century Maggini and was really happy with the results. If I were to try it again, I don't think I'd buy the instrument this guy is considering. The back seam is messed up and the scroll looks badly carved (maybe it's just the pix, but the left shot looks nothing like the reflection of the right). Also the way the flaming on the back points downwards? On the other hand there's the completely amazing label. In my musical neighborhood (Celtic) we have some tunes that everybody understands were composed by the Good Folk (aka. Faeries). I never heard of them making instruments, but if they did, that is exactly the kind of label they would slap on them.
  4. So what would it cost to get this fiddle up and running, if you want to do it yourself? Here are some guesses from my own experience. Pegs: 75$ for Planetary Perfection + 15$ for pegbox reamer. Strings: 30$ for Fiddlerman knockoffs of Dominants Bridge blanks: 40$. (That's for 5 - 6, again from Fiddlerman. You need at least this many to come up with something remotely plausible. Unless you're done this many times before). 1" wide plane from TrueValue hardware, + sandpaper: 15$ . You need this to regrade the fingerboard. bottom & top nuts, soundpost: 20$. Add in cost of xacto knife, hacksaw, and little bench vice (40$ total?) if you don't have them already. Hide-glue: 10$. Fingerboard shim: 20$ from StewMac. You only need this if the FB projection has sunk too low. Quite a lot of money! In my case it was worth it, but I think I was lucky.
  5. Could someone please comment on the scroll? I am trying to train my eye to evaluate scrolls. This scroll looks odd to me, as regards the side views and the visual swoop of the curvature... I would like to know what people who actually know what good scrolls look like think about this one. Thanks!
  6. Suppose you stretch a rubber band. It's under some tension. Now pull the ends a wee bit farther apart: tension goes up a bit, in proportion to the amount of elongation. Wouldn't this apply to a violin string as well? When it's open, it describes a line segment between the nut (call that point A) and the bridge (call that point B). When you press it down, it goes from point A, down to contact point at fingerboard (call that point C), then back up to bridge (point B). This make a skinny triangle, & we know that length (AC) + length (CB) is greater than length(AC). So -- just as in the rubber band case -- string tension should go up a bit when the string is fingered. If you put on a higher nut, the deformation of the fingered string will be increased, so the change in string tension will be more. If you train your fingers to readjust slightly to compensate for the change in string tension, your axe will feel more responsive. I'm not entirely sure about that last point. All I'm really trying to do is make an argument that changing the nut will change sound and/or playing characteristics of the instrument.
  7. 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!
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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!
  11. 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!
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