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Al Cramer

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Everything posted by Al Cramer

  1. Some news re Lombardy -- We live in New England, but my wife grew up in Milano and all her family's over there. Her sister reports that there are no shortages in the supermarkets, but the bookstores have sold out all copies of Manzoni's I promessi sposi . That's this big heavy 19th novel everybody used to have to read in high school, set in the plague years that killed off the Brescian school. Marisa says everybody is re-reading it.
  2. Delabo posted: That's kind of what I was wondering about in my post. Up until 20 years ago, if you wanted a fiddle, you'd go to whatever pawnshops/music stores/violin shops/maker's workshops you knew about and buy something (or trade your Fender tube amp for somebody else's violin, which is how I got into strings). Nowadays, if you don't have much money, you have to work thru the net. If you have some experience with violins you can maybe find something that looks promising and it can be a win, though it's always a gamble. But for setup -- especially soundposts -- I don't see how this net stuff can really work. I don't doubt that maestros like David Burgess can set the post perfectly and ship the thing with strings slacked 2 whole steps down and it all works out, but when we buy stuff off ebay or reverb.com, that's not who we're dealing with.
  3. I'm bewildered by the complaint that the soundpost was down. I thought that a good setup used minimal soundpost pressure for un-slacked strings? So if you loosened the strings for shipment, the post would fall and the recipient would have to go to a luthier to reset the post (or buy some tools and do it herself?).
  4. I would like to apologize to everybody for complaining about morgana. It never crossed my mind that someone would choose to mimic trigram based stochastic sentence productions in posting here! Sorry again -- I've no right to complain about anybody. Having said that -- I really enjoyed the interchange between Senseis Swan, Noon, and Burgess re the crushing of wood fibers. It kinda relates back to my questions about the wood used to make soundposts.
  5. Could our moderator please do something about morgana? I love Maestronet because I've learned so much from it. I enjoy the quirkiness of the people who post here. It really bothers me to see these stupid bot postings.
  6. Many thanks for all the ideas! Would anyone care to say something about soundpost woods? (I've read wildly conflicting statements about this is previous threads)
  7. The Maggini looks an awful lot like the one I bought from Reverb for 325$ and spent lots of time setting up, replacing pegs, and reworking/shimming the fingerboard. I really love the result -- rich dark tone, a great fiddle for what I play (mostly Celtic and jazz). It really rocks in 5th position -- e on the d string makes the top e ring like a bell. I was surprised that Conor Russel wrote they're disliked in Ireland: here in New England the session and French players like them. Re fix-up: have you considered starting slow? You could just ignore the crack in the Maggini for now and work on setup. Get yourself 5-6 bridge blanks, some sandpaper, an exacto knife with the curved scimitar style blade for thinning; then read some of the stuff on the net about fitting bridges and have at it. Some deal with sound-post: the fitting tools required cost little and you can them from Fiddlershop. Next step would be fingerboard, then pegs... none of this stuff is impossible to learn, you just have to spend a lot of time noodling around. Though I should add -- if you're new to the fiddle as a player, this is probably not the way to go. If you're going to try setup, you need to have your ears tuned in and your fingers need to know what a decent instrument feels like. But it works the other way as well: I found that doing setup seemed to make my playing better, not entirely sure why...
  8. That looks like a really nice fiddle for 275$ ! Wonder how it sounds... I know absolutely nothing compared to the people who regularly post here, but did want to mention: you might want to consider replacing the pegs with "Perfection Planetary Pegs" (or the Wittner version thereof). You can do the work yourself: set of pegs is 75$, plus you might need a peg-reamer (around 30$, cost + shipping from Chinese suppliers on ebay). If you did that, you could get rid of all 4 of the fine tuners, plus relieve all the stress on the pegbox (I really love that beautiful repair). If this interests you, check out the postings in Maestronet/Fingerboard re geared pegs. Players love them but it's a controversial topic as regards authenticity, respect for tradition, etc..
  9. If I might ask a more general question about notchless f holes (which I have never seen before): am I right in thinking the notches play no role in the response of the instrument, and are just there to cue us players into where to position the bridge? Thanks!
  10. Could someone please comment on the wood? I'm really intrigued by the back, because the upper region looks flamed but the lower looks almost quilted. Also the wide grain of the table is very cool. People say this is Markneukirchen/Schönbach ca. 1900: I didn't realize that those makers used such interesting wood!
  11. Violadamore, thanks for for your explanation of fluted f-holes. I did some googling and think I now understand what you wrote. I read through a great 2010 thread in Maestronet where people like Don Noon were trying to figure out how much the fluting affects the sound. (Results were inconclusive). But at least I understand Martin Swan's observation Fluting means more hands-on-work, so factory instruments wouldn't have it but individually made axes might; so if you took a factory job and carved some fluting prior to revarnishing, people would think it more valuable. Have I got this right? It is difficult for me to believe that anyone involved with this noble instrument would stoop to such shenanigans, but I am beginning to understand that scams are an ancient and revered part of the violin biz.
  12. Could someone please explain what "fluted ffs" (or "fluted fs") are? Am guessing it refers to the f-holes, but don't understand what "fluted" means. Thanks and sorry to ask a dumb question.
  13. Many thanks to everbody! Johnmasters saved me 32$. Maybe I'll risk 25$ on Harbor Freight's 6in long reach digital caliper. Since it's for the automotive crowd, it should be adequately sturdy (?) https://www.harborfreight.com/6-in-long-reach-digital-caliper-63714.html
  14. Rockler sells an interesting digital caliper for 32$. It's meant for people who are turning bowls on lathes, but I wondered if it could be used in violin making? The picture looks to me as if the distance between the end points and the base would be long enough to get to the center of a violin plate, but maybe I'm wrong about that. Here's the link. https://www.rockler.com/igaging-8-digital-outside-caliper
  15. Dave Slight -- many thanks for the clarification! I didn't understand your first post, but now I get it. I can definitely see how the tail piece slamming down (especially the fine tuner of the E) can cause serious damage.
  16. Thanks for your replies! I am really envious of people who have so much experience working with these amazing instruments. I am only beginning to understand how they work. You think you've learned something about bridges and soundpost placement, and then find you've done a setup that's impossible to play. Then you start to noodle with with nut heights and fingerboard scoop and struggle to relate that to what you know about bridges and soundposts, and realize that you basically know nothing...somethig very holistic is going on with setup! I am very grateful for Pegbox and the willingness of people to share their knowledge.
  17. I'm a player who has become somewhat obsessed with carving bridges and noodling around with bridge & soundpost placement. Given my limited but evolving knowledge, I'm really bugged by warped bridges, because they make it hard for me to visualize the force vectors. But I'm curious: you always read that if a bridge is too warped, it can snap and damage the instrument. Is this really true? Has anyone actually seen that happen? Thanks!
  18. Blank face, you're talking about serious restoration. I was just trying to point how much it would cost to get it to speak again if the guy did the work himself. I figure cost of instrument + cost of self repair comes to 500-600$. 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.
  19. 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.
  20. 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!
  21. 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.
  22. 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!
  23. 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.
  24. 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.
  25. 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!
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