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  1. Thank you all for your suggestions, I will contact a couple of folks you mentioned.
  2. I am an older adult violinist (assuming the most generous definition of that term) living near Pittsburgh, PA, having moved here from the Washington, DC area a few years ago. I have a couple of violins that I would like to have optimized for tone and playability. They are not valuable or "important" instruments by any means, but they are not low cost beginner fiddles either. One was made by an amateur maker in 2000 (a retired engineer who made somewhere around 100 instruments, mine is number 52). The other has a label stating it was made by an R. K. Van Allen in Paterson, NJ in 1918, though I suspect he was not an actual maker but perhaps a house brand or importer?. I can't find out anything about him on the web, and no one seems to be able to provide any more information about it. In any event, I was wondering if anyone could recommend a luthier who would be willing to check out the setup of each to optimize what is easily adjustable (bridge, soundpost, etc.), recommend type of strings, etc. I am not interested in any type of major surgery, just trying to get all that I can out of what I have. I have taken them both to a local shop in the past but I don't know that tweaking setups is something they are interested in doing. Any Western PA folks who care to chime in? Thanks!
  3. Thanks, Don and HoGo, you basically have answered my question. I had no idea if decent sounding and visually pleasing wood would cost $5 or $5,000 for a professional grade instrument. Sounds like $500 is more in the ballpark, unless someone were to use something outside the usual. Another way to think about it is that 90% or more of the value of the violin is in the expertise and labor of the maker, not in the materials.
  4. Thanks, though that was really not my question! I am not interested in making a violin or buying the wood. I just meant if I was looking to buy a newly made violin for, say $20k by someone who has been selling in that price range consistently (in other words, a fair market price), how much would I expect the wood to have cost? I am assuming whatever level of figuring, seasoning, etc. would be typical for a violin of that quality and what it would have cost.
  5. I am an amateur violinist with an interest in all things violin-related, especially the "nuts and bolts" of the instrument, so to speak. I was curious as to how much of the price of a good instrument consists of the cost of the raw materials, especially the wood used to make the body and neck, not so much the fillings. I have read a number of posts about the cost of newly made violins by professional makers and what price range they may be in depending on a number of factors (which basically boils down to supply and demand, with perhaps some floor based on an hourly labor rate). I was just wondering, what the typical cost would be for the wood used to make a violin that someone would pay $15k to $25k for. If my price range is off, what I was thinking was a competent, trained maker who is able to sell his instruments as he makes them to professional musicians and serious amateurs, not necessarily the "rock stars" of the violin making world (please excuse my mixed metaphor). Is the wood usually some approximate percentage of sale price of the instrument? Or does the price range vary so widely that there is no rule of thumb? Just something I always wondered.
  6. Brad, how hard did you push in the Wittners? I was afraid of pushing too hard and perhaps cracking the pegbox or breaking the peg. Mine have all held thus far, but I was a bit surprised at how easy it was to remove the peg to try to fix the hole. I was expecting to have to use more force and perhaps press it out somehow, but that was not the case.
  7. Yeah, the G peg was the last of the four that I did, and I think I got a bit careless after doing the first three which all fit quite well. Lesson learned!
  8. I recently installed a set of Wittner Finetune geared pegs on a violin of mine, and for the most part everything went well and I am very pleased with their operation. I reamed out each hole to the necessary size (so I thought) and installed each peg without using any glue according to the instructions provided by the manufacturer. However, one of the pegs (the G string, not that it matters I don't think) ended up going to far into its hole - in other words, I reamed it out slightly bigger than I should have. It appears that the peg goes about 3 or 4 mm too far into the hole, meaning the hole is just a fraction of a mm too big in diameter. I am guessing about 1/10 of a mm or so assuming a 1/30 taper on the peg. I have read several threads about doing a spiral bushing using either a thin shaving of wood or even a strip of brown paper, but I am thinking that is overkill for this, and I am a rank amateur at this kind of thing. I do work on my own guitars and am fairly handy, and this is not a valuable instrument (just heading off the suggestions to take it to a luthier - which of course I may eventually do). Soooo, I am wondering if it would be feasible to build up the hole just a bit with glue alone. Just enough to shrink the hole by a tiny amount without doing major or minor surgery. If I was to overdo it, I could always hit it with the reamer again, having learned my lesson about being too aggressive, I hope. Also wondering what would be the best type of glue to use? Titebond (suggested for use with paper spiral bushings), epoxy, CA? I do have some hide glue on hand (granules, not the bottled kind) but would rather not mess with it unless necessary. If this doesn't work I really haven't lost anything, I can always have the hole bushed, or try the spiral bushing myself, or ream it out bigger and get the next bigger size Wittner peg. Just to be clear, I would not be gluing in the peg - just applying the glue to the inside of the hole and letting it dry, then installing the peg as normal. Thoughts and suggestions?
  9. I wonder if the scrolls are color coded for the type of beer? Dark beer on the left (maybe a stout or porter), and light beer on the right, maybe a pilsner.
  10. What would be a safe relative humidity level for storing violins in their cases?
  11. The interesting thing is that the label appears to be professionally printed, and includes the Van Allen family coat of arms and some fancy design elements, with an overall engraved look to it. Kind of hard to see in the photo. I was assuming such an elaborate label would not be from a one-off or amateur builder since one would have to get this professionally printed back in the day - no computer graphics apps or home laser printers back then. It also has the "19" printed with the "18" hand written, but that could just be for effect. The only thing I have consistently heard about violin identification is that the last thing you look at is the label, so I'm not sure how much weight to put on any of this anyway!
  12. I have not been able to find any reference to this maker on the internet, and thought some of the experts on the board would either have other reference sources available, or by their many years of experience could get a sense of its origin. Any opinions are welcome, and perhaps it will have to remain a mystery. It would be nice if it was made by a particular maker, Mr. Van Allen.
  13. Can anybody help me out? No guesses, wild or otherwise? Mainly I would be interested in opinions on where it was made, and what quality level it might be. Would better pictures help? Thanks!
  14. I am fairly new again to Maestronet, after being away for awhile (oh, 20 years or so). A friend of mine had an old violin that had been in the family which had a top crack, and apparently a local luthier said it was not worth fixing so he gave it to me. I ended up moving to a new city and found a luthier who fixed the fiddle for what I thought was a reasonable price considering the top had to be removed. Anyway, it has a label that says "R. K. Van Allen fecit, Paterson N.J., USA, 1918". The top does not look overly thick and it is pretty light weight compared to my other violin, and it sounds decent. I have no idea what it is, I had assumed it was sold in a music shop in America but started life somewhere in Europe. Any thoughts on what I might have here would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.
  15. To head off further speculation, I will tell you that my name is Carl. Though I sometimes get called other things.
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