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Gary M

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    By the shores of Gitche Gumee's little brother Huron
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    Astronomy, Astrophysics, Information Theory, Computer Science and violins. Member of i3 Detroit Makerspace, Suncoast Makers Sarasota Fl, and most senior volunteer at the Suncoast Science Center Sarasota Fl. Musically; Bachs from J.S. to P.D.Q., French Impressionists, Dvorak, Stravinsky, Bartók, Copeland, Glass, Torke, Higgdon, Celtic fiddle music, Jazz, Jobim, & Motown. Currently playing a 1902 Ladislas Kaplan.

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  1. I like the LED strip approach. You can either purchase a premade one like the Luthier Lights, which look pretty good and a quick way to do it. Or buy a little LED strip that you can cut to length. You can get them at Lowes of Home Depot nowadays. Or If you want a "spotlight" & camera combination. These little guys are all over the net, Amazon, Bangood... Just make sure you get one that fits down the f-hole. The on line pictures of the product can be confusing. Mine is 5.5mm diameter and it works very well. For a cello one of the bigger 7mm inspection lights would work and the camera has much better resolution. I have used both the strip and spotlight and they both have their place.
  2. Gary M

    Chin Rests

    Chin rests are one of those things that are very dependent on your body type, your posture and playing position. I very recently switched from a 'Guarneri" style to a "Berber" style and while it didn't make me Joshua Bell overnight, it does feel more comfortable and makes it easier to play. I have tried several styles and even made a couple to try out some ideas. I would rate mine an 8 out of 10 so I may try something else down the line.
  3. Go visit your local luthier. You might be pleasantly surprised at what can be had in your price range and you can try the instruments out for yourself instead of trying to guess what they might sound like. Your ear and your tastes are unique so buy what sounds good to you and don't worry too much about names or countries of origin. You are going to spend hours and hours with this instrument get something that you will be excited to play every day.
  4. Having just removed my first top plate, under the watchful eye of a very experienced teacher and after watching him do it several times, I agree with the comments here. This is not a DIY fix. Mine came out pretty well BYW but it was a school instrument removed from service.
  5. Not claiming anything here. Just an amusing coincidence that the number was exactly as quoted earlier in the post.
  6. Our teacher weighed our top plates this week. In retrospect, not a bad number.
  7. That one is already in the queue behind some student jobs running this weekend. Thank you so much for the "Gift". Can't wait to try it. The other design is also interesting. I'd give that a try as well.
  8. Love the 3D printing idea. I'll give that a try if he makes the .stl file available. I have used these for attaching Ukulele linings. Each one may not be as strong but they are so cheap you can use lots and lots of them. They have a nice wide mouth. I stole them from my wife's sewing studio. Sewers use them instead of pins for some things.
  9. The Michigan Violinmakers Association's last meeting (ZOOM) was a presentation from well known bow maker Lynn Hannings about just this topic. I'll check into whether we can re-post it here. Edit: Sorry the link is not available.
  10. Let me also recommend the build a kit first approach. I received that advice from a couple of makers I respect so that is what I decided to do early on. I also got extremely lucky and found a class, taught by another local professional maker/repairer using exactly that approach. I'm still taking his classes, but I would never have gotten to this point had I spent the months in the weeds it would have taken to start from scratch, even with his help. When it comes to my first built from scratch instrument, I will be going in with eyes open and lots of skills. Also I agree with @Marty Kasprzykabout learning to play if you don't already.
  11. People who's knowledge I respect looked at the actual instrument and showed me what to look for as well. Trying very hard not to put words in other people's mouths until and unless they give me the OK to do so.
  12. @jacobsaunders Yea that's the great thing about actual research. You can learn new things that change your whole perspective. It now looks like the shop in NY was making strings. There are advertisements in trade papers saying as much. A bunch of people, myself included, just assumed it was a violin shop. Muller & Kaplan made strings. Gut strings in the early days.
  13. Back in November of last year I started a thread here on MN about a rather worn violin that I, with a lot of help from some professional restorers, rescued from a box next to front door of the "School for Strings" in Port Huron, Michigan where I take lessons. The label identifies the instrument as made by Ladislas(v) Kaplan, New York circa 1902. Well, let's say that a "spirited" discussion ensued on MN about the origins of this instrument. Since nothing was going to be resolved in an on line discussion I decided to take it upon myself to do some additional research and discover what I could about the instrument and its maker. At the time I mentioned this in the post and asked if participants were interested in occasional updates on my progress and I received enough yes votes to do that so here is the first one. Amusingly, as part of that discussion@Jeffrey Holmescommented in a follow up post entry that I was likely to find some zigs and zags along the way and not surprisingly, I have already have hit a number of them. You were absolutely right on Jeffrey, there is no straight line between here and there and I'm still not done yet. Still, I have learned a lot so far and so I decided to share some of that with whoever is interested. First let me say that I decided early on that I needed to organize my findings in some useful way before I got too far into this. At the same time I was also very surprised in my early research that, given his many and varied contributions to the music industry, Mr. Ladislav Kaplan does not have a Wikipedia entry. That gave me a place to start, write the Wikipedia entry for him. Zag #1 was that right off I got a real lesson in the history of violin strings. Kaplan Musical Strings, now a division of D'Addrio, is still a going concern. And Kaplan rosin is also still a thing. Kaplan's invention of a commercial string winding machine maybe as early as 1906 certainly commercialized by 1922 was instrumental, along with others doing similar work in Europe, in the whole world switching from pure "gut" strings to metal or metal wound gut strings. And yes I know that there are still people playing gut strings. If you are interested in the history of strings there is a great summary in the October 2013 issue of The Strad. The fact that both the strings and rosin are still in production makes Internet search on anything "Kaplan" challenging at best. Sadly, while much smarter about the history of strings, it did not help me with the violin. I still have outstanding queries going and more leg work to do on the violin front but I'm making real progress there too. What I have verified with help from some very good professional violinists is that it is indeed a way better than average instrument. Well above my pay grade as a player. I just wish I could make it sound like they did. And yes that's on me. Interestingly, I just picked up an Alfred Knoll 305 bow and the two in combination have a particularly nice tone. Also, IT IS NOT, REPEAT NOT, BUILT ON BACK!!! Interim findings summarized: Short of finding an order/receipt for some Markie white bodies in Mr. Kaplan's hand dated 1900ish it is very likely that Kaplan in fact made the instrument in question and in fact all of the instruments attributed to him. He was not supporting himself selling violins and thus had no real incentive to resell imported instruments. Not yet at 100% but realistically we may never got to that point. The string business was supporting him even very early on and he was making violins as a side hustle in a personal "quest" to improve on the Italian masters using "scientific" methods. With my early instrument at least, he did not succeed although I found references to no less than Jascha Heifetz playing a Kaplan made violin early in his career. Count me skeptical because of the sources, but intrigued on that one. I also use the word quest deliberately. There are articles in trade publications back to the 1920's describing what he was up to and patents for the tools he invented to help him along the way. Then there is this quote from an article about him in 1946, "Kaplan started to play at six years old and at twelve played first violin in a small orchestra "on a $4.00 violin, getting only squeaks and scratches out of it.” "So,” he said, "I determined to be a violin maker to make a better violin for myself.” After many experiments he developed a process which would give him a good instrument and has since made more than seventy-five violins." ("Handicrafts of New England" 1946, Harper & Brothers, New York) So let me leave you with some more of the findings in the form of an article Kaplan wrote for the 1941 edition of "Who's Who in Music" about making violins. This is before he retired from the string company to just play and build violins full time. See the attached PDF. It could have been written by many of you today and yet some of what he says, particularly about tonewoods, is still heresy. As always, if anybody has any additional information they would like to share please do so here publicly or with me privately by message. This is an ongoing project for me. Stay tuned. When I'm done with the proposed Wikipedia article I'll post that along with all of the references. I also have a whole separate post I'm developing about taking interior pictures of violins without spending a fortune. It could take some time though. I still have some violin shops and actual libraries to visit. Thanks for taking the time to read this far. If you have you will probably enjoy the article. "A perusal of practically all the books available for violin makers inevitably leads to the conclusion that those who had knowledge of how to make a good fiddle made fiddles, and those who knew nothing about it wrote books — more foolishness, if not outright charlatanism, has been written about the violin than perhaps any other branch of work." L. Kaplan 1941 Kaplan - Violin Making 1941.pdf
  14. I have made several of these tools for myself and a number of friends. Incredibly handy for all sorts of things from tools to holding small pieces while grinding. Pick up an old drill motor at a garage sale for the chuck. The handle is a piece of aluminum hex stock. A wooden handle would work too. This one needs a little cleanup as it sits in the garage workshop in humid Florida.
  15. Thank you. I have a number of threads processing right now. This is just one of them. Sometimes you just get lucky in an obvious place.
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