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amateur David Rosales' Bench
David Rosales posted a topic in Contemporary Maker's GalleryThis is my first entry in the start of my violin-making hobby. I first became interested in violin-making when I was studying music at the University of Texas almost 20 years ago. I even bought the (then) fairly recently published, The Art of Violin Making by Chris Johnson and Roy Courtnall along with a few others: Antonio Stradivari by W. Henry Hill; Violin Making as it was and is by Ed Heron-Allen; and Acoustical Systems of Violins by Isaak Vigdorchik. Being a broke college student at the time, the books sat in storage, collecting dust after I had read skimmed through them. Here I am now, still feeling the itch to learn the craft, but with the means to make it happen. By day, I'm a legal aid attorney (i.e. not the rich kind). I live in Lubbock, Texas with a wife and a toddler. . . and a mortgage. My days of serious violin-playing are long behind me but I do take out the 'ole fiddle every now and then. Before COVID, I even played with a community orchestra in town that put on two concerts per year. My instrument was made in Austin, TX by William Townsend in 2002. My parents bought it for me as a college graduation present. Eventually, my goal is to play on one that I've made with my own hands. Beyond the basic woodworking instruction I received in my high school shop class, I'm starting from scratch with no in-person guidance. I understand it will be a long and slow journey before I can make anything that looks and sounds decent but it's all about the journey for me. I'm starting this post in part to motivate myself to keep it up. Right now, I'm still setting up my workspace and collecting basic supplies. I plan to dedicate a part of my garage to this endeavor. Next to that space there's a small recess where I plan to put in a small workbench with a vice or two. I don't have much else yet. In the pictures you can see a scrap piece of granite that I picked up at a local store which will serve as my surface plate. I don't think it's perfectly flat, but I think it's good enough. Apart from that, Santa brought me a few tools for Christmas. A few more items and soon I'll be ready to rock. I think 2022 will be the year. Check back later for updates!
Life of a Violin Maker/Repairer
aaronjt posted a topic in The PegboxHello Maestronet! I have quite a dilemna, as many of you know it is important to consider many things before making an informed decision. I have many questions for you violin makers out there both amateur and professional. I am 23 years old, and I am very passionate about the Violin. I currently am enrolled at a University in the Biology program. I love everything about the violin and enjoy messing around with different strings (probably have spent close to a 1000 dollars on different strings and just appreciating differences in strings and sound). I've also taken apart a few violins when I was younger (probably not very well) and just enjoy the shape of the violin also the new violin smell from a newly finished violin by a maker, you could say I have an obsessive personality. I am also looking into doing the Southern California Violin Making course as well as the American School of Violin Making. I have the neccesary tools, but lack basic woodworking skills such as sharpening. Also I have the Courtnall/Johnson book 'The Art of Violin Making' which is a good guide, but is a bit difficult to get started with just that. I also lack certain power tools that would make life a bit easier such as a band saw. I've looked around on the site for information but have further questions to ask. I have a few questions for you makers out there. 1. If you had the option to do it all over again, would you choose violin making and why? 2. Another question is, I am no longer on my own. I have a wife (in her final year of undergrad) and would like to one day have children, I am concerned with my capability to be able to provide the necessities for my family in the future. 3. The availability of apprenticeships or internships- Are they available and what does it entail? Usually how long do they last and what does life look like after graduating from a reputable Violin making school? of course there are other questions I would like to ask but these are the main questions I have been wondering about. I greatly appreciate any response and have enjoyed this board for many years. Aaron Towarak
Apparently the violin bug isn’t leaving me, and the community on this forum was invaluable in my completing my #1: A knockoff of the Stradivarius Messie, which I lovingly called the “Schneidervarius Messy” in my signature self-deprecating megalomania. Here are 200+ photos of making #1. I built this without all possible tools, manufacturing a few custom instruments to fit in where I could not justify the exorbitant expense for something I might use once. However, heading into #2 soon (no model picked) I am first filling in some gaps in my tools, buying left and right beveled Hock 1/2” blades. I’ll make my own handles and post results here. In the meantime, as I grow into my amateur/hobbyist luthiery, I hope to learn more from all of you, and I hope something I post here will provide value to someone else. (I built a guitar a while back; have not embarked on #2 violin as I’ve been building jewelry boxes, cribbage boards, and writing a memoir — the bench photo attests to all of that, except the memoir.) In preparation for my knife handles, I replaced the exploding plastic handle on our pizza cutter. More elegance will be applied to a violin knife. ;-)
Identification and cleaning of an old violin
Tostra posted a topic in The PegboxHello there, I'm a new member, but I've used threads from this forum as an information source many times before. I'm a Danish cellist with a lot of hobbies, one being restoration of old violins. I'm rather new to it, though, and have only repaired one violin yet with a nasty sound post crack, so I need to gain a lot of experience. I picked this violin up from a luthier's shop window in Schleswig, Germany. He told me it's a 200 or more years old violin from Mittenwald. I asked why the maker didn't use flamed wood for the neck when the body seems to be of rather nice wood and he said that it was probably made by another person than the body like some sort of production line, just like the trade instruments. After staring at it in admiration ever since I purchased it, I've formed a theory that the neck might actually be made later instead of a neck graft. I think there is lots of attention to detail in the body, but not so much in the neck, and the combination seems weird to me. However, I don't have much experience, so I would love if someone could help me identify it. I have taken pictures with my phone, and I've observed a few details: The fingerboard seems to have been too low on this neck and have been lifted with a thin, angled piece of maple. Is that normal? The fingerboard has grooves from the strings The upper right corner where the left hand might rest is weared down a lot so it has a curve down and is even cracked along the purfling. The back has marks after having a chin rest mounted for both a right- and left handed player. Maybe it's been a student violin and used by many people? However, it only has marks in the c-bout on the treble side. It has been repaired in five cracks in the top and one in the side. The stamp on the inside looks a lot like the one of Christian Wilhelm Seidel, but especially the d is not as swung. I can't find anything anywhere matching this font. Does anybody recognize this branding? I can't upload my photos from my phone, so they're on Google Drive: https://drive.google.com/folderview?id=0B0fyVNePhekSc2hsa2xxT3pTSWM My last question is one that I know has been asked too often: It's horribly firty with rosin buildup etc, how should I clean it? I've done my best with a damp cloth, but it's not really enough. I've heard turpentine should be safe on rosin varnishes (this should be dragon blood according to the seller), and it seems to work, but I don't really like how hard the turpentine itself is to get off the surface. I'm not asking how I should clean my instrument casually, but how I should do if I want to be the amateur luthier who enjoys making old stuff play again. Lastly, of course I won't do anything stupid to a really good instrument while I'm still learning, and it will under any circumstanced be taken to my luthier when I get home before I touch it. Sorry for the long post, but I hope someone out there can help me. - Tobias :-)
I'd like to announce a summer program that will take place in the charming city of Mayenne, France, where I'll be teaching alongside some wonderful artists such as the venerable Mark Drobinsky, one of Rostropovich's earliest students and assistants and the Hungarian pianist Gabriella Torma. The program is open to all levels, including adult amateurs, and can tailor instruction to include individual lessons, groups coaching, and workshops. Please see the attached brochure pic, and feel free to PM me on this forum if you might have any questions.
Recommended books for an amateur luthier?
mklish posted a topic in The PegboxHello! Having just joined this vibrant and knowledgeable community of string enthusiasts, I'd like to ask for your opinion on recommended books for an amateur/beginning luthier. The person in question is a professional concert violinist who has been playing regularly on rare violins for over 10 years. Needless to say, he has a fine understanding of the instrument and a good knowledge of the various repair techniques, though he has not done any himself. He has recently expressed a desire to study this art much more intensively. Would anyone be able to recommend an in-depth, thorough book on craftmanship techniques, ideally containing high-quality illustrations, but is not too overwhelming for a beginner? I've looked at the Weisshaar & Shipman book but it seems a real investment meant for a luthier already in the trade as mentioned by previous posts here on the book. There is also Chris Johnson's The Art of Violin Making, which has gathered good reviews on sites like Amazon and is supposedly geared towards beginners. I would appreciate any comments on either of these books and any other suggestions that come to mind. Thank you all very much!