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  1. In German, one hears often enough the phrase “Gesetz der Serie” (law of the series) which I am struggling to adequately translate into English. “It never rains, but it pours” is about as close as I have got. At the moment I am gradually getting the impression that it is starting to pour with nice instruments with broken off heads. First the Polish violin then the Bellosio viola and now a Viola D’amore by Alban from Graz with a broken off scroll/peg box from 1710, has invited herself. I have very little experience with Viola D’Amores, in fact my experience confines itself to once in the early eighties, when my then boss in Munich handed me one by Bisiach, and told me to go and make a new top nut. At first I thought, “Good, a top nut, ok” and went to do it, but it was only when I sat down to start, that I realised what a fiendishly complicated contraption a D’Amore top nut is. It basically (to ignore exceptions) has twelve pegs. The bottom 6 of which are to tune the upstairs strings that go above the fingerboard, and the top 6 pegs are to tune the sub-terrainian bordon strings that go first behind the peg box, then beneath the fingerboard. This requires a double decker nut. I was extremely proud of myself having made a successful nut, but the next day, threading new strings on, without getting the sub-terrainian ones all tangled up, then tuning it, was almost more difficult. I couldn’t help thinking of Michael, a London session Violinist for whom I used to babysit for many years ago, who, upon returning from a session where a D’Amore was being played remarked; “Looks like a bloody chain-saw, takes about an hour to tune, and then it sounds like shit” The scroll is not an Alban, but a recent replacement by a colleague of mine in Vienna, who I would not wish to criticise for his courageous effort, but I think he made a design mistake, which leaves it unsurprising that it broke off where it did. In my minibus full of “Geigenklumpert” which I spoke of before there were a number of old unvarnished 19th C. scrolls (one may certainly not speak of “white” any more) from the estate of Jaura, which even he might have scrounged somewhere as I did. Amongst these is an unused, unvarnished D’Amore scroll. I have been wondering if this ex-Jaura scroll wouldn’t do Alban proud, far more than the not particularly elegant broken modern one it has. Amongst the immense multiple brain-teasers re. D’Amores, is the neck angle. The current one has IMHO a much to flat neck angle, so that the bordon strings that go through the middle of the bridge, hardly make an angle on their way through the bridge. This makes them more or less dummy strings, there for optical rather than musical reasons, since they exert practically no downward pressure on the bridge. I was wondering if anybody could point me to guidance re D’Amore neck angles? To Alban: Johannes Michael Alban was the second son and pupil of Mathias Alban (often called Albani). He was born in Bozen on the 27th September 1677, and worked in Graz from about 1700. He was succeed by his pupil and son in law Wolfgang Sagmayr about 1730. The details of the family are probably best summarised in the Österreichische Musiklexicon;internal&action=hilite.action&Parameter=Albanertrappe In a recent thread, which I couldn’t find, we had a long discussion about fake Albani labels, of which there are hundreds of thousands. Here is a real one, although it is hardly possible to photograph through the “Flame” (not F) hole. I will do my best to not have to open the body though, since these Gamba style instruments without edge overhang, are a nightmare to get back together again.
  2. I am currently making a viola d'Amore but have been daunted by the bend in the flat back. Today I spent most of the day practicing it with maple but had limited success. Any advice would be appreciated! The process I've been trying is scoring an initial line with a knife and then using a v- shaped scraper made from an old band saw blade to deepen the channel. The wood thickness is about 4.5 mm and I've tried leaving between 1-2 mm of material under the channel. I then wet cotton or paper towel on the channel and put it against a cello bending iron. The issues I've been having are mostly delaminations on the outside or it breaking entirely. Is there a better way to support the back so it doesn't delaminate? The v shape in the scraper was initially too wide but I think I have managed to get it much closer now.