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DelDuca

Time Invested and How It Relates To Style?

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Stradivari was a perfectionist in every detail and probably would be a 300 hour maker. Del Gesu is speculated to have been able to create an instrument in a week(I find that hard to believe) and his work does look much more, shall we say, rapid.Some makers are speed demons and others work at a snails pace(I am a snails pace repair person, yet to make an instrument from scratch) so if you makers out there would share roughly how much time you invest in an instrument and how this relates to your style I think it would be interesting. Del Duca

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I think that what a lot of makers tell you relates to how they charge, versus what they think you want to hear about how much they're going to make from selling you your violin. No skilled and experienced person could possibly spend even 200 hours on a normal violin. Anyone who tells you that is either lying or incompetent or both.

The record I'm aware of, for a violin in the white at the Cremona school by one of the teachers, is about 23 hours. A friend and I had a contest once when we worked back to back, and we both came in around 27 hours, but I currently spend about 100 hours, max, on mine, possibly less. At one point I was at around 40 hours, but I wasn't as careful as now, and I was making antiques. With antiques a lot of what could be careful detailing becomes minutes with sandpaper. With "straight" violins, there's an incredible amount of extra work, on tiny details. For instance, it's not hard to spend two or three hours just getting the peaked ridge at the edge of the top and back exactly right.

I know one very famous and popular maker who for years turned out 55 violins (antiques) a year--one a week, and three extra, with an assistant making his ribs and joining the plates, plus doing some other grunt work like making boards. I'm not going to name him, for a variety of reasons, but I know this for an absolute fact.

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I estimate it takes me 100-150 hours. But I am only a part-time maker. I don't have a system down-pat yet, so I spend a lot of time thinking about methods of doing things.

John

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Hi DelDuca

I also started off in the repair business, and this is still my main occupation.

If you are interested in making, as I am, you will notice more things in the articles you repair than someone who is just geared at getting the repair done - this is the way I learn the most, and this influences my making style. This is probably also what will determine how you will work when you make an instrument - you will spend a lot of time on what is important to you, and you will either consciously or subconsciously, try to emulate or better some of the aspects of the instruments you have worked on in your repair business. If style is important to you, you will spend a lot of time on it. If it is not, you won't - it depends on your philosophy of making. Even though I know that the chances that anybody will ever recognize anything either good or bad stylistically in any instrument I make are remote, considering where I am located and the segment of the market where I can try to sell, I kind of have this burden in my mind that even the postman will have the discernment of a Michael Darnton when seeing an instrument of mine. I am acutely aware of each fault in every instrument I complete, but in order to survive, I reluctantly subscribe to the "good enough (for now, at least)" doctine, otherwise I'll never complete anything. One thing interesting I've noticed: when something is done, it's done - no extra amount of work will improve on it, only more experience and improved skills. For instance, there is a limit to what I can achieve with corners at present - to spend twice as long on this aspect on a specific insrument won't improve it. It's like making a bridge - to budget twice the amount of time I normally spend on a bridge will not give me a better bridge.

Each violin ends with where I started in the business - I did re-varnishing first, then re-graduation, then tidying up edges and corners on ugly German junkers, etc, and these jobs are still what takes me the longest on a new violin. I basically build in my spare time, but even so, I easily finish the assembled violin in a week to ten days. The corners and edges and finishing the scroll can easily take as long again, and the varnishing method I use takes, under ideal circumstances (weather, for instance) a minimum of four weeks.

The only areas where I actually feel comfortable is in the setup itself - seeing as how I do about 400 bridges per year, probably as many soundposts, and about 4 dozen necksets and neck grafts, I feel I kind of deserve this little bit of a secure feeling...

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Del Duca - don't get miffed at me for saying this but; time's a-wasting my friend. Repairs are somewhat of a 'fix' - I do them myself for a living. On the other hand, there is no greater thrill than finishing, stringing up and playing a violin you've made yourself. (or seeing someone else play it...)

Get started on #1... Even at a snails pace, it will get done eventually if you just start it. For example, you could get the mold made this week.

I dialyze three days a week, have two small businesses, waste many precious hours yacking here <g> and still manage to crank out three instruments a year, and attend the VMAAI annual competition. How many hours, I don't really know since I always have more than one cooking at the same time. I would guess under 100 hours total per.

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Ciao Del Duca!

This quotation is from the book "Sesto Rochi - Una Vita per la Liuteria":

"Sesto amava gli strumenti asimmetrici, privi della forsennata precisione tipica degli artigiani incalliti, ma concepiti come da un'unica rapida idea e construiti senza lasciarla mai cadere"

The translation:

"Sesto loved assymetrical instruments, without the crazy precision typical of hornied, callous craftsmen, but devised as a single, rapid idea maintained throughtout their construction"

Well, I agree with him! Ciao!

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