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I thought it may be helpful to have a thread where we can post tips or "do's and don'ts" that may prove helpful to "newbies", or maybe a few "old dogs" can even learn some new tricks. My contribution here is:

Always be careful and take extreme care not to over-tighten clamps. As can be seen in the example, carelessness in this area can result in marring the surface of the wood. This maker will now have to re-scrape in order to restore some of the edgework that has been comprimised.

Another lesson that can be learned here, is that clamping should not be done in this area after the purfling channel has been cut- a lot of painstaking work could be wasted, and have to be repeated.

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I know, Andres, but we learn by doing. I hope others will not be shy, and will join in here with similar tips they've learned from experience. I'll bet the young Stradivari's first attempts were not perfect either.

In the meantime, here's another good illustrated pointer (a picture is worth a thousand words):

This reminder illustrates and emphasizes the importance of careful placement & cutting of the f-holes. The goal here is that they are pleasing to the eye. Some dissimilarity is tolerable, indeed, such assymetry is even exhibited on instruments made by the Cremonese masters. It will be by these imperfections that experts in the future will know the instrument is handmade.

As can be seen, this is a one-piece top plate and the maker has put a lot of effort into the details. It is very likely a bench-copy of a very early and important instrument, as the maker has even employed the older method of "inking" the purfling, rather than using the modern-day method.

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Customer complained of a weak mid-range in his bass. Upon opening it, my suspicions were confirmed. The builder had neglected to scrape the green paint from the two-by-four prior to making a corner block out of it. Green paint should be scraped completely from any recycled construction material prior to use in instrument building. Just a tip.

Note also the glue-soaked newsprint that was used as filler between the ribs and the block. While this may be the proper procedure in cello construction, glue-soaked papertowels are better filler in bass constructon.

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This tip is for a rather advanced repair, but for you guys that are in it for the long-haul, sooner or later you will be glad you saw this. Jeffrey probably has a more immediate appreciation.

The "belly patch" can be used on either the top plate or back and is the preferred 'proper repair' for sound-post cracks, etc. This repair person has selected a good-sized piece for the repair, probably from a thin cut from the butt-end of a 2x4 (notice especially the complete absence of green paint). He or she has also cleverly installed the patch with the grain running perpendicular to that of the plate, making a much stronger repair. The oblique shot shows clearly that the patch has been superbly fit, probably using the "chalk" method (a topic for another post). These patches, when properly done, tend to 'disappear' and be difficult to pick up by an un-trained eye (the patch here has been digitally enhanced in Photoshop for the purpose of this tutorial).

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"The Finishing Touch" No matter how superb it is in the white, the proper application of the ground and varnish coats can make or break the instrument.

This maker has selected an appealing brown tone for coloration in his/her final varnish coats. The outcome, however, appears somewhat blotchy, indicating one of two possibilities:

1. An insufficient amount of grain-tamer was used prior to application of the color coats, or

2. The blotchiness may have been an intentional 'antiqueing' of the instrument's finish.

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