Forgot your password?
gtm, March 9, 2008 in The Pegbox
Waste of time
Unless you think the original maker had done something wrong and you want to correct it.
It is pointless to open a violin. I would not.
PS. For a few hundred dollars, a luthier of any shop can open a violin for you.
Thin whatever part you want him to. No way he can guarantee the result that
will please you.
If this a cheap violin and you can afford to ruin it, then go ahead. I would use a "frosting" knife. Thin. The edge should be thin but not sharp. Violins are supposed to have the tops glued on with very thin glue, so popping the top should be possible. Start at the corners. When you get to the upper and lower blocks, there is supposed to be a little chamfer area to help the knife find the glue seam.
I would not try to remove the back, however.
"A couple of sources suggest that to make them better sounding the top should be removed and thinned."
Danger Will Robinson!!!
Your comment/question is stated in a manner that suggests you shouldn't be taking action as it is not a simple thing as you suggest.
There are many courses to attend, memberships to join, conversations and reading that need to be done if you are really going to try and accomplish something.
I hope this doesn't read in an insulting manner but there is no such thing as simply thinning a violin down to make it better. The subject of graduation, modes and a part as a function of the whole is complex and arguable at many levels.
I think it is easier to tell you what type of incision to make for an appendectomy
GTM - greetings.
We are in the minority, we are the leaders on rock climbs, the solo sailors, we stumble into deep crevasses and discover crystal hollows...
An uncle of mine was musical - apparently he could conjure melodies from potlids. Once he was asked "Can you play the violin?"
He gave the matter some thought and in all seriousness answered " I don't know, I have never tried - maybe I can"
I would have loved to have met him.
Go for it - edi
Any one can open a violin and put it back together. The problem is not the work.
The problem is the result after the operation . "better off or worst off " is in question.
You will never fail one way or the other. It is a matter up to you to define it.
PS. I have opened two violins in my younger years.
after it was opened, in front of me there were a few non-descriptive
pieces of woods, no obvious defects. What to do next was the problem.
If your white violin sounds terrible then you have nothing to lose and everything to gain from the experience. Have you fitted it and played it yet? If it sound fine, on the other hand, then what would be gained?
Why your leaning soundpost sounded so good is a wonderful question and worth a lot of study! It is probably more valuable to do extensive soundpost extensive soundpost experimentation before commiting to regraduation, don't you agree?
I would encourage you to take pics and share them with us as you proceed. I would be very interested.
With all due respect, it doesn't seem as though you care one whit
for anyone else's advice or suggestions.
So go for it.
What can't be done through careful planning and reason will surely
succeed through force, ignorance and luck.
If your looking only for encouragement and applause, then here's
It's not that hard. Anyone can do it. The method and design are
obvious. What's the worst that can happen?
gtm, I'm not unlike you, I enjoy a challenging project, and there's not a whole lot I've tried that I've failed utterly at. I usually achieve some degree of success. I'm currently building my first violin, after thinking about it for about 12 years or so. One thing I can say, is that pretty much every task has been way different than I imagined it. Just yesterday I got the purfling glued in. THAT job was WAY harder than I thought it would be. Last year about this time, I was joining the halves of the back for the first time, and did a poor job on the joint. I took the halves apart by steaming them with an iron and water. It worked, but it was WAY more work than I thought it would be. My point is, a lot of folks who regularly work on violins make various things sound pretty easy ("pop the top off..."), but when it comes to actually doing it, cound on things being way different than you might have imagined them. That said, I think things do get easier with experience, at least for those with the ability to honestly analyze their own work and accurately percieve how to make improvements.
One thing about this site, whereas there are a number of hobbyists here, I think there are mostly professionals here, and they are a truly micro-observant lot. "Attention to detail" is taken to extremes in this game, and there aren't a lot of cowboy fiddle makers. They take this stuff very seriously. That will probably explain the tone of some comments you may receive. I do think if you take it slow, analyze and re-analyze every situation to the n-th degree, you will quite likely learn something, which is always good.
Aye! I don't understand the discouragement here either. Who's so concerned about the well-being of a likely-factory-made violin in-the-white? Perhaps-they-didn't-read-your-comment-on-the-other-thread-where-you-explained-you-wanted-to-try-your-Tung-oil-finishing-technique. (Sorry, silly side kicked in)
My concern is more for you, since removing the top and fingerboard can be troublesome. You could end up losing your money and/or rendering your project pointless. If you're trying to do a simple experiment with the Tung oil finish and its tonal effects, this is what I'd suggest:
-get a better made violin in-the-white
-have a decent luthier look at it for red flags, and if needed open the violin for you or remove the fingerboard.
-either have him tell you what to do to make it sound good or have him do it.
-make sure the violin sounds pretty good before you proceed with the Tung oil.
Surely the rock climber, sailor and bungee jumper know that they are at Point A and would like to get to Point B by some means or other.
Dean Lapinel is simply pointing out that if you know Point A, but not Point B, you are likely to end up with dense cheesecake instead of a fluffy souffle.
I think that the reservations expressed don't relate to either opening or "thinning" the violin - both operations are fairly easy. On the other hand, "re-graduating" a violin EFFECTIVELY is another matter altogether. This requires a fair amount of experience in order to determine the wood quality and evaluate the characteristics of the model and arching, which determine to quite a meaningful extent the kind of graduation which might be effective on a given instrument. Poring over data sheets or graduation maps won't help much with this.
I think the fact that the original question seemed to ignore that, is what is causing some responses to be somewhat caustic.
You can open a top with a kitchen knife. A palette knife is better. A thin putty knife will work. A drop of alcohol along the blade can ease things along if the glue doesn't break easily. If you do split the top, you can practice glueing cracks.
Can't tell if you already have an in-the-white or if you're working on an old factory instrument. You can buy a cheap Chinese white for $50 or so. I think International Violin sells them, or you can look thru e-bay. Don't need to remove the fingerboard, but you can. Take off the top, gouge out the bass bar.
For graduation schemes, you can look to Strad magazine posters or Stroebel's violinmaking book, among others. Like opinions (this one, for example), they're pretty easy to find. You can't get experience without cutting wood. For less than $100, you can create your own pile of shavings, and maybe have something for it, maybe not. Yesterday, I spent another $130 for a credit-card reader for the shop that I have been 'leasing' for 4 years. Much rather have spent that money on violin wood.
So you try graduating and fitting a bass bar and it doesn't work. I think we've all probably done that. Or maybe it does work. Either way, onto the next fiddle.
Once you have the graduation done on your white, varnishing is a snap.
Hey, if you want to have a bit of fun (which I think a project like this certainly has the capacity to provide) on a white violin, why not?
OK... First, removing the top. An opening knife can be fashioned from a variety of things... palette knives, butter knives, spring steel with a homemade handle, etc. The blade should be rigid enough to provide control (an overly flexible opening knife will tend to "wander") and shaped in a way that it can be entered into the joint and break the glue joint without introducing enough stress to crack the top. As the instrument is in the white, a hypo of alcohol might be good to have around (to help in the rough spots). If your knife is shaped right, the areas most likely to crack are at the top and tail block.
The possibility of "improving" the sound by thinning the instrument depends on what the arch is like, the materials used, and what the present thickness is. Also, if thinning is what is required, you may want to be prepared to remove and replace the bar.
Comparing thicknesses of the plates in a new, commercially produced, white instrument (that have a caricature of a classic arch at best and materials that are... well... not the best) to a classic Cremonese instrument.. and attempting to improve things by matching the thicknesses... is like attempting to bring your capacity to run the 100 meter into the neighborhood of a track star's by wearing similar running shoes. The one I have open presently (Cremonese instrument, not a track star) has a relatively stiff plate, even though it's rather thin is certain areas... those areas are certainly thinner than I recall seeing successfully employed on a modern Strad or Guarneri model even when the materials were top notch. Conversely, some Cremonese fiddles have plate thicknesses far greater than most contemporary makers are willing to produce.
I'd advise that you do invest in some reading material... as you'll have many questions as you proceed. Investing in the Wiesshaar/Shipman book may seem like chump change when you add up the time searching for information on the net... or using the "phone a friend" option.
If you do decide to thin the instrument, you'll need to consider which method you'll follow... there are several.
I'd be prepared to invest time and money in some tools... Besides the opening knife, a few finger-planes, some steel scrapers and maybe a dial caliper that reads in mm might be a good bet. If a bass-bar is in your future, a block plane, flat sole fingerplane, and a good knife should be added to your list. A system for sharpening the edge tools is probably advisable as well. If this is a one-shot deal, maybe it's possible to borrow, rather than buy, some of the things you need, reading material included. Another option, if this has the capacity to become a serious hobby for you, is making some of your own tools.
If the information above isn't what you're looking for, I may be having difficulty understanding what you're asking... but that's OK. Feel free to clarify.
If I've totally missed the mark, your plans are minimalist, and you wish to do the whole job with an un-modified butter knife, 100 grit sandpaper and broken glass, that's OK too... I'm sure there's fun in that... but I doubt members on this board that do have experience can/will be of much help. Make sure you keep your first aid kit close by...
Do it, a $95 fiddle is for hobby fun and experience. Because there is no varnish, the alcohol method to cleave the glue will be safe. If you can set a drill-press to a fixed position when down, make a stylus to come from the table and meet the drill. You can map out constant thickness areas and touch down the drill to mark things.
More likely than graduations, you will probably find the linings very insecure and a bad bassbar. The Chinese violins I have seen are not usually as thick as the German factory violins.
Edited - too cryptic to be useful.
I'm sorry... I'm honestly getting confused.... and I'm really trying to be as polite as possible...
Are you defending innovation? I don't think there's a need to. You may have some good ideas, but your credibility concerning the usefulness of your methods would go way up (with me, anyway) if I felt you had experience on which to determine, and on which to base, the introduction of new materials or methods to solve problems (that may or may not exist)... or at least explain why you want to... and I've certainly worked in violin shop(s) that employed formica tooling in one form or another.
I read this to start out with:
And that was what I was attempting to respond to... I have a feeling the "not very informative" experience was a result of search keywords... as I know that a good amount of material has been covered over the last several years on this site. Still, I figured I'd offer some possibly useful information and suggestions.
So, are you asking for some help (advise), or are you justifying the way you want to do the project? Please clarify.
Sorry I missed it. Might have been an interesting challenge.
This site has people who are "cut to the chase" makers, as well as people who enjoy violins from an analysis standpoint. I appreciate them both, and would be reticent to make character judgments based only on that.
I've only been here a short time compared to many, but I can't think of much which hasn't been covered. It can be a challenge sorting out the wheat from the chaff.
Sounds like a fun project, and good luck with it!
Here are a few links that contain information that might be useful:
Top removal; full strength glue
Improving a violin
These were pulled up with two quick searches... There are plenty more where these came from. Good luck sorting.
[i don't mind people testing my mettle or resolve but if that's all this is going to be about then it will get old fast.
All the different ways to "suck corn" aside, maybe it would help if
you made you're questions a little more specific.
What do you want to know? Whether you know it or not, or even like
it or not, you have access to some of the best minds in the violin
making world today through this forum.
I find the suggestion that the co-author of one of the seminal
books on violin restoration and repair put in a shoddy soundpost
when compared to yours laughable.
I've read countless entries on this site, and I have found the
people here to be more then generous with their hard earned
knowledge and exceedingly kind.
It seems that every question you ask is followed by a long rant
about how you don't really need to know and any answer you get is
something you already thought of and you could do it better and
you're older and don't have much time and so on and so on.
If you want to know the best way to take the top off a violin, just
I, for one, wouldn't mind having Mrs. Shipman install a soundpost
for me, or most of the violin makers who post here for that matter.
We should all be so lucky.
That being said, once again, good luck.
No registered users viewing this page.