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old linings with chiseled "kerfs"


David Holbrook
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Hi Everyone

I am new here and am asking some general questions to get used to the forum.

I have an old violin which I have been looking at and drawing great inspiration from. I have set it up and am playing it when I can. It looks to be a strad copy and from some things I can see written inside it may be dated 1845. It has faint old writing inside the treble f-hole and is signed on the upper back but I cannot read it with my face pressed against the violin and now that I have it set up I cant even try that anymore.

One of the first things I noticed when I had the violin in my hands is that although the quality of material and craftsmanship is very fine in my opinion when I looked inside the back is right off the toothed plane so it seems. No scraper work was done to smooth it out. It is absolutely lovely to see all the handwork. To me anyway. It is what I love about looking under and behind real antique furniture , seeing the methods and the Hand of the maker behind the veneers and polish. Also getting to my question the lining looked to me at first to be done with a dull chisel going against the grain. But after looking through the end pin hole with decent light I realized the the maker had preshaped(i think) the linings on the bench and the gently tapped with a chisel every 1/8 inch or so along the entire length to create a similar effect to kerfing guitar linings with a saw. Breaking th tension on the wood and allowing it to bend how ever you would like. Has anyone seen this done and could it tell me anything about the origin of the violin. I know some day soon I will have to take the top off and read what it says but I dont want to make this my first top taking off experience ,its too nice and now I dont want to take the strings off of it.

Other mysteries the violin has a tt or an 11 stamped on the heel of the neck on the treble side near the finger board and I think a Z stamped on the scroll just below the E peg.??

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Hi Everyone

I am new here and am asking some general questions to get used to the forum.

I have an old violin which I have been looking at and drawing great inspiration from. I have set it up and am playing it when I can. It looks to be a strad copy and from some things I can see written inside it may be dated 1845. It has faint old writing inside the treble f-hole and is signed on the upper back but I cannot read it with my face pressed against the violin and now that I have it set up I cant even try that anymore.

One of the first things I noticed when I had the violin in my hands is that although the quality of material and craftsmanship is very fine in my opinion when I looked inside the back is right off the toothed plane so it seems. No scraper work was done to smooth it out. It is absolutely lovely to see all the handwork. To me anyway. It is what I love about looking under and behind real antique furniture , seeing the methods and the Hand of the maker behind the veneers and polish. Also getting to my question the lining looked to me at first to be done with a dull chisel going against the grain. But after looking through the end pin hole with decent light I realized the the maker had preshaped(i think) the linings on the bench and the gently tapped with a chisel every 1/8 inch or so along the entire length to create a similar effect to kerfing guitar linings with a saw. Breaking th tension on the wood and allowing it to bend how ever you would like. Has anyone seen this done and could it tell me anything about the origin of the violin. I know some day soon I will have to take the top off and read what it says but I dont want to make this my first top taking off experience ,its too nice and now I dont want to take the strings off of it.

Other mysteries the violin has a tt or an 11 stamped on the heel of the neck on the treble side near the finger board and I think a Z stamped on the scroll just below the E peg.??

Hi David and Welcome,

Do you have any pictures of the instrument? That would be a great help.

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Am I the only one who has difficulty imagining a violin where the "craftsmanship is very fine" when "no scraper work was done to smooth ... out" the toothed plane marks on the back, and the linings appear to have been worked with a "dull chisel going against the grain?" Unless, of course, it was made in Cremona in the 18th century.

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Here are some pictures. Now prepare yourself this violin underwent some reconstruction in 1933 and I have included a picture of the repairmans label. I love this instrument but it has seen some violence. Maybe someone got hit in the head with it? since I took these photos I have cleaned it a little and put a set of Dominant strings on it and Switched the bridge off another repair project and quickly did a 2 minute sandpaper fit on the feet. The violin plays like butter and stays in tune too. Oh yeah it was the first soundpost I have ever set and Im sure its a hack job. Still the voice is sweet. Sorry I cant show the linings in question. note all but I think 2 of the cracks have been cleated and are quite sound even the soundpost area seems strong. Anyway here it is if I can upload .

I can't upload jpegs from a desktop file on my mac. It says it cant upload this type of file. Any suggestions.

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Here are some pictures. Now prepare yourself this violin underwent some reconstruction in 1933 and I have included a picture of the repairmans label. I love this instrument but it has seen some violence. Maybe someone got hit in the head with it? since I took these photos I have cleaned it a little and put a set of Dominant strings on it and Switched the bridge off another repair project and quickly did a 2 minute sandpaper fit on the feet. The violin plays like butter and stays in tune too. Oh yeah it was the first soundpost I have ever set and Im sure its a hack job. Still the voice is sweet. Sorry I cant show the linings in question. note all but I think 2 of the cracks have been cleated and are quite sound even the soundpost area seems strong. Anyway here it is if I can upload .

I can't upload jpegs from a desktop file on my mac. It says it cant upload this type of file. Any suggestions.

violin.pdf

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Hi everyone,

Thanks for looking at the pictures , any comments are welcome as I am try to learn all I can about violins not just this particular one. For those interested, the repair label is from Le Roy Smith, the Le is cropped out of the photo. This violin was advertised on ebay as a 1933 Leroy Smith violin which it is clearly not. Anyone ever heard of Le Roy Smith from Kentuky?

There is a repair to the fingerboard which I have never seen before. There is a inlay under the E string at the nut that is about 2 inches long with the long joint directly between the E and A string. Very neat. I think maybe the fingerboard was damaged during a reoval, I don't think it was from wear. The E peg has also been bushed but that is the only peg bushing.

Thanks again for your time

David

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Am I the only one who has difficulty imagining a violin where the "craftsmanship is very fine" when "no scraper work was done to smooth ... out" the toothed plane marks on the back, and the linings appear to have been worked with a "dull chisel going against the grain?" Unless, of course, it was made in Cremona in the 18th century.

I have to agree. I've never seen a back unfinished like this, even in the cheapest fiddles. Unless there is a smooth place where the sound post sits, a good fit is not possible. What does the inside of the top look like? That is the part that is usually left rough because you can't see it easily. There are other clues, such as the off-center fingerboard with the skewed end, BUT the important thing is that it plays well and you like the sound. The rest just gives it "character."

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Hi

Thank you for your help. I just looked back at the photo which I can see looks like the fingerboard is skewed on the end. Never having noticed it before I took the violin out and it looks fine to my eyes. I also took a series of measurements and they all showed the fingerboard to be correct and positioned right where it should be in the center. I must conclude that the angle of the photo and shadow lines and a point and shoot camera could have something to do with this.

In regards to the underside of the belly it is nicely finished smooth as could be from what I recall. I also noticed it had cleats on the center seam from the original maker which were a bit sweeter than the repairmans cleats.

But back to my original question, is there any history of the type of linings I have described above. I have been looking for pictures and information on line with no success.

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"But back to my original question, is there any history of the type of linings I have described above."

I've never seen any, but almost everything has been tried by somebody. Do the linings have the usual taper, or were they left square? Another slight possibility is that it originally had no linings and the repairman was not experienced in bending so chose this method to add them. In any case they should be perfectly functional.

Lyle

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Hi Lyle,

Thanks for your thoughts. The lining are tapered and very delicate. My guess is that they were shaped and then tapped gently with a chisel to curl them up a little. They do seem to be original and effective. I find myself wondering if this technique could make for a strong lining with a smaller effect on the vibration of the top. I'm coming at this as a guitar person so I am just trying to learn what I can.

I am trying to work up the courage to remove the top from this violin and find out who made it. I will post pictures when I can do that. I am a cabinetmaker by day and when the kids get to sleep I have small blocks of time to devote to such an endeavor I would like to do some repairs and close it back up as soon as possible. Any suggestions on removing tops would be helpfull. Do I need to build a jig to hold the ribs in place while the top is off?

Thanks again everyone for looking

David

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I would like to do some repairs and close it back up as soon as possible. Any suggestions on removing tops would be helpfull. Do I need to build a jig to hold the ribs in place while the top is off?

Hi David,

I posted a question a while ago and was advised first to do a topic search using the "Search" button at above right, next to the help button. Type in "top removal" and you will get a host of useful back articles and postings. I found this search engine to be extremely helpful.

I have just recently removed the top off of a cello and it is a daunting task. The cracking sound of the glue, and hopefully not the wood, is unnerving. There are also some good videos on youtube on top removal.

Yes, you will need to build a jig.

Good luck .... Tony

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You are new to the violin world, not a marker or repairer. If the violin plays fine, there is NO NEED TO REMOVE THE TOP. It looks as though all of the cracks are secure, but then again the violin is not on hand, and perhaps I overlooked one of your pdfs.

If you stress the top cracks while removing the top, you will have to redo a lot of work (touch ups etc that are probably beyond your realm).

The scrape marks on the interior do not mean that this is a poor quality violin, and anyone could easily fit a post on such a finely scraped surface. The back looks devoid of flaws (what little we can see). The scrape marks appear pretty consistent. Are they across the entire surface?

Linings are almost always tapered or rounded... a nicety of violin making.

As far as the repairer goes, perhaps someone else can chime in concerning who Roy is.

You probably have a nice German trade fiddle?

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You are new to the violin world, not a marker or repairer. If the violin plays fine, there is NO NEED TO REMOVE THE TOP. It looks as though all of the cracks are secure, but then again the violin is not on hand, and perhaps I overlooked one of your pdfs.

If you stress the top cracks while removing the top, you will have to redo a lot of work (touch ups etc that are probably beyond your realm).

The scrape marks on the interior do not mean that this is a poor quality violin, and anyone could easily fit a post on such a finely scraped surface. The back looks devoid of flaws (what little we can see). The scrape marks appear pretty consistent. Are they across the entire surface?

Linings are almost always tapered or rounded... a nicety of violin making.

As far as the repairer goes, perhaps someone else can chime in concerning who Roy is.

You probably have a nice German trade fiddle?

I agree, if the violin plays well, all cracks are secure, why remove the top just to find out about the kerfed linings and who the maker/repairer is? You also might run into pins, and then securing it back exactly the way it was will not be easy, especially as there are old repaired cracks there that should not be stressed.

Sorry to be a spoilsport, but I also have an old repaired cracked violin that plays well and was advised to leave well alone. Congratulations on the soundpost setting, I think you did a good job, since you like the sound of the violin.

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Hi

Thanks for all the help and support. I am learning a lot.

I think this violin has a great voice and does not have any harshness, but it has some unrepaired cracks in the top and some back seams that need to be reglued. It is a very quiet violin and I hope that if I correct these issues it will play a little stronger and be a little more responsive.

I will first take apart one of the other violins I bought to practice on. I originally bought this violin to practice repair on but am not willing to make any mistakes on it because I like it so much. I am looking at old postings on top removals and will start taking apart something soon.

I had noted earlier that there is information written inside the treble f hole which has faded over time . You can see some numbers in the picture of the inside. I also is signed on the upper back and I am curious to fin out who made it. I think I will post pictures of the inside later when I open it up. Maybe in a couple of months.

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Hi

Thanks for all the help and support. I am learning a lot.

I think this violin has a great voice and does not have any harshness, but it has some unrepaired cracks in the top and some back seams that need to be reglued. It is a very quiet violin and I hope that if I correct these issues it will play a little stronger and be a little more responsive.

I will first take apart one of the other violins I bought to practice on. I originally bought this violin to practice repair on but am not willing to make any mistakes on it because I like it so much. I am looking at old postings on top removals and will start taking apart something soon.

I had noted earlier that there is information written inside the treble f hole which has faded over time . You can see some numbers in the picture of the inside. I also is signed on the upper back and I am curious to fin out who made it. I think I will post pictures of the inside later when I open it up. Maybe in a couple of months.

+++++++++++++++++++++

Unless the violin is in a really bad shape don't open it. If you do, it will be messy.

Structure consideration is easy to keep but you may lose the acoustic beauty of the violin.

That is, it does not sound right even all the picees are intact.

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I would be very interested in information on closing cracks with the top on. I assume that I can find sound advice on how to approach the back seams that are open but closing top cracks with the top on sounds a little trickier.

I will not take the top off just to find out the maker.

Thank you all for your attentiveness and interest. The help is invaluable

I would like any advice I could get on this violin and may add some pictures soon which would show the top in more detail.

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"I would be very interested in information on closing cracks with the top on."

In this thread I describe my approach for gluing a saddle crack with the top on:

http://www.maestronet.com/forum/index.php?showtopic=319360

"I assume that I can find sound advice on how to approach the back seams that are open"

Do you mean the seam between the back and the ribs, or do you mean the back center joint?

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Hi Brad

I just read your advice from earlier this month. That sounds very reasonable. I still may post some close ups of the cracks in case I could use any special advice, One is in the upper bass side bought and acts like it would close with only some downward pressure. The other is in the saddle area but not on one side or the other, rather close to the center but on the treble side. Its not on the center joint.

There is no back center joint on this violin. The seams between the back and ribs are open on either side of the end block and also in the waist on the treble side. I thought there would be a standard procedure for this repair.

continued Thanks

David

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  • 2 months later...

Hi everyone.

Sorry to revive this old post but I had to unstring my violin a couple of weeks ago because the back seams. particularly the seam in the treble C was way open. The violin sounded quieter and quieter and I need to do some repairs at last.

I decided to try taking some interior photos and thought if I just put the lens of my canon digital elph up against the end pin hole I might be able to get an image. I needed to get out the string of LED Christmas lights from the closet because they fit into the f holes and do not generate any heat so I can light it up.These are the results.

I am still curious about this violin. The only guess I have had was GERMANY which is rather broad and I'm not sure if Germany even existed when this fiddle was made.

I do like this violin a lot and I still find the linings very interesting. You can see them in the photos I hope and also interesting to see the repairmans cleats as well as the center joint cleats from the maker. nice bass bar. You can also see the ink signature on the upper back which I still cannot read.

ANYWAY :) I add these now more as a curiosity than anything. I know I look inside every instrument I can get my hands on ( very few) and under/inside every piece of handmade furniture I see ( very few) and these small details and qualities are interesting to me and I thought I would share them. I hope I am not annoying anyone with this post, I hope to add more as I repair this violin and may be in need of expert guidance or encouragement from time to time.

As usual any comments , helpful or otherwise, are welcome and appreciated. Thanks

David

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If you post on MN, you’re guaranteed to annoy someone. :) I can’t speak for everyone, but my advice… start a blog.

In general, this is not a healthy looking top plate. I’m impressed that the back is separating; I’d expect the top to go first with this many repairs. It will be easy for you to close the side seam... just brush some hot hide glue in, and lightly clamp.

The amount of cleats on the treble side is disconcerting. The smaller flat cleats look rather ineffective. I am working on a violin now that has similar cleats – wafer thin, wide grain, and they come off too easily, like paper. It really depends on the strength of the glue I suppose.

The larger cleats are just the opposite of the wafer thin ones, a little heavy handed, but then again, they are on the treble/post side. I’d leave them if they’re holding, and if you dont have the right tools... just dabbling in violin repair.

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The smaller flat cleats look rather ineffective.

I think the smaller flat cleats you are talking about are the original centerjoint cleats or studs. These seem to be quite effective and of perfect dimension, fit and finish. If you are working on old violins you should leave these in place and not replace them with larger ones. I think they should only be 1.5 mm thick. I am curious what the special tools are you refer to regarding the removal of cleats. Have you tried a sharp chisel :) And remember what they say its not the size of the cleat its what you do with it.

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