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Building my second violin - photos


Matthias Lange
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Matthias,

Your use of madder, being rubbed in after the primer coat, interests me very much, since I have powdered transparent iron oxides. The madder looks to be red. Is that the case?

I understand that the primer does not seal the wood. So the madder is filling, or partially filling, the open pores, I guess. What about the spruce? Is madder used on it?

Thanks

John

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Hi John,

I used red madder lake, the same that I will be using to colour the varnish.

The madder is rubbed into the wood and is partially filling the pores. However, most of it is removed by rubbing over it with a cloth.

I did not use it on the spruce.

Give it a try, it looks really nice.

Here is a close-up of the back.

post-24875-1255860437_thumb.jpg

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Hi John,

I used red madder lake, the same that I will be using to colour the varnish.

The madder is rubbed into the wood and is partially filling the pores. However, most of it is removed by rubbing over it with a cloth.

I did not use it on the spruce.

Give it a try, it looks really nice.

Here is a close-up of the back.

Matthias,

Thank you.

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  • 4 weeks later...
Ah, now I understand, thanks F.C.

I'll try this Alf method on a small viola I'm making.

Hi Ben,

Just a note.... I don't use red madder lake color (dry or in oil varnish) in my wood sealer/filler.

In the past I have written about using fine tripoli as the mineral component of my ground. The medium (either clear or colored short-oil varnish) is not something I take credit for ... many makers use it. My contribution was to point out that the surface tension qualities of porous minerals (such as tripoli), when used in a sealer/filler paste, makes for less leeching of medium into the wood ... thus defeating the sealer’s purpose to begin with.

Think of it this way: Tripoli particles are like little sponges; non-porous particles (ground crystal) are like glass marbles. If you fill one cup with sponges and another with glass marbles, mix liquid medium into each container, and then dump the contents into separate sieves... which sieve will retain the most medium, the one with sponges or the one with marbles? Pretty clear, I think. Red madder lake is a non-porous material. I use tripoli.

The reason for using a "short oil' medium is that it is less elastic and therefore better [imho] at forming what I call an 'acoustic skin' on the wood.

The reason for using a colored varnish when sealing maple is that, in moderation, it highlights the flame component of the wood. It is hard to get both the flame color and the pore color right at the same time. For replica work I prefer to match the flame color first and then seal the maple with the same CLEAR VARNISH MEDIUM I USE ON SPRUCE. Don't use colored medium to seal your top or you will 'burn' it big time.

In my system, the pores themselves are filled by the pinkish tripoli, and the color present in medium. The reason for using oil varnish is that it provides a good refractive index match between the wood, the minerals and the next layer of varnish. That said, I am sure other mediums exist which would be even better for both the acoustic and visual goals of the ground. And like everyone, …I am still looking.

Varnish is an ongoing experience. I jump into lakes for the joy of swimming in them, not for the joy of getting out. I’m currently working on emulsions to modify or replace varnish as the medium. By bodying-up the medium, tripoli can be replaced by other crystalline minerals that allow greater control over ultraviolet fluorescence and the optical complexity of the ground.

Hope that helps. I meant to keep it simple. :) I just wanted to touch on the other faqs surrounding this topic, since its not every day that I am on the board.

Best,

Gregg Alf

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Thanks for explaining your ground, Mr Alf!

In the meantime I made many tests to find a nice color. It took me some time to find the right balance of asphalt, madder lake and varnish.

For some reason, mulling the madder lake into the varnish seems to be easier after the varnish has been mixed with the asphalt.

I apply the varnish with a soft synthetic brush. I use a synthetic brush, because I found that brushes of real hair soak up too much varnish and often loose hairs.

I try to shade the varnish with the brush as good as possible. When it is necessary I correct te shading with my fingers, as soon as the varnish is tacky enough (approximately half an hour after brushing).

Here are two photos after the first coat of colored varnish. (The first was taken with a flashlight and looks a bit strange)

vm_139.jpg

vm_138.jpg

Matthias

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I would be curious to know if the ones amongst you who build violins remember how the first one sounded like? Also, is there a very good book that a complete beginner would use to make a playable violin from scratch.

Yes, I remember the sound of my first violin, since it is the one I use all the time. It turned out quite good.

"The Art of Violin Making" by Johnson and Courtnall is, I believe, THE best book there is for the beginner. However, for plate graduation I would use a Strad poster, maybe going slightly thicker to start with. I'm not a fan of the plate tuning by Hutchins that is recommended in "the art" book.

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Thanks, Dean!

I am playing my first one every day, too. It is playable and most people like the sound and say that it is surprisingly loud. Note that most people I asked are too kind to give a really negative answer... :)

But, I have to say that it is better than I expected.

I hope my second will be even better.

I have now put the second coat on. The photos are taken quickly and are much too red, I think. I will make real (color corrected) photos, when it is finished.

vm_140.jpg

vm_141.jpg

Matthias

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I have now put the second coat on. The photos are taken quickly and are much too red, I think. I will make real (color corrected) photos, when it is finished.

Matthias

You probably already know this OR it's a photographic artifact but the lower end of the top plates lower bout often has end grain soaking up color in excess. Is that what I see (a little darker in this region)?

vm141.jpg

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Hi Dean,

that's a little accident from shading. As it is under the tailpiece I decided not to take off the whole coat, while it is still wet. (That's what I normally do, if I don't like the shading)

I'll try to get it more uniform while sanding and applying the next coat.

Matthias

I agree that it's not a problem. I was more curious whether it was real or not. Photographs are difficult to evaluate for these little things but I must say that you are looking at having a wonderful instrument pretty soon. I am still amazed that this is your second and you’re catching subtle details that many miss. Natural talent!

My money is on you with a good looking saddle and nut & bridge. My eyes always go to these first then proportions, arching etc...

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After comparing it with a nice violin, I decided to give it one more coat of color-varnish.

I also applied one thin coat of clear varnish on top of the color varnish. This helps to give more depth and clarity.

The weather today is very nice, so I decided to take some photos outside in the sun.

vm_144.jpg

vm_145.jpg

vm_146.jpg

Matthias

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Very nice Matthias! To my untrained eye, (I am only a musician) on the photos it looks like a violin made by a professional maker. Let us know how it sounds! I'm sure you know some good violinists that can try it out...

I really very much like the depth you achieved in your red varnish with the extra coat you applied (it looks great to me especally around the f-holes, for some reason, the upper f hole wings are gorgeous!), but I'm only partially convinced by the "antiquing". I kind of like it on the back and sides, but for some reason it doesn't convince me on the top... Maybe (but I'm not sure wether it has to do with any of the following!) the lighter areas on the top, especially the ones on the lower half, are too big? (the ones on the shoulders are more convincing to me) or maybe they are too light? Or maybe it is not so convincing to me, because they are all lighter in the exact same degree instead of being different in intensity? Or maybe it just has to do with that varnish on backs of instruments usually wears away, whereas the top apart from wear also is more likely to have little scratches due to usage caused by the bow, a loose tailpiece, bridge feet, strings etc and therefore its looks more atifiial on top? For some reason, I could imagine a slight shade of brown in the worn spots (is this untasteful?). Or maybe the wood of the top was finished too perfectly, too cleanly (no slight scraper marks etc.)? Not being a maker and not ever having varnished an instrument, this could all be nonsense though. And in any case it is all just a matter of taste!

Congratulations!

Leonard

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Thank You!

Leonard,

thanks for your comment! I always appreciate constructive criticism.

I think you are right, in that it needs some scratches and dirt to look convincing.

I have not added any scratches and dirt, yet. And I will have to force myself to do it, as it is a bit strange to strive for a "perfect" surface and then add scratches and smear dirt on it. (The surface, as it is now isn't perfectly flat, it has lots of texture both on the spruce and the maple. But I think it is too glossy.)

I'm still making tests with "dirt" (several brown oil colours), but haven't found something that really looks good.

Also I have to practice how to make scratches. :)

Initially I wanted the varnish on the center of the back to look "chipped". But didn't get good results on my test samples and decided to shade it only.

Matthias

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Is that what "raised" grain mean? Are you going to polish the wood or are you leaving it like this? I read conflicting opinions on this. Does it influence the sound of the violin or is it only a matter of taste?

In any case since it's you second violin, it seems to me that you're are already pretty experienced!

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