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Ken Pollard

Integral bass-bar

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A nice older lady came into my shop with a fiddle needing repair, it belonging to a friend from whom she had borrowed it many years ago. "I wanted to get it fixed up before I die," she said. What can you say after that? Couple of loose joints, badly refinished exterior, no fingerboard, dirty all over. I gave a what I thought was reasonable bid, and now have to get the work done. Turns out some of the linings were loose, which I hadn't noticed, so decided to take the top off and just fix them. Top was nearly loose, except a couple of tough spots in the c-bouts -- bad grain there, though consistent on both sides.

Anyway, since I'm not going to come out on it financially quite as I thought, decided to take a few photos for those wondering about such ca. 1900 factory techniques such as integral bass-bars

post-24063-1241750617_thumb.jpg

sophisticated graduation schemes

post-24063-1241750649_thumb.jpg

methods for keeping the center seam intact

post-24063-1241750698_thumb.jpg

and all hidden inside relatively decent looking wood (if you ignore the outline)

post-24063-1241750743_thumb.jpg

Well, work is work, times being what they are. I think I'll have a third glass of wine.

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I was shocked to see that there's actually full blocks in the corners. In a fiddle of that grade you usually just see "fake" blocks, if anything at all. I've cracked open my share of those fiddles in my career...

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I was shocked to see that there's actually full blocks in the corners. In a fiddle of that grade you usually just see "fake" blocks, if anything at all. I've cracked open my share of those fiddles in my career...

Hi Woodland,

Yes, the lower blocks are seemingly full --- unlike the fake blocks that just span the space -- but no upper blocks at all. Deceit there, because it was hard for a customer to see those. Also, and I think a bit interesting, the gouge marks (perhaps a plane) are relatively uniform, mostly parallel, in any given section.

The profile of the bar is even somewhat like a bass-bar

post-24063-1241752804_thumb.jpg

Many integral bass-bars I've seen have been a bit more rectangular, and some have been crooked -- as if the carver had had his two glasses of wine before work, instead of after!

Cheers,

Ken

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Well now.

Think of the money you could have saved with a dental mirror and an inspection light.

But we don't do this for the money, do we. :)

I do it for the money.

The top came off reasonably easy, I don't plan to do anything about the graduation, blocks, bass-bar -- it is what it is. When it leaves my shop, I'll feel good that everything is glued tight. New fingerboard, pegs, bridge, etc. And she'll have a fiddle that works at least as well as it ever did. As I understood it, she got many good years out of it.

Just thought that since I had the fiddle open, I'd take a few photos and share them. I have read previously that folks had questions about what an integral bass-bar was, so this was just one more example.

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I can't recall photos showing the inside of that type of instrument posted here before (I might be wrong). It certainly will be very useful for those who have never seen (and probably never will see) something like that in the flesh (in the wood?) - thanks!

I'm sure you feel satisfied, and that the lady will be very happy, despite you ending up a bit short on financial compensation in this instance. We do work for money, but not only, and not always - I'm with you on this one.

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Yeeaah!

Here is a half finished fiddle with integrated bass bar.

I also make it with integrated neck/block. And no corner blocks. Freehand with no mould.

The idea is:

Forget about Stradivari for a few days, please...

Players long ago when Norway was a poor country, often made their fiddles at home. Methods used was archaic; at least until the end of 1800s. The tunes was, and still is, without any playing in higher positions, so a relaxed playing position can be against the breast or on the arm. This smaller fiddle is well suited for this music, and making it is faster.

PS: I am like the rest of you makers: I usually make normal violins!

post-29099-1241763769_thumb.jpg

post-29099-1241763778_thumb.jpg

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Yeeaah!

Here is a half finished fiddle with integrated bass bar.

I also make it with integrated neck/block. And no corner blocks. Freehand with no mould.

The idea is:

Forget about Stradivari for a few days, please...

Players long ago when Norway was a poor country, often made their fiddles at home. Methods used was archaic; at least until the end of 1800s. The tunes was, and still is, without any playing in higher positions, so a relaxed playing position can be against the breast or on the arm. This smaller fiddle is well suited for this music, and making it is faster.

PS: I am like the rest of you makers: I usually make normal violins!

love it...

oh and i forgot about stradavarius like 3 days into building my first one...every once in awhile i think about him, i think to myself, "what would strasavarius do?"....and then like a second later i think to myself...."i don't care".... :):):)

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Wow, I'm impressed by Salve's undertaking. I would never do it myself. Didn't think that this kind of work was done these days.

Since we're on the topic of integrated bassbars, here's another example that I found on the internet:

fusk_lock.jpg

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Wow, I'm impressed by Salve's undertaking. I would never do it myself. Didn't think that this kind of work was done these days.

Since we're on the topic of integrated bassbars, here's another example that I found on the internet:

fusk_lock.jpg

wow, what can one say about that...a face only it's mother could love

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A nice older lady came into my shop with a fiddle needing repair, it belonging to a friend from whom she had borrowed it many years ago. "I wanted to get it fixed up before I die," she said. What can you say after that? Couple of loose joints, badly refinished exterior, no fingerboard, dirty all over. I gave a what I thought was reasonable bid, and now have to get the work done. Turns out some of the linings were loose, which I hadn't noticed, so decided to take the top off and just fix them. Top was nearly loose, except a couple of tough spots in the c-bouts -- bad grain there, though consistent on both sides.

Anyway, since I'm not going to come out on it financially quite as I thought, decided to take a few photos for those wondering about such ca. 1900 factory techniques such as integral bass-bars

sophisticated graduation schemes

[

methods for keeping the center seam intact

and all hidden inside relatively decent looking wood (if you ignore the outline)

post-24063-1241750743_thumb.jpg

Well, work is work, times being what they are. I think I'll have a third glass of wine.

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

Not long ago, such as the time of 1964 in US, we used low tnsions gut strings which were broken quite easily, in a matter of days .

Now we have Nylon (or synthetic) much tougher strings (more tension, I guess).

My point is that in 1900 time that they did not need strong bassbars in their violins as we have now.

I bought my violin a few years ago. It was one like yours in pictures. However, a luthier had grafted a piece of wood on top of the integrated bassbar

before I had it. So, it is strong enough to meet today's standard. I did not know my violin that had been modified properly.

It is so nice to own an old instruemnt that has been brought up today. Most players have no clue what inside of an old violin

that a lot of components needed to be upgraded. Mine is done and it is so responsive to the bow. It is a joy to play.

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Wow, I'm impressed by Salve's undertaking. I would never do it myself. Didn't think that this kind of work was done these days.

Since we're on the topic of integrated bassbars, here's another example that I found on the internet:

fusk_lock.jpg

That one looks like it was chewed out by a trained beaver!

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The carved in bass bar, gouged top, fake blocks, and no upper blocks are all cost cutting features that I often see on old German fiddles. Anything that the customer couldn't see, didn't matter!

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I can't recall photos showing the inside of that type of instrument posted here before (I might be wrong). It certainly will be very useful for those who have never seen (and probably never will see) something like that in the flesh (in the wood?) - thanks!

I'm sure you feel satisfied, and that the lady will be very happy, despite you ending up a bit short on financial compensation in this instance. We do work for money, but not only, and not always - I'm with you on this one.

+1 Well said Jacob.

Neil

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It's always so hard to repair lesser violins without full blocks. I don't understand how this technique actually saves time and money (clamping up is harder, and strength is not there when the ribs are free).

I really like the look of the top with the integral bar being formed. It's interesting that some bars were done to "fool" a customer, and others were done because that's just how things were in that specific time/region.

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It's always so hard to repair lesser violins without full blocks. I don't understand how this technique actually saves time and money (clamping up is harder, and strength is not there when the ribs are free).

I really like the look of the top with the integral bar being formed. It's interesting that some bars were done to "fool" a customer, and others were done because that's just how things were in that specific time/region.

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

Exactly, if someone lived in that time and that area, a good luthier looked at the violin inside

of a violin when it was open.

That luthier might shake his head and said " Poor workmanship, no integrated bassbar, poor construction. Use

block to support the structure, do they learn it in school?" (if the school taught simplicity)

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I can't recall photos showing the inside of that type of instrument posted here before (I might be wrong). It certainly will be very useful for those who have never seen (and probably never will see) something like that in the flesh (in the wood?) - thanks!

I'm sure you feel satisfied, and that the lady will be very happy, despite you ending up a bit short on financial compensation in this instance. We do work for money, but not only, and not always - I'm with you on this one.

The instrument pictured below came to me with loose neck, reglued wiuth elmers', cracked pegbox, with replaced wood, recracked, neck angle off by about five degrees or so, big gap at the heel, etc., etc.

These folks had already bought a new violin from me, but their son loved the old one, and it had some connection to grandma...not sure how it all worked.

I doubled the cheeks of the pegbox, re-set the neck, reworked the interior, repaired cracks, re-barred, and re-graduated...and charged nothing. They offered to pay; wanted to pay. I considered it a matter of "healing" not repair, and the work was a joy.

The violin plays better than the new one, and is now the instrument of choice for an energetic, determined, very happy young player. Grandma was thrilled, too.

here are photos of the inside.

Chet

insideold.jpg

newbassbar1.jpg

newbassbar2.jpg

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... We do work for money, but not only, and not always - I'm with you on this one.

Thanks, Jacob. We are a mixed lot on the forum here -- hobbyists, retired folk, and some who actually try to earn a living from it. You're right, we don't do it just for the money, though it is nice to be able to pay the bills. In an intimate business like ours, we have the desire to do competent work while honoring our estimates. In the end, a happy customer is the best advertising.

Salve -- what magnificent photos. I'd sure like to see more of this hardanger as it progresses, and it certainly deserves a thread of its own.

The integral bass-bar in Torbjörn's or Chet's photos are more typical in style of those I've seen -- not quite straight, enough to cover the area that can be seen through the f-holes.

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The instrument pictured below came to me with loose neck, reglued wiuth elmers', cracked pegbox, with replaced wood, recracked, neck angle off by about five degrees or so, big gap at the heel, etc., etc.

These folks had already bought a new violin from me, but their son loved the old one, and it had some connection to grandma...not sure how it all worked.

I doubled the cheeks of the pegbox, re-set the neck, reworked the interior, repaired cracks, re-barred, and re-graduated...and charged nothing. They offered to pay; wanted to pay. I considered it a matter of "healing" not repair, and the work was a joy.

The violin plays better than the new one, and is now the instrument of choice for an energetic, determined, very happy young player. Grandma was thrilled, too.

here are photos of the inside.

Chet

That looks cool Chet.

At one stage I rebuilt instruments like that in a big way - I probably did more than hundred. Over here it makes financial sense for the customer as well as for me. Haven't done one in a while though - got side-tracked into making :)

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...

Salve -- what magnificent photos. I'd sure like to see more of this hardanger as it progresses, and it certainly deserves a thread of its own.

...

Thank you!

It's not a hardanger fiddle. It's a "normal" but archaic fiddle!

(But old hardangers was made in about the same way.)

And it is finished.

I have more pictures and plan to make a web page describing the process. If I finish that page soon, I'll let you know. Nice to learn that someone is interested!

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Thank you!

It's not a hardanger fiddle. It's a "normal" but archaic fiddle!

(But old hardangers was made in about the same way.)

And it is finished.

I have more pictures and plan to make a web page describing the process. If I finish that page soon, I'll let you know. Nice to learn that someone is interested!

Ah, my mistake. But yes, it is interesting to see these archaic methods. I've had some interest in making a medieval fiddle, though all I've done so far is look at paintings & plans.

I look forward to more of your photos, as well as descriptions.

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Ah, my mistake. But yes, it is interesting to see these archaic methods. I've had some interest in making a medieval fiddle, though all I've done so far is look at paintings & plans.

I look forward to more of your photos, as well as descriptions.

T'ain't no such thing as a medieval fiddle--the form wasn't developed until the 1600s. You'd be wanting to make a rebec, which has, on a good day, a whiny nasal sound. Pretty nasty, really--you can see why the viol was such a smash hit as a replacement instrument.

I recently played a reproduction rebec at a medieval faire. It was fun, but not my cup of tea. On the other hand, construction is considerably simplified from a Renaissance (and beyond) viol or violin. Starting with the lack of sound post and possible lack of bass bar.

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T'ain't no such thing as a medieval fiddle--the form wasn't developed until the 1600s. You'd be wanting to make a rebec, which has, on a good day, a whiny nasal sound.

Well I'm certainly no expert on those early instruments. I do know a rebec, and that's not what I'm thinking of. Here's a photo from the ship "Mary Rose"

http://www.waits.org.uk/pictures/altarnunfiddler.jpg

I don't know if this link will work or not, but it talks a bit on the difference between a rebec and an early fiddle.

http://books.google.com/books?id=D_15UtgRV...lt&resnum=7

which includes the idea that perhaps 'fiddle' is not the best term, though it is commonly used. But it's not a rebec.

I played a reproduction of one of these early 'fiddles' a few years ago, as well as a rebec. The fiddle was tuned in 5ths, but like a viola. With my friend on guitar, we played "Frankie and Johnnie" for the Ren-faire folk, who were very polite to us, but didn't ask for an encore.

As to tone, it's clear why we prefer the violin, but it was fun in a funky way.

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I think that the integral bass bar is where the "big secret" lies. Why??? Because a solid top acoustic guitar sounds better than a laminated topped guitar every time. One piece of wood resonates and has a better tonality than two or more pieces glued together. I had a Stainer copy with an integeral bass bar that blew my socks off. It was LOUD but not to the point of hurting your ears. It responded instantly almost vibrating out from under my chin, lol... I think that this little overlooked and frowned upon detail was the "big secret."

Edited by Hamm

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