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Corner shape


Don Noon

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For me, if someone wants to understand how those instruments work, and why (and I do) you can't ignore any part of what went into them, including history, the lives they lived outside the shop, what ideas they had access to. How the corners were made, and why (what other things might evolve from the same aesthetic decision?) is just as important as everything else. When someone gets the wrong idea about corners, or someone says that how the ribs were laid out doesn't matter, they're discarding whole sections of the context around those instruments and how they were made. It may not be important to them, but it's all important to me, every bit of it.

This is what I find to damn enthralling, when it comes to the subject. It is an all-consuming passion (all-consuming). And for those who care it must be, for the very reasons mentioned above.

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Something like this.

post-24835-1243537307_thumb.jpg

A lot depends upon where you place the distance of the purfling channel from the edge in relation to the dimension and shape of the end of the corner. Look carefully at the "Harrison" photograph and you will see where the purfling black goes. It makes a very short mitre and the tight curve and extended "bee sting" black is mastic or filler. Near the end of the real purfling mitre, if you measure on your computer screen, the edge widths are still virtually the same. This is a very common feature in many instruments by Stradivari. No muss and no fuss breaking thin long purfling mitres! :)

I agree with Melvin that the corner is showing natural wear.

Not that he didn't make long purfling mitres on occasion like the 1698 "Baron Knoop" or others of the late 1690's but you can most always catch a little touchup at the end to make the "bee sting". Less of this is seen in Francesco Stradivari's purfling which, in most cases was inferior to that of his father.

Below is a Francesco S. corner with some black mastic.

Bruce

post-29446-1270673080.jpg

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Hi Bruce,

Wonderful photograph as usual...thanks for posting it.

Is that a scribe line on the crest of the channel where it meets the edge rounding, or is it some artifact of wear, dirt, etc.?

Thanks,

Kelvin

A lot depends upon where you place the distance of the purfling channel from the edge in relation to the dimension and shape of the end of the corner. Look carefully at the "Harrison" photograph and you will see where the purfling black goes. It makes a very short mitre and the tight curve and extended "bee sting" black is mastic or filler. Near the end of the real purfling mitre, if you measure on your computer screen, the edge widths are still virtually the same. This is a very common feature in many instruments by Stradivari. No muss and no fuss breaking thin long purfling mitres! :)

I agree with Melvin that the corner is showing natural wear.

Not that he didn't make long purfling mitres on occasion like the 1698 "Baron Knoop" or others of the late 1690's but you can most always catch a little touchup at the end to make the "bee sting". Less of this is seen in Francesco Stradivari's purfling which, in most cases was inferior to that of his father.

Below is a Francesco S. corner with some black mastic.

Bruce

post-29446-1270673080.jpg

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Hi Bruce,

Wonderful photograph as usual...thanks for posting it.

Is that a scribe line on the crest of the channel where it meets the edge rounding, or is it some artifact of wear, dirt, etc.?

Thanks,

Kelvin

Hi Kelvin,

It's a scribe line and it goes around most of the instrument. Evidently there to shape the edge. The back is of Oppio, a type of lowland maple that for our benefit keeps a lot of its tool marks.

Bruce

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Bruce, et al.

For what it's worth, see pg 118 of Johnson and Courtnall which explains the importance of the edge to purfling distance.

Mike

Hello Mike,

Could you synthesize what they say as I do not have that particular book yet. It's on my list.

(edit: I meant to say summarize not synthesize, sorry!)

Bruce

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Thanks Bruce,

How do you feel that presence of that scribe line fits in with the overall likely progression of steps that led to the edge formation in the Stradivari shop? Do you have a sense that the scribe line was applied late in the edgework process as a final guide, perhaps only for regulating scraping, and aimed at producing a very uniform margin from edge to crest of the channel or do you feel this is a vestige left over from an earlier step of the edgework, such as a guide for gouging the outer curve of the channel? I am just interested in this as this scribe line is interesting in light of different theories of Cremonese edgework such as R. Hargrave and Sacconi. I'd be interested in your thoughts.

Kelvin

Hi Kelvin,

It's a scribe line and it goes around most of the instrument. Evidently there to shape the edge. The back is of Oppio, a type of lowland maple that for our benefit keeps a lot of its tool marks.

Bruce

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Thanks Bruce,

How do you feel that presence of that scribe line fits in with the overall likely progression of steps that led to the edge formation in the Stradivari shop? Do you have a sense that the scribe line was applied late in the edgework process as a final guide, perhaps only for regulating scraping, and aimed at producing a very uniform margin from edge to crest of the channel or do you feel this is a vestige left over from an earlier step of the edgework, such as a guide for gouging the outer curve of the channel? I am just interested in this as this scribe line is interesting in light of different theories of Cremonese edgework such as R. Hargrave and Sacconi. I'd be interested in your thoughts.

Kelvin

Kelvin,

The scribe line could have been put on during various phases or for the border fluting or the edge rounding. I'm going to have to dig back through my photographs to see if I can find more examples. Unfortunately Stradivari took care to eliminate tool marks and working marks so they're few and far between. The marks show up better on Oppio maple.

Bruce

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Here is another old thread that I want to resurrect. :)

On a Strad how are the corners oriented or tilted? I am referring to original, non-worn corners.

I get conflicting advice.

Staying tuned.

Mike

Hello Michael,

Here is another example of the black mastic filling in after the end of the wood purfling mitre. This is on the 'Nachez' Stradivari. It is easy to see that the actual purfling joint is quite short or stubby relative to what he did to finish the "bee sting" with black mastic.

post-29446-1270757230.jpg

QUOTE (stradofear @ Apr 7 2010, 09:40 AM)

Sam Compton suggested 30 degrees to the centerline. Often that works quite well. Try it and see what you think.

Hi Stradofear,

How would you go about measuring the angle on this photograph and how do you determine a center line? Stradivari had so many variations in all the different periods that you can pretty well pick and choose what you like best.

Bruce

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He meant 30 degrees off the centerline of the plate. The glue seam on two-piece plates...it is harder to determine on one-piece plates.

Chet

Sorry Chet,

It's late and I should go to bed, I completely misunderstood Michael's question and Stradofear's answer. I thought they were referring to the off center "bee sting" at the purfling mitre! :)

I tend to make the upper corners at a shallower angle than the lower two.

Oh well, the photograph is interesting anyway and I think it allowed Stradivari to "fine tune" his purfling according to his taste at the moment. It's really a very flexible system although many might call it "cheating".

Bruce

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All of your photos have been very instructive and inspiring. That side view of the rose-colored-classic was really a winner. I have grabbed and saved several as worthy of revisiting and studying. I especially liked seeing the scribe-lines, as, to me, it is evidence of how the edgework was accomplished. I also liked seeing the comparison between the work of Antonio and his son.

So...thanks! Get some rest. :-)

Chet

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Hello Mike,

Could you synthesize what they say as I do not have that particular book yet. It's on my list.

(edit: I meant to say summarize not synthesize, sorry!)

Bruce

They don't say too much but show two drawings showing mitres joining too near the edge or too far from the edge as a result of the outside channel line being cut too far inside the plate or not far enough. They recommend about 4 mm from the edge as the outside line. They also suggest to draw a guiding line with a compass before cutting the channel or use the purfling cutter to cut a very slight line but UNDERNEATH the plate to see how the mitres could meet the best way.

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They don't say too much but show two drawings showing mitres joining too near the edge or too far from the edge as a result of the outside channel line being cut too far inside the plate or not far enough. They recommend about 4 mm from the edge as the outside line. They also suggest to draw a guiding line with a compass before cutting the channel or use the purfling cutter to cut a very slight line but UNDERNEATH the plate to see how the mitres could meet the best way.

Thank you Robertdo for your trouble and time. I've been meaning to get this book for ages but for now it is still on my wish list. Purfling and edgework in general does so much for the appearance of an instrument. It is a detail where you can't pay too much attention. Personally I lightly scratch on the top side if it is a model that I have used before and know well. If it is a new model or idea I very often make up some facsimilie corners from some pieces of left over rib so I can experiment.

Thank you again,

Bruce

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Thank you Robertdo for your trouble and time. I've been meaning to get this book for ages but for now it is still on my wish list. Purfling and edgework in general does so much for the appearance of an instrument. It is a detail where you can't pay too much attention. Personally I lightly scratch on the top side if it is a model that I have used before and know well. If it is a new model or idea I very often make up some facsimilie corners from some pieces of left over rib so I can experiment.

Thank you again,

Bruce

It's no trouble and no time because over the last few weeks and months I have been going through the pages of this book. And every times I made a mistake (which is often) I look at the chapter dealing with the matter and think: Indeed they said that I should have done this way rather than this one. Well my first violin will be let's say a... prototype :-)

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Personal taste... I do not like the look of the squared-off, Messiah look. Seems I remember something about "that's the way they all looked when they were new, then the corners got rounded off with wear." I looked through the "Iconography of Stradivarius" looking for another square corner. Don't seem to find any. To me, I would imagine the maple back would often retain the original corner shape, so I mostly looked at those. To my eye, everything EXCEPT for the Messiah seems to show a consistent shape of rounded outer edges... hard to believe they all wore the same.

So is everybody today just copying the anomaly of the Messiah? If so, STOP THAT!! :)

In the end I think you should make your corners the way you like but during the construction and prior to purfling it's easier to get it right if everything is square and sharp (already said by stradofear). THEN, once purfled, you can reshape the corner any way you please. Even Giuseppe Ornati, one of which is illustrated in this thread, who rounded off everything to an extreme, started with square edges.

Bruce

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Old thread, missed it first time around. Melvin is spot on here, as usual. In fact to me, the Messiah in real life looks generally a lot daintier than in photos. Classic case of the camera adding 10 pounds? :)

I had the chance to visit the Ashmolean this week and took some pictures of the Messiah strad.

Here's some pictures where you can see the corners.

In this case the camera maybe added 20 pounds due to my poor photographic skills :)

One thing that struck me was that the corner tips appeared elevated

from the rest of the edge (doesn't show so well in the photos)

post-24701-1270990867.jpgpost-24701-1270990848.jpg

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In the end I think you should make your corners the way you like but during the construction and prior to purfling it's easier to get it right if everything is square and sharp (already said by stradofear). THEN, once purfled, you can reshape the corner any way you please. Even Giuseppe Ornati, one of which is illustrated in this thread, who rounded off everything to an extreme, started with square edges.

Bruce

In the course of this thread (almost a year now), I have developed an appreciation for the more crisp, unrounded look. Mostly due to the posted replies and photos of unworn originals. Thanks, gang.

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Purfling and edgework in general does so much for the appearance of an instrument. It is a detail where you can't pay too much attention. Personally I lightly scratch on the top side if it is a model that I have used before and know well. If it is a new model or idea I very often make up some facsimilie corners from some pieces of left over rib so I can experiment.

Bruce

I agree that purfling and edgework are delicate and time-consuming. I often wonder if someone would make the router bits so I can mill the edge in one pass.

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I had the chance to visit the Ashmolean this week and took some pictures of the Messiah strad.

Here's some pictures where you can see the corners.

One thing that struck me was that the corner tips appeared elevated

from the rest of the edge (doesn't show so well in the photos)

Thanks for the photographs Fjodor,

It seems you can never have enough of them when you need to refresh your memory.

Sacconi in his book on Stradivari also speaks of the raised edges at the corners, in the c-bouts and again at the button.

Bruce

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