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Peter Prier


mayofiddler6
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Well, having got back from holiday in Italy (The Strad tenor viola at the accademia was the highlight, the Strad fiddle next to it the low-light), I ordered the PP DVD set. It arrived yesterday.

Very nicely packed and presented. I've watched the first 5 DVDs. So far impressions are:-

1) Excellent filming, great close-ups and shots of the work. Nothing is hidden behind hands or whatever.

2) He doesn't miss out a thing, other than his arching scheme. You get to see everything from marking out onwards.

3) The downside is - you get to see everything, ad nauseum. All 6 blocks being split and made, practically the whole of the arching, planing and scraping of the front. Then you get to see it all again for the back. The same with every detail. There's none of this "I'll show you how to do it then fade to black then fade to the finished product." Nope, you're there for the whole trip. It's good in one way I guess if you've never done any of it before, but sure points up that violin-making isn't a spectator sport.

4) It's great to see the guy completely ignoring the script being read by the very professional narrator and doing things the way the narrator has just told you not to :)

5) I discovered a useful adaptation to a jig I use and also a way around marking the bottom of the bassbar with a washer or other irritating rotating thing (which has always driven me mad).

So far so good. I think this is the way Courtnall and Johnson would have done it had DVD production been relatively cheap at the time.

It also amazed me to see that I work much more accurately in the building stage than he does. However he does much cleaner finishing than I do. And to be honest his inaccuracies are largely in unimportant areas and are probably labour saving, so I may be dumb paying as much attention to them as I do.

Looking forward to watching the other 10 when my brain can take some more. If there are any noobs reading the forum I'd say these would be well worth the investment. If you've done it before I'd be surprised if you learnt anything major in the 5 vids that I've watched so far.

(Missed out "DVDs" from the post title and can't find a way of editing it. Don't want anyone to think he's ill or something!)

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Thanks for the helpful post!

I've been wondering what makers would think of this DVD set.

Thanks, it's a bit of an investment so I thought I'd try and give my impressions as I went through. Might help others decide. So far I know I would have loved these had I been starting again from step one.

The varnish video is definitely one I'm interested in. I don't know how much detail it goes into yet or whether it includes recipies. But as I remarked to another poster (and have said before on this forum) I avoid making varnish as it's just too messy and dangerous for an eejit like me. I'd probably go and answer the phone and come back to a garden devoid of trees and bushes. Anyway, the varnish vid will give me some indication of how useful the other DVDs would be to a beginner, as I won't be unintentionally filling in gaps with stuff I already know.

I'm trying to watch them in sequence rather than skipping to ones I'm more interested in. So I'll post after every couple of DVDs and hope it's useful to somebody.

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Well, watched up to number 8, which is the point at which the body is closed. So far the DVDs are firmly aimed at the novice builder, and are probably the best resource around for beginners (if you can't get classes in your area). You wouldn't get any of the "why" type questions answered if a newcomer was interested in those, but I doubt if they'd be left asking "how" questions after watching. Techniques are very clear. An accompanying book like Courtnall and Johnson that has patterns, archings and some more of the "why" would make this a pretty comprehensive setup.

Good product positioning for Herdim clamps, I hope he charged them a few dollars :)

Anyhow, nothing new learnt on my part from the intervening DVDs. But they are enjoyable and I'm looking forward to the rest.

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mayofiddler6 - How would you say the subject of plate jointing is handles?

I ask because the way I see it, the standard answer to the question of what book to buy from beginners is usually answered with the C&J book.

I am thinking that we will soon be saying the Prier DVD set as well.

I sure hope that Peter Prier comes along with a companion book to this DVD set with arching and outlines etc.

For added measure also throw in his excellent 'list of measurements' that is no longer available on his website.

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Well, just finished the final DVD.

To digress a second and answer the question above, plate joining is covered pretty much in the standard way. I usually flatten the large side and square the joining edge to that. Mr. Prier does it the other way around. I can't see any immediate advantage to that, perhaps someone could point it out. I think I'd find it much harder to square a large surface to a small one than the other way around. But really, there's no secret, you just use your plane and a small square and straight edge in the normal way. He used the rubbing method to glue the halves. Not long is spent on it in the DVD.

Varnish. Big disappointement for me. A couple of hours of video and no varnish secrets (damn!). He does tell you his formula for the ground which doesn't have oil or shellac in it :-) His varnish seems to be largely made from commercial cans and powders, diluted to taste. No evidence of getting large lumps of amber or whatever and melting or grinding them (unless he does that beforehand and stores in commercial packaging). Lots of fast forwarding on this DVD as you get to see the entire instrument varnished and sanded for all 6 or more coats. Same thing over and over again.

My overall impression is that this would be a godsend for anyone starting out with no access to classes. You'd have to be fairly certain you were going to stay at it before spending this amount of money. But I'd say it would be well worth the price in that case. If you've made a few violins I don't think you'll learn anything startling.

The biggest drawback is the endless repetition of the various tasks. It really is the "Complete guide to violin making" as every task is performed on every part for the camera. In fact I breathed a sigh of relief as I only had to watch three pegs being reamed instead of all four (might have been an accident). I think the whole thing could have been produced for 1/3 of the cost and still been as effective by just not filming (say) a back being varnished and sanded 6 times from start to finish.

So! If you're new at this and have the cash, go and buy it. Even if you have to skip a few take-away curries, it will be well worth it. If you've made even three or four it's my feeling you won't get much out of this. But to be fair I think it is squarely aimed at the new maker anyway.

I'm not sad I bought it, it's really well made and I always find it fascinating to watch other people work (anything to avoid doing it myself, ha!) I got a couple of ideas for jigs and props, interesting to see that he antiques the opposite way around to me, and it was a pleasure to see the beautiful instrument that resulted from the project.

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Thanks for the review!

I like your suggestions. Even a rookie with a rewind button, only needs to see one coat of varnish go on.

I find that the joint gives rookies a hard time, it did me! Yes NewNewbie was actually a NewNewNewbie at one time! So it was my hope that the difficult parts would be dealt with in a more thorough way. I can see us all listing this now as a way for beginners to get up and running with a better than even chance of producing a fine fiddle.

I am wondering who will come out with a companion book for this DVD set first, because if Peter Prier does not, then I am sure that some entrepreneur will.

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Varnish. Big disappointement for me. A couple of hours of video and no varnish secrets (damn!). He does tell you his formula for the ground which doesn't have oil or shellac in it :-) His varnish seems to be largely made from commercial cans and powders, diluted to taste. No evidence of getting large lumps of amber or whatever and melting or grinding them (unless he does that beforehand and stores in commercial packaging). Lots of fast forwarding on this DVD as you get to see the entire instrument varnished and sanded for all 6 or more coats. Same thing over and over again.

Maybe you will enjoy these.

www.oldwood1700.com/video

Cheers

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Maybe you will enjoy these.

www.oldwood1700.com/video

Cheers

Hey thanks for the link. Nice vids. Their hands-free idea is less cumbersome than mine, which consists of a heavy wooden block with a stick poking up from it to go in the end-pin hole (low-tech but it works).

I think the music in the first vid is a cunningly devised Italo-Chinese torture though. And the music in the last one builds to such a crescendo that you expect to see pics of steam trains rushing into tunnels, volcanoes exploding and other orgasmic euphemisms :-)

As an update, the plate joining I recalled and mentioned above was in fact for the mould. I think he did it the way he did because after the joining he planed about 5mm off the depth to bring it down to size. So he had plenty of time to get it level after joining. Apologies for the bad info earlier, I had watched nearly 20 hours of video end to end so was a bit numb from it. However the real plate joining did not have much time devoted to it. I'm watching them all again between bouts of work, so will update if I notice any other incorect things that I said.

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Thanks for the videos, Newb,

Video #9 in this series, gives a pretty good representation of how to glaze an instrument using transparent Windsor Newton (or other high quality transparent tube oil colors) tube oil-paint over a smoothed-over under coat (1st or 2nd coat) of (clear or colored) oil varnish...

The thing I like about glazing like this, is that if you don't like the color at this stage, you can wipe it all off and start over again, or you can tint heavy and light color in the area(s) you want - or you can even alter the existing color(s) by adding a touch the opposite primary color of the component that you want to knock back, or you can incorporate a modifying color into the glaze.

Then, of course, you would add an additional coat of oil varnish over the glaze, when it has dried or almost dried - unless you like the look of a fragile matte finish.

This is a really nice example of how the “glazing” technique works, for someone who has heard the term, but who has never seen it being done before.

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Great.... :) . I thought my fingerpainting /brush to pull off technique was unique. Thanks for ruining my day. Please do not look at the video! :)

Hey Dean,

Harry Wake and Bill Fulton were doing this while you were still in (I was going to say diapers, but I remembered that you are 54 now...!) bell bottoms and sandals.

Sorry!

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Hey Dean,

Harry Wake and Bill Fulton were doing this while you were still in (I was going to say diapers, but I remembered that you are 54 now...!) bell bottoms and sandals.

Sorry!

Ahh yes, bell bottoms, wild colored shirts, beatles zipper shoes and those silk thingys you wear around your neck. Those were the days...to forget!

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