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What's on your bench?


Craig Tucker

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There is clearly 2 meanings in the french word amateur. One is rather flattering and indeed defines someone who loves something and so put a lot of himself/herself in promoting/doing/helping it etc... the second meaning is pejorative and simply means "not up to (professional) standard"

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How does one define "amateur"? Seriously...in sports, I am told you lose amateur status when you accept money for competing, although I am told that this line has blurred over the years.

In lutherie, it seems to be a case of "you didn't go to the right schools" or "failed to submit to a proper old-world apprenticeship", or something. I have heard well-known, repsected makers referred to as amateurs by other well-known respected makers, when both are making a decent living at the craft.

Some of the makers here who are commonly called amateur make more at lutherie than I do at my "day-job".

The French verb "amar" (to love) is the root of the word, "amateur" which means one who does it for love. I would hope that the best luthiers are those who keep at it because of a love for the craft, but the word is usually used to indicate "less than professional".

I think you mean the Latin verb "amare" which means "to love". The French is "aimer"

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Well, ultimately, you are right: it does originate with the Latin "amare" but if I recall correctly, Old French used "amar" as the verb form, and "amour" as the noun. But what do I know? I'm just a burnt out old welder, doomed to be an amateur at everything. Wrong side of the tracks, beyond the pale, and all. :)

My point was that one of the makers who had recently posted was labelled an amateur, though he makes more on his "amateur' work than I do on my day-job of 25 years' longevity. At what point is such a person seen as a professional?

On the other hand, this completely loses touch with the topic of this thread.

Here is what is "on my bench":

stateofthecello1resized.jpg

First cello en route to completion (barely started, really).

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My latest one,

a baroque version of an Andrea Amati small violin pattern. Completed yesterday. I still have to do a few adjustments though.

More picture of it being built on my blog. And thanks to all of you on this forum as reading it opened my eyes on many things (violin making related!)

-Tom

Wow! Beautiful work!

I read in your blog that you made the pegs, too. Aren't you going to stain them? I think they would look better if they were a bit darker.

Matthias

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Here is what is "on my bench":

First cello en route to completion (barely started, really).

Cool Chet.

I've thought about a viola or cello, but haven't started one yet.

(More like, I'm intimidated by the idea.)

How difficult was it to get a perfect edge joining surface on those plates? Did you use a hand plane?

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How difficult was it to get a perfect edge joining surface on those plates? Did you use a hand plane?

I used a hand plane, but especially used a technique demonstrated by M. Darnton, at the Claremont workshops. I got both pieces as straight and square as I could, checking with straightedge and square, then picked the one I thought was straightest, and set it aside, clamping the suspected "humpy" one in the vise.

I presented the "straight" one to match the "humpy" one, and pivoted it back and forth. the high spots (even if they were tiny) caused a noticeable "pivot point". I could then easily take a whisper-thin shaving from that sopt, using a small, low-angle block-plane, and try again. Initially, I had actually found I had a longitudinal "rocker" in the joint, but as I worked them down, sometimes deciding that the "humpy" had surpassed the "straight", and trading them out, I found that the rocker had disappeared, and all that was left was the friction pivot points.

Eventually, I could hold one end firmly, and pivot from that forced union, and feel that the friction was about the same for the full length of the contact. Then I slid the plates horizontally, just about 3mm, and could see that the fit was airtight along the exposed joint. Repeated the other direction. Heated with my trusty goodwill clothes-iron, and slathered on the thin hide glue. I believe you are the one who pointed out that my glue might be too thick. You were right.

Took me three tries to get the front plate right-- two to get the back plate, but it was a good learning experience, and I think I could get them right time after time, now, first try every time.

I got the wood from the Wood Well, up near Port Townsend.

Sitka and Bigleaf...

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Wow! Beautiful work!

I read in your blog that you made the pegs, too. Aren't you going to stain them? I think they would look better if they were a bit darker.

Matthias

Thanks. And yes, I will probably stain the pegs...in the next instrument. In this one, this is a request from the musician to have light colored pegs (The picture make them lighter than they are in real life). I think that with time they will get a bit darker, but still stay light (a bit like the second picture in Michael's post about old pegs )

-T

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"...My point was that one of the makers who had recently posted was labelled an amateur, though he makes more on his "amateur' work than I do on my day-job of 25 years' longevity..."

Hi Chet:

I'm guessing you're referencing my comment, with Luis' viola immediately preceeding it.

Luis has told me in private correspondence that he's a lawyer by profession. I didn't mean to diminish his accomplishments at all... he's amazingly productive as an instrument maker, and perhaps no longer "an amateur" by any definition.

Best regards,

E

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Probably not good to guess...

That being said, the maker I know who referred to so many as "amateurs" was not referring to one person, but many, and some of them very well known and widely respected. As I know what they charge for violins, and how many they profess to turn out per year, not even considering other sources of income, the math is pretty simple. I really do not think he actually intended it to be insulting or demeaning, either-- just a category. (Station-wagon vs. pick-up truck, or the like.)

I do not intend to single out any one maker, and, really, would rather let the "What's on yer bench?" theme re-establish itself. I should not have raised that issue on this thread.

My apologies, Craig.

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My latest one,

a baroque version of an Andrea Amati small violin pattern. Completed yesterday. I still have to do a few adjustments though.

More picture of it being built on my blog. And thanks to all of you on this forum as reading it opened my eyes on many things (violin making related!)

-Tom

I have come back to these photos time and again, with a great deal of affinity for the design and execution of this violin. It's hard for me to pin down exactly what I like best about it. The varnish, the personality of the ff's, the wonderfully crisp scroll, its general compactness..?

Thanks for posting this tommyfiddler. I'm definately inspired by this.

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Here is what is "on my bench":

stateofthecello1resized.jpg

Looks nice Chet. Big leaf is so reflective after being varnished... excited to see the result!

When you're closing this one you'd better baby the ribs with super light clamping pressure. I complete a repair project with similar big leaf, and found that it the ribs warped a bit when I used warm water to clean up glue during closing. The edgless construction might have had something to do with it, but I don't know. The big leaf that I used was nice and strong, until touched with warm water. The grain lines almost go away with a bit of tea and light tan staining to the ribs.

bigLeafViolinRibs.jpg

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I have come back to these photos time and again, with a great deal of affinity for the design and execution of this violin. It's hard for me to pin down exactly what I like best about it. The varnish, the personality of the ff's, the wonderfully crisp scroll, its general compactness..?

Thanks for posting this tommyfiddler. I'm definately inspired by this.

Thanks a lot for your kind words ct ! But what do you mean exactly by "general compactness" ?

-Tom.

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Thanks a lot for your kind words ct ! But what do you mean exactly by "general compactness" ?

-Tom.

I don't really know, but that's the feeling I get looking at this violin - the design seems more cohesive than usual, compact somehow - perhaps it's the way the baroque fittings alter the general feel of the instrument.

?

I do know that, for the first time that I can remember, I an intrigued by the look of this (very early style) fiddle, and driven towards the idea of making such a violin.

I'll put it this way, have you ever seen something, and for whatever reason (perhaps no particular overt reason), simply felt that you wanted one?

Ok, I'm a bit twisted and I know it!

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I agree with the "compact" description. It feels nice and tightly wound for some reason.

Yes, that's a good way of putting it.

I don't want to belabor this point, or get weirdly emotional about it.

It's this simple.

Usually it is the work of some other artisan (not me) that will inspire me to want to create something of my own, perhaps at a higher (or even much higher) level. I cannot tell when it is going to happen or how. But it happens that way with me. It's sort of like a spark that kindles a fire. It is a very satisfying state, for an artist.

When I get exhausted or tired of my own violin work (as happens every once in a while - sort of the same thing over and over), I will often go to the museum and get reinspired just by looking at the marvelous work other people have done. This violin has inspired me in such a way as to want to start of in a (perhaps only slightly, but intriguing) new direction, at least for my next violin...

What's not to love with this violin?

post-3950-0-95904200-1307544135_thumb.jpg

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Yes, that's a good way of putting it.

I don't want to belabor this point, or get weirdly emotional about it.

It's this simple.

Usually it is the work of some other artisan (not me) that will inspire me to want to create something of my own, perhaps at a higher (or even much higher) level. I cannot tell when it is going to happen or how. But it happens that way with me. It's sort of like a spark that kindles a fire. It is a very satisfying state, for an artist.

When I get exhausted or tired of my own violin work (as happens every once in a while - sort of the same thing over and over), I will often go to the museum and get reinspired just by looking at the marvelous work other people have done. This violin has inspired me in such a way as to want to start of in a (perhaps only slightly, but intriguing) new direction, at least for my next violin...

What's not to love with this violin?

I agree that sometime, someone else work (Classic or modern) is inspiring and leads you to try new things or pay attention to something you where not really looking at. That happened to me not that long ago too and motivated me to make this instrument. I am honored if this violin give you this kind of feelings and wish it translates into something that you like and enjoy making. For the compactness, maybe this is also because this is a "small violin" somehow. Its body length is 341mm and rib height between 28 and 29mm. Its not big. By the way here is a new picture, and I posted more in my gallery.

Andrea_Amati_c1566_copy.jpg

(Photo by Jean Fitzgerald)

-Tom

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