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What's on your bench? (mk6)

Jeffrey Holmes

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Here's the violin currently on my workbench This violin started out as an experiment with flat violin backs. The top plate is Douglas Fir. After testing several flat backs on this body I realized it was impossible to brace it in such a way as to sound like a carved back, so then I just carved a proper back for it. The back is slab sawn bigleaf maple. Believe it or not but there is curly figure in this wood, it should become visible in a few days when I get a ground on it. I've decided not to purfle across the button and have also left the wood thicker there too. I'm going to try drawing the purfling on across the button and then see how it looks under varnish.


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Ben I have never worked with cedar for a violin top. I have used it on lots of guitars.

Don what is your idea to darken the spruce?

Hi Barry

I mixed sanding pernambuco (palo Brasil) with shellac and produced a nice orange brown. Then warmed this and produced a darker color.

Other experience: pernambuco into alcohol (1 week), and then warmed, mixed with a Höfner sirit-varnish produced an interesting purple that could match with rosewood.

Good luck if you test


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I don't mind sharing. I took the Strad poster to a reproduction shop and asked the to copy it at 107% This way everything including the "C" are expanded proportionally. I also made the ribs slightly taller. The violin is still smaller than a viola. It is easy for even petite women to play.

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A slightly different take on this topic. ( please excuse me for that)

The picture below is my workshop espresso cup on my bench. This little porcelain masterpiece is the work of an incredibly talented ceramicist friend called Steve Harrison. Not only does it contain coffee in a beautiful way but it inspires me on a daily basis....I feel that craftspeople can be inspired and learn from craftspeople even if the crafts are different...

48 minutes ago · Like


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Because spruce and rosewood are a pretty combination. If you don't try to get their colors to match then you end up with a beautiful contrast in color between the spruce and rosewood.

It does make a very nice combination, look at all of the beautiful rosewood guitars. I have left the top "blonde" on several rosewood violins but I also want the top to be darker sometimes.

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Thanks for your Kind words Luis....My preferred model is whatever I get paid to make but that Amati model being cut down is very similar is size to the conte Vitale...My most recent viola was a copy of a narrow but high arched cut down and re built 16 inch Goffriller. I like that one a lot because I am close to it still...Violinists really like this viola and it plays like a huge del Gesu!....My client uses steel strings and a violin radius Fingerboard. I 'corrected' some of the set up in the copy only to have to reset it to be like the original for the players comfort and familiarity



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Thanks to Marty Kasprzyk for sending me some curly maple veneer. I was looking for cello rib or something similar to make a back cover for my iphone. Here is a short video. So far is only has the ground. I'm debating on what else to put on it. I can't show it attached to the iphone because i'm using the camera on the phone to shoot the video. I'm planning to use some kind of adhesive to attach it. The large hole is for the camera and the small hole is the flash. I made it slightly under size so there will be a black border from the phone all the way around it. I thought it would look better that way. It looks more yellow in the video than in person. It's more of a tan color and it needs one more day of full sun to fully cure.


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The kit for violin #12, otherwise known as "High-Q Fiddle #2". Top wood is (obviously) very strongly processed, and the Q is about the same as the first one (180-190). This one is lower density and higher radiation ratio; should be interesing.

In addition to the usual aesthetic challenge, there will be a tonal challenge. It looks like I can get at most 14mm of arch in the top, which means that I'll have to take measures to try to flatten out the "transition hill", which tends to be overly strong with low arching.

You may notice a bit of varnish and ground testing on the back.

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Here's my current project. I've applied the ground and sealer since I last posted photos so now the figure in the maple can be seen. I didn't show the top plate before, it's Douglas Fir. I decided to go with a more Brescian inspired look for this violin so the corners are a bit stubby and the f-holes different. You can't see it in these pictures but the arching for the top plate is Brecian inspired but not quite as full looking as the Brescian instruments that I've seen (not a huge number). The back's arch is my usual style which has a little scooping around the edges.

Right now I'm trying to decide what to do about a fingerboard. I have plenty of ebony but I'm seriously tempted to try a hard maple fingerboard and dye it black just because I don't like working with ebony.

The pictures aren't that good because I broke my camera's display while shoving my backpack under an airplane seat. I just take a bunch of pictures and hope that a few of them come out roughly in focus.




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