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Ota

Anyone heard of a one-piece rib assembly?

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Hello everyone, I'm new here (though I've been lurking from time to time), and have a weird question. I recently bought a sixty dollar "attic violin" from ebay to restore and (if all goes well) play. I purchased the instrument because it had a well worn, rustic quality; a somewhat roughly carved scroll, nice chocolaty finish, and interesting figuring on the back. Today I finished removing the top plate, and was met with a very strange interior. The entire rib assembly, except for the neck and end blocks has been cut from one piece of wood. I mean, the corner blocks, all the ribs, and the lining are all one piece. I have read quite a bit about lutherie and restoration over the past few years, and spent most of today researching this matter, but I can't find any other instance of this. Unfortunately I don't have a camera to take pics of it, but I wanted to ask around and see if anyone else has encountered this method of construction before. This violin is unlabeled and of unknown age and origin, but it certainly looks, feels, and smells like its at the very least 40-50 years old. It looks like someone put a lot of love into making it at least, and with the exception of the crack on the top that I'm preparing to fix, its in pretty good shape. Has anyone heard of this before? Perhaps it was a common regional practice or a labor saving device employed by some trade instrument makers? Any feedback on this is most appreciated.

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I have seen these occasionally, and I think they may have been made by Jackson-Guldan and/or others.  Somehow the rib and block assembly is cut out and bent.

 

I have also occasionally seen another type of one-piece rib construction in which the rib assembly is not bent but instead is sawn out of a solid block.  If you look at the lower block area of the ribs, you are looking at end grain.

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Sounds like a cornerless violin.

I've got one of those (Russian, Rubous???)and mine isn't one piece, pretty conventional, except for the the cornerless craziness.  jeff

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Earlier this year, a client brought a violin to the shop where the back, ribs and scroll were all carved out of a single piece of birdseye maple. For a while we were looking at it trying to figure out what was going on, especially with the neck.

It must have been so difficult to make in this way, but it was well finished. I guess the person who made it was a skilled woodworker, but knew little about how violins were actually constructed. It probably shouldn't have worked but it did!

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Wow, thanks for all the responses. I would have replied sooner but apparently I can only make one post per day  :(.

@Brad Dorsey - It does indeed look like this was cut and bent the way you described, this is apparent by the grain pattern. Its not one solid block though, there is no end grain at the top or bottom, but that sounds like a bizarre construction indeed.

 

@Fiddler45 - That certainly bears a strong resemblance to mine, except mine has a bigleaf maple back, and plain looking ribs. I'm glad others have encountered this though, I wouldn't want to do anything that might devalue an entirely unique instrument.

 

I have seen a couple other Jackson Guldan fiddles in the past, but never knew this was how they were made. Hopefully it will sound decent when its fixed, but if not, it will be a cheap way to spend a couple weekends and I've already learned a bit to boot. Thanks again all and I'll try and do an update it things pan out. 

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Sorry, it took me a while to even figure out how to post a picture, period. If you go to the link i provided to the other thread, there are four pictures posted in that one. You had commended in the original thread, so i assume you saw enough to comment at the time.

I will try again when i can get to the computer

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Isn't that a Jackson Gulden trick?

Yes, it is,  they were made in my town,  Columbus, Ohio.  Many are still in the school system  The "linings" were also left thicker.  Many people liked them better for sound than other junk violins.  Most had cedar tops.   Later ones consistently had neck sets too low.  

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I notice this one has that odd tube that goes through the top under the bridge and recall a recent thread about these. Were those used on Jackson Guldens? I have seen a labeled one that had that feature.

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I notice this one has that odd tube that goes through the top under the bridge and recall a recent thread about these. Were those used on Jackson Guldens? I have seen a labeled one that had that feature.

Did you read the description of this one on the thread that I provided the link for? That is the "soundpost" that someone had cut a hole in the top, glued the post to the back, glued a disk of bare wood back into the top and to the "post". All with rubber cement, of course, and right between the bridge feet.

 

There is a picture of the top on that thread too.

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