Inside Tidiness


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Is there another way?

Only I have always used glue on both lining and rib,and when setting the lining  the glue on the rib would push down toward the form. creating a line of glue ,more than beads , sometimes getting between the mold and ribs ,driving me to wash , that's all.  now, for the rib garland,would glue on the blocks only also work? I have always done both block and ribs as well.

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You could ask Burgess.  I've seen the insides of his instruments and they are really tidy.  I hope that's OK David (if you see this) that I gave you a plug?  

 

For linings, I would say use less glue to combat glue blobs.  

I use enough glue to get squeeze-out on everything I glue, the idea being to avoid any spots which are not completely bonded. Potential for buzzes etc.

 

On linings, excess glue is immediately cleaned up while still moist, using a horsehair brush and hot water, and a dental mirror to see what I'm doing. The metal handle on the brush has a 45 degree bend at the hair end for better access to the bottom of the linings. Squeeze-out on the top is planed off when dry. The only time I have a problem with glue penetrating the ribs is when the glue develops significant hydraulic pressure when clamping a joint with a large surface area, such as ribs-to-blocks. Extra-think glue helps with that, or letting the glue gel ever-so-slightly before clamping.

 

Final glue cleanup on the inside is done by moistening any remaining glue with a small brush, and scraping off the softened gel with a dull tool, like the end of a ruler.

 

Linings and blocks are left as they are from trimming with the knife or chisel or gouge, with no additional scraping or filing or sanding. There's visible faceting left from the cutting tools, but that's not anything I mind.

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As you can see on my bass blog, I use masking tape on the outside to prevent any glue coming over the top and running onto the ribs. It also helps later when you are gluing the back and belly on. Strad does not appear to have washed off the surplus glue. He seems to have cut it off. (See Sacconi) Fortunately we have masking tape.

It is possible that the Cremonese makers glued their linings in with casein. They almost certainly glued the ribs to the blocks with casein. Whichever glue was used, all that you need to do is fit the linings using a quickly finished mortise cut into the corner blocks. Drop a little glue into the mortise hole and paint some on the lining. Not excessive, but enough so that it will transfer its wetness to the rib. You can very easily overdo this. Linings like fingerboards present a relatively large gluing surface, far larger than a centre joint. You really don't need to go over the top with glue application. Once the glue is on, you simply slide the lining in place. Any excess glue, (hopefully not too much), will squeeze out at the top. Even when the clamps are applied very little (if any) should squeeze out of the underside.  

If you look at Cremonese blocks, with the exception of Strad, linings and blocks are quite roughly finished. Del Gesu's linings almost appear to be hanging by a thread, but they have held for hundreds of years. Do the work neatly if you must, but try not to work with a belt and braces (suspenders) mentality.  

Perhaps someone will show a picture of a del Gesu block and lining. Mine are all on slides.  

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Thanks to the R& D , would that be research and development? or Rodger and David? .....It all seems so simple,glue in the linings, there is always something more to consider. choices to make...?, pissy little details. I try not to get hung up on them, but I am looking for an authentic feeling in the finished violin to work toward. Thanks again.

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I don't have any problem with the way the classical Cremonese makers did things, but I also think it's nice to be able to apply everything we have learned from several centuries of maintaining and repairing these instruments.

 

Unless one has the goal of being a strict copyist, there might be certain advantages to not doing everything exactly as they did.

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I don't have any problem with the way the classical Cremonese makers did things, but I also think it's nice to be able to apply everything we have learned from several centuries of maintaining and repairing these instruments.

 

Unless one has the goal of being a strict copyist, there might be certain advantages to not doing everything exactly as they did.

I don't think I was suggesting that. I was just pointing out that it doesn't need to be overdone.

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Do bowed string instrument customers make a big fuss over the inside of the instrument?

Generally, no. But they usually don't know as much as professional makers about much of anything having to do with construction, or even style. So it's kind of up to the maker to set their own standards. At one extreme, this could be whatever the market will bear. At the other extreme, they may go far out of their way to incorporate knowledge about long-term wood behavior, knowledge from many years of repairing and studying instruments, and feedback from professional peers and experts.

 

This is one reason instrument making competitions typically have "workmanship" judges, separate from ''tone" judges. And it sometimes happens that the tone judges will love an instrument, and the workmanship judges will say,

"No, we just can't put our stamp of approval on that".

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Generally, no. But they usually don't know as much as professional makers about much of anything having to do with construction, or even style. So it's kind of up to the maker to set their own standards. At one extreme, this could be whatever the market will bear. At the other extreme, they may go far out of their way to incorporate knowledge about long-term wood behavior, knowledge from many years of repairing and studying instruments, and feedback from professional peers and experts.

 

This is one reason instrument making competitions typically have "workmanship" judges, separate from ''tone" judges. And it sometimes happens that the tone judges will love an instrument, and the workmanship judges will say,

"No, we just can't put our stamp of approval on that".

  That's funny when you consider the price tag of a messy Testore. 

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  That's funny when you consider the price tag of a messy Testore. 

Yes, some messes are better accepted than others. And there are "artistic" messes. ;)

 

It's interesting to read what some of the scholars (the Hills?) had to say about Guarneri workmanship and style many years ago, and how much that perception has changed.

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I recall one instrument, entered in a competition, which was the cleanest any of us had ever seen. There was some debate about what to do about that. Some judges wanted to give it high marks, because it was remarkable that anyone could even do work that clean and precise.

Others of us were more concerned about lack of historical precedent, and whether this type of work was anything which should be encouraged, and a direction in which we'd like to see instrument making go.

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I recall one instrument, entered in a competition, which was the cleanest any of us had ever seen. There was some debate about what to do about that. Some judges wanted to give it high marks, because it was remarkable that anyone could even do work that clean and precise.

Others of us were more concerned about lack of historical precedent, and whether this type of work was anything which should be encouraged, and a direction in which we'd like to see instrument making go.

 

Now you're telling me ??  :lol:

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I recall one instrument, entered in a competition, which was the cleanest any of us had ever seen. There was some debate about what to do about that. Some judges wanted to give it high marks, because it was remarkable that anyone could even do work that clean and precise.

Others of us were more concerned about lack of historical precedent, and whether this type of work was anything which should be encouraged, and a direction in which we'd like to see instrument making go.

 

In conversations over the years I was told that historical accuracy was of primary importance to the point that there was nothing in second place.  I imagine that with the huge number of fantastic entries at the VSA, there now has to be other considerations for judging.

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In conversations over the years I was told that historical accuracy was of primary importance to the point that there was nothing in second place.  I imagine that with the huge number of fantastic entries at the VSA, there now has to be other considerations for judging.

In the VSA Competitions, I believe such things are left up to the judges. For me, historical accuracy wouldn't be an over-riding concern, although it's a challenge to know how to fairly judge an instrument which wasn't made with a strong emphasis on historical precedent.

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The Hill brothers’ described the Testore family as "Milanese cheapjacks". In the Grove dictionary Paolo Antonio Testore was said by Charles Beare (paraphrased); to have had the worst hands in Italy. But only a few later it was discovered, by Carlo Chiesa, that most of the male members of his family died and Paolo was left to get on with it at the age of 14 or 15. I'm sure someone will put me right on his exact age. So much for art, or maybe so!

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 It seems a bit like underwear..we have some choices here,boxers, briefs, leopard print , plain,cotton, silk or wool, latex ..either way ,....no belts and braces, needed ,just , clean(not sterile) and fresh is always good ,just in case one has to go to the hospital.... B) ,no nicotine stains..or ...Varnish "runs". personally I would rather have a customer remark that the inside is nice,VS trying to argue that they need to get over it and accept sloppy interior work.

 I have only seen one or two inside pics of historic works here so please forgive,I know not. .

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I don't remember ever having a customer even look inside, except maybe at the label, and certainly none have commented on its appearance. I've even been surprised at what some customers will overlook on the outside if the sound and handling are desirable. My workmanship is never up to my standards but doesn't seem to bother some people.

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 It seems a bit like underwear..we have some choices here,boxers, briefs, leopard print , plain,cotton, silk or wool, latex ..either way ,....no belts and braces, needed ,just , clean(not sterile) and fresh is always good ,just in case one has to go to the hospital.... B) ,no nicotine stains..or ...Varnish "runs". personally I would rather have a customer remark that the inside is nice,VS trying to argue that they need to get over it and accept sloppy interior work.

 I have only seen one or two inside pics of historic works here so please forgive,I know not. .

Rough does not equal sloppy. I once saw some work by an amateur maker who had carefully cleaned and sanded the inside of his instruments because "it was a sign of a good maker" but then told me he graduated his plates to a half mm tolerance. There are some things that matter in violin making and some things that don't and I certainly want to spend my  time on  getting the important things perfect rather than on stuff that no one will ever see.

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Interesting conversation direction. When I first began to learn about instruments I was with a person who loved what he called "character fiddles" that meant he collected Italian work that was affordable because it was eccentric by the standards of his day. That formed the basis of my development in judging beauty. Of course I know about Amati and Stradivari and the elegance and ideals of that kind of execution of technique. 

 

When I learned to make guitars I ended up with the same kind of teacher, except that his nick name was "Clean Gene" because he was cleaner than anyone in his day. But he taught from the masters, who could be less than pristine on the inside and the outside, and understood how to convey what is vital about the methods without ever emphasizing a sterile execution. In fact he spoke against what Hargrave calls "lazer surgery", he called it sterility. Same concept to me. 

 

So I ventured out thinking you can be slightly rough like some of the great 19th century and early 20th century Spanish makers,  but you have to clean up on top of that and be extra neat to make sales with guitarists. They seem to think it's like buying a new car and it has to have the new car smell. Then if they decide to get rid of it and trade up, down or sideways, they have to keep it in mint condition to resell it. To a guitar wheeler dealer there is nothing more exciting than buying a preowned guitar with new car smell. They think they got a bargain. I fight the impulse to make work overly neat just to appease that faction, thankfully not everyone is like that, but they are the ones who judge you and talk about you. Other makers like to knock you down for anything that is their own bugaboo, and some of them are lazer operators who actually can't see anything else; for example good proportion or graceful line. The lazer operators are also prone to over decorating the outside. 

 

Anyway, it's helpful to understand what is in the air today in terms of finish of interior work. Before I closed up the the cello I'm making I just worked on the interior until it felt right and then I quit and glued the top on. I have the technical ability to make the inside pristine, but at some point when you are learning to build a certain style or instrument there are diminishing returns with how much time you spend making the inside pretty vs. what you are going to learn by spending that precious time on the next one. 

 

Over time I expect that each maker who continues arrives at a threshold for inside finish that makes sense and feels correct for them. The funny thing is that even though the del Gesu's and the Testore's got away with making high quality "character fiddles" it does not mean we can today. To intentionally dumb down the level of smart execution is also a false way, as false as lazer beaming for it's own sake. 

 

Hmm, coffee. 

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Rough does not equal sloppy. I once saw some work by an amateur maker who had carefully cleaned and sanded the inside of his instruments because "it was a sign of a good maker"

I wonder if we had the same teacher, :P I only was able to attend one semester of VM school and this idea was driven .... so a bit unlearning to learn more here. All in all I'd rather be accused of working too neat rather than too sloppy...In my career as a blacksmith we were encouraged to work in a "rough" way, that is to show the process , the labor, to leave a feeling of quick skill,not unrefined or inaccurate ,but without undue forcing of the design,something that the modern age has a tendency to overdo.While going thru the basement of the National Museum of American Indian in New York some thirty yrs ago, I was struck by the difference between what was on display upstairs and what was in storage,by and large the display pieces were the cream of the crop, something that bugs me to this day , because it casts a false impression of the overall direction of the work,most had a rough quality ,eminently serviceable,obviously carefully made,but made for work, not show and never sloppy in it's build.  I see a lot of similarities in the  trades.... balance seems to be the key. 

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