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Cool!

The name was derived from one of the pochette patterns of Stradivari, but is also a little wink to Paganini's violin.

Strad's pochettes have a similar underlying bent rib shape that his guitars have.  The corners appeared to be an added on feature.

 

Attached is a photo of a thin plastic wire being bent over a Strad pochette photograph.  A plastic wire was used here instead of a wood rib because it is easier to photograph without casting shadows.

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Strad's pochettes have a similar underlying bent rib shape that his guitars have. The corners appeared to be an added on feature.

Attached is a photo of a thin plastic wire being bent over a Strad pochette photograph. A plastic wire was used here instead of a wood rib because it is easier to photograph without casting shadows.

I like the idea, but am not entirely convinced that this was the method used for all the guitar forms. For these guitars I "cracked" the outlines of the forms and patterns to re-engineer the underlying design features. I found mainly compass arches, not parabolic forms, as would be the case with this method.

I keep the possibility open that the paper patterns were made by tracing existing instruments or sides attached to the inner form. In some of the wooden forms the of the compass are still visible.

This idea is mainly given in by Roger's suggestion that the inner form dictated the outline of the violin, instead of the other way around. Also Stradivari's pragmatic way of working with the forms (tracing and overlaying to create a new model) leads me to think this way.

At school we constantly 'stole' each others patterns. Somebody making a beautiful Panormo? A piece of acrylic, a tracing scribe and five minutes in which the classmate is out of the room... And I have a wonderful Panormo pattern two... Please raise your hand if you haven't done this in your carreer.

Earlier Kevin Kelly sent me this YouTube clip of his method to draw the Rawlings guitar.

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I like the idea, but am not entirely convinced that this was the method used for all the guitar forms. For these guitars I "cracked" the outlines of the forms and patterns to re-engineer the underlying design features. I found mainly compass arches, not parabolic forms, as would be the case with this method.

I keep the possibility open that the paper patterns were made by tracing existing instruments or sides attached to the inner form. In some of the wooden forms the of the compass are still visible.

This idea is mainly given in by Roger's suggestion that the inner form dictated the outline of the violin, instead of the other way around. Also Stradivari's pragmatic way of working with the forms (tracing and overlaying to create a new model) leads me to think this way.

At school we constantly 'stole' each others patterns. Somebody making a beautiful Panormo? A piece of acrylic, a tracing scribe and five minutes in which the classmate is out of the room... And I have a wonderful Panormo pattern two... Please raise your hand if you haven't done this in your carreer.

Earlier Kevin Kelly sent me this YouTube clip of his method to draw the Rawlings guitar.

Yes Strad's guitars can be easily drawn with a compass.  You can start at one end and pick 3 points along the outline.  By trial and error you can find a compass point center and radius that will hit those 3 points. 

 

Then you just go along the outline and pick three more points to find the next circle and so until you get half way around.

 

Strad's patterns are all (?) folded in half so I assume he just drew half of the shape on a piece of folded paper and then cut it out with a scissors and then unfolded it to get symmetrical halves.

 

Its much faster to draw this with a computer drafting program and attached is an example of the Rawlings 1700 Stradivari guitar's half outline (blue) being matched by 6 different circles (black).  If you want more or less accuracy you can use more or fewer circles such as 4 in your You tube example to duplicate the guitar's outline shape.

 

So you can duplicate almost any shape with enough circles drawn by a compass.  But that does not show that the original Strad guitar shapes were generated this way.

 

Please make the effort to generate Strad's guitar shapes with a compass and then try to do it again with bending actual wood ribs like in my earlier photos to see which is more plausible.  Then try again with Strad's pochetts, and his other instruments. 

circles on rawlings.pdf

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I will certainly give it a try. I have made computer drawings of the guitar forms and the Hill/Sabionari/Giustiniani model.

To make a for I scratch the outline of one side into a piece of Masonite and cut it out. This is used as a router template, attached by two screws on the centreline. To cut the other half the template is simply turned over. This is a quick way to make a symmetric form. The recessies for the blocks are cut later by hand, the little blocks left over can serve as templates to form the blocks.

I only use the electric router to make the template, on the instrument itself I only use handtools. (Beside an electric lathe for the pegs.)

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Yes Strad's guitars can be easily drawn with a compass.  You can start at one end and pick 3 points along the outline.  By trial and error you can find a compass point center and radius that will hit those 3 points. 

 

Then you just go along the outline and pick three more points to find the next circle and so until you get half way around.

 

Strad's patterns are all (?) folded in half so I assume he just drew half of the shape on a piece of folded paper and then cut it out with a scissors and then unfolded it to get symmetrical halves.

 

Its much faster to draw this with a computer drafting program and attached is an example of the Rawlings 1700 Stradivari guitar's half outline (blue) being matched by 6 different circles (black).  If you want more or less accuracy you can use more or fewer circles such as 4 in your You tube example to duplicate the guitar's outline shape.

 

So you can duplicate almost any shape with enough circles drawn by a compass.  But that does not show that the original Strad guitar shapes were generated this way.

 

Please make the effort to generate Strad's guitar shapes with a compass and then try to do it again with bending actual wood ribs like in my earlier photos to see which is more plausible.  Then try again with Strad's pochetts, and his other instruments. 

I forgot to point out, If you're trying the bending rib method for finding the rib bend shape, that where you push the rib in obviously determines the point of the deepest inward bend shown in post 17.

 

Attached are three Strad's guitar's outline overlays and the outline of his Chanot-Chardon cornerless violin which shows that these shapes are very similar except for where their narrowest points are.  I scaled all their lengths to be the same to make their shape comparison easier.

 

1679 Sabionari guitar--red line

1688 Ashmolean guitar--green line

1700 Rawlings guitar-- blue line

1718 Chanot-Chardon violin--black line

Overlay of 3 Strad Guitars and violin.pdf

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I made four Voboam copies in my guitar making days. The forms that I had were based on an outline made by the late Robert Lundberg and copied from the actual guitar in the Musee de Musique when it was at the Consevatoire on the rue de Rome in Paris. I also had in my hands the Voboam that was, or still is, in the Smithsonain in DC. I went there when Bob was working on the collection purposely to view the inside, as the back had been removed. Most copies use a photo of this guitar to emulate the bracing pattern of the top since the paper roses make viewing inside an issue. There is a transverse, diagonal, brace in the top that was added at a later time and not original to Voboam but most copyists can't tell that it is not original and add the brace.. All of this happened a long time ago so my memory is spotty.

My sides were strips of ebony with maple or ivory in between and after being bent on the iron were glued up on the waxed form using the holes in the form to keep them flush with the sides. after the end blocks and neck was added and the back (or top, I can't remember) glued on  the form was removed. I've got notes somewhere buried in my archives on my construction methods.

Bob is the guy playing the lute in the photo over my bench. He had done the research and he was IMO the best damn luthier I ever met. He had made a Voboam copy himself. the second photo is my last guitar, I tried to make it as true to the original as possible. Sorry I can't find a side shot right now. Light as a feather. So light that you could attach the guitar to a button hole on your jacket by means of an ivory button on the back and take a bow on stage with your arms outstretched. I still have lots  of drawings forms and templates if they can be of help.

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This is good stuff. 

 

Getting to the long scale Strad guitar, 770, that is a really long scale. What my question is, or had always been, is not if it is possible or was done by Stradivari, but what was the tuning and where did he get the strings?

 

Smaller baroque guitars have reentrant tuning, but why would a longer scale have to have the same tuning? Perhaps there was a tuning that the larger guitar used that was different than the tunings the shorter scale guitars used. It makes sense to explore this because you really can't comfortably make most of the chord shapes on a scale that long unless you have an unhumanly gigantic hand. There are/where bass lutes in D tuning and maybe even lower that we don't have today. And also the various long necked lutes with diapasons, Theorbi could have have long scales on the fretted strings, like in the range of 660 to 670 and maybe longer, but what makes them work is that they tuning is not standard Ren. lute tuning. So there were tuning schemes that might have been used so the larger guitar could play with the smaller scale guitars as a bottom end, but that does not mean they had to have the same tuning scheme. 

 

The Paris Vihuela is ungainly long also and most of the time makers scale it down to a scale where G tuning fits or may be F, but the original is big enough to support much lower tuning....who knows what they were using them for, but the original scale is 798 mm..whopping. 

 

Also, just my opinion, using the inside mould is kind of crazy today. If you are doing a one off, sure, but if you want to build more than one, outside mould will make your life easier. Just add the hole in the rib and plug it up and wink. 

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As I recall, they didn't stay on the mold vey long. I think that I made two of them at relatively the same time.

 

I always assumed that the Strad guitar was used as a continuo bass. With wet gut and a hand drill one can make wound strings, aren't they called bourdons on a theorbo?

  True enough, but the tuning for the bigger one could be different. We don't really know. As for the large Pairs vihuela it was reconstructed in actual size a few times, the tuning used was standard lute tuning, but it's not practically playable.  A lute in D is difficult enough to play and that scale is around 660ish. And Juan Bermudo wrote about alternate tuning schemes for the vihuela, so there is a great deal we don't know. You jsut cant make lute chords on an almost 800mm scale length so I'm getting at it sets up a problem solved by a different kind of tuning. 

 

Twisted gut. But by the time Stradivari is making guitars there were the strings that enabled the cello to be make smaller. Those were really overwound gut, maybe this had something to do with the long scale on the guitar? 

 

On the inside mould, gluing the blocks and liners can be done in the mould ( mold or mould?  I always get confused.) And being in the mold holds the shape until you are ready to glue the top on. The Cremonese were nuts to build guitars with the inside mold, I'm sorry it makes no sense at all. 

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You may be right, it was just the way that I was taught to do it for copying Parisian baroque guitars. Five years ago I might have remembered how it all went together. Now if I look at one of my old creations I wonder who it was that made it, and how was it possible to get all of those little pieces of wood to fit. :wacko:

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It doesn't make sense untill you start making a guitar with this method...

To me the inner form does make a lot of sense. Strad did use them more than once, the Sabionari, Giustiniani and Hill were most likely constructed on the same form.

The blocks are attached to the form, and sides glued to the blocks. The two round holes can be used to clamp the sides using dowels and rope. An advantage of using the inner form is that you can put the inlay on the lower block while the sides are still attached to the form, try that with an outside form. After the neck was put on the back was glued to the sides. Originally there were no linings used in these guitars. After the form was taken out paper reïnforcements were glued to the back. The little glue blocks on the front were used to align the soundboard and corpus during the closing of box. Why would you otherwise place four glue blocks directly against the upper and lower block? It makes no sense to increase glue surface on these places. The others were placed on quite regular intervals around the perimeter. They help to hold the shape of the front.

I made guitars with all the different methods (inner form, outside form, in the air). And noticed that the method used does make sense in all instances.

The Voboams were probably made in a more archaïc manner, much like the way Torres' models are made today. They used a "spanish slipper" to hold the sides to the neck. The soundboard was probably placed on a solera, after which the neck was attached. The sides then were placed in the two grooves of the slipper and glued to the lower block. The sides were glued to the soundboard. A couple of gluing blocks were placed at the sides and a piece of rope, drowned in glue was put around the perimeter inside the guitar.

To close the box linings were installed and the quite heavy back (up to 4 mm) was glued to them. This back served as some kind of backbone for the guitar's structure. Other than by Stradivari's guitars were the back is very thin (1,6 mm) and serves as a resonator.

When looking at the dimensions of the surviving Voboam guitars we see that they all differ dramaticly in size. Also no two sides are the same, the guitars are very asymmetric.

Both instruments are made with a completely different concept in mind. One thing that always amazes me is that most contemporary makers built Stradivar's guitars in the archaïc way and Voboams with an inner form...

The Jaquemart-Andrée vihuela was probably a master-piece for someone who entered the guild of violeros. There is a list of rules from the sixteenth century where is stated that the apprentice must be able to make a "vihuela de piecas". The soundboard an back are VERY thick.

A second vihuela that recentelijk surfaced (the "Chambure" in the Cité de la Musique) has a more useable string length of 646 mm.

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The Voboam that I inspected in the Smithsonian and the plans that I bought from the Ashmolian had no linings as I recall. The back was 2.4 thick and slightly arched like a lute, requiring a form to glue it up. I do remember that. Sides were 1.6. and top about 2.5. If I can find the photo of the backless Voboam I will post it. No Spanish heel that I remember but a short mortise needing a hell of a good fit.

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You mean this one?

A few years ago the Sinier de Ridder workshop published this paper on the Voboam guitars.

http://www.sinier-de-ridder.com/pdf/sinier%20de%20ridder%20-%20voboam%20inside%20perspectives.pdf

There are also two very good articles by Joël Dugot about the Voboam family. One of them contains a list with measurements of all known Voboam guitars.

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It doesn't make sense untill you start making a guitar with this method...

To me the inner form does make a lot of sense. Strad did use them more than once, the Sabionari, Giustiniani and Hill were most likely constructed on the same form.

The blocks are attached to the form, and sides glued to the blocks. The two round holes can be used to clamp the sides using dowels and rope. An advantage of using the inner form is that you can put the inlay on the lower block while the sides are still attached to the form, try that with an outside form. After the neck was put on the back was glued to the sides. Originally there were no linings used in these guitars. After the form was taken out paper reïnforcements were glued to the back. The little glue blocks on the front were used to align the soundboard and corpus during the closing of box. Why would you otherwise place four glue blocks directly against the upper and lower block? It makes no sense to increase glue surface on these places. The others were placed on quite regular intervals around the perimeter. They help to hold the shape of the front.

I made guitars with all the different methods (inner form, outside form, in the air). And noticed that the method used does make sense in all instances.

The Voboams were probably made in a more archaïc manner, much like the way Torres' models are made today. They used a "spanish slipper" to hold the sides to the neck. The soundboard was probably placed on a solera, after which the neck was attached. The sides then were placed in the two grooves of the slipper and glued to the lower block. The sides were glued to the soundboard. A couple of gluing blocks were placed at the sides and a piece of rope, drowned in glue was put around the perimeter inside the guitar.

To close the box linings were installed and the quite heavy back (up to 4 mm) was glued to them. This back served as some kind of backbone for the guitar's structure. Other than by Stradivari's guitars were the back is very thin (1,6 mm) and serves as a resonator.

When looking at the dimensions of the surviving Voboam guitars we see that they all differ dramaticly in size. Also no two sides are the same, the guitars are very asymmetric.

Both instruments are made with a completely different concept in mind. One thing that always amazes me is that most contemporary makers built Stradivar's guitars in the archaïc way and Voboams with an inner form...

The Jaquemart-Andrée vihuela was probably a master-piece for someone who entered the guild of violeros. There is a list of rules from the sixteenth century where is stated that the apprentice must be able to make a "vihuela de piecas". The soundboard an back are VERY thick.

A second vihuela that recentelijk surfaced (the "Chambure" in the Cité de la Musique) has a more useable string length of 646 mm.

  

 

 

I understand the order of assembly on the inside mold and I'm not picking a fight over it. I'm just of the opinion that it is easier to make an inside mold, and harder to make and outside mold. So in Cremona they knew the inside mold, but I still think it is easier to build with an outside mold. There are advantages to both methods, but I see more advantages to outside mold once you get one together. The problem is also changing models, much easier with an inside mold. You can make a new one of modify an inside mold not so much with an outside mold. It really six of one half dozen of another, but in a bakers dozen I award the extra loaf to the outside mold. he other advantage to the outside mold it that you don't have to set it up with the neck a tail blocks perfectly calibrated to accept the ribs at 90 degree etc. You also don't have to release the blocks from the mold, you jut line up the center line of the ribs and glue the blocks once and you're out. 

 

The top down in the solera method is versatile also, it does not need a mold, only accuracy in bending the ribs. I've built that way many times just for the thrill, but now usually use some pillar supports to line the ribs up 90 degrees. I've built small guitars with flush fingerboard construction on flat soleras with pillars screwed into the edges of the platform. That method is like a hybrid between inside and outside because you only need a thin plywood platform and some sticks to screw around it making an open outside form. 

 

Torres himself is a particular case, it's not precisely known how he assembled. It appears to be standard solera orer of assembly, but if you look at it more a few problems arise. By looking at the pencil marks, the ways in which patches around the sound hole are left short of the transverse braces and saw cuts to mortise the transverse braces you see things are not straight forward solera order of assembly. This has been overlooked by many observers. It is possible Torres assembled the rib structure with the transverse braces in place, then glued the top to the braces and neck which was attached to the ribs. The glue squeeze out around the braces and the short sound hole patches indicate that the fan braces were glued to the top, but perhaps not the sound hole reinforcement. He also glued on the back with the braces already glued to the ribs, which made it possible to get the strong pillars under the  brace ends. Torres' exact order of assembly is still a bit of a mystery. The Romanillos book on Torres shows a lot of this evidence, but I have seen other unpublished private photos of the insides of Torres guitars that indicate a few things Romanillos did not cover. I know this sounds pretentious, but I'm not allowed to share the photos. They show pencil lines which were intended to line up the top and neck block viewing from inside the guitar, rather than simply putting a ruler on the outside center line of the neck and top to line them up to glue them together. It gives a strong indication he glued the top on after the ribs were slotted in the neck and transverse braces attached to ribs, but the complete order is still a bit cloudy.

 

The question of how he made so many plantillas or outline shapes remains. He certainly could have made  a new mold for each guitar and they are too symmetrical to be freehanded, but that would have been a lot of extra work without a bandsaw. The Torres guitars have solid liners, not glue blocks, so that means dropping the top face down in the solera and massaging the ribs into place over pencil lines drawing the outline on the inside of the top was not the way he did it. He managed to get accurate solid liners glued to a rib on top and back rims. The question is how did he do it? If he stopped to make an outside rib form every time he made a new shape that would have been a huge amount of time spent. My guess is that he had some type of variable shape jig that he used to form the rib against while gluing the liners on the ribs. I have thought he had some device with spool clamps that he could arrange around a form so he could make a new temporary rib jig every time he wanted to change the size and shape of the guitar. And he changed almost every time. When he reaches his most common model with a 650 scale the plantilla still continues to vary. If he had built with glue blocks it would be easy to make a new paper half pattern every time and redraw that rib shape inside the top, face it down in the solera and push the ribs to the line and you have a new plantilla. But he used solid liners, which indicates there was some sort of form to give resistance and shape to glue against. You can freely glue solid liners to ribs, but the ribs will go all willy nilly about half the time, but Torres' plantillas are under control.  

 

Later in early Madrid shops like Manuel Ramirez' shop you see the order of assembly more like- top and neck get glued together and then that goes face down in the solera and glue blocks are used to join the top and the back is glued on pre-braced.  It all fits neatly into a format, then the mystery comes in later again when Santos Hernandez who was Ramirez' foreman goes out on his own. He later uses solid liners and possibly an alternate order of assembly from basic solera order. 

 

Anyway, just an aside. I'm still puzzling over which reentrant tuning they used in Cremona in 1700. 

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Where did that color photo of the open box originate? The one that I have is in black and white and has no plex brace holding the shape. I would think that it is the same instrument since the interior is like the one that I remember with the extra transverse brace. Without finding my notes that I made so long ago I can't be sure how I attached the neck or if the sides fit into the heel block as they do in classical guitar construction ( memory lapses seem to come with the territory these days). I must have had a small slipper due to the size of the opening in the form and the ivory pin placement. I have an unconfirmed notion that all Voboams were not made or braced in the same manner. It was a large family spanning many years after all. I looked at the Hill drawings that I bought in the 80's. One Rene Voboam 1641, shows the interior of the heel with sides inset. It also illustrates 10 or so side bars of spruce that the  photo of the backless guitar obviously never had. These guitars were so messed around with internally (as the Sinnier article rightly illuminates) that it is a forensic nightmare to isolate originality. Add to the fact that with a three dimensional ornamental rose it is only previously possible to correctly observe the inside by removing the back.

 

I also wonder if the decoration didn't sometimes dictate the construction. The tortoise shell sides of the Rene required an interior spruce shell, making side bars and parchment less necessary and the sides thicker. I, in my inability to have inspected as many backless or roseless Voboams as the writer of the linked article apparently has seen, feel uncomfortable with his frequent use of the word "always". This, I believe, should necessitate the phrase "in my opinion". For instance, I see no pillars on the braces in the included photos, and the triangular "tweenos" connecting the sides and the belly look to be newer wood than the braces. I myself believe that the construction of these French guitars are as much born from lute construction methods as from that of the Spanish guitar making school. Perhaps Mr. Lundberg's predilection for the lute side of construction influenced my building technique. He certainly never used glue saturated rope to bind the sides and I don't see any evidence of this item in the above photo either. Coming from a Spanish classical background of building, I remember being astonished at the lack of reinforcing wood in the joining of lute backs.

 

I have to say that I wonder how I could have inset the sides into a triangular heel that diminished,(like my reduced memory) into a button that small - even if I wanted to. the ornamental ebony and ivory veneers joined over a spruce neck make this even more problematic.  I certainly think that I would remember carving that semi circular diminishing triangle out of a Spanish heel construction. One thing that I can say with clarity is that I miss Bob for many reasons, a tiny part of which is asking him questions like these.

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I found the photo a couple of years ago. You can find it in the Google photo search under "Voboam inside".

Robert Lundberg's book is in my opinion one of the best books ever written on lutherie. Along with Pollens' "Stradivari" it almost permanently resides in my backpack. Stradivari's method of making guitars is very close to lute building.

But I find it very hard to attach a glue soaked rope into a closed guitar, even when there was no rose in the soundhole. Just as hard as it would be to glue paper linings to the back of a closed Stradivari guitar... This led me to deduce the described methods.

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I'm afraid we might be boring the violin people, of which I am an adjunct fittings maker. :mellow:  I do love the effort to isolate the old methods used in construction however and am enjoying the conversation. The fact that I was an ex-guitar repairman adds to the intrigue, so if I differ in view it's only with the hope of enlightenment.  My wife keeps telling me to quit screwing around and get some work done. :wacko: and she's probably right.

 

The rope and the other modifications I imagine were done with the back removed, It's an experience that I would like to see first hand but am not privy to anymore. I travelled all the way across the Country to see that Voboam  because the back was removed, but those days are done.  As I recall, and may hear differently, Nico Van der Walls added that diagonal spruce brace  as well as Dake Traphagen, based on that photo. This was a logical assumption based on the info of the times. One had to see the instrument up front to tell if it was a later addition or not. As for adding extra items, it is certainly possible to remove and re-glue a priceless paper rose but not for the faint hearted, so I assume the backs of these instruments must have been taken off to accomplish the "improvements".  As I said, I relied on Bob's research at the beginning, still. I think a good move, his historical construction was always thought through relentlessly.  I'm sorry that I wasn't more diligent in my records of my observations of the instruments that I saw in the Smithsonian and at the Ashmolian and the Conservatiore. Being young, I assumed that my mind would hold on to the images and info forever -- the arrogance and hubris of youth.

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I found the photo a couple of years ago. You can find it in the Google photo search under "Voboam inside".

Robert Lundberg's book is in my opinion one of the best books ever written on lutherie. Along with Pollens' "Stradivari" it almost permanently resides in my backpack. Stradivari's method of making guitars is very close to lute building.

But I find it very hard to attach a glue soaked rope into a closed guitar, even when there was no rose in the soundhole. Just as hard as it would be to glue paper linings to the back of a closed Stradivari guitar... This led me to deduce the described methods.

Pollens said there's no evidence that Strad used compass constructions to generate his instrument outlines.  You don't agree with him even though you think his book is one of the best?

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Meyer Fittings: " For instance, I see no pillars on the braces in the included photos, and the triangular "tweenos" connecting the sides and the belly look to be newer wood than the braces. I myself believe that the construction of these French guitars are as much born from lute construction methods as from that of the Spanish guitar making school. " 

 

* Violinmakers may want to skip to paragraph #6 to avoid being bored

 

In Spain during the baroque upper class intellectual life was very influenced buy the French Enlightenment movement, so there was a lot of cultural exchange. That more or less ended in many ways later after the turn the century when the French and Spanish were at war.  But the Spanish guitar as we think of it was not really totally invented yet, and in Spain the baroque guitars could have been made very much by the same methods that lute makers used, the neck could have been added to the body with a nail. Clarifying something as "Spanish style" building or what is Spanish style construction has become a tricky one; once we thought it was pretty cut and dried that it was face down, using glue blocks, and a slotted integral heel to neck join. That is pretty common in Iberian instruments even the ones with flush fingerboards and what I think you are talking about when making a distinction between 'lute construction' and 'Spanish construction'. 

 

The thing is that the neck that has rib slots and the slipper foot looking more an more like the only thing that distinguishes it as separate building style. It really is looking more and more like a distinct way of making the neck body joint happen, distinct from adding a separate neck with nails. The reason I'm saying that is because even if the neck has rib slots it does not portend a absolute method or order of assembly from beginning to end. There are several possible orders of assembly utilizing a slotted neck, and of course only guitars use the slotted neck, but that one type of neck has become deeply associated with Spain. The problem that has come up is that it may be a Spanish style neck or the Iberian identified regional way of making a neck, but it does not in and of itself point to a consistent order of assembly. 

 

I know that sound persnickety and kind of over determined to pronounce, but I think it is important because we can't assume every guitar with a slotted neck was the same instrument conceptually and it has to be taken on a case by case basis to really see how the maker put the guitar together. I think breaking it down into integral slotted  neck construction and separate neck construction is important, but after that general classification every thing else is up for observation. Calling it Spanish style neck is cool, but to generalize Spanish Style construction as one way of building is misleading. 

 

I'm not trying to be a jerk, I'm just pointing to the idea that new things have come to light that the Spanish school is much more broad in its understanding of construction than we used to generally think. I used to see the issue as Spanish Style construction with a set order of assembly, then when  go deeper into it an learned about the quirks I mentioned in Torres' construction order and Santos Hernandez I had to retrace and rethink all my notions of where the breaks between lute and guitar construction lie and the breaks between "Spanish" other styles lie. 

 

In my opinion now there is not a simple break between an 'archaic' from of building and a more sophisticated separate neck form of making. But in reality a great mixture of style and method according to the dominant influence regionally and historically. Iberia means essentially, look for a slotted integral neck, but that is about where it ends, in my judgement. 

 

NON BORING SEGUE FOR VIOLIN MAKERS:  :lol: 

 

 

An good analogy would be between a baroque neck on a violin, and a modern neck. One is nailed on and the other is mortised in but it does not tell you every thing else about how the violin was constructed. One could ideally have three violins with baroque necks still extant, and observe three different orders of assembly according the the evidence in the violin. We don't characterize a school of construction thought predicated solely on the neck condition. 

 

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Sometimes the little what did you call them....tweener blocks, "tweenos"  I like that, they are added after the top was taken off. Lot's or flush fingerboard repair work is also done by taking the top off, which is in many ways easier than prying off the back. 

 

 

One Reason you find those low height wedgie blocks to look newer or as add ons is because one repair method for tops, loose braces or cracks, is to open the seam of the top up to the neck block and gently prop it open like car a hood so you can re-glue buzzy top braces without taking the top all the way off. 

 

You put the lute or guitar face down and draw around the outline on a large piece of scrap paper to make a record of the shape just in case. Then after you open the seam and lift the top you can see the rib thickness, then you look for key places under the top where it attaches to the ribs that are clear. Then you glue small blocks under the top right where it will hit the ribs, but you move them back from the edge of the top the exact thickness of the rib plus the lining. That way when the top is ready to be glued back down the the edge of the block that you glued will help index the rim of the ribs and the ribs will not pucker under the top making it more difficult to glue the top back down in the perfect spot. 

 

It also means that those blocks might be present on a lute that was worked on before you so any place in the top that offer resistance to the knife moving through the top rib seam needs extra care. In the end you can recheck the original outline of the top with the outline you drew before you opened the the lute. Then is the top is not repairable you have the original outline to use to make a new top. Then those "tweener" index blocks come back into play on the new top, where you glue a few of them around the inside of the new top to help index it to the original ribs. 

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Pollens said there's no evidence that Strad used compass constructions to generate his instrument outlines.  You don't agree with him even though you think his book is one of the best?

I like The Beatles but not all their songs.

I read the bible and the quoran, but that doesn't mean I agree with everything.

I make guitars and lutes, but that doesn't mean violins don't have my attention.

I like Bach, but that doesn't keep me from listening to Mozart.

Reading, using and admiring a book doesn't mean that I agree with, or believe everything that is stated in it. I have wred the book and it is one of (if not) the best and most complete works on the subject and would recommend it (along with Roger's articles) to everyone. But this doesn't prevent me to think for myself and -based on the evidence- draw my own conclusions.

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There is indeed an overlapse in the methods used. The "Chambure" vihuela and "Dias" guitar are very good examples. Clearly made on an inner mould they also have a "slipper" foot.

Last summer edition of American Lutherie featured a wonderful article by James Westbrook about this subject.

"Construction Methods of Early Spanish Guitarreros by James Westbrook

So the “Spanish method” is to build a guitar face-down and put the back on last, right? Well, maybe not. Some older Spanish guitars appear to have had the tops put on last, based on clues like glue drips and the fitting of back braces. Also, tiny filled holes indicate that they may have been nailed into molds during construction."

I deduced the working methods based on the violin making methods (like in Roger's articles) and the surviving instruments and forms. Especially the linings and tentellones led me to draw these conclusions.

For Voboam the article by the Sinier De Ridder workshop, existing instruments and drawings, and consulting wit other makers were the basis for my conclusion.

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I once had to make a modification to one of the Voboam copies in which I had to loosen the top and plane the sides down proportionally. With Bob's help I got a knife between the sides and the top and worked my way around from the heel block to the upper bout. Since the ebony/ivory decoration went half way through the top this was somewhat of a nightmare. It seems to me that I remember Bob mentioning that this was not an unusual repair to adjust the neck angle on a lute (I could be wrong here it's been 35 years). Taking the top off, with the spruce running into the fingerboard area, and the decoration running with it was all but impossible I understand the idea of using tweenos to keep things from moving around but we didn't at that time, I just did it quickly. I think that I would still prefer to take off the back to work on the interior.

 

I used the term Spanish as a colloquialism like Polish sausage or French kiss, since that's what we called it when I apprenticed -- a Spanish heel. I also have a strong suspicion that methods of construction were more regional and familial than national. Even then, I bet they changed when a better idea came to town, and that the decoration might even dictate the mode of construction. My hunch is that many of the modifications to these French guitars were done by those trained in the "Spanish" (used loosely) tradition, the lute being somewhat out of vogue in later years. I believe that the Strad guitars, due to the specialization of the long string length, rarity, and the fact that they were made by "the Master", were pretty much left alone. If you want to see original fittings, you don't look for old violins, you look at pochettes. I wish that I had the time and ability to follow the trail of the baroque guitar. For me, making them was a flight of fancy, since at the time so few musicians were playing them. It was more of a challenge than anything else. I'd see the pictures and the Watteau paintings and wonder how in the hell they did that work. I was really in to it for a while, but I still made my living refretting Martins. The folks that I was familiar with : Bob, Dake Trapphagen and Nico Van der Waals (I visited his shop in Molenstraat) were making them this way. Of course I could be wrong, but even I probably would have remembered if they were using a radically different method of construction. Jeez, I hope at least. :mellow:

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Drawings available are made by Anton Wiegers (Gemeentemuseum The Hague), Stephen Barber (1641, Ashmolean), Pierre Abondance (Cite de la Musique) and Stephen Murphy (Cite de la Musique). The rope method was pointed out to me by the article and discussing it with Mr De Ridder at CordeFactum in Belgium. There is a photo of an open Voboam with the twine in "The lute in Europe 2" by Andreas Schlegel.

The Dias and Chambure both have "fluted" ribs. It is very hard, if not impossible to make this without the use of an inner form. There are also plugged holes in the sides of the Dias guitar. See http://www.vihuelademano.com/vgcrossroads.htm

The fingerboard flush with the top doesn't matter in this, it can be made with every method.

Both instruments are described in "Aux origines de la guitare: la vihuela de mano"

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