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Ken_N

Inside First

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I put on a bunch of very thin color coats.  Three red ones toned down with a little yellow.  I  clean them up with a double edge razor blade, and then throw on another coat.  After I had the red on I polished it up with some pumice and oil with a tiny piece of chamois.  Then I rubbed it with my hand.  It made tiny gum like pieces like eraser leftovers.  Then I put on a coat of yellow.  The varnish dries in a couple hours max in the sun.  The yellow stayed tacky for 3 days because our weather was soooooo gloomy.  I don't do gloomy well.  Today it was gloomy in the morning, but it took it out of the garage and into the front porch.  It dried when the sun came out, and I put on another coat.  It looks even in some pictures, but usually it looks strawberry/blonde.  I think a few coats of clear may tone it down some.  We will see.  It shouldn't take long if the weather cooperates.

 

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I put a coat of clear on yesterday.  The varnish is yellow, but it is a very cool, greenish yellow.  Odd.  Here are a couple of shots after I smoothed it up today ready for another shot of clear.   They  show the strawberry blonde look underneath better.  It's looking better, I think.

 

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Another coat and you can tell that my varnish by itself packs a pretty good yellow.  One more after this, and maybe it might look ok.  Looks very dark at times, but very bright and light straight on in the sun.

 

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I haven't put anything up here in awhile.  I have two violas, a 5 string, and a Ukulele going on.  One viola is almost done.  I got sidetracked with a 1/2 scale guitar,  450 scale length, with 5 strings; based on a Strad 10 string that looked cool.  The  one I drew up had a 750 scale length; obviously not pitched like a guitar?  I thought of doing it with 10 strings,  D, G, C, E,  A, with octaves on the D and G, the E and A unison, and I had the crazy thought of a low C, written an octave below middle C.  We'll see. 

 

The little guitar is very easy to play.  It actually seems much easier to play to me than a standard classical.  It is much lighter, and brighter sounding than a baritone Ukulele that is about the same size.  It actually has a shorter scale length.  

 

It is quite a bit different from making a violin.  The v joint for the head was probably the most difficult, but just like purfling, the banding was more of a nightmare for me.  It doesn't look too bad.  It is for my grandsons, 8, 6, 6, and 1, so it should suffice.

 

It was fun, and I can actually play it; kinda.

 

Ken

 

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I haven't put anything up here in 7 months.  I'm in the process of varnishing a viola.  It's supposed to be a Gofriller, and I saw a photo of a really really red one on a Japaneses site.  That's what I'm going for:

 

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I see that E is doing a Sultana now. I started something different too.  I have a lot of trouble finishing things, and have a couple that just need varnish and set up.  I am not real confident on varnish and set up.  Making stuff from pictures?  Bring it on.  I have no problem with that.  But pictures again have me chasing something.  

I made a small guitar for the grandsons.  The smaller 5 string version of a Strad 10 string I showed before.  I like the size of it.  Maybe a little small.  I saw a very cool, and immensely elaborate baroque guitar on a blog, and the guy had plans of it. 

http://schreinerlutesandguitars.blogspot.com/2012/11/checchucci-baroque-guitar-drawing.html

I printed them out,  and played around with string lengths.  It only has 7 frets to the body, but one could change things around, and still keep the same, or slightly longer neck, with a smaller scale length, and maybe a higher pitch.  A smaller guitar to have fun with.

It uses catenary arches in both directions.  Sweet.  I thought of building it like a boat, with removable bulkheads,  that could be used as an inside mold for the sides as well.  Not exactly standard procedure for guitar building; but when did I ever follow the rules.  

I certainly won't add the squigglies.  It just isn't in me, but I will put the deeply fluted ribs on the back.  I found a piece of Katalox on vacation that will work nicely.  The thin pieces will be maple.   Hopefully it will be somewhat presentable.  Yeah, I know the bench isn't.

 

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I want to string up all the instruments I've made.  Three have strings on them,  but for some reason or another that others don't .  I found a box that had fingerboards that I took off, and some tailpieces.  So I spent yesterday putting the strings back on the Ole Bull.  For some reason I decided to make it with an early setup.  

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Yucatan Rosewood for all the fittings and fingerboard,  and American Sycamore back and sides.  I showed it to a shop owner after I finished it, and he hated it.  I don't think he liked anything about it.  Nothing.  I think he said I needed to go to school like he did, and learn Italian.  Really, he did.

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I had to make a new nut and saddle.  I don't know what I did with them.  I used a piece of the same wood.  I like the G and the E, but the middle two are iffy.  Maybe it's because I have a very hard time bowing the middle strings.  I have them set right, I use a gage I made up.  .064" deep on the violin side, and .083" on the viola side.  I used the radius and the string spacing at the bridge.  The viola is easier to bow. 

It is pretty strong, and the body adds more to it than another violin that has a really clear, easy to play sound.  A heavy birch back, with an extremely low density Engelmann top.  

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I made a little recording last night,  just plucking the strings.  I have the gut one tuned to A 415, I've had the E's break before, but it might have just been a bad string.

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Plucked they don't sound much different.  Bowed, the Montagnana is sweeter, clearer and doesn't have as much volume.  The Ole Bull may have more possibilities.  

 

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Very nice. I looked at the pictres before reading your post and thought the back looked a bit different. I wonder if Birch is a bit harder to carve than Maple.

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The photo doesn't show it, but the birch has a very deep flame in it.  It is hard, but not much harder than hard maple.  It has an extremely low tap tone, even when thick.  It has a strong, resonant tone, but it is a fifth or so lower.  Doesn't seem to matter when it is put together.  Both tap the same when strung up.  The Ole Bull is lighter, 440 / 459 but that seems fairly close.  It is smoother and creamier than the American Sycamore.  Sycamore probably should be filled with POP or something.  I didn't know about that when I made it.  Maybe a less creamy birch would work even better?  How would you get that?  Harvest in the winter?

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I have 4 set up now.   2 were, but I changed the bridge on the dark Montagnana.  When I made the original I somehow flipped it around, and made both sides angled. I tried a nice Stamm blank that I had started, and then noticed that the top edge was chipped by the E.  Not enough wood.  Too bad.  Found another unusual one I had laying around in Cherry.  It didn't need much work:

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The Strad was a mistake.  The belly came apart at the joint.  A wide gap across the middle, tight at the ends.   Had that happen twice.  Now I sometime rough in bellies with high arches first, then joint and glue them.  So I ended up with a very narrow instrument.  I measured it and found that it would be very close to a Strad from 1666 I found in Masterpieces of Italian Violin Makers, by David Rattray.   I used Delrin for the nut and saddle; the fake ivory cant take the string pressure.

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The earlier Montagnana  has stayed the same since it was done.  I had to put an old Dominant E on the Ole Bull because the gut E kept breaking, even at  A 415.

Here is the bunch:

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I made a clip of the four of them,  bowing a few notes.  Aside from the terrible intonation, and string crossings, they don't sound THAT different.    The Montagnana's are together, and the Strad and Ole Bull are together.   What order do you think that they are in?

4 violins.mp3

 

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I finally cleaned up my work benches.  In the process I found more stuff to do.  My tools weren't really dull, but they weren't really sharp either.  A few were, but I have new stones that I hadn't tried, so I sharpened everything, and then even polished them.  They are sharp now.  I have 31 edge tools.  3 are just plane blades that I use as scrapers.  One is a plane blade for a plane I made that disintegrated.  I have a better plan now thanks to the program given on making planes by David Brownell at the Michigan Violin Makers meeting last Sunday.   I even put Camellia oil on everything.   Why not?  I had no idea I had that many tools.

The stones are Ear Moo (that's what is says on them).  A  400/1000 and a 3000/8000.  I like them, and they were very reasonable.  I'm getting rid of everything else I had.  

I have two sets of violin strings, and on viola string set left, so two violins will still be without strings.  Speaking of strings, the tiny 1666 StradI is strung with Tonica's with a Gold Label E , and they sound very nice.  Rather plain like the Dominant lights on a Montagnana, but they aren't bad.  The Warchal and the gut ones still have way more to them.  

 

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