Jump to content
Maestronet Forums

Texture In Finished Instruments


Dwight Brown
 Share

Recommended Posts

In the spirit of causing problems and making trouble.......:-)

 

 

Here we go.

 

 

Is the amount of texture in new instruments (top and Back) an area where makers and buyers have different opinions and tastes regarding the amount of corduroy texture on the top and flame texture on the back?  I have seen instruments new and old with vastly different amounts.  I always think of the Messiah Strad as being about right.  Many super expensive instruments have had the crap polished out of them so it is pretty hard to tell their original state.

 

On another tack I have noticed that classical guitar makers strive for a perfect flawless shiny finish , I don't think they do antiqued work, but I really do not know.

 

I guess it is all just a matter of taste and it really makes little difference to the sound, but I would like to know what sort of a finish is looked for in competitions and buy our brain trust here.

 

 

Mostly I just want to talk about fiddles!

 

 

DLB

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Replies 55
  • Created
  • Last Reply

Top Posters In This Topic

Bear in mind that the 'texture' of the finished varnish changes with time and humidity.
There was a Strad article where humidity cycling via a tube into the f holes (!) was shown
to change a flat varnish to a rippled one, where the flames in the back popped. 

So, scraping the hell out of a maple back with a dull scraper may produce similar effects
to the old ones, but I think the textured ripple has occurred naturally over time.
Same goes for the corduroy front, it may not have started life that way, and if it had
how did the maker get the varnish so even and smooth without cutting the corduroy ? 
;-)

Rough work done to imitate old character is flawed in concept, but that's just opinion. 
 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Ben, although I agree that a large portion of the texture we see in classic instruments is due to aging/humidity cycling/etc., I think some of it is a direct artifact.  When corduroy is seen in late Del Gesus especially, it often varies quite a bit in the ways one would expect from a quickly scraped top.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Great shots Joe!. Well I think it's a personal thing and perhaps somewhat of a "what is expected thing" related to guitars vs violins. I try to push accentuating texture of the wood and varnish when doing guitars, something not "normal" but mostly because I make guitars like violins :)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I don't think there is any proof that the Cremonese intentionally tried to put in any texture.  But the photos of the Messiah, with light raking across from the side show that some texture definitely exists.  

 

For a while some makers were going out of their way to produce ridges and it looked interesting but sometimes ridiculous.  Maybe some still are looking for a rougher look but I don't think they can legitimately say they are doing it because it's how Strads, dGs, or Amati look.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'm interested in making unantiqued instruments, and have tried to find any examples of what original varnish texture looked like on Cremonese instruments. The Messiah has some I disturbed varnish, and some other instruments have some areas that haven't worn or been excessively polished, but they're hard to find. They may not have gone out of their way to make a textured finish, but it appears as though they didn't try to make a smooth finish either.

I use a non-leveling varnish because I want the least mass possible in the finish, so it makes sense to have the finish follow the contours without pooling in any low points like the grains of the top. Some people don't like the textured look. Some customers don't understand it, and haven't seen it before. Some shops/makers think violins should look more like what we're used to seeing, so antique it and reduce texture. Others appreciate the texture, but I've come to think that they're a minority just like the market appears to favor antiqued instruments.

I heard one maker justify heavy antiquing by saying that the appearance that the instrument is old helps them feel more comfortable and relaxed with the instrument. It doesn't appear like a pristine, unused object. I'm not convinced by that, but the mind works in mysterious ways.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

.. the appearance that the instrument is old helps them feel more comfortable and relaxed with the instrument. It doesn't appear like a pristine, unused object. 

 

Having made antiqued and straight instruments, I am definitely more at ease with the antiqued ones.  I don't worry about getting another ding, nick, or scratch, as it just adds more authenticity to the antiquing.  I don't have to be careful about what surface I set them down on.  I have gotten a tiny ding or two in the straight ones, and it is definitely something you can see and feel bad about.  I don't even know if I got any new scratches in the antiqued ones... I don't notice them (if they are there), and therefore can't feel bad about it.

 

But regarding texture...

My personal preference is for minimal but nonzero texture.  Scrape smooth, varnish, and some texture will naturally develop.  I bought a new guitar with a mirror-smooth finish, and after some time in the sun, it's not smooth any more.

I also worry that highly textured spruce will tend to get damaged under the bridge feet much more quickly (or does anyone cut matching ripples in the bridge feet to mesh with a new textured top?).  In theory, a textured shell would not be as mass-efficient of a structure (in crossgrain) as a smooth one... but who knows if that's a good or bad thing.  

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I made only fully varnished instruments for years but have always gone for a corduroy top to some degree. Since starting to make cellos based on the 1731 Del Gesu which has tool marks of all kinds everywhere I have been getting more and more extreme with textural effects. The texture adds a whole other dimension to work with. Some of the Cremonese certainly used different textures for artistic effects. I have seen a beautiful Ruggieri with a scroll finished with only a small gouge making a peened metal sort of look and Andrea Guarneri often ran a deep gouge mark down the center of his corners and made no attempt to remove it. Other Italian makers both baroque and modern have worked pretty roughly although they certainly could have smoothed things up if they wanted. My own feeling is that a rougher surface on a violin family instrument may actually help the complexity of the sound as opposed to guitars where they are after a very pure clear note hat sustains well.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I love texture, both in tops and backs. Obviously there is a range that is tasteful and it can be over or underdone. I think texture makes a straight instrument more interesting, and is a huge component of my antiqued instruments. Good antiquing is all about contrast and transition from one area to another. You need to use the whole spectrum of texture and color available to you.

As for classic fiddles, here is a photo of a cast of a Strad showing flame texture. Whether that was present on day one or not, I don't know- I wasn't there. :) The second photo is an attempt to illustrate the depth of the bumps, it's not insignificant.

post-6731-0-83937200-1455314220_thumb.jpg

post-6731-0-79776700-1455314320_thumb.jpg

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I`m a fan of texture. Texture that is created by hand work. Today you can get machines that produce dead level surfaces, about as interesting as looking at a modern pane of glass. Modern machinery can duplicate antique furniture, but with none of the charm of hand worked wood. If you look at an old hand made Windsor chair, not perfect, but beautiful work none the less.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Is it fair to ask how you arrived at that conclusion?

Yes it is fair... :) Where  would you think I got it other than looking at the originals and good stuff  like you do?... .It seems we might have arrived at different conclusions...That is not a bad thing. I respect yours :) .....I find texture on modern work can be a bit overdone.....Given a nice varnish and 30 years it can happen in a nice way...if all is good

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Several times I've seen instruments that I thought must have been made with very fresh wood, and they had developed texture and distortion as a result.

 

I made a violin with maple and spruce less than two years old once, just to try it out. It was really interesting. I left it to season before varnishing. Sure enough the maple rippled beautifully, and the whole thing developed a really great colour far more quickly than dry wood does.

 

Given that we know that he old Cremonese makers weren't averse to using fresh wood, I would expect those instruments to have developed in the same way.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Several times I've seen instruments that I thought must have been made with very fresh wood, and they had developed texture and distortion as a result.

 

I made a violin with maple and spruce less than two years old once, just to try it out. It was really interesting. I left it to season before varnishing. Sure enough the maple rippled beautifully, and the whole thing developed a really great colour far more quickly than dry wood does.

 

Given that we know that he old Cremonese makers weren't averse to using fresh wood, I would expect those instruments to have developed in the same way.

I posted this a while back. I wonder how fresh the maple in this G.B. Rogeri cello might have been?

 

Combined with the varnish; fudge caramel ripple. Mmmmmmm!!! :lol:

 

Bruce

 

post-29446-0-45892500-1455339842_thumb.jpg

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The old guys we love were trying for a smooth finish..... The texture look is entirely accidental

You don't think that the raised summer growth that we see on the tops of so many well-preserved instruments, could have been eliminated, if they wanted to?

 

It seems like getting rid of this is something the makers of many factory violins have been able to accomplish.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...
 Share

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.




×
×
  • Create New...