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Jack Devereux

Del Gesu Edgework

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The luthiers I know do not copy the (distorted) arches old instruments currently have, they try to figure out what the arches would have been when the instrument they are copying was new

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From looking at other examples, contemporaries included, it appears one would dig deep first and then lower the edges.  I did it the other way - lower edges first, then dig.

  You mentioned other aspects of making.  When to stop with the upper f hole lobe shaping/rounding without losing the Del Gesu vision is something of concern for me.  Do I follow Bayon, Ertz,  and Advocatus or do I follow Ed Heron-Allen? :lol:  

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Yeah, you don't want to make it cleaner than it was when it was new, which is what a lot of makers (some really good ones too) sometimes do.  I wish Melvin would post a photo of some of his recent del Gesu edgework and purfling.  It's a late one, antiqued, but a great example of the moxie required to pull off the balance of fast workmanship by someone who really knows how to use tools, crude at points but not too crude to be beautiful and show the skill of the maker.  Of course, he was doing a bench copy for someone who had the real thing, he's that guy, but you should still see the photos.  Some guys make "perfect" violin outlines and edgework and then add in tool marks at the end, which is transparent and phony in my opinion--honestly, if I can see it, you did it wrong.  Yes, asymmetry is necessary. Some of these, there's no way they were even close to symmetrical new. Unfortunately you just have to look at a ton of examples and think about it a lot.  It's hard to know what they looked like new in the earlier period, when the work was so nice sometimes, not nice in comparison to Amati (muhaha!), but nice. I kind of doubt the edges on any del Gesus were that crisp, I think like Roger/Dilworth/everyone else says, they were above all done very quickly.

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Really solid questions, Jack, so it will be interesting to see what develops in this thread.

 

In my opinion, it's a much greater challenge to come up with an unworn-style varnish which enhances rougher woodworking techinques, than to antique. Not that some antiquers don't exhibit amazing skill and talent, surely along the level of being able to come up with a varnish system which can look good either fresh, or worn. Just different focuses.

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Using Urban Luthiers example I would go for finished edge height first and finish with scrapers.  With purfling glued in, gouge the 1.5 or 2mm first, then get final edge height done and scrape lastly.  Corner edge work I won't comment about.  I want to save something good for myself.

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I find that a lot of makers think of del Gesu as a variation on the Cremonese traditions of Amati and Strad. The difficulty of seeing enough of del Gesu's work to really learn it (by comparison to Strads makes this all the more acute). The result is that you tend to get a lot of hybrid instruments from Vuillaume right the way to modern making where the edge work is definitely more Straddy than it should be, and a general ignorance of the need to set out the whole concept differently. 

 

To me, it's the depth of the edge work that creates a thin and flexible hinge around the edges that is the reason for Guarneri's darker sound. I'm not averse to those don't think beyond an Amati-Strad modelling, they are hybrids with attractive playing characteristics. But I'd like to see more violins that start from the presumption that Guarneri was thinking differently.

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I agree with Ben H as to the different acoustic system GDG was using and find that it works best with the models, FFs etc. In other words he had a complete system worked out as did Strad, the Amati and the Brescians  Best to use the whole system and not try to mix and match. As for visual style I have made fully varnished Guarneri model instruments that worked out well by  using consistent textures working straight from the gouge in the channels corrugated tops and roughly carved scrolls with minimal scraping. When rubbing out varnish on such instruments I found that sand paper or backed abrasives cut through to the tops of the tool marks more than I wanted and that soft cloths with powdered abrasive emphasized the texture just enough to add interest. 

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The 29 to 30mm rib height sounds inviting for some reason.  Less air space, quicker response?  I recently glued together plates using 33.5mm ribs not thinking lower toned sound and slow response for the after effect until after I removed clamps.  Excuse my outspoken being today, just one of those days.

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I find that a lot of makers think of del Gesu as a variation on the Cremonese traditions of Amati and Strad. The difficulty of seeing enough of del Gesu's work to really learn it (by comparison to Strads makes this all the more acute). The result is that you tend to get a lot of hybrid instruments from Vuillaume right the way to modern making where the edge work is definitely more Straddy than it should be, and a general ignorance of the need to set out the whole concept differently. 

 

To me, it's the depth of the edge work that creates a thin and flexible hinge around the edges that is the reason for Guarneri's darker sound. I'm not averse to those don't think beyond an Amati-Strad modelling, they are hybrids with attractive playing characteristics. But I'd like to see more violins that start from the presumption that Guarneri was thinking differently.

Awesome statement

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The Biddolph book is THE reference on DG I think. The details that Roger talks about should be studied and fully understood.  What I mean is not that you want to "carefully" follow it, but to get a good enough understanding to be able to more "naturally" approach it in that way.    I only make violins based on late DG's and what I am doing is to try to "get" what DG likely did / what was his mindset......by reading what is out there and studying as many instruments and good photos of instruments I can.  I see it as an indirect process as much as a direct one.      I make my own purfling in a way  that it ends up quite uneven and cut the channel by hand allowing for irregularities.  There was a painter on American TV in the 1980's called Bob Ross and he was this laid back hippie guy.  He would talk about "happy accidents" in his painting.  I guess it is like that

 

When I make the ribs sometimes I will bend it so it contours snugly to the mould and sometimes take a more casual approach.  In the one here I wanted alittle more wide "hips" then the Sauret (which is the reference instrument).  The f-holes on this one are base on Sauret but I modified the treble side a tad to better match the bass (which is more classically beautiful).  I notice that DG f-holes are always getting wider or narrower, almost never a "flat" area where the inside and outside are parallel to one another.  If I am loose with my use of a particular f-hole, I always keep this in mind.

 

I am not saying my violins look any more like DG then anyone else, but I try to take a consistent approach to looseness and I generally like the way my violins feel (to me at least). 

 

One last thing is that to me DG has a particular tension and movement about his instrument.  It is hard to put in words but it is a feeling you get when you look at one.  I am continually turning the plate / scroll in different orientations as I am doing something trying to see if it captures this quality.  Look at the C-bout in different ways and you will notice what I mean.

 

I often use the 1743 Sauret.  It is a good sounding violin and the look is (to my mind) half-way between loose and neat.  I can adjust things with it one way or the other and it still is in the ball park of the "vibe" of the original.

 

Not sure if that makes sense of is useful in any way, but I hope it is.

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Very alluring!  I wonder if the real secret might be to simply follow Del Gesu's method, including working as fast as you can to get paid before the liquor store closes.

post-79500-0-21815500-1464732145.jpg

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 I guess it is like that

 

When I make the ribs sometimes I will bend it so it contours snugly to the mould and sometimes take a more casual approach.  In the one here I wanted alittle more wide "hips" then the Sauret (which is the reference instrument).  The f-holes on this one are base on Sauret but I modified the treble side a tad to better match the bass (which is more classically beautiful).  I notice that DG f-holes are always getting wider or narrower, almost never a "flat" area where the inside and outside are parallel to one another.  If I am loose with my use of a particular f-hole, I always keep this in mind.

 

I am not saying my violins look any more like DG then anyone else, but I try to take a consistent approach to looseness and I generally like the way my violins feel (to me at least). 

 

One last thing is that to me DG has a particular tension and movement about his instrument.  It is hard to put in words but it is a feeling you get when you look at one.  I am continually turning the plate / scroll in different orientations as I am doing something trying to see if it captures this quality.  Look at the C-bout in different ways and you will notice what I mean.

 

Good for you, looking at things from varying views and perspectives

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Very alluring!  I wonder if the real secret might be to simply follow Del Gesu's method, including working as fast as you can to get paid before the liquor store closes.

I think you're onto something.  dG was not trying to be GUARNERI del GESU as we appreciate him today.  From the great tonal/playing/relative consistency angle, it seems he cared a great deal about certain things but couldn't be bothered by others.

 

I could be wrong, but for the sake of discussion I'll toss out that it seems all the noted makers ended up with an overall look that is maybe as much based on how they worked (i.e. "method") as planned design and style.  The outline is one thing necessarily preconceived, obviously, and F-hole and scroll templates; but the choice of tools, and how they are used creates a big difference.  And even Strad's scrolls don't always end up like his silver point scroll pattern.

 

I've mentioned a couple of times a "straight" competition violin of a noted contemporary maker whose dG copy looked funny (at least to my eye) because it was too clean, but his Strad models, made with the same care, looked much better.  

 

How much our reaction to dG is based on "devil may care" is probably individual.  But I don't get goose bumps from dG copies which hide tool marks, or, for that matter, put in intentional tool marks.  It seems to me that one feature of the very manly Cremonese (how un-PC) was that they used their tools with speed, assurance, and different levels of accuracy; but they were never prissy.  

 

IMO, all this brings up a problem that each of us has to wrestle with:  Are we going to develop our own style or are we going to try to slavishly copy?  There's something quite wonderful about such makers as G.B. Rocca who worked off of one Strad and one dG pattern but produced his own wonderful, recognizable look.  I hope I'm wrong that a lot of modern makers will be unrecognizable in 200 years.  Personally, I'd like to see more people letting their own style develop without trying so hard to duplicate the old fellows; but not TRY to be different for difference's sake.

 

But I suppose this approach has its problems, too. 

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It seems to me that ... they used their tools with speed, assurance,

 

I think it was Hargrave describing how Del Gesu inserted the linings in the corner blocks using a minimum amount of cuts.  I pictured him preparing one end of a lining with a single straight cut, flipping it over and doing the same to the other end, and in it goes.  It's a big relative time savings but for it to make a difference it seems he would have had to have been working at extreme speed, like doing half a violin in the morning and finishing it after lunch.  Just the impression I got, right or wrong.

 

Now I will quit writing in this thread but continue to read all the experienced contributors here who know what they're talking about.

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I think it was Hargrave describing how Del Gesu inserted the linings in the corner blocks using a minimum amount of cuts.  I pictured him preparing one end of a lining with a single straight cut, flipping it over and doing the same to the other end, and in it goes.  It's a big relative time savings but for it to make a difference it seems he would have had to have been working at extreme speed, like doing half a violin in the morning and finishing it after lunch.  Just the impression I got, right or wrong.

 

Now I will quit writing in this thread but continue to read all the experienced contributors here who know what they're talking about.

The method you're referencing was, I believe, mostly used by Bergonzi.  Del Gesu used it on a few instruments, but mostly morticed his linings the same way Strad/Amati/etc. had.  The time savings with this method aren't really in the triming, but in cutting the mortice.

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Hey folks- I'm working on two fiddles based on the Ysaye Guarneri right now, at least one of which will be finished new (un-antiqued). I'm working on edges now, and am wondering how Del Gesu would have done this, and what they would have looked like when they left his shop. I've been spending a lot of time with the Biddulph book, and Mr Hargrave's article on Cremonese edgework, but was wondering if anyone had any other input. Would you expect to see a crisp line, like on the Messiah? Looking at the photos, it seems like Guarneri rounded his edges more.

 

Urban Luthiers suggestion of looking at edging on the Chardon pochette is well worth considering.

 

The Alard and Lord Wilton may also be worth a look.

Re the Lord Wilton, some good edging detail can be seen towards the end of this video clip:

 

 

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I would say that Guy Harrison's fresh DG models have done the most to influence my (often-sluggish) appreciation of the woodwork as it may have come off the old boy's bench. He received a special award in competition for accurately de-pantsing the judges' ability to deal with a fresh approach to the style. Pretty sure that's how the certificate was worded, aye...

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Is the violin in post 20 the "Wilton?"

 

Note how long that back corner is from the rib miter.  One maker who has been around the original said that as long as his copy's corners are, he doesn't have the nerve to make them as long as they should be because his customers would not believe it possible.  So he compromises by about 2mm.

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Is the violin in post 20 the "Wilton?"

 

Note how long that back corner is from the rib miter.  One maker who has been around the original said that as long as his copy's corners are, he doesn't have the nerve to make them as long as they should be because his customers would not believe it possible.  So he compromises by about 2mm.

The photo is the Alard from the same year.

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