James M. Jones

Forgive me father....

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I wanted to start this thread based on something Jacob S posted a while back ,about " repair not improve". Now lots of invisible lines keep popping up . A little back ground , Having made a few ....22 or so violin and viola , I was asked to do some trimming on a fingerboard and to cut a new bridge on someone else's violin, because they liked what I did with mine. That was a year ago and since then I have been repairing and to some extant "improving" a whole stable of relatively inexpensive student instruments. There have been a few in the 8-10,range but mostly not. Each project and method receives research and rehearsals to execute what I consider "best practice" That said I find myself the weakest link in the chain. It's been a real learning curve.

   Among the "improvements" , I have committed ...dishing straight fingerboards, removing squeaky poly from the neck , re bushing peg holes so the strings don't ride , re graduating a 7 mm top with a cracked bass bar,down to 3 , neck pull backs to raise projection, using abrasives to smooth down a rough dry ..very..bad varnish and then French polishing over that, to give some life, refitting 1/20 pegs to 1/30 tapers, All done with the owners consent and or request. All done to a standard I try to achieve in my personal work.

 Currently, The owner of a 1920 ish Roth is requesting the neck be made smaller . She loves the fiddle, everything about it ...except the neck. I believe I could do the work to a quality standard .....but should I?

  Or another scenario,  A violin of unknown maker, probably late 17th early 18th century...Top is shattered, battered, plastered up with patches and on the thin side.....A New top at half the price that will last a life time ...or more duct tape and bubble gum ?  

  I guess I'm not looking for specific's , we all make our own choices, But rather a discussion about how one goes about weighing some of these things. What guides you? What thought's come to mind when faced with these types of situations? What stories will you share?

  Inquiring minds.....

 

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It depends, in part, on what the owner wants to pay.  I'm okay with paying for certain repairs even if it's 'not worth it' monetarily because it is worth it to me.  As long as I'm going into it with my eyes open, it's fine.

I suppose though, reading some of the horror stories you all have had...put it in writing first.

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Same ...

Necks are to some extent not regarded as a "principal part" and thinning a neck or grafting on a thicker one is quite acceptable, as long as the neck isn't a surviving baroque neck.

A table is the violin really, both its sound and its face. A new table would have to be reserved for violins where the table just isn't salvageable, though I suppose that's a judgment which depends on the value of the violin.

Stories - not for Maestronet!!

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18 minutes ago, jacobsaunders said:

I would reduce the Roth neck (or lend he/she/it a violin with a thin neck first, to see if they change their mind), but NOT make a new belly.

Omitting cost from the equation, what about making a replacement neck and a replacement belly, but conserving the old ones to later restore the violins to original condition?  I see the question here as being one of current player convenience versus historical integrity and would see that as being win-win. :)

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Off topic, but, since we're in the confessional...............  One of my more attitudinal cats has invented the new aberration of sleeping peacefully in an empty bathtub.  So far, I've withstood the obvious dire temptation, and refrained from turning on the shower head. :ph34r::lol:

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You are a true animal lover!

My tom pulls all my long hair out of the shower drain before I can and then spreads it all over the bedroom. I am trying to convince him to put it in the garage can instead.

He will not comply.

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If you make a new top for the 18th c. violin, make new ribs, back, and neck and scroll as well.  Or keep it simple and tell the owner they might consider a new violin. 

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KITTY!!!!

OK back to semi normal.  Hi Mike.  You make a pretty great 16th century viola in my book :-)  As to the Roth neck I can say as a player if you can get the thing smoothed down extremely well that might satisfy the client witout going after major wood cutting.  Smooth it down and go through all the grits including all the grits of Micro Mesh.  There is just no substitute for non-sticky licker than a cat's posterior finish on a violin neck.  

 

DLB

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4 hours ago, Violadamore said:

Off topic, but, since we're in the confessional...............

Since we're in the confessional, I was expecting something much more livacious and titillating from you than a cat in the bathtub. Oh, well...

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8 minutes ago, GeorgeH said:

Since we're in the confessional, I was expecting something much more livacious and titillating from you than a cat in the bathtub. Oh, well...

Oh, goody, the "lead-in" worked. :P:lol:

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3 minutes ago, Rue said:

Hey Diddle Diddle, the cat and the fiddle...

?

What's a Diddle?

 

"Thirty bucks, Father, the same as in town."  :ph34r:

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In what dimension does she want it "thinner"? (And I don't mean that in a cosmic way.)

There are 1920's Roths, and then there are 1920's Roths. Is this a good one? Also, "you can't put it back" is a good operating principle. A thinner neck for her may mean nobody else will buy the thing when she is done with it. Is it worth a neck graft to try and re-sell a 1920's Roth? Or does the instrument end with her?

I've seen more than a few violins passed over because the nut/neck was less than 20 mm wide. What's comfortable for one may be unplayable for another.

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4 minutes ago, arglebargle said:

In what dimension does she want it "thinner"? (And I don't mean that in a cosmic way.)

There are 1920's Roths, and then there are 1920's Roths. Is this a good one? Also, "you can't put it back" is a good operating principle. A thinner neck for her may mean nobody else will buy the thing when she is done with it. Is it worth a neck graft to try and re-sell a 1920's Roth? Or does the instrument end with her?

I've seen more than a few violins passed over because the nut/neck was less than 20 mm wide. What's comfortable for one may be unplayable for another.

 ....I...would say it's nice ...good condition good look,great tone and playability , The owner is ...not a big woman ,but not overly petite,She is mature and has been playing for very many years. 

Not down to 20mm!, more like loosing maybe 1/2 mm or so,from a full size. Primarily, judging by the neck she liked, I expect if we decide to do this, to change the shape more than dimensions, going from a single radius cross section toward a compound curved "egg" shape.  The fingerboard is nice and full so that's a plus. The plan....would be to work closely with her , with her in the room to get instant feed back so we can hit a close target.

   Dwight, I sure will check the smoothness , as I recall , it is about as good as any I have seen , smooth , with no visible layer of varnish. a very nice classic neck .

  Addie, The Top has been repaired , re cleated  cracks cleaned, edges rebuilt, and is happily serving it's mission in life at rehearsals tonight...

VDA  cat sleeping in bathtub? check your liquor cabinet ...some animals are more human than many people ....

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I was thinking much the same as Arglebargle.  Some Roths have become intensely collectible, like several thousand dollars collectible.  What Roman numeral model number is it?  There's a number of old threads on these on The Auction Scroll, BTW.

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15 hours ago, Violadamore said:

 So far, I've withstood the obvious dire temptation, and refrained from turning on the shower head. :ph34r::lol:

You can "turn on" even an inanimate object like a shower head? A rare talent, I would guess. ;)

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Good thread Mike, I'm learning from it.  Sorry I can't contribute to the lutherie discussion, but I have a cat story.

On the biblical reference, do on to others...

New house with double vanity sinks in bathroom.  Getting ready to brush my teeth when the kitten (aka monster shop cat, 20+ pounds and growing) decides to lay in my sink.  Fine, I'll fix this problem.  I turn on the cold water full blast.  Cat looks at me...looks at water...rolls back and forth ensuring water completely saturates all of it's fur and hair.  Then casually gets up, and leaves the bathroom (without shaking) and jumps on my bed and proceeds to thoroughly dry itself on my pillow.  When done he saunters back into the bathroom and lays down in my wife's sink.  I guess we came to an understanding.  My wife and I are back to sharing a sink.  <_< 

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