Julian Cossmann Cooke

Julian Cossmann Cooke's bench

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Finally, stepping smartly out on the limb with a thread about what's on my bench.  

Starting with a photo of rib stock emerging from almost 70 years of oxidation.  This is an acquisition from the Moennig auction at Tarisio in 2010 -- a bit of lark because my wife is a native of center city Philly.  The ribs will find their way onto a viola modeled on a Craske owned by a local player, which coincidentally she bought years ago from Moennig.  Poetic, no?

As with the original, the flame varies from medium to huge, wavy, swimming stuff.  Happens to be just the look I personally like.  The back -- also quite varied in its figure -- likely will come from a supplier in Bavaria -- and the top is unevenly grained Italian, again a fair match to the original.

I say modeled on because this is not a bench copy.  I don't antique.  This is not just a commercial proposition, but a great learning opportunity -- from being thorough and accurate in taking measurements and pics to working from the original "in the wood" to working with the client on her preferences, involving her at every major stage of the process.  I think I'm in love with this process.

More pics as the instrument takes shape.

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As much as I can tell with same color tracing, One side has a thinner shoulder, c-bout and hip than the other.  Is it the treble side?  In other words, is it possible for some of the asymmetry to be intentional? 

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On 9/20/2017 at 7:19 AM, Julian Cossmann Cooke said:

Even taking into consideration the challenges of outlining an intact instrument, here's to asymmetry and using a full template.

So you've got it centered on the corners, maybe center it on the bouts and let the corners lie where they may, laying out the f's and keeping the center line will be much easier this way,

I do love asymmetry, to me it look like this is a case of a long and short upper corner,?

Great to see your stuff!

Get it rolling brother!

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I've taken breaks from finalizing rib thicknesses this week to map out the measurement locations for the plate graduations.  The Mag-ic Probe device has been discussed in Pegbox threads and the youtube tutorials are a good resource for understanding how the tool works and how outputs can be customized.  This is my first time using it in a "live" situation and I may find that I don't gain any meaningful additional insight by using 400 mapping points.  The overlay I created certainly is not necessary.  But it will be helpful in comparing graduation patterns across instruments.

I think there is such a thing as too many data points when it comes to finding benchmarks for our work.  But archings and graduations are among those that get my vote when it comes 59d0ef848081a_Mapvaluesbacknumbered.thumb.jpg.1c9f69a3a70d7c048232d7ff76f00f5c.jpgdocumenting with care.

Anyway, here's the map pre-values.  I'll post the version with the values when I've collected and entered them

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47 minutes ago, Julian Cossmann Cooke said:

I think there is such a thing as too many data points when it comes to finding benchmarks for our work.  But archings and graduations are among those that get my vote when it comes documenting with care.

Looks like too much effort, at least for my tolerance.  I try to pay attention to concept behind the curves and flow of of the arching, and the general pattern of the graduations. I don't think extreme accuracy is going to gain anything. But I suppose if you precisely copy a good reference instrument, then you don't need to pay attention to the ideas behind it.

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Top graduations from the 1845 Craske viola.  Fingerboard got in the way.  Interesting to see the 1s to 2s and the 4s to 5s placed where they are, with the usual regraduation caveat.  Still to come: back graduations which should be a whole lot easier without having to navigate the bassbar and the fholes.

Map values top numbered Craske grads.jpg

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2 hours ago, Julian Cossmann Cooke said:

Interesting to see the 1s to 2s and the 4s to 5s placed where they are...

Not to mention down to 0.76!!

How is that instrument for sound,  playability, and distortion?  Those grads sure look extremely something.  Are you going to copy that??

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I am copying it, though I suspect I will "conventionalize" the top graduations somehow.  The back is looking much more conventional, though a little thin in the island.

The player complains about the responsiveness.  The sound I would say is on the sweet side -- not a lot of body to the C.

It's about a 15 3/4 with rib heights of 38-40, arching 16 on the top and 18.5 on the back.

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As for this top, I cannot believe my eyes. It goes completely against what I have learned to date. I see a very thin upper bout and a very thick lower bout. The c-bout is within my range. However, I make violins not violas.

How well does this viola sound?

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2 hours ago, Michael_Molnar said:

As for this top, I cannot believe my eyes. It goes completely against what I have learned to date. I see a very thin upper bout and a very thick lower bout. The c-bout is within my range. However, I make violins not violas.

How well does this viola sound?

Pretty sweet, but no real body on the C -- at least to my ear.  The owner's only complaint is that it is not as responsive as she would like.  Which makes sense from what I understand given the weird top graduations -- weird even if you dismiss the ridiculously low readings and adjust them upward to be consistent with the surrounding graduations.

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1 hour ago, Julian Cossmann Cooke said:

 no real body on the C -- at least to my ear.  

I'd guess that the extremely thick lower bout of the top would be a suspect.  But the graduation scheme is so screwy, it could be other things, too.

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On 12/16/2017 at 11:54 AM, Don Noon said:

I'd guess that the extremely thick lower bout of the top would be a suspect.  But the graduation scheme is so screwy, it could be other things, too.

This is one of those cases where the path of wisdom is to toss out the outlier and go with something more conventional -- maybe something from Jeff Loen's book, though it may be hard to match up body dimensions to one of the instruments there.

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2 hours ago, Julian Cossmann Cooke said:

This is one of those cases where the path of wisdom is to toss out the outlier and go with something more conventional -- maybe something from Jeff Loen's book, though it may be hard to match up body dimensions to one of the instruments there.

In this case, a uniform 3mm top and back would be "more conventional" than what it is now, and probably sound better, too.  I wouldn't worry about trying to match up with a Loen pattern, and just get a general idea about what works, and do that.  

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Without cross-references to other Craske violas, this particular one could be a one-off 'experiment', so I am not sure what would be achieved by making a copy or keeping the outlines and conventionalising the graduations.

Craske himself may have provided the answer through subsequent instruments.

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Having put aside the Craske copy in favor of a certain commission, here's the current state of the Stradivari Smith-Quersin outline with Maggini-esque arching.  The hybrid choice was dictated by the player's comfort level with a Stradivari model of similar length and the search for the mystical bluegrass tonal qualities since that's the style she plays.  Corner symmetry and angles will be adjusted before the box is closed, purfling will be done after.

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I can't wait to see/hear how this chimera turns out! I always appreciate a maker who doesn't mind getting weird. Cheers, Julian!

As for the viola, I think you're absolutely right about the 'island' of that back being too thin, and I think you'd get more punch and headroom if you thickened it up a fair bit, maybe as high as 5. That sub 2mm area around the neck block strikes me as someone that should be ignored, also. For the belly, take a look at the Derber/Mittenwald scheme and adjust it to suit the LoB of your viola, but adjust it to reflect the sort of longitudinal aspect of the original. 

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Starting to think about varnish for the current build.  Starting with the ground, this photo shows at the top, alcohol tincture of propolis on bare tanned wood.  Hard to see, but there's way too much burn, naturally.  Middle, two coats of the tincture on tanned and turpentined wood.  Bottom is the bare wood.  Sorry about the quality of the photo.20180523_120114.thumb.jpg.8add83f97374595fec14d69ed1c5e9ef.jpg

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