Guy Harrison

Guy Harrison's bench

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You could contribute a lot by sharing your antiquing secrets!  One missed opportunity is some rattiness, similar to the lower back,  on the upper left of the back and ribs and especially plate edges, where the left palm would have rested for years with the fiddle on the knee while the conductor rattled on.   And during long rests.

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13 hours ago, Bill Merkel said:

You could contribute a lot by sharing your antiquing secrets!  One missed opportunity is some rattiness, similar to the lower back,  on the upper left of the back and ribs and especially plate edges, where the left palm would have rested for years with the fiddle on the knee while the conductor rattled on.   And during long rests.

Hi Bill, with this violin I was copying a particular instrument, so the upper bout of the back represents this.  Sometimes the way a certain instrument ages is a little surprising. It doesn’t follow the formula we’re use to. 

As for sharing antiquing secrets, most of what I know is available in the Strad magazine, VSA articles and here on Maestronet. (I keep a few things for myself, since they are works in progress anyway)  The key is working out methods that works for you.  I have my antiquing method written down in the workshop and almost every time I antique an instrument I tweak the method or make notes for next time. This helps me head in the direction I want.

The other “secret” is to see inspiring instruments, then take careful notes and photographs etc.   I’m fortunate that I have some amazing instruments coming through my workshop from time to time. But the Untied States has some wonderful museums  - National Music Museum (South Dakota) , Library of Congress, Smithsonian, among others. Have you visited these museums and seen their collections?   I don’t drive but I still managed to visit the National Music Museum in South Dakota by public transport! - so no excuse not to visit these places!!

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I haven't seen any of the collections you mentioned.  I did go right by the NMM a few years ago, before I learned of its existence.  So the bus goes all the way there, eh?

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20 hours ago, Guy Harrison said:

Hi Bill, with this violin I was copying a particular instrument, so the upper bout of the back represents this.  Sometimes the way a certain instrument ages is a little surprising. It doesn’t follow the formula we’re use to. 

As for sharing antiquing secrets, most of what I know is available in the Strad magazine, VSA articles and here on Maestronet. (I keep a few things for myself, since they are works in progress anyway)  The key is working out methods that works for you.  I have my antiquing method written down in the workshop and almost every time I antique an instrument I tweak the method or make notes for next time. This helps me head in the direction I want.

The other “secret” is to see inspiring instruments, then take careful notes and photographs etc.   I’m fortunate that I have some amazing instruments coming through my workshop from time to time. But the Untied States has some wonderful museums  - National Music Museum (South Dakota) , Library of Congress, Smithsonian, among others. Have you visited these museums and seen their collections?   I don’t drive but I still managed to visit the National Music Museum in South Dakota by public transport! - so no excuse not to visit these places!!

Seeing one of Guy's Strad model cellos first hand I can say his varnish and gentile antiquing are among the finest i've seen! (the cello sounded fantastic as well ;)

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2 hours ago, Urban Luthier said:

Really nice Guy! -- is that 1/2 MDF you are using for the form?

It's not MDF. It's layers of thin plywood (http://www.leevalley.com/en/wood/page.aspx?p=32736&cat=1,250,43217) which I glued together flat with epoxy. I wanted a form that could be easily shaped and also stay flat with no warping.   There's many ways and different materials that could be used for this - this was my method for number of forms in my workshop and it's worked well. 

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28 minutes ago, Thomas Coleman said:

Also, do you mind saying a bit about the anti-split plug you have in the lower block? 

The "bushing" in the lower block is not really to stop the block splitting. (though I suppose it might help with that)

It's a hard boxwood bushing that helps keep the endpin from shifting up, from the tension of the strings.  I wanted the collar of the endpin to stay well fitted against the rib. So the bushing helps keep the endpin solid and stay well fitted over time.  

I fit and glue the bushing before I spot glue the lower block to the form. It's quick to do. 

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3 hours ago, Guy Harrison said:

It's not MDF. It's layers of thin plywood (http://www.leevalley.com/en/wood/page.aspx?p=32736&cat=1,250,43217) which I glued together flat with epoxy. I wanted a form that could be easily shaped and also stay flat with no warping.   There's many ways and different materials that could be used for this - this was my method for number of forms in my workshop and it's worked well. 

thanks Guy --  what a great idea! I use the thin stuff for making templates. Laminating 3 layers of the thicker stuff must make a really stable, dense and durable form!

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5 hours ago, Guy Harrison said:

The "bushing" in the lower block is not really to stop the block splitting. (though I suppose it might help with that)

It's a hard boxwood bushing that helps keep the endpin from shifting up, from the tension of the strings.  I wanted the collar of the endpin to stay well fitted against the rib. So the bushing helps keep the endpin solid and stay well fitted over time.  

I fit and glue the bushing before I spot glue the lower block to the form. It's quick to do. 

Makes sense.  I know that there has been talk on here about fitting a carbon fibre ring that would take up the same perimeter of real estate as your bushing but I couldn't remember the context of that thread. In guitarmaking, it is not at all uncommon to use either plywood for the lower block or to laminate a cross grain piece of spruce onto it.  Of course, with no edge margin and just by the way the instrument is used and handled, guitars are more prone to splitting in that location.  Is your bushing spruce?  Is it taperfit? 

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15 hours ago, Thomas Coleman said:

Makes sense.  I know that there has been talk on here about fitting a carbon fibre ring that would take up the same perimeter of real estate as your bushing but I couldn't remember the context of that thread. In guitarmaking, it is not at all uncommon to use either plywood for the lower block or to laminate a cross grain piece of spruce onto it.  Of course, with no edge margin and just by the way the instrument is used and handled, guitars are more prone to splitting in that location.  Is your bushing spruce?  Is it taperfit? 

Hi Thomas - The bushing on that violin is in boxwood. I've also used maple and ebony (I recycled a few old cello pegs).  The hole in the block is reamed out with a cello peg hole reamer.   And the hardwood bushing is shaped in a cello peg shaper.  It's a good idea to first ream the hole to size in the lower block and glue size it. Let it dry. Then give a few turns with the reamer to neaten up the hole and glue the bushing in for a perfect fit. 

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