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Dimitri Musafia

Makers, what is the strangest request you've received from a musician?

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This topic was brushed in another thread, but I thought it might be fun to give a wider audience.

Violinists often know exactly what they want, and as a maker you try to cater to their needs. But what do you do when the musician wants something strange, or something he/she can't articulate, or something that you as a professional already know is a lousy idea, etc. etc.? 

What are the most outlandish requests you've received? bring 'em on!

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I was asked to set up a viola as a cello for a two-year old child, and I was asked to fit a violin with a completely flat bridge.  Not terribly outlandish, but I am not a maker.

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A guy wanted a cello made. He wanted me you use a set of wood which was very special to him, since it had been personally selected for the instrument by a maker who he very much admired, but who had sadly passed away before having a chance to start on the instrument.

When he showed up here, after driving 2300 miles, the wood for the neck and scroll turned out to be a pre-carved German commercial scroll. :lol:

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8 minutes ago, David Burgess said:

A guy wanted a cello made. He wanted me you use a set of wood which was very special to him, since it had been personally selected for the instrument by a maker who he very much admired, but who had sadly passed away before having a chance to start on the instrument.

When he showed up here, after driving 2300 miles, the wood for the neck and scroll turned out to be a pre-carved German commercial scroll. :lol:

Ouch, I bet that was an awkward conversation.

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I have a bunch of tales, but one of my strangest ones dates to back when I couldn't say no to clients. 

A big-name teacher wanted a case which had hinged rigid sleeves as bow accommodations. The idea was, you open the case, unclip the sleeve and swing it out. The you take your bow, reach back half a mile, insert the bow tip while making sure no one is behind you, slide the bow in trying not to break it, and then reclip the sleeve into position.

Very practical. But it's a one-off, so if some day it shows up at Tarisio, feel free to bid high ;-)     

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I asked my luthier years ago if he could install an endpin on my violin.

”Why in God’s name would I do that!?” He said.

”I’m looking for ways to connect with my teenaged son.” I replied.

”Might I suggest family therapy?”  A bold, yet, fair question on his part. 

This is not paraphrased. 

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As a child, I can remember when a rich Australian pig farmer came to visit, recommended by one of my fathers Australian customers. He wanted dad to make him a viola, but he wanted, instead of a scroll, a carved pig’s head. I sat there, glued to my chair, wondering what dad would say, what would happen next. I was astonished how composed he remained, he said “I would rather not”

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2 minutes ago, jacobsaunders said:

At the very least, he could have said "oh, it's for your wife then?"

As Larry said, "very wise man, your father"...:lol:

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2 minutes ago, Larry F said:

That's a good one.   I"ve had similar aggravating things happen, probably the most annoying, when I was a young, naive maker, was the out of town guy that asked me to make a fiddle for him using his special wood.   He sent the wood, the top was rock hard, heavy, and a bit dicey.  I told him so but he insisted it would be great and said go ahead anyway.  So I made the fiddle as he ordered and sent it to him.  I got it back a few weeks later, saying "the sound didn't meet to my expectations,  though many here admired the craftsmanship-so send me $200 for the wood." :angry:

Wow. Ouch!

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