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Offbeat Tone woods You Used

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What's the "oddest" wood you used in a violin build? Did it sound good or did it fail?
Picts if you got 'em!

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I've used American Sycamore, not too odd I guess.  Good sound wise, at least they seem to be, but my varnish didn't make you say, "Oh, that's nice."

Flamed Birch does look nice, and it works well, at least with a .3 sg Engelmann top.  It seems like the very deep curl is actually showing up now on the long arch.  I never noticed that before.   I'd make something with that again; if I found it.

I have other strange things going, but I'll wait until they're done to show them.  

It is sooo gloomy still here.  And cold too.  Sick of winter.  Poor lighting: the carpet is tan, not blue.

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2 hours ago, Don Noon said:

Firewood from Walmart.  As a test, not meant to be any kind of artistic statement.  

Link to thread.

 

I thought it would be a fun challenge to have real pros told they can only build a fiddle from what they can buy from a Lowe's or Home Depot. I have seen some very nice grained spruce at these stores that could work. 

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I got the idea for a firewood top from a stick of firewood I took home from a cabin at Mammoth Lakes, which measured out to have stiffness/weight properties in the range of good spruce tonewood.  The Walmart wood, however, was nowhere near that... and resulted in a mediocre fiddle.

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I bought a couple of slabs of Crepe Myrtle from a Florida arborist. This tree is normally a shrub but this 80-year old one was giant and had a flame to it. When I tap it it rings loud. I have enough for ribs too. 

IMG_0222.JPG

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5 hours ago, Don Noon said:

Firewood from Walmart.  As a test, not meant to be any kind of artistic statement.  

Link to thread.

 

I just listened to that old 7 violins thread, and I chose number 4.

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There's a maker in Germany whose name escapes me who uses what Australians seem to call Blackwood and what Hawaiians call Koa. Guitars made from it (backs & ribs) are famously "sweet" sounding. It's pretty as all getout -- honey colored with strong brown flames. He's got testimonials from some fairly big-time players there, FWIW.

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Aussie Blackwood and Koa are both acacia, but aren't otherwise related. I have a small stock of some Big Island Koa my grandfather cut in the early 50s. All slab, some with unimaginable figure and some rather plain. I imagine I will someday make a violin or two with it, but right now I just look at it and think of my grandpa.

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I've used firewood (EU spruce) for several succesful instruments (mandolins, not violins) and have two more from the same wood on bench being finished. Other than being on the wide grain side I don't see anything bad about it, good split and no defects. I have few pieces from blue spruce that was cut at local graveyard - very wide grain and rather small tree barely enough for mandolins/violins but will see how it behaves... I also have some curly birch drying split into quarters  - that poor tree grew right in the town across street from my workshop and got cut down by town authorities so I took one bolt and it was curly - certainly looks promising with the wide rolling curl.

I've got small stacks of all kinds of woods drying I found locally - plum, pear, boxwood, lilac (syringa), walnut, linden... I remember when we cooked on curly aspen at friends weekend house so I'm looking for that, and I've seen some amazing curly alder that I would take in heartbeat for backs.

I have some curly willow on target but I think it would not be good idea using that for blocks...

This winter I processed one largish offcut of firewood log (80 cm diameter, 250-300 years old tree) I got for 20EUR... It had some rot in the center but I could split some 20-30 sets of perfect wood with uniform staight grain (and no twist at all), some one piece tops as well. Few days ago I bought some spruce lumber at lumberyard and I selected quartered slabs so after I make the door frame I will be left with few pieces of lumber that might be usable...

There are so many possibilities for a fiddle or mandolin, but for classical violin there's pretty much traditional maple/spruce and nothing else.

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Not one that I made, bu I have an Anders Neilsen violin of 1926 which is Tasmanian Blackwood on the back and ribs (the most stunning bit of blackwood I've ever seen), and a pine (King Billy or Celery Top?) front, myrtle (?) pegs.  I don't have decent photos - it really doesn't photograph well - but it is in Alan Coggins' book. 

Beautiful but sounds like crap.  I have seen its sibling, smae year same log for the back, but with a "proper" front - sounds like a reasonable violin.

Tim

 

 

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What about Del Gesùs 1744 "Terminator", with a beechwood back?

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https://www.sparebankstiftelsen.no/sites/sbs/files/instruments/G.-Guarneri-del-Gesu-1744-2.jpg

 

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I've a seen a head carved from beed by Guarneri (I believe). But it looked slightly different from this one.... Anyone knows?

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Awesome to see people playing around with different woods! 

I’ve made most of my (few) violins from Tasmanian Blackwood (back neck and sides) and King Billy Pine for the tops. The King Billy was from 130 year old floor boards. These woods are very popular in Australia with instrument makers.

I started making a Celery Top upper plate, but didn’t finish it. That stuff rings like nothing else when you tab it! I’ll get around to making a violin plate from it some day. I know guitar makers who love Celery Top, but I don’t know of any violin made with it. It’s much heavier than spruce, so I’m not sure how it will work out - I guess the plate would have to be made thinner? Any guesses on that? Should I have less arching or more? 

Pictured is a violin I made with Blackwood (yeah I know the shape is odd, I was copying a drawing by an artist friend of mine for fun, but just posting to show Blackwood).
I’ve also used Ringed Gidgee for fingerboards and the tail piece. It’s harder than ebony and I think far more beautiful.
My first violin had an oak neck and sides, which was from a tree at my grandfathers house...I wouldn’t recommend that! I couldn’t believe how much easier it was to work I switched to Blackwood on my second fiddle.
I’m yet to make a violin using spruce and maple but I have some lovely pieces to use one day.  

Blackwood has very similar physical properties (density/ weight/rigidity) to maple, and King Billy Pine is similar to spruce. I guess picking timbers with those properties is a good start when trying other stuff? 
I bet if the violin had been invited in Tasmania, Blackwood and King Billy Pine timbers would be ‘standard’ today. Maple and spruce were the most suitable in Europe, and local to early makers,  so it was they that became the norm - but I don’t see why other timbers can’t be as good. 
Guitar makers successfully use a wide variety of woods, but violin makers seem rather more conservative on the whole. Still, I think it’s fun to use other stuff.

Kevin Williams only uses 100% Australian woods, right down to the purfling he makes . His instruments were on cover The Strad magazine some time back. I believe Warren Fordham only uses Aussie timbers too. Graham Caldersmith uses Aussie woods…just to name a few chaps.

Screen Shot 2019-07-25 at 8.21.17 PM.png

Edited by Guy Booth
gramma

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Had an interesting American violin by a maker named Carroll H. Osborn in 1932. Spruce top, maple neck and sides and exquisitely flamed koa back. It was a slightly small model, mostly a little shallow in the ribs. Sounded wonderful, though not huge. As I recall it went to a player of smaller stature who liked it because it was comfortable and still sounded like a real instrument.

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On 5/15/2019 at 8:03 AM, TimRobinson said:

Not one that I made, bu I have an Anders Neilsen violin of 1926 which is Tasmanian Blackwood on the back and ribs (the most stunning bit of blackwood I've ever seen), and a pine (King Billy or Celery Top?) front, myrtle (?) pegs.  I don't have decent photos - it really doesn't photograph well - but it is in Alan Coggins' book. 

Beautiful but sounds like crap.  I have seen its sibling, smae year same log for the back, but with a "proper" front - sounds like a reasonable violin.

Tim

 

 

King Billy can be a bit more dense than spruce, a top with similar thickness will sound different compared to it's spruce counterpart. It makes brilliant blocks though.

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On 7/26/2019 at 4:56 AM, Guy Booth said:

Awesome to see people playing around with different woods! 

I’ve made most of my (few) violins from Tasmanian Blackwood (back neck and sides) and King Billy Pine for the tops. The King Billy was from 130 year old floor boards. These woods are very popular in Australia with instrument makers.

I started making a Celery Top upper plate, but didn’t finish it. That stuff rings like nothing else when you tab it! I’ll get around to making a violin plate from it some day. I know guitar makers who love Celery Top, but I don’t know of any violin made with it. It’s much heavier than spruce, so I’m not sure how it will work out - I guess the plate would have to be made thinner? Any guesses on that? Should I have less arching or more? 

Pictured is a violin I made with Blackwood (yeah I know the shape is odd, I was copying a drawing by an artist friend of mine for fun, but just posting to show Blackwood).
I’ve also used Ringed Gidgee for fingerboards and the tail piece. It’s harder than ebony and I think far more beautiful.
My first violin had an oak neck and sides, which was from a tree at my grandfathers house...I wouldn’t recommend that! I couldn’t believe how much easier it was to work I switched to Blackwood on my second fiddle.
I’m yet to make a violin using spruce and maple but I have some lovely pieces to use one day.  

Blackwood has very similar physical properties (density/ weight/rigidity) to maple, and King Billy Pine is similar to spruce. I guess picking timbers with those properties is a good start when trying other stuff? 
I bet if the violin had been invited in Tasmania, Blackwood and King Billy Pine timbers would be ‘standard’ today. Maple and spruce were the most suitable in Europe, and local to early makers,  so it was they that became the norm - but I don’t see why other timbers can’t be as good. 
Guitar makers successfully use a wide variety of woods, but violin makers seem rather more conservative on the whole. Still, I think it’s fun to use other stuff.

Kevin Williams only uses 100% Australian woods, right down to the purfling he makes . His instruments were on cover The Strad magazine some time back. I believe Warren Fordham only uses Aussie timbers too. Graham Caldersmith uses Aussie woods…just to name a few chaps.

Screen Shot 2019-07-25 at 8.21.17 PM.png

Blackwood and spruce combines really well. I also like using gidgee for pegs, tail pieces and the odd finger board. Marvellous stuff but tough on tools.

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Made my first violin from Osage Orange wood, back, sides and neck. Top was eastern red cedar. Fitting were persimmon. 

Sounded amazingly sweet, but different. However, the one piece slab cut back cracked. Made another with a two piece quarter sawn Osage back and European spruce top. Very powerful, but a little harsh. Didn’t crack, however. 

 

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