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joerobson
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10 hours ago, David Beard said:

Is it alum?  The messiah has a very bright undertone.  Alum has in many arts been used as a mordant to brighten the subsequent colors?

A saw a Banks cello opened up that looked like alum had been soaked all the way through maple.

I really don’t know.

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There is an historic sealer that consists of hide glue and alum. Whatever it is it was applied as a paste.

I’ve seen photos of drip marks inside the ‘Il Cannone’ but they are very different, a highly colored liquid that penetrated the wood.

 

Oded

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30 minutes ago, Oded Kishony said:

There is an historic sealer that consists of hide glue and alum. Whatever it is it was applied as a paste.

I’ve seen photos of drip marks inside the ‘Il Cannone’ but they are very different, a highly colored liquid that penetrated the wood.

 

Oded

What color is it?

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For years, I watched Anton Krutz's tests of his experiments with ground. His standard to beat was the Peter Guarneri owned and played by the long-time concertmaster of the local symphony. As a recovering engineer type, I was pretty skeptical, but the experiments made a believer out of me.  We were in the fortunate position of having plenty of identical violins to varnish with different schedules and to set up identically and compare outcomes. My main interest is setup, getting the desired sound and response out of a given  violin. All I can say is that sometimes the difference between one ground formulation and another was shocking. I had started my own business serving fiddlers by the time he was done, so I lost touch a bit, but his instruments continue to improve and are played across the world. (He's the only luthier in history who has outfitted two complete symphony bass sections, AFAIK.) Anton wrote an article on his ground, which reveals all I learned while observing his tests, and all he cares to reveal to the public. Since he produces awfully good results, I would submit that it might be worth a read. There's a lot more to making good violins than choice of ground, but IMHO, it seems a waste to ignore empirically demonstrated data.

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6 minutes ago, Don Noon said:

Likewise, the violin that I have seen where the varnish/ground impressed me the most was a Peter Guarneri.

Anton's father was Russian trained, and Principal Bassist of the Kansas City Symphony, so there was some fortunate coincidence going on there.  All Anton wanted to do from about age 12 was make violins. The Concertmaster was Tiberias Klausner who encouraged Anton's endeavours.

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2 minutes ago, uguntde said:

What is needed to prevent varnish and pigments from running into end grains? Is a protein based formula enough or do you need something like clear shellac?

This is the ground - the layer that, among other things, prevents endgrain from loading with color varnish giving a "burned" or fixed look to the figure. Proteins are a possibility - gelatin, casein, etc. Resins are a possibility - shellac, balsams, etc. Oil is a possibility. And all of these can be used in combination. Each method has its pros and cons. As an example, gelatin works well and can look very nice, but in so applying it you are putting a hygroscopic material into another hygroscopic material and then covering it with an insoluble (in water) varnish. If water ever does reach the ground, it becomes dirty/opaque. Oil as a ground by itself, due to its refractive index, can look wonderful and, when cured, seal the wood well against overpenetration by colored varnish. However, it is quite easy to overdo it, creating something of a composite material of the wood and oil that sounds... Terrible. Resins applied by themselves can really make things pop, but can act a bit as an acoustical straight jacket. 

As I have mentioned, like many others I prefer an approach that involves both resins and oil. Joe's ground system is an excellent example of this. It looks good, it sounds good, it's easy to apply, it's consistent - I could go on. Some of us (like myself) enjoy twisting ourselves in knots experimenting with various approaches. But if your goal is to get violins made well and expediently, buy something made by someone who knows what they're doing and is known to work well.

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One of my grounds, applied just this afternoon.  Generically, I guess you'd call it a lightly colored spirit varnish.  But there are infinite combinations of spirits and resins and colors to choose from, not to mention application methods.

933147748_2106093.jpg.da5198d4879fd6122b79ce12f7ec55e8.jpg

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3 hours ago, Michael Richwine said:

Anton's father was Russian trained, and Principal Bassist of the Kansas City Symphony, so there was some fortunate coincidence going on there.  All Anton wanted to do from about age 12 was make violins. The Concertmaster was Tiberias Klausner who encouraged Anton's endeavours.

Who was the old man, who I thought to myself at the time, in charge of procuring talent for the philharmonic?  70 to 80 years of age around 1982 -84.  

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4 hours ago, Michael Richwine said:

For years, I watched Anton Krutz's tests of his experiments with ground. His standard to beat was the Peter Guarneri owned and played by the long-time concertmaster of the local symphony. As a recovering engineer type, I was pretty skeptical, but the experiments made a believer out of me.  We were in the fortunate position of having plenty of identical violins to varnish with different schedules and to set up identically and compare outcomes. My main interest is setup, getting the desired sound and response out of a given  violin. All I can say is that sometimes the difference between one ground formulation and another was shocking. I had started my own business serving fiddlers by the time he was done, so I lost touch a bit, but his instruments continue to improve and are played across the world. (He's the only luthier in history who has outfitted two complete symphony bass sections, AFAIK.) Anton wrote an article on his ground, which reveals all I learned while observing his tests, and all he cares to reveal to the public. Since he produces awfully good results, I would submit that it might be worth a read. There's a lot more to making good violins than choice of ground, but IMHO, it seems a waste to ignore empirically demonstrated data.

Anton Kurtz has a very good system. He is very correct about the roles of grounds bs varnishes. I think an important key is to minimize varnish. 

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1 hour ago, Don Noon said:

One of my grounds, applied just this afternoon.  Generically, I guess you'd call it a lightly colored spirit varnish.  But there are infinite combinations of spirits and resins and colors to choose from, not to mention application methods.

933147748_2106093.jpg.da5198d4879fd6122b79ce12f7ec55e8.jpg

Nice simple yet beautiful ground. Don’t weigh it down with much varnish.

 

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5 minutes ago, Michael_Molnar said:

Anton Kurtz has a very good system. He is very correct about the roles of grounds bs varnishes. I think an important key is to minimize varnish. 

Agree on minimizing varnish. His dry film thickness is minimal at best. His varnish looks deep, but is barely over  .001" thick. I had twenty years doing furniture finish design before I got into violins, so I think in those terms.

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Minimizing varnish film thickness scores a point for rosinates. Maximum color intensity means you can build all the color you want in just a few very thinly brushed out coats. 

You can make a good, deep ground with rosinates, too. I have another article coming where I'll go into more detail.

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3 hours ago, JacksonMaberry said:

Nice looking ground, Don. Having color in the wood itself doesn't hurt, either.

Color in the wood I think is OK as long as it's not too much.

Ideally (my ideal, anyway) the flames should switch intensity and color completely and symmetrically depending on the viewing angle.  Color added to the wood tends to hang around in the flames so the switch isn't complete, and in the extreme case, burned/fixed.  I try to keep the color level to where the you have to look very carefully to see any residual color hanging in the flames.

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1 hour ago, Don Noon said:

Color in the wood I think is OK as long as it's not too much.

Ideally (my ideal, anyway) the flames should switch intensity and color completely and symmetrically depending on the viewing angle.  Color added to the wood tends to hang around in the flames so the switch isn't complete, and in the extreme case, burned/fixed.  I try to keep the color level to where the you have to look very carefully to see any residual color hanging in the flames.

We are in agreement.

Wrt color in the wood, I was referring to the color of your processed timbers, by the way

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4 hours ago, uncle duke said:

Who was the old man, who I thought to myself at the time, in charge of procuring talent for the philharmonic?  70 to 80 years of age around 1982 -84.  

I don't know much about the hiring practices of the K C Symphony. I knew a lot of players, but the hiring practices just were never of much interest to me, since I was never an accomplished player.

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