Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Button and saddle

Here is the button after fitting the neck to the body, still square. The neck, too, is not finished, as the button will blend up into the heel into the neck. As is traditional, I have laid out the button with a compass. If you look close, you can see the center mark of the compass, something that also shows up in classical Italian violins.


Below is the button, and neck, mostly shaped. I like a large-sized button, this one being about 24 mm in diameter. It appears that the buttons were originally much larger than they are now, in part because each time the neck is replaced, a bit of wood is lost. Also, the classical Italian violins were Baroque instruments, which had bulkier necks. Most have been reshaped to more modern (ca 1800) standards. But this one is mine, so I can do whatever I want! :-)


The saddle is a small piece of ebony fit into the top of the instrument. It sits on the end block, and its purpose is to take the pressure of the tailgut. The tailgut holds the tailpiece, which holds the strings; on the other end, the tailgut loops around the endpin, which will fit into the small hole in the ribs. Without the ebony, the tailgut would crush the spruce top, and the tailpiece would contact the top.


Tuesday, December 22, 2009

A little Yule-time building.

After a couple weeks of much cello repair, I decided to take some time to push my own instruments along. Here I have squared up the neck and end blocks for the Medieval fiddle. I have spacers under the form to lift it to approximately the middle of the 40 mm ribs, which will be bent and added after the blocks are shaped. The blocks are lightly glued to the form, and in clamps here.


I spent the morning fitting the neck to the body of my current violin. Once I got it to the 'good enough' point, I decided to take lunch, then look at it again afterwards with fresher eyes. As I left, I turned back to the bench, saw the mess in the midst of the process, and thought it might be an interesting photo. On the white instrument, the neck is not glued in yet, but sitting in place, held by friction.


This afternoon, with the neck fit ok, I glued it in place. The heel of the neck is still square; that will be rounded and the neck finished after the glue has set -- perhaps tomorrow.


Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Design from nature

Violin design is based on simple components such as circles and lines. In this case, the f-hole can be derived from 2-dimensional surface of a 3-dimensional sphere. By carefully lifting the 'poles' from the orange, then unwinding the peel, the design of the f-hole is automatically revealed.



Thursday, December 3, 2009

Actually playing the fiddle...

... is something I do from time to time.

I do teach fiddle lessons in the shop, which gives me a good excuse to practice every so often. And we've had a couple of gigs in the past week to keep us busy. Last Sunday, our band, the Bru, played at a St. Andrews service for the First Congregational Church in Boise. It was a new experience for us, accompanying hymns as well as playing performance pieces. Seemed to go well, as they want us back next year.

Last night, Bill Elmer and I played for the preview of the opening of Alan Stanford's watercolor display at the State Historical Museum in Boise. Alan is a great painter, and had what looked like over 100 paintings hung on the walls in the Museum. Bill an Alan were best men at my wedding. (Photo by my lovely bride.)


We played whatever we felt like -- old-time tunes, Scottish, blues, folk. A nice evening.

The Bru's next gig is the Boise Contra Dance on December 19th. Rehearsal tonight!