Monday, December 26, 2011

Handmade amateur fiddles

Just the other day, a fellow violin maker and Southern California Violin-makers Workshop attendee, Anya, posted on her blog a photo of an instrument in her shop for repair. The post is here.

On the same day, I got a customer fiddle that is a relative, in spirit, of the one in Anya's shop.

This fiddle was built recently, in the 21st-century, and was built by the grandfather or uncle of the player. It is a treasured fiddle for that family, means a lot to them, and has at the very least the grace not to be another $100 violin-shaped-object (VSO) from some factory in China - even though the VSO might have more conventional design.

It's part of the fun in this business, seeing these one-off instruments that don't pretend to be anything besides an amateur's effort.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Fifteen years, give or take.

I had a customer in the shop yesterday who was renting a 3/4 violin for her son, and wanted to trade up to full-size, the kid having grown some in the meantime. It happens, and that's one reason folks rent violins for their kids. The youngster had taken good care of his 3/4 and we just swapped up to full-size. No problem.

This mother had taken lessons from me several years ago, even bought a fiddle from me. She wanted me to check it over, see that everything was still in working condition. Again, happy to do so, and she pulled it out of the case.

It was a fiddle I had purchased at an estate auction, at a farm in Meridian, Idaho, that is now the location of the Meridian Library. No longer farm country, Meridian having grown some in the meantime.

It was a ca. 1900 German trade fiddle, really nice tight stripe on the back. As it came to me, it had mechanical pegs, similar to guitar tuners. I removed those, filled in some of the screw holes with maple, bushed the pegholes and fit new ebony pegs. There was a crack in the top, so I removed the top to find a fairly awful graduation of the top -- gouge marks and an integral bass-bar. So I cleaned that up, too, and put in a real bass-bar. That was the first bassbar I had fit, and I'm guessing it was more than 15 years ago, give or take. Didn't take any photos, as it wasn't really the opportunity to do so, and I didn't think of it.

The fiddle was in fine shape. Pegs still worked. Bridge still in good shape. Bassbar hadn't fallen off. Really, no reason for it to, but still, it was nice to see the fiddle these years later, still in working condition.

That being said, I am finding that my 6-year-old computer is nearly obsolete. Many internet programs (such as newer youtube videos) won't run on it any longer -- a Mac with a powerPC processor. Seems just as I get used to a computer, I need to replace it. Thankful that fiddles aren't the same way.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

The Nickel Shim

I've picked up a few Stanley 102 planes recently. They're light in weight, simple in design, and inexpensive in price. These are not so pretty, but I don't care. They work.

If you get them on e-Bay, which is what I did (one at a time), they generally require some clean-up. Dirt, rust, grime are some of the issues. The adjuster is a simple screw mechanism, and on one of these, the middle one, it was so worn that it would not hold the blade tight.

I decided that a shim might do the trick, get the adjuster screw a little higher and onto firmer threads. The nickel shim works just right.

Here's a closer view of the nickel shim. Ironically, the more expensive shim, twice as expensive, in fact (though shinier) didn't work as well. It was too thin. I think you will agree that the craftsmanship of the shim is impeccable.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Linings, or slotting the hedgehog

With all the ribs bent and glued to the blocks, it's time to get the linings installed. Linings add strength to the ribs as well as increasing the gluing surface for the top and back seams.

Working down willow for linings is cheap thrills indeed -- it's always fun to peal off some long shavings. The linings are thinned to about 2 mm, bent, and inlet in to the corner blocks at the c-bouts.

The linings glued in on the top edge of the ribs, held in place with clothes pins reinforced with rubber bands -- fancy stuff indeed. Looks something like a porcupine or hedgehog with all the clamps in place. "Slotting the hedgehog" -- an old obscure violin-makers' phrase, perhaps something like this, perhaps not.

After the glue sets up overnight, I'll have to do the same thing to the bottom of the ribs. It's not a terrible task at all.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Two-thirds of the ribs in place.

I put the c-bouts in, then the upper bouts. This is the first time I'm seeing ribs on this form, and the compass arcs (from the drawing) really show up in the upper ribs, nice and round. I'm curious to see what the lower bouts look like with ribs in place.

If you didn't see it before and are wondering about the drawing of the form, my blog posts on that start here.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Planing rib-stock to thickness

Nothing terribly exciting -- thicknessing some rib stock. I use a toothed-blade in my block plane for this job. Next step is to cut them to width, then bend in the c-bouts.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Under the top of the 1989 fiddle

The results of repeatedly adjusting a soundpost that doesn't fit -- damage to the spruce top. I've removed the bass-bar, here on the right side of the photo. You can also see the pattern of the sander/router marks left when the plate was hollowed at the factory, as well as the staining around the edges of the f-hole during blacking. These instruments were fit with cleats at the factory at each wing, to help prevent cracking, on would assume.

The router or sander marks are part of a tradition in these low-end student instruments. Before the machines were cheap and manageable, folks used gouges, quickly.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Loose and thick, a 1989 German factory fiddle

This is a violin I got in trade, and it had a cracked end block (upper right). I pulled the top off to replace the block, and also to see what else I could find that needed help.

These late-20th-century German violins were built with great haste. The linings are continuous, running from end-block to neck-block, over the corner blocks, and not even touching the ribs in many places.

The bass bar was completely loose at the neck end, and appears to have never actually been in contact with the top.

At the other end, the bass bar does not contact the top either, except for a couple glue bridges.

Fortunately the top was stoutly made, so the instrument did not collapse. :-)

I'll take out the bass-bar, take a little thickness out of the top, and make a new bass-bar. It should sound better, though I don't know what it sounded like before (but I can guess!). At the very least I can sell it knowing that it will be in decent structural shape.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Blocks on the Amati Bros. form & a 'new' plane

A chunk of willow from a local blow-down, well-aged by now, a big chisel to split the wood, a plane and square to fit them up.

The corner blocks squared on 4 sides, the two ends squared on 5 sides, ready to be glued onto the form. The nails are put in the form to hold the metal template for marking out the rib-sides (the not squared sides) of the blocks.

I'm using bottled hide-glue to hold the blocks in place. I bought a bottle of it recently to use for spot gluing the spreader wedge when rehairing bows. This is the first time I've used it for this purpose, but I don't go through a bottle very fast, and it does have a finite life.

A new-to-me tool, a Stanley No. 40 scrub plane.

I used one of these over 2 years ago at the Southern California Violin Makers Workshop, and was really impressed with it for removing wood from the outsides of the plates -- it's basically a gouge held in a plane body. I've missed a few on eBay, but recently set my mind to getting one. I am no expert at dating these, and am happy to stand corrected, but it appears to match those made around 1890. The forward tote appears to be a replacement. It could use a little cleaning up and fine tuning, but works as is.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Shocked, shocked to find deceptive practices....

Looking over a fiddle, a bit beat-up, but with a back of nice wood, decent aged looking. You peek through the f-hole and see a very nice label. Pre-WWII, possibly German ("Hornsteiner"), possibly French ("copie"). Ooh la la -- very interesting.

Turns out, however, that that very interesting back and label are hiding a roughly hewed top, integral bass bar, fake lower blocks, no upper blocks. A cheap student instrument.

Well, anyway, we'll clean up this top, put in a real bass bar, and maybe have something of a fiddle -- but only after a decent amount of work.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Amati Bros, part 5

Cleaned up the edges to an acceptable level, then made the block cut-outs and drilled the clamp holes. This is essentially the end of the process for the form. Next step is to fit the blocks, then the ribs. The ribs will determine the top and back outline.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Amati Bros, part 4

On to making the mould itself, first step is to get the template on the wood, in this case good grade birch plywood, and trace around it.

I think the outline looks good; now to see if I can get it cut out as well.

With bandsaw, rasps, knives, planes, I manage to get the outline to near the scribe line. It's the end of the day, so I'll finish it later, trying to get all the edges square and the curves flowing. The corners will be cut out to receive the blocks, as will notches at the end and neck.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Amati Bros, part 3

I glued a copy of my drawing onto a thin sheet of metal, intending to cut out a half template. As I got working on it though, I decided to keep it a full template, and make a half-template of the 'better' side, whichever that was. So far, I've kept it to a full-template.

In his book Traite de Lutherie, Francois Denis writes of this Brothers Amati form: "This model is particularly noteworthy because it has been a major source of inspiration for all instrument makers after Nicolo Amati, son of Hieronimus Amati, who used it extensively himself."

I happen to have the December 1996 issue of The Strad magazine which has a poster of a 1666 Nicolo Amati violin with photos at full-size. I thought it would be interesting to compare this drawing (which I made following Denis' book) to the poster. It wasn't bad, at least to my eye.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Amati Bros, part 2

I finished the drawing following the instructions in Fr. Denis' book, and here it is, overlaid on the back of the Amati Bros. violin featured on the site.

Couple of cautions -- I scanned the sketch in two pieces, and there is a slight rotation problem between the two (upper and lower). I also had to really change the black-point of the sketch to get it to show in contrast to the background, which makes it a noisy image. Also, I had to scale up the Amati Bros/Tarisio image to 353 mm, the reported length of the back. I have no idea what type of distortions there might be in the original photo, nor how that might be magnified in my enlargement. So in many ways, I'm really shooting in the dark. I don't have too many authentic Amati Bros violins come into my shop to give me a better feeling for the design.

Note also that this overlay of the drawing is done on my computer in a simple image-processing program (Appleworks for Macintosh computers) and wasn't done in real life. What I do in real life is hold the two pieces of paper up against an outside window and move them about until I get the fit I like.

That said, I am fairly happy with the way the length and vertical marks came in -- the location of the corners, wide spots on the upper and lower bouts, mid-point of the c-bouts. If this mould drawing were really accurate to this violin back, the outline should lie basically on the purfling, with the exception of the corners where we expect some deviation. What I see, however, is that this drawing actually lies outside the upper and lower bout widths. So that's not great.

I'll also add I had to fudge the upper corner. I just couldn't figure out from Denis instructions how to place that recurve from the upper bout to the corner. Following the instructions -- as I understood them, I got something that was clearly wrong. Looking back through previous examples, trying things, still didn't work for me. I finally basically split the difference and drew them in.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Amati Bros, part 1

I've been fairly busy lately, with a rush of back-to-school instruments and I've started teaching a math class at the local community college. It's a 'holiday' weekend, however, and I'm feeling the desire to do something new in making. Recently I noted an Amati Brothers violin on the site that I liked. Downloaded the images ("A FINE ITALIAN VIOLIN BY ANTONIO & GIROLAMO AMATI, CREMONA, EARLY 17th CENTURY") and scaled them to size. Then pulled out my copy of Francois Denis' _Traite de Lutherie_ and commenced to drawing an Amati Brothers form, following, as best I can, his directions. I've tried drawing this one before, with less than success, but have since attempted others and have gained experience in the technique. So far, this one is working, or at least the curves are coming together. It is a somewhat complicated method. And the width of the lower bout is too wide for the image I have. But it is something to do.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Milled pegbox

MIlling marks inside an early- to mid-20th century factory violin. Usually these are eliminated in the finishing process, to give a more hand-made effect.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Plastic volute

Going through some used rental instruments and found this 1/8-size 1989 Suzuki violin with a plastic volute. You can see the wood-plastic joint at about 9 o'clock on the outer term, and if you look closely, you can follow the line up and around the curve. Apparently the scroll is cut relatively flat, then this plastic volute was glued into place. Easy to miss with a quick glance, though I suppose the colors have faded differently over the years.

Friday, August 5, 2011

An Oud

It's nice to get something different every so often. Here's a customer's oud that needed a little repair, clean-up, and stringing. Compared to a fiddle, this is one complicated pegbox -- 11 strings!

Thank goodness for the internet, where one can find some details on instruments that are unfamiliar to us. Really makes one wonder how repair folk in the 'old' days figured out what to do. The mechanics were straight-forward, but I had no idea on the tuning, and it turns out there are many.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

The Moment You Walked In the Door...

Stripping no. 3, the one with the heavy red varnish, finished in December. Never did like the way it turned out, so now to do something about it. Citristrip takes the varnish off well, though there is plenty of detail work to get it out of the nooks and crannies, as they say.

Here are Chinese white (varnished) and previously varnished No 3, now stripped, both in my specially made UV box, catching a few rays.

Here is the recently stripped violin with some ground on it. I polished it down with a little varnish and pumice, stained with a little tea, then a little more varnish and pumice, followed by diluted amber shellac. To dilute it, I used alcohol to which I had added madder root -- a tincture -- a few weeks prior. It did change the alcohol to a reddish color, but didn't seem to have much effect on the overall amber shellac color.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Weiser Tuesday

Before things got busy, I took a few photos this morning, the 2nd day of the National Old-time Fiddlers Contest in Weiser, Idaho. We set up shop in the shop/computer-lab of the High School, right behind the warm-up area. A good bunch of folks. My work area is in the foreground, with the blue towel for padding. A customer is checking out a fiddle, while Phil is at his rehair bench. In addition to Phil's array of handmade bows, we have 7 Idaho-made fiddles on the tables -- 4 of mine and 3 of Ruston Ruwe's.

Hard to get a shot of the entire room, and many remnants of the shop room naturally remain behind, such as the stick-frame house model above the book case. We've done well selling music books this year.

A different view of the book case, with some of the table displays.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Varnish experimenting, a different light

An update on the inexpensive Chinese white being varnished with the home-made varnish. Here it is yesterday.

And here it is later in the same day.

It's hard to anticipate how photos will appear on others' screens, and I have an old one, but I like the looks of the second one far better.

What's the difference? The light. I've done nothing to the violin in the intervening hours. The first was taken mid-day, under full-spectrum sunlight. The second was taken in the evening, with the sun low in the sky (note the shadows). At that time of day, the sunlight is redder, cutting through more atmosphere, with more of the blue light scattered out of its path.

It's good to remember to be careful evaluating varnish, or colors, based on photos. Just as it's good to remember to be careful evaluating sound from recordings. But at least it's something.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

I read Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, by Robert M. Pirsig, in 1984, at a time when I was both in college -- and therefore very intellectual -- and into motorcycle riding, which, coupled with being in college, meant that I had to do my own repairs.

I'll add that I enjoyed reading the book at the time. When I picked it up again a couple years ago, though, I didn't. Seemed too personal, too tortured, too rough on the son.

But there was one quote that stuck with me at the time and ever since. For some reason, I was thinking about it this morning. I have the book sitting on my bookshelf in the next room. But instead, I typed "Zen Motorcycle Maintenance aluminum shim" into Google, and found what I needed in the second listing, which allowed me to get to the exact quote.

By the way, the book is on-line.

It was far faster to do the Google search than to walk into the next room and search through the book. Why do I have the book still? Actually, I don't know. I have gotten rid of many books over the past few years, basically those that I believe I'll never look at again. Many of which I liked, which meant something to me, but which also seemed like dead-weight in some sense. I was dumping the family dresser out the back of the wagon as I moved along the Oregon Trail.

I still like physical books, but I'm getting pickier about the ones I keep. Now, when I do buy a book, I think of it as a keeper, such as a good violin book, or like a movie ticket, a novel I read, enjoy, then pass on to a friend not wanting it back.

It's not just research that's changed; retail is undergoing a fundamental revolution. We'll see many empty store fronts, those places that sell things that can be bought anywhere. "Anywhere" will become 'on-line'. My kids don't think much of this change, because they're too close to it, because they're not used to dealing with interlibrary loans or buying something at the store that's like, but not exactly, what they want. The way I think about my own violin shop is changing, and I hope I can survive.

Anyway, I'll post the Zen Motorcycle quote here. It's about things, what they are versus what they appear to be.

I thought I would wait until something went wrong with his machine and then I would help him fix it and that way get him into it, but I goofed that one myself because I didn’t understand this difference in the way he looked at things.

His handlebars had started slipping. Not badly, he said, just a little when you shoved hard on them. I warned him not to use his adjustable wrench on the tightening nuts. It was likely to damage the chrome and start small rust spots. He agreed to use my metric sockets and box-ends. When he brought his motorcycle over I got my wrenches out but then noticed that no amount of tightening would stop the slippage, because the ends of the collars were pinched shut.

"You’re going to have to shim those out," I said.

"What’s shim?"

"It’s a thin, flat strip of metal. You just slip it around the handlebar under the collar there and it will open up the collar to where you can tighten it again. You use shims like that to make adjustments in all kinds of machines."

"Oh," he said. He was getting interested. "Good. Where do you buy them?"

"I’ve got some right here," I said gleefully, holding up a can of beer in my hand.

He didn’t understand for a moment. Then he said, "What, the can?"

"Sure," I said, "best shim stock in the world."

I thought this was pretty clever myself. Save him a trip to God knows where to get shim stock. Save him time. Save him money.

But to my surprise he didn’t see the cleverness of this at all. In fact he got noticeably haughty about the whole thing. Pretty soon he was dodging and filling with all kinds of excuses and, before I realized what his real attitude was, we had decided not to fix the handlebars after all.

As far as I know those handlebars are still loose. And I believe now that he was actually offended at the time. I had had the nerve to propose repair of his new eighteen-hundred dollar BMW, the pride of a half-century of German mechanical finesse, with a piece of old beer can!

Ach, du lieber!

Since then we have had very few conversations about motorcycle maintenance. None, now that I think of it. You push it any further and suddenly you are angry, without knowing why.

I should say, to explain this, that beer-can aluminum is soft and sticky, as metals go. Perfect for the application. Aluminum doesn’t oxidize in wet weather...or, more precisely, it always has a thin layer of oxide that prevents any further oxidation. Also perfect.

In other words, any true German mechanic, with a half-century of mechanical finesse behind him, would have concluded that this particular solution to this particular technical problem was perfect.

For a while I thought what I should have done was sneak over to the workbench, cut a shim from the beer can, remove the printing and then come back and tell him we were in luck, it was the last one I had, specially imported from Germany. That would have done it. A special shim from the private stock of Baron Alfred Krupp, who had to sell it at a great sacrifice. Then he would have gone gaga over it.

That Krupp’s-private-shim fantasy gratified me for a while, but then it wore off and I saw it was just being vindictive. In its place grew that old feeling I’ve talked about before, a feeling that there’s something bigger involved than is apparent on the surface. You follow these little discrepancies long enough and they sometimes open up into huge revelations. There was just a feeling on my part that this was something a little bigger than I wanted to take on without thinking about it, and I turned instead to my usual habit of trying to extract causes and effects to see what was involved that could possibly lead to such an impasse between John’s view of that lovely shim and my own. This comes up all the time in mechanical work. A hang-up. You just sit and stare and think, and search randomly for new information, and go away and come back again, and after a while the unseen factors start to emerge.

What emerged in vague form at first and then in sharper outline was the explanation that I had been seeing that shim in a kind of intellectual, rational, cerebral way in which the scientific properties of the metal were all that counted. John was going at it immediately and intuitively, grooving on it. I was going at it in terms of underlying form. He was going at it in terms of immediate appearance. I was seeing what the shim meant. He was seeing what the shim was. That’s how I arrived at that distinction. And when you see what the shim is,in this case, it’s depressing. Who likes to think of a beautiful precision machine fixed with an old hunk of

I guess I forgot to mention John is a musician, a drummer, who works with groups all over town and makes a pretty fair income from it. I suppose he just thinks about everything the way he thinks about drumming...which is to say he doesn’t really think about it at all. He just does it. Is with it. He just responded to fixing his motorcycle with a beer can the way he would respond to someone dragging the beat while he was playing. It just did a big thud with him and that was it. He didn’t want any part of it.

At first this difference seemed fairly minor, but then it grew—and grew—and grew—until I began to see why I missed it. Some things you miss because they’re so tiny you overlook them. But some things you don’t see because they’re so huge. We were both looking at the same thing, seeing the same thing, talking about the same thing, thinking about the same thing, except he was looking, seeing, talking and thinking from a completely different dimension.

He really does care about technology. It’s just that in this other dimension he gets all screwed up and is rebuffed by it. It just won’t swing for him. He tries to swing it without any rational premeditation and botches it and botches it and botches it and after so many botches gives up and just kind of puts a blanket curse on that whole nuts-and-bolts scene. He will not or cannot believe there is anything in this world for which grooving is not the way to go.

That’s the dimension he’s in. The groovy dimension. I’m being awfully square talking about all this mechanical stuff all the time. It’s all just parts and relationships and analyses and syntheses and figuring things out and it isn’t really here. It’s somewhere else, which thinks it’s here, but’s a million miles away. This is what it’s all about. He’s on this dimensional difference which underlay much of the cultural changes of the sixties, I think, and is still in the process of reshaping our whole national outlook on things. The "generation gap" has been a result of it. The names "beat" and "hip" grew out of it. Now it’s become apparent that this dimension isn’t a fad that’s going to go away next year or the year after. It’s here to stay because it’s a very serious and important way of looking at things that looks incompatible with reason and order and responsibility but actually is not. Now we are down to the root of things.

Next time when I want this quote, I can search my own blog, but that will probably still be slower than searching the entire internet!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Stanley 102 plane

After years of wanting one, I finally spent some time on eBay and tracked down a Stanley 102 plane. This is a very common plane among violinmakers because of its size, relatively light weight, and simple design. This model was made from 1876 to 1962. I took a chance on an auction with fuzzy photos; won it for $8 plus $10 shipping. It arrived today, one day ahead of schedule. Here it is, next to my modern Stanley block plane (with a Hock blade) that I use for my daily work. It's actually not a bad plane, and works well for fingerboards, bridges, and nuts. But I have high hopes for the 102, once I get it cleaned up.

Here's the imprint on the top of the blade. I just like the lettering.

Not perfect by any means, but I've removed some of the rust, flattened part of the sole, sharpened up the blade, and run it across some fir scrap. It cuts.

Oh, and also today, my youngest, my son, graduates from high school.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Varnish experimenting

I applied the first coat of varnish to a 'white' violin this morning. The varnish is some that we made last month, and when I say "we made" I mainly mean that I sat around and watched while Ruston did all the work. But it is pretty cool stuff and I hope it works out. This is much different than other varnish I've worked with -- the rest of that being commercial violin and spar varnish. This is like a thick syrup. I put it on with my fingers, patted it around, leaving fingerprints and such, but after several minutes, all that flowed out. It dries to the touch within a few hours when exposed to sunlight, though will stay tacky for a couple days if left inside. I've done experiments with sample strips of wood.

This is the first violin I've varnished with it, but it is not a violin I built. It is an inexpensive 'white' violin, meaning it was built but not finished. I had wanted a second-level instrument, but Howard Core was out of those, so we substituted for a bottom-tier instrument. I asked for something with interesting figure on the back, and I think they did a good job picking one out for me.

This has my usual tea stain followed by watered-down amber shellac for the ground. Trying to be like the old-time Cremonese, I hung this outside shortly after varnishing. It promptly attracted a floating dandelion seed, but that will come out easy enough when I buff it down later. And there will be a couple more coats of varnish to go, so more chance for floating debris. It's all organic!

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Winery gig, and the start of a new back.

Our band, the Bru, played for a private party and dance last night at the Hells Canyon Winery. This is the second year we've done so, and it's always a nice event. I can't get many photos during the event, but managed to remember to take a few before.

A view south from the winery tasting room. You can see a bend of the Snake River at roughly 9 o'clock, and the Owyhee Mountains in the distance.

Turning around from these previous two views, you can see the tasting room for the winery.

Standing now at the patio in front of the tasting room, I see Tamara and Monica cooling their heels while Tim is inside setting up equipment and I'm taking photos.

Now inside the winery building, here's a shot showing some of the storage and a corner of the temporary dance floor.

Standing on the dance floor, looking back towards the band area and above, the balcony of the tasting room.

Here is the view from the balcony, looking down on our playing area. It was crowded, and the dance floor was full of folks dancing. My fourth fiddle is there in a rack; I think it behaved well at the dance and am happy with that. Behind is a 1000-gallon storage tank, and another one is just out of view.

Here's one of the smaller storage areas, but I thought the view was pretty nice.

Tim, at the end of one of the breaks, calling the dancers back to the floor. During the dance, Tim played guitar and pipes, though not at the same time. We also had Dana on keyboard, Bill on mandolin, and myself on fiddle. We play primarily Scotish tunes, to the best of our ability.

Monica, my better-half, taught and called the dances. It is a generally inexperienced group of dancers, but they are a game crowd and always seem to have fun.

On the fiddle-making front, earlier in the day I decided that since I was making a new front, I might as well make a new, improved back, so glued one up.