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.