My first career was playing my violin with the El Paso Symphony.
I would like my last career to be *making* violins. I have only the
rudiments of a shop, and some hand tools.
So, what could I do to move incrementally toward my goal of making
wooden acoustic musical instruments? I have a budget of maybe $1000
Several places on the net have violin's in kit form along with directions of course on the tools needed and proper construction. If I where you I would start this way. That is of course if there was no Luthier around to get to know for help.
Well, you already have one HUGE advantage over most people who might
want to delve into violin making: you know what a good one sounds like
and you can play one you make well enough to verify its tone and
perhaps be able to make adjustments to improve on that.
I saw a TV show once about a violin maker who was in exactly that same
position, and it made it abundantly clear to me that no matter what my
woodworking skills might ever become, there was no way I could close
the deal, so to speak, on the best configuration of my product. On
accounta no fiddlin' skills, you see.
A couple of things you'll probably want that the average maker of
sewing cabinets and entertainment centers don't have are a steaming
thing (for bending wood) and a bunch of those nifty little clamps for
gluing the top and back onto the curved sides. I also think violin
makers use tiny planes and scrapers, too.
It probably wouldn't hurt to get in contact with actual violin makers
and pick their brains. I would think with the contacts you must have
made in the symphony it wouldn't be hard to scare up a couple of
possibilities. All else failing, do a search on the internet.
I am envious of musicians of your caliber.
Master Woodbutcher and seasoned termite
Shamelessly whoring my website since 1999
Well, sort of. One of the reasons that I quit playing professionally
is that I am going deaf. It's congenital; my dad was pretty much
completely deaf by the time he died. I will be wearing hearing aids
in another year or so; I already have some problems hearing normal
conversation, especially with a noisy environment.
I will have to rely on others to find out if my fiddles are any good.
Sorry to hear that, but you will not be alone on this NG. My hearing is well
along the way to going all the way, but what I hate more than missed
conversations is the constant tinnitus that accompanies the loss. Whistles,
bleeps and shrieks are not real fun.
Make sure you get protection for what you hearing have left. Many machines can
speed the loss, with highest marks probably going to routers and planers.
I don't approve of political jokes. I've seen too many of them get elected.
Oh, yeah -- I go to great lengths to preserve what I have left. Got a
good set of shotgun muffs to wear while running a saw or router (when
I'm shooting, I use earplugs in addition to the muffs).
Not too many tools are needed and most are hand tools.
(I picked up a Chiwanese violin for $26 and am learning
how to swing a cat. I'm sure they use machines to make
the parts, then hand-fit/finish them with cheap labor.
Got any tips for me to make it more comfortable to play?
My shoulder doesn't like it much.)
1) Pick up some books on instrument building at your local
library. (Dewey 787 section)
2) Check with local music shops for info on luthiers in your area.
You might be able to trade your time helping them for their
instruction. They could probably use your expertise in the
use and sound of a good instrument, too. Win/win.
3) Check your local high schools/comm. colleges for night courses
in luthiery. (probably mostly for guitar)
4) Check local hardwood lumber stores for music-grade lumber.
Grizzly's president builds guitars and now sells wood kits. Check
with him to see if he'll supply violin kits, too. www.grizzly.com
Search www.amazon.com for "luthier" and get some books to
That will increase as you sell your violins. Are
you ready to start teaching violin, too? You are
sure to be asked.
Now about that red varnish...
--== EAT RIGHT...KEEP FIT...DIE ANYWAY ==--
http://www.diversify.com/stees.html - Schnazzy Tees online
Check your local music store for shoulder rests. There are lots of
different types, and I have used several. The one I use now is not
available any more, and I may eventually make a copy of it myself.
Shoulder rests sell from $3 to about $15. Many violin teachers look
down their noses at them, which I think is dumb -- you should get
whatever works for you.
A long time ago, I agreed to give violin lessons to a couple of high
school students. They started out by asking what kind of music they
should study. I asked if they planned on making a living playing the
violin, and they answered "No." I then told them to pick out whatever
kind of music they happened to like, and we would study it together,
and I'd work in the appropriate technical skills as needed. I
explained that music was to be enjoyed, and if you didn't enjoy it,
there wasn't any point in studying it.
They did pretty good...
Y'know... maybe I ought to do some more teaching before I go
Thanks. I'll look into it. It is primarily my rotator cuff which
gives me the problem, but I saw a picture of some street musicians
on the link http://home.att.net/~PeteSchug/ that YoungCarpenter
posted. I've been holding my elbow up to get a better grip on the
neck. I'll try repositioning.
Yes, enjoyment is the ONLY reason to play. Speaking of which,
is there any way I can muffle the sound from the voilin as I
learn how to play it? (I didn't refer to "swinging a cat" for
no reason, y'see.) Spray foam is much too permanent and would
prolly burst the instrument.
Go for it!
Life is short. Eat dessert first!
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Violin mutes which clip to the bridge .. available at any violin shop.
Alternative till you find a real one is a common paper clamp ... the kind
you squeeze between thumb and forefinger to open. Add some folded up paper
between the jaws to dampen the sound as desired .
There are two ways that I have used. The cheap way is to buy a
practice mute. Should be a couple of dollars at most. It's basically
a weight with a clip that goes on the bridge, and you could probably
easily make one yourself. There is a picture of a wooden mute on page
7 of the ILS catalog at
http://www.internationalluthiers.com/pdf/Catalog83.pdf . It doesn't
really show how the mute is applied, but the three fingers are slotted
so that the mute sets on the bridge with the strings going through the
gaps. They don't show a practice mute in the catalog, but you could
get one of the wood mutes and either make a heavier copy, or mount a
lead weight on it. The more weight in the mute, the quieter.
The other way is to use an electric practice instrument with
headphones. I have a homemade 'stick' with a pickup that I paid a
friend of mine about $100 to build for me. Commercial e-fiddles can
cost several thousand dollars. You need a good pickup, a
high-impedance preamp, and a headphone amplifier for this.
Excellent! I have a nice, dense piece of Jarrah that would
love to become a mute. Thanks.
Yes, the Chiwanese models are a few hundred on Ebay. I got the
cheapie violin there to learn how to play, and if I continue,
I'll get a _real_ violin.
Better Living Through Denial
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education, education, education.
Places like stew-mac make kits and sell them but they often offer wood,
parts, books, plans etc. on the subject
Check out www.Musickits.com (I think that's right)
www.Internationalviolin.com is a supplier of luthier/parts and educational
Think about starting with a non-violin instrument like a Lap Dulcimer, an
instrument cheap to make and hard to mess up.
try a few other links too
http://www.graffiti.it/violin/welcome.html (this may be dead)
http://www.violink.com/ (may be dead)
There are a few who have messed around with violin making on
rec.music.makers.bowed-strings. There is a instrument making group too I
just can't remember the name.
As for financing see if there are any friends in the area who have "always
wanted to play a _________" and see if they will pay for the kit or
materials or something.
Band saws and maybe a table saw are the main power tool. Various planes,
finger planes, hand saws, and a few unique [to the instrument] tools make up
99% of the rest. oh yeah and the bending thingy :)
"Violin playing and Woodworking are similar, it takes plenty of money,
One of the last remaining violin-making schools in the west is Peter Prier &
Sons Violins in Salt Lake City. I understand they have quite a reputation
in the biz. I believe they offer classes that are a couple of months long.
Several of my adult nieces and nephews are very talented musicians. Peter
Prier's shop has made several instruments (viola, cello) of extremely high
quality for them. They were willing to travel from Phoenix several times,
in order to acquire these essentially custom purchases.
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