Custom Violin #24 134


(click any of the thumbnails for a higher-resolution photo)

This Carpathian spruce topped violin has a gorgeous European maple back, sides, and neck, and it's all delivered in a solid, attractive, full-suspension case. As would be expected from this combination of woods, the tone is focused and articulate, yet it has a bit of a throaty character to it, and it has great volume and balance as you can hear for yourself in these clips by superb violinist Richard DiAdamo. These are unedited clips from a handheld recorder, performed in my living room.

Construction Photos

Construction commences with the joining of the front and back plates with hot hide glue. The sides are thicknessed, then bent over heated pipes to the desired shape. Corner and end blocks are temporarily glued to an external form with hot glue, and the blocks are sanded to shape.

The "C"s are glued in first and allowed to dry. Then the balance of the ribs are glued in place. The linings are bent and cut into strips. The upper half of the internal form is removed, and the top linings are glued in.

A washer is utilized to mark the top's overhang, and it's cut to shape and the edge is thicknessed with a router. A duplicating carver is used to remove excess wood, and an overhead router begins to define the recurve.

The purfling slot is cut with Dremel and a sharp knife, and the purfling is glued in. A scraper is the primary tool utilized to bring the exterior of the top to its final shape. Thicknessing holes are drilled in the back side, and a plane is used to remove excess wood.

A scraper and sandpaper are then used to bring the top close to its final thickness. The top is graduated by juggling the parameters of weight, thickness, and stiffness, the latter evaluated by studying a visual laptop dislpay of the tonal characteristics. The edge is rounded to its final shape. The f-holes are marked,

and cut using a plethora of tools. The bass bar is marked, fitted, and glued in place. The upper half of the corner blocks are reduced in size and weight. The neck outline is marked on a superb maple blank, and the neck is cut to shape.

The bass bar is tap tuned to bring the top back to the original pitch. Hot hide glue is applied to the mating surfaces of the ribs and tops and allowed to dry. The parts are clamped together, and the glue is re-activated with a jet of steam. The instrument is removed from the form, and the back linings are bent and glued in place. The scroll and pegbox are laid out on the partially cut neck blank.

A bandsaw is first used to remove excess wood, followed by a handsaw. The pegbox is hollowed, then the scroll is carved with an assortment of gouges.

The neck and scroll is further defined with gouges, knives, chisels, scrapers, and sandpaper.

The neck mortise is cut, and the neck is glued to the body. The violin's shape is marked onto the back blank, and it's cut to shape and the edge is defined on the router table.

A homemade duplicating carver is again used to remove excess wood. The purfling groove is cut, and purfling is bent and glued in with hot hide glue. The back is refined with a scraper. Thicknessing holes are bored, and wood is removed from the interior first with a plane,

then with a scraper and sandpaper. Again, the parameters of thicknesss, weight, and stiffness are juggled to arrive at a plate with the proper tonal properties. The back is glued on with hot hide glue. At this point, the violin is structurally complete and ready for final sanding and finishing.

When the sanding is complete and the pores are filled, I begin brushing on colored coats of finish. When I've reached the desired hue, I switch over to clear varnish. Either one day or two elapse between coats, depending on drying conditions. When all the finish is on, the instrument is allowed to cure before it's rubbed out and set up.

When the varnish is fully cured, it's wet-sanded with Micro Mesh paper, then rubbed to a soft glow with oil and rottenstone. The fingerboard is glued to the neck. A morning of setup, and this one is ready to go.

Thanks for watching this project

All content and graphics © Skipper Custom Instruments