Custom Violin #25 135

Completed August, 2014

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


This Lutz spruce topped violin is finished, and I'm more than pleased with the result. I've done a bit of antiquing on this one, and it turned out just exactly as I'd envisioned it. The sound is bold and vibrant, with a dark sound that has great articulation and carrying properties, as you can hear in the clip below. The back, sides, and neck of this instrument are European maple.

Master violinist Richard DiAdamo plays Viatti's "Concerto No. 23 in G major.

Construction Photos

Construction begins with the joining of the European maple back and Lutz spruce top with hot hide glue. Vertical-grain spruce blocks are temporarily glued to the internal form with hot glue. The maple ribs are thicknessed and bent over a hot pipe. The blocks are cut to shape, and the ribs are glued in, beginning with the "C" sections.

The neck is cut to shape and the fingerboard and pegbox are laid out. The upper half of the internal form is removed, and the top linings are bent, notched into the corner blocks, and glued in with hot hide glue.

A washer is utilized to mark the overhang onto the top blank. The top is cut to shape, and the edge is thicknessed on the router table. A homemade duplicating carver quickly removes excess wood, and an overhead router begins the formation of the recurve around the edge. The purfling channel is cut.

The purfling is bent and glued in with hot hide glue. While the glue is drying, I begin hollowing the peg box with a chisel. Turning back to the top, the profile is refined first with a scraper and chisel, then with sandpaper. Thicknessing holes are drilled in the underside.

Wood is removed with a plane and again with chisel and sandpaper. Computer software, calipers, and electronic scales are utilized to arrive at a top plate that is at the proper tap tone and at the right stiffness, thickness, and weight. The f-holes are marked and cut. Hot hide glue is applied to the mating surfaces of the rib garland and the top and allowed to dry. The Bass bar is fitted to the top and glued into place.

The fingerboard is shaped and fitted to the neck. The neck is roughed out first with the bandsaw, then with a handsaw and gouges.

The top is returned to its original pitch by trimming the bass bar. The top is clamped to the ribs, and the glue is reactivated with a jet of steam. Then it's removed from the internal form and the back linings are bent, fitted, and glued into place. I continue working on the scroll with scrapers and gouges. When it is finished, the neck mortise is cut to fit the neck.

The neck is then glued into the mortise with hot hide glue. The instrument's outline is marked onto the back, and it's cut to shape. A duplicating router is used to remove excess wood. The purfling channel is cut with a Dremel tool.

The corners are cut with a sharp knife, and the purfling is bent, fitted, and glued into the channel with hot hide glue. When the glue has dried, the shape is further refined with scrapers and sandpaper. When the exterior is finished, the "contour" lines for the graduation are marked on the inside. Thicknessing holes are bored, and wood is removed first with planes, then with scrapers and sandpaper.

Both old and modern technology are used to bring the back to the proper stiffness (tap tone) at the proper weight and thickness. When the back is properly profiled and the edges are formed, it's glued to the ribs with hot hide glue. At this point, the violin is structurally complete and ready for final sanding and finishing. When sanding is complete, the instrument is saturated with dichromate. This goes on a bright yellow that quickly fades to a greenish yellow.

Over the course of a day or so, the chemical reacts with the wood and becomes a medium brown that serves as a ground color for the instrument. The instrument is lightly sanded,then given a thinned coat of yellow varnish. When that's dried, a pore filler is applied. Tinted coats of varnish are built toward the desired color. A combination of shading and abrading is used to give the instrument an aged appearance.

An ebony saddle is shaped and glued into place. The nut is fitted to the fingerboard, and it's glued to the neck. Final rubout is with pumice and oil. A bit of setup, and this one's ready to go.


Thanks for watching this project

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