Custom Violin # 27 137

Completed September 2014

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


This custom violin features highest quality European woods -- maple back, sides, and neck and spruce top. Ebony accessories with a French eye perfectly set off the antiqued hand-rubbed oil finish. The sound is focused but resonant, as the choice of woods would suggest. Sound clips coming soon. $5,000.

Sorry, but this one sold before I could get any sound clips posted.


Construction Photos

Construction of this violin gets underway with the joining of the top and back plates with hot hide glue. Blocks are hot-glued into the corners and ends of the internal mold and cut to shape. The sides are bent over a hot pipe and glued to the blocks. When the glue has dried, the upper part of the form is removed and the corner blocks are trimmed and notched to received the bent linings.
The maple lining is bent and glued to the ribs. The shape of the ribs plus the overhang is marked onto the top, and it's cut to shape. A router table is used to define the edge thickness. Excess wood is removed with a shop-built duplicating carver, and the edge scallop is

roughly cut with a shop-built overhead router. The purfling channel is cut, and the purfling is bent and glued in with hot hide glue. After carving the neck and scroll, it dawned on me that the porosity of the neck and back were very different.

Acting on a hunch, I tested both woods with dichromate, a chemical used to develop a ground color before finishing. The results are so different that I don't believe I'd ever be able to coordinate the colors between the two woods. Consequently, I set that neck aside to be used on some later project, and began again on the neck with a more compatible neck block. The neck is cut to shape, the fingerboard is fitted to the blank, and the peg holes are drilled. Carving begins with the interior of the peg box. Excess wood is removed first with the bandsaw,

then with a dovetail saw. The scroll is roughed out with gouges and scrapers, then finished and sandedwith progressively finer tools.

Turning my attentnion back to the top, the outside is brought to its final shape and sanded. Then thicknessing holes are drilled on the inside, and excess wood is quickly removed with planes. At this point, I start analyzing the tap tone and proceed more cautiously with scrapers.

At the proper weight and thickness, the tap tone has dropped to a perfect Eb4 (310hz) which is ideal. The f-holes are marked and cut. The bass bar is fitted and glued to the top. The bass bar is carefully reduced in size to bring the top back to the original pitch before the f-holes were cut.

The top is glued to the ribs with hot hide glue. When the glue is dry, the internal form is removed, and the linings are bent to shape and glued in place. The neck recess is cut. The back is cut to shape and excess wood is removed on a duplicating carver. The purfling channel is cut.


The purfling is glued in place with hot hide glue. The exterior of the back is established first with scrapers, then by sanding. Thicknessing holes are drilled from the inside, and the top is thicknessed with planes, scrapers, and sandpaper.

Hide glue is applied to the mating surfaces of ribs and back and allowed to dry. The label is glued in. The back is clamped to the ribs, and the glue is reactivated with a burst of steam. The neck is glued to the completed body. At this point, the instrument is ready for final sanding and finishing. The instrument is thoroughly sanded, then given a coat of dichromate. This is at first bright yellow, but will overnight change the wood to a warm brown.

The instrument is given a thin coat of golden yellow varnish as a base coat. Then a series of coats of tinted varnish are applied until the desired color is achieved, followed by a couple of clear coats. When all of the varnish has been applied, the instrument is set aside to allow the finish to cure for a week or more. The area under the fingerboard is first rubbed out, and the fingerboard is glued to the neck. An ebony saddle is fashioned and glued in place. The instrument is rubbed out first with pumice and oil, then with rottenstone and oil; the resulting finish has a soft satin glow.

       
The ebony pegs are shaped and fitted to the pegbox. A bit of setup, and this one is ready to go.


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