Custom Violin #28 138

Completed October, 2014

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


This violin has the finest of European tonewoods, and a deep, slightly dark but focused and very balanced voice. Master violinist Richard DiAdamo visited my shop just as I was finishing the setup, and with my $39 shop bow and no shoulder rest produced the following sound clips:

Construction Photos

Construction begins with the joining of the maple and spruce plates with hot hide glue. Spruce corner and end blocks are glued to an internal form with hot glue. The blocks are trimmed to shape, and the ribs are sanded to final thickness and bent over a hot pipe. They are then glued to the blocks with hot hide glue. The upper half of the form is removed, and linings are bent and fitted to the ribs.

The linings are glued in with hot hide glue. The profile of the top using a washer to establish the overhang, and the top is cut to shape. The neck blank is also cut to shape with a bandsaw. Excess wood is removed from the top with a shop-built duplicating router. The purfling channel is cut,

and the purfling is fitted and glued into place. Carving on the neck begins with the interior of the pegbox. The cheeks are cut away with a bandsaw, and the scroll is roughly established with a handsaw, then gradually refined with gouges, scrapers, and ultimately sandpaper..

When the scroll and pegbox are complete, the neck is shaped and fitted to the fingerboard. The outside of the top is refined with scrapers and sandpaper. Thicknessing holes are drilled from the inside, and the bulk of the wood is removed with finger planes.

The top is brought to the proper stiffness, weight, and thickness, and then the f-holes are cut. The bass bar is fitted and glued into place. When the glue is dry, the bar is shaved to return the top to its original tuning before the f-holes were cut. Hot hide glue is applied to the mating surfaces of top and ribs and allowed to dry. Then the parts are clamped together and the glue is reactivated with a burst of steam.

The internal form is removed. The back linings are shaped and glued into place. The neck recess is cut, and the neck heel is matched to the plane of the back. A washer of the proper diameter is utilized to establish the overhang, and the shape of the back is marked onto the blank.

The blank is cut to shape, and a power plane knocks off excess wood before it goes into a duplicating router. The purfling channel is cut, and the purfling is bent and glued in with hot hide glue. The outside of the back is developed with scrapers, then finished by sanding.

Thicknessing holes are drilled from the inside. The bulk of the wood is removed with planes. When the holes start to disappear, it's time to switch to a scraper and bring out the scales, the caliper, and the laptop for final dimensioning. When the back is brought to the right thickness, graduation, weight, and relationship to the top in resonant frequency, the label is glued in and hot hide glue is applied to the mating surfaces and allowed to dry. The parts are then clamped together, and the glue is reactivated with steam. The neck is glued in at the proper angle and alignment.

At this point, the instrument is ready for final sanding and finishing. When sanding is complete, the instrument is given a coat of dichromate. This chemical goes on bright yellow at first, but overnight will oxidize to a warm brown color that will provide a ground color for the instrument. Colored coats of varnish are applied, beginning with a golden brown base coat and gradually building toward red brown.

Under natural light, the appearance is quite different that those photos taken under my shop lighting. When the desired color is obtained, clear coats are applied. Then the instrument is set aside for a week or so to cure before the finish is rubbed out and the instrument is set up. The ebony saddle is shaped and glued into place. The area under the fingerboard extension is rubbed out.

The fingerboard is glued in place. The rest of the instrument is rubbed out, first with oil and pumice, then with oil and rottenstone. The Perfection planetary tuners are installed. The bridge is fitted and shaped. The end pin hole is reamed to the proper size, and the pin is fitted.

The soundpost is measured, fitted, and installed. Master violinist Richard DiAdamo arrives just in time to create the first notes on this new violin.

Thanks for watching this project

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