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Fiddle Kits
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Sofia Leo
Lebanon, Oregon
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September 13, 2011 - 3:01 pm
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Since there seems to be an interest in DIY fiddle construction a new thread to discuss the merits of various routes seems in order. I posted my initial thoughts on my blog and would like to expound a bit more here.

 

First, I would like to encourage anyone who has an interest in building their own fiddle to jump in with both feet. So many building/making traditions are being lost that I feel it's imperative that everyone develop the skills to build/make something so that these arts aren't lost completely. The fact that we all play an instrument says a lot about our desire to continue ancient traditions, and I hope that I don't come across as too much of a cheerleader for anachronisms cheerleader Or maybe I'm preaching to the choir...

 

The blog post linked above includes links to find various kits online, so I won't repeat them here. I found my particular kit on eBay and am quite happy with how it turned out.

 

To get an idea of what is involved with a partially assembled kit, take a look at the instructions from Stew-Mac.

 

Even if you're starting with a kit, it's very helpful to have a basic knowledge of how a violin is built from scratch, and you'll probably want to give it a go after you've gotten hooked on building with the kit smile

There are a gazillion books about violin making, and deciding which one to buy can be daunting. It all depends on how far you want to descend into the mysteries of violin building drooling

 

If you want basic instructions for building from scratch, written in easy to understand language, I recommend Bruce Ossman's "Violin Making, Second Edition Revised and Expanded: An Illustrated Guide for the Amateur" for its less complicated approach to fiddle building. The Real Luthiers scoff at his methods, as they are not Traditional, but anyone with a few tools or access to a shop can build a fiddle to be proud of.

 

Another great book (he has written a series, each one as good as the last) is Henry Strobel's "Violin Making: Step by Step." The fact that he lives an hour and a half away from me and that I have actually been to his shop should have no bearing on your decision to buy wink The books are inexpensive, pretty comprehensive, but not overloaded with too much "theory" or "tradition."

 

Okay, that should get the discussion going. Fire away!

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myguitarnow
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September 13, 2011 - 4:50 pm
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Great information. You're lucky to have a luthier pretty close to you that shares his art of violin making. I finally found someone by me this morning that will go over the violins I have. I'll be visiting him tomorrow. Sure would be nice to get some luthiers on this forum.

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Fiddlerman
Fort Lauderdale
September 13, 2011 - 6:07 pm
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myguitarnow said:

I finally found someone by me this morning that will go over the violins I have. I'll be visiting him tomorrow. Sure would be nice to get some luthiers on this forum.

Great news MGN, I look forward to hearing about it. exactly

"The richest person is not the one who has the most,
but the one who needs the least."

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Sofia Leo
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September 13, 2011 - 6:08 pm
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myguitarnow said:

Great information. You're lucky to have a luthier pretty close to you that shares his art of violin making. I finally found someone by me this morning that will go over the violins I have. I'll be visiting him tomorrow. Sure would be nice to get some luthiers on this forum.

I didn't get to speak to Henry himself (he was still in pajamas answering e-mail as it was pretty early in the morning) but had a lovely conversation with Henry Jr. who was so very nice to this wannabe builder. I plan to go back (with an appointment) someday soon and pick Henry Sr.'s brain if he'll let me.

 

Newport has an orchestra, so we do have a local luthier, but I have yet to make contact with him. Truthfully, I'm a bit intimidated - who knows what kind of reaction I'll get as a beginning player/builder.

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myguitarnow
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September 13, 2011 - 8:52 pm
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You don't need to be intimidated Cat. You did a wonderful job on your first fiddle and you know I'm excited to be your first commission 😉

And yeah FM, the luthier sounded really cool over the phone this morning, however I got asked to head up to the studio tomorrow and Thursday. I called the luthier back to see If I could just drop off a couple violins in the morning and he said, "just hold off and bring in your violins when you get back, because I want you to be there when I go over them with you". That was a great answer by him!

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Fiddlerman
Fort Lauderdale
September 13, 2011 - 9:36 pm
Member Since: September 26, 2010
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That was the perfect answer. Have fun at the studio 🙂

"The richest person is not the one who has the most,
but the one who needs the least."

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pky
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September 14, 2011 - 12:51 am
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Cat, thanks for the information!

What do you think about those kits from internationalmusic? Would you recommend European kit over China kit?

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Sofia Leo
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September 14, 2011 - 12:51 pm
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pky said:

Cat, thanks for the information!

What do you think about those kits from internationalmusic? Would you recommend European kit over China kit?

I have not seen a European kit, but I will hazard a guess that they probably use better/prettier wood (European tonewood that has perhaps been aged more than a Chinese kit? Better cuts of wood with more flaming, etc.?) but then again, many of the kit makers order from Chinese factories, having the kits made to their specifications.

 

There are several violin shops in America and Europe that have violins made in China (sometimes using European wood) to their pattern and specifications, and then sent back to the shop for varnish and final touches which they then sell as "shop violins" which seems a little crooked to me surprised

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Durge
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September 16, 2011 - 4:11 pm
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I read your blog entries cat and I have decided to give it a try when I can afford it. I went to both international and stew-mac. I don't know about wood and what not but the stew-mac kit seems to be almost the same kit as the the international "chinese kit" except that the international kit already has the purfling inlaid for you.

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Sofia Leo
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September 16, 2011 - 4:14 pm
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Durge said:

I read your blog entries cat and I have decided to give it a try when I can afford it. I went to both international and stew-mac. I don't know about wood and what not but the stew-mac kit seems to be almost the same kit as the the international "chinese kit" except that the international kit already has the purfling inlaid for you.

Inlaying the purfling is not hard, and is in fact a lot of fun. If money is a concern, take a look at the kits on eBay - cheaper, so the wood isn't as fancy, but mine turned out great as far as both looks and sound goes.

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Durge
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September 16, 2011 - 7:53 pm
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CatMcCall said:

Inlaying the purfling is not hard, and is in fact a lot of fun. If money is a concern, take a look at the kits on eBay - cheaper, so the wood isn't as fancy, but mine turned out great as far as both looks and sound goes.

Yes Ma'am and I was just about to ask which seller you got it from when I found it myself. Saves me about $120. But I am not one to begin a project with out the proper tools. so I am beginning by purchasing the basics plus one or two "toys". I can't force myself to spend the big money on the true pro gear but I can at least get workable tools. Thumb Plane(s), homemade spool clamps, thickness caliper, scrapers...stuff like that.

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Sofia Leo
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September 16, 2011 - 9:30 pm
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I found scrapers to be more handy than thumb planes except for taking down the purfling. Instructions to make your own thumb planes found here. I would love to make a few of those, but haven't yet. Lots of info on building your own tools on the 'net...

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