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Mendini Warning
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DanielB
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June 14, 2012 - 9:51 am
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If you buy a "Mendini by Cecilio" violin, at least their lower priced ones, you may not get what is in the product description.  Look what I found when I went to strip the "ebony" paint off the "rosewood fingerboard". 100_0127.JPGImage Enlarger100_0130.JPGImage Enlarger

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"This young wine may have a lot of tannins now, but in 5 or 10 years it is going to be spectacular, despite the fact that right now it tastes like crude oil. You know this is how it is supposed to taste at this stage of development." ~ Itzhak Perlman

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Mad_Wed
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June 14, 2012 - 10:23 am
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Hmm.. I think all the cheap instruments could have the same things. I don't wonder, why though... Thit is the chin-rest that was attached to my cheap chinese violin:

c2.jpgImage Enlarger

The same with my fingerboard, i believe ... =) I'm not surprised.

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DanielB
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Yeah, and I don't have a huge problem with it actually.

It has a pretty grain, and it is very definitely some sort of hardwood.  It will work fine for a fingerboard.  I kinda like it! 

I'm kind of trying to figure out what kind of wood it is, though. That fingerboard is not maple.  Not ash or oak either, the smell is wrong.  It may be some oriental species I am not familiar with.  To be honest, the wood it looks most like that I am familiar with is hickory.  Smells a bit like hickory when sanding, too.  So I'm guessing it is at least some sort of a nut wood.  

In any case, it will look dang cool when I am done!  LOL

"This young wine may have a lot of tannins now, but in 5 or 10 years it is going to be spectacular, despite the fact that right now it tastes like crude oil. You know this is how it is supposed to taste at this stage of development." ~ Itzhak Perlman

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ftufc
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Hey Daniel, in your first pic, I actually thought it was rosewood, but in your second pic, it actually does look a lot like hickory; but hickory is as expensive as rosewood, so why use hickory.  But in any case, I'm actually surprised they used a piece that had a knot in it,,, this should at least be knot-free wood, very weird!dunno

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DanielB
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That's the thing with paint, though, Fred.  Most of the time when you see it on a musical instrument, it is a good bet that it is hiding something.

Rosewood has a very distinctive scent when it is being scraped and sanded, though.  And this is not it.  LOL  I am still betting on hickory so far.

I could just order an ebony fingerboard blank easy enough, but I've decided that at least for now I'm just going to tung oil the one that's on here and see how she looks and how she does.

What I'm trying to decide at the moment is whether to stain the fingerboard with something neat or not.  I don't mean like a fake walnut or mahogany or ebony from the hardware store.  I have some seriously interesting things they sometimes used for color on antique/historic instruments.  Sandarac, myrrh, dragon's blood, saffron, copal, amber.. I already was out to the hardware store to buy tung oil, since I've decided I definitely want to stick with the "bare wood" sort of feel.  I also scraped the neck down to burnish it up and give it a couple coats of tung oil as well. 

 

Oh, if anyone can't tell, I actually am having a great time with this project.  This is going to end up looking seriously custom, and hopefully even pretty dang nice by the time I'm done.  crossedfingers

I actually prefer unique looking instruments to very standard ones in many cases.

"This young wine may have a lot of tannins now, but in 5 or 10 years it is going to be spectacular, despite the fact that right now it tastes like crude oil. You know this is how it is supposed to taste at this stage of development." ~ Itzhak Perlman

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NoirVelours
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Maybe it's boxwood or pear? Not all violin comes with false ebony, I bought my Ricard Bunnel G2 because they assured me over live chat that all fittings were real ebony and the violin was assembled in their shop.

"It can sing like a bird, it can cry like a human being, it can be very angry, it can be all that humans are" Maxim Vengerov

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gkeese
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I am definetly scratching Mendini off of my list... but then again, it might make a fun project.

"Everyone is a genius. But if you judge a fish on its ability to climb a tree, it will live its entire life believing that it is stupid." -Albert Einstein

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DanielB
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Usually with most musical instruments, NV, it will be what it is sold as.  You paid more for your G2, and you get a value for that.

With this instrument, though, the paint was covering that the wood of the fingerboard and fittings is not even the right kind of wood.  The reason I put "warning" in the title, is it is that at least the pained parts are not the wood they are being sold as.

Some people might find that highly upsetting.

Myself?  I would rather have honest wood under my fingers than a coat of paint.  Whatever kind of wood this is, it seems hard enough to be possibly a good fingerboard.  As you would know, Baroque and Renaissance instruments sometimes used lighter colored hardwoods for the fingerboard.  Sycamore, and assorted fruit and nut woods were often used.  Many of them work well, and some people prefer them.  The insistence on ebony is more a modern taste of the past couple centuries.  Even during the Great Depression in the States back in the 1930s, maple was not unknown for violin fingerboards.  

If it ends up not being a good fingerboard, ebony blanks as well as other exotic woods are not so expensive that I can't change it by just replacing the fingerboard as is often done when they eventually become worn from playing.  But for now, I think I will leave it as it is and just a good non-sticky oil finish on it.

  It will give the instrument a unique look.

"This young wine may have a lot of tannins now, but in 5 or 10 years it is going to be spectacular, despite the fact that right now it tastes like crude oil. You know this is how it is supposed to taste at this stage of development." ~ Itzhak Perlman

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EJ-Kisz
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Hmmm, it almost looks like walnut!  It looks exactly like the walnut stock of a WWII Mauser rifle I have!  It had a "hickory" smell to it as well!  Plus, I believe it's inexpensive  hence why it was used in the mass production of rifles during the war.  

That would be interesting to a violin without that black/"ebony" fingerboard!  I think that would be pretty cool!    

“Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.” ~Benjamin Franklin

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cdennyb
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Instead of immediately putting on the finish maybe you'd consider using the multi level sanding technique and make it polished looking.

Starting out with 600 then moving up to 1200 and 2000 and finishing with a piece of silk material? Should produce a beautiful semi gloss sheen.

Of course sealing it from moisture absorbtion would preclude any warpage issues.

"If you practice with your hands you must practice all day. Practice with your mind and you can accomplish the same amount in minutes." Nathan Milstein

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dashrem
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June 14, 2012 - 5:17 pm
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Not all rosewood is red. Image Enlarger

That's Asian rosewood. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/P.....us_indicus See how it has several different tones, shades, and hues.

 

The rosewood you are likely familiar with is http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/D.....rgia_nigra

 

You are getting what is advertised, just not what you expected. 😛

Not to mention that Cecilio is making some cheap violins. You should be thankful a knot is the only thin wrong with it, it could have been split in half and duct-taped back together. roflol

I can't read music, but I understand it perfectly.

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DanielB
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dashrem:  To quote from that wiki - "The hardwood, which is purplish, is termite resistant and rose-scented. "    Not even vaguely purplish and definitely no rose scent. 

 

cdennyn: Hmm, my usual for "fine wood" where it's not going to get varnish or something similar is 200, 400, 0000 steel wool, a shammy wheel, and then burnish with polished agate.  The tung oil would be put on mostly to protect the wood from liquid water, as from sweat or accidents.  But it still allows the wood to react to humidity (slower exchange than a drop of water that is wiped off).  It also keeps a bit of the "wet" color of the wood, like most oils.  It also makes it easier to clean from finger dirt, dust and metal that rubs off the strings during normal play.  I usually would wipe off any that doesn't soak in after a couple minutes, to get more of a wood feel and look than a gloss. I'm used to burnishing wood to compress the top layer of grain.

I've never heard of using grits as fine as 1200 or 2000 on actual open wood.  And then polishing with silk.  Hmm.  How durable is it on open wood that is going to be played like a fingerboard?  Open wood on guitar necks doesn't usually do so well in my experience.  Some people think they want it, but it goes to heck pretty fast.

"This young wine may have a lot of tannins now, but in 5 or 10 years it is going to be spectacular, despite the fact that right now it tastes like crude oil. You know this is how it is supposed to taste at this stage of development." ~ Itzhak Perlman

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Kevin M.
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I don't have smellavision on my computer but it does look like rosewood to me. You have to realize  that you get what you pay for.  A good fingerboard from International violin cost from 21 to 28 dollars.  To buy all the parts needed to build a violin, and that is without flamed maple and nothing carved out, it runs around $150.00.  That is without strings, bridge, tailpiece, pegs, endpin and the finish. when all said and done to build a finished violin will cost $250 to $300 without labor. What you get when you purchase a Mendini violin is a violin you can learn to play on. If you do learn to play then you buy a good violin, give away the Mendini so someone else can learn and then the Mendini continues on doing what it was meant for.

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cdennyb
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DanielB said
dashrem:  To quote from that wiki - "The hardwood, which is purplish, is termite resistant and rose-scented. "    Not even vaguely purplish and definitely no rose scent. 

 

cdennyn: Hmm, my usual for "fine wood" where it's not going to get varnish or something similar is 200, 400, 0000 steel wool, a shammy wheel, and then burnish with polished agate.  The tung oil would be put on mostly to protect the wood from liquid water, as from sweat or accidents.  But it still allows the wood to react to humidity (slower exchange than a drop of water that is wiped off).  It also keeps a bit of the "wet" color of the wood, like most oils.  It also makes it easier to clean from finger dirt, dust and metal that rubs off the strings during normal play.  I usually would wipe off any that doesn't soak in after a couple minutes, to get more of a wood feel and look than a gloss. I'm used to burnishing wood to compress the top layer of grain.

I've never heard of using grits as fine as 1200 or 2000 on actual open wood.  And then polishing with silk.  Hmm.  How durable is it on open wood that is going to be played like a fingerboard?  Open wood on guitar necks doesn't usually do so well in my experience.  Some people think they want it, but it goes to heck pretty fast.

 

you gave me the link yesterday and I remember reading about it. It's mid way down the article. http://www.dalemfg.com/violin_013.htm

"If you practice with your hands you must practice all day. Practice with your mind and you can accomplish the same amount in minutes." Nathan Milstein

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springer
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I agree most with what Kevin said. Also think the wood should be ok for a fingerboard, except for the knot mabe. Ebony is just the thing these days.dunno

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Fiddlerman
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June 14, 2012 - 10:24 pm
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There must be a composite material which is better than Ebony. Maybe a super plastic, epoxy, laminate.....

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

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Fiddlestix
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@ DanielB.... while you're doing all this sanding and scraping, don't forget to shape your fingerboard. More concave on the G string side, less on the E side.

Sound's like you'er putting a lot of work into it so you might as well do it right, not just sand and scrape.   smile

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DanielB
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Fiddlestix: Ok, I think I get it.  Probably to allow for the greater excursion of the thicker/lower strings as they vibrate.  I'll see if I can work a bit of that in.  Good idea, thanks!  I don't know as I can actually do a violin "right", to be honest.  This is the only acoustic one I've ever even held for more than maybe a minute or two.  Lot of learning curve to go, here.  LOL

 

FM: I don't know about better, but there certainly should be some space-age options that could at least work well.  A friend of mine who worked in plastic plants for some years looked at the fingerboard of my electric and said it is something like "graphite composite high temp glass resin" and "internally cross braced under the external shell".  At the risk of sounding kind of plebian and uneducated here.. to me it looks like plastic.  Uncultivated swine that I am, "plastic is plastic".  But over the couple months I've put in a fair amount of time playing on it, it stays straight and has shown no sign of wear yet.  It is definitely a lot lighter than ebony.  That is good with the design of my electric, since it is a little heavy in my (inexperienced) opinion.

But I would bet you are right, and there are modern options that would be as good or maybe even better in some ways than ebony out there somewhere.

 

cdennyb: That guy is way beyond my current craftsmanship, tools and materials.  I don't even have grits in that range.  Even for polishing the softer gemstones, I would usually just go to polishing compound after sandpaper.  I'm having great fun exploring those articles and getting ideas, but for this project, I will probably stick with what I know and have the stuff for. 

I did find another site that I bookmarked for further study that I wanted to give you the link for, though.  It goes into some of the physics of the violin and looked very interesting on my first breeze through it.

http://www.physicscentral.com/.....ddle-1.cfm

 

Kevin (and dashrem): It my be some sort of rosewood for all that I know.  I'd personally say not, but it is entirely possible that you guys are right.  The smellavision on my computer doesn't work either, and even pics don't show the real color very well.  How it feels to the touch, how it sands and scrapes, the sound it makes when rapped with a knuckle, none of that can be conveyed here.  I have had one person look at it in person who I would usually consider qualified since he spent a couple decades of his life working in a custom cabinet shop and knows wood far better than I do.  He said it is not rosewood and is almost certain on it being hickory or perhaps some type of unusual walnut or maybe butter nut.  Or possibly some oriental species he has never seen before, but still he's pretty sure it would have to be a nut wood.

Me?  I could give a rat's patootie, to be honest.  It is hard enough and I like the look enough that I would try it for a guitar fretboard and expect it might actually work pretty good.  And that is good enough for me.

 However, sadly for the Mendini company.. I wasn't the one who paid for this instrument.  My wife and our room-mate have been dogging after the company and insisting on "getting some answers".  They also feel they are "getting the run around", and so I am very glad I don't work the customer service line there.  I'll just make popcorn and watch, y'know?

I think what you are talking about, Kevin, is sometimes referred to as "being reasonable".  If you have ever worked customer service anywhere, you know that if the words "customer" and reasonable" can ever be used together, you should run out and buy a lottery ticket on the day that happens. LOL  Customers are rarely if ever reasonable.  I would, however, still maintain that overall I think that a lot of people who might be tempted by the price tag, pics and product description on this instrument are likely to be disappointed with what they get as it comes out of the box.  Somebody (or their parents, spouse, bf/gf, whatever) looking for a good bargain would probably be better off looking a little higher up the price scale.

Myself, knowing a bit about low end instruments, at the price I would expect about what one gets if one buys something like a "First Act" brand guitar when it is on sale at a department store or grocery store or amazon or whatever.  It is never going to be a stellar instrument.  Assuming it was put together straight enough, you can put on a new set of strings, adjust the bridge, trim the nut a bit, maybe adjust the truss rod and if you are lucky it will be ok for kitchen and backyard jams, camping trips, or taking lessons.  Do a little more to it, like maybe level and dress the frets, better tuning machines, screw a couple brass plates on the back of the headstock so it actually has a little bit of sustain, and it can be at least kinda nice.   A good "grab and git" instrument or "beater" as some call them, and worth keeping around.  Sound will never be great, but they can be a tolerably playable and solid instrument to learn or jam on.  Beyond that, it is unrealistic to expect to get any more from it no matter how much time and money you are willing to put into it. Straight out of the box though, if you don't want to learn how to do any of that stuff, better to just return it or consider it garage sale fodder.

So far as me "having to realize you get what you pay for", Kevin.. I would personally contend that as one of those statements that gets said a lot, but is almost never actually true.  Very often you will get less than what you thought you paid for, and sometimes you can get more.  But to avoid this turning into a George Carlin routine, let's skip over that point.

My expectations at present.. Other than some problems that I feel are within my experience and means to fix, I think this at least has good potential to end up as nice as the "First Act" guitars mentioned above if one is willing to put in a bit of work and not expect too much.  Just on the learning experiences and "fun factor" of getting to work with my tools and hands, I feel I have already had at least as much fun as anyone could expect to have for 70 bucks or whatever.  Beyond that, I am pretty sure I can make a playable instrument out of this that might play as nice as some that have at least slightly higher price tags.  We'll see.

"This young wine may have a lot of tannins now, but in 5 or 10 years it is going to be spectacular, despite the fact that right now it tastes like crude oil. You know this is how it is supposed to taste at this stage of development." ~ Itzhak Perlman

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dashrem
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Another possibility is that company doesn't know it's not using rosewood. It could be placing orders for certain types of wood and the lumber yards are sending them the next best thing. This wouldn't surprise me at as it's made in a factory with likely hundreds of employees in a country where it's better to let the people "who know about these things" take care of the problem. Except it's most likely that those people don't realize it's happening.

 

A good example is the chocolate industry. The big manufactures were putting in orders for cocoa to Africa who was using child slavery to harvest the beans. Nobody knew until a few years ago.

 

So where it looks like your friends are getting the run around, they are probably talking to people who only know that they are told that it is rosewood.

I can't read music, but I understand it perfectly.

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DanielB
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That all sounds very likely, dashrem.  I doubt the phone chase will accomplish much.  Someone they talked to offered a full refund early on, which is really about the best one can expect.  I wasn't interested in a refund, though.  I feel this has gone into being an interesting project and I've gotten to like the look.

"This young wine may have a lot of tannins now, but in 5 or 10 years it is going to be spectacular, despite the fact that right now it tastes like crude oil. You know this is how it is supposed to taste at this stage of development." ~ Itzhak Perlman

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