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New Mendini MV300 violin - critical exam
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springer

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June 15, 2012 - 2:37 pm
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Mabe you better check the sound before goin whole hog on the finish. You may have what you want before changing the look. I worked on a fingerboard recently (ebony). It started out with about 3mm of arch and I still do not have it where I want it. Hard stuff ebony.bananared_cursingdancing

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Kevin M.
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June 15, 2012 - 4:50 pm
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Use a small plane on it instead of sandpaper and for final work use scrapers.  They give you better control and cut the wood instead of scratching it and grinding dust into the pores of the wood.

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springer

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June 15, 2012 - 7:36 pm
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Don't have either one Kevin. facepalm

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DanielB
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June 15, 2012 - 8:34 pm
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I'm pretty sure that my methods and what I will use as tools would be considered remarkably crude by some here.  But you can make scrapers, springer. 

About halfway down this page, they show (though the explanation is pretty brief) how you make a small scraper out of a razor blade.

http://www.stewmac.com/tsarchi.....s0161.html

 

You can also make scrapers out of old knives, x-acto knife blades, utility knife blades, almost anything that is a convenient size and shape.  If you have a butcher's steel, one of those rods with a handle that are used for sharpening knives, it is easy.  Basically you sharpen the edge of a blade wrong.  This would be the normal or right way way..

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v.....yvvxx3eGpI

What you want to do is skip the stroke that goes underneath.  You only sharpen one side.  And use an angle that is less parallel to the blade.  After several strokes (or more than several if it wasn't fairly sharp to begin with), the edge will have a burr or "feather".  Meaning if you run your thumb carefully across the edge (at a right angle to the edge, not down the edge like the edge normally cuts), one side of the blade edge will "grab" and the other won't.  The side that will grab is the side you can use for scraping.  My explanation here isn't very good, so if you try it, be careful and keep the band-aids handy.  Remember that it would be harder to play violin if you lop off a finger.  If you don't have an actual sharpening steel, any bit of good hard steel that is fairly stiff can work.  And try the blade you are going to try scraping with on a bit of junk wood first, of course, to get the feel of it.

For radiusing the edges of the fingerboard, I used an xacto knife blade that I "sacrificed" to make a small scraper.  It took some time, since a scraper only takes off a very tiny curl of wood.  With ebony, it will take even more patience.  But as Kevin said, scraping has much better control than sanding.

"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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DanielB
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Got the nut slots done.  I'd say I ended up more like 0.5 mm than 0.3 mm, but that is still pretty low.  Lower than my electric.  The grooves for the strings are a bare 1/3 diameter, I think.  But they stay in place well once she's brought up to tune.

The action all down the fingerboard has been worth the work.  At the bottom of the fingerboard it is about 5 mm for the G string and about 3.5 mm for the E.  String action is nice and low all the way down the fingerboard, very comfortable.  No buzzing or muffling, notes all sound clear. 

It will need to settle again, but scraping the paint off the shafts of the pegs and scruffing them with a bit of sandpaper hopefully will give them enough "tooth" to hold.  Time will tell on that, but they seemed to be holding well enough for that to be promising.  The D keeps slipping down to C sharp, so that one may need a bit of chalk.  The rest seem to be holding better, but it hasn't been up to tune for long, yet.

Personally, I don't think she came out looking bad.  A bit unusual, yes, but I feel the overall effect is pretty enough. 

I'm not sure at this point if I'll do more work on her now or leave be and try to play enough to get everything to settle in a bit (and get used to the strings being on a higher plane than I'm used to with my electric).  I'm not sure if I'll put the chinrest back on in any case.  But for any who thought I might not ever get her put back together, here's pics.  LOL

100_0139.JPGImage Enlarger100_0142.JPGImage Enlarger100_0140.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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SaraO
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Lookin' good!

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cdennyb
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HOLY CRAP!!!! if that thing will sound as good as it looks it'll be the one you'll never part with!

Awesome wood.... keep it.... dont change it or stain it black.thumbs-up

"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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DanielB
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Ok, updates and a sound file for cdennyb.

First off, very good news.  It is holding tune far better than I think I have any right to expect from a factory fresh instrument, especially in the price range.  It already holds tune at least as well as my electric did at one month.  Yay for wooden pegs, whatever type of wood they might be.  LOL 

Scraping most of the paint off the shafts of the pegs and sanding down the length a little with some 100 grit sandpaper to give them a little "tooth" seems to have fixed the slipping problem quite well.

Overall, I think it sounds a bit better.  It definitely has at least a distinctive voice to it.  Plays like a dream, the action is a bit better than my electric and even notes way up over the body play clear and don't take much more effort to finger than where the neck joins the body.  I am not an expert on violin action, but it seems quite good to me.

Her voice is still a bit husky to my ears, but that may settle out over time and maybe I don't know enough about violin timbre and tone to be sure.  It currently has a voice that definitely has some musical uses, though.  We'll call it "a bit of personality" for now.

So far as the chart, well, it looks a bit different when I ran it with my software, anyway.  I'll be interested to see cdennyb's chart, if/when he can find the time.

I included at least a crude attempt at glissando for my own analysis.  I've been wondering if that knot would affect the sound of the G and D strings on the notes that are fingered over/near it.  It doesn't seem to have a bad effect, though.  I also wanted the gliss check to look for buzzing, since as I've mentioned before, I know what range of the chart to look for that in.  But I don't see any and don't hear any.

The open D seems rather strong to me.  That may be this particular string set, or it could be sound post or any of a dozen other things.  I am thinking the string set might be it, since the tension on the D seems a bit higher than the others.  It may also settle out over a few weeks of playing.  I do see a few "holes" or "valleys" around F#5, A5, C7 and F7.  The last two are the worst, but they may settle out or if not, they may be lessened with a bit of tuning on the bridge or other parts.

The little bit of melody hopefully gives a less technically oriented idea of how the sound is coming along.  I think the violin has improved more than I have.  LOL  Since the thickness of the acoustic from back to top of bridge is greater than my electric, I'm having to get used to different bow angles when playing it.  No fix for that but practice, though.  So I am currently squeaking a bit and wincing when I play the acoustic instead of my electric. 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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springer

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Looking good, might be a keeper huh. I remembered that my plane blade makes a good scraper. Actually I have been using a blade from one of those cutters that have pieced that break off. Not great but for small jobs like bridges it ok.red_cursingred_cursingred_cursing

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cdennyb
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OK Daniel... here's the analysis printout. As you can see the work you did has been very instrumental in reducing the P & V's of the previous traces and now you can see AND hear the settling of the violin. A little more work, probably a lot of the finish result will occur from adjustments to the position of the tailpiece, and the trace should start smoothing out. The trace currently is NOT as bright nor steel core sounding as it was and looks more like a refined trace of a bit higher level violin, and afterall it is, you've spent a lot of hours of personal labor to achieve the result.

 

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"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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DanielB
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Thank you very much for the analysis, cdennyb!  Very interesting to see how much of a change can happen over what was really only a few days of work.  Admittedly, work of a somewhat drastic nature.  LOL

Right now, the tung oil in the fingerboard and neck is still going to be somewhat wet/plastic, and so I am considering just keeping the instrument in exactly tune and playing it often over the next few weeks so as the oil hardens it will stabilize the cellular structure of the wood in a way that will work well with the tension of being in tune and musical tones.  For those who have never messed with finishing or refinishing musical instruments, the finish may appear to be dry/hard to touch or a fingernail test after a few days.  But it is still fairly flexible and will respond to changes in stress for quite a while.  On high end instruments that have slow drying finishes based on things like walnut oil or cold pressed linseed, it can literally take months for it to mostly harden and years for the final hardening to occur.  The instrument is playable over most of that time, but kind of like new wine that has just finished fermenting and been put into bottles or whisky just put in a wooden cask, it needs time to mature and develop it's characteristics.  Tung oil is a fast drying oil, and so it takes less time.  But it can also become brittle or crack because the drying time has been artificially accelerated.  Used in as small an amount as it was here, and on an inexpensive instrument, I feel the risks aren't too high to be reasonable.  But if this was some antique (say, 40+ yrs old) instrument with a good sound to begin with, tung could be a rather poor choice and high risk.

As to the tailpiece.. Well, adjustment there might be better to put off for a bit.  I really want to replace this tailpiece.  The fine tuners are stiff and the part you turn to adjust them is very small and hard to adjust.  But also it is "alloy".  Simple ebony tailpieces are not expensive and may be a better choice for being "tuned" to smooth out the response since one can carve a bit away from the underside if needed.  Also, the current tailpiece just "feels cheap" in it's construction.  The wood of the fingerboard and neck (and the rest of the instrument, since it hasn't been played enough, being a new factory made fiddle) needs time to settle anyway.

I have also been thinking of replacing the tuning pegs and tail peg, but I am less sure of that now.  They are working well, and while the tuning pegs look a bit unusual, they do add a bit of a novel touch to the appearance. 

So, what has been gained by all this?   Much, in my opinion.  The instrument is now very playable, to the point of being inviting/intriguing.  The appearance has gone from "nice but standard looking" to "pretty but interesting".  Her voice has been smoothed out enough that she has some soft and subtle sounds to use instead of being "shouting all the time".   She can go from being about as quiet as a normal human conversational voice to quite loud with only a little change in bow pressure/speed.  "Quite loud" would be enough to easily be heard over 2 or 3 decent acoustic guitars in a jam session.  She holds tune well now, which I wouldn't usually expect a "factory fresh" instrument for at least a couple of weeks.  She is a good solid little instrument, and any "toy" or "item of decor" feel has been lost.  

On the other hand, as cdennyb pointed out, the amount of work it took does take the instrument out of "very inexpensive"/cheap range.  When you work on an instrument, you should think of the time you put into it in terms of minimum wage (at the very least).  Sure, you can gain a lot from the work as a learning experience, but time and work shouldn't ever be considered as "free" when you are considering what something like a musical instrument cost.  Value is difficult to place on musical instruments, and even more so when the instrument has been modified or something like the neck and nut tailored to what one likes to feel.  But a usual good rule of thumb would be to compare it to the rest of the line from the same maker.  I think the MV 650 is about the top of the Mendini line, I think.  Ignoring sentimental value (my violin was a gift from family), would I trade it right now for an MV 650?  No.

But I also wouldn't recommend a stock MV300 for a beginner *unless* they want to be a beginner at violin repair and modification.  LOL  Or perhaps if they really just want something nice looking as a decor item, in which case the painted fingerboard, slipping pegs, and awful action wouldn't matter.

Anyway, thanks to one and all for encouragement, ideas and support.  And a special thanks to springer.  If it hadn't been for springer's suggestion to string it up and see how it sounded before applying more finish, I would have just probably slapped more coats on and the results might well have sounded far worse for it. 

"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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cdennyb
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DanielB said

Thank you very much for the analysis, cdennyb!  Very interesting to see how much of a change can happen over what was really only a few days of work.  Admittedly, work of a somewhat drastic nature.  LOL...

 ... If it hadn't been for springer's suggestion to string it up and see how it sounded before applying more finish, I would have just probably slapped more coats on and the results might well have sounded far worse for it. 

or... it might've just sounded a lot better...crossedfingers

"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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DanielB
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Correct, in that there is not telling ahead of time.  But it is good to check and see if you already have a bird in hand before dropping it to go and see if you can get the one in the bush. 

"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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cdennyb
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LOL, I'm the kind of guy that always goes for the bush...

LOL roflolrofloldancingbanana

"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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Fiddlerman
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June 19, 2012 - 7:37 am
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There we go again. LOL

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

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