Following my extremely lengthy introduction to this excellent forum I was very quickly made at home.
@ELCBK; Emily whom I'm indebted to for her generous help and continuing support kindly suggested I start a blog; at 74 I'm a true dinosaur and hadn't a clue as to what a blog was so now with Mouse teaching me the ropes here goes; thank you both Emily & Mouse I truly appreciate all the time you've put in to help me.
Having now started the new blog Mouse will kindly step in and move some of my introduction to the blog then I can use the blog as I would a diary; I'm totally new to any stringed instrument so this should be lots of fun.
Sorry to cause you so much work Mouse.
Kind regards, Colin.
Thanks @JohnG. I was brought up to respect my elders; We're never too old to learn new things. @Mouse has really gone out of her way to help me also Emily @ELCBK too ensuring I quickly was made most welcome allowing me to relax and settle in. This forum is the tops for information; help and friendliness; I've already started to give our local cats an easier life of listening to me practice but only on the E & A strings; I'm in for a long bumpy ride but I'll stick with it.
Kind regards, Colin.
You're a star @Mouse . It makes a lot of sense to leave my introduction where it is; just so much involved and as you rightly say it would look choppy to play around with it; better with a fresh start; no need at all to say sorry; you've been a huge help in enciuraging me whilst I stumble along in this new world full of amazement; I feel like a child in a candy store with so much to choose from. I'd like to read all the threads and posts but unfortunately I'd get nothing else done so apologies up front to anyone I may miss in future.
I'd like to start off with a little story for anyone thinking of joining this forum as a beginner but is a bit timid wondering what to expect. I joined my first forum years ago seeking advice on how to divide a circle very accurately into lots of parts; at the time I was very heavily involved in the restoration of an AVO Wave Winder I'd bought as expensive scrap; this winder needed a number of parts which were missing but no problem to me being a mechanical engineer; I was taught to use my head and hands as an apprentice by highly skilled engineers. I was however struggling because the winder needed a set of 45 cast iron gears and it didn't even have a single gear to work from.
I didn't get the information I needed regarding dividing the circle but a forum member went well out of his way to provide pictures of his own winder together with a few pictures of not only the gears but how the gears were arranged. It's an awful long story but I stuck with it; I made the parts needed to replace the missing parts but after lots and lots of research came across a website that had a free CAD program and amazingly included was a "Spur Gear Wizzard". I spent many hours learning basic CAD; I'd tried CAD (Computer aided design) many times both free and bought but couldn't even draw a straight line let alone a complex gear.
I'm as stubborn as they come and not only fully restored the winder but dreamt up a new way of indexing for gear cutting on my lathe without an expensive indexing head; I was humbled and honoured to receive top restoration award from The British Vintage Wireless Society.
I was a total novice to forums and wondered if I'd be laughed at or would feel really out of place amongst all the experts but I was welcomed with open arms and received enormouse help during the following years and at no time did I ever feel pushed away. I've attended many meetings at work where colleagues were too scared to ask questions in case they appeared silly or stupid; better to keep quiet and let others think you are stupid than to speak up and prove you are stupid; I'm stupid and now at 74 I still know nothing; I'm no expert in anything and I hope I never come across as a know it all; I make so many mistakes it's a joke and I often make the same mistake a number of times; the only sure way to fail in anything is to never try so please do as I did and simply jump in and join this forum; I'm a new member who has never even touched a stringed instrument but the members and staff on here don't bite; I already feel at home. I hope I'm not preaching but I've always got on well during my working life because I'm never scared of looking a fool.
My last job before retirement I started in 1977 as a mere wagon loader loading over 500 electric motors each shift; I took this job just having married Bron and moved near her into our first home; 24 years later I was still at the same company but now in charge of not only the Despatch I started work in but also in charge of Export packing and the timber department; having paid a lot into the works final salary pension I got out at the age of 53 before I was carried out; it was a very stressful job indeed and there were strong rumours I was about to be put in charge of the Export warehouse; I think the company was trying to kill me off; I came down with shingles which was the warning I needed to walk down the yard for the last time.
I'll post pictures of the winder shortly but it's been another long day and time now to settle down with Bron before bedtime.
Many thanks again @Mouse and I'm accepting your advice by going for it. I'm better than Horlicks at bedtime for putting anyone to sleep.
Kind regards, Colin.
Thanks for asking @Mouse ; Bron generously bought me my first ever violin for my 74th birthday at the end of August it being an Hidersine Vivente; I'm delighted with it and knowing so little of violins I'm unable to assess what its performance is like compared to other makes of violins but as a starter I think it's lovely. A short while later I then bought a secondhand "Rainbow" violin finished in metallic green; this was on Gumtree at £30 and I was dithering whether to buy it; this violin seller also stated a number of books were available; the following morning out of curiosity I found the price had been dropped to £10 so I jumped in; the seller in an email said he would like £15 for the books and violin and that to save me travelling over to Leeds to collect he would be happy to drop it off on his way home from work which I agreed to; I handed him £25 so he was happy and I too had a bargain.
The Rainbow violin needed two new strings to replace the two broken strings so I bought a ful set of Hidersine strings and fitted the full set; I practice using both violins and to my untrained ear there doesn't appear to be much difference between the two. Having only just started with violin's I find I already now have two; I think I've started with an addiction and possibly there's no cure.
Kind regards, Colin.
Nice new Blog!
Here's another new little project for you!
While you are having difficulties with chin rests - here's a video I found you might find helpful.
I've seen several ways to do this, even using a big sponge for washing your car - this one makes the most sense, but use a big enough sponge - to cut the shape you need. 😊
This is a fairly recent Fiddlerman video that can help you reach ALL of your strings.
Thanks again @Mouse I do still intend to make my own violin from scratch and ordered and paid for the spruce/maple wood from Poland; yesterday I chased up the order and am informed it should arrive next Monday; if all goes to plan I'll add a new thread when I start work on the violin which I'm looking forward to.
Thanks @ELCBK I'll have a good look at the links you kindly added Emily a bit later; I'm grounded today and have to behave myself due to friends visiting us which we're looking forward to. Fully retired and never enough time to do everything I'd like to do in a day; I think I might just have enough time to practice a little before our friends arrive; I'm running just to stand still.
Kind regards, Colin.
I was in the top class when I left school at 15 Andrew; I'd been doing woodwork classes for four years and I wasn't just pretty poor I was absolutely rubbish; I detested woodwork and the teacher was a downright bully; being in the top class and failing at woodwork meant I was bottom of the school too in woodwork; I couldn't care less.
With passing years having to do home repairs I gained a lot of confidence to the point I can now not only make anything in wood (or metal) I enjoy it.
If you'd like to make a violin why not jump in as I'm doing and have a go; I'm gathering things I might need but my dream still is to learn to play "Lara's Theme" but on a violin I've made myself; I know what I want so I'm going for it to the very best of my ability.
I had a short violin practice session this morning just before our friends arrived but not the best I've done and I also just briefly played the E & A strings to my friends but it's not easy to simply pick up a violin and put on a perfect display as a novice but every time I pick up the violin and bow it's a little bit more experience; our friends won't be visiting again until next springtime when they say by then I should be playing my home made violin; I can dream on.
Kind regards, Colin.
The sad thing is, when you and I were at school we could grab a plank of teak and saw and hammer at it until it was fit for the dustbin and the teacher would charge us 3 shillings. Nowdays it's going to be closer to £100.
BTW, the luthier I bought my Breton from made a violin top out of an old floorboard - apparently it was good enough pine to be tonewood, so keep your eyes open.
Also old railway sleepers contain pristine oak inside once you've got rid of all the gunk and rot in the top half inch.
I had the idea a few years back that, in the same way that gold and silver jewelry has a bullion value, soon wooden furniture will have too.
Thank you @ELCBK I'm sure having fun; I've just noted both the links you kindly added and together with the link kindly added by @stringy I'm about to play the videos on our TV then Bron too can watch them.
Thanks Andrew; how many generations now haven't an idea what 3 shillings is (15p) I well rember our old farthings and silver sixpences; if we had any money at all as kids then we were rich. A bit of oak these days needs a mortgage to buy it. Going back a bit further I remember no electricity.
Thanks for the tip but I've always kept my eyes open for absolutely anything which might come in handy; I've got some nice big sections of very dry stable oak these offcuts from jobs at a local joinery company; I used to pop in and buy a car load of assorted offcuts for £25 per load; I've got more lovely wood for woodturning than I'll ever use. I remembered I had a very old scaffolding board these often are spruce so I spent a while digging it out only to find it full of knots. I received a nice email today from the wood supplier in Poland wishing me well for when I start making the violin; the wood I bought is just under £100 and I'm told the figure isn't the best but the tone will be excellent. Scrounged wood is often better than new wood and it's certain to be more reliable and stable; I've a large box of assorted veneer too so plenty of options but I'll go into this in more detail when I make a start on the violin. Perhaps I'd be better starting a new thread now regarding making the violin then it would concentrate all the details in one place; it will be a long project anyway and I'm not in a hurry but I can make a start.
52 minutes of enjoyment sounds wonderful stringy; wine barrel makes me think it's going to be oak but of course I could be wrong. I've opened up an whole new world for me to play in and I'm excited.
I've just been practicing for half an hour and amazingly I've found if I double a micro fiber cloth and drape it over my left shoulder I can actually support the violin much easier with my left thumb with diminished fear of dropping the violin; I still suffer left arm pain but certainly not as bad and now I don't get the strong burning sensation having learned not to strangle the neck of the violin; ideally I'd like to secure the violin between shoulder and chin releasing my left hand completely but I'm making progress which pleases me.
Time to watch the videos now.
Kind regards, Colin.
I did watch the videos with Bron last night Emily; the foam shoulder rest is something I'll be trying shortly looking just the thing I need and the Fiddlerman video I've seen but it was well worth watching again; thank you.
@stringy what a lovely video of the violin being made from a wine cask; when the top of the cask was split and I saw the dowels I wondered how these would get in the way but the outcome is a lovely violin; thank you for sharing both Bron and I really enjoyed the video.
Being so new to violins and wanting to make a violin I was rather locked into the idea best violins are created using spruce and maple but I'm quickly learning otherwise having watched a number of videos where assorted wood is being used.
@JohnG Absolutely no problem and I do openly admit I'm a rambler and a long winded one at that; I'm pleased though you enjoy them.
This morning I've made my first step towards making a violin so once I get a bit of time I'll start the new thread showing my journey into the unknown; I've just knocked off for a mug of tea but I'd better wander back down to the workshop before another day slips quietly by.
Kind regards, Colin.
Well, from the sounds of the kind of day you are having in your Violin Making blog, maybe it's time to try to lift your spirits with a good ol' jig!
The fun starts when you play a tune - YOU CAN DO THIS!
Katy will get to where she plays note to note - very slowly, but don't forget you can slow your video speed down in the video settings, if you need to. 🎃
Still might a good idea to start with finger position tapes, if you haven't already applied them.
Have you found a sponge or piece of foam & rubber bands to use as a shoulder rest?
Thanks Emily you're a star.
There's nothing like having one's spirit lifted and this is so kind of you; my violin making is starting to gather pace but once again I've been distracted and I'm all hot and bothered having just replaced the sofa three large seat cushions changing these from polyester fiber to foam; I've surived though. I've not been on here for a few days so just logged on specially and find you've been helpful once again which I always truly appreciate; I'll have a look at the links; I've not got finger position tapes but I do keep practicing at least once each day but some days I've managed to practice three times.
A couple of days ago I tried cutting a car washing sponge to shape as a shoulder rest and not having rubber bands Bron and I visited "The Range" store in Barnsley (UK) where I bought two packs of elastic tape 2m at 12mm wide and had a go with these but so far without success but I'll keep trying. The elastic though works and can be cut to any length.
I've just watched the first three minutes of the delightful Katy video and I've bookmarked it; I'll watch it full length at teatime with Bron and the bit I've seen I'm sure I'll quickly learn it and I'll let you know how I get on. I need to bring the violin to the computer monitor.
Retirement is a bit of a joke; I never seem to have spare time other than short periods but once winter kicks in this will change; the rain's been coming down like pencils this afternoon and it's already quite dark. I'm juggling time between practicing and heading towards making the violin; emailing friends also takes time which I never begrudge but the time just disappears.
I was amazed yesterday afternoon during a short practice session; I've been concentrating on bow action mostly on the E & A strings and I think like most novices have been cross eyed looking at the bow on the strings as I played; however just as an experiment I closed my eyes and suddenly not concentrating looking at the bow I found I could mostly play just the E string using all four fingers and now the violin sounded totally different; I could tell which way the bow wandered just by sound alone allowing me to quickly correct it; to me this was just wonderful and I had a brief success but yesterday evening I tried it again but it wasn't as good; I think I was a lot more tense but it proved I was getting a bit better and my bow action is definitely a lot better. I'm not using a shouilder rest just draping a micro fiber cloth on my shoulder and not trying to bear down on the chin rest just balancing the violin on my shoulder and the end of my left thumb; at first when I tried this I was scared of dropping the violin but somehow it's becoming a lot more natural although I do need to sort out a suitable shoulder rest; if only we had a large music store within reasonable distance I could visit.
I have two violins both fitted with Hidersine strings; I'm having problems with the D string on both; it sounds awful even though it's in tune as are the other three strings set with my electronic tuner; the G string doesn't half vibrate I can see it bouncing around but the D string doesn't like me; I'm using dark Kaplan rosin and have tried different bow tensions; I'm too intense and need to back off a bit but it's the way I always am.
Wherever I am I always feel like I should be somewhere else unable to fully relax but I'm doing my best and enjoying myself.
I think I've practiced enough using the bow so time to move on trying to play a basic tune and what better than to follow your excellent advice Emily; Katy's tutorial looks a very good place to start.
It's only 3:10pm but I've just had to switch on the desk lamp in order to see the keyboard; in just over a weeks time we'll be altering the clocks again really plunging us into early afternoon darkness for months ahead. I'm happy though now I've got violins under my skin.
Kind regards, Colin.
You'll find endless debates about tapes. But ultimately you'll have to learn by sight and feel, so the sooner you start, the better. Play a note and get it in tune, then look where your finger is and try to remember it. I use sight now to locate things like D or E on the G string, or B/Bb on the D string, F and F# on the A string and so on - anything that's not in first position. You can't have tapes all the way up. But my E string needs work above the B.
If I have trouble on the D string, it's usually when I'm playing approximately an A and it's usually because the bow is too close to the fingerboard. The problem then is that the sound is very woolly and "plasticky", a word used by Lyndon on vcom to describe why he doesn't like Coda GX's (or did he just say Codas?) "in the mid-range", which is the bow that I am using.
You mostly play the A and E strings, so it's possible you're too acclimatised to them and not used to the D string, since it's further around. Or your arms/elbows/shoulders may not quite be in the right position yet. Playing mostly A and E strings might affect your posture without a teacher to point it out.
Otherwise I have always loved my D strings. Maybe just play slow Es, Fs and Gs on it and nothing else and get used to bowing with the right speed and pressure to get a nice tone?
If you decide you want a rest from Hidersine strings (I've only got them on my electric violin, where they seem fine to me), then Tonicas are probably the next ones you should try.