Several months ago I posted a pic of a restoration project I was working on : see here. The instrument was in such a pitiful condition when I got it, that the only way forward was to open up all of the loose glue joints and disassemble it entirely so that I could make sure everything was securely glued back together. (Kind of like an old falling-down barn that needs rebuilding -- you need to take it down to its component parts and basically start over). Plus, there were three major top cracks, center seams open, loose bass bar on both ends, and every block and lining was coming unglued. Oh, and it also had an old dowel in the neck which created a mess in the neck joint, a fingerboard worn-too-thin, and some old mechanical tuners that had done a major number on the pegbox, requiring bushings. The owners also requested that I clean the violin as much as possible, and that turned out to be quite a job on its own. Here's the pile of pieces:And here's a picture of the finished instrument, which I completed last week. The long restoration process ended well -- nice varnish turned up under the solid coat of black grime, and although it hadn't been played in decades, it sounded full of interesting character. This violin has a great new lease on life. . . The owners came by and picked it up this weekend, and just sent me these kind words: "Anya, Just wanted to say Thank you again from all of us. We appreciate the way you handled this and we are all very proud of the outcome, as you can plainly see by the smiles on everyone's face. Hope to see you soon."
It's nice to work for nice people.
Friday, September 10, 2010
Wednesday, September 8, 2010
Here's something I hadn't seen before visiting the Musée de la Musique in Paris :: it's the pegbox for a 12 string (6 double courses of strings) mandola attributed to Stradivari: The mandolino (4 or 5 courses) and mandola (6+ courses) were instruments built in response the great popularity of the lute in the 17th century. (Stop and imagine a world in which pop music was played on a lute :) Their dimensions were not standardized, and based on his extant patterns, evidently Stradivari built a great number of various sized mandolini and mandole. To give a sense of what the completed instrument might look like, I found this example that resides in Vermillion, SD at the National Music Museum. It's one of two known Stradivari mandolini and has 5 double courses of strings. This instrument was built in 1680 and is called the "Cutler-Challen" choral mandolino.
Monday, September 6, 2010
Another item of interest at the museum was a pochette or kit fiddle built by Stradivari in 1717. (In Italy it was called a sordino). Pochettes were used by dancing masters at the time, who could easily carry the fiddle in their pocket (poche) as they traveled to teach dancing lessons. Obviously the body of the instrument is very narrow, but the dimensions of the fingerboard are more normal, which makes it relatively playable. This one is especially neat because it shows the same attention to detail that characterizes Stradivari's full sized violins.
Friday, September 3, 2010
Thursday, September 2, 2010
I was impressed by all of the very cool looking 17th and 18th century guitars at the museum. Most of them had very tasteful inlays below the bridge and around the soundhole, and many had interesting bridge designs. I'm not too much of a fan of modern inlayed instruments, especially not on violins (or guitars or banjos!), but these motifs were somewhat simple and interesting, not gaudy. And, they were obviously hand done, which gives them a such an attractive quality. Here are just a few of the many that I took pictures of::