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I made a violin!

Jayyj

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
8,730
Well, sort of a violin, I've never been the sort of person to go the conventional route. I've always wanted to make one and I've been gradually pulling this together over the last 18 months. It's been a challenge: I do violin repair as part of my day job so I knew how they go together but I'd not tried a lot of the techniques in making one so there was lots to learn along the way.

The design is based on a few esoteric instruments, the viola d'amore and a little known German violin/zither hybrid called a philomele, but aside from the shape and F holes it's basically a modern five string violin with a low C on the bottom.

I've always liked violins with animal carvings on the scroll but in old ones they're usually lions or bears, and I liked the idea of a bird. I'd never done wood carving before but I made the head out of plasticine first so I could see it in 3D and did some practicing on scrap wood it went fairly smoothly. The mouse on the back is a nod to old Church of England pews where it was traditional to carve a little mouse somewhere.

It sounds remarkably good for a first attempt! Of course, it may sorrowfully implode over the next few weeks when it turns out I carved it too thin but still, I think I did ok...

 

Chic-Pop

Member
Messages
388
Our family has one which was made in the 19th century (American) and was acquired by my great-grandfather. It has an otter caricature carving as the headstock. So much cooler that you made this yourself to pass down through generations...
 

Tony Done

Member
Messages
6,633
That impresses me a whole more than a bunch of pics of fancy guitars that people have made. :) Love the owl and mouse motif and the shape. Nearly60 years ago, one of the violinists brought in for our school Christmas choral concert played one of those animal-headed violins. I can't recall the animal, but I certainly remember the violin.
 

Jayyj

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
8,730
Wow!!!

@Jayyj - that looks gorgeous!! Can’t wait to hear it. Jeez you are talented.
Thanks! The shoulder is well on the way now, still a lot of physio needed to get the strength back up but I feel like I'm closer to the finish point than the start. Just the last week or so I've been able to play violin for the first time since Sept, which means I need to practice a bit before I'm doing any online demo of this one!

It needs a set up first anyway, I thought it'd be better to string it up and let it sit for a little while before dialling it in properly.
 

roswell

Member
Messages
515
Those strings look like a real heavy gauge? Not that I have any clue about violin string gauges, they just look thick from here..
 

olejason

Member
Messages
4,268
I was just admiring it on Instagram, looks great! How'd you rout the channel for the inlay/purfling on the fingerboard? I've always liked that look but never considered how to do it.
 

Jayyj

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
8,730
Those strings look like a real heavy gauge? Not that I have any clue about violin string gauges, they just look thick from here..

They're light gauge dominants, but with a medium gauge viola C on the bottom, so that one's a thick looking string. I might move up to mediums later but I was a bit worried about having gone quite thin on the edges of the top so didn't want to overload it.

I was just admiring it on Instagram, looks great! How'd you rout the channel for the inlay/purfling on the fingerboard? I've always liked that look but never considered how to do it.
I used a traditional purfling cutter with one of the blades taken out to etch a line for the purfling then chiseled it out. The binding was just stuck on the sides after although I had to use a bending iron to shape it to the end of the fingerboard. I really, really regretted that curvy edge together with binding by the time I'd finished but hey, it looks ok now it's done!

The purfling cutter struggled a lot with ebony compared to spruce or maple and it was fiddly to chisel, so an alternative if I did one again would be to simply cut the whole fingerboard to the inside line then glue more ebony onto the side leaving an edge - I can't see any down side to that and it'd take a bit less work.
 




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