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Trade violin rebuild project complete.

Posted by Mandogryl on Sunday, September 19, 2010

With off and on again work I managed to rebuild this Magginni copy trade fiddle. It is not something I would normally have endeavored to do, but she was given to me. Like an unwanted kitten, I did not want this fiddle, either. I have plenty of other work to do in the shop, with two F-5 mandolins and one violin commission to work on. So I only work on it in between glue-ups. Soon, though, the project began to gain momentum, and I began to work on it in earnest about a month ago. The two biggest hurdles were the neck block and the top plate cracks. I had to decide to rebuild or make a new head block, but in the end I decided I could restore the original. The top plate had numerous cracks that had to be re-glued before I could re-thickness this plate. The bass bar was an integral one, so I planed it off and made a new one. Then I could begin reassembling. I made a new nut from scratch. The top plate finish was a mess, and I wanted to take it down to bare wood but all who knew about the project suggested retaining as much original finish as possible. This I did, though it made the final stain look uneven. It is what it is. After a couple of coats of my special homemade varnish dried, I went about setting the instrument up. The only peg hole needing bushing was the E, which went smoothly. At first she had a disturbing wolf-tone on the A string, but the two bass strings sounded strong and muscular and the E had authority. My Nippon’s E, by comparison is tinny and thin sounding. I studied the sound post and realized that it was too tight and too close to the center – too far away from the treble bridge foot. I removed it this morning and shortened it bit by bit and patiently tried it over and over again till it seemed right. I learned a little trick about sound post orientation along the way. She sounds really terrific now. It was a very satisfying project, and I would like to give it to a youngster next year at fiddle camp that may be in need of an upgrade. I need to discuss this prospect with the director to see if such a thing would even be feasible.

I have over 30 pictures of the process in my photos, if you care to look.

5 comments on “Trade violin rebuild project complete.”

bj Says:
Monday, September 20, 2010 @4:43:28 PM

I'm glad it came out sounding good. I'm working on top removal on two fiddles now. I'm hoping once I get repair done I can make 'em sound like something.

Mandogryl Says:
Monday, September 20, 2010 @5:01:00 PM

It should make a huge difference. Very gratifying, too. IF they are trade fiddles, you can bet they were rushed to market, thus poorly carved. If you need any tools, just holler.

eerohero Says:
Wednesday, October 13, 2010 @5:51:16 PM

I wish I could accomplish all this , it sounds so exciting.

Jody Trost Says:
Sunday, October 31, 2010 @11:34:44 AM

I would love to be that talented..I have been practicing my fiddle and I believe I am making progress :) I would really like to practice with you someday and hope that I could try and follow you. You are tolerant and kind and I need to practice playing with someone else. Let me know if you think we could get together sometime..

Mandogryl Says:
Sunday, October 31, 2010 @11:36:46 AM

Sure, Jody, that would be great.

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