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Learning what violins are

Posted by Mandogryl on Wednesday, November 10, 2010

When I began building a violin last year, it was just out of curiosity. What is a violin, I wondered, and what is it like to make one. So I began creating an instrument, looking a lot like a violin. I did not know what to expect from the results. I enjoy making things with my hands, intricate things, preferably out of wood, and I have made various musical instruments before.

When the instrument started to take shape, someone perusing the FHO took an interest in my work, a very experienced violinist with decades of classical playing and teaching, and we began a correspondence. This person had an intense curiosity of fiddling, thus the reason for visiting this site. A long story made short, this violinist now owns my first fiddle. From my perspective it evolved into an interesting project, with various questions that I could not answer. I know very little about violins. But together we forged this instrument out.
Five months ago it was completed and played, along with the owners other violins. Soon short-comings were discovered, mostly the bridge, the sound post and the E-string peg. So the owner brought the fiddle here and also brought along a very expensive violin and bow. It amazed me, even embarrassed me, to see my original work. How could I let an instrument leave my shop the shape that one did? Because I did not know better, and I have learned a lot in just those last five months from performing quite a bit of repair work. I fitted a new bridge with her trying it out as I carved, and the same with the sound post. We adjusted and tweaked for a long time. The difference is amazing. That first violin is a cannon now, and has such wonderful tone, very muscular.
Violins are very interesting musical instruments. I just need to learn what they are and what they sound like. I will try again this winter to find out.

5 comments on “Learning what violins are”

richdissmore Says:
Friday, November 12, 2010 @5:38:11 PM

theys a school in salt lake city for violin or fiddle makeing thereare books you can get dvd all so don,t know if i was help full

Mandogryl Says:
Saturday, November 13, 2010 @2:40:14 AM

Thanks RIch.

kubasa Says:
Thursday, December 2, 2010 @5:38:17 AM

I just came across this post. Yes, violin making is incredibly fascinating and frustrating. I just finished my 4th. I've just recently learned about the incredible relationship between the bridge, the sound post and the bass bar. Anyway, I enjoyed reading what you wrote.

Here's a link you might want to check out. Roger Hargrave, in my opinion, is one of the greatest makers alive today not entirely because of his technical abilities (which are first rate) but because he is so willing to share his knowledge and has documented many wonderful instruments. I spend one entire winter studying each writing from the link below. It really helped me a lot because I know I will probably never see any of these wonderful instruments!

Mandogryl Says:
Thursday, December 2, 2010 @4:47:32 PM

Thank you very much, Kubasa,
and thank you for the link to Roger Hargrave.
That is some good reading, and I can't wait to get started.

tsaimichael Says:
Saturday, June 18, 2011 @2:46:19 PM

How exciting to actually build a violin. Exciting to hear how your adjustments made the instrument change so dramatically. Please continue to share your discoveries. Thanks.

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