This young man was recommended to me by his orchestra director, eight years ago. Originally I agreed to work with him weekends and evenings for that summer. I said I thought he could complete it in 200 hours, with close supervision and diligent work...so I was volunteering weekends and evenings for 10 weeks, 20 hours a week.
He agreed, and we got started. Within a week or two, I could see there were going to be glitches in the plan...he got a summer job, and started showing up at the time I needed to head for bed, as I was working a full-time job and had to be up at 4 AM. At the end of the summer, I think he had the rib garland done...maybe. And the plates traced and cut to size.
So, we decided we would try again the next summer. It was even more spotty, but he got the scroll carved, as I recall. To be fair, I want to point out that the young man involved had never held a tool in his hands before-- never built anything, never sharpened anything. Didn't know what a "vise" was...etc. So this was ALL very new to him, and he made a great deal of progress over the journey.
Then he disappeared for a few months and called me during a Christmas vacation and asked if he could come up and work. My daughter was home from school, and I wanted to spend time with her, so I said I was not available at the time.
That time he disappeared for a couple of years or more...parts of his instrument were gathering dust in my shop, but I didn't hear from him until the summer before last, I think. He wanted to come back and finish up...so...we started up again...Saturdays, if and when it was mutually workable.
Anyhow, it finally emerged from it's "larval stage" as a full-fledged viola today. It is a copy of the 1580 Gasparó da Saló viola, and, for a first try, not bad at all. I am pleased, and, as you may imagine, vastly relieved. :-) It has all the oddities and asymmetries of the original...(which I don't particularly like, but...) he really did do a decent job of following the script, so to speak.
Guess he felt pretty good about it too. :-)
Saturday, May 31, 2014 @9:49:50 PM
Nice story. Glad to hear that your student didn't give up.
Is is just my eyes, or is it quite a "tall" instrument? Looks like ribs and plate height might be above average.
Chet Bishop Says:
Saturday, May 31, 2014 @10:26:01 PM
Waayyy above average. Good eye! The original was so high that I couldn't find a billet thick enough to get the full height, so we bent the maple full thickness to gain a few extra millimeters and then joined the plates. It was tough to do, and Michael Darnton actually joined that maple billet for me at his workshop, using a small (Stanley 102, I think) plane. Once bookmatched, it was no special trouble to build it beyond the fact that it is QUITE asymmetric and somewhat idiosyncratic. I don't like the oddities, and if I were to make one, I would not make a copy, but just get the general effect, I think. But this young fellow tried for a real copy, and got all the oddities right, pretty much...including the exremely deep ribs and arching.
Again, Good eye!
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