Revised Edition


Bookseller Ltd.

Norbury Crescent, S.W.I

io .Lowe and Brydone Printed in Great Britain by (Printers) Limited. N. London.W.

This present edition has been considerably improved and has had the advantage of being revised by one of our well-known violin makers. . THE demand for this little work on the construction of the violin has con- tinued steadily for years and for a short time has been out of print. With a view of further improving this edi- tion the outline illustrations of the models of Stradivarius.Foreword. Guarnerius and Amati have been re-drawn and that of a Maggini added to the list.


The Models Chapter V. The Mould Chapter VI. 41 Chapter VIII. The Side-pieces and Side-linings 22 28 35 Chapter VII. Chapter On the Selection of Wood III.. the Back and Belly 52 . 9 Chapter The Tools Required 13 Chapter IV. The Back The Belly .Contents rAOK Introduction 1 Chapter 1. 46 The Thickness of Chapter IX.. The Parts of the Violin 7 II.



Chapter X.
The Bass Bar

Chapter XI.
The Purfling
Chapter XII.

The Neck
Chapter XIII.


The Fingerboard
Chapter XIV.


The Nut

cand the Tail Piece



Chapter XV.
Varnishing and Polishing

Chapter XVI. Varnishes and Colouring Matter
Chapter XVII. The Varnish Chapter XVIII. Mathematical Method of Constructing the





Chapter XIX. The Remaining Accessories of the Violin cluding Violin Notes by Ole Bull)



List of Illustrations.
''Le Mercure " Strad



Plane, side view




Plane, bottom view

... ...


4. 5. 6.



Plane showing loose pieces detached Plane ready for use ... Side view of small rounded plane Bottom view of small rounded plane Knife Scraper ... ... ... ... ... Steel compasses ... ... ...

15 16


17 17 17



11. Steel trace

Bending iron

... ...

... ...


13. 14.

Wooden hand screw




15. Clip of
17. 18.

Sound-post setter ... ... Sound-post setter used by Spohr


... ...


18 18 19 19 20 20 20

Large folding plate of outlines of an Amati, Stradivarius, Guarnerius and Maggini At end of volume
Outline of a violin





Model Model

for the curve of the

for the curve at its greatest

back and belly width

24 24




The curve over the / holes Model for the curve at the widebt part
the neck end
... ...
... ...




26. 27.

Model for drawing and placing the / holes The mould The counter mould The upper mould with pieces in position

25 28

28. 29.

30. 31. 32.

Mould with the blocks Maple piece The two maple pieces in
The back-plate




Another view in one piece

42 44

33. Purfling tool
34. Cutters 35. Purfling tool

36. Chisel-sharpened awl 37.

The neck

62 62 63 66 68
... ... ... ...


39. Outline

view of the foot of the neck with measures marked



showing the position of the bar showing varying thickness Bridge of a viol with seven strings, body of which is not cut out except at two sides ... ... ... ... Bridge of a viol with five strings through in every part ... Bridge of a small pattern violin of ancient school of Anthony Amati Bridge of a Nicholas Araati ... Bridge of a Stradivarius ...

41. Outline

108 109

42. Outline 43.








126 128

musical literature. So all much has been written upon the its its violin. is the very fine but expensive work of E. Its history has been ably treated in a Gercalled man work chichte ever. treats fully believe. beauties as a musical instrument.. Heron-Allen a work complete in itself. its history. that a collection of works to which it ha^ given rise would form almost a library of themselves. Ihre Ges- und Ihr Bau. which and concisely of in making a violin.Introduction. the etc. howI as yet given to English readers." The oiily work. "Die Violine. its development. but perhaps too costly for some who would like to try their hand at fabricating the numerous details involved — .

so that the defect or defects in may be remedied a later edition. and seen in some of them a general outline of is the process is furnished. INTRODUCTION. to explain detail operation necessary to construct a violin. the best " I have contained in The Violin." by P. I do not is for a moment have every suppose that tried to my work it perfect. at- tractive in themselves.2 a fiddle. interesting By far the greater part of that is work devoted to theoretical and historical matters. from the time when the lies ing the various processes to be gone through in the wood in the rough moment when the not think I on the bench is to the finished article ready I to be fitted with strings for playing. . reader if I have will I shall be grateful to any who communicate with me. do es- have allowed any detail to cape me. however. are not strictly con- nected with the making of the instrument My the object in writing this book is to afford amateur detailed information respectworkshop. Hints are given in many books. which. Davidson. but I make and as full and complete as in possible.

attention and without that minute particular to each instrument which alone can secure a perfect work. but cheap as they are. so many bellies. and . and that he means not merely of make a sound common box wood which live after will when played upon. way to produce one good inThe amateur who reads this all that book doubtless knows about the can be learnt old masters whose names are if household words in the violin world.INTRODUCTION. It is 3 is presumed that the amateur enthusiastic suffi- ciently to make the to attempt. So many backs. are shaped to a given pattern. Violins turned out by the thousand for every year. varnished. so many bass-bars. without love for the beautiful. so many finger-boards. fitted together. at the price paid them because they are made without artistic in- without enthusiasm. most of them are dear telligence. but ments which will his best to produce instru- him. so many necks. and to put work are into every violin he finishes. but this is not the strument. so many sound-posts. into the and sent market as so many violins.

is of the importance. This spirit is the spirit in which to work. INTRODUCTION." making of a beautiful violin are no everything seen or or unseen. first not beautiful. great or small. he knows that they did not work on this but bestowed loving care plan. there In the "trifles. made his work perfect because the gods would see it does the amateur who . I would call the reader's attention to the remark of the eminent sculptor to the effect that "Trifles make perfection. in a cathedral. and bestow as much time and trouble on the inside v/ork which will never be seen. placed so high that the beauty of his work could not be seen and admired. details The on mason who carved elaborate figures. detail the as which will regard every equally momentous. regarding the one in work hand as quite enough to tax all their energies and absorb all their artistic knowledge and experience for the time being." but I would at the same time caution him against misunderstanding the quotation. as on the outside work which will be seen. . on every single instrument.4 SO.

Few stories have been told oftener than that which tells how Sir Joshua Reynolds informed an inquirer that he mixed his colours with brains. The work be bad if enthusiast? will not of fame result from it. No amount of instruction will enable a fool to make a fiddle. not merely make a it. profit by it. not to win admiration for not to gam celebrity by it. but because the doing of genuine work. for the reason that it is genuine work. prevent a the right failure way about" from working through These instructions are only . That I is the one single commodity with which to supply the cannot undertake amateur violin-maker. No number of difficulties will man "with a head screwed on to success. but it will certainly be bad if this particular kind of enthusiasm do not inspire necessity profit or every step taken in the process of doing it. is the highest and purest pleasure This is known to the enthusiasm. is 5 about to begin to make a violin ? know what such enthusiasm means to Is he pre- pajed to produce a perfect work.INTRODUCTION.

Theories have been abundantly dealt with by other practical. writers : this work is meant to be . For them the directions here given will be ample. meant for people of the latter sort.6 INTRODUCTION.

. 2 Pieces 2 (4 Corners and i top and bottom blocks) tSides Side Linings 6 12 I Bar . a violin would be found to consist of the following Back Belly . t I Bottom side is sometimes one piece only.. .HOW TO MAKE A CHAPTER I. . .. VIOLIN. They are sometimes omitted.. TAKEN parts to pieces. " then called a whole back." The same remark also The back applies to the belly. THE PARTS OF THE VIOLIN. The purflings are the narrow black ornamental double lines running round the outer edge of the back and belly. . JPurflings * 36 It is is sometimes made in one piece.

the bar. to Make a Violin. the side pieces and the bridge. the neck. used for the belly. II Button for ditto String for ditto Tail Piece Nut . II Pegs . ) . Maple Pine is is used for the back. . the nut. the side linings and the sound post. the blocks. II II Tail Piece . . is used for the fingerboard.8 How Neck . I I^iec II Finger Board . maple. II II . 4 82 II ( Four kinds of wood are used pine. the tail piece nut >v and the Rosewood for the pegs . Ebony button. . II Sound Post Strings 11 4 . ebony and rosewood. the tail piece. Nut Bridge .

ant. and the tone of the instrument depends chiefly upon wood chosen. It is a pity to waste good work on bad wood. ON THE SELECTION OF WOOD. and make the wood tough. and the fol- lowing points must be carefully observed in selecting both the Q The tree ber or January. be- . if possible.CHAPTER maple and THE woods the quality of 11. but never Artificial means have been emeffects ployed to hasten the of seasoning. six or seven years before use. maple and pine should have been cut in Decem- At that time the sap has ceased to flow. and wood cut down then is always richer in sonorous qualities than that cut at It any other time^ must have been seasoned for less. but seasoning is the elastic and reson- only genuine. pine are the sounding of the violin. more.

and I advise the amateur to avoid baked wood.10 How to Make a Violin. run lengthwise. Paris. will be dull. and other articles of furniture whenever he found the kind of wood he wanted. as he would the plague. is a question of judgment and experience. travelled in Italy Vuillaume. The maple must not be too hard or too soft. wood must be quite perfectly free from sound. not worm without flaw of any kind. cause natural mode of attaining this end. in the first case the tone will not come freely it at the touch of the bow. The longer the wood has been seasoned by being kept in a dry and airy place and protected from extremes of it heat and cold. the better will be for violin making. As it is not possible for every would-be maker to follow his example chairs. muffled and entirely without brilliancy. tables and bought . or wood dosed with chemicals. like many other matters in connection with our subject. in the second.^ This. be perfectly straight and and The grain must eaten. of for and Switzerland the express purpose of procuring pine wood. y he knots.

on the other hand. Paris. for twenty pounds apiece. which he said he would not sell. I recommend him make his first fiddle of cheap material. The old Italian makers took ( . quired. even in the rough. Mirecourt. Tt is not of course necessary or desirable that the amateur should make to his earliest experiments on costly wood. These are to be found and even at London. The wood must be cut from the south side 01 the tree. A maker pieces in London once showed me two of maple sawed into shape for a back. il recommend buy the wood he requires from a violin-maJcer of repute.On I the Selection of the amateur to Wood. so as to familiarise himself with the tools ^nd the them. and very valuable back and belly wood are wortli almost their weight in gold. pieces of For good material a high price will be asked. the French town in where so many common violins are made by machinery to order. way to use When it this experience has been ac- will be soon enough to try to turn valuable wood into an artistic and really excellent violin.

No other wood but pine is ever used for the belly. The maple should be free from red or brown patches. sonority ful made of other woods than Figured wood is advisable if its not interfered with.12 How care to to Make a Violin. fault. . of the backs of Stradivarius combine Some beauty of appearance and excellence of tone in the highest perfection. that which is of because they found an uniformly whitish tint is the best.^ perfectly straight grain throughout the length of the The very finest grain is not so good as that which has an open space between the hbres. great select wood it of this kind. flaw or curve in the grain will render the piece useless. The pine should be white and of instrument. more sonorous and brilliant in tone. as the beauti- is and the useful may readily be combined. The least knot. though the back has occasionally been maple.

The work-bench larger than 4 ft. need not be by A should be attached to one end.CHAPTER III. the used SOME ofcommonly used tools in violin making cabinet- are by makers and carpenters. THE TOOLS REQUIRED. and others are peculiarly fitted for their special purposes. 2 ft. at a good tool shop.J Three saws one of the usual kind for sawing the larger pieces (24 inches of blade will be plenty). clean. a hand saw for the more . They may be bought or table. wooden vice The surface : should be quite smooth and kept scrupulously The following tools are required FIC.

and i inch broad respectively.% A flat-bottomed plane 8 inches long. show the kind of plane re2 is the side view of the body Fi(^^ . Three chisels. for outline delicate work. ranging from \ inch to I inch broad. Fig.14 How to Make a Violin. ^ inch. riQ. Eight gouges. The illustrations quired. § inch. will be necessary. and a bow saw work.

S ready for sharp. Fig. he must cut his maple for the necks into pieces 12 inches long. and if inches broad. Stack the pieces so that the air gets freely to them. maple and pine for the back and belly must be 16 inches long. and decides to season it himself. the grain running on the broadest side. 6 inches broad. aa being the for the blade. 5 shows the plane FIO. keeps the blade and Fig.The Tools Required. If the maker buys wood in the tree. pieces of The Authorities are divided as to whether the heart wood or the outer edge should be joined . the broader edge being i^ inches and the narrower \ inch. Fig. it The blade must be kept very will tear the wood instead of his taking off a thin clean shaving. 3 is 15 slit the bottom view. when fixed. which. 4 shows the loose pieces detached. in its place. 2\ inches deep. but conical in shape. or use.

as he says." and yet he says later on. *' : Mauzin. says the "two thickest edges" should be "the bark side of the tree. after giving directions for planing and joining the thicker edges to make the back and belly : " It will thus be seen that the centre of this joined plate contains the interior or heart wood" If. centre de la table. Davidson. the it two thickest edges are the bark side^ is impossible that the centre of the joined plate can contain the interior or heartwood* //^ 6 is in the centre or jointed part of the iD6trument. • Aa » matter of fact the bark side ." dans le Mr. . middle of the instrument. a . this applies to both back and belly. French author. de mettre la partie du coeur de Teirbre c*est-a- dire les veines les plus rapproch^s.i6 in the How to Make a Violin. in the work referred to in the introduction. says II faut avoir soin .

One scraper will be required with later. Three small planes. r/^a . Two The or three scrapers. necessity for this difference will be seen when the use of the scraper is explained.The Tools Reauired. the edge shaped as Fig. 9. i. The smallest should be of the size shown. 8. with blades ranging from i inch to 3 inches in length. Three or four knives of the shape shown in Fig. the second half as large again. like those used by cabinet-makers. Figs. but with rounded edges. 6 and 7 show what these tools are like. with rounded bottoms. the largest twice the size of the smallest.

® ^ A A steel trace. ii. Fig. bending iron. A pair of steel compasses for measuring the thickness of the back as in Fig. . lo. with one leg shorter than for giving shape to the the other.i8 How to Make a Violin. be to allow the large enough back and belly facility pieces to be measured with equal from any point of the edge. and belly. of course. shaped These must.

13. Sixteen or eighteen hand-screws. C to D. A hand-vice. The body (B) is of an oval shape (C). and the i inch. of wood. about to 3^ inches. Fig. the length of the oval being 2 inches and the width i inch. side pieces 19 12. Fig. and 6 inches long. made 14. the opening from A B should be about breadth. 12.The Tools Required. and . The handle (A) should of course be long enough to prevent burning the hand when the body (B) is heated. of the shape shown in Fig. and side linings. Fig.

and is 9 inches and used for glueing is its in the bass bar. The inner surfaces of these .20 How inch thick. 5. its length thickness | mch. measuring be I 3 inches A to B. It should be made of hard wood. 2 inches from point r-iA to point at B. five of these being required. C should In using these hand-screws. I inch wide at A. but only 2 inches long. A Fig. Another clip of a similar kind. a piece of cloth must be put on the violin to prevent marks of any kind. clip of 1 wood shaped like a clothes-peg. to Make from a Violin.

and its difficulties are indefinitely multiplied by bad tools. It should be 8 or 10 inches long. The bend B enables the setter to be applied to the head or foot of the post at will. 16.The Tools Required. which made of and shaped as in Fig. was Its shape is given in Fig. The it is best tools should be procured whicii . where A shows the surface. setter Another form of sound-post used by Spohr. is A steel sound-post setter. two little 21 tools must be as smooth as pos'* sible. and B the bend of the tool. possible to . so as not to " chafe the violin. buy the art of violin making is not an easy one. 17.

better still. which affords a means of drawing is wood. it is not to be supposed that he will possess a back or belly by Amati. Stradivarius or Guarnerius. THE MODELS. " a model " is 19. the shape which any part of the violin to Great care will be required in shaping upon them the accuracy of the finished work depend?.CHAPTER IV. cut out the model chosen from : A . or. model of either may be made as follows draw the outline on tracing paper. BY take. meant a flat piece of about | inch thick. as copy the outline of an instrument by one of the great masters. While the amateur will naturally wish to these models. I therefore give the outline of a violin by each of these masters : see large folding plate. Fig.

with scrupulous care. having first made the straight edge representing the centre joint quite smooth and even with the plane.The Models. The name of maker of the strument taken as the model written on the mahogany in ink the ori|jinal in- should be for identifi- .if out the mahogany the required shape. and can be kept for future violins. Then cut ri^. The shape if it is thus obcarefully tained will answer very well done. filing out the corners and inlet with a fine file. 23 and paste it on a thin piece of mahogany. the woodcut.

20 shows the the back model for the curve of and belly taken lengthwise. ^ '^-23. the following will then be the form of the model : Fig. 20. ^ Fig. How If it is to Make a Violin. the shape of that taken from the wood-cut. Fig. 22 the curve over the / holes. 23 shows the model for the curve at the widest part at the neck end . Fig. preferred. the full model can be made in the same Nvay by cutting out another piece of paper.24 cation. and Fig. C Fig 21. 21 shows the model for the curve of the instrument at its greatest width.

The Models. 19. 18. be observed that the position and shape of the / holes varies in different instruments. of the better kind. at rate. 24 shows the 25 model It will for drawing and placing the / holes. 20 and 21 can only be properly made by adthem to the back of another instrument. If the amateur cannot obtain access to justing a good violin for this purpose. /g. which can be bought tolerably cheap. The four models shown in Figs. that I If it seems strange h it should recommend a trashy copy as for the arching of a model must copies are good the violin. bf* and a model must made to suit each style adopted. made accurately to a scale taken from .2^. Fig. he should purchase a copy of a Stradivarius. be remembered any that Mirecourt — those.

is are correctly If made so far as shape concerned. the amateur prefers to make these models of arching by that his eye alone. as the arches at the upper and lower widths and also at the / holes must necessarily fall from the given height of the lengthwise arch to the level near the edges. carving the . he must bear in mind Stradi- varius. this being once obtained and the model made. began with a high arching. the lowest arching of The chapter on out- the mathematical line gives method of finding the a mode of determining the shape of the arch lengthwise.26 How and to Make a Violin. the instruments of the best period of Stradivarius. and the violins of his best period have all. A good neck and scroll can be bought at as all instrument dealers and kept Directions for a model. The scroll must also be formed from a good pattern. the transverse course be arching will of determined by that. but as he gained experience he found that the lowering of the arch contributed to fullness and brilliance of tone. following the example of the Amati family. especially between the / holes.

Chanot. repute. but those methods are very cumbersome in operation and uncertain the amateur to in result. scroll 27 on. . or some other London maker of He can work from this pattern. will be found later Various methods have been devised for making a model of a scroll without a pattern. and I recommend buy a scroll from Hart. Hill. his always knowing that model is as good an one as can be obtained.The Models.

is to be This mould is represented in Fig. THE MOULD. properly speaking. which.CHAPTER V. piece of a wood cut in such a shape as to allow the blocks. so as to form the true foundations on which the violin built up. At A A are the inlets for the two top . 25. THE is mould. a " tool *' as much as those menis tioned in the chapter on tools. side-pieces and side-linings to be fixed in their proper places.

and then with the file dress the edges until they correspond exactly with the pat- tern (the four corners may be left sharp). Fig. 26.The Mould. The mould is begun by making a model exactly the shape and size of that for the back and belly. and the four pieces marked B are for the corner blocks which fill up on each side of the two circular inlets. mark the outline with the point of the tracer. the piece intended for Lay on the bench the mould and put upon it the model already made. . and with the saw and knife clean away the wood. 19. for the solid Jaasis on which the back and belly are afterwards glued. 19. Fig. and is called the counter mould. 29 and bottom blocks. This piece will then be of the shape of Fig.

. and trace on the outline of the latter with the the inlets tracer. 25. should be square with the surface. The top and bottom holes are to be . the when they come to edges of the mould being the only means of enabling the side-pieces to be glued to the corner blocks in an upright position. itself. . take a piece of hard wood (walnut is the best for the purpose) \ inch in thickness and a little larger than the model in Fig. Lay upon it on the and it the centre mould rule. finishing off with the scraper It is and absolutely necessary that the sides of all the mould. Any deviation from this rule will throw the sidepieces out of the upright •be fixed. Then. as in Fig. with a trace A A and four inlets at B B B lines B. pierce the eight holes shown in Fig. the dotted at'B represent the corner blocks. knife. . 19. Next 25.30 How Now to Make a Violin. This piece is meant for the mould table. it. The dark line shows the shape of the mould. the superfluous Re- move wood with the saw and file. in perfectly their extent.

This figure shows the upper mould sur- rounded by the eight pieces in question. the and of viz. the four marked C i inch from the inin the centre i lets B B B B. 31 respectively i\ inches (or 15 lignes French measure) from the inner edge of the inlets A A. with the blocks (A A) (B B B B) fitted in their places. The next figure shows the mould.. also be of walnut. . and the two inch from the inner edge of the C curves. Eight other pieces must now be added to the mould. the \\ depth of they side-pieces. ri^ 27. They must precise inches. and must be dressed with the scraper fit and file till perfectly close to the sides of the mould.TJie Mould.

and fix the pieces of pine so that they all stand exactly at the same height. j^ of an When the glue file is dry. but only inch. pine. put a mere spot of glue on the edge of the mould in each of the six inlets. of perfectly ^ These blocks must be of even grain and a trifle over i^ inches high to allow for trimming. The blocks being prepared. .32 How to Make a Violin. surface They should project beyond the of the mould underneath. trim off with the knife and the projecting -^ of an inch. perfectly in their The blocks should fit inlets. and their grain and also that of the corner blocks must run across the instrument This gives solidity to the body.

Work slowly and measure constantly with the square to see that the outer edges of the blocks are perfectly square with the surface of the It is mould.The Mould. Then till the extra wood with a suitable away gouge and cut the blocks trim with the knife and file are the exact shape of the upper mould. The mould and blocks will then be of the shape of Fig. this being the side on which the back will ruler be glued. best glue It is is The glue. and file 33 the blocks perfectly level with the underside of the mould. This is the more important because no other material is used for hold- ing the parts of the violin together. that known as Cologne pale in colour and sold in pieces 6 or 4 . that The the must be used to ascertain surface corresponds perfectly with that of the mould. which must be of the best quality and made with the utmost care. now time to speak of glue. Lay the upper mould on the mould so that the outlines of the two are quite square with each other. 26 (page 29). and trace out the shape of the former on the blocks.

in the latter case. and. the needs twelve. it 8 inches long and wide. dinary kind. the edges of wood should be the glue is carefully warmed before two put on. glue is all Add water slowly. and glue will in using it apply it to the wood it with a large camel hair pencil. While making. used very but never boiling. It warm cannot be too often repeated that is only the very best glue obtainable use for violin making. when the it dissolved should be of the conoil. while they are hot^ or with a pencil dipped in water. Common glue is of no use at all. sistency of very thick Take care that it never boils. When away pieces are glued together. is very brittle and whitish at the broken edge.34 How to Make 2 a Violin. scrape with a chisel any drops which escape. Break a quantity in small pieces and put it in cold water for four hours. The glue should always be hot. which will soften and swell it Then take a small glue pot of the orup. but with the inner vessel enamelled. In summer. stir it gently with a stick of pine wood. of any . in winter dry in four hours.

and plane the rest. clamp the clean end down. the Plane the other side in is same way. its On iron account of peculiar grain maple is very difficult stuff to plane. Lay it on the bench at one end and clamp it down 4 inches wide. This time a flat bit of wood must be put between the handvice and maple to prevent the planed surface from being marked. till the piece reduced to a thickness of ^ inch.the plane must be dressed so as 35 to project very . and ^^j SAW out a piece of maple 30 inches long. THE SIDE-PIECES AND SIDE-LININGS. over (going Plane the surface all away from the vice). inch thick. The grain should run lengthwise. turn it round.CHAPTER VI. with the hand-vice. then un- clamp it. and .

holding each strip in your hands. move the edges along the plane iron till each is exactly i^ inches wide. but it pieces are at the to plane. Now into take the tracer and strips mark your width. and. Take the plane bottom upwards.36 How it to Make a Violin. measure with a strip of paper round the upper curve of the mould from the point where the neck is to join the block to the corner of the block. slightly. between your knees. To divide them into proper lengths. inlet. The piece is still must be carefully scraped till all inequalities left by is planing are removed nice and the strip smoothed to a polish on the surface which will be outside the violin. or will tear the wood and not smooth it. difficult and best suited for the side pieces. Allow for trimming In the same for and join at this comer. The most wavy and ornamental same time the most too thick. piece three of equal Divide them carefully with a knife. Then measure from the lower comer to the centre of the . way measure the allowing trimming and joining at both ends.

The meet side-pieces can now be At the four corners and at the point where the sides at the lower block the joint filed till it must be trimmed and is perfect. in other words.The Side-pieces and lower block. the side-piece should touch the its bench at every point of edge. dip in cold water and bend If to the required shape very gradually. which in is done with Fix the the bending iron. 27 (p. Cut the pieces long enough. The eight pieces of walnut before mentioned. Side-linings. will Fig. Heat it a stove. but care must be taken to curve square with the width. it the strips. fixed. but not taking one of it hot enough char the wood. The next operation is to bend the to strips. handle in the bench-vice. and. 31) now be wanted. shows them is and their use to hold the sides to the blocks to which they are to be fixed by means of glue. Rub the edges of the . A little practice soon renders this operation easy. in their places. when bent. yj^^ Cut two strips to each length. are too hasty strip. of the depth of \\ inches. you you will certainly break the strip Keep the damp by frequent dipping.

and do the same with the other side-piece. be level with the mould on leave the under of side. take a hand-vice. add the walnut blocks. put the it exact place.38 How well to Make a Violin. tighten the side-piece presses firmly against the soaped mould and other glued blocks. taking great care does not touch the blocks. The side-pieces will. leaving the two ends free. of course. and at project on the upper surface. glue the block and clamp. putting the beak in the hole nearest the the screw C inlet. fix upon the walnut block. this To do end first. fix on the outside of the walnut block screw until and the inlet. and. lower block the joint must be perfect. using the holes nearest to the glued block. Then bring them together at the lower blpck and make your joint perfect properly. that the soap Glue the two blocks in the side-piece in its C inlet. a At the upper block the space \ inch. clamp up with hand-vices as before. So for the C Glue the upper block and the corner block. mould with soap. lay on the side-piece. run the corner .

in. glue the block and clamp now in the firm.The Side-pieces and before Side-linings. glued in with the thicker edge level with the edge of the sides and held in their places . When pieces. They are of pine. The put 1*1 side-linings may now made and inch broad. 39 gluing the block up. This narrowing must now be done. clear why the eight holes were made mould. It is . take off the With the knife and file neck block and side not more all than tV of an inch\ the height of the sides must then be graduated iV round. ^ inch thick at the thicker at the thinner edge. It is usual to have the sides slightly narat rower the neck end. This operabe tion requires great care. starting with \\ inches at the lower end and finishing inch less at the upper end. dry and It is remove the vices and trim the blocks to the level of the side- hardly necessary to say that this must be done slowly and with exceed- ing care. lest the side-pieces should be disturbed. and -^ inch They are bent by the same means as the sides.

take a fine knife When and separate the blocks from the mould.40 How to Make a Violin. with wooden chips. these are dry. round off the blocks with a gouge. and the outline of your violin is complete. .

THE BACK. Fig. save that the than the latter left former. and of the size previously indicated. the ridge being the 41 . Fig. Fig. In form and arch they are precisely the same. Take two pieces of maple shaped thus. of which hereafter. Plane the surface and the thicker edges. 30. THE back and belly are made thinner in the is same way. and lay the two pieces together on the table thus. 29. These two when glued together will form the back of the violin.CHAPTER VII. 29.

19). shape If you use two pieces. bow saw. Saw round flle the outline with the line. line flat side. taking -particular care that the joint corresponds with the centre of the With the tracer point draw the outis of the model. of the model. position of the arch.42 How to Make If a Violin. your back ready for work. and having planed both sides perfectly. is Glue them When the glue is dry. 31. place it on the model. plane the thicker edges until they join perfectly. and work a round . and thus. Fig. take the model (Fig. Lay the two pieces (now practically one) on the bench. not going too near the as the knife and all have to follow to give the exact outline See that the edges are at flat side. together. you decide to have its size must be that its of the other two laid together. your back in one piece. take the back beline all tween your knees. Rigid accuracy in- dispensable. points square with the Open the tracer \ inch.

. fix it Put the back on the bench. like a miniature railway cutting. Take short and off shallow strokes with the gouge. with hand-screws. from the is This is the thickness the edge to be. of course. and to work out in the rough the arching down the middle of the C inlets. and with a large gouge give to it a rough resemblance of the shape which take. Now 'begin again from the centre. It is Do that not hurry over hardly necessary to remind when all the gouging. cutting only very small chips at a time. the edge at that distance 43 flat side. Begin by working along the ridge. scraping and filing have been done. When done there will. and be sure and leave enough wood for the operations this is which are to follow. getting deeper as you get further away from the centre. it must ultimately this work. so as to give to the joint a rough resemblance to the model of the arching lengthwise. be a cavity. and that one cut too deep at the outthe careful workman set will necessitate a fresh start. knifing. a certain thickness of wood must be left.The Back.

32. the point where the away from two archings meet. to the middle of the upper and lower curves. The back-plate will now resemble the following figure. Next clear away all the spare wood from and then with the smallest round-bottomed plane. until the two models fit with accuracy. whole surface tolerably smooth. four sloping Imes diagonally. The fit place where the shorter model should must be .44 How Next clear to Make a Violin. make the the centre to the edges. Fig.

Now take the same plane and clear out the groove or slight depression round the edge. Before doing however. so that the arching of the instrument falls little away all round to the bottom of level of this valley. as far as the small plane do it. finish it off with the scrapers and fine glass-paper. to prevent the outer surface of the back from being scratched. put a piece of cloth or green baize on the bench. 45 found by taking the model of the / holes and marking through it the two notches on their inner edges. The highest arch must be across these notches.The Back. from the which there will be a slight rise to the level of the outer edges. You must now side up. Under this cloth pieces of wood must the be fixed all round. turn the plate the other this. of such a height as to support the outer edges. if this precaution were not taken . The reason of this is obvious. Having thus got will the outside of the back to the proper shape. and at same time allow the middle of the back to rest upon the bench.

which are already fixed on the mould.46 the back How to Make a Violin. finish off and a with one everywhere else. Now turn to Chapter IX. using a round where the short curves render flat it necessary. and reduce the its back to proper thickness all over as there directed. will enable you to obtain the requisite thicknesses. and to leave more wood all over than when the back is finished. 10. which are of such vital importance in that I have treated the matter fully a separate chapter. m Chapter III. would not remain still while the outer side was being hollowed out. referred to will be the case The compasses Fig. Having carried through this operation with great care. In hollowing out the inner surface. slightly fine. . care must be taken to leave level places where the blocks will have to be attached. A inch round. the outer edge of the back should correspond exactly in outline with the side-pieces. biting and bevel very round the whole file inside of the edge. and the back should project over the side-pieces all file. Now take a good.

47 fit medium the back sand-paper. in the exact place Mark with a pencil on the edge of the back the joint where the side-pieces meet at the broad end of the instrument and also make marks at the four corners where the side- pieces are joined at the extremities of the C inlets. take the camel-hair upon the sidepieces. side-pieces. and unless you exact place it can lay the its down the back in its moment the glue is put on and its will lose heat tenacity while you are shuffling the back about to find its place.The Back. are ready. for a rapid and precise operation. These markings are to enable you to lay the back in an instant. is ready to be glued on. When you brush. so as to be in moment the glue is laid on. is If the is accurate. The glue has without possible boiling. in the and without place where you want it to be used as hot as to be. Have everything readiness the ready. therefore. hesitation. which : done as follows lay the back it is upon the to occupy. put the back in its place. and secure it with the wooden hand-screws. putting two lay the hot glue and .

on the upper block. to keep the edges. The glue which has been forced out by the pressure must be at once removed with a camel-hair brush dipped in the hot water of the glue-pot. The it is belly is fixed in the same way when both back and in the pro- completed by the fixing of the bass bar later on. and as many more as you can place round surface.48 How to Make a Violin. one at each corner. jection of either any variation beyond the side-pieces file. . must be adjusted with the knife and the projection is so that perfectly symmetrical all round. two on the lower. as shown When belly are glued on. should have a piece of cloth its it Each screw placed upon from bruising the wood. Let it stand till it is per- fectly dry.

Measure twice before you cut once. that pine is much more at the smaller fragile than maple. the either whole or joined. the wood split. little projection end of the back is not required for the belly. the tool must be used both ways lest getting out " a curve. and. and be content to take off a very small piece at each stroke 49 ." cut lightly and delicately. and. as is liable to split along the in grain. the he will meet with no great difficulty making the belly. moreover. increased working it must be worked with very sharp it tools. It must be remembered. IF a in the operator has succeeded in making good back. however.CHAPTER VIII. cutting out of / holes being the the only differ- ence. OF THE BELLY. and will therefore care in require proportionately .

Place the model of the / holes upon the belly. of course. should be on the side furthest from the joint. .jo lest }low to Make a Violin. of great importance other words. Before these are cut out the belly should in every other respect be finished. Then the / with a pencil sharpened to a very fine point. follow the directions given in Chapter IX. the heart-wood — in part which grows nearest the centre of the tree. In regulating the thickness of the differ- ent parts of the belly. carefully trace out the interior of holes in the model. and consequently is of closer grain. taking care that the position of the model is accurately adjusted. which should be perfectly straight from end to end. having. THE / HOLES. one unlucky gash should at the same care that the joint follows exactly time spoil your labour and your temper. first laid the latter upon the bench. and that you get a that the faultless joint before glueing the It is pieces together. Take the grain of the wood.

all the wood within the tracing. . little by little.Of First of all. 51 pierce the round holes above and below somewhat less than the tracing. Then introduce a very sharp penknife blade and cut away. the Belly.

and draw by measurements. will entirely depend. of this line will in each case be the starting-point of the operation for reducing the wood upon to its proper thickness.CHAPTER IX. a similar mark on the back. and conse- quently its quality of tone. OF THE BACK AND BELLY. Now open the compasses exactly J inch. WHEN all the belly has been finished but reducing it to its proper draw a line across the centre from the two in notches of the / holes. putting one leg of the compasses on 6S . as its successful the performance vibrations of instrument. The middle thickness. This the operation requires the most scrupulous care. and. THE THICKNESS. The lines above mentioned must be drawn upon the inside of the belly and back.

This thickness must be diminished gradu- ally from i^ inch (or \\ lignes French measure) at the edges of the rectangular space down to nearly ^ inch at the points where the belly joins the blocks. or double the distance between the compass Now with the ruler draw through these two points lines parallel with the joint 3 inches towards the top inches towards the bottom. \\ inches. but a . Belly. at their and 2 Join these lines extremities. this space space 5 and you thus have a inches long and \\ All the wood of the belly in must be \ inch thick. all over.The Thickness of Back and the centre of the line. 53 mark off that distance on either side from the centre point. • Take care that this dimgradualy and not by jumps and Some makers little advise \\ lignes thicker by the soundpoet. These two points will therefore be points apart. is inution steps.* and the same thickness must be left all round the under surface of the belly where the groove or valley runs just within the outer edges of its upper surface. rectangular inches wide.

but the hack must trijie be throughout a over A inch thicker than the belly. but work rigidly to the exact rectangular shown by : the pencil marks. . In other words. the groove the round the edge other inch thicker. This will serve to adjust the com- passes. Work with the small plane and scraper. the rec- tangular space on the back will be -h inch thicker than that on the *h belly. The thickness of the back is obtained in precisely the same way. Do not trust your eye. and fresh ones must be drawn at each measurement. and -^ inch at the thin edge. and gradual diminution from the one to the A inch thicker at the corresponding points. the buttons of which must be put at the thickness required. To ensure these thicknesses a small being cor- rectly obtained. Tti inch at the centre.54 How to Make a Violin. Note the following the strokes of the plane will take away your pencil lines. and fixed at that position by the screw. make wedge of some hard wood \ inch thick at the broader edge.

and when the rectangular is thus finished. of course 21 inch thicker in all parts than that for the belly. but touch it at all points. . the compass buttons should move quite easily over it.The Thickness of Back and Belly. Make a second hard wood wedge for the back. The glass-paper is the last " tool " to be used on the wood. these must be finished and brought down to their proper gauge with glass-paper. 55 The plane and scrapers must not reduce your wood to the given thickness.

fixed parallel to the joint and between to and the left / hole. Its purpose give depth and power to the third and fourth strings. The bar should be The edge glued fit to the belly is. here given are for in- and back above . long. THE making member tant and fixing of this impor- will finish the interior It is work of it the violin. of course. the other edge is straight. The centre of the bar falls on the / holes. line joining the inner notches of the The grain of the bar must corres- pond with that of the The measurements the thickness of belly belly. THE BASS BAR. lo^ inches to io| inches i inch thick. J inch deep at its centre. made is of pine.CHAPTER X. and tapering off to the thinnest strip at the ends. curved to precisely.

H. terest. The amateur who wishes to do so can easily test this for him- The following opinion of an American maker (Mr. The bar is ordin- . Bar. Clip it with / the shown in the chapter on tools (Fig. Colton was a friend of Ole Bull. so that the is outer edge of the bar inner edge of the upper side. Take to is at right angles the surface of the belly fits and that the curved edge possible fix the the belly with the greatest exactitude. first removing the super- fluous glue with before. W. 57 but the proportions care that the bar of the bar differ in different violins. Mr. is and the "note" from the life of the latter. Glue that edge and -^ inch from the circle bar parallel to the joint. and let it dry. Colton) is not without inself. published at Boston in 1883: "The oblique position of the bar has not been generally adopted.The Bass timated. a wet camel-hair brush as Some gonally writers contend that the bass bar would be of greater to service if glued dia- the grain. of the hole on the bass clips 15).

even averagely well. but a positive failure in the case avoided. of the oblique bar. Practice soon discovers a certain medium of spring which agrees fairly with a certain height of bridge.58 How to Make a Violin. arily placed with its outer side on a line parallel to the centre line or glue joint of the top. it so that when glued to the top produces an upward pressure of the bridge. no such common sents factor can be found to fit all cases. A given to the ends of the bar. pre- own particular The spring at each end must be accurately de- termined by mechanical means. and at a distance from it about equal to one-half the width of the bridge. An But entirely successful result is not always is insured. the force downward of which will depend upon the angle of the strings over its top. the at the centre. due the to its comparative strength of fibre and resistance due to the form of . measured from the outer extremities of the slight spring is feet. under the foot This pressure should equal thrust of the bridge. its Each instrument problem. which will take into account both the resistance of the top.

principal object of the bar is to resist the pressure of the strings upon the All old violins require to be rebarred. bore most strated to convincing theory. the oblique bar does beyond the doubt very crease depth and volume of tone. 59 of obliquity foot The same degree relative it and position to the of the bridge which supports. as was his wont.The Bass modelling. Bar. Mr." witness to the truth of his Ole Bull's own opinion on the matter thus expressed in his " is Violin Notes " : "The top. But when the greatly in- required conditions are fulfilled. and though. he frankly owned to more failures than one. will not answer equally well in all cases. Bull spent many years in attempting to formu- late the rules which govern this most per- plexing part of the organism of the violin. his instances of success illustrated by his Da Salo and many other instruments. His observations and experiments demon- him the correctness of the oblique position. particularly of the lower strings. to the height of the present musical owing .

As the originally it placed by Caspar is. but obliquely. two extremes towards the and the downward pressure of the bridge at that point. the pulling of centre. Da not should be placed now. . the end under the fingerboard In this position it being nearest the centre. that in the direction of the fibres of the top. From long-continued the strain. The old short bars are no longer adapted to the greater strain. so will tend to The adjustment of a remedy this. hundred years ago. appears to give ample support to the bridge and to allow a fuller and richer tone. new bar bar was Salo.6o How to Make a Violin. the tops of violins have many old bulged up at the ends and sunk down at the centre. and more powerful ones pitch over that of one are needed.

running one limb is along the outer edge (which 61 still . put on your knees.CHAPTER XL THE PURFLING. The grooves for the insertion of the purfling are made with a purfling tool. THE lines of purfling is the ornamental black lines running round the outer edge of the back and belly —made of two wood black with a strip of white between. and it is better to buy it than try to make it. and trace the first line. The distance of the purfling from the edge is a matter of taste. The wood for the purfling can be bought ready made at any violin maker's. When the decided. square. open the fix it tracer to the required width and violin with the screw. as good machinery is needed to do the work well.

then adjusted to the required dis- tance. cutters are kept in position by the screw Fig. The following description of an excellent purfling tool. Davidson's book on " " The Violin.62 How to Make a Violin. The purfling later). left The two cutters are thin pieces of steel. imitate any model chosen. 34^ shows the form of blade . the rounding off comes the second line in like tool is Then trace manner. of the neces- sary thickness. 34a represents one of the cutters. sharpened at an angle. so that the groove cut fit may The two a. seen edge- ways." By this instrument. directions for use are from Mr. with a shoulder the indenting strips. it will be perceived we can vary to the distances from the edges. Fig.

The body of this tool may be formed from a piece of two cutters the same as the preceding. is 63 There a small screw for ad- justing the shoulder piece to any required distance the purfiing placed. Another purfiing is tool. 33t5'. shown in Fig. 35. —with the exception of the course— and fixed an ordinary in cutters. This simple tool answers admirably. having easily made by any amateur. but much simplified. may be intended to be This tool may be made tool- from iron of handle. Purfiing. Fig.The and point. or can be pur- chased for about three shillings and sixpence. fixed by a binding-screw. The angular parts of the blades must be made thin. to be held . and may be beech. and the edges kept very Either of those two tools is keen.

*' When the purfling tool has been run twice along the intended groove. and a double cut of the propef depth run round the margin of the back and breast. take a sharp knife and cut groove to figure away enough wood from the allow the awl to enter.64 How to Make a Violin. and the wood cut out as previously. * When you is have a cob- By a " chisel-sharpened awl " meant bler's awl. and the groove cut to such lines with a thin pointed knife. two pencil lines may be drawn through the spaces.* The indenting groove must be and carefully. the interior wood is afterwards to be cleanly cut out with a chisel-sharpened awl. At the parts of the back and belly opposite where the in- to the extremities of the neck. quite steady. denting tool does not reach. narrow enough to run easily in the width of the groove made by the purfling tool but ground to a fiat and sharp edge. . never tear the cut gradually allowing the tool to wood. or slip from the proper place. A shows the side view. and B the front view of the point. The next shows the shape to which the awl should be bent and the way the point should be ground.

be done slowly and with great care. and remove . care being taken that the small ridge of between the grooves is not broken. seeing that the groove required the is extremely shallow and to be cut has wood from which it has already been made very thin. and gently squeeze both together into their grooves. or both strips if two are desired. wood Make neat joints at the four corners. Glue the strip of purfling to be inserted. 65 ^1 cleared away with a knife a starting-point for the awl. of course. This must.The Purfiing. begin with the point of the awl and turn up the strip of wood intended to be brought away just as a ploughshare cuts underneath the soil and turns it up so as to leave a furrow.

66 How When to Make a VioliH. take away the projecting surface of the purfling with a very sharp knife. any superfluous glue with the camel-hair brush. and finish off with the scraper and glass-paper. the glue is dry. .

a piece of maple lo inches long. THE NECK. but there no reason why the useful parts should not be as orna- mental as possible. draw a line all round the wood 5j inches from the end where it is to be fastened to the body. and draw the outline of model on the piece of maple. TAKE faces. Take the the finished neck which you have bought as a model. and plane it smooth on all four The maple for the neck is usually 2 J inches selected from wood well marked and figured.CHAPTER XII. so as to be as ble. and the scroll of the neck are the only parts of the are instrument which simply ornamental is without being useful. 67 This line will be . wide and i§ inches thick. Then with the T square. ornamental as possithe The purfling of body.

Fig. between iJ inch. Open the the com- passes \\ inch.68 How to Make a Violin. and mark on that transverse line on both sides of the point which cuts line. open the points is f inch which half the width of the narrow mark a point at each end and draw on each of the narrow sides a pencil line the whole length of the where the long line piece. which points there of course. a W inch from the long will. Ime at G. place one point at the angle meets transverse line it. be . at the point G. which is the place where the peg-box begins. 37. the compasses. Take side.

Open line compasses angle f inch. 37) and proceed along the line F E up into the corner. and cut away with the bow-saw ail the superfluous wood. and also the width of the nut (the small piece of ebony__Qyer which the strings pass the out of the peg-box). two points on This i^ inch the distance between which will be i\ is inch. and mark as before upon the cross line line. then start from C and work past start D round the curve to the corner point. the broad side upwards. so that the scroll end projects over the edge of the table.The Neck. Begin at point G (Fig. to be the thickness of it the neck at the point where joins the belly. and the put one leg on the made by long and the cross line on the narrow side opposite to that on which you have been either side of the long working. Now fasten the neck to the bench with the hand-vice. work round the top past to A. . again from C. B down This gives a rough outline. This 69 at W inch shows the width of the neck the beginning of the part held by the hand.

larger tool it the spiral requires care with great with the knife. difficult to . which must now. be brought to proper shape. beginning at the central button " which. is crossed by the centre line B C and the the dotted line aa^ bbt the point where these lines meet being the of button. in Fig. means of knife and file. bb. of course. 37. files and glass-paper.70 How G to Make a Violin. its proper it shape. Begin Finish with the as smallest gouge. finishing off to the greatest nicety with scrapers. be held by the hand. fasten the neck down to the bench as knives. by chisel. you lines will. draw on both sides the aa. to the part where the neck joins the body.. you will find the centres of the make Be buttons correspond. " the curves of the scroll. etc. scrapers and glass paper. Before beginning to carve one side. and carve out with gouges. and give which is to that part. to and to the neck proper. Then take your measurements from the model cut away the wood from the point A . Now before. from round to A. and take a it. B C and If this precaution it is not taken.

work out the two grooves round the edge A B C D. 71 careful. and preparing the foot to join This foot will be glued on to the and level with it at the top. the body. in widening down from in B to A. and must. to maintain the gradual increase of thickness which you will find constant your model. while the bottom will be glued to the projecting semicircle on the back of the violin. The Neck. the surface which glued to the block. therefore. • The now finished. block. the sides. taking as measurements finished off Having heck is you proceed. Draw neck a line in continuawhich divides it tion of that already drawn. The foot of the neck. two parts. except hollowing out the peg-box. be filed until its shape exactly this corresponds with it From point ths it foot will gradually increase in size until attains the width already down into the foot of the marked out.. or in is other words. will determine the height which the finger-board the violin. is to be above the body of finally in and before you glue the neck its place you must finish your according to finger-board the directions .

and. proper height when glued Fig. is The conical shape of the peg-holes obtained by means of a small tapered gouge. and that surface as well as the end or foot must . The mortising to present of the peg-box and the placing and drilling of the peg-holes ought no difficulty. regard must be had to two points : The central line of the sur- face to be attached to the finger-board must make a straight line with the belly-joint. holding it is with one hand in the place in which the foot of intended to be. to Make a it Violin. In gluing on the neck. 38 gives a view of the foot of the A neck (A B C D) the part above the line AB being the part which projects above the level of the block. adjust to the neck so as to give its the finger-board on.72 given How later.

been left at the end of the neck to allow for this inlet. of course. 73 be so adjusted that while the proper height is given to the finger-board the centre of the is scroll-buttons line intersected by an imaginary of the level at sides. this to allow the in exactly. An inlet \ inch deep. from the outer surface of the enough wood having.The Neck. so as neck to fit required. and the neck should fit into the inlet so accurately as to require some little force to get it to its place. more wood was left at this place than was must now be cut away. . drawn in continuation is which the back glued to the The time has now come to fix the neck. Before gluing the neck every precaution must have been taken to ensure its correct shape and position. When the side pieces were put on. You will a piece of cork \ inch thick and 2 inches long by i mch broad* Glue thoroughly now want * Felt is preferable as it is not so liable to leave an impression on the wood. \ inch deep. must now be cut that is in the block to say. side-pieces.




Make a


the inside of the inlet, put the foot of the


in its place,

but the piece of cork on the

back so as
this cork

to cover the button, and, placing

on the beak of the hand-vice, screw down the screw on to the end of the neck. In half an hour unscrew it and see if the

at the right height.

If so,

the glue can be left to dry; if not,

must be



the operation gone through


weather the end of the

neck should be warmed before




and the glue will have a more binding effect if a good number of holes are made with a knife in the end of the neck, and in the small surface which fits upon the button.




have no



so simple

and so



that the best


be to purchase one as a model.


amateur who has followed
difficulty in


thus far will

making one exactly

from a piece of eb^py sary to say that its width

It is

hardly neces-

at the

narrow end

must be adjusted to that of the neck, and

must fit the neck accurately at the sides, and should join it so closely that they both appear as one piece. Be careful in gluit



on, not to

board with the

mark the neck or the fingerhand screws. The height of





model of the instrument;

mean height





a Violin.

the middle of


upper curve should be


inch from the belly joint, but this will all

depend upon the height of the bridge and
the depth of touch required for the strings.


and the ta il piece nut the piece which^esists th^ action of the string by which the tail piece is held to the button.CHAPTER XIV. IS against which the finger- board neck. Its curve must correspond exactly with that of the fingerboard. and higher. will be perpendicular to the in and the upper surface the strings are cut which the as slits for must slope graduto ally down towards the 71 peg-box. with which it should exactly correspond. THE NUT AND THE TAIL PIECE NUT. THE is ny^t is the_sgaalL^iece of wood out o f over which the strings peiss the peg-box. as to which the eye will be a sufficient guide. its upper surface be ^ inch Its front. glued. Take a piece of e bony of the size for the nut. Its length will be deter- mined by the width of the neck. so .

. into which must accurately. in which is glued into an inlet Its made outer the block at the lower end. and to and we are now ready begin to varnish. which inch long. The four nut should not be file. with a project- a small scale. The edge over which slits in the the strings pass must be rounded so that they are not cut. rounded surface on which the rest. is The string-guard of ebony about i usually a small piece inch long and \ inch square. and | inch in fits accurately into a hole of that size bored through the sidepieces into the block. surface must be it level fit it with the side pieces.78 present strings a How may to Make a Violin. and the should be trimmed to the surface of latter. An edge should be left upon it to stand yg- inch above the belly. cut. made i ing limb about diameter. but filed out with a rat-tail of The making difficulty. It is the button presents no a sort of drawer-handle on of ebony.

polish with very fine glass-paper the whole surface. VARNISHING AND POLISHING. polish as before until the surface has the appearance of having been covered with a very thin coat of poor varnish. other suitable means.CHAPTER XV. HOWEVER been that carefully it the work has certain done. glass-paper or unevenness.le. 79 . or some other fault overlooked. is almost you will on looking it over closely hnd some slight roughness or some place where glue has trickled out. some part of the edges not nicely rounded. These faults must now be searched for and remedied by fi. When all is perfect. Now water. dip squeeze it it in cold nearly dry. and gently all damp Then (not wet) the instrument over. take a clean sponge.

work so that the marks of the brush are invisible. as a painter would say that is. and do not touch the instrument with varnish until you have put two coats of oil varnish on each piece as an experiment.8o How to Make a Violin. and take only two one up and the other down. from which brush-marks are totally absent. evenly. The -varnish in being a ready. When you have succeeded in getting a — brilliant surface. and as if the varnish had all been put on with one simple stroke. The making of the varnishes. about a an inch wide. is treated in the next chapter. quantity glazed earthenware Have as little varnish as possible at a time strokes. both treated and prepared for varnishing just like the violin. and which has never been used. The best tool to lay on the varnish is a flat camel-hair or sable brush. both spirit and oil. the older the . Try your hand first on two pieces of maple and pine. you can venture on your spirit After each coat of with varnish. polish a linen cloth. in the brush. violin. over each part of Take care and " lay it off the wood. take small vessel.

will it 8 and the softer its texture. material. the better be for your purpose lustre You cannot with spirit obtain a really brilliant varnish unless you polish with linen cloth after each coat. .Varnishing and Polishing.

I it instrument worth varnishing at strongly advise him what to be to varnish it that may one. for nothing will be gained by it. the to varnish and there are process. is two modes of carrying The one if is genuine. pass for it is.CHAPTER XVI. a new instrument. HAVING next out this completed step is the violin. This fraud is on every ground to be deprecated. and in the amateur has succeeded making an all. and not pretend it what is not. while the genuine workman. who cares more for turning out a good 83 violin than he does . the other a sham. VARNISHES AND COLOURING MATTER. an old New is in- struments are the made to look old by colouring applied. wood before the real varnish and leaving those parts uncoloured which in an old violin shows the effects of wear and tear. it.

feel that what money can never buy. it elastic. more durable and more moreover. as have said. is This it is is vastly better than spirit varnish. OIL VARNISH. best.Varnishes and Colouring Matter. for 83 will making money by dishonest means. by such a fraud he loses self-respect. proper way to varnish the it The violin is to varnish all over without any previous colouring. as well as the mode of ing the varnish in various tints when colouring is desired. varnish and colour- spirit varnish.. originally used. be found spirit varnish requires six or seven applications. Two coats. . as more beautiful. oil nish used for the violin. the fraud consists. The though most troublesome. needs whereas no polishing. but I worn away by to give precise shall now proceed directions for making the two kinds of varviz. be This may done either with plain or Both are equally genuine I coloured varnish. properly applied. will generally sufficient. in making the violin look as though coloured varnish had been long use.

spirits of turpentine and seed oil. purpose under con- The following is the way to prepare varnish. but as very dangerous unless carried out with great care. and is worse the than useless for sideration. the very finest quality for rely so that the violin maker may procurable. The latter. is such a bad drier. of who prepare boiled artists. that it must be used oil. is sold. of boiling " it course.84 How The to Make a Violin. ready for by oil Messrs. Winsor and Newton. oil . I strongly recommend that varnish that use. however. oil ingredients of good varnish are lin- three : amber. I any trouble or think better not to give any recipes for rendering linseed oil a better drier. upon obtain- ing the best boiled oil is Cheap common nearly black. The materials required are . perform the operation of is himself." in the form known " as "boiled The it operator could. London. oil and it as boiled can be purchased ready for use without risk. in any quantity. artists' colour- men.

2 ounces. Break up the amber into pieces the size of peas. and then add the turpentine. The colouring matters must simply be powdered and put in the turpentine to dissome time before it is wanted for making the varnish. gamboge. give turmerics tints or saffron. A quarter of an hour's warming will suffice to melt the amber. . Oil of turpentine . and having prepared a charcoal fire. —Aloes.Varnishes and Colouring Matter. are here given Yellow. but ii must now and then be stirred with a strip of pine wood. these will various of . The colouring matters solve.4 ounces. 4 ounces. to which you have previously given the colour desired. stir it till cool. take the pot from the fire. put the amber mto never before used. 85 Amber Boiled oil . When the amber is melted down. stirring all the time so as to thoroughly mix the ingredients. the turpentine. and add the oil very slowly. a glazed iron vessel and with it a spoonful of and put the pot on the fire and the cover on it.

it. These colouring matters are suitable colouring either oil or spirit varnish. • 4 „ . Drying linseed-oil Amber. sometimes the practice to make a quantity of any colour in as small a portion of turpen- tine as will dissolve tion to the requisite and keep it for tint when required. . . . fl. 2 oz 5 „ 6 „ . drs . fused Oil of turpentine . 2 oz. as desired. —Dragon's blood or Saunder's wood. coarsely powdered Venice turpentine Prepared linseed-oil Oil of turpentine . brilliant. 2 li fl. By mixing Brown. dilu- The following are recipes for oil var- nishes of different kinds Amber. fused . effect may is be of golden varnish very Red. — Madder or logwood.86 How The to Make a Violin. fl. It with yellow any tint of light red can be obtained. . 2 Amber. oz oz. from light golden to deep. . for It is must be remembered that each coat adds a slight depth of colour to the previous one. yellow.

P> ^^^ . . . the be pieces which become soft upon the application of the oil are those only to used.. 4 .. jar. y rty ( . 3 pt. linseed-oil . 1 lb. . .1 gal. Dissolve the lac separately.. qt. 8 . Colourless Copal Varnish. Clear pale rosin Oil of turpentine . then thin with and strain immediately into the store is This varnish hard and durable. . —To prepare this varnish the copal must be picked. Oil of turpentine . Those ground pieces having been selected are to be . Lac Drying . Rectified oil of turpentine .Varnishes and Colouring Matter. the amber and thoroughly dissolve by Clear and pale African copal Pale drying oil '. • 87 1 oz. Dissolve. and dries hard in from twelve to twenty-four hours. until stringy. . upon which a drop or two of rosemary oil is to be poured... Boil the copal and drying-oil the turpentine.1 . then add heat. This is the varnish generally used on the cheap violins. . each piece then broken.. . . .3^ lbs.. .

Sandarac Venice turpentine Powdered glass . » 1 » 2 „ \ 1 >> )) 2 2 >> 4 . or 1 part. « oz. .88 How to Make a Violin. . . „ M 2 1 n >) 4 16 „ )) 32 „ „ „ „ „ » Mastic 1 dr. two or three hours. . Sandarac 1 . and then Place the to it powder stir for in a glass vessel and add a corresponding volume of the rosemary oil. . . to a fine powder. 6i„ 5 fl. a few minutes. . when you Leave the liquid will have a to rest for thick liquid. Seed-lac . . after whicb reduce with alcohol until the required consistence is obtained. Alcohol . The following are recipes for spirit- varnishes of different kinds Elemi Mafitic in tears ./ Lac Alcohol . sifted. then add a few drops of pure alcohol. and mix slowly. This is a clear and beautiful varnish. \ oz. . .

oz . . Powdered Alcohol glass . .) 1 pt. 1 pt.Varnishes and Colouring Matter.j .. » „ Benzoin in tears . . . 24 „ Coarsely powdered . 32 „ 5 2 . . 4 oz. Heat the mixture (with frequent counted as they plete. Powdered Alcohol Seed-lac glass . „ „ „ . Mastic . 89 Gum sandarac . . . Turpentine varnish Alcohol . then rise. Seed-lac . . 2\ fl. P. stirring) in a water bath. . 4 „ „ Venice turpentine . 2 „ 1 1 Mastic . copal and 4 bz. so that the bubbles may be until solution is com- decant the clear portion. . li„ 2 Venice turpentine . 5 . Sandarac Elemi . 2 . ilb. glass of each Camphor Alcohol (64 0. .

and dries in a few . picked orange alcohol. It does not minutes. less press the liquor through a piece of and filter fine filtering paper. chill or bloom. Colourless Spirit Varnish. if now not add more through When coloursilk. solution should colourless A small quantity of the be filtered. and charcoal. of well burnt and recently heated animal charcoal.90 This is How clear to Make a Violin. This varnish must be used in a room where the temperature is about 60 degrees Fahr. seen the spirit-varnish so often upon the German lac violins. —Dissolve 2\ of oz. in a pint rectified and boil well for a few minutes with 5 oz.

it ceased to . it compacts the tone together. THE MS. second. red and yellow. but breaks or scales off under a sudden blow.D. its use was common only in Italy third. Applied to a parent. Bull. " "Violin Notes" left by Ole the contain following inter- esting observations In a search after an elucidation of this facts immediately this so-called lost art. The vehicle in which the gums and colours arc dissolved is an oil. three present themselves : first. without 91 . It is entirely trans- and of all shades of brown. violin. varnish was employed by the very earliest of the Italian makers as well as the later. be applied to violins after " it A.CHAPTER XVII. 1750-60. In texture this varnish is extremely supple will yield to pressure. THE VARNISH.

which this varnish "Turning to other countries of Europe* Germany. France and England and exam- — ining the productions of their most cele- brated violin-makers contemporaneous with the Cremonese school. That its inIt is gredients were indigenous to the Italian soil is out of the question. it much of was employed etc. appropriated by the violin- makers. a glassy lustre. were consequently jected. scarcely a trace of the is Italian varnish to be met with. and an absence of all delicate shades of . doubtedly various through these and unports came the substances of gums and colouring was made. it shrill beauty to and gives addithe wood. Violin.92 rendering tional How to Make a or harsh. owing to be to their to fracture re- under rough usage. Imported to Venice. Venice and Genoa held great com- mand over the entire Eastern trade. The extremely liability curly pieces. in the construc- tion of oars. the well known that maple used by the violin-makers of that day came from Turkey. is In Ger- man instruments the varnish distinguished by extreme hardness.

maker. with the question. about two hundred years. Rome and Naples. during this long time to say that .The Varnish.varnish of the old English makers lacked transparency. the colouring was sometimes good. how was this secret lost? third. then. more- alcohol. In both these countries the vehicle was oil. colour. Venice. but only in a certain way. : was this manufacture a secret? second. was the manufacture of this varnish a secret? There is no reasonable doubt that it was. is 93 The vehicle or menstruum. therefore. The. It is impossible. questions should clear this so-called lost art. In France. for the knowledge and use of it extended to Padua. For a period of from the time of Caspar da Salo to that of the Bergonzi. the varnish was common to every Italian violin- Cremona had no monopoly. but the varnish in quantity and texture differed essentially from the " Italian. are there any clues for perusal and examination? Answers to these Three questions occur first. but in general too pronounced. over. up the mystery of first "To begin.

well-selected wood. From a hundred date. Dominico Mon- tagnana and Sanctus Seraphino were the masters of the art in Venice. to The relied Cre- monese their makers seem have on their sonorous. Alessandro Gagliano. pro- bably a pupil of Stradivarius. then. From about 1745 to about 1760.94 How to Make a Violin. so well known and widely But a this little used. . Venetian and Cre- monese schools. " A rivalry had always existed between the Neapolitan. had established himself at Naples. the manufacture of this varnish may bitter be properly called a secret. the selection of ingredients or the method of preparation employed in the manufacture of this substance. later quite a change is observable. were in any sense a secret. as being confined to a chosen few. Italian instruments of later only a notable few can be selected varnish. as this possessing the true and that is marked is characteristic in the case of these few not the result of mere chance ap- parent from the fact that the artists who it made them have all consistently applied to their productions.

It is quite evident. a chair. a cabinet. the varnisher. apart from any considerations of beauty. 95 the and Venetians. Generally it is colourless. instances are not their wanting of the persecution of such by less fortunate fellow-workmen. As a knowledge of confined to a the varnish became at last few. and provided ing. the importance of the varnish as an acoustic element was well recognised. it has escaped modern retouch- the varnish might be by Stradivarius himself. The second question now how was the secret lost ? A " presents itself careful to : and a re- peated examination. reveals the fact that the varnish of the Italian violin-maker of the time of Stradivarius and before him was common to the painter.The Varnish. the case of a spinet or harpsichord. that. be examined. Let an ancient piece of Italian furniture. on exceedingly the beauty of their wood. their ancient reputation. extending vast number of objects. established principles of construction. and the Neapolitans on low " their price. then the . and the gilder as well. and careful finish.

fairly lustrous. and fairly able to endure further vicissitudes of time. had given place to a more sober style. be ex- amined. "Between the years 1740 and introduced. there is no such varnish. that of 1760. 1760. with carvings. 1760. were discarded in favour of newer and more complicated processes producing a result more durable and unchangeable under exposure and rough wear. and then at once. depending on the intrinsic beauty of their material. but occasionally it of brilliant hues.96 quality How to Make a Violin. The chair of 1725 presents a surface broken and worn away. themselves dis- solving them. whether of ornament or utility. This is smooth. one comparatively smooth. hard and durable. " The old fashion of ornamenting all ar- ticles of furniture. say. and texture it is are the indications. proclaims itself to the eye Let specimens of a later date. great changes in the manufacture of varnish were The old capable in soft gums and of their menstrua. Broad. were found a relief to the eye tired with unravelling the mazes of complex . unrelieved surfaces.

comthat in bination of the residue with From day field to the present. able. the gates to which were opened by such pioneers as Simon Martin. by driving off by means of heat. various improvements this art hav^e gone on uninterruptedly. upon proper and In 1750 a patent. hence the and covering of sucli new processes. being once entered. a fan painter. badly wearing varnish longer sufficed for protection surfaces. years. hardness and unchangeableness was soon solved. hitherto undissolvso. 97 or painted arabesque. The no old. for superior results. The hard copal gums. or only entirely partially were found to heating yield fusion. The of discovery. the problem of durability. The knowledge of its naturally confined to the general manufac- 8 . the Italian varnish became a lost art. and the subsequent oil.The carving soft. the old recipes. for the process of making varnish the succinic acid from amber. was granted by the King of France to one Simon Martin. Varnish. covering a period of twenty-fi. such utilitarian purposes. But with the laying aside of composition.

. And so it has happened that the art of the old varnish in is not lost. certainly regarded by its latest possessors. for a secret it was. held the market.g8 tures. would naturally supersede the old as articles of import. but. forgotten. but buried under the wheel of progress. gaudy of the colour of the second. would find increasing difficulty in obtaining the old constituents. and the general cheapness of all. the copals. its use was not confined to them. etc. as has been shown. and so by degrees those who possessed the secret. sistent would be absurd to say that perinquiry must fail to unravel a skein it of so many ends. the France and Germany were eager competitors. or artist of the Black Forest. There is no doubt that some of the Cremonese and other makers knew how to prepare it. The new ingredients. England. For two hundred years it was in the hands of a nation. and though now a desire for this forgotten knowledge is confined to only the dust a few. amber. the days of violin-making in Italy were over. the baked wood Mittenwalder. the stolid build of the first.. How was to Make a Violin. Moreover.

1692. " gg presents itself The third question now any writings or clues for perusal and examination? There are many. has given the following of authors who have treated upon this subject "Alexis.. London. Secrets des Milan. 1685. Vincent. 1550. " Buouanni. 1693.* Bologna. "Morley. who long ago wrote a are there treatise list on varnish. Jean.' " Piedmontese (real ' name of Hieronymus * : Ruscellai). " And a ' : Recueil Abr6ge des Secrets Mer. ' Epitome Cosmo- graphique'. 1694 (reprinted 1736). " Coronelli. " Pomet. 1564. * Histoire Generale des Drogues ' Paris.The Varnish. Artificialis. Miroir Universel des Arts Tiavoranti et des Sciences. An ingenious Frenchman. C. 'Traite des Vernis'. the Rome. author. veilleux. — 1663. "Zahn. Venice. Arts. etc. 17 1 "Here is a succession of earliest written treatises. 'Oculus Nuremberg. Phillipe. about the time of Caspar da . 'Collections'.

ject which has never. " and transparent. sediment. clear which. however faded by exposure and . quite distinct from that of the for. the ? and the yellow —hidden under quaint all and obsolete names. Is any one of them the right one? Patience and perseverance are necessary. will let fall no There is still another branch of this subrarely. they are by one and another of these all indicated authors. and the latest during that of StradiHere are hundreds of genuine revarius. however long kept. and are soluble in the one vehicle. the new varnish may possess old coveted lustrous softness and supand the pleness. How to Make a Violin. but these once made. the desired result may be obtained. cipes. and this is the ground-toning.100 Salo. And the colours? the brown. red. much fitting of old names to their nomenclatures and many tiresome comparisons. all Italian instruments the wood appears in be permeated with a colour varying tensity from pale yellow is to almost orange. or very been In to in- specified. This colour varnish . forming a coloured oil varnish.

and offers a splendid foil to the superimposed colour. the may ground- tone almost always retains its colour. other causes the latter lOi be. and that of the old wood. it is quite possible that a selection fulfil could be made. But though supplied with the groundelement is tone. dye-stuffs and colouring matter common to the Italian markets. or as a distinct varnish. is On such tawny yellow the most intense. toning and giving life to it. But from their miscellaneous lists of the drugs. two elements most effective in the task of interlining the broken sentences of tradition. is "The problem of the old varnish is solvable by anyone who deems the reward worth the trial of patience and perseverance.The Varnish." . whether as was a wash or it stain. another needed before the the natural colour exact reflex of the Italian varnish can be reproduced. How composed or applied. none of the authors give any information. which would required conditions of colour " all the and stability. The its violins with red varnish afford the finest ex- amples of this ground-toning.

CHAPTER A MATHEMATICAL XVIII. and divide it accurately into 72 equal parts. METHOD OF CONSTRUCTING THE OUTLINE. to ensure a satisfactory draw a perpendicular line 14 inches long. it is necessary to observe great accuracy in working. IN the the result. Then draw at right angles to line. First the following ' A line through point No. >) }) »> » . constructing an outline according to directions now to be given. >» 8 14 16 tf i9 20 »> 2U A— B— C— D— E— loa See Illustration.

r. 103 A line through point No. »» >» »> H— I— 28 31 >> )» K— L— » f) 33 34 37 )> >» M— N— 0—0 >> }> >> >» >i »> it It 39 }> 40 44i P— Q-Q » >} 48 55 56 R-R S— it » T— » » 65 V— Open parts. Open the compasses to the width of 24 parts. the compasses to the width of 9 b^ put one of the feet at point little and draw the two curves aa. place one foot on point 24. Open parts. Put one foot of the compasses at . as at cc. 11 yy >> 22 23 27 F— G— See Illustration. the compasses to the width of off this and mark distance upon each open side of the perpendicular.Constructing the Outline. and draw 2 the arc aba.


measure to a point 22J parts from the perpendicular. In the same way find on line KK 2 points 23! parts from the perpendicular. . join the line LL. 14. 105 and describe the curve at aa. on the line BB. 11 Open the compasses to the width of parts. the arcs cutting the lines LL and PP. Open the compasses to the width of one part. vv. ee\ make each point the centre of a as in the last paragraph. place one foot upon point 72. to fl. and draw the curve between these two lines. two points circle. and mark to right and left of No. and the other on point 72. and continue it the arc from the line LL until meets the line HH. and draw the two small lines vVy then place one foot on point 35. and from centres kk open the compasses to the point whe^e the arcs last drawn. put one foot the Ime On L L of the compass at each of these points h and describe from the centre h with a radius of 1 1 parts.Constructing the Outline. with radius ^A. and draw the arcs A D on either side. Do the hke on the other side.

and continue the curve from v to the line VV. and continue the curve from the line VV to the line RR. and on each side the curve from the last mentioned point to the point n. open the com- passes to the point where the arcs last drawn VV. Take each point . . Mark off on line GG two points each distant from the perpendicular 24^ parts open the compasses from point on either side. place one foot on point 56. Open parts. open the compasses from the line m to where the curve joins trace HH. 4 Open the compasses to the width of parts. mark on the line SS the two points xx. to point / and draw the curve from point / to the line FF.io6 How to Make a Violin.r as a centre from x to v as a radius. Take each joins the line s as a centre. mark the 2 points to ZB. 00. the compasses to the width of 6 and placing one foot on point 55. On line II mark on each side of the per- pendicular at the distance of 14! parts from the perpendicular 2 points mm.

and mark on each side the point /. On line QQ open the compasses 24 parts from the perpendicular. . open the compasses from point is / to the point where the line i PP and joined by the curve from the point curve. draw the small Open the the compasses to the width of I9f parts from point $0. and trace on each side comer dd. 107 On line EE. will We arch of now proceed to show how the the violin is made in the direction of the perpendicular. find 2 points 22 parts from the perpendicular on each side qq\ open the compasses from point q to point p on line EE. Open parts. and mark on each side the point bb\ from point bb^ open the line compasses to the poin^ where the is RR joined by the curve from V to R.Constructing the Outline. the compasses from point 20. 16^ and draw the two corners ss. and draw the small curve from ^ to r on each side. On the line NN open the compasses 16-J- parts from the perpendicular. and continue the curve from cc to dd.

When is cut away this arc will give the proper arch of the violin. that at the J parts. and draw upon the strip the line in continuation of the line arc shown in Fig. 40. The diameter of the hole at the head is i^ part. thick find enough not its bend too easily. the inner edge of the upper holes should be 9 parts asunder. to inches widd. and the foot I . The length incision of the / holes 15 parts. and the other point upon the perpendicular drawn upon the table. the large compasses 216 parts. the on the inner side of each should opposite point be exactly 40. and centre. having fixed the upon the draw upon the table a perpendicular drawn across the centre of the strip. the head commences opposite point 32^.io8 How to Make a Violin. length Open is. table. place one end of the compasses on the perpendicular line upon the strip not too near to the upper edge. and across which draw a line. and. and the foot ends opposite point 47^. -2 Take a a little strip of hard wood. longer than the perpendicular. that three times the of the perpenstrip dicular.

Constructing the Outline. The position of the bar in modern instruments will be found under paragraph headed " The Bar. Point 42 is the starting point for obtaining the proper thickness of the back. With the Fig." * . The position of the bar shown in the above illustration is that found in old Dutch and other early made instruments. as under (see Fig. 41. 109 inner edges of the lower holes 23 parts.* For all measurements required in this method a rule 72 parts long will be and accurately divided into 72 parts found of great service. THE THICKNESS OF THE BACK. 41).




Make a


compasses describe from centre 42 a circle having a radius of 4J parts; all the wood contained in this circle should be precisely I Then open the compasses 12 part thick. parts and draw another circle from the same centre, the wood in which will gradually fall off from I part thick at the edge of the inner circle to f of a part at the edge of the outer


this line to the side pieces, the

thickness will gradually




directions to ^ part (see Fig. 42).

fio .^2

Construcling the Outline.


Point 40

the point of departure.


the compasses 4 parts

and draw a


point 40 as



The wood


must be f part thick; open the compasses 9 parts, and draw another circle.
Then, as with the back, gradually thin

from the inner
outer circle

circle till



at the

\ part thick,

and from thence

thin off again to the sides, where

be a good \ part in thickness.


The bar should be $6
thick, 2 parts

parts long,



high in the middle, diminishing

gradually to f part at the ends. Its position should be parallel to the joint, slightly inclining inwards at the top end, or about

inch in


whole length, and precisely upon

the edge of the inner
the bar can be readily


length of

gauged by measuring

\\\ inch (or 17 lignes French measure)

from the top and from the bottom of the belly, the ends of the bass bar should come
to these points.

The bar should

never be

at the



Make a


away from the centre than 8^ lignes top and 9^ lignes at the bottom. The

sHght slope at the present time given to the bar should be in this proportion also.


The sound-post should be \

inch in dia-

and placed behind the foot of the



important part have been given in previous


The bridge should have
outer edge of the feet;

8 parts between

height should be

6| parts.


The neck should be 27
the violin.

parts long


the extremity of the peg-box to the sides of

which can all be bought of any instrument dealer. Those parts which gave a finished appearance to the instrument were wanting. he brought nothing but the violins —a mere assortment of wooden boxes. but as I only propose writinp: on the making of the violiriy I have expressly omitted matters which merely pertain to the fitting-up of the instrument preparatory to playing. When Luigi Tarisio came to Paris with a number of priceless Italian violins in his possession.CHAPTER XIX. An old "Strad" may in its time have had fifty tail-pieces 113 or a score of finger-boards. and however . I might give the amateur minute directions for making the first three named. THESE are the tail-piece. pegs and strings. as turned out by the master hands of their makers. THE REMAINING ACCESSORIES OF THE VIOLIN. bridge.

useful to the amateur: . They should always be gauged before they are put on." fastened to the button by a piece of violoncello D string. and a hollow scooped on the under side to allow the knot to stand within the level of the belly.114 essential How they to Make be. no variation The following passage from Mr. Some tailpieces have two holes pierced through them and in this case the ends of the cord should be put through and tied so that the knot comes in the groove of the button. will select the pattern he likes The strings are an important factor in the production of the tone. knot of be firmly Different modes of fastening are adopted. Others have the holes pierced in the end of the tail-piece. and when the thickness and quality of strings best suited to a violin are ascertained. a Violin. the tied. Davidson's work will be should be permitted. wood so as not to touch the The amateur best. A string gauge can be bought for sixpence. the may is parts above- named are only The tail-piece which should "fittings.

having a regular thickness throughout. They ought also to be transparent throughout their entire length. should be purified by a mixture of lime . 115 A good violin string ought to be perfectly cylindrical from one extremity to the other. The strings should be now and again in oiled. or the united parts to break. it If olive-oil is used. like a thread of glass. preserved in oil-paper or bladder.The Remaining " Accessories. The best second third strings are of a transparent white first the not being If so the white. ought not to change colour. and possess no wavy and . white. and laid aside in covered tin boxes. or bent together. or curled markings. a dry place. A packet of strings upon being compressed. but to quickly return to their original shape. first but perfectly transparent. and possess the necessary elasticity. strings are very we may safely assume that they have been made from the intestines of animals which have been prematurely used by the manufacturer. For oiling the strings a small piece of woollen or other cloth used. may be upon which a few drops of olive or almond-oil are poured.

as if not in due proportion the one to the other. strain if too thick or heavy. If the strings are too thin or the tone of such will be weak and feeble. in order to effectively evoke their purity of tone and freedom of vibration. peculiarities of the strings The in- which prove dividually suitable to the different classes of violins must also be judiciously studied. the second 17 lb. it to bring to opera pitch. but generally speaking." and fourth about the same as the must carefully observe that the tone of any violin is very perceptibly affected by the size of the strings. The string should require a tension of 15 lb. until to it Make a is Violin. as the instruments vary so is much in this respect that a string which perfection to one is destruction to another.. and an unnecessary and pressure will be exerted on the bridge. the third first. the sounds will be hard and coarse.Ii6 How lead. and first perfectly limpid. light. all the ancient instruments require to be lightly strung. no uniformity We of tone or power will be obtained. . whilst on the contrary.

The bridge in is ably treated by Ole Bull his "Violin Notes. violins. but a well-made violin never requires this <?^'^r-st^aining or tightening in it order to bring to pitch. and also with respect to the sound-post and bow . The pegs must be accurately adjusted. The fingering also varies on some even although they may be of precisely similar lengths of fingerboard. From the preceding cursory remarks the reader will easily discern that the strings form an important item in the correct ad- justment of the instrument. A mixture of finely powdered chalk and found the best means of making the pegs move freely and stay where they rosin will be are left without pressure.The Remaining Accessories." and the following passage will afford the necessary information on this point. and when properly fitted the holes should fall so as to allow the strings to run from the hole to the nut without crossing each other. causing endless ruptures. 117 Many of the common-class violins require the strings to be <7Z'^r-tight ere they can be brought to pitch.

or directly on a line drawn across the top from the inner notches of the / holes. but too great violins ness muffles the tone. and such should be particularly thick at the edges where the strings rest. the forward pull of the strings ** The construction of the bridge has great mfluence upon the tone. centre of the bridge tends to Thinness of the make prominent any nasal quality or instrument. "The centre of the bridge should be dir- Whether it should stand slightly backwards or forwards of. THE BRIDGE. and can only be determined experiectly over the centre line of the top. shrillness latent in the A proper solidity conveys sweetthick- ness and compactness.Ii8 How to Make a Violin. " The position of the bridge should be such as to affect the whole violin equally. . will depend upon the character of the instrument. piece in It should incline towards the to better tail- order withstand in tuning. and not to favour one tone more than another. " High-built mostly require low bridges. mentally.

These bridges are made of excellent wood. as having a more close and elastic grain. ^ inch. though open to some objections in special cases. may be made and so made it will always convey a rounder and fuller volume of tone. one of the best. The French model of is Aubert. "The incisions in the sides of the bridge should extend each one third of the distance tov/ard the centre. The average height bridge the feet of the should be . a bridge quite heavy. The distance measured along the top between the G and E strings. That which is known as the silver-grey maple is preferable to the brown or thick.The Remaining Accessories. The G string should be \ inch above its the hnger board at larger extremity. and are thick and strong. flat 119 "The bridge should be perfectly It on the side toward the tail-piece. Properly constructed. slightly convex may be on the other side. the E of string. "The material of which the bridge is made should be invariably maple. of Mirecourt. should be i-^^ inch. "The top of the bridge should.

120 How -j^ to Make a Violin. a scant ^ inch. The thickness at the base. Moving the upper end outward will help all the strings. should in all cases may fit be moved with advantage to secure It tain qualities of tone. the curves of the top lutely. "In general the sound-post should stand from i to J inch to the rear of the right foot of the bridge. From cer- upper or lower end. and a further back. if the tone before was hard and shrill. Its outer edge should be in line with the outer this position its edge of the foot. then a very loose post should be used. Moving favours the and back absolower end toward the strings. THE SOUND-POST . centre the lower If the all lower strings are weak and the upper at sharp or hard in tone. . or both. but if the upper strings happen to be dull and heavy. a long If the reverse is the case. about inch. at the top a full -^ inch. The feet should be -^ inch long. and tightly fitting sound-post is required. then the post should stand a little inside the line of the little foot of the bridge.

a powerful.The Remaining Accessories. as in the tremolo. as it were. bow is passages and many if The bow. we favour to act by causing the hair . heavy required for four-string tours de force. should stiff. the different colours of certain overtones sound. neither the hngers nor wrist having anything to do with the result. The grain should ring of the cross that of the top. be extremely so that dropped upon It the strings the rebounds are very rapid. should have weight to give force to these rebounds. " I use a bow longer by two inches than the ordinary standard. as this will prevent the mar- inner surface of the top in it. In this last example the bow is thrown upon the strings and runs its length in a series of little rebounds. while elastic. arpeggio and staccato volante. In order to graduate. as in the many passages the weight of hand cannot be applied to assist the bow. putting the post in and adjusting THE BOW. 121 fine - The sound-post should be made o f gr ained soft spr uce.

2 ft. known have that the hairs. finger should sustain the weight. 4 inches. the partially The little wrist is not cramped or stiffened in pro- ducing the pressure. the other half the other. only needed from the hand. Half the hairs are put in one way. The number of It is hairs is about 160. and the stick should be inclined toward the neck. 6 inches. The great stiffness and elasticity of the heavy bow gives a freer. and the nearer the neck at greater or less distances the more the lower overtones will be favoured. The nearer we approach the bridge the more the upper overtones. slight assistance is in forte passages. as seen little when mag- nified saw-like teeth running in . the resulting tone resembles that of the trumpet. In the first instance.122 How to Make a Violin. that of the horn and clarinet. With a heavy bow. the length of the hair. from the bridge. cleairer tone than can be produced by one of a lighter and more sluggish " nature. so that only part of the hairs act " upon the strings. and in the second. In piano passages. The length of the bow is 2 ft.

to be better than trials and which appears other. Davidson a far more important it. which until It is improvement increases gradually bridge assumes the ordinary form. all our attention. cut like a bridge. and not flat should be round and even. astonishing thing that by trial arrive at the the an we gradually any form of bridge usually adopted. take a piece of wood. the It gets instrument nearly little better if loses its sound. the sound improves. a form feet to the bridge. "The bridge plays part than incisions is generally attributed to Its and form have a great of the influence It upon the quality instrument. If merits. in places." The importance of a suitable bridge is paramount.The Remaining one direction. they present the same friction on either the up or down stroke. we and we glue it upon a violin. It The best hair is from Normandy. if we make lateral incisions in it. A multitude of have been made . Accessories. and to further aid the amateur in its selection I tation append the following quofrom Mr. therefore. 123 By thus dividing the hairs.

parallel to the face of the bridge. form without detracting greatly from the quality Bridges have been made of deal with their fibres perpen- and parallel to the belly. but the sound was found to be altered. The effect appears to be to confirm the normal movements of the tables. The bar to which these oscillations are imparted. pro- duces in the belly a similar movement over .124 How to Make a Violin. If we make two incisions in it. while the bridge lation. and the sand is seen to move in several directions at once. Let us examine the move- ment of the molecules of the bridge. the movement is tangential. The size and shape of the openings have been altered. itself experiences movements of oscilits and molecules appear to execute vibrations in a direction normal to the belly. Everything heis led to this result. before this important piece arrived at perfection. If we take a plain bridge with two feet and a single string. the nature of the movement changes. dicular but the beauty of the instrument has always been impaired. the established that we cannot depart from of the instrument.

but not to so great an extent as with a mute.The Remaining its Accessories. segments by transthe parts of the nodal instrument enter at once into vibration. and All prevents from dividing versal into ventral lines. On the other hand. the sound is weakened. If we clamp the right foot of the bridge. the instrument. and the bridge It seems no longer to vibrate. left foot evident that the of the bridge produces the shocks which occasion the movement of the bar and of the belly. lations. by interfering a lations. even appears to arrest the vibrations of the other parts of The mute arrests its oscil- and no longer produces the vibration of the belly." . 12$ it entire surface. us see Let how we can modify By placing is the effects of the bridge. if we repeat the experiment with the left foot. which ought to communicate its movement to the bar^ the It is sound is incomparably weaker. little with its oscil- a mute on the bridge the sound almost null.

the body of which is not cut out except at the two bides. bridge of a SMALL-rAXTERN VIOLIN OF THE ANCIENT SCHOOL OF ANTHONY AMATI . 43. bbioge of a viol with seven stbings. ff Fig. 45.Fig.

Fig. . bridge of a viol with five strings cut through in evert tart. 44.

bridge of a stradivarius. Fig. 47. .Fig. 46. bridge op a Nicholas amati.

io . N.Lowe and Brydone Printed in Great Britain by (Printers) Limited.W. London.

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