A couple of weeks ago I passed a garage sale. The best kind. Made an offer on two student violins in unplayable condition. A ½ size and a ¼ size. Got the call back and picked them up last week.
I tightened up the old strings on the larger of the violins, liked its tone, so started with that one. Fit a new peg, straightened out the bridge – maybe, and cleaned up the entire fiddle with naphtha, then a Behlen polishing agent.
Turns out, after cleaning off the funk, that the ½ has real purfling, the ebony strips of wood inlaid around the perimeter. Also the two-piece back covers the heel of the neck; there is not a separate heel cap; a good sign.
Looks like we have a special violin here. As Steve Fields says, the better the student, the better the violin they should have when young. Some lucky kid will end up with this violin at a decent price.
The D’Addario Helicores arrived from Johnson Strings Friday, and Saturday afternoon was the perfect rainy day to string a violin and perform final shaping to the bridge. Despite my finest efforts to ruin yet another bridge, everything came out as close to perfect as I dare. This violin, unplayed since the ’70s, is back in fine fiddle. Clear tone, fast action, and LOUD.
Never say lastly; there is always something else. Steve Fields played the ½. It’s original bridge, though tweedled with, was still tweedledum. And the sound post … So I fiddled with the sound post and recut the existing bridge. Olivia tried it the following week; not enough arc on the bridge, and 1.5mm at the G string. Wow, we’re not doing the Limbo here, Jim. Too Low! Back to the shop.
New bridge fit from a blank. Perfect. New sound post. Splintered! For the 3rd try, I cut and shaped a piece off an old slab of Adirondack spruce. Finally finished, with a fine-tuner tailpiece as well. Wait, never say finished … ∆