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  • Angie's Ol' Amati

    It may not be a real Amati, but we are going to treat as one.  This fiddle is in for full set up and a french polish.  In this photo I have just begun planing the fingerboard. It may not be a real Amati, but we are going to treat as one. This fiddle is in for full set up and a french polish. In this photo I have just begun planing the fingerboard.
    The fingerboard has been re-surfaced with a hand plane, sanded, polished and oiled. The fingerboard has been re-surfaced with a hand plane, sanded, polished and oiled.
    Soundpost time.  The old post didn't fit well and it was so thick (~8mm) that I had to split it to get it out properly. Soundpost time. The old post didn't fit well and it was so thick (~8mm) that I had to split it to get it out properly.
    The new soundpost is the right diameter (6.3mm).  The rough length for the post is measured with the brass calipers below. The new soundpost is the right diameter (6.3mm). The rough length for the post is measured with the brass calipers below.
    The post is now cut to fit the inside of the violin.  Not only do the angles of the top and bottom of the post have to fit the top and back exactly, but the length of the post has to be perfect too.  This is all done with a very sharp knife. The post is now cut to fit the inside of the violin. Not only do the angles of the top and bottom of the post have to fit the top and back exactly, but the length of the post has to be perfect too. This is all done with a very sharp knife.
    Everyone always asks " how do you get them in there?"  They get levered into position with tool aptly named the soundpost setter.  The other end of the setter has a little paw that lets me scoot the post into the exact spot. Everyone always asks " how do you get them in there?" They get levered into position with tool aptly named the soundpost setter. The other end of the setter has a little paw that lets me scoot the post into the exact spot.
    This is what the post looks like in the violin as seen through the endpin hole.  Note the vertical alignment and good fit with the top and back. This is what the post looks like in the violin as seen through the endpin hole. Note the vertical alignment and good fit with the top and back.
    Now that the platform is properly supported I can move on to the bridge. This is what a new bridge blank looks like before any work begins. It has a long way to go before it can be used. Now that the platform is properly supported I can move on to the bridge. This is what a new bridge blank looks like before any work begins. It has a long way to go before it can be used.
    The first step is to fit the feet.  A perfect fit is crucial to tone and usability.  A poor fit will actually damage the top.   The first step is to fit the feet. A perfect fit is crucial to tone and usability. A poor fit will actually damage the top.
    Next I need to cut the top of the bridge down to establish the proper curvature and string height for optimal playability.  Here you can see me sighting down the fingerboard to check my line for a starting point.  This is drawn intentionally high and will be lowered to the final height later. Next I need to cut the top of the bridge down to establish the proper curvature and string height for optimal playability. Here you can see me sighting down the fingerboard to check my line for a starting point. This is drawn intentionally high and will be lowered to the final height later.
    Just a quick note.  When I went to put the tail piece back on I noticed that the old tailgut was failing.  You can see the knots that hold the gut on have completely fallen apart.  Just a quick note. When I went to put the tail piece back on I noticed that the old tailgut was failing. You can see the knots that hold the gut on have completely fallen apart.
    I opted to replace the old brittle natural gut with a sacconi loop.  I only use the genuine Sacconi loop's as I find that the cheap knock off's often strip out right away. I opted to replace the old brittle natural gut with a sacconi loop. I only use the genuine Sacconi loop's as I find that the cheap knock off's often strip out right away.
    Now back to the bridge.  Here you can see I have roughed in the top curve and  have fine tuned the string height.  I can go nice and low with the fresh fingerboard planning and the new Helicore strings.  This violin is going to be lightning fast. Now back to the bridge. Here you can see I have roughed in the top curve and have fine tuned the string height. I can go nice and low with the fresh fingerboard planning and the new Helicore strings. This violin is going to be lightning fast.
    So now the feet fit and the string height is set.  This is the point where a lot of shops stop, but for me, this bridge is only half done.  The next step is for tone and looks.  I go over every every line of the bridge with knives and chisels and carve it into it's final shape. So now the feet fit and the string height is set. This is the point where a lot of shops stop, but for me, this bridge is only half done. The next step is for tone and looks. I go over every every line of the bridge with knives and chisels and carve it into it's final shape.
    Here you can see some of the tools I used to make the bridge.  All of the knives you see here are handmade. Here you can see some of the tools I used to make the bridge. All of the knives you see here are handmade.
    This is what the bridge looks like after the final carving.  I can alter the voice of the violin by varying the size and shape of the curves.  This is what the bridge looks like after the final carving. I can alter the voice of the violin by varying the size and shape of the curves.
    Here is what the new bridge looks like on the violin. Here is what the new bridge looks like on the violin.
    Because the fingerboard was plained, the nut now has to be lowered.  This is what it looks like when it's done.  Because the fingerboard was plained, the nut now has to be lowered. This is what it looks like when it's done.
    Last on the list of things to do is the clean and polish.  Here you can see what a generation or two of play will do to your varnish.  I will attempt to clean this and other spots up and reseal the varnish with french polish.  We decided not to do touch up, and keep the weathered, warm look of the old fiddle. Last on the list of things to do is the clean and polish. Here you can see what a generation or two of play will do to your varnish. I will attempt to clean this and other spots up and reseal the varnish with french polish. We decided not to do touch up, and keep the weathered, warm look of the old fiddle.
    We have done a dirt transplant.  From violin to rag.  Next up is the french polish. We have done a dirt transplant. From violin to rag. Next up is the french polish.
    Here you can see the varnish (hand made by my friend Ed McCoppin from McCoppin Violin's), oil and pad that I used to french polish the bare spots of the violin. Here you can see the varnish (hand made by my friend Ed McCoppin from McCoppin Violin's), oil and pad that I used to french polish the bare spots of the violin.
    So there is that ware spot again after a bit of cleaning and a few coats of french polish.  Ed's varnish really has a nice glow to it.  This will add years to the life of this fiddle. So there is that ware spot again after a bit of cleaning and a few coats of french polish. Ed's varnish really has a nice glow to it. This will add years to the life of this fiddle.
    All done!  This old fid is ready to go back into the world and get back to making music.  All done! This old fid is ready to go back into the world and get back to making music.

    Thanks everyone for checking out my post.  I hope you all enjoyed it.  As always feel free comment and ask questions.

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Locations: 28673 Bayberry Ct E. Livonia, MI 48154

502 W Webster Rd. Royal Oak, MI 48073