My shop runs a small rental program. There are all sorts of ways to damage an instrument, and I’ve seen them all, I think. This is the bridge on a tiny violin, a 1/32, perhaps. In this case, the bridge was permitted to warp forward by the natural pull of the strings. Then at some point, I think the teacher noticed and pulled the bridge back, perhaps a bit too far. On the really tiny violins I often leave the bridges thick because the violins don’t have any sound, anyway, and a thicker bridge stands a better chance of not warping. You can see how much good that did this time!
Usually tops and backs are just glued directly to the ribs and linings, nothing fancy. At various places and times in the past, though, sometimes makers locked the top and back in place. This is seen in very old French violins and Dutch, also, but usually just as a thin groove slotted into the back or top, the width of the rib thickness, into which the rib is glued. Though this is mostly hidden, there are two nearly invisible clues that a back has the ribs set in. The first is that in spite of their great age, the margins of these backs and tops are usually flawlessly even all around. Where normal ribs can move and bulge, ribs set in a groove can’t. The other clue is to look at the back and rib junction right at the tops of the corners–the area in the photo above. Usually the fit isn’t perfect right at the point and a bit of the groove will commonly be visible there. You can see in this photo how that spot would be easily visible on this corner. While you’re noticing things, observe how the shape of the corner blocks was cut after the blocks were in place: you can see the arc-shaped cuts in the back that the gouge made in the process of shaping the blocks in place!
In this Dutch violin the maker has taken it one step farther, cutting a ramp with some unusual characteristics.
First, in gluing on the plates notice how the ramp routes the rib automatically, sliding it out to the upright cut. Second, just to make sure it doesn’t come apart, the maker has undercut the outside upright cut so that the rib curls outward in the groove and locks itself in place. This undercut warps the edge of the rib, resulting in a flange that locks into the groove’s undercut, as you can see along the top edge of the rib in the photo below:
Now, referring back to the opening photo, try to imagine what the lining, just inside the rib, is sitting on–a slanted ramp. In this violin the lining was not fit to the slope of the ramp. All it was doing was covering a puddle of glue hidden under the lining. Because of the undercut flange, this didn’t matter, and the rib was well held in place.
The only reason I had to see any of this was that the edge in the lower bout had been worn down from the outside to the bottom of the slanted groove by the players shoulder and was falling off. The back and rib had to be separated to repair this edge.
I can’t remember where I got this soundpost. It speaks for itself. I’m sure there was an idea–perhaps something to do with resonance in the antennae. There have been a few ideas over the last 100 years of putting resonating objects inside of violins to amplify the tone, to resonate and fatten the sound, or just to indefinably “help” something, and this is one of those
My French doesn’t really exist: does this label offer a “bar of logical harmony”, while implying perfection? Of course after seeing this label under the (wrong side) f-hole, I pulled the end pin and took a look into the violin through the hole.
Apparently it’s logical to support the area under the bridge, then skip some for a while. Notice how there’s an area at the top left of the picture where the bar has been cut away from contact with the top (and the same towards the back, in the dark–you can see just a bit of that).
You are probably slightly aware of something moving around inside your violin, but here’s how it starts, as a mess in some deep corner.
Then next some of it gets loose, and starts moving around, and the rolling motion forms that shapeless bunch of stuff into balls. Sometimes they are just dust, or some hair, or maybe case lining (the green one up in the corner, in the photo below). As they roll around, they not only get larger, they get tighter and tighter–little felt balls sweeping the inside of your violin, keeping it relatively clean. Eventually, these end up in a drawer in some violin shop
The folk folks have a different problem than dust, and that’s bad vibes. However, rattlesnake rattles can chase those away. Really.
Here’s another strange one. I didn’t open this violin, so it’s still there. As always, I have no idea what the person who did this thought he was going to accomplish. Posts and bars, perhaps because they’re not usually visible, seem to be common targets for violin vandals with ideas.
It’s nice to have music in the shop. This device was made to turn a wall into a speaker, by fastening it behind a wall to the wallboard. The round pads on the ends of the legs are glued to the wall, and the middle section is like the middle of a speaker, minus the cone, and presses against the wallboard, vibrating it.
This is the way sound is invisibly produced for museum displays. Violins will work instead of walls, but as with speakers, if you need some bass, you need a larger thing to vibrate. A cello will add that to the mix. Supposedly this kind of artificial playing is supposed to help break in a new instrument, but I haven’t noticed any improvement from this particular method, which is one of several things I’ve tried for aging tone without the musician’s input.
Understandably, violin makers like to be credited. The usual strategy is to put in a label under the left f-hole, and this violin has that. Just to be safe, Mr. Carletti also signed the top.
Then, to be sure, he put another label on the upper block, visible only through the end pin hole. He didn’t put brands all over the inside of his violin, but that’s commonly done by some makers.