Darnton Violins Blog

My Observations (Large and Small) About Violin Making and Restoration

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Over at the Maestronet forum I posted this photo of the collection of gouges I use, and I’m going to repost here what I wrote there. It’s easy to want to buy everything, but then you have to keep it all sharp. Here’s the list of what I regularly use: From the left: 30mm #7 for roughing, inside and out….

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New Stradivari Violin Photo Set

One of the finest Stradivari violins in existence, the 1721 ex-Lady Blunt, is going to be auctioned in a couple of weeks at the Tarisio online auction site. Here’s a link to more about the auction, and some great photos. Last week the violin made a pass through Chicago, and we were able to see it in our shop, Darnton and…

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More Ground Samples

In the last year my sample set has grown to about 40 tests. I don’t feel like I’ve solved anything, but from the samples, and my observations of old instruments, both in my hand and through the microscope, have given me a full set of criteria that a nice varnish ground needs to meet. At the top of the list…

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Grinding Pigments

I’ve often used home-brewed pigments for varnish colors. When they’re finished, they are clumped, and sometimes gritty, in large pieces. To put them into varnish, one first needs to grind them to a fine powder. When I worked at Bein and Fushi there wasn’t a lot of interest in raw pigments in the art world, so we had to look…

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Old Pegs

A friend pulled these out of an old violin, and knowing I was interested in this kind of stuff, sent them to me. They’re violin pegs that probably predate 1800, and are maybe as old as 1750. (Notice that one peg doesn’t match–a later replacement, probably.) Eric Meyer, a great fittings maker on the west coast, tells me that they’re…

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A Nearly-Perfect f-hole

This f-hole is on a Brothers Amati cello dated around 1615. It’s one of the most beautiful I’ve seen and is perfect in execution. I’ve used it on a cello, and reduced it to fit on a violin, and a violino piccolo. In each case, when it’s the right size, it superimposes over the original model’s 4/4 and piccolo f-holes…

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It’s All In the Details

People who aren’t intimate with violins don’t have to consider all of the things a maker has to. There are all sorts of details on a violin that have to be done in some intentional way. Not necessarily one way… I don’t mean that. I mean that when you have to do them, you find yourself wondering exactly which choice…

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A Really Baroque Bridge

I hope the friend who created this drawing of a very grumpy prototype of a baroque bridge will not mind if I share it with you:

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