Bridge/Fingerboard Setup

Home Forums Fiddle Lesson Forum Fiddle Setup and Repair Bridge/Fingerboard Setup

This topic contains 24 replies, has 5 voices, and was last updated by  Wafflestomper 2 years, 6 months ago.

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  • #8044

    Wafflestomper
    Participant

    Copied this over from General Fiddle forum.
    I didn’t see this section of the forum 🙂

    “Well, I have an upgrade sitting here in the house. After painstakingly playing every fiddle in the shop, I found one that was just glorious (in my opinion anyway). I’ve seen the same maker sell ridiculously low, to ridiculously high. Which makes me feel uneasy… but I absolutely LOVE the sound, so to me it sounds like it should in the price range.

    The low register was like nothing I’ve ever played on any of my instruments before. I was giggling like a little girl.

    I guess my point is, I love the sound *exactly* where it is… My only gripe is that the action feels a bit high.

    My great white whale in fiddling has always been double stop slide from 3rd to first position.. and also double stops using my 4th finger on the G and D…

    Playing today, I feel like I could practice through it, and chalk it up to fixing my technique, but I can’t shake the feeling that its going to be an issue later, with fasters songs…. Sally Goodin’ (another white whale) would be a fine example *ugh*

    I’m worried that they will want to reset the neck. I’m not sure if they would opt to flatten the bridge a touch?
    Just wondering if anyone has ever had this kind of adjustment done in the past… Im worried about it changing the sound profile of the fiddle completely.

    Thanks..and again sorry for the unnecessarily wordy post…yammering..and all that.”

  • #8051

    DianeG
    Participant

    Congrats on a possible new fiddle. Can I ask who is the maker or brand name of this violin? Is it a new violin or a used one? Who is selling the violin…a violin shop, music store or on-line store? So many questions…sorry, but we can give you some good advice if we know more….especially the maker or factory name. . My husband is a strings luthier, primarily on violins, viola’s and cellos. We have a shop here in SoCal…near San Diego, Ca. Here are some ideas that might help.

    First off…setup of a violin is of huge importance. Setup refers to the parts of a violin that are added on after the body is made: Pegs, bridge, nut, fingerboard (shape) tailpiece, saddle and the correct lengths of the string height off the bridge and nut, length of strings from the nut to the tail piece and the endpin loop to secure the tailpiece, all these measurements have very specific lengths in mm’s to have a correct setup. If a violin comes to a shop from a factory in China or Romaina and is setup at the factory it will NOT have a professional setup of bridge, nut, fingerboard shape, tailpiece etc. It will only have a good to professional setup IF the shop takes the time to do it correctly. I say “good” to inadequate setups because there are many folks who call themselves luthiers, but should probably be cutting hair and not working on violins. So an inexperienced fiddler or violinist that is not knowing of these things can get into trouble with a purchase that is not up to professional playing standards. A neck reset is not the answer to a poor setup. That is a structural problem with the make of the fiddle if it’s new or if it’s a very old violin then yes, Neck resets can help to correct a sinking neck or rising thin top of a violin. If a neck reset were the case then simply return the fiddle, get your money back and look elsewhere for a violin. Tell me where the problem is with this violin and I will have my husband come on here and do some explaining. Example, if you play down by the nut in first position…do you have to press the strings down more to get a good pitch, is the violin hard to play in third and up positions? Let us know what YOU think and where might be the problem. Do you have this violin on try-out or have you purchased it.
    Hope this helps. Let me know how I can best answer your questions and I or my husband will help here.
    Stay tuned. Diane in SoCal.

  • #8053

    Roland White
    Moderator

    Hi Diane G and Wafflestomper, DianeG, Its so ice of you to chime in on these topics. You’re input is appreciated and I’m sure will be used by more that just Wafflestomper. So few fiddlers know what is involved in having a good sounding instrument that is properly set up. Thank you for offering to give advice from your Luthier husband. Roland Moderator

  • #8054

    DianeG
    Participant

    Hi Roland…thanks for the nice reply…yes, it is great that fiddlers ask here for information on fiddles in general and on bows as well. My husband, Bob, is willing to answer things on what he might know, he’s not an expert by any means, but is a darn good violin luthier and restorer of fiddles and bow…LOL. BTW, did you read my post on the “strings” thread about carbon fiber bows and what is available? Let me know what your thinking on this.
    Also, wanted to give a “shout-out”…to Casey for setting up the forum and making it available to us. Love seeing where everyone is too. That’s a great thread. Thanks Casey…this whole site is pure gold!!!!! : >))))))
    Thanks and have a great day.
    Stay tuned. Diane in SoCal

  • #8055

    Wafflestomper
    Participant

    Hey Diane, thanks for the informative post.

    I did put the money down for this violin, but they have a pretty accommodating return policy. It’s a small shop that almost exclusively sells older violins with a small smattering of fine violins. I have dealt with them on occasion before, and they have been very honest to deal with… so I was comfortable with this arrangement.

    I have spent the better part of the last day or two scrutinizing this thing, and trying to get a bead on its history etc. (Im kind of a geek when it comes to these things, I love a good mystery).

    I do believe the value of the instrument is pretty spot on with the price, maybe a touch over.. None of us is getting a stellar deal straight up.. but she did throw in a Negri case, which numbs the sting a little 😉

    As far as the action goes, I did take some rudimentary measurements, and the neck does appear to need to be adjusted. I’m glad to know that I wasn’t crazy(ier).

    They took the fiddle back immediately refunded my money, and they are going to adjust the neck. When it’s done they will let me audition it again with no obligation to buy.

    I gotta say, I hope it works out. I’ve gotten a little attached to this violin over the last couple days. The sound is just glorious, would be a shame if she loses her voice. She has seen a lot of hands, been a lot of places and has been a bit of a mystery.

    thanks,
    –dakon

  • #8056

    Wafflestomper
    Participant

    I guess I should add…

    Do you have any specifics I should look for or ask about after they do the repair? Or should I just straight up run away from the thing althogether?

  • #8057

    DianeG
    Participant

    Is this an old German or French violin? Who is the maker and I can tell you more about the maker, if the label is not a fake…!!! We have many good books on vintage violins….so give me the name and I will do some research for you. A neck reset is fine, if they know professionally how to do a reset. There are several ways…a New York reset and a neck removal from the body that is readjusted so that the over stand is corrected. If the neck is twisted and sinking then, yes run like hell…LOL. You can always check for a twisted neck by sighting down the violin at eye level from the scroll towards the body. A twisted neck is very problematic and one that you do not want in an expensive or moderate priced fiddle. Give me some more specifics and I’ll do some research for you tonite.
    Hang in there. Diane in SoCal

  • #8058

    Wafflestomper
    Participant

    It’s labelled 1922 Geronimo Barnabetti
    There is a repair label reading Frances Simonin where its written “Repaired, Cleveland O. 1923”

    It looks like the scroll was repaired after some significant trauma. It looks like the neck was reworked at some point, as I can see the hide glue at the joints.
    The top appears even and well graduated.. the back is a two piece of nice flamed maple.
    It appears to have that french polish look to it, I suspect it was revarnished at some point. They did a nice job, it appears to be a nice quality.
    The purfling appears to be etched and not painted with visible bee stings at the corners.

    The neck itself looked ok, the (block?) of the neck appeared to be a little high and at the wrong angle, which I think is why the strings had so much distance from the fingerboard. First position didn’t feel too bad, which is why I didnt notice it at first. After doing some third position work is when I noticed I was having some difficulty.

    The ribs match the back and look intact. The corners are nice and sharp.

    Thats the stuff that stands out off of memory.

  • #8059

    DianeG
    Participant

    Hi…well here is some research that I did just now….The Universal Dictionary of Violin and Bow Makers. William Henley, Volume, Page 82. First Edition, 1959. Please take into account that this dictionary has some flaws in it, as does so much in the violin industry. Fake instruments were being made in A. Strads time…believe it or not.

    Here is what is said about your fiddles maker:
    “Excellent examples of the French factory instrument. Ordinary workmanship but everything done with clever exactitude. Made in the workshops of Jerome Thibouville-Lamy at Mirecourt (France..my addition) from 1860. Probably worked alone previously. Tone varies according to the luck of the purchaser. Sale price sometimes reached 10pounds..(1900), for one of the older specimens. Orange-red varnish or old brown.
    Jabels: J.T.L. (Jerome Thibouville-Lamy)
    Geronimo Barnabetti second label: Geronimo Barnabetti
    Paris Paris 1854
    Medio Fino
    (yellow paper with decorative border)
    (medio fino = low student quality (cheap by todays standards)

    Just so you know who J.T.L. is: Jerome Thibouville-Lamy. Born in France, 1833. Became sole proprietor of various factories at Mirecourt. Won various awards and switched factories over from machinery made violins to manual labour. After 1877 and later….the firm continued to prosper and expand and almost innumerable types of violins, branded (JTL) or labelled with the various names of workmen or made up ones, circulate thoughout the world.
    Bob said: that this violin is one not actually made by Geronimo as it has a date of 1922, after old Geronimo died …so it might be made by the JTL Factory or it could be a fake. Bob also said these violins are on Ebay all the time and go for various bids…but they are not expensive fiddles, just factory made in France. You might do a search on Ebay for this label and see what the price is going for. Bob also cautions this: a shop that did not fix the problem of the neck and string height due to poor neck angle (over stand) BEFORE putting it up for sale might be suspect. Bob said to contact this guy in Las Vegas….Juan Soto. This guy is top notch as he worked, trained and was the right hand man for Robert Cauer for many years in Los Angles, Ca. Robert Cauer (goodle hime) is a world class violin expect, restorer and has a hi-end shop in LA. Juan might be able to help you find a dream violin. You can also contact my husband for any other info on violins: bobsviolins@gmail.com He might be able to recommend someone in your area if you cannot locate Juan Soto in L.Vegas.
    I hope this info helps. BTW, I did find this on the repair guy: : >)
    Simonin, Frances; Cleveland, Ohio. Born in France. Studied making in Mirecourt, Worked for the Eastman Violin Shop c. 1920, in charge of the repair shop department. He was a violin maker and repairman.
    Wow…I love looking up all violins…so I learn too in doing the research. What fun…I collect American violins from the period of 1870’s – 1940’s…we have some awesome fiddles in our stock. American violin making was in Boston and Phily (Pa.). at its earliest and the heyday of American violin making. Bob said this is a good reference for you to find some valuable information on setups and measurements:
    Go on this site: michael darn ton violins and take a look and read about this maker (he is my husbands teacher here in SoCal for three weeks each June for the past 11 years. Here is the book that Michael is writing. http://violinmag.com Lots of great information on what to look for in a great violin. : >)
    Have fun with all this. Stay tuned. Diane in SoCal

  • #8060

    Wafflestomper
    Participant

    Yeah I’ve talked to Juan in the past. Nice guy. Was thinking about dropping buy his shop.
    I know he did some work for this shop, not sure if he still does work for them or not.

    I was unable to find a death date for Geronimo so that was interesting, some even suspected that he sold his hame to JTI and they just slapped in the fiddles.

    The labels were suspect to me, and we kinda figured that the dude that fixed it may have relabeled it, but who knows.
    I’ve seen these things valued all over the place, so its been pretty hard to nail down a value. I guess thats probably to be expected with factory fiddles. But the price was not “horrible”… but something inside says “Even though its nice, maybe you can do better”.. That could be just me, I like trying out different instruments.

    My gut tells me its not a fake…I think it may have been parts from here or there.. but not an outright counterfeit anyhow. I’m not sure why this one slipped through the cracks at the shop, most of their stuff was set up pretty well.

    It did significantly outplay a lot of the stuff that they were selling in the same price range, but then again… they are on point with a lot of stuff…and other stuff was either underpriced or overpriced… I was sure to research some of the fiddles before I went in.. I trust no one. There is definately a dark side to the fiddle trade.

    At the very least they will get it set up properly, but I remain on the fence about getting it… and they didn’t really have anything else that bowled me over.

    If you guys say Juan is legit, I will definately check his stuff out.

    Thanks for all your research.. So many discrepancies in the history of these instruments.. but the detective work is always fun 🙂

    • This reply was modified 2 years, 6 months ago by  Wafflestomper.
  • #8062

    DianeG
    Participant

    Hi. Yes, JTL used the name of the maker (long since dead in 1922 on that fiddle) since he at one time worked for JTL….and many of his factories used names or workers or made them up…especially Italian ones to entice folks into thinking that they are (where) italian fiddles. Mass produced instruments started to come into this country by the 10,0000 from early 1860’s up to the First world war from Germany. Imports from Germany were stopped because of the war. Even imports from France were slowed down. Production started up again in the early 1900’s and continued until the next World War.
    You might ask the shop owner if the luthier came down to SoCal for one of Michael Darnton’s workshop a while back …Bob remembers a person from LVegas one year at the workshop. Yes, I would try and contact Juan Soto and see what he has to offer. Bob also sells excellent German, French and American violins that have been professionally restored and setup..we can ship a couple to you in your price range with no obligation to buy..you pay for shipping and insurance. Here’s his shop number: 760.271.0069 or email him…it’s above in one of the emails I sent. Our prices will be lower than LV…that’s for sure. Also, consider a bow with any new fiddle. Bows ae synergistic with a violin…so the bow you have now may not fit or perform the best with a violin that your looking for. Well, this is interesting…Bob just now, found a violin similar to yours on Ebay starting at $725.00!!! Same makers name. : >) I will send you the link. Not sure what the asking price was for the fiddle that you were considering but you might want to look into it….it has a new bridge and sound post and strings, Bob said it will need new pegs. The violin is about 20miles away from us here so Bob just sent the seller a message to see if we can come by tomorrow to look at it. You never know what your going to find on Ebay…so interesting. Violins sure have a way of evoking intrigue and mystery and they have for hundred’s of years.
    Stay tuned. Diane in SoCal

  • #8063

    DianeG
    Participant
  • #8064

    Wafflestomper
    Participant

    I’d be very interested in hearing what another one of these sounded like.

    The price point I was looking at was 4k at the very most, and trying to avoid that ceiling unless something was dyno-supreme.

    It’s a fairly precarious price point, as it seems that more “respected” Chinese fiddles (Scott Cao et al.) seem to blow the doors off of a lot of the European ones in the 5K region.

    To be honest, when I went in there the Barnabetti wasn’t even anything I’d wanted to try just because they had been described as “nothing special”.
    But you know, I may sound a little like a hippy here.. but I always kind of pretended fiddles had souls.. or at the very least experiences and a story to tell.

    Its always kinda cool to think the fiddle you are playing was around when some of the songs we play were written, or was around during pivotal times in history and kinda wonder where it was in the world when those things happened. Even if its nothing spectacular. A fiddle played by a WV coal miner is just as cool as if it was played by a Virtuoso in a symphony.

    It’s like you get this feeling and think “I like this little dude” and you just want to play it again and again. Then the little dude has “problems” and it kinda breaks your heart a little.

    I guess I kinda felt sorry for the Barnabetti, she obviously had a bit of a rough and rowdy past..but she sang really nice. Unfortunately I don’t have the cash to be a fiddle refugee service, or I swear I would just adopt all the things.

    I’d definately be interested in trying some of your fiddles out, I’d actually even considered taking a road trip to San Diego in the future.

    Now that I’ve contributed nothing to this thread.. I will be interested to see what you come up with.

    • This reply was modified 2 years, 6 months ago by  Wafflestomper.
    • This reply was modified 2 years, 6 months ago by  Wafflestomper.
  • #8070

    DianeG
    Participant

    Hi WS: love your avatar BTW, …we did get your emails and glad you and Bob are talking. Thanks. Here is a website that you and others might be interested in…..tarisio.com The link below is Cozio: it’s part of a larger website on violins…expensive and historical fiddles, violas and cello’s …: >)
    Since you seem as obsessed as I am with violins, thought you, Roland and others might like this site.
    Stay tuned. Diane in SoCal

    http://tarisio.com/cozio-archive/

    • #8071

      Wafflestomper
      Participant

      Funny you should mention that… I may or may not have thrown my hat into the ring on something.
      I can’t believe some of the stuff they have there.. good thing I’m not rich.

      Been looking at the auction histories all day (while I was hard at work of course) goes to show the insanity of some of the markups… Which kind of makes me wonder.. how does one really place a value on a violin in terms of dollars.

      Such a strange market.

  • #8072

    DianeG
    Participant

    LOL….yes…I know what you mean by the “rich thing”…..we have over 400 instruments here, Mostly German, French, American and a few Scottish, Swedish and Norwegian fiddles. A few Hardangers (Norwegian Folk Fiddle) too I’d have to build a warehouse to accommodate a load of fiddles if I had the bucks to venture out into the auction houses. LOL.

    I asked that question too from several owners of high end shops in LA, Chicago and Seattle….they all told me pretty much the same: Construction (carving of the top and back plates) to reflect tone. Tone produced by each fiddle…what the demanding customer want’s is TONE. It’s a very personal choice too…we are all looking for something…right? : >) For me it all about the Dark and velvety sounding G string…dark and moody. Then a nice balance between the D and A and very sweet E string, I’m not asking much, right!!!!! BTW, ….try the Lenzner Goldbrokat E string..cheap but fantastic. Med gauge 0.26 and the Large gauge 0.27….my favorite of the two on the three violins I play on. Also, ask for Wittner Fine tunes in the pegbox…these are fabulous pegs to quick tuning and cross tuning. No fine tuners need to mute the fiddle tone. Don’t settle for Perfections either…too much trouble with them. These Wittner make fiddle life glorious…check them out on the web…maybe for the fiddle your having made.
    Stay tuned. Diane in SoCal

  • #8077

    Wafflestomper
    Participant

    Diane.. if you happen to get bored.. any thoughts on this: http://www.ebay.com/itm/121977173816?_trksid=p2060353.m1438.l2649&ssPageName=STRK%3AMEBIDX%3AIT

    I see a lot of Roth’s around.. I played a mid-grade one a hundred years ago, but don’t remember anything about how it played.

    I was curious about these as there seem to be several version with several grades of quality. I haven’t heard anyone that owns one say much negative about it, other than they are solid and play well.
    I can’t seem to find any resources with any guidelines to differentiate the different levels of these guys.

    @roland.. do you think its possible to have subgroup for fiddle nerds to talk about this stuff? I know I really appreciate Diane and Bob being so helpful. I’d love to have a place where we can talk about different builders and hear about what people are playing on. Not sure if its in the scope of this website, just throwing it out there 🙂

    • #8079

      Casey Willis
      Keymaster

      Hi, Wafflestomper. I just enabled friend connections and user enabled sub-group options for this forum based on your comment. I confess I don’t know exactly how this works, but you should be able to “friend” the folks you wish to and create subgroups from there…again, not sure how it works, but I hope you are able to figure it out.

      In the mean time, it’s fine to create a new main thread, but it will be open to all users. So continue to post away, for sure!

      Also, I’ll chime in on the Roth convo. My wife, Bethany, has a Roth that she had converted to a five string fiddle a couple of decades ago. You can see/hear it on the performance video for Bethany’s Waltz. It has been a great instrument for her, and I think that the general consensus among fiddle players I know is that this name can be trusted…although, even Mr. Stradivarius probably crafted a few crappy violins when he started out. So I would at least consider going this direction.

      One more thought: I would never buy a violin/fiddle that I couldn’t hold in my hands and play, unless it was clearly a great deal.

      There’s my 2 cents!

      Keep on fiddling!!

      C

  • #8080

    Wafflestomper
    Participant

    Thanks for that. I will try to see if I can get that to work for me.

    And you are totally right about playing the fiddle. Something can sound awesome and not feel right and vice versa. Its a very personal thing. Kinda like driving a car.. Online is definately a gamble.. and living in Las Vegas, Ive learned to never risk more than you can comfortably lose. Which is why I never gamble.

    I’m always suspicious of anyone online that isn’t willing to either let you see it in person, or has a return policy or offers a trial period.

    I always look at how the pictures are taken too. Certain angles to hide flaws.. maybe a big crack in the sides where the pics conveniently aren’t shown.. One pic I saw, the dude was selling something for 5 figures and his pics looked like they were shot with an old polaroid in bad lighting.

    Mostly I just like looking at the shiny things, learning more about them, so in the event I ever run into one, I can appreciate it and talk about it intelligently.

    I love the look of the varnish on your fiddle under that light though. Pretty sweet.

    • This reply was modified 2 years, 6 months ago by  Wafflestomper.
  • #8082

    Roland White
    Moderator

    Hi all that are in this thread, Really glad to see all this activity. Thanks for that link to the violin site DianeG, I will love visiting that site. Keep posting and sharing all your knowledge. WS, Feel free to include me in the subgroup if it gets started. Lastly happy Friday to those working folks and happier Friday to those that don’t, and in the meantime Happy Fiddling to you all. Roland

  • #8083

    ulla_petersen
    Participant

    I hope you fiddle nerds will go on posting in public threads so that the rest of us will still be able to read your posts; even though as a beginner I can’t contribute, I find it most interesting to read your discussions.

  • #8084

    DianeG
    Participant

    Hi WS…this is Bob. While the roth factory used some different labels to get around export restrictions, like Enrico Robella, Jacobus Hornsteiner, Oscar E. Meinel, they still had an ovoid brand inside and the labels were Roth looking (borders, etc) and were the same models as Roth labeled (style copied, year). Very few violins with the above names were Roth factory, most being Czech/southern Germany made. The scroll of the ebay roth you linked looks Czech (compare to Juzeks) and I would be surprised if it had corner blocks; if it doesn’t have the brand it isn’t Roth. The varnish doesn’t look Roth either. Roths from the 20s and before were good fiddles, the violins branded H. Th. Heberleins tended to be better. Roths tended to be too thick, only the highest level models were more carefully made. Look carefully at the arching, this one looks like the arch goes straight right down to the purfling; a good copy of a Cremonese violin would have a convex arch transitioning to a convex curve that goes up to the purfling (study Strads and the curtate cycloid arch). I’d personally pass on this “Roth”.

  • #8085

    Wafflestomper
    Participant

    Thanks Bob, that’s a lot of intricate knowledge there. I also hadn’t seen any labels that listed “Milano” either, a few murmurs on some forums maybe but nothing specific one way or the other.

    Just so we are clear, don’t go out and buy something if I post it. I don’t plan to give anyone money that I don’t know is reputable. Most of this is just for fun, curiosity and learning.

  • #8088

    DianeG
    Participant

    Yes, I agree….it’s fun to look and research. BTW, that Geronimo B. fiddle (like the you tried at the shop up there) did not sell on Ebzy for the listed price of $750. When Bob texted the guy he said that he did research on it and the last one sold for $1,500 in 2010…hog wash!!! Two just recently sold on Ebay for 435 and 550. Now he has relisted it and wants a Buy if Now: $1,500 and the bidding starts the same at $725. Also, here is a great site for any of you fiddle nerds…Casey, Roland, WS and others.
    Look up the website of Maestronet.com click on the Pegbox like and get to see what the “big guys…builders and dealers are saying about fiddles. Its all very interestedin and informative. You can join and ask questions as well. It’s a great forum…enjoy.

    Maestronet.com A data base for instrument pricing, building, general, Under different catagories. Have fun WS! Stay tuned. Diane in SoCal

  • #8089

    Wafflestomper
    Participant

    I saw that buyout go up. I messaged him a few times asking some questions during the last 10 minutes of the auction and then I let it run down. I was hoping it would come back up lower.. but I think he took it as “ooh someone is interested.. lets jack the price!”

    EDIT: Im curious what another barnabetti sounds like compared to the one I played. It sounded better than what I am playing now.. I refuse to think Im a *total* idiot, although my wife has brought that possibility up in the past. Still..

    • This reply was modified 2 years, 6 months ago by  Wafflestomper.

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