Photo documentation of my building a 6 string D violone with the help of master luthier and good friend
John Pringle. The project was begun in September of 2012 and finished – well, mostly finished – an hour before rehearsal on January 30, 2013. There were still many coats of varnish to do. The instrument made her performance debut in the white on February 3, 2013 at the North Carolina HIP Festival.
This is the Edlinger violone I am copying. Actually, this came to John as a 4 string instrument. It appeared to have the original neck so it may have been built as a 4 string in 1686!
John has not built this instrument before. He has made drawings from the instrument he had in the shop years ago. Here he's checking measurements for the mold we are building.
This block provided for the top of my violone as well as a double bass top being built by John Pringle. I got it from friend Rob Sharer who is also an excellent instrument builder based in Raleigh, NC.
John Pringle checking measurements on his drawing of the Edlinger original
The finished mold. Corner blocks, top and bottom blocks, and a brace for the "fold" of the back. This flat backed instrument will have a fold near the top.
That spruce block now split and glued together to form the top.
Didn't think to take earlier pictures of the big chunk of maple but here is the cut out neck and peg box on top of plywood sheets cut to make the mold for the body.
Holes are drilled to ream out to fit pegs. We've decided to go modern and use
! The "scroll" will be very simple - a subtle carving along the penciled pattern you see here.
I just can't seem to take enough pictures! Hard to be learning, working, figuring and also trying to document. We've been bending the ribs on a large iron John heats on his gas stove. Constantly running back and forth from the kitchen to the shop. Bending is hard work. John does most of this for me. I'm afraid of breaking the wood. It's amazing what it can take. It's amazing the way you can take a straight piece of maple and make it do tricks.
The ribs are all bent and glued together on the mold. The C's were a real chore - some sharp bends there.
The back went to a mill for thicknessing and planing - much faster than us doing it by hand. The seams are reinforced and the bracing is glued in.
Used a drill press to remove some material. Couldn't quite reach to the center. Removing the rest by hand.
My busy performance season is over and now I can finally put some hours into this. Yes, I'm carving the whole thing with that little gouge there.
This is the biggest job. The outer surface of the top is carved first. Templates of cross-sections of the original give the contour. I'm just beginning here - this is the longest job of the project.
Not exactly "f" holes. Kind of reminds me of a circus seal balancing on a ball. One side done. Drilled starter holes for the other side. And, yes, they're both done now.
Top and neck glued on. No fingerboard yet.
The back is 5 boards of maple (3 center boards with 2 "wings" for the lower bouts) with mahagony strips between.
100 pound test fishing line. No point wasting good gut for frets when they're coming off in a few days for finishing.
The top is not as highly arched as the original.
Fretted and strung up at 3:15 Wednesday, January 30, 2013 in time for a 4:15 rehearsal. She's still "in the white" - unfinished - but sounding pretty good and playable.
Decided to go with a lighter color. Nine coats of varnish instead of the usual twelve to fifteen.