Sunday, December 18, 2011

Stradivarius Never Had Rosewood

I feel pretty lucky to live in Florida.  There are nice selections of native, and no so native trees that grow here.  About fifty years ago there were a lot of East Indian Rosewood planted around the Tampa Bay area.  It has been my luck to run into some of this Rosewood, and I am more than happy about that.

I have been working on building a violin for a while.  But I didn't want this to be a copy of a Stradivarius violin.  In fact, I wanted it to be quite different.  99% of violins are copies of Stradivarius guitars for a reason.  They can't sell them otherwise.  However, since this violin is for me or my friends, I am happy to build it very differently. 

And that brings me to another point.  I am first and foremost a guitar builder.  Guitar builders are never satisfied with one design.  Leo Fender didn't stop designing when he created the Fender Broadcaster (later named the Telecaster.)  He went on to design the Stratocaster (guess who that's named after), and then quite a few models with G&L guitars.  So why did violin designs stop with Stradivarius's design? 

Stradivarius didn't have access to the North American hard and softwoods that luthiers have access to now.  He didn't have Rosewood.  To be honest, I think he would have liked Rosewood, Black Walnut, and Sitka Spruce.  He had to use what he had, and I think a lot of people don't realize that. 

The violin that I am designing takes quite a few ideas from different builders.  First and foremost would be Robert Bennedetto, the Godfather of the modern archtop guitar.  I learned more about guitar design from him than I ever thought possible.  The bracing system I will use is based on his style of X bracing.  I also took the body design from the pre-Stradivarius Russian violins.  The headstock/ scroll design I updated what I thought would be a more modernized styling.  And the woods I am using are woods that will give a more balanced voice to the violin. 

And speaking of woods, here are some pictures of the wood that is rough cut.

You can see the neck and two fingerboards rough cut out of Rosewood.  Oh, and this Rosewood is quartersawn for strength.  It's pretty uniform in it's grain pattern and color.

This piece of wood is for a project way in the future.  This Rosewood plank will be used for a cello fingerboard. 

As more Rosewood gets cut I am going to have more pieces of wood for my various projects.  I will hopefully be able to post a blog in the future showing them.  But for now, I have plenty of wood to play with. 

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