The bass bar, scroll carving and tailgut making

by | Feb 2, 2021 | Construction, Journal, Materials

Violinmaking

A summary of this week’s work: accounts of fitting the bass bar, finishing the ribs and carving the scroll. There’s also a bonus lecture on practical violin acoustics

The bass bar is a little supporting strut running the length of the violin, under the bass foot of the bridge. The bass bar’s mass, its shape, position and the way that it is fitted, all have tonal implications for the finished violin.

To finish the ribs, I removed the mold that they were built on, trimmed the blocks and linings.

To fit the top to the ribs, I used a very dilute glue so that it only forms a weak bond between the top and ribs. This allows the top to be removed easily, and I will almost certainly be taking this top off before the violin is finished. Because I don’t really know how the redwood will work for a violin, I have built the top stiffer than I normally would. I will test the violin before varnishing it and, if it seems appropriate, I will have the option of removing more wood.

Carving the scroll. There are so many subtly different ways of carving a scroll that the finished item becomes a sort of signature of the maker, easily recognized by those who to study these things. I outline my carving process in the video.

Materials

Modern plastic tailgut

I’m going to attempt to make a tailgut for the violin. This is the same process as making the actual violin strings but at a less refined level. Though I’ll be using modern, synthetic strings on the finished violin, making a traditional tail gut from scratch will give some insight into traditional gut string making .

Processing the Gut started with unravelling the intestine, removing excess tissue and repeated cleaning with my homemade Sonoma County-sourced lye. This is the first of a two part video on making the tailgut.

People and Places

To source the gut we contacted Gabe Naredo of Diamond G Ranch Slaughtering who kindly put aside some sheep’s intestine for the project. Gabe works closely with local custom butcher, Willowside Meats, which is where we met him for our interview about his business.