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Title: Violin Making - 'The Strad' Library, No. IX.
Author: Mayson, Walter H. (Walter Henry), 1835-1904
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Violin Making - 'The Strad' Library, No. IX." ***

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[Frontispiece: Walter H. Mayson]








New York:



INTRODUCTION . . . . . . . . . . . . .   1

SELECTION OF WOOD  . . . . . . . . . .   7

THE BACK . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  20

PURFLING . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  28

BENDING THE PURFLING . . . . . . . . .  33

MODELLING THE BACK . . . . . . . . . .  36

WORKING OUT THE BACK . . . . . . . . .  41

THE BELLY  . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  46

THICKNESSES OF THE BELLY . . . . . . .  51

THE SOUNDHOLES . . . . . . . . . . . .  55

THE BASS BAR . . . . . . . . . . . . .  59

THE RIBS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  63

FIXING RIBS, ETC.  . . . . . . . . . .  71

FIXING THE BELLY . . . . . . . . . . .  75

THE SCROLL . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  78



FITTING UP FOR USE . . . . . . . . . .  95

CONCLUSION . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 101


I do not like Prefaces.

They remind me somewhat of awaiting dinner in a drawing-room after a
long walk in wintry weather. It is one thing to get there an
occasional whiff of viands cooking in the basement of the house, and
quite another to feel the same accentuate your gnawings of hunger.

Therefore, did I touch on motives for writing this book, or sketch
outlines of heads of matters to follow in detail, I should engage
little or no attention, so shall simply refer you who may read this
preface, which is only a fraud, to the matter embodied in the
following pages, for which, at least, I claim Honesty.



The great success of the previous edition, and the numerous letters
sent in praise of "VIOLIN MAKING," prompts me (the author's son) to
take the opportunity of saying a few words, and to thank the public
for their appreciation of the work.

I have received many communications (several from abroad) from
enthusiasts, bestowing the warmest praise on the writer as a Maker
and an Author; and all are unanimous in declaring that the simple
and explicit style of the work has enabled them to readily grasp the
difficulties pertaining to the Violin as a work of Art. These
correspondents (who are quite strangers to me) have also greatly
commended the high class appearance of the volume, particularly the
excellence of the fine illustrations. Such expressions of approval
would have been gratifying to the late W. H. MAYSON, who, as the
maker of over 800 instruments, had attained complete mastery over
his work. Therefore the reader can have every confidence in
faithfully following all his methods and strictly adhering to every
detail set forth in this volume.


_June, 1909_.


Many admirable works on this interesting subject have appeared in
several languages, but, to my mind, in a form too sternly technical,
cold, if I may be allowed--the writers barely in touch with the
anxious youth or man, who, as amateur, yearns to get at that
knowledge of correct construction without which he scarce may hope
to become a professional violin maker, some notable instances to the
contrary, all the same.

I hold simplicity to be the very essence of the conveyance of matter
from mind to mind, as in words; from mind to eye, as by pencil,
brush, or chisel; palpable or otherwise, the impression intended
should be beyond doubt, and that this end may be secured,
mystification by high flown figures of rhetoric, or false drawing,
or sculpture out of line or proportion, must at the outset of all
work, art work above all, be sternly trodden under foot, and the
solid and truthful experience of ripe years offered with the same
eagerness to impart information as it is awaited by the student.

If you spend ten minutes in _telling_ a man what form an oval
assumes, when you can, by drawing it for him on a blackboard,
present it before his eye in one minute, and more to the purpose,
you not only waste your own time but his also, and commit a breach
of trust, in that you mislead and mystify when it was your duty to
faithfully guide and teach in all sincerity and simplicity.

Therefore I propose, in the following pages, to adopt an entirely
different treatment from any work I have had the honour of studying
on the construction of the violin; writing as though orally
addressing the students, or those anxious to become students, of the
whole world--a vast semicircle of bright faced, intelligent
creatures before me, following eagerly every movement of the
numerous tools I use in the extremely delicate manipulations of the
instrument as it almost imperceptibly assumes that form so noble and
so beloved, and almost devouring the, I hope, lucid explanations,
which, from time to time, I may think it necessary to make, and
which will appear as letterpress, the illustrations speaking for
themselves as the work progresses.

This little thing that I am about to make, this shell of scarce
sixteen ounces in weight, constructed of about eighty pieces of
wood, and united by glue as one complete whole; this, that is a
mighty factor, where mirth, and mirth only, is to the fore, in its
embodiment; this, that draws from the soul the tear which has long
yearned for an outlet of intense sympathy such as it now finds;
this, that beautifies as it ennobles to the pinnacle of sublimity
all music, even as it takes it by the hand, guides and cements it.

What is the origin of this violin or fiddle, and to what country
does the honour belong?

To this day its origin, as a violin, is a contested point, and in my
opinion will so remain; that is to say, how it worked its way, so to
speak, out of now obsolete instruments, into what it is (for it was
certainly a growth, not a complete conception), by whom it was so
worked, and where--these points, aggravating points, if you will,
seeing there is nothing of clearness around them, had better be left
by you where they are; for, when Germany and Italy are supposed
strong claimants, and assert a right not borne out by fact,
according as I read the so-called evidence, it were futile to enter
into discussion destined to have no satisfactory result.

But, though we cannot give this thing a "local habitation," we _can_
give it a name, aye, and a name destined to live as long as lips
move to pronounce it.

And we can make it noble, too, of exquisite shape and colour,
possessing a voice capable of we know not what compass and
expression; just as we can turn it out by the thousand, degrading
the name of art to which it has the impudence to lay claim, on every
feature of its brazen face stamped that nationality which, so far
from seeking, it in vain tries to get rid of.

If in the progress of these lectures I touch on cause and effect in
relation to acoustics, my remarks will be merely superficial,
sufficient for my purpose, but not for him who wishes fully to
master this absorbing doctrine, which he will find most useful
should his purpose be to try experiments in relation to tone.

As to giving diagrams of supposed eccentric or concentrated curves
relative to the vibration of the back or belly of the violin, or to
the motions of the air waves, rapid or slow, that I do not intend to
do; others have done that, with what benefit to their work or their
supposed pupils we may probably ascertain later should more be added
on the subject.

Therefore, gentlemen, if it be your strong, stern desire to sit out
these somewhat prolonged lectures, whilst I endeavour to make for
you, step by step, a true work of art, according to my conception
and in strict accordance with my deeply thought-out principles, and
with such tools as I find most simple and most suitable for the work
I have to do, then do so, and I shall feel highly honoured and very
proud; but, if a lighter, more trivial creation will, or would
satisfy your (craving I will not call it, that suggests pertinacity,
a great end being in view), say, passing fancy, then I would rather
see vacant the place occupied by you, as in such an one I should
take no interest whilst speaking or working, just as that one would
appear of too shallow a nature to absorb lasting benefit from what
was said or done by me.

In concluding this introduction to a subject which I hold to be of
much moment as the leading instrument, never to be replaced by
another, let me beg of you to abandon a half-hearted consideration
of its adoption in actual work later on, unless you be prepared to
suffer for this fine art, a member of the body of which it is your
present thought to become; for, be assured, there _will_ be
suffering, which will dog your progress; aye, and the greater your
talent, so much more will be jealousy of it, from those, at least,
so on the alert to decry that which they cannot create; so much more
will be contumely; so much more will be innuendoes which _can_ not
be met openly, as they certainly _will_ not be in the slimy words
and manner of utterance of bitter heartlessness, that is to say, if
you be made of that stuff which presents to the world an artist, who
is nothing if he be not noble.

Contumely, jealousy, suffering, but not necessarily failure
therefrom, despite an occasional reverse, hard to bear; nay, the
feeling that there is something good in you, and worthy of
acknowledgment and acceptance by the world later on, will spur you
to greater exertion, and act as a mantle beneath which you may
shelter from the cold shower hurled by those so prone to drown or
starve that which, not feeling themselves, they are determined shall
neither spring from nor be passed to the credit of others--enthusiasm.



Many persons of good, practical ability, and moderately versed in
the laws of acoustics, with an eye for form, and not deficient in a
certain conception of art _as_ art; who have the instinct to check
any approach to vulgarity, and work on lines, curves and
thicknesses, more or less true, elegant, and the best for producing
fine tone, have seen, and will yet again see, their efforts of small
avail, cast aside, never to assume even mediocre rank in the stern
array of violins of modern make, much less of those of ancient
Italy, merely because the wood chosen for the instrument made is of
an inferior, probably worthless character, which would have been
employed to much more purpose had it been used in the construction
of a windmill, or the shaft of a mine.

That is to say, if, as I presume and premise, the first germ in the
conception of construction of the instrument be _tone_, as most
assuredly tone it ought to be, not to the detriment of appearance,
or to its subjugation as an art work, but as an adjunct or accessory
of such importance that it is apparent it must imperatively assume
pre-eminence; just as we forget the plain box of the Æolian harp the
moment the strings are struck by the passing gale into the most
exquisite chords; as, on the contrary, do we seem to wish for no
song from the tropical bird of magnificent plumage, and express no
surprise that none comes from it. I may put this more plainly as I
proceed, and in more homely words. What I want to lay before you
now, and must _insist_ upon, is, that you seek for tone, tone before
all. Tone you must get at all cost; and to get it, you must have as
choice wood as ever can be procured, and fashion it into a singing
shell, so that from it pure music may be evolved.

Then you must get this choice wood, but how? Now, the word "choice"
presupposes variety from which to select, as I select or choose
so-and-so, which is my choice. But I use the word in another way, on
the face of it bearing the same significance, but not quite so. I
say it is _fine_, of superb quality for my purpose, which is the
emission of the grandest tone possible, rapid, strong and sonorous,
from two plates of wood, becoming, if they possess these attributes,
choice to me.

We will consider the back wood first. I have thirty pieces from
which to take one, which shall act in conjunction with the belly, to
be selected later on. Some are plain, pear tree, in fact; others are
also plain (I mean as regards figure, or flames, as the Germans
say), and of sycamore, others are of maple. I do not select a
handsome one for its beauty, just as surely as I do not reject an
ordinary one for its plainness. This will show you at once that I am
seeking for that which, to my mind, will yield me the finest tone.

Well, but we must determine this before we go farther, and in the
rough, the initial stage of the wood, supposed to be old, and fit
for the under table of the instrument about to be made. I will try
this one of maple--moderately handsome, looking old, but, I fear,
not quite honest, as it is too heavy for its bulk. I take the half
of it (it being in two parts) and about one third from the top,
having the thick edge, or that to which, later on, I join the other
thick edge, close to my left ear, my left first finger and thumb
grasping it there so as just to free the body for vibration, I
strike it near the lower part of the thin side rapidly, with the
large joint of the first finger of my right hand. With what result?
That of strengthening, almost confirming, my suspicion of its
honesty. For I find a lack of energy, of resonance, and of that
quality to which I apply the word sympathy. It is crude, it is dull,
and it will _not_ do for my purpose.

Well, but as so many go by what so many advocate and so many do, why
not try it by placing the plate in this vice, and applying a well
rosined bow to draw forth its sonority, etc., etc.? I will do so. I
fear many of you, even just in front of me, will scarce gather much
from the thin, miserable stuff which the wood says is its voice, and
which its vendors assert to be old, well dried, and that for which
it was bought. And I pity, indeed, those receding into the misty
background, for nought of this squeak will they hear, and well for
them! But as this second test is condemnatory and more and more
convinces me of the unworthiness of the wood for a violin of high
class (or of any violin destined to live), let me put it to a still
more searching one, in fact, to two, neither of which, I venture to
assert, will it bear.

I clamp it to the bench and proceed to cut with a gouge several
pieces from the _surface_ of an area of about three inches, close to
the thick edge. These I lay aside as No. 1. Deeper, but still from
the same area, more, as No. 2. Deeper, but not now as deep as
before, for an obvious reason, according to my theory, which is my
last heap and No. 3. Now, gentlemen, will you pass round this
handful. No. 1, what is there about it? Really, an acid smell! and
No. 2, the same, but less pungent; No. 3, less still! Well, there
you have absolute proof of roguery, which, if it were lacking in
strength, would be borne out by the diminution of the lying brown
colour towards the centre of the wood, that colour, not of age, but
of fraud, which, named acid, affects the surface more than the
interior, and which the novice gloats over as old and pure as God's

Well, but in addition to these two farther tests of smell and
colour--making wood, almost green wood, of probably not more than
four years old, appear to the ignorant one hundred--there is another
which I often use, and that is, as I do now, I make the plate rigid,
but free to vibrate, so as to allow those mysterious motions play,
and I place my ear at one extremity whilst I scratch or scrape, or
move the rosined bow over the other.

With a similar result--the tone is not what I want, nor what it
ought to be from a piece of really old, well grown wood. But mind,
it does not follow that, given these conditions, the genuine thing
would be what I want; but there would be more likelihood of its
being so, and less annoyance in laying it aside us worthless, as I
do this, selecting, for a second trial, a piece of what I call
crabbed wood, known by a peculiar curl, and its very handsome and
uncommon appearance.

But before I test this, I must tell you that none but a workman of
great skill would undertake to put it to use, as it is so "crabbed,"
so twisted in its fibre, that on the least carelessness of the
artist, out flies a chip from where it should not, and a very
delicate operation is resorted to in consequence to amend the
blunder--insertion of a slip which must match the grain of the
original every way, not only in flame, but even just as the flash of
that fire falls in its movement when it becomes part of a violin.

I have said earlier "I do not select handsome wood for its beauty,"
etc., and the loveliness of this piece must not tempt me to
sacrifice what I hold of more consequence--tone. But I should do so
did I now choose it; for it is weak where it should be strong, and
poor, flabby and wretched from the view of acoustics.

So you see how difficult it is even for the eye of experience and
the mind of knowledge to wade through the vile to the pure
uncontaminated: how much more so him, the sanguine amateur, at once
the plaything and the dupe of those who do not scruple to beguile
him by the one to the safe usage of the other!

Still, do not let it be supposed that this slight tinge of the minor
key is intended to make you despond; on the contrary, I want to show
you better things, and mean to do so. And should the doing of it
seem to prolong this part of my address beyond moderate limits, my
excuse must be its deep importance.

I have laid aside three pieces of sycamore, all, as I believe, very
good for the back I purpose making. One is what is called "on the
quarter," the other two "on the slab" (these terms I shall explain
later, when I have fully spoken of the selection of wood). The two
on the slab are in one piece, of course; the one on the quarter in
two pieces, one of which, while I have been speaking, I have glued
slightly, but firmly, to an upright support of glass, made very
rough at the place where I fix the plate, so that the glue may the
better hold, temporarily.

The glass, being a non-conductor (or, if it respond in any way,
however infinitesimally, it does not perceptibly affect my plate,
and in no way my argument), leaves me the absolute control of this
wood, and I proceed to lay an English lever watch on several places
of it, keeping my ear near to that nodal point where I know will
come the inner bout, or D of the violin, consequently the bridge,
which I mark with a X. The tick-tack of the watch varies in strength
as I get farther from or nearer to a nodal point, as, of course, it
was bound to do; but, from experience, it is a fine-toned piece of
wood. I detach it from the glass rod, and I try it by my finger and
thumb test, and the vibrations and their quality are all I could
desire. The signs of age appear genuine: the small pieces I cut from
it do not give out any smell which they should not, and I pronounce
the wood honest. I try the two whole backs, on the slab: both are
good, one very fine in tone and handsome in appearance, which I
finally select for the violin about to be made.

Well, but you may say, in all your experiments, it appears to us the
result is a question of degree. Exactly, a question of degree, as
purity of air is, but who chooses the foul when he can live in the
pure? As with flowers in their unassuming simplicity up to such
elegance of form, colour and fragrance, that we stand amazed before
them! As with man, from the worse than bestial state to which
intemperance and crime have brought him, to the calm majesty of that
eminence, attained only by the love of truth, of self-government,
and scorn of evil-doing!

This question of degree strikes at the root of the whole subject
before you: for, upon how you answer it, or to what person or
persons you repair for guidance in the selection of wood (being
novices), will depend in a great measure your success or failure in
the instrument yet unmade.

The upper table or belly, made of pine, Swiss pine by preference, is
the most important factor in the production of tone, consequently
that to which the chief attention of the artist should be directed.
No matter how good be his back or his ribs, or the sweep of his
lines or curves, or quality of his varnish and its elasticity or its
superb colour, the selection of wood for his upper table or belly,
or soundboard, must be his chief concern, and neither money nor
energy spared to secure the best.

Well, I have by me several, of various degrees of excellence, and
some of very doubtful reputation; nay, I may at once say they are
bad--even by their look they are bad. This one is fairly straight in
the grain, but it has been dried artificially, not as were the
backs, yet more wickedly treated--impregnated with a deleterious
something having the power of destroying a germ destined, if left to
age, to become the soul of resonance, bringing it at once to a
wretched maturity, its cells starved so, that when the strain of
three hours' play in a hot room is put upon it, dumb is its voice,
poor at the best, and it is played out.

Do you not see that the soft part of the wood running between the
lines or reeds, and where lie the cells of the pine, are too rapidly
agitated, and cannot possibly hold their own under such worn-out
conditions? whereas, given honest wood and genuine age, we should
get strength to resist, and from such resistance would come what we
seek, richness, possible only from sound resonance.

For these cells must have the vigour of mature age, if that age be
150 years when naturally dried, in them; and my contention is, that
the soundest is that which has not been robbed of its sap, as
turpentine, before it be felled on the mountain side; but cut when
well-grown, and well looked after for some years, then cut on the
quarter (of which, later), and left for at _least_ seven more years
before we use it; and mind, even then, it is _new wood_.

I say, this is _my_ contention, and how I account for many superior,
great-souled violins, which it has been my hard struggle to produce,
yet now gaze on with pride; almost glorying in that enthusiasm which
enabled me to combat all against my theory, and do that which I
believe was done two hundred years ago, to such fine issues, reviled
or not for so doing, is now to me of little consequence.

Yet you must be told that there has been fierce, very fierce,
controversy on this point, some going half-way and asserting only a
portion of the sap should be withdrawn; some (and one of them a
great chemist, a friend of mine) fighting hard to have it all taken
away, and artificially dried after that! Does nature do this to the
lungs of a Madame Patti or a Sims Reeves before she turns them on
the world? Nonsense!

But it is tests you want, and I will supply another, somewhat
original. This piece I called above, bad, I lay aside, as No. 1;
another, worse in grain, but, I believe, honest, as far as having
the sap left in it goes, but not old, No. 2; and a magnificent piece
of very old Swiss pine, brown, and honestly brown, with, probably,
two or three hundred years of exposure as a beam in a Swiss chalet
(for from that place and that dwelling I am prepared to prove it
comes to me), which I number 3.

The No. 1 is what I call feverish in its vibrations, and would be
certain to give any instrument a hollow tone, an instrument cuddled,
tempered, and made to fit the ear of the expected purchaser by the
experienced one who has it to dispose of. The tone would not be
intermittent--if it were that, we might have some hope of ultimate
fulness and fair quality; but it would be loud and coarse; bawling
when it should be energetic, yet somewhat hoarse, scarce knowing
where to vibrate, it being capable of doing so, and well, when
fairly mature. But that which, like the brazen actress, has a word
or a sentence ready at any moment, and in any key and in any pitch,
say good-bye to _that_ at once.

The No. 2 will be good in about four or five years, but would be bad
to work just now, so we will take up No. 3, upon which I must dwell

I can depend on the gentleman's word who procured this and other
pieces for me; and I imagine his estimate of age is much under the
approximate date, for I should say it was nearer three than two
hundred years old. The colour all through is a mellow brown; the
reed is of medium width, well developed, and nearly equal all over,
and it is singularly bowed from bottom to top, meeting, when joined
(for it is in two parts), just as will a string of a violin when you
hold it in both hands, and twang it to test its equal vibration.

Who is bold enough to assert that this is not a piece of finely
developed virgin pine, grown on the southern slope of some Alp
adjacent to where it had rested so long, in so mean a position for
such finely sounding wood which I have proved it to be, yet destined
to fill such an honourable place in the grand instrument of which I
treat? No one, I venture to reply; but to my mind, and from
experience, it _is_ such, the softer part, where run the cells,
being firm, full, and mellow to the thumb nail on pressure (showing,
I think, good sap lies dried there), which I have found before in
such wood, proved to be grand beyond doubt by its superb tone in a

But I must give you, besides my other tests, that to which I
occasionally resort. No. 1, you see, is as I intimated, loud and
vulgar, ceasing its vibrations the instant I draw away my test of
bow, etc., etc., whereas No. 2 does behave better in this respect,
but is crude, and must lie some years longer neglected, when it will
be interesting again to test it, by me or some other. No. 3 is all I
could wish, or was prepared for, so I will hasten to the final trial
and bring this lecture to a close, not subjecting this No. 3 to the
trial which the others have undergone, as I am quite convinced of
its great superiority, but shall, along with the others, put it now
to the concluding one.

From each of the three pieces, 1, 2, 3, I cut a slip, and, as you
observe, I put No. 1 in this bright clear fire behind me, prepared
so that it shall be as nearly free from _flame_ as possible, to
enable me to make the manner of burning of each separated piece more
real to you.

From what I have said, leading up to what I now do, I imagine you
will be somewhat prepared for the manner in which No. 1 burns, and
perhaps the other two. But I hardly think you expected such a
wretched flare up as you see here, such a fizzing, spluttering,
ragged exhibition of imbecility. What of that sonority which could
fill a mighty hall where we find five thousand listeners? Is such
flabby nonsense as _this_ to be put into an immortal violin, because
it purports to be fine Swiss pine at tenpence? But I reverence its
ashes, and will lay them aside for a moment, as I wish you to see
them alongside the others, when burnt.

No. 2 is all right as to the sap being in it, but it is too
volatile, somewhat crackling in its burning, yet far more steady in
its flame, not spending its energy in fireworks, nor giving great
cracks, like a whip, and a jump afterwards as No. 1, so we will lay
aside _his_ ashes.

Now, look at No. 3, as _it_ burns; and do not say, "You invariably
have nothing but praise for your best things, how is that?" because,
gentlemen, there is no blame which can be laid to them; that is why,
and that is all. I ask you to look at this No. 3. It is a steady
piece of business altogether. The flame is strong, bright, and
well-sustained, with little or no smoke, and it gradually dies down,
as, if you will allow my fancy, does he who has grown in uprightness
to fine maturity, hale and beautiful to the last. Look at the
remains of the three slips. The first is little more than black
fluff; I can actually blow it away, poor rubbish! while the second
and third are similar to each other, but the No. 3 is more compact,
if I may so say, and this is what its excellence before burning
would prepare one for.

And do you now wonder that I so insist on every test possible being
brought to bear in this important matter of selection? Which of you
would hesitate one moment in his choice between these three bellies
_now_? But you must still bear in mind that what I say _I_ bear out
by test, others will decry as false, as their theory is as
absolutely opposite to mine as the poles. But it will be proved yet,
and on stable grounds; and if I, in conjunction with a man of great
scientific attainments, succeed, on my theory, in the injection of
liquid rosin, or turpentine, into the cells of a piece of
broad-grained pine from which we can be sure its original sap has
been withdrawn, and keep it well exposed to dry air for seven or so
years; by its side a belly, cut from the same piece, in its sapless
state; and then make two violins exactly alike in back and
thicknesses of plates, etc., of the two pieces of pine, the one raw
and sapless, its other half with an injection of rosin; I say we
have done somewhat to allay anxiety on such a vital question, and
can the more readily meet argument should we triumph on the point of
tone--which is our standpoint--or settle down to take the tapped or
the untapped indiscriminately.


I naturally suppose you will supply yourselves with two
benches--good, strong, English made, workmanlike things, one of them
to be fitted with a single vice, the other with a double one, for
joints, and for some work requiring such. And that you will get such
tools as will be requisite from time to time for your work.

[Illustration: Illustration of Tools used in Violin Making by Walter
H. Mayson.]

Then do me the honour of marking very closely how I set about my not
too easy employment; for if you follow my ways, you will do well to
observe every turn of them; remembering that every part of the
building of this little, though mighty, shell is of great
importance, and that there is nothing trivial about it.

A prudent and watchful general will be very careful to see his rear
is clear of the enemy before he makes an advance after an
engagement; so I remember I have to speak to you of wood "on the
quarter" and "on the slab" before we go farther.

If you select a large orange, and take it entirely to pieces, you
will have by you, without any farther illustration from me, my exact
meaning of "on the quarter."

For, when a tree is cut into parts for the violin, it is sawn
equally in half, first; then each half into two quarters, and so on,
exactly as is the orange subdivided; this is, I hope, clear to you
as "on the quarter." I need hardly add that the broad edges, which
you join afterwards, making the wood for the upper or lower table
look like the roof of a house, are at the outer part of the tree,
springing from the centre, where are the broadest rims, as is
natural, seeing that youth is there, vigorous and full of sap;
whilst the rims decrease to the outer, or bark part, in some cases
very decidedly in width, in others more slowly. So you may gather
from this why we have the narrow bait, or reed, where the bridge
comes, the open reed at the edge. At least, I hope you can see the
reason, which is, as generally admitted, and is certainly _my_ view
of the matter, the strength is most wanted at the centre of the
violin, as at the bridge, which the closeness of the reeds and
narrowness of cell passages would supply. The broad reed is more
volatile, and we put it to the edges, where it throws off the
gathered activity of resonance, recurring so rapidly, which we
increase by reducing the thickness of the plate there, bringing
about that timbre so rich to the ear of the listener. These remarks
apply to the belly, and are offered "on the quarter" only. Wood "on
the slab" is never used for the front table in any case, as, cut
that way, it would be far too weak.

For "on the slab" means that our orange and our tree are cut
_through_ the rings or reeds in flat layers of equal thickness (as
required); and it is at once obvious that, in the upper plate, would
be not only ugliness of broad, irregular figure of wood, with now
and again snatches of the bait as it should be, and as I have
endeavoured to show it is; but apart from its general weakness, it
would be most irregular as the main vibrator or soundboard, so is
entirely discarded.

But both ways of cutting are employed for the back; I have heard
tone as fine from one as from the other, yet I think, as a rule, I
prefer the quarter to the slab, as being somewhat more resonant and
of finer timbre.

At the last moment I have selected the "brother" of my "Elephanta"
violin--I mean its back--in one piece, but on the "quarter" in
preference to the one on the "slab," so we will now proceed to
active work upon it.

I clamp the selected wood to this bench, having the flat side
uppermost, and so that I can plane it to a perfect level surface,
first at the narrow end, then at the broad, but _across_ the wood,
as, being sycamore, it is very liable to cut very roughly if done
lengthwise. This I do with a twenty-two inch trying plane, and
having done it to my mind, I take cork rubber, as shown on
illustration of tools used by me, No. 67, and rough sand paper, No.
2-1/2, maker's number, and proceed to scour it level--smoothness is
not essential.

With compasses 55 (again referring you to tool plate, as I shall
often have to do), I find the centre of the wood at both ends, and I
make a dot at each, then draw a distinct line down this centre,
having placed a straight edge EXACTLY over each dot. And I must
insist on this "exactly" wherever exactness that is only a
mechanical result can be obtained; in the present instance, mind,
any deviation from this base of operations, as I may safely say,
will land you in no end of difficulties, as everything must be
"square with the fiddle," as we have a habit of saying, though the
whole is a matter of curves and lines, there being nothing of
squareness about it. Having drawn this decided line, I take my half
outline, plate 1, and place it exactly where, by tracing close to
the side of it, touching every turn so that there can be no mistake
hereafter, nor any "dog leg" nor broken curve, I reverse the veneer
(the outline is of veneer) and do exactly the same as before, and
you see the whole violin drawn, except that the button at the top of
the instrument is in a rough state, and is not finished until the
neck be added at the last. Plate 2.

[Illustration: PLATE I.]

[Illustration: PLATE II.]

This outline is my own, drawn by me after Stradivari, but not by any
means a copy of that master. Dimensions are:--

  Length to where button joins the body . . 14-3/8 inches.
  Width of upper bout . . . . . . . . . . .  6-3/4   "
    "   "  middle bout  . . . . . . . . . .  4-3/8   "
    "   "  lower bout . . . . . . . . . . .  8-5/16  "

To be certain that my work is correct, I will prove it (for _you_
will have to do so when you begin), ruling a line from one upper
point of lower corner to the other; and from one lower point of
upper corner to the other, which gives you a square at each end of
middle bout.

I take compasses and place the point of one leg on square centre of
broad end, and, opening until the point of the other leg touches
lower point of upper corner, I describe a curve to opposite point;
and I turn the back bottom to top, repeating the same to prove lower
corners true. And both stand the test thoroughly.

The next stage, rough as it appears in Plate 3, after cutting, will
require great care on your part, or you will spoil your back; please
note how it is done by me. I fix it in the double vice, the flat
side, where is drawn the outline, facing me as I sit before it on a
high stool. With saw 68 in my hands, drawn up taut by the slip of
wood at the top tightening the string it controls, I proceed to cut
from the top _straight_ down by the button, until I meet the line
forming the upper sweep of the back. But you will observe how very
careful I am as I prepare to turn the saw from straight to right
angle (which is really at left curve at the button). I grease the
saw well, turn it at both handles, so that when I again put the saw
in motion, the steel lies flat, edges or teeth to the left, the
frame of the saw upright.

[Illustration: PLATE III.]

I hope I have made this sufficiently plain, and that what I have
said will enable you to go well round the violin back, guarding the
corners, always greasing your saw as you prepare to round them,
rather giving them a wide berth than brushing close past, almost
touching the line, in a hurry, when snap may go your steel or a
corner of the back.

As intimated, you must clear the line by one-sixteenth inch, so that
no risk is run by taking too much wood off, cleverly put on again,
when matched by an expert, but which could hardly be done by you
just yet.

Well, as you see, I have cleared the rough back from the main body
of the still rougher oblong wood, and it must now be my business to
cut this rough outline to its true form, which is done by looking at
the flat side where this pencil outline is, and with a very sharp,
flat-ground knife, specially made for violin makers, tool 19. But
before this is done, the main body must be reduced at the edges, on
the convex or outer side, of course, to about the thickness of
three-sixteenths of an inch good, which is a simple matter, if done
with one and a quarter inch gouge 43, in this manner.

In the middle of the bench, which will be your general one, and five
inches from the edge, cut a one-inch square right through the wood,
and fit a long stop therein, the tighter the better, and somewhat
rounded off at the inner corner facing you. This will serve to keep
one end of back or belly rigid when the other end is provided for,
as I do thus:--About fifteen inches from this square top, and to
your right, clamp down a piece of hard wood, three inches broad, and
a quarter of an inch thick, square with the bench, and on both
sides. Then cut a square hole in it, five inches from bench side, to
enable you to allow the rough button to lie whilst you operate on
one side of the back, then on the other. This, as you must see,
enables the wood upon which you are to work, perfect freedom from
obstruction of any sort, whilst the gouge cuts roughly all round, as
shown in plate 3.

So, leaving the convex side as it is for the present, I resume, as
to cutting to the true outline with the knife. You can begin where
you like, but I generally clear the right side first. I cut through
the pencil line, not entirely obliterating it (which you will not
find easy), because, after awhile, I have to efface it altogether
with a file, to a perfect, smooth line. These square corners--these
curves of top, middle, and lower bouts--all and everything must be
well done, and no one thing outside of beauty left for the critical
eye to gape at.

Turning the plate to the outer side, I press it flat, between the
square let into the bench and the three-inch slip clamped about
fifteen inches apart, as spoken of before. This is done so that it
may be rigid whilst I take one-inch rasp 47, and proceed to level
all round the wood to about five-eighths of an inch and
five-thirty-seconds of an inch deep. When I get to the ends of the
back I loosen the wood, and use the file more freely at the end of
the bench. But this is a matter left entirely to the workman. When
this is nicely done, I wet a sponge and damp all I have gone over,
surface and edge alike, and let it thoroughly dry, and when it is
so, I employ medium cut file 63, half round, seven-eighths of an
inch broad, and make the edge of the wood clean, and so even all
round, that my first finger or thumb passes over the surface without
a suspicion of irregularity suggesting itself. This, mind, must be
most carefully done, as otherwise, if you, to make both ends meet,
so to speak, take off _here_ a morsel too much, and a little extra
_there_, to repair your fault, thinking to improve your line, you
will find it _broken_, and no longer in uninterrupted movement, as
it should be. I would rather see almost anything bad about this
noble instrument than a slovenly outline, for it is not only ugly in
itself, but leads to other imperfections, and should be most
strongly condemned in the modern school; it will most certainly be
by me, should a school spring from this book, as is already spoken
of as most likely.

The line being right, I next see to the flat edge being strictly of
one thickness all round, which I get to my mind by using a cork
rubber-tool 67, and about No. 1 sandpaper--maker's number. You can
be sure of this correctness by using a sawyer's circular round
gauge--and you had best do so.

Now, gentlemen, this brings me to


There seems a difference of opinion as to where this word originally
was used. I fancy in ancient heraldry; but there the word is
"pur_flew_" a "bordure of ermines, peans, or furs," whilst the
ancients spell it "pur_file_," a "trimming for women's gowns."
Milton says "to purfle--to embroider." So it seems it has ever been
used as an ornamental border, no matter what thing it had to grace,
for grace it is: and though not essential to the violin in the
matter of tone, yet it most certainly is from an artistic point of
view; and its absence in an old instrument constitutes the double
drawback of being unfinished, and of less, very much less, value.

But it will be asked by some people, who know something of the
construction of the instrument, "what has purfling got to do with
the making of a violin at this stage?" To which I answer, much, very
much indeed from my standpoint, and according to my theory, as I
will explain. It will not be denied, I think, that makers have done
and now do this ornamental part _after_ the body of the instrument
is put together--in fact, the query at the beginning of this
paragraph proves it; by whom I do not know, nor advocated by what
book. But I ask you, is it not vexatious when all your efforts have
been used to work up your surfaces and to round off and finish your
edges, you must in a sense undo much of it, temporarily, by using a
tool, or tools, to cut the narrow channel for the ornament, and
using glue to finally fix it, when _some_ of the superfluous
purfling has either to be cut away by a gouge or scraper? And
besides, and to me most important, glue, though wiped quickly away
with a sponge and hot water, _will_ leave a residue which can never
be wholly got out of the pores; and this should not be if you want a
brilliant varnish. Of course I mean oil varnish, but am apt to
forget this age of cheapness, which flies to easily put on,
quick-drying, cheap spirit.

So, as I made it quite clear to you when introducing the subject of
these lectures, that it was entirely on _my_ system that I was going
to work, so we will now resume, I deeming no apology necessary for
occupying your time in denouncing what, should you imitate, would be
bad in art.

It is not my intention to go over the various styles of
purfling--double, variegated, etc., etc.--but to show you how I
prepare and place that which is universal now, the single, composed,
as most people know, of two very thin strips of black wood on either
side of one white one. But to do this, I must mark, cut and remove
the groove in which it has to rest, which requires much explanation.

The outlined back, being quite ready for marking, I clamp down to
the bench with two of those marked 11, one at either end, leaving
one side of the outlet free. Then I take this specially-made
purfling tool, No. 13, with its tracers fixed for marking the two
parallel lines about five-thirty-seconds of an inch from the perfect
outline of the back, and I grasp the handle in both hands
perpendicularly, pressing the revolving wheel against the edge, of
course, and keeping the steel markers going carefully and with only
slight pressure all round the instrument, stopping without running
_off_ at the corners, however. There is, you see, about two inches
not marked where the button comes; this must be traced by placing a
piece of prepared hard wood, made to touch just the same curve as
where the lines would have come had there been no wood there for a
button. This must be very carefully placed and traced, as,
otherwise, all will not be in correct sweep.

Now, gentlemen, we enter on a difficult stage--nay, two; but then,
as I was once asked by a gentleman, "Which part of a violin is the
most difficult to make?" I replied, "Every part." But not quite
that; still, what I am now going to do is not by any means the
least. But you must not lose heart; he who never fights, never
conquers; the man who never blundered or made a mistake, never made

Fasten the plate again on the inner part, not the edge, of the
bench, so that you can lean over to do what you see I am about to
do, and remove cramps as occasion requires. This is a one and
one-eighth inch pointed gouge, 54, long ground and very sharp and
thin. I grasp it in my right hand, holding and guiding with the
left, and gently work to barely the depth of the purfling along one
of the two narrow lines, and then the other for a short distance,
until I get a somewhat more substantial double line all over the
body. But I must warn you respecting the very tender corners. When
you are about say an inch from each on both of its turns, work the
three-quarter inch gouge, 52, still more guardedly, and barely so
deep, and to a very fine point, both curves, ready to receive the
two joined pieces of purfling which is to present you with what is
called the "Bees' sting." Do all this as well as lies in your power,
for upon this channel being well cut will depend much of the success
of the whole ornamentation.

Finishing the tracing and cutting the groove, I find tool No. 0, and
remove the strip from it, plate 4. And let me here again tell you to
be careful, as it is so easy for a chip to flirt airily from either
side, or for your tool to probe too deeply and nearly through the
wood, putting you--or, more likely, some one else--to trouble and
very nice mending ere all is sound. And the corners only look really
well and handsome when you find them as on plate 4, because
experience tells one the material to go therein can be made to look
equally so.

[Illustration: PLATE IV.]

To cut the prepared purfling into lengths (only approximate, exact
had better not yet be tried by you), and heat the iron (inside the
bending iron) to a good red, but not white heat, is the next thing I
do, and, while the tool is getting ready for me, I cut the purfling
of the middle bout at one end only, so that I have half of the
finely graduated point we see in a corner of a well-wrought violin,
the half springing from one of the other bouts forming the complete
whole. You must not suppose that the _exact_ length of the ornament
is to be measured by you, no, not with unabated practice; you will
have to begin with a length always longer than you need, and pare
from the points until your lengths fit beautifully before they are
fixed with glue--that is, after bending to shape, which I now
proceed to do.

Of course, my experience is great, so I manage to get through this
very tedious part of the work without breaking the sensitive thread
of wood; but I am bound to tell you that you must be prepared for
mishaps, as you will be sometimes off your guard and apply force (if
ever so mild) to bend what tact, a sort of feeling I may say, and an
iron kept hot, can alone achieve. But, if you break, prepare fresh
lengths, and again and again; and I warrant your repeated disasters
will have something to do with amended touch, and consequently its


What I have proved is the best way to bend the purfling is
this--place the heated iron (plate 5) in the bending socket, and,
when all is so that a smart rap of your hand on the metal shows you
the warmth is about as you want it, hold the purfling by the left
hand, the mitred end to the iron, so that when you bend, by holding,
say rasp 47 in the right hand firmly against the point, and _letting
the heat only make the curve you want_, or nearly without pressure,
you will, I think, not do bad work.

[Illustration: PLATE V.]

So I am now ready to fix this ornament in the groove prepared, and
have ready thin glue and a table knife to run it there, section by
section, as, in cold weather especially, the liquid sets so rapidly.

I select the middle bout of either side (it is not material which)
and lay in the glue rapidly, and yet more rapidly the slip for
insertion, merely at this stage laying it flat, and going to the
lower and upper bouts, joining the corners as mitred as well as I
possibly can. Then I press the purfling as deep as it will sink all
over, finally wiping all superfluous glue away with sponge and hot
water. But I have not done yet, for there may be a weak place or two
in my work that glue will strengthen, so I run yet a little thinner
all over the insertion, and let it rest until next morning, when it
will mostly have sunk somewhere.

When you are at this stage, great headway has been made; but you
must now make ready for greater exertions, and prepare to comply
with the requirements of the higher branches of this most exacting
art, which you will when you model the back as I now begin to do
this, which has dried overnight.

But I must pause to make you acquainted with the difference between
"outline" and "model" of a violin--not by any means synonymous, as
some have supposed and do yet suppose. I ought, perhaps, to have
done this before, but will no longer delay.

It always makes me feel very angry when I hear some person, palpably
ignorant in the matter, exclaim, "what a fine model" when he or she
means "outline." And again, "this is a grand 'copy' of so-and-so,"
when _example_ of such is meant; how can an example of, say "Mayson"
be a "copy" of him? A fine outline will naturally lead you to expect
a fine model--that is to say, arching of length and breadth,
graceful and perfectly relative as regards proportion, curves, and
an unmistakeable _oneness of expression_, if I may so speak, of
every part as a whole, nothing whatever of incongruity or want of
symmetry intruding to disturb once and always the gaze of the

But it by no means follows that a grandly carved and completed model
has for its counterpart an equally bold yet subtly refined outline;
on the contrary, I have seen just the reverse, as I have also seen
most wretched modelling wedded to an outline fit to grace the finest
instrument extant. But it is not often so, for, as a rule, where a
mind is highly gifted, so that elegance breathes in what its body
creates, a broken line or curve comes as a great surprise, and one
is apt to doubt the same hand fashioned it all.

Be this as it may, call things by their proper names, and in elegant
terms where no quaint ones are sacrificed; and if you know better,
never let a false epithet pass unchallenged, for I do not see why a
refined, but _correct_, mode of expression should not be as
vigorously upheld in this fine art as in speaking of any of its
sisters. For surely vulgarity has no right of place in its
vocabulary, yet much language that is certainly not elegant, and not
of any particular force of expression, finds repose therein; and a
really beautiful and great work is neither made more lovely nor more
exalted through contact with that which has neither the status of
the one nor the other at heart, except that beauty or high estate be
ready ministers of a rapacity calculated sooner or later to bring
about its own terrible undoing.

So I resume, all being hard and dry, and begin to model the back.


Pressing the plate firmly between the fixed rests on the bench, I
take three-quarter inch gouge, tool 22, and proceed to cut a channel
entirely round the wood to the depth of about one-twelfth of an inch
and about three-quarters of an inch broad from one-sixteenth or
rather less, of an inch from extreme edge, and through the purfling,
of course. The student will at once see that this is done as a base
from which is to spring the arching. There must be no attempt at a
_finished_ bend in going over this groove; but there must be the
greatest care observed in the cutting of it, as you are using the
tool following the outline, consequently, in the manner most liable
to encounter disaster in the shape of chips flying from that narrow
edging which it is your set business to leave as intact as possible.

After going over the wood in what I call "the guitar line," that is
to say, passing by for the present all the corners, I return to
them, in my hand gouge 24, three-eighths of an inch, and work them
out on the same basis exactly as the main groove. All this being to
my mind as shown in fig. 6, I take gouge 43, used before, and in the
roughest way possible, and avoiding any depth of cutting, I model
the back in its first stage, as shown in fig. 7, obtaining even here
a decently developed and somewhat truthful arching all over.

[Illustration: PLATE VI.]

[Illustration: PLATE VII.]

From which I advance to obtain the first smooth stage all over, as
in fig. 8, thus--with a square of No. 2-1/2 sandpaper folded in
half, so that in size it is about 2-1/2 inches all ways, and this
again folded crosswise, giving me a firm point as would be a rasp so
formed, I work out the corners, and all about them for, say, an
inch, until I get a beginning and an example of groundwork from
which to smooth down the whole. Then I take the cork rubber, tool
67, and a piece of sandpaper as last, rather larger than the one
just used, so that I can bend it firmly over both sides and as I
want, when I change it about to secure a fresh, sharp edge.

[Illustration: PLATE VIII.]

I begin by firmly placing the wood, etc., as before, and working the
sandpaper (over the cork), firmly pressed in the first stage,
against the rough, raised edge, all around the outline, but being
most careful not to wear what is left of it away, which must be left
intact as far as possible to the end, when it is made to assume that
beautiful sort of curled, yet sharp edge so much admired. Then, more
towards the upper ridges, over and over, backwards and forwards,
having always the careful arching and model of elegance before me,
until I arrive at that growing stage of the work as shown in fig. 8,
which I proceed to damp well all over with a wet sponge, the
surface, as you may see, as I hold it well to the light, being again
abominably rough, and not at all _now_ like fig. 8, as the moisture
has raised the fibres in all directions.

But before I go farther into this interesting, consequently
absorbing process, I must answer some question such as "but why use
sandpaper? it is decried by most experts, and utterly ignored by
some writers as having no status among the tools used by
professional makers of note, and was not believed to have had a
place among those of the Ancients."

Then so much the worse for the work of the makers of to-day and for
those of yesterday. But who says the ancients did not use it, or
crocodile skin, or a cloth made in Venice, and somewhat after our
emery cloth? or variously shaped files of different cuttings? At a
time when sculpture and very chaste and highly finished woodwork
would employ it largely, does any one mean to assert that the
violin, not by any means held in the estimation it is to-day, must
receive the dignity of small plane and scraper only, and such a
useful article treated with contempt _because_ it was what it was?
If they do, or any of you do, I should much like to devote an hour
privately to any such, when it should be my business to combat such
a sentiment, more especially as some writers seem to hint that when
sandpaper is used, its scratchy effects can be traced, as I could
bring many of my finest efforts to prove the contrary.

My reason for not using small planes for modelling is, that in the
first cutting you cannot possibly go over the delicate groove
without endangering the surface level--that is to say, if you tear
any part in going against the grain (or sometimes with it) and go
_deeper_ than you should, would you not at once ruin your even flow
of curves as by early arrangement you had set out? your only escape
from fiasco being sinking to a lower surface and sacrificing your
original conception of true proportion.

Therefore, I stand to the system adopted at the outset of my career,
and resume. The wetted surface being thoroughly dry (not apparently
so, but really free from any feeling whatever of dampness) I take
the next degree towards fineness of sandpaper (or if you like the
term "glass-paper" better, by all means adopt it), and I do
precisely as formerly, again and again, until six courses have been
carefully gone over. Then I go over the same ground six times more,
using scrapers 4, 20, 26, 62 alternately, and continually holding up
the surfaces to the light as they develop their curves and archings
truer and more true, as I scrape here and there with great patience
to bring all this about. At this point I suppose you will think the
modelling and surface finishing is finally accomplished, and that
the interesting passages on thicknesses are about to be written. But
it is not so, for the final surface of silk-like smoothness is four
or five coats farther from me yet. So I attack with No. 1 sandpaper
the surface once more, mostly cross-wise this and all following
stages, putting fair pressure and with both hands on the rubber, so
that I get sure curves and even surface all over; and then I take
No. 0 paper, working well many times round and round by the outline
and all over and lengthwise among the curves until I finish this
exacting piece of business and fine art, as shown in fig. 9.

[Illustration: PLATE IX.]

And the height of the wood at the middle bout is five-eighths of an
inch; at the upper seven-sixteenths of an inch; at the lower, bare
half-inch more or less, a fine eye being necessary to discriminate
to a hair.


Passing on, I draw your attention to the working out of the back.

I show you, fig. 10, what must be drawn on the back and belly (on
the flat, of course) before a chisel touches the wood for
excavation. The blocks at either end speak for themselves, they
having been fashioned to shape out of Swiss pine, and planed and
squared so as to be glued square where you see them marked, later
on. And be sure they stand one-and-a-half inches high in the rough,
for a reason I will give you later, and about five-eighths of an
inch thick, to about the breadth you see on fig. 10.

[Illustration: PLATE X.]

Before, however, you can do anything in hollowing out the back, you
will have to provide yourselves with a bed in which your table must
firmly rest while you do so. Therefore, purchase a block of dry
beech or birch, about one-and-a-half inches thick, sixteen inches
long by eleven inches wide, and lay your finished back in the centre
of it, tracing the whole outline, button as well, distinctly
thereon; and having done so, cut by the outline inside all round to
the depth of about one quarter of an inch, and from this basis
proceed to make, as nearly as possible, a counterpart of the model
of your back, but reversed, of course. And get all the tool ridges
well levelled with rough to fine sandpaper; and, when you lay in
your table for cutting, place a strong piece of brown paper for it
to rest upon, not only to prevent it in any way scratching the fine
surface of your wood obtained at so much trouble, but it enables you
to shake off it quickly any residue of coarse dust or small cuttings
that _will_ creep under the wood upon which you are working; and so
you get on rapidly and cleanly.

You will notice that I have again drawn the guitar line, and at a
distance from the outline, so that a sufficiently flat surface is
allowed for the ribs to rest firmly upon later. And I cut all round
this line just as an indication, merely as a starting point from
which to work more deeply all over, until I arrive at a point when
the calipers, No. 34, test the thicknesses roughly--which is by the
way. For I have first to cut three cross channels, at the upper,
middle, and lower nodal points, fig. 11, at such a depth that I
caliper good three-sixteenths of an inch at the centre of middle
groove, one-eighth of an inch upper and lower, falling away very
little to all edges for the present. And I draw a distinct pencil
mark through each groove, so that I must be a poor workman indeed if
I go through the wood through these bars, as I have known some
novices to do, or cannot gauge pretty well all over by their aid
before using the calipers.

[Illustration: PLATE XI.]

But you who, when beginning to cut out back or belly, having no sort
of experience whatever, must use every care possible, and keep
calipers No. 3 (double) going constantly, as, with their aid, you
will at once see by the outside half the thickness registered at the
inner; then you can pare away with gouges, small and large, and with
spoke shaves, Nos. 48 and 53, until you get a fairly sloping and
somewhat level surface from bare three-sixteenths of an inch in
centre to full three-thirty-seconds of an inch all round by the
edges, as shown by calipers.

And thus I come to the first rough thicknesses of the back; and I
damp the surface all over as I did the outside, and dry it
carefully; for you will understand the necessity for this
carefulness, there being some fear of slight warping from the true
flatness now the wood is thin all over, if quick, artificial heat be
adopted to draw the moisture.

Whilst this natural process is going on, you must take the large
calipers and open them at three-sixteenths of an inch. Then hold the
plate in the extended left hand by middle bout, inside upwards,
calipers and a long lead pencil _together_ in the other; and,
beginning at the centre of the plate, draw the calipers carefully
from this starting-point all over the rough surface, gauging with
your eye for the present any irregularities of said surface; for I
want you to mark every part where the points stick, first within a
radius of three inches, gradually extending your field of
operations, slightly tightening the calipers as you get farther away
from your centre, until the edges are finally reached, when you use
the double calipers, No. 3, to ascertain the exact thickness at
those places.

This being done, and the places marked levelled down, using spoke
shaves, flat gouge No. 50, and rough sandpaper 3, take again the
large calipers and go over the whole as before, but more carefully;
and do this time after time, until the plate is accurately gauged
from five-thirty-seconds of an inch centre to the diminution of
about a good sixteenth--say one-twelfth of an inch at the edges. My
way of working has always been thus, in preference to using what
people call "indicating calipers"; and my advice to you is, do
likewise, for you not only get over your ground more nimbly, but you
can get from your centre more accurately, I maintain, gradation of
thicknesses. I give you what I have proved the best thicknesses for
my backs, and am pleased to do so to all the world; but if you care
to try a hair or two thinner in the centre, adding those hairs to
the edges, do so; you will not lose in energy, but you will in
timbre, a trifle.

Before finally quitting this hollowing out of the back, gauge for
the last time, then use fine sandpaper, and leave no mark of any
tool whatever, as by clean work you will be judged.

This question of thicknesses is an important one, but applies more
to the belly than the back; and I shall have more to say on this
head when I get to that soundboard, merely adding now that the back
must never be weak in wood, yet, at the same time, never so strong
that a woody tone is the result, inevitable, as the timbre quality
is scarcely developed, and without that I never care for it.

It is desirable at this stage that I point out to you how the inner
edges of the back are rounded before the ribs are fixed. I use file
No. 6, half round, flat side to the wood first, turning to the round
side for finish. When at the corners, I employ knife No. 8 in
cutting where the file would not do it so well in the early stage,
and this file not at all nicely for finish, so I employ a smaller
one, No. 9, to these corners, the other all over the rest of the
wood, cleanly doing the work so that about one-sixteenth only of the
inner edge is rounded off. Then No. 1 sandpaper is used to finish
off the work done, and the next stage is glueing on the end blocks,
preparatory to fixing the ribs as they get made--of which, later.

So, for the present, I leave the back, and take up the wood you will
remember I selected for the front table, or belly, and devote to it
a separate section; merely adding that in the course of my work I
have so arranged all the thicknesses of the back that it answers to
the tone C, which do not forget, as I shall have again to refer to


This is the soundboard of the instrument--that which, I suppose,
vibrates as fourteen to ten as compared with the back--that is to
say, it is recorded that, given equal conditions, such will be the
case. It is that which first receives concussion as the bow strikes
the strings, which shock travels down the upper surface of the gut
from the bridge until the nut at the end of the fingerboard be
reached, when it flies under the said string to the bridge again,
which communicates the shock to the belly, the belly to the back by
soundpost, ribs, neck, scroll, and all about it, to the mass of air
in the body of the violin, when comes what we call tone, and rightly
do we call it so, if pure vibrations have been brought into play,
otherwise noise would be a much safer word to use. Of course, I give
you the above in detail: it will appear to you as though the whole
of the agitations were simultaneous, such is the amazing rapidity
with which all this takes place. And I only give it to show you how
incumbent it is upon you to use every care in all you do when
engaged in this work, more especially that on the upper table. For
no matter how well your back may be gauged, finished, and finally
adjusted; or your ribs, how equally balanced one with another or in
relative proportions with the whole: if your tell-tale soundboard be
defectively wrought, cheeks too much hollowed, or the thicknesses
carelessly seen to, there will be beats in your tone, strings
irregular, weak notes and strong ones, and a general unsatisfactory
result which could easily have been avoided.

But I will get to work on this upper table; and, there being some
interesting features to notice as the panorama of its construction
passes before your eyes, you will do well to let nothing escape your
observation; besides, there is much that is merely a repetition of
the working of the back, and which I omit in letterpress.

The said back, you will remember, was in a whole piece--this belly
is in two pieces, as I intimated under the heading "selection of
wood"; and, as a natural consequence, has to be joined before I can
operate upon it as a whole before you. The manner of preparing the
two half plates for a joint is this:--upon this bench I place what
is called a shooting board--a board, as you may observe, upon which,
near one end, is inserted, right across it from edge to edge, a
piece of wood, square with the length, to serve as a stop against
which I press what it will be convenient to call one half of the
roof of a house, fig. 1, plate 12, lengthwise, which serves to
illustrate one half of the belly, thickest edge, of course, on a
square with the edge running along by where rests a very choice
trying plane, on its side, tool touching this plate, which I hold
with my left hand firmly, whilst I _shoot_ the said plane from end
to end of the half belly, fig. 2, plate 12. This I repeat on the
other half, and then hold them together, flat side towards me, as I
raise the two to a strong light, and if no glimmer whatever creeps
between the joint, then I call the two plates perfectly united, and
ready for the glue to make this absolute. But if they do not appear
as I intimate, then you must operate until this very important part
of your work be strictly that of a perfect whole; for, remember, as
a whole the two parts must remain for as long as the violin holds
together, which may be for two hundred years over and above the
years that shall be given to you who make it; and this alone should
be an incentive to good work.

[Illustration: PLATE XII.]

We now arrive at this joining of the wood for the soundboard, and
the glue to be used must be of the best. Not too thin, but
sufficiently so to drop freely from the brush used, and clear whilst
being tenacious, as felt by pressure between finger and thumb.

As you may observe, I place one half of the wood in the vice of the
bench, and on this, the other half (fig. 3, plate 12). With the hot
glue to my right hand, I take the loose half of the wood in my left,
and hold it against the one fixed in the bench, and upon the two
broad centres or outside edges thus exposed, I work rapidly a good
layer of the glue, and then, placing them on each other again, I
move them very firmly backwards and forwards, and so they are
united, remaining in the bench until set.

My dear friends, it is not to be supposed you will do this
exceedingly difficult piece of business even moderately well at
first; but you will have to do it somehow as a commencement, and I
hope I have made all clear to you. Think the thing well over; see
your way well ahead; and I am quite sure your success will be
commensurate with your endeavour.

From this stage you will have to repeat what was done to the back,
until you reach the cutting out of the groove preparatory to
insertion of the purfling; and I only stop you here to direct your
special attention to one feature of that groove, or, rather, four of
the same character, viz., the corners. These, owing to the soft
nature of the wood, will be difficult for you to cut out clean, so
as to leave the sharp point (so much admired when well done, so much
condemned when ill) clear and distinct; and you must use small sharp
knife, No. 8, to effect this, not taking the gouge, 52, to the
extreme corner when using it near to it, as the pressure would,
without doubt, break it off.

Leaving you with this caution, I shall imagine all done as was the
work on the back up to cutting the groove after purfling, plate 6,
and resume there, for the purpose of warning you that the gouges for
this same work on the soft pine, as opposed to the sycamore, must be
exceptionally sharp, and you _must cut_, and very clean, too, or you
will tear the wood, and go below your level, as I before cautioned
you. More than this I need not say just here, so proceed with the
modelling of the belly, on the former lines gone over for the
development of the back, with this difference, you must only use
coarse sandpaper in the very early stages, and continue the work
over more stages by at least three than on the back; for pine takes
more readily scratches, and takes them deeper, than sycamore; and
more patience in bringing it to a surface like satin, where no trace
of scratch from scraper or sandpaper can be detected under delicate

Then you must continue until the finished plate 9 is reached, only,
as I said above, bringing up the surface to a finer state than the
back--not to be called waste of time by you on any account, as you
will soon understand when you come to find out what a heartless
exposer of any frailty is oil varnish.

So at length we come to the hollowing out and to the thicknesses of
the belly.


Cut the three channels across as explained for the back, but in this
way:--At the upper nodal point, so that your calipers register bare
one-eighth of an inch from one side to the other, centre as
well--same at the other node; and at the centre, full--rather
over--one-eighth across, all to be for the present only, as a slight
correction will be effected as the final stage of the use of the
calipers is reached.

Then operate over the whole surface on these lines, taking little or
nothing from the extreme edges, because I want you to reserve your
strength there in case your pine turns out very active--that is to
say, very sensitive to vibration, in which case, mark me, you must
keep up your strength of wood, as this extreme activity will not be
in harmony with the regulation mass of air in the violin, and the
steadiness of tone will suffer in consequence.

And, that you may very clearly understand the reason of this
occasional activity, I must tell you that sometimes the wood, in
being cut by the saw at the mill, gets a trifle _off the quarter_ on
to the slab; and this, coming to the edges, is less able to
withstand the strength of the air in its action of 512 beats to the
second, say of responsive C; whereas, all being properly and fairly
on the quarter, a slight diminution is allowed, and I consider
necessary. And I think the above remarks will very fully explain
_why_ we so insist on the upper table being _never_ on the slab or
near it.

So we will consider the wood roughened out as I directed, and now I
must get you to follow me closely whilst I arrange the thicknesses
so that I get that tone which I have found the fullest, the most
rich in quality, and of the finest carrying power.

I work at the part of the belly which I call the centre, as it is
the place where the bridge stands and answers to central node,
consequently the middle of the whole construction and of the mass of
air: I scrape and level here until I get a fraction, a hair or two
less than one-eighth of an inch thick. This I continue along the
breast until I arrive at both upper and lower nodal crossings, when
I gradually thin off to both ends, the final thickness being at the
flat left for the end block when the belly is attached to it,
one-thirty-second of an inch less than the centre. And I reduce from
the centre of the breast to half-way towards all four edges, top and
bottom, about as at the centre, barely, and to the edges, till they
register a fraction thinner than at the upper and lower ends.

The above, be it understood, is when finally finished and smoothed
down. I now show you with the calipers how accurately the work
corresponds with the theory advanced; and on this, my favoured mode
of working for the tone so highly spoken of by my numerous admirers,
I have no more to say, except to tell you that the wood so finished
corresponds in tone to D, and you will still remember that the back
was C.

But other thicknesses than these, both of back and belly, are
employed; such as thinner in back and thicker in belly; and as used
by Joseph Guarnerius del Jesu--the back about such as we have used
in this instrument, but the belly a trifle THINNER in the centre
than at the edges--they being about one-eighth of an inch. And we
have it on record that many of the violins of Stradivari were
originally _one thickness_ all over the upper table, barely
one-eighth, and about as I use for the lower; would that we could
speak with authority on this as on many another point! But many
instruments have had wood taken from them by vampires and faddists,
and we can _not_ speak with authority as to the vital points of
scores of these noble efforts of art, therefore better not lay down
laws or adduce supposed facts regarding them, but do our utmost to
build up something as noble, and each one of us leave art no worse
than he found it, casting reproach and scorn on the utterly
indifferent, or the detestable pander or the vampire.

As I have not to recur to the thicknesses again, it may here be a
convenient place in which to say a few words on the nodal points in
relation thereto.

Many of you may not know what a "node" in music means exactly--some
of you may know nothing whatever about it. Simply, it is the fixed
point of a sonorous chord, at which it divides itself, when it
vibrates by aliquot parts, and produces the harmonic sounds. And do
you not see how this struck chord can serve and does serve to
illustrate my exposition of the back and belly--more particularly
the latter--in their vibrations and their concentration at upper,
middle, and lower nodes? To these places they fly, they cling,
singly, thin, and of no character; and from these places they again
fly, but united in a strong, sonorous _tone_. How then, think you,
will fare those worked out cheeks or attenuated edges, (some of
which latter I have seen no thicker than a worn shilling), when
worked hard and in a hot room? Gentlemen, they will sound like
something between a musette and a Jew's harp, when you are near to
the player; they will not be heard _at all_ some yards away! Yet it
is such a tone (!) which many hundreds of old violins possess, and
after which so many million people run. Please note this is entirely
without prejudice. Every person has a perfect right to use his own
judgment; and tastes differ.


The next operation on the belly is cutting the _f_ or soundholes,
and I need hardly say (for it has been so often said, that surely
you must all be informed on this point), how the drawing, the
placing, and the cutting of this most crucial test of a man's powers
as an artist or workman, determines the extent of one or other, or
both; for a man may be the one, and show himself a blockhead as to
the other. You ask for originality, and you find copy, copy all over
the world; yet you may suddenly pounce on a line or two not seen in
combination before, most abominably in juxtaposition to their entire
opposites in curve as they are in grace as in character. For example
or examples, suppose I found, crowning the severe, almost rigid
column of the soundhole of Del Jesu, the mobile bend of Stradivari?
or, at the turn of the companion lines of Stradivari, the Gothic
arch of Del Jesu? with the base of each of a like nature--do you
think I should pass such without a severe growl of condemnation? And
yet I _have_ seen such; and I scarcely expect to go on to the end
without seeing more of such incongruous monstrosities, but I trust
not from any one who _can_ give one thought to character as applied
to form.

Fig. 13 is a rough example of the soundhole which I shall presently
stencil on to the belly just ready for it. As you will notice, the
soundhole is cut out of a piece of paper which follows the lines of
one of the lower corners. So, upon the corresponding corner of the
wood to be cut, I place this that represents the soundhole, exactly;
and I dip a small stiff brush into lampblack, not too wet, rather
dry than otherwise, and I dab on to the belly through the cut
impression of the soundhole--then I reverse the paper, doing exactly
the same at the other side of the wood. Of course, I know beforehand
that the impressions will be anything but perfect, or clear, or
alike; but I have a way of making them so in cutting, and you, many
of you, I hope, will soon acquire the same power. The general
feeling of active form, as I may say, must guide you; because, to
have the stencil plate by your hand as you seek to give vitality to
the dead form impressed on the wood, is one thing, but to copy it
slavishly, even though it be your own design, is another. In one
word, you must always _create_, no matter what work you are engaged
upon, and, in this case, two as original soundholes as lies in your
power, and resembling each other as much as you can cut them, but--
cut by an artist.

[Illustration: PLATE XIII.]

Proceeding to put you in the way of doing this, I bore a small hole
with the little piercer tool 0, and, inserting the fine cutter of
fret saw, tool 69, inside the belly, so that I have the upper side
to the eye, I press the said fine saw into the slot of the screw,
and, with spring pliers 51, I fix it for cutting. Then I hold the
belly with the left hand level against the lower part of my breast,
and cut out a rough passage round the inner part of the soundhole,
never touching the line, though, but leaving that for the knife 8,
which follows.

Where I must especially caution you in the use of this fret saw, is
at the upper and lower points which face the holes, as they are so
liable to snap there, especially at the lower. Still, with care, you
will manage to do this neatly and safely, as you see I have done
one, and now proceed to work with the knife mentioned.

This knife, as you see, is very much worn, and is very thin and very
sharp. And the two latter characteristics it _must_ possess, as you
will one and all of you find when you come to use such, for, as I
cut from the inside, the steel continually cropping up here and
there, in curves and near to corners, I must be prepared at any
moment to work up or down, backwards or forwards, with the grain or
against it, until I get somewhat of the shape I wish. But not nearly
all I want; so I trim the longer lines until they bend gracefully,
ready to fall as does the head of a rocket before it bursts, or give
a majestic sweep at the base where they terminate in the spread
wing. The apertures at the summit and base I round carefully off;
the cuts at the centre of the figure, as a break, as finish to what
was unfinished without it, and as a guide to determine the position
of the bridge.

And you will conclude this finishes the one soundhole; but it does
not, for after I have dressed down the work on the outside with No.
0 sandpaper, there is not a clean bit about it--not a curve or sweep
or any part true; and when I retouch it all over, and damp it all
over after doing that, when it dries, there are still bits I don't
like, and patiently trim it and touch it once or twice again, as I
have done to many a poem, to be, perhaps, only engraved in water, or
ice at the best; typical, not only of its reception by the world,
but of its ultimate starvation and ignominious effacement by the
coming warmth of an inspiration congenial to all.

This being at length quite to my mind, I cut its companion as true
to the lines of the other as possible, fig. 14, when I take in hand
the placing of the bass bar on the belly, in the rough, preparatory
to toning it down in shape, etc., when the glue has set hard.

[Illustration: PLATE XIV.]


There are different opinions as to not only the function or
functions of this bass bar, but as to its length, size in height and
breadth, and the placing of it by the soundhole on the G side of the

As to the former, I think it is pretty well agreed that the
bar--only one, please--answers the purpose of a support and
vibrator, as opposed to the soundpost, which is of a quite opposite
nature, being semi-rigid and a conductor of sound. It is a support
where the belly, if too thin, has a tendency to sink; and how often
do we notice this, aye, and in (market) valuable old violins too!
when bars, out of all proportion to the rest of the work, have to be
inserted, so as to keep up a dignity of doubtful reputation! I will
try to make this very vital point clear to you. The wood of this
belly is very thin and very old, consequently, very sensitive and
active, and more responsive than it ought to be to do battle
properly with the mass of air inside, fine, solid tone being
required. In a measure to check this over activity and give more
resistance, this heavy bar replaces the old one; but do you not see
that a counter evil results? for the over weight of wood added as a
bar is not in sympathy with the rest of the thin table; and this,
not being strengthened (as against all the canons of order or of
etiquette of the initiated), it still responds as before its old
companion was cast aside; and I maintain what is gained in strength
is lost in quality, resulting from a jarring of two rival

As I told you, the tone of the belly was D when I stencilled the
soundholes on to it; when I had cut the soundholes, it came to C;
and it must be my business to bring it again to D, as I work only on
these lines, as, if back and belly be of one tone, or too severed,
or the latter, say C and the former D, or near to these, there will
be weak and strong tones, beats, and perhaps more than one wolf, and
not a result at all satisfactory.

Placing the belly face down in the rest before used when hollowing
out, I take a strip of old pine (in fact, cut from this belly
itself, when in the rough), eleven inches long, five-sixteenths of
an inch wide, one and one-eighth inches deep. I then roughly plane
this on the shooting board (the plane on its side as used for
shooting the plates of the belly).

In fig. 15 you will see that I place the bar at a slight angle,
lengthwise, and close to the soundhole; and you will also observe
the small squares of pine glued along the joint, so as to give
strength to that joint. And I must tell you to put these squares
_cross-wise_ with the grain, as I have seen joints in violins give
way, and the bits prove a mockery, as they were placed _with_ the
grain, or lengthwise--that is to say, they offered no resistance
when the collapse came, but quickly yielded and split as would have
done a layer of a turnip! Surely, men must be artists indeed, not to
forecast such a likelihood arising as this.

[Illustration: PLATE XV.]

Continuing _re_ Bar, I work away until I get it to fit absolutely to
the surface to which I have to glue it; when I slightly thin it in
width from the broad end to the narrow of the violin, as I study
every possible contingency; and, by not over-weighting the lesser
surface for vibration, I give it a freedom otherwise somewhat
retarded, even though infinitesimally. And you will wonder why I
place it so much nearer the broad end than the narrow--against the
laws laid down by the unctuous law-makers of no matter what
nationality? Well, it is because I look upon it as a vibrator and as
a _pendulum_; and surely you would never look for the true action of
a pendulum, had it a tendency either to one side or another? No, it
must work truly and have no bias whatsoever. So, I contend, must
this bar, as a pendulum work clean and truly, taking its centre from
the cuts in the soundhole, where begins concussion, and the surface
of the whole body, wood and air alike. Then why do people act
counter to this law, for such it is, and place short bars and long
bars, thick and thin, but ignoring this principle for which I so
strongly contend as of the greatest consequence? Let them continue
to do so, and go on producing tone so satisfactory to them--I
advocate an entirely different mode of treatment, as I produce a
purity of tone which is a matter of so much comment--and I leave it
to your investigation.

The cutting, shaping, and bringing the belly to the note D, by means
of this, is part of the work to which you will have to devote great
attention: from the shadow thrown by the bar in fig. 15 you will
notice that it is shaped somewhat after a gracefully wrought bow,
unbent, and at once makes it apparent that it will be a factor for
good, as many such have I proved to be.

The reader must not consider the two blemishes on each upper curve
of the D as shown on fig. 15, errors in work; they are evidently
thumb marks, and dirty ones, through carelessness of photographer.

This brings us at length to the end of the construction of back and
belly, both of which we shall leave for the present, whilst we
consider the very essential ribs.


The thickness, but more especially the depth of these, is of much
consequence in relation to strength and quality of tone. I have
found a bare sixteenth of an inch answer very well for thickness,
and on the model I have worked on before you, in depth one and a
quarter of an inch at lower or broad end, gradually narrowing to one
and one-eighth full at the narrow.

Now, take the thickness for granted; but follow me very closely
while I describe to you how I arrive at the depth being just what I
want and sought for to obtain the note B _before_ the soundpost is
inserted, when you blow in the _f_, C, _after_ it is fixed. Of
course, this is making the scientific part of the work, or one of
them of no sort of anxiety to you, being already done by me at no
little trouble and much thought; but, as I set out as a teacher, if
only of moderate calibre, I shall go through with my endeavour to
make some good workmen out of my listeners and readers, therefore
you are welcome to what is, I think, of importance, never minding
what will be said at the outset, that all this fuss is somewhat of
nonsense, seeing that it was _so_ easy to copy the depth of a rib,
and get to what was wanted and avoid it. But I do not like copying
where I can help it; besides, what I shall lay before you has the
merit of getting at what you want to a nicety, and of finding out
what depth of rib will suit the model in hand, and obtaining the
mass of air of which I before spoke.

On a finished back, just like the one which we have before us, I
fitted a set of ribs about one inch deep to three-quarter inch
taper, and on a similar belly to this, another set of like depth;
but I so arranged that those on the back should be one thirty-second
more _out_ than usual--that is to say, nearer the edges of the
wood--and those on the belly one thirty-second more _in_, or away
from those edges. Then, after filing and scraping for a long time,
I, with no little patience withal, contrived so that I fitted one
set over the other of the ribs, (as a double box) and got a sort of
fiddle body, clumsy of course, but I saw my way to doing just what I
had set out to do, and I did it eventually.

Gradually shallowing the ribs by lowering belly or raising back, I
got various tones or notes for the air mass, trying E, D, C, B, A,
but no resonance such as that of B suited me, so I roughly glued
these ribs firmly together, fitted up the whole thing with every
accessory such as would allow me to play on the instrument, with the
satisfactory result of proving a case beyond question.

So I get to the necessary and somewhat difficult process of making
the ribs, etc. But the mould in which they are to be temporarily
fixed must be first made by you, and this is the way to go about it.

Get a piece of dry beech--birch or maple of the plain sort will
do--18 inches long, 7 inches broad, and 1-1/2 inches deep. Take the
half outline of the violin which you have decided to make, and place
it flush with the edge of the above block, equal spaces being left
at either end. Then very firmly and very accurately draw the half
outline on the block for your mould. After you have done this, you
must trace an _inner_ line all round the other, one-eighth of an
inch from the real outline; and, when you get to the corners, carry
this inner line to a broad, open point somewhat beyond the square of
the corners, as by this you are enabled to pass your ribs a little
over the terminus at said corners, which will most materially assist
you to effect a good joint there.

After this is well done, and your under surface quite level with the
plane, take the block to a good band sawyer, and get him to saw
_just through_ the inner line, and you will have your mould in a
measure ready for your ribs. Still, there is something to be done
before you can set to work to fashion them, and the first is, square
after the fret saw every quarter inch of its work, with steel
square, 60, on tool block, your basis being your planed under
surface, as most reliable.

Then, about one inch from inner mould, and one inch apart all round,
drill holes through the wood with tool 56, or similar; and three
larger holes, about seven-eighth inch diameter, one and a quarter
inches under the centre of the D or middle bout, the other two some
distance under the two corners. The small holes are for the bent
steel cramps 2 to hold by when the linings are being fixed to the
ribs, etc., and the three larger ones to hold down the centre rib in
the same way by means of fitted wood block 33, and for the corner
blocks, when they are fitted properly to the shaped ribs. (Cramp 11
is used in these latter cases.)

Having the mould ready, and in good order, prepare your ribs in this
manner:--selecting what is nearest in figure to the back--good,
honest wood--dress down both sides of it, the outer to a more
finished surface, of course, and cut them to the dimensions
previously stated, viz., one and a quarter inches to one and
one-eighth of an inch whole length; but this whole length you will
have to determine by measurement of each separate bout--lower,
middle, and upper--which, when done to a nicety, mark on respective
bouts for all future guidance in exact length.

When finally dressed, cut into lengths, and the ends of the middle
rib filed down so as to enable the ends to pass and join upper or
lower bout as the case may be, they being filed to fit, put your
heating iron, fig. 5, and another iron to match, so that you will
have a reserve of heat always on hand, into a bright, if possible
smokeless, fire, and from one to the second of the heaters, get a
good hot temperature--not scorching, be sure--and place a piece of
brown paper over the narrow end of the heated tube. Then hold tool
64 in your right hand, middle rib in the left, and, with one end on
the brown paper, the tool on that, very gently, cautiously, and by
intuition, as it were, _feel_ your way to a sweet curve of upper
corner, using the broad part of the iron for the lower. Of course,
although I have not told you, you will have bent the wood _face to
the mould_ for this centre, as the reverse for the outer, or larger
ones, naturally. This done to your mind--do not be discouraged when
I say I hope it _may_ be--for you have hot work before you in more
ways than one--get to the sharp corner curves of both the other
ribs, face against iron afterwards, inside against it. Mind, as is
your true shape to mould, so will your ribs be when it comes to be
attached to the back; and there is no patching or trickery allowed
here; so do your best. After this, fix the three sections into the
mould, and keep them in position by means of cramp 2, and the centre
one with block 33, held firmly by cramp 11.

Your corner blocks must be a trifle broader than the ribs, and about
as wide as them--also from corner to inner surface, about one and a
half inches. Cut and fit these nicely for future glueing, and then
prepare and bend your pine for linings. This pine must be about
five-sixteenths of an inch broad by about three-thirty-seconds of an
inch thick, cut to taper for inner dressing either before or after
fixing to ribs. These are not too easily bent, but not nearly so
difficult as the ribs; but do not put on too much pressure, or snap
is the result.

It will be necessary to see carefully to the gradation of the depth
of the ribs from one and a quarter inches to one and one-eighth of
an inch, either when they spring from a whole length or from three
separate ones. In any case, my advice is to mark the beginning and
end of each section from the broad end to the narrow, Nos. 1 to 2,
lower; 2 to 3, middle; 3 to 4, upper; so that you cannot well get
wrong in bending, from which would spring the first cause of error.

Having your glue somewhat thin but firm, at the point of setting,
glue and clamp well your corner blocks (your mould being in the
vice) and after that, remove the fitted wood block over the centre
rib (it being now fast at both ends by means of the blocks just
glued), and accurately fit the two small linings there, removing
each end of said lining between block and rib, at either end, and,
by first forcing half-inch chisel where the lining will have to go,
as a sort of slot. This you must also do at the ends of all the
other linings. Now glue the two small ones for centre and carefully
fit and force them end by end into slots, finally placing wood block
33 over glued linings, and clamp firmly with cramp 11. The other
four are much easier to fit and fix; small cramp 2 being used; but
here you must always be sure of a perfect fit all over, or you will
find when taken from the mould there will be apertures, Fig. 16.

[Illustration: PLATE XVI.]

When dry next day, and before you take from the mould, remove most
of the cramps (one or two being left to keep the work fixed) and
very neatly cut and clean all the work, as shown in figure of open
instrument, and go about it in this manner:--the heavy corner blocks
must be reduced with large gouge, and the linings made to fall away
from their _full_ thickness at edge of ribs to fine union with said
ribs at the extreme of their (the linings) width. After that, clean
every atom of superfluous glue away, and finish off with two or even
three courses of sandpaper, rough to fine.

Then remove these so far finished ribs, and take the knife 19, being
made by you exceedingly keen of edge, and square both edges all
over, so accurately that, when they are glued later on to the back
and belly, they shall fit and well, being jointed so that no
aperture whatever is apparent.

But, you will doubtless murmur, it is all very well to _say_ all
this--please show us how to _do_ it all; for, on the face of it,
this is no child's play. And you are right to speak out; for it is
one of the most difficult points we have to master, and I fully
intended to make it quite clear before leaving it.

Hold the rib by left hand firmly to your breast, face side to you.
Then take the knife 19, and cut away the superfluous linings and
corner block wood, holding the steel absolutely square with the rib,
or you will be all abroad. It is this squareness that is the severe
test and your great trouble just now. Try on anything and on
everything before you try it on a rib you may spoil; but _do_ it on
something or other, and finally you will do it and well on these

But, after cutting, you will have still more to do--lay them flat
and keep them so and rigid with left hand whilst you, with rasp 47,
fine side, level from one end to the other, _not from_ you across
the rib, as the other way is safer for keeping square, and obviates
the risk of tearing away part of a lining or slip from a corner

You will have dressed the ribs at the outset as instructed; but you
will now find them anything but fit to attach to the back; so trim
and make them free from any blemish or stain of dirt, and then do
your best to fit one side accurately, so that, when glued
afterwards, there may be no discrepancies nor goings back.


When you have attached the end blocks to the back, just the width of
the ribs and the margin allowed when rib block was made firmly and
without cramps, and dressed off next day, fit temporarily the set of
ribs just made ready and clamp with the small wooden ones, as shown
in fig. 17. You will have made both ends of rib somewhat longer than
necessary, and, as they overlap, from inside mark where the top and
bottom of linings are flush against blocks at each end. Then detach
the rib, and cut away the small bit of lining as just marked. Then
fit again, ribs going to end blocks now free, linings _flush_ with
end blocks. If not neat in fitting all round, cut the least possible
bit away still from linings, until all be perfect. Then square to
the exact centre of broad end block, and cut it there; the other end
is of no moment, as, so long as the rib is flush with the button,
and allows the neck to be inserted neatly, all is right. I hope I
have made all this sufficiently plain to you, as the process is of
importance. You will gather my meaning best, I think, if you study
fig. 18.

[Illustration: PLATE XVII.]

[Illustration: PLATE XVIII.]

In fitting with glue you will now need some assistance. Damp the
side of the back, upon which this first set of ribs has to go, with
a sponge wrung out of hot water. Then carefully dab on the rib all
over the edge to be glued, when your glue is hot, also at each end
where it has to join the two end blocks. Then, with loose wood
blocks, 66 and 67 to your hand, hold the glued side of the rib over
the under part of your glue pot, and then rapidly get _all the parts
glued_ well on to the back and end blocks where they are to be. Then
fix the block 67 at the narrow end, and get your assistant to clamp
it with tool 11--and the broad end with block 66, going to the small
wood cramps for the rest of the fixing round the half of the
instrument. See fig. 17.

This does not seem to have a ring of difficulty about it: but it
_is_ difficult--hedged around by it, but not, even to a nervous
amateur or novice, insurmountable. Do all the work clean as lies in
your power; have everything ready to your hand; act firmly as you
can, and rapidly, whenever you have glueing in hand, and the result,
be sure, will be in accordance. The second set of ribs is treated in
every respect as the foregoing.

Every particle of superfluous glue must now be removed, in and out,
and from the inside any ridges round by the ribs, and all smooth,
level, and open to inspection now, as in the course of years it is
all sure to be; for no instrument is so liable to damage as the
fiddle, and _you_ never know into what studio your beloved one may
go, or by whom it will be criticised. And apart from this latter
consideration, pride in your own work and love of truth ought, and I
hope will, actuate to noble effort; but mind, do not overrate what
is done, in your pride of heart, for those into whose hands it will
come later will assuredly not do so.

When you have cut out the slot at the narrow end into which, later,
the neck has to be glued, and made the end blocks level for the
belly to rest perfectly, you have practically finished the body of
the violin. But I must first tell you how to set about cutting the
groove at the end of the instrument, into which the neck has to be
inserted. You will note (fig. 19) outline of scroll and form of
pattern by which you will be guided in cutting groove for neck
insertion. This latter is one and nine-sixteenths of an inch
deep--one and seven-sixteenths of an inch broad, tapering to bare
one inch at junction with the button. Place it accurately with the
instrument, mark with sharp tool, then cut out as you see it is done
by me (plate 18).

[Illustration: PLATE XIX.]

After this, with brace 29, inserting brace bit 37 at position 28,
make a clean cut hole in centre of broad end of violin for the end
pin later; and when I have inserted the label, the putting on of the
belly is my next work.

As many of you doubtless know, I am credited with a fad as regards
this label business. But I do not see why I should be, seeing that
so many frauds have been perpetrated in relation to old instruments,
aye, and to new ones--my own not excepted. If I write with my own
hand all that is written on all labels appearing in my violins,
etc., and choose to give each one a name, and register every one in
a book specially prepared for reference in the long future, a
consecutive number being noted in each in private mark, where is the
fad? Will it not be utterly impossible under this system to pass off
anything spurious? I think so: and am sure the whole world would
to-day be only too glad if the old masters had been silly (?) enough
to have fads of a similar nature.


The label being fixed with thin glue, and all being in order, see
that your cramps, both of iron and wood, and accessories, are all
well to your hand, for this is a process where quick action is
imperative. Your glue must be hot, and about the same consistency as
when the ribs were fixed; and broad pieces of stiff cork must be
procured, because the pressure of cramp 11 on back and belly at both
ends will necessitate these safeguards.

In the first place, temporarily fix the belly, making as accurate a
piece of work of it as you can, exact in overlapping as is the back,
if possible. Then get your assistant to clamp it here and there with
the wooden cramps, as fig. 17. Afterwards, pierce each end of belly
with a bit about three-thirty-seconds of an inch, three-eighths of
an inch deep through the table into each end block. Then remove
cramps, and, into the holes in said table, fix a small pine peg,
about as will just drive home when all is fixed and glued.

Now, wet with a hot sponge all the belly where junction with the
ribs has to take place, and then dab a nice layer of your hot glue
all round the ribs and end blocks, going over it a second time
rapidly, and finally holding every part glued for a second over the
hot water under your glue pot. It is urgent that the pegs are then
inserted into the holes mentioned above, and that you at once force
them home with the smart blow of a hammer, when your assistant
begins to clamp as you direct; for there may be parts where a little
humoring of either rib or belly will tax your ingenuity, so as to
make a neat fit. Then, when all are on fairly well, clamp the ends
with the iron cramps, having the blocks of cork to intercept, as
spoken of above. (See fig. 20).

[Illustration: PLATE XX.]

When the glue is dry and hard, on the following day you must clean
all of it away that is showing and superfluous, and use gouges, 52,
54, 22, chisel 21, scrapers 26, 62. Any _cutting_ of the wood is
objectionable; but if there _must_ be a trifle taken away from some
part of the ribs to make a bad fit nearer a good one, then be
certain to make all smooth with scraper and sandpaper, over and over
again, or your work will be uneven at the finish; and your varnish
is a terrible shower-up of bad work, my masters.

Following the above is the careful rounding of the edges of under
and upper tables with files and glass-paper, as previously shown on
the inner edges of the back and belly. Not too broad must this be
done, or the somewhat sharp edge which you seek (or should seek) to
bring neatly along the centre of the edge, as it were, of a small
wave, doubtful whether to curl over on to the body of the violin or
not, will lose much in form, and the grace intended be negative, if
not utterly lost when under the eye of the connoisseur.

When this is all done, and the corners left beautifully square, save
that the sharpness of the terminals are just a little rounded off
(not the two points--these must not be touched) wet all you have
gone over with a sponge, and clean when dry with No. 0 sandpaper,
until you are sure your work will do you credit under the varnish,
when you arrive at that stage. Before that, however, we have to
consider the cutting of the scroll.


On plate 19 you will find the outline of a scroll I use generally. I
will employ the original from which this was taken now, and mark on
a piece of old sycamore the exact representation of it.

The thickness of the wood must be one and eleven-sixteenths of an
inch, ten inches in length--and broad enough to allow the outline to
be properly cut for further operation. After I get this cut exactly
by a band saw, I place the outline on the wood cut for the scroll,
and with a sharp-pointed, hard pencil, prick the holes where the
volute has to come on to the sides, both of them. After that, on the
face of the wood--that is to say, the front, as though looking at
the fingerboard, I mark at four-and-a-quarter inches from end of the
head, which is to be the end of peg-box, and three inches from that,
the narrow end of said box that is to be cut. Then I take centre of
narrow end and mark off seven-sixteenths of an inch--width of said
end, five-eighths of an inch for broad end. Then at five and
five-eighths of an inch from broad end of peg-box, I take centre of
extreme end of wood, here to be one and three-eighths of an inch
when ready for the fingerboard afterwards, and I divide it, making a
distinctive mark as to breadth and centre. Then, allowing full
three-sixteenths of an inch for cheeks of peg-box, I draw two lines,
one on either side of centre line, from end of wood to head, so that
I just shall catch outer side of each cheek of peg-box that is to
be, and which, running on to where crosses the nose of the scroll,
gives a width there of bare nine-sixteenths of an inch. Afterwards I
mark the three-sixteenths for cheeks of peg-box.

This is all I can mark at present, until I cut with the saw and with
the chisels, as shown (figs. 21 and 22), I can now trace lines ready
for manipulation of the volutes and the fluting. That of the volutes
is my first business. The lines denoting the ascending spirals, and
the pencil dots not yet touched, are my guides, and, with small hand
saw, No. 30, I cut very carefully, by a dot at a time just low
enough to touch the spiral line at its junction, cutting the bit
away sideways, of course, just by the said line, and then a small
piece more, until I arrive at the end of where the spiral ceases, at
its base; but now that the volute is developing, I am enabled to
complete the line, which brings the whole to its actual junction
with the mainspring of conception. This, in a very great state of
roughness, I show at an angle (fig. 23), and I reverse the sides,
cutting the other in the same manner. It is necessary to have the
wood firmly cramped to the bench on all occasions.

[Illustration: PLATE XXI.]

[Illustration: PLATE XXII.]

[Illustration: PLATE XXIII.]

I now select gouges 57, 24, 22, 43, 39, 50, and I carefully trim
both spirals, gauging the front and rear levels as I proceed by
one-eighth of an inch at a time, until I can find no fault, all
being square to the eye (for by nothing else can you prove your work
here) when I prepare to cut the trench which was only wanted to
soften off this essential to beauty.

Here I use all the gouges marked above; and in doing so I have to be
most careful not to FORCE any one part; for such is the brittle
nature of the wood (sycamore) that the delicate edges, as the
slender spiral ascends under your, perhaps, too eager hand, may not
be able to bear the strain put upon them, and a breach stares you in
the face, past remedy, save by an accomplished master of his art.

The next step is to soften the work done, and to smooth down with
rough to fine glass-paper, wetting every part after each course.
Then I cut off all the sharp _outer_ edges, from the terminal of the
back part of the whole to the top of each volute, this cutting to be
a good one-sixteenth of an inch broad, neatly filing and
sandpapering the same when done. The outer edge of the peg-box is
done in like manner.

Fixing the wood now, face downwards on the bench, I begin the
cutting of the fluting at the upper part, using gouges 57, 24, 22,
just in the order in which I write them, obviously the terminal part
being that which needs most attention and care. Reversing the wood,
I cut down by the nose of the head to the broad grooves which soon
appear, terminating just over the narrow end of peg-box. All should
be done neatly,--in a masterly manner were better--I file and
sandpaper over and over again until I get to my mind what now
appears in plates 24 and 25, and you will see the neck end is
finished, ready for insertion in the mortice, which is done later
when the fingerboard is added.

[Illustration: PLATE XXIV.]

[Illustration: PLATE XXV.]


As this neck and mortice business is very difficult of manipulation,
I will direct you how to cut the end of neck so that a perfect fit
may be obtained in the body of violin where was cut the mortice
previously, fig. 19, into which said neck has to be inserted. To the
exact outline of this I now cut the neck end, one and three-eighths
of an inch broad at top, one and three-sixteenths of an inch at
bottom, and one and nine-sixteenths of an inch deep. I cut on an
angle, so as to get the elevation required for correct height of
bridge. And then, all being square, I slope to the end which is
ultimately to be joined to the button. You will gather all this from
plates of scroll.

To obtain the peg holes, I mark at certain distances a guiding
point, through which, at one side E and A, and on the other G and D,
I bore preliminary holes with hand bit No. 12 (on tool plate),
square, absolutely, through to the other cheek of peg-box. After all
are done, in brace bit 29, position 28, I place taper bit 59, and
cut, E, A, D, G, finishing approximately for pegs with tool 15.

[Illustration: PLATE XXVI.]

Then, before I fix the neck into the violin, I attach the
fingerboard and nut--the latter in rough ebony, as I always work
this neater with some wood over and above what I want. This
fingerboard must be perfect in fit, put on with very hot, thin glue,
and well cramped with three No. 11 cramps, having wood guard 31 over
fingerboard for protection. When set and hard next day, I prepare
the end incision for the neck to enter, and proper elevation of the
ebony, so that the correct angle for a bridge of fair average height
may be obtained. I give you what is a fair average height--one and
three-eighths of an inch; but there is no absolute _rule_ as to
this. What is here given is that which will suit the instrument just
made, as I know by many constructed on similar lines. This height is
got when the bridge is held down by the strings, and the measurement
is from belly to middle of the arch of the bridge.

Your fingerboard must be at such an angle when the neck is fixed,
that the end of it near bridge must measure exactly thirteen-sixteenths
of an inch from belly to top of ebony; by this means your bridge, as
described, will be just a nice height for clean fingering of the

This brings me to fixing the neck, and I do it thus:--In the first
place, I have to remember that the length from nut on the
fingerboard, inner side, to the bridge, must be, when all is
finished, thirteen inches exactly, and the angle as above. So I have
to be _very_ careful that too much is not taken out of the slot I
have to finish, either in width or inner recess, as that, one or the
other, would necessitate lowering the neck end, which is not what I
want to do. First the knife, then the files (coarse ones), and,
little by little, I get nearer and nearer to a fit, when I try angle
and the straightness of the whole with the fiddle, using compasses
to measure from inner point of purfling, upper corner, to corner of
fingerboard on corresponding side, with their exact counterparts on
the other; and testing height of fingerboard from belly. This is
very weary work, and _must_ be quite correctly done, or--well you
will either hear of it again in words, or _see_ your failure in the
sweet smile which is more detestable than the severest frown.

But all is at length right; the neck is forced home, and I mark
round the button, on to the superfluous wood of neck, its curve, so
that I may not cut beyond when I thin the neck to its proper and
final shape and thickness.

Many of you will, doubtless, be players of the fiddle, and to such,
good, bad or indifferent, I need hardly say how much the disposition
and general character of the neck of your instrument influences your
performance on it. It is obviously quite impossible to lay down any
rule or law, as to depth, width, or the curve at the end terminating
at the button, for some will have this latter thin and abrupt,
others less so, whilst a few insist on its being thick.

If people only knew how much the strength of the neck has to do with
the tone of the instrument, they would leave to the maker or expert
to determine what was best for it, either in the original making of
the violin or in placing a new neck in an old one. But it is
_convenience_--what we like and what we _will have_; so, in
consequence, suffers the tone of the instrument.

You have a violin thick in wood: if I find on it a neck also heavy
in material, to a certainty I have to register thin, woody tone;
whereas, given a thinner neck there would be more vibration in it,
and an undoubted impetus would be given to the somewhat inert body
of the violin--its heavy timber being too much for the mass of air,
which acts its part in that it moves in response to compulsion, but
fails, in producing so feeble an agitation of the whole wood.

But, on the other hand, I find a thin neck attached to a thin body,
and I also find a whole pack of wolves, hollow, rasping tone, and
difficult of production--in fact, a wretched fiddle.

Then, as to width of fingerboard--a narrow one is often clung to as
"so nice and handy," etc., but it is forgotten that the strings in
consequence have to be brought closer together than clean fingering
requires; and, moreover, the E string must, of necessity, be brought
too near the edge of the ebony for firm stopping; so I have no
sympathy whatever with a narrow or too thin fingerboard and neck.

But I have to work away at the rough neck after having traced the
outline of the button upon the under end of it--not the _actual_
shape of this necessity, but such as will serve as a guide to one of
more grace. Added to that, I roughly mark the shape and thickness of
the wood up to which I have to cut away, to insure nice handling. To
this line I cut with bow saw 68; and I then use all the knives I
have, and many files--rasps in the early stages--until I get to the
_shape_ I want, after which I wet with a sponge, renewing the work
when dry with finer files and glass-paper, No. 1-1/2, making a
second stage, then wet again, to two more stages, when all _should_
be very clean and nice. Of course, I round the fingerboard's edges
somewhat, and clean on each occasion of wetting. When finished, the
neck should measure round thick end (one and a half inches from
extreme end of wood), three and a half inches; and round thin end
(one inch from peg-box) three inches. This finishes the neck, which
is now ready for insertion in the violin.

I have, above, treated of this: I now do it actually. I have wood
guard 31 ready for protection of fingerboard, and 32, for the back,
and one of No. 11 cramps. I dab the neck and the cutting with hot
strong glue, and gently work them together, until the glue oozes out
at all points, when I put on the wood guards and clamp hard. Then I
wash the superfluous glue away with a sponge wrung out of hot water,
after I have tested whether I have got in the neck straight and at
its correct angle. (See fig. 27.)

[Illustration: PLATE XXVII.]

But there is the neat finishing off of the neck and button, which I
attend to carefully, when all is set hard on the following day,
paying much heed to grace and _character_ here, as it is a part of
the fiddle which cries out at once if slovenly, or ungainly, or the
_least bit_ out of line or centre.

And I fashion the nut over which the tail-piece gut has to stretch,
and cut the bed into which it is glued. Then I very carefully wash
the violin all over with a clean sponge wrung out of _warm_ water,
giving it plenty of time to dry before I finally clean every part
thoroughly with No. 0 glass-paper--and the violin is finished in the

[Illustration: PLATE XXVIII.]

[Illustration: PLATE XXIX.]

[Illustration: PLATE XXX.]


To write an exhaustive essay on this most absorbing subject before
us, to go into any manner of detail at all in the present work, is
not my intention. It is far too wide, too subtle, and, in my
opinion, is an art of itself, requiring not only great space in
which to voice its merits, its component parts, and the thousand and
one compounds in which those parts assimilate, but the calm of the
study rather than the bustle of the workshop, given out deliberately
by him whose conclusions are based on the sound issues arising from
momentous research, careful analysis of former old examples, and an
utter abhorrence of prejudice, for or against this or that compound
or colour--prejudice, mind, actuating choice.

But in continuation, though somewhat in parenthesis, a choice based
on determined observation of a matter is quite another thing; and I
tell you at once my experience as between spirit and oil varnish
condemns the former, whilst it very strongly advocates the latter;
and when one considers that it is in the nature of oil to assimilate
with wood, and to throw up its beauties, and whilst a mellowness
clings to the very name, the reverse on all points being the case
with spirit, the surprise is that varnish other than of oil should
be tolerated.

Besides, see the difference in wear. Use a violin coated with
spirit, and if the friction from its employment be severe, you have
cracks, pieces chipping here and there, the instrument getting barer
and barer daily, so that in time little of it, the varnish, is left.
But it is not so with oil; the wear _is_ wear, not in chips, but in
gradual diminishing of its substance, always a something being left;
added to which a beauty springs from such, in that softer gradations
of colour radiate and form a greater _depth_, from the fact of such
colour or colours being more readily absorbed.

Again, in their relations to Tone, I place the oil varnishes first;
and I think the point is pretty generally conceded, for what is on
the face _power_, which some attribute to the brittle, assertive
nature of the gums hardened by alcohol, is not in reality such, but
often aggressive noise, losing itself the more you retreat from it,
leaving real tone little to say for itself.

But coat the violin with oil; you certainly cannot complain of loud,
rasping responses to the call of the bow, whilst you _can_ make some
assertion as to quality. And, remember, as the soft nature of the
oil assumes a harder tendency day by day, so will increase the
sonority of the tones, whilst retaining the beauty of character with
which they began. Therefore, I shall draw your attention to the use
of oil varnish, utterly discarding that of spirit.

But to _what_ oil varnish is not my present purpose; why should I
seek to close the door on research and on experiment? It is for you,
students, to take home, each one of you, the lesson of the mighty
failure of thousands gone before you, in inability to bring to a
finish that upon which they have spent so many anxious hours, and do
something different and better. It is my intention to teach you,
step by step, how to lay on what you prepare for the brush: but
_not_ to say "get this or that oil," or "this or that colour,"
except in the abstract--red, orange, amber, yellow, etc., etc.,
being names only.

I say this at once so that there may be no mistake--so that none can
say _I_ use this or that: my own varnish and colouring _are_ my own
solely, and I reserve the secret for the benefit of my family,
should it prove of value after my career be ended.

Fashion a piece of wood so that it fits easily into the hole at the
end of the violin in which, later, the end pin is inserted. It must
have a rough sort of handle, because by it you will hold the
instrument when you have occasion otherwise than by the neck; for
you must on no account touch the wood before you varnish, nor
afterwards, with your hands, nor must you allow others to do so,
when, in your pardonable pride of heart, you show your creation to
your friends.

With a clean sponge, wrung out of tepid water, and a camel-hair
brush for parts where the sponge will not be of service, go all over
your violin, but do not wet it heavily--far from it; and when quite
dry, on the slightly roughened surface thus left, place a yellow or
amber coating of turpentine, thoroughly mixing with it a little of
the oil varnish selected by you along with your colouring matter as
you arrange, yellow or amber. To do this well, and for future use,
you must have half to one inch flat camel-hair and fine hog-hair
brushes. A round hog-hair brush, medium size, is good for this
initial coating (some call it sizing; but I think this is
misleading--"size" being generally understood to bear reference to
glue, and we want none of _that_ under varnish.)

This should be dry in about two or three days, when you may lay on a
second course, less turpentine and rather more varnish; also less
yellow and a _very_ little red. This will take somewhat longer to
dry, and please observe that the more varnish (if it be oil and gum,
pure and simple) so much longer it will be in drying; and, as you
advance to the final stage, you will gradually discard the
turpentine altogether, as you will the yellow, colouring at last
with red only.

As you advance step by step, and before you venture on another
layer, with the tip of your finger test the varnish, and if there be
the _least tackiness_, wait a day or two until all be dry. And as a
roughness is bound to show itself as stage after stage is passed, it
is well to smooth down each course when dry with fine No. 0
glass-paper upon which is first spread a _drop_ of pure Lucca oil,
which, of course, must be lightly applied to the body of varnish,
and the whole carefully wiped with clean linen or silk handkerchief

Now, after the first two coats, you must use about a three-quarter
inch fine hog-hair brush (not many hairs in, mind) and for the later
coats one with camel hair. Sit on a low chair, have the light to
your right hand, the varnish before you handy, not too high. The
violin is held by neck, left hand of course; the stick at the broad
end through the hole where comes later the end pin (see above) rests
on your right leg as you sit. Get a fair dip of varnish in your
brush, but NEVER flood it; and beginning carefully under the
fingerboard, first one side, then the other, working the top sides
of the instrument also alternately, until the soundholes be reached,
when inside these cuts must be neatly coloured, after which you just
tip your brush with the varnish, neatly continuing where you leave
off, so that none can see a break in your progress. This advice
applies until ribs and scroll be all done after the belly and the
back. I have ever found the upper table the most exacting and
difficult; but, once again, _never flood your brush_, and you will
varnish sooner or later. But never _hurry_: and this advice applies
to every thing you do in the construction of the violin. Patience of
no ordinary character you must exercise; if you have it not it will
come to you, but through experience alone, through failures, through
catastrophes innumerable. But what then? These things that have
mastered you stand mastered in turn in the excellent result of
to-day, so let yesterday go to the wall.

Now that we can consider the operation of varnishing at an end, the
instrument is hung on a wire, free to the warm dry air of a room or
to a passage where a current of it is circulating. When hard (and
there is no actual time to gauge this by) prepare to finish off and
rub down the whole; and care must be observed that no scratch
appears, for a surface looks bad, very bad, with anything of this
sort to mar its beauty.

The first essential in this process is pure Lucca oil, which does
not clagg; and the next, specially prepared pumice stone powder,
which _must_ be as fine as flour; and should there be any doubt
about its being absolutely free from specks of grit, filter it
through fine muslin or silk, and only use that which passes through,
in water.

Then take some brown paper and make a pad, rubbing on oil and a
sprinkling of the pumice stone powder, when you can go over portions
of the back, very lightly feeling your way to see whether all works
smoothly and no scratch in the operation. If this be so, continue on
these lines, sparingly adding more powder, but freely using the oil.
You can, to smooth off, use saturated rag (oiled) and after that, a
dry pad of very fine muslin or silk.

The belly is tedious, more so than the back, and the ribs still more
so. Contrivances to get into corners and curves of the latter, you
will have to resort to, such as small pieces of paper, and pumice
stone and oil, and oiled fine glass-paper, and finely rubbed pieces
of curved wood, with which you can operate to smooth near edges of
ribs, etc.

All _can_ be done well, all _must_ be done well; for, remember,
there is to be no French rubbish (polish, I mean), on the top of
this oil varnish, but your hand must finally bring up its lustre, as
I can show you mine has so frequently brought to a rich glow that
preparation made and used by me, on my own work only.


This last of many complicated and difficult stages must be entered
upon with a will, and great attention paid to all details. The
fittings used must be of the best, and the strings rough Roman, and
must be tested to see if they vibrate truly. This is done by
twanging, so that _two distinct outlines_ are shown; if any dimness
appear, or the lines wobble, as I may say, try again, for such are
false. Not always, though; for I _have_ known this rule (for it _is_
a rule) falsified, and a good string _appear_ untrue by test, and
_vice versa_.

Take the Rimer, 15, and work out the peg-holes nicely; then fit
ebony or rosewood pegs as you fancy, cutting off the superfluous
pieces which obtrude on the off-side of peg-box. Apply a little soap
and chalk to ensure close working when tuning.

Then on the nut, cut the narrow channels over which the strings have
to pass to the fingerboard. A nice discrimination must be observed
here as to the width from E to A to D to G. There can be no rule
laid down, because some players will have them nearer together than
others, and must, if for double stopping, they having narrow
fingers; and on the contrary, wider apart, if for broader ended
fingers. What I find a nice medium is seven-thirty-seconds of an
inch from the bottom of one slot to another. Take the compass and
divide to seven-thirty-seconds of an inch and press one point at G,
D, A, E, allowing a fair margin at both sides of the ebony, not
above, say one-eighth of an inch good. Then use either of the rat
tail files, 27, and carefully file to depths required, which must be
so as to allow a playing card to slip comfortably under the E string
when taut, a little more space for the other three being necessary,
especially the G. Rub a black lead pencil through the cuts, and work
them very smooth with a thin, round piece of steel, which makes all
the strings much easier to slide afterwards and minimises breakage.

The nut must then be filed and sandpapered nicely down to the cuts,
so as to leave only a shallow passage, as one too deep retards free
action of the string and somewhat of vibration, besides making the
fingering less satisfactory. The ends or sides must be made
beautifully even with the neck and rounded and papered off so that
not an atom of friction worries the player, who has often worry
enough in all conscience in the work of correct manipulation before
him, without the hindrance of bad work on his instrument.

Then we come to the bridge--with two feet, not more my friends; the
dear old fiddle has managed these three or four hundred years to
crawl along _very_ respectably as a biped: _I_ shall have nothing
whatever to do with turning him into a quadruped, be assured.

The importance of the quality and of the correct height, thickness,
etc., etc., of this most essential adjunct, cannot be too seriously
impressed upon all who seek to get from the violin they are fitting
up the strongest and the best quality of tone possible; and, unless
the clever amateur be sufficiently so to do it as it should be and
can be done by an expert, my advice to him is, do not attempt it as
a work of finality--_try_ to do it properly and persevere, and I
will help you. But do not show me with pride work to which attaches
nothing but condemnation; too thick at top and bottom--feet clumsy
to a degree--too high or too low--badly arranged for clean bowing on
separate strings, and too deep or too shallow in the cuts for them.
What does it matter to me if only a few or but one of these faults
be apparent? the bridge is not perfect, and perfect it must be made,
so I proceed to the consideration of the work to be done to make it

Select a fine, strong, light bridge by either Aubert or Panpi--the
former by preference. In using the names of these deservedly popular
makers, I mean, of course, either _Aubert_ or _Panpi_, and the
bridges wrought in their workshops, not the nasty imitations we are
compelled to see sometimes, but which, rather than use, we would go
a day's journey to avoid.

Pare the feet down to about one thirty-second of an inch (this when
fitted finally) and proceed to make as accurate a union of these
feet with the belly as you can, as it is most important that such
should be the case. Then measure the height of this bridge, from
belly to its top at centre, as one and five-sixteenths of an inch,
nicely curving it so that ease of bowing is obtained, as spoken of
before. This curvature should be unequal in height--or, rather, to
express it better, the height on the G side should be so that, at
the broad end of the fingerboard, the space _between_ the ebony and
the string will be a quarter of an inch, reducing as we get to the
E, which registers about one-sixteenth of an inch less, or
three-sixteenths of an inch. This is a guide, and a good mean to
work on, but not a rule, as some people cannot play except the
strings are near to the board, others just the reverse.

As to the distance between the strings, where they pass over the
bridge, this is also a point somewhat of controversy, and applies,
as do my remarks in reference to the fingerboard nut--there is no
rule; but a very useful mean distance is seven-sixteenths of an
inch. When you have got the angle correct, mark with the compasses
where the incisions are to be made with tool 27 round, rat tail
file, and work the cuts accordingly, about as deep as the file where
it tapers one-third from its point.

Then reduce the bridge in thickness from its feet upwards--very
sparingly at these feet, but tapering to pretty thin at the top, say
a bare sixteenth of an inch. The reduction must be made by rubbing
on sandpaper, and a clean, straight tapering effected, as a bridge,
where you can discern a round-backed slope, is bad--looks so and is.
When fitted and completed, the bridge must be as near perpendicular
as possible; if there be any inclination, it must tend to the
tailpiece, and _very_ slightly, thus checking the certain tendency
of the strings to pull it forward, which must be always closely
watched, as if it fall on the belly of the violin, it is most liable
to break--not only so, but to crack that same soundboard. The outer
edges may be either filed to an angle of one-sixteenth of an inch
bare, or neatly rounded.

The soundpost must engage your closest attention, and must be of old
Swiss pine. There is, again, no rule as to thickness--some violins
do best with a thick, others with medium to thin post. I only tell
you for guidance, a medium to thin is mostly used by me. It must be
evenly rounded, and both ends filed so that the angles of back and
belly may fit exactly when it is placed inside. To get the _exact_
length is not an easy matter; but you will find this hint useful:
with a thin piece of wood gauge the depth through the upper hole of
the soundhole from the back to the _outer_ surface of the belly, and
your post will have to be a trifle longer than this, _minus_ the
thickness of the belly. Then take a soundpost setter and fix the
pointed end into the wood, sloping sides towards you, of course, and
do your best to place this most exacting, but most necessary
adjunct, just behind the centre of the foot of the bridge on the E
side--the distance of about a good sixteenth of an inch behind the
side next to the tail piece. When fitted, it must be neither slack
nor tight, but between the two.

Of course, this operation will be, to the novice, a horrible job: he
will fume and he will perspire, and, I fear, he will use strong
language--none of which will help him, but on the contrary, will
retard progress. The thing has to be done, and done well; and it
would be much better if the amateur _cannot_ do it ultimately, to
pay an expert for timely instruction.

Then fit the end pin, but, before doing so, look through the hole in
which it has to go and ascertain if the post inside be
straight--which is very necessary to the good ordering of pure tone.
Regulate with the broad end of the setter, and draw or push through
the soundhole on either side, as may be necessary.

And when you have nicely gauged and secured by single knobs the
tail-gut to the tailpiece, the instrument is finished excepting the
neck, the polishing of which we will now consider.

With constant handling you will find this neck dirty and greasy.
Wash it well with a sponge, and when dry, colour with a yellow water
or spirit wash. Do not sandpaper at all yet; but make a nice
orange-coloured spirit varnish, and place neatly over the yellow
three or four coats. When thoroughly hard, clean it down with No. 0
sandpaper soaked in Lucca oil, smooth, and ready for the hand.


Then, my friends, reward your many anxious moments of thought and
work--string your fiddle, for, be assured, you _will_ be rewarded,
be your instrument somewhat crude in tone; and he is of a miserably
cold, prosaic temperament indeed, who does not warm up at this
juncture--this climax, this crisis. It may be the tone is good, very
good; with what pride it is shown and tried; should it be mediocre,
or even poor, a certain amount of pride is excusable, and faults are

Should there be faults that a touch of the soundpost may minimise,
gently touch it, moving it hither and thither, until it meets with a
desired response. Or your strings may be too thick or too thin; all
may be of no avail, however, so work the fiddle for six months, and
note if it shows signs of improvement; if not, look well to your
construction next time, and build for posterity on early _failures_,
on disappointments after long study and careful manipulation, or
resolve to be master, after hearing your praiseworthy devotion
rewarded by the empty sneers of those who, maybe, care nothing
whatever whether you do ill or well, but only that they have the
chance of showing their superior wisdom and making stagnant that
which, given warm encouragement, would have flowed on until the
future would proudly record the noble work of real genius.


NOTE.--The writer wishes gratefully to record the very able
assistance given by Mr. Barrett, of 131, Oxford Road, Manchester, in
his most careful rendering of the various stages of the foregoing
work in photography, from which blocks have been made.



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_"THE STRAD" LIBRARY EDITION is the only Authorised Edition of_

Technics of Violin Playing
With Folding Plates, containing Fifteen Illustrations.


MY DEAR MR. COURVOISIER: I have read the book on Violin Playing you
have sent me, and have to congratulate you sincerely on the manner
in which you have performed a most difficult task, _i.e._, to
describe the best way of arriving at a correct manner of playing the

It cannot but be welcome to thoughtful teachers, who reflect on the
method of our art, and I hope that your work will prove useful to
many students.

Believe me, my dear Mr. Courvoisier, to be most faithfully yours,
Berlin, November 3rd, 1894.

The New and Revised Edition of "Technics of Violin Playing," issued
by THE STRAD, is the only authorised edition of my work. The several
English Editions which have all appeared without my knowledge are
_incomplete_ and _faulty_.



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Strings and Tuning. The Bow and Bowing. Faults and their Correction.
Scales and their Importance. Course of Study. Advice on Elementary
Matters. Concerning Harmonics, Octaves, etc. Orchestral Playing.
Some Experiences as a Soloist. With full page portraits of Carrodus,
Molique, Paganini, Spohr, Sivori, De Beriot, Blagrove and Sainton,
and a photo-reproduction of Dr. Spohr's testimonial to Carrodus.

"An interesting series of articles 'How to Study the Violin,' which
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before his death, have now been collected in cheap book form. The
technical hints to violin students, which are practical, plainly
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"But a few weeks before his sudden death the most distinguished of
native violinists completed in THE STRAD a series of chats to
students of the instrument associated with his name. These chats are
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by Carrodus to render every detail as clear to the novice as to the
advanced pupil. Pleasant gossip concerning provincial festivals at
which Carrodus was for many years 'leader' of the orchestra, ends a
little volume worthy a place in musical libraries both for its
practical value and as a memento of the life-work of an artist
universally esteemed."--_Daily Chronicle_.

"It is surely, hardly necessary to direct the attention of students
to the unique value of the hints and advice given by so experienced
and accomplished a virtuoso as the late Mr. Carrodus, so that it
only remains to state that the 'Recollections' make delightful
reading, and that the book, as a whole, is as entertaining as it is
instructive. The value of the _brochure_ is enhanced by an excellent
portrait of Mr. Carrodus, as well as of a number of other violin
worthies, and the printing, paper, and get up generally are good as
could possibly be."--_Musical Answers_.


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Its History, Manufacture and Use
With Full Page Illustrations (exact size) by Photo Process.

MONS. EMILE SAURET writes--"I have read it with great interest, and
think that it supplies a real want in giving musicians such an
excellent description of all matters referring to this important

SIGNOR GUIDO PAPINI writes--"Thanks so much for your splendid and
interesting book. You are quite successful and all the artists and
amateurs are indebted to you for a so exact and correct a '_Texte_'
on the subject."

ADOLF BRODSKY writes--"I am delighted with the book and find it very
instructive, even for those who think to know everything about the
bow. It is very original and at times very amusing. No violinist
should miss the opportunity to buy it."

THE TIMES.--"A useful treatise on the Bow, in which the history,
manufacture and use of the bow are discussed with considerable
technical knowledge."

DAILY TELEGRAPH.--"To the student there is much of interest in the
work, which has the advantage of being copiously illustrated."

DAILY NEWS.--"This book seems practically to exhaust its subject."


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_Translated from the German of_
_And Edited with Notes and Additions by_


"Those who love their fiddles better than their fellows, and who
treasure up every detail that can be found and recorded about their
favourite and cherished players, will not fail to provide themselves
with a copy of this book."--_Musical Opinion_.

"This book of 280 pages is a most interesting and valuable addition
to the violinist's library. It contains 89 biographical sketches of
well-known artists, ancient and modern, of all nations. This is not
intended to be a perfect dictionary of violinists; the aim of the
Editor of the present volume being merely to give a few more
up-to-date details concerning some of the greatest of stringed
instrument players, and we must concede that no name of the first
importance has been omitted. Germany is represented by 21 names,
Italy by 13, France by 10, England by 4, Bohemia by 8, Belgium by 7,
and the fair sex by seven well-known ladies, such as Teresina Tua,
Therése and Marie Milanollo, Lady Hallé, Marie Soldat, Gabrielle
Wietrowetz, and Arma Senkrah. Altogether this is most agreeable
reading to the numerous army of violinists, both professionals and
amateurs, and after careful examination we can find nothing but
praise for this translation into English of a book well known on the
Continent."--_The Piano, Organ and Music Trades Journal_.


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_Copy of Letter received by the Author from the great 'cellist,

Cadenabbia, Lake of Como, March 9th, 1898.

DEAR SIR,--I received the book you kindly sent me on "The Technics
of Violoncello Playing," which I found excellent, particularly for
beginners, which naturally was your scope. With many thanks for
kindly remembering an old ex-violoncello player.

Believe me, yours sincerely,

_Copy of Letter received by the Author from the eminent 'cellist,

Budapest, February 22nd, 1898.

DEAR SIR,--In sending me your book on "The Technics of Violoncello
Playing" you have given me a real and true pleasure. I know of no
work, tutors and studies not excepted, which presents so much
valuable material, so much that is absolutely to the point,
avoiding--I might say, on principle--all that is superfluous and
dispensable. Every earnest thinking violoncello student will in
future make your book his own and thereby receive hints which will
further and complete the instructions of his master.

I congratulate you and ourselves most heartily on the new
violoncello book. With kind regards, Yours most sincerely,


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INTRODUCTORY--Qualities indispensable to the ideal Violinist--Hints
on the Choice of a Teacher--Some Tricks of pretending professors

ON THE CHOICE OF A VIOLIN AND BOW--Advice regarding general
adjustment and repairs.

ON THE CHOICE OF STRINGS--Stringing the Instrument and keeping the
Pegs in Order.

ON THE GENERAL POSTURE--The manner of holding the Violin and Bow as
accepted by the leading artists of the day.

ON FINGERING GENERALLY--The various positions--Scales
recommended--The Modern Orchestral "Principal" or (so-called)

ON GLIDING--Special Characteristics of some of the most Eminent

DOUBLE STOPPING--The main difficulty in Double Stopping--How to gain
Independence of Finger.

BOWINGS--Smooth Bowings--Solid Staccato--Spiccato--Spring Bow--Mixed

TONE PRODUCTION--Character of Tone--Rules and Conditions necessary
to produce a good tone--Style and Expression.


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Chats to 'Cello Students

"Musicians, devotees of the 'cello in particular, will welcome the
latest volume of 'THE STRAD' Library, 'Chats to 'Cello Students,' by
Arthur Broadley.... Mr. Broadley not only knows what he is talking
about, but has practised what he says. From the choice of an
instrument to finished delivery and orchestral playing, 'Chats to
'Cello Students' leaves nothing undiscussed. The treatment is simple
and practical. The exhaustive chapter on 'bowing' should be an
invaluable aid to students. In the last chapter of his book, 'On
Delivery and Style' Mr. Broadley has given a lucid expression to a
subject which has sadly needed voicing."--_The Tribune, Nuneaton_.

"Is a brightly written little volume filled with practical
information for those who seek to bring out the wealth of expression
of which the violoncello is capable. The instruction is presented in
homely, common-sense fashion, and there are upwards of fifty
examples in music type to illustrate the author's meaning."--_Lloyd's

"Every kind of bowing and fingering, the portamento, harmonic
effects, arpeggios and their evolution from various chords, are all
ably treated, and the work concludes with a few remarks on
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known all over the world, perhaps his most successful work being a
little book published by THE STRAD, 'Chats to 'Cello Students.'"--_The


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_Of the Music Jury, International Inventions Exhibition, South
Kensington, 1885; International Exhibition, Edinburgh, 1890; Expert
in Law Courts, 1891; President of the Cremona Society_.

"This is the history of the life-work of the great Italian stringed
musical instrument maker.... There is a most interesting analysis of
Stradivari's method of mechanical construction which again is
illustrated by original drawings from the many Strads which it has
been Mr. Petherick's privilege to examine. All lovers of the king of
instruments will read this delightful little volume."--_Reynolds_.

"Among makers of violins Stradivari perhaps occupies the premier
position, and this account of his work, designs, and variations in
finish of details will afford pleasure to many readers."--_Morning

"This is a monograph which all students of the violin will be happy
to possess. The author is a connoisseur and expert, and his account
of the great Cremonese master and his life-work, is singularly well
and clearly told, whilst the technical descriptions and diagrams
cannot fail to interest everyone who has fallen under the spell of
the violin.... Mr. Petherick traces the career of Stradivari from
his earliest insight into the mysteries of the craft to his highest
achievements. Numerous illustrations lend attraction to the volume,
not the least being a view of Stradivari's atelier, from a painting
by Rinaldi, the sketch of which was made on the premises."--_Music_.

"Mr. Petherick is well known in the musical world as a violin expert
with a special knowledge of the instruments made by the Cremonese
master, whose biography he has here given us. He tells us how the
master worked, what his pupils did, and where their work differs
from that of their preceptor. In fact, the volume is as much a
dissertation on the violins of Stradivari as a biography of the
master, and is full of deeply interesting matter."--_Lloyds_.


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With Thirty-one Full-page PHOTO ETCHINGS,
Illustrating the process of Violin-making in every stage--from the
rough slab of wood to the finished Instrument.

The text is written by an Actual Violin Maker, in a very clear and
lucid style.

"'Popular lecture' style, with photographic illustrations."--_The

"A feature of the book is the clearness of the
illustrations."--_Morning Post_.

"Describes a very fascinating art from start to finish."--_Morning

"This new booklet, on how to make a violin, is an admirable
exposition of methods. Mr. Mayson avoids learned terminology. He
uses the simplest English, and goes straight to the point. He begins
by showing the young learner how to choose the best wood for the
violin that is to be. Throughout a whole chatty, perfectly simple
chapter, he discourses on the back. A separate chapter is devoted to
the modelling of the back, and a third to its 'working out.' The art
of sound-holes, ribs, neck, fingerboard, the scroll, the belly.
Among the illustrations is one showing the tools which the author
himself uses in the making of his instruments. To learners of the
well-known Manchester maker's delicate art we commend this little
volume."--_Daily News_.


_Crown 8vo., Cloth, 2/6, Post Free, 2/9._

Critically discussed, and Illustrated with over

The book contains analytical and historical notes upon the Chamber
Music of Beethoven, in which the violin takes part as a solo
instrument, with some account of the various editions of the
principal works; Beethoven's method of working, as shown by his
Sketch Books, etc. It is dedicated to Dr. JOACHIM, who has furnished
some notes respecting the stringed instruments possessed by

_Extract from Author's Preface_:--

"Young students often suppose that they ought to admire every work
which proceeds from a great genius; an attempt therefore has been
made to convey some idea of the relative art-value and importance of
the various compositions discussed in these pages. For between the
best work of any man and his least inspired, there is a wide
difference. Certainly nothing annoyed the great master more than to
hear his least mature works praised, especially at a time when many
of his greatest creations were too little studied to be understood
save by a few."

"Mr. John Matthews--dealing with Beethoven's music in pleasant
fashion, and at not too great length--gives an historical account,
and in many instances short analyses, with illustrations in music
type of Beethoven's works for this instrument, and particularly the
sonatas (to which considerable space is devoted), the trios, the
quartets, and other compositions in which the master employed the
violin. The book will be found by amateurs both interesting and
instructive."--_Daily News_.


_Crown 8vo., Cloth, 2/6, Post Free, 2/9._

Advice to Pupils & Teachers of the Violin,

_Strongly recommended by_ AUGUST WILHELMJ & GUIDO PAPINI

_London, March 18th, 1903_.


I read your book "Advice to Pupils and Teachers of the Violin" with
great interest, and find it very useful. Hoping your book will meet
with the success it deserves.

I am, yours sincerely,

_London, Feb. 19th, 1903_.


I have read with interest your admirable book, "Advice to Pupils and
Teachers of the Violin." I have no hesitation in recommending it as
an indispensable work to all aspiring violinists and teachers. Your
remarks on the acquirement of the various bowings, with the many
musical examples, are excellent. I know of no work on this important
subject so explicit and exhaustive. Wishing your book the great
success it deserves.

Believe me, yours sincerely,

"I have read the 157 pages that go to form the book in question, and
can say, without any misgiving, that Mr. Althaus has successfully
achieved what he set out to do."--_Musical Standard_.


_Crown 8vo., Cloth, 2/6, Post Free, 2/9._

Repairing and Restoration of Violins,
_Of the Music Jury, International Inventions Exhibition, South
Kensington, 1885; International Exhibition, Edinburgh, 1890; Expert
in Law Courts, 1891; President of the Cremona Society_.



The proper sort of glue--Its preparation and use--Loose
fingerboards--Injuries to the scroll--Insertion of fresh
wood--Fracture of peg-box and shell--Worn peg-holes--Refilling or
boring same--Grafting--Lengthening the neck--Treatment of
worm-holes--Fixing on graft on neck--Ways of removing the upper
table and the neck--Cleansing the interior--Closing of cracks in
upper table--Getting parts together that apparently do not
fit--Treatment of warped lower table--Repairing old end blocks by
new ones--Matching wood for large cracks--Replacing lost
portions--Repairs to purfling--Removal of a fixed sound-post--Fitting
a fresh part of worm-eaten rib--Lining a thin back--Fixing the
bar--Varnishing, etc., etc.

"The author is a man of wide experience, and with him it is a labour
of love, so that few more suitable hands could be found for the
task. To him fiddles are quite human in their characteristics,
needing a 'physician within beck and call,' and developing symptoms
capable of temporary alleviation or permanent cure, as the case may
be, and no remedial measures are left undescribed."--_Musical News_.

"Mr. Petherick is a man of wide experience in violins, so his hints
about the treatment and care of the instrument are invaluable. His
imaginary interviews are both clever and amusing, and, moreover,
contain useful information of what to do, and avoid, in the
treatment of violins."--_Hereford Times_.


_Crown 8vo., Cloth, 2/6, Post Free, 2/9._

THE VIOLIN: Solo Playing, Soloists and Solos,

"Mr. William Henley is an excellent performer, and his book, 'The
Violin: Solo Playing, Soloists and Solos,' is the result of
considerable practice in the art he discusses.... The opening advice
to violin students, the insistence on tune first and then on tone,
the latter depending greatly for its excellence upon the correctness
of the former, is not only worth saying, but is said well, and with
conviction. Mr. Henley discriminates well between violinists:
Joachim, the classic; Carrodus, the plain; Sarasate, the neat and
elegant; and Wilhelmj, the fiery and bold.... The list of violin
concertos, given in the last chapter but one of the book, seems a
very complete one, and should be useful for purposes of
reference."--_The London and Provincial Music Trades Review_.

"For the student whose intention it is to make the violin a means of
livelihood--the professional soloist or orchestral player in
embryo--this little work, written in a spirit of obvious sincerity,
is well-nigh invaluable.... The chapters on 'Teaching and Studies,'
'The Artist,' 'Phrasing,' 'Conception,' and 'True Feeling,' are very
well written, and the whole work is worth careful and diligent
perusal."--_The Musical World_.

"The author of this book has thought much and deeply on the
fascinating subject of which he treats, and is entitled to a
hearing.... The author's remarks on 'Tone' are excellently
conceived, and of no small interest, the subject being less
hackneyed than that of ordinary technique. In his chapter on 'Style'
he reminds the readers of the many factors which go to the making of
a fine violinist, among which Style--which is the outcome of the
imagination and the sensibility of the player--is one of the most
important. The fine executant is common enough now-a-days, but the
fine stylist as rare as ever."--_Musical News_.


_Crown 8vo., Cloth, 2/6, Post Free, 2/9._

(Author of "Advice to Pupils and Teachers of the Violin.")
With 283 Musical Examples.




GRADE A.--Elementary Pieces.

GRADE B.--Easy, not exceeding First Position.

GRADE C.--Easy, using First and Third Position.


GRADE D.--Moderately Difficult, not exceeding the Third Position.

GRADE E.--Moderately Difficult, as far as the Fifth Position.

GRADE F.--Difficult, especially as regards Sentiment and Expression.


GRADE G.--Difficult, using all Positions.

GRADE H.--Very Difficult, including Standard Concertos and Concert

GRADE I.--For Virtuosi.


_Crown 8vo., Cloth, 2/6, Post Free, 2/9._


_Translated and Adapted from the German of_


"The school of Cremona is dealt with at great length, but in the
most interesting way. Short biographical sketches are given of the
great exponents of this school, which was founded by Andreas Amati.
To it belonged Antonio Stradivari, who is said to be the greatest of
all violin makers, and Joseph Guarnerius. The pupils of the Amati
and the others mentioned are duly tabulated before the schools of
Milan and Venice are discussed. Following these we have the German
school, etc., etc. Part III. of the book under notice deals with the
constituent parts of the violin, and there is nothing that the
seeker after knowledge cannot find here, even to the number of hairs
which should go to the making of a bow. Strings, bridges,
sound-posts, bass-bars, nuts, pegs--indeed, everything about a
violin is treated in an authoritative way. Not for a very long time
have we been so interested in a book, and for that reason we wish
our violin players to share that pleasure by getting a copy."--_The
Cumnock Chronicle_.


_Crown 8vo., Cloth, 5/-, Post Free, 5/4._

(Of the Music Jury, International Inventions Exhibition, South
Kensington, 1885; International Exhibition, Edinburgh, 1890; Expert
in Law Courts, 1891; President of the Cremona Society),

With numerous Illustrations by the Author, 41 full-page
Reproductions of Photographs, AND 220 pages of Letterpress.

"Mr. Petherick is well known in the musical world as a violin expert
with a special knowledge of the instruments made by the Cremonese

This is the only exhaustive work published on JOSEPH GUARNERIUS, and
the Author claims to have discovered his Teacher in Andreas
Gisalberti, whose name is here mentioned for the first time as a
maker of renown.


_Crown 8vo., Cloth, 5/-, Post Free, 5/4._



"It is a book which should be in the library of every musician, and
we heartily commend it to the notice of our many musical and other
readers."--_The Cumnock Chronicle_.

"Mr. Stratton, the author of 'Nicolo Paganini: His Life and Work,'
was eminently qualified to write such a book. We do not know any
book of the kind so completely sane and yet so well-informed and
just. The great violinist's life is described fully, and what to
many readers will be the most valuable part of the volume, all his
works are concisely analysed in a long chapter. A notable feature is
the series of illustrations. They show many things connected with
Paganini--his birthplace, his tomb, his fiddle, and the like--in
addition to portraits and caricatures."--_The Morning Leader_.

"The late Mr. Stephen S. Stratton's 'Nicolo Paganini: His Life and
Work' (London: THE STRAD Office, 5s.), is the most complete account
extant of this greatest of all violin virtuosos ... the value of his
book lies in the fact that not only has he written a book which has
considerable importance as a biographical and historical work, but
has also made of Paganini a credible and living figure. The volume
is enriched by a number of valuable and interesting illustrations,
an appendix and a bibliography."--_Musical Standard_.

*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Violin Making - 'The Strad' Library, No. IX." ***

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