Whether it’s for violin ground, for retouch, or just for drinking (especially good with the muffins that Walt brings in), our ritual morning coffee is a good excuse to take a break and reflect on what you are doing. After time in the shop working, discussing, and sharing with others, it’s a nice way to get back to the real world after you’ve been in your concentration world; a world were you neglect all but the project on which you’re focused.
I love the smell of coffee and it fits just perfectly with the smell of wood, sometimes sweet, sometimes musty. When I left Italy, it seemed the only thing my friends were worried about was the coffee. “Poor Melina, you’ll miss Italian coffee. You’ll have a big cup of black water instead of an aromatic espresso!” Well, they were right. But it’s not bad at all, it’s just different. Don’t worry, dear friends; I’m doing just fine. Thankfully the shop coffee is great. Probably that is because we are all “buongustai” here and certainly that must help the violinmaking? Oh no… I think I just let slip out one of Alf Studios big shop secrets!!
Today I was going to make the arching templates of the Prince Doria. I thought it would be a fast process, but I was very wrong. I started to check the heights and they just didn’t concidere, so deformation is present….which is nothing really strange after 300 years of being in tension. But what now?
Usually, I would tend to correct the archings, get a symmetrical healthy shape, maintaining its character. But what if that deformation plays a part in the sound typical for old instruments? Gregg says that everything matters. Who could know if this instrument sounded good 300 or even 200 years ago? For all we know, such arching ‘defects’ may help the sound tremendously. Gregg mentioned that when deformation or sagging is removed in the bridge area of an ancient instrument, its characteristic sound is sometimes lost. Would finding a compromise be a good idea? Gregg asked me about copying the deformation but in reversed order from side to side. Then maybe that violin would have a perfectly symmetrical arching in 300 years. So much coffee … so little time.