Now the instrument is basically finished it is time to set it up and hear how it sounds.
Fitting the Violin pegs
Having already shaved down the pegs to match the taper on my peg-hole reamer, I smoothed them with 600 grade emery paper and gave a light wipe-on coat of finishing oil and then burnished with wire wool.
The peg-holes were then reamed out carefully so the distance from the peg-box to thumb-piece was 16 mm. In order hold the pegs I built a simple jig to hold them while they were drilled with a 1.3 mm bit for the string holes and then lightly chamfered the edges of the holes.
The outside of the peg was marked where it protruded from the peg box and I carefully sawed off the excess using the same jig to hold the peg. Finally I rounded the end with files and 600 grade emery paper.
Fitting the Violin Nut
The Evah Pirazzi medium gauge violin strings I am fitting have diameters of 0.8, 0.66, 0.66, 0.21 mm
So to have string height above fingerboard of 0.5, 0.45, 0.4, 0.35 mm and slots 1/3 of diameter of string the nut height should be:
0.76, 0.67, 0.62, 0.42 mm
I marked the ebony nut against the end of the fingerboard and then filed down to give a 1 mm step and faired in nicely to the sides and entry to the peg-box. Once smoothed with 600 grade and wire wool the nut was lightly glued to the end of the fingerboard. I adjusted the step from 0.8 to 0.5 mm before marking the string positions using a sharp knife. I set the strings with 5.5 mm between centres and the E string 8 mm from the centre line. This gives slightly more room for the E string than the G . The knife marks were then widened first with a triangular file and then with nut files.
The last step was to file the top of the nut down so that the slots only held 1/3 string and then finished with emery paper and wire wool.
Fitting the Violin Bridge
Starting with an Aubert Miracourt blank I followed the fitting guidelines in this very good article on how to fit a bridge by Lars Kismer. I built a simple jig to hold the bridge perpendicular to the top.
Fingerboard projections were marked on the bridge and action marked at 2.5 mm on the E string up to 5 mm on the G string and joined with a curve of 41 mm radius. I purchased a banjo head made of goat’s skin on e-bay which provides perfect parchment material for reinforcing the E-String notch.
Setting the After String Length (ASL)
The violin tailpiece gut was adjusted to make the ASL approx 1/6 of the string length and then fine-tuned so that the after string tuning on the G string was an octave and a fifth below the D string.
The finished violin (without chin-rest) weighs in at 420 g.
Fitting the Violin chin-rest
I settled on a Kreddle chinrest as the client specifically wanted something high. The Kreddle provides plenty of adjustment flexibility in this regard and came highly recommended. I also found it extremely easy to fit and adjust.
On first play of the finished violin, the G and D strings have a lovely rich sound and the E is strong and sweet but the A ran out of steam a bit at F. Opening up the heart on the bridge a little and tuning the B0 resonance to the A0 body resonance by putting a small piece of Plasticine under the end of the fingerboard made a big improvement.
Delivered to my client yesterday at Orchestra who was delighted with it – brilliant timing too as we had the fabulous violinist Sarah Sew working with us on the Elgar violin concerto and she was kind enough to give it a workout. Her verdict : ” it works – I mean it really works and powerful too”. Sarah also said it compared very favourably to many new build professional instruments (she tries out a lot of them) but found it a little on the “chunky” side compared to her wonderful Italian Gagliano – so not really a surprise as that is actually quite a small instrument. Clearly I will have to work on making my next violin a bit “finer”.