Violin - Something Something

October 16, 2007 at 11:16 PM · What is musicality? - JUST KIDDING!

I'm taking an old violin down to white, and was wondering:

If you could choose a pattern/scene/design to be inlaid or stained onto the sides/back/top of your instrument, what would you pick? I'd like to avoid obvious things like "my initials", "my beautimus face", and "dancing musical notes".

Here are some examples:

Replies (29)

October 16, 2007 at 11:35 PM · shoot me or, I am a vandal

October 16, 2007 at 11:34 PM · Instruments with decorations are rare... perhaps some were made by Stradivari to content Spanish comissioners, as in the case of the Spanish Quintet in Madri.

The violin was created as a clean looking instrument, in oposition to other instruments made on the time, as Viols (Gambas) and lutes that were highly decorated.

If you are going to comission a decorated instrument following the examples by classic makers is a good idea.

October 16, 2007 at 11:40 PM · this

October 16, 2007 at 11:46 PM · intricate,tastefull,pearl-inlays on the bottom 3/4 of the fingerboard...

then,i may recall where to radar my fingertips for the upper positions...

October 16, 2007 at 11:54 PM · I'll go with Stephen's idea.

October 17, 2007 at 12:11 AM · The first response is what I was expecting. I know that the concept of decorating an instrument is a touchy subject with serious luthiers and players alike. I love the clean look of violins, a sound machine. I have the utmost respect for quality and craftsmanship.

All embellishments will be unobtrusive. This is simply an exploratory project, which I plan to do with the utmost care.

Joe - inlay on the fingerboard is a nice useful embellishment idea. I actually have to replace the old fingerboard (too worn to be planed or filed), so I’ll see what I can do there.

Jim – that would look pretty slammin’ in pearl

October 17, 2007 at 12:33 AM · "All embellishments will be unobtrusive."

Maybe something like this then.

October 17, 2007 at 12:40 AM · Here's one just for you Jim... looks like some unobtrusive embellishment to me: custom job

I already had a long discussion with someone about incorporating a teddy bear into the fingerboard, but they said that the poly/cotton blend would impact intonation.

October 17, 2007 at 12:51 AM · I could think of nothing more becoming than to have this adorning my instrument...


ps: Wha?? Whadid I say?

October 17, 2007 at 12:57 AM · amen

October 17, 2007 at 01:56 AM · It's that girl next door tripped over a violin and fell on the floor look. Hot. Very hot.

October 17, 2007 at 03:48 AM ·

You like pearl? You like decoration? You like sympathetic strings? Next to the girl next door, a Hardanger is the only thing that might catch your eye first.

(Dang if I can figure out how to make links on this site)

October 17, 2007 at 04:32 AM · You beat me to it Neil!

October 17, 2007 at 05:40 AM · Neil's suggestion definitely tops my list! ;-)

Next to that on the list, I'd want a stylized dragon or "tribal" emblem.

October 17, 2007 at 05:49 PM · Got a pic of the instrument before you stripped it?

October 18, 2007 at 02:49 AM · Here is the violin as it was. I don't have a picture of it currently. Once the top is clean, I’ll be glad to send you an image of the parts.

In case you’re thinking, “Man, it would have been best to leave this instrument alone.” The picture is deceiving. Here is a list of what was wrong with it:

-maple saddle failure

-lower ribs shattered at lower block

-lower block broken free and unskillfully repaired

-bass corner blocks unskillfully replaced

-fingerboard warped beyond salvageable

-mechanical peg plates removed from peg box

-warped back with four inch crack on bass side (filled with dark shellac stick)

All parts were cemented into position by the previous owner(s) with an obscene amount of hide glue, wood glue and even super glue. It took me days to separate everything without breaking anything, and the process of cleaning and correcting everything is taking some time.

My plan is to do staining/painting and inlay work before reassembling and refinishing the instrument.

October 18, 2007 at 03:03 AM · ^

A herculean task !

Best of Luck !

October 18, 2007 at 06:48 AM · Yes, look at the Hardangers...there is an 18th century one (I think, or there used to be) at the Metropolitan Museum in NYC that is beautiful. I didn't realize people were still making them, but apparently they have a cult following!

October 19, 2007 at 03:07 AM · Suggested pattern: The flag.






Your choice which one.

October 19, 2007 at 03:50 AM · The Gadsden flag was the coolest ever. Plus it looks good crude...

October 19, 2007 at 05:00 AM · Well, how about miniature pages of any music you're playing, just in case you have a memory slip.

October 20, 2007 at 03:50 AM · Well it's down to all white; check it out. You can see standard wear on the top (bridge marks stained with some kind of polish or oil, as well tap marks where the strings/tailpiece hit the top). After making most of the structural repairs, it's safe to say that the instrument was dropped several times.

The crack on the back plate has been stabilized (with two tiny cleats). Unfortunately the crack will remain visible, as the shellac stick used to make the old repair has stained the wood.

I'm looking at Deco and Baroque design, trying to find conservative masculine shapes that fit in within a violin.

October 21, 2007 at 03:38 AM · Very nicely done !

Tons & Tons of work involved so far--you must be patient-----the world will be attentive to your progress.

Please continue your posting.

What you accomplish will enhance the lives of many !

October 21, 2007 at 05:24 AM · One of my friends plays a Hardanger violin, which is more highly decorated than the violins in the pictures you showed us. When we want to bother him, we refer to his "tattooed violin."

November 3, 2007 at 07:37 AM ·

November 5, 2007 at 03:47 AM · I've been a little sidetracked, but not to worry - been doing a ton of planning and ordering of materials.

I did a series of illustrations for the back (based on 18-19C drawings), and decided to get away from figurative stuff (which I habitually love to do).

I'm still mulling over my options concerning simple decoration. I'm leaning toward an inlay drawing that I did which was based on some 18C French violin carving. The pattern is pretty simple, three splayed thistle leaves in each corner, as well clumps near the end pin and at the button. The current sketch isn’t up-to-date, but you get the idea.

The leaves are pretty small, and are enclosed with another strip of purfling (which helps the decoration from looking too wild). The leaves go under the tailpiece and fingerboard, but I'm considering continuing the pattern over the ebony... easy to draw, hard to make happen. Click here to see the sketch.

I also plan to use a dark varnish on all of the instrument, except for the top, which I would like to keep relatively light.

I spent this weekend reassembling my grandfather's workbench. He was a great craftsman.

November 5, 2007 at 07:18 AM ·

November 6, 2007 at 03:06 AM · go for something totally original...

November 6, 2007 at 03:24 AM · Go for something totally original.

This discussion has been archived and is no longer accepting responses.

Facebook Twitter YouTube Instagram Email is made possible by...

Shar Music
Shar Music

Yamaha Silent Violin
Yamaha Silent Violin

Pirastro Strings
Pirastro Strings

Find a Summer Music Program
Find a Summer Music Program

Dimitri Musafia, Master Maker of Violin and Viola Cases
Dimitri Musafia, Master Maker of Violin and Viola Cases Business Directory Business Directory Guide to Online Learning Guide to Online Learning

Dominant Pro Strings

Antonio Strad Violin

Bay Fine Strings Violin Shop

Bobelock Cases


Los Angeles Violin Shop

Nazareth Gevorkian Violins

Metzler Violin Shop

Leatherwood Bespoke Rosin



Johnson String Instrument and Carriage House Violins

Potter Violins

String Masters

Bein & Company

Annapolis Bows & Violins

Laurie's Books

Discover the best of in these collections of editor Laurie Niles' exclusive interviews. Interviews Volume 1 Interviews Volume 1, with introduction by Hilary Hahn Interviews Volume 2 Interviews Volume 2, with introduction by Rachel Barton Pine