Good way to personalize violin kit?

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Good way to personalize violin kit?

Postby Rob French » Wed Aug 01, 2012 7:56 am


I'm considering building the Stew-Mac violin kit for my father-in-law, who has always wanted to learn the violin, and will probably be retiring within the year... what better time, right?

I've never built a violin before, but believe that with my woodworking experience I shouldn't have too much problem with the kit. What I'm trying to figure out is a good way to personalize it, to differentiate it from something he might find at the music store. There are really only two things I can come up with:

(1) Inlay--but I've never inlaid anything more than fret dots and a pearl star, so... Not sure what sort of inlay would fall within my skill level that would look good on a violin! (Sorry, I don't think I'd be attempting Amy Hopkins' amazing snake/gila monster violin inlay!)

(2) Finish. I figured I could try a redder than normal finish, or a blond finish. The red one might make it look cheap? The blond finish will just mean I really would need to do a great job on sanding and/or scraping prior.

Any comments, or other suggestions? Thanks!

Rob French
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Re: Good way to personalize violin kit?

Postby Chet Bishop » Fri Aug 03, 2012 2:26 pm

Is it supposed to be a surprise? If not, why not discuss it with him, and colaborate on the "personalization. If it is made to his specific taste, that may be personalization enough.

I have known fiddlers who had their initials carved into the headstock somewhere, in bas-relief, and others with paintings inside the fiddle. I expect that a label inside commemorating his retirement and a really nice-sounding fiddle may be about as personalized as he might want. I built a double bass for a young man, and decided to put his name, in large script, on the label. When he peeked inside and saw his name, he was thrilled. Diff'rent strokes...
Chet Bishop
Violin-family instruments
Forest Grove, Oregon
Chet Bishop
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Re: Good way to personalize violin kit?

Postby Alan Block » Fri Nov 02, 2012 4:57 pm

Decorative purfling on the back
Relief carving on the head
interestingly shaped pegs
Alan Block
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Re: Good way to personalize violin kit?

Postby Anders Eliasson » Sun Nov 04, 2012 5:30 am

The best way to personalize a stewmac kit is to work the thickness and the chanel of the plates. That way you may end up with a nice instrument. The kit has no channel and will most probably have plates that are to thick and irregular.
Next. it you final scrape the outside of the soundboard instead of sanding it, it´ll get a beautifull cordure texture that´ll make the violin look pro and not factory cheap.
Besides that, you can do inlays in the back, but you´ll need extra purfling for that and its not easy. You can make inlays in the tail piece. Pearl inlays on the body and fingerboard is not my style, but if its yours, go ahead and enjoy.
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Re: Good way to personalize violin kit?

Postby Steve Graves » Wed Nov 28, 2012 10:51 pm

Have some really killer cnc router work done for the inlays on the base of the fingerboard. Look under services and supplies on this forum.
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Re: Good way to personalize violin kit?

Postby Michael Lewis » Thu Nov 29, 2012 2:29 am

Just do a really nice job of putting it together and finishing it, then put your label inside.
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Re: Good way to personalize violin kit?

Postby Steve Graves » Sat Dec 01, 2012 1:52 am

As long as you treat his daughter right your efforts will be appreciated.
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Re: Good way to personalize violin kit?

Postby Adam Johanson » Mon Jan 07, 2013 12:28 pm

The StewMac kits come with the purfling channel unfinished at the top of the back, under the button. The purpose of this is for a type of personalization. Also, my kit came with extra purfling and I assumed its purpose was "in case you break the other stuff bending it", which is what I used it for ;)
Adam Johanson
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Re: Good way to personalize violin kit?

Postby Douglas Ingram » Wed Jan 09, 2013 2:37 pm

If you look at the thread on viol fronts you can see some customization options that are in keeping with how viols have been decorated. I don't recommend this approach as it is a TON of added work, and if you were up for this much work you wouldn't be working from a StewMac kit.

I'd second Anders' advise, and that of others, just build it as well as possible.
I may be crazy...but I'm not insane.
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