Animal/human figurehead on classic violins?

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Doug Polk
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Animal/human figurehead on classic violins?

Post by Doug Polk »

Did any of the classic Cremona (or other) makers carve animal or human figureheads instead of standard scrolls on their necks? And if so, is there somewhere on the web to view them? Thanks!

Bill Hicklin
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Re: Animal/human figurehead on classic violins?

Post by Bill Hicklin »

I know that Norwegian Hardanger fiddles often had (have) them, but I don't know if you'd call them "classic."

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Jim McConkey
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Re: Animal/human figurehead on classic violins?

Post by Jim McConkey »

Carved heads were common on viols/viola da gambas. Search "viol headstock" and similar on Google images and you will find a few.
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Clay Schaeffer
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Re: Animal/human figurehead on classic violins?

Post by Clay Schaeffer »

Jacob Stainer was known to carve lion heads in place of scrolls on some of his violins. Some of the Cremonese makers also carved figureheads from time to time on their fiddles. It was more commonly done than it is today, but there are some fairly recent mass produced fiddles with lion heads in place of the scrolls.

Bob Menzel
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Re: Animal/human figurehead on classic violins?

Post by Bob Menzel »

I don't know too much about the classical builders, but you might enjoy a look at the work of Eric Aceto.
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Barry Dudley
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Re: Animal/human figurehead on classic violins?

Post by Barry Dudley »

Check out orepheon.org you will see carved heads on violins viols and viol de gambas. as well as 5 string violins and many other interesting things from the period.
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Douglas Ingram
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Re: Animal/human figurehead on classic violins?

Post by Douglas Ingram »

Yes, there is a huge artistic range on the viol family of instruments, and its not just the carved scrolls. Well worth the effort of looking.
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Joshua Levin-Epstein
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Re: Animal/human figurehead on classic violins?

Post by Joshua Levin-Epstein »

Here is a link to a youtube interview with Gary Karr. The bass he is using has a lady's head scroll. If I might suggest, surf through the postings of Gary playing. If you aren't familiar with his playing, you're in for something.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cR-UE1AQ ... ure=relmfu

Joshua

Stephen Bacon
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Re: Animal/human figurehead on classic violins?

Post by Stephen Bacon »

Sorry to be a Johnny come lately as well as a contrarian but I don't believe any of the Cremona school used figurines on their violin scrolls. Viols, viola da bracios, and other Italian schools possibly. Steiner, as mentioned, has one from 1672 that is quite famous.

Chet Bishop
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Re: Animal/human figurehead on classic violins?

Post by Chet Bishop »

I decided to attempt a lion-head viola. Because I wan't sure I could do it, I chose to carve the head of very hard, plain maple, and then graft the head onto a normal, figured neck, and proceed as with a regular neck/scroll.

Here is the head, as it stands so far-- I will do the graft next, so that I can cut the pegbox down to its normal width (the billet is still full width, in the photos). I already drilled pilot holes for pegs, just because it is easier at this stage to get them parallel. I also (though not shown in the photo) have already carved the fluting on the back of the pegbox, along the layout lines. When the pegbox is cut to normal width, I will finish carving the mane, and fairing it into the pegbox cheeks, so that it clears the D-peg holes with a comfortable margin.

So far, I am feeling encouraged about it. For a first try, anyway, I think I may end up liking it. :-)

Image

Image

Image

Thanks for looking. I will post more photos as it nears completion.

Chet
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Jim McConkey
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Re: Animal/human figurehead on classic violins?

Post by Jim McConkey »

That looks great! I wish I could carve half as well...
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Chet Bishop
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Re: Animal/human figurehead on classic violins?

Post by Chet Bishop »

Thanks, Jim.

We'll see how it turns out.

Chet
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Craig Tucker
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Re: Animal/human figurehead on classic violins?

Post by Craig Tucker »

Jim McConkey wrote:That looks great! I wish I could carve half as well...

I have to agree.

I must say Chet. This is pretty impressive.

In my opinion, right now, the 3/4 front profile view, really show what life this face has. The peaceful staring of the eyes, and yet the concentrating in them... it makes the entire face, very convincing.

Too cool, Chet.

Me like.

Chet Bishop
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Re: Animal/human figurehead on classic violins?

Post by Chet Bishop »

Thanks, Craig.
I have never liked the "snarling" heads (dragons, gargoyles, lions, whatever) I wanted peaceful dignity. I'm glad you could see that...makes me feel good.

Thanks again,

Chet
Chet Bishop
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Chet Bishop
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Re: Animal/human figurehead on classic violins?

Post by Chet Bishop »

I finally was able to go back and spend a little more time on this viola. I had been intimidated by the prospect of grafting a neck block onto the head I had begun, but last Saturday, I went ahead with it.

The plates are partially completed, and the garland is essentially complete. Here are some pictures:

Image

Image

Sorry they are somewhat blurry...I was using only ambient light, and no tripod. Must have moved a little. I will post more photos as it progresses.

If you look closely, you can see the graft line-- the neck block is figured maple, whereas the head is very plain, hard rock maple.
Chet Bishop
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Bryan Bear
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Re: Animal/human figurehead on classic violins?

Post by Bryan Bear »

Wow! That is great, you should be very proud.
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Chet Bishop
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Re: Animal/human figurehead on classic violins?

Post by Chet Bishop »

We'll see how it turns out. Still lots of room to make a mess of things. :-)

I will post more pictures when I am further along.
Chet Bishop
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Hans Bezemer
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Re: Animal/human figurehead on classic violins?

Post by Hans Bezemer »

Very nice Chet!

Ian Chester
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Re: Animal/human figurehead on classic violins?

Post by Ian Chester »

Hi There used to be a guy who posted here called Andrew Scott, he did a dragon violin and some other similar giraffe cello. He hasn't posted for some time, I just tried to Google him and if you Google Blindworm it will find a link. Great carving, love that lion

Ian

Chet Bishop
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Re: Animal/human figurehead on classic violins?

Post by Chet Bishop »

Thanks. You are right, the giraffe cello and the dragon violin were quite impressive. I tend to stay a little more on the traditional side. The occasional shell inlay or (in this case) lion-head is about as far afield as I have gone. No snapping turtle banjos, yet, nor armadillo mandolins.
Chet Bishop
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