Remember my bass viol? Its finished!

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Douglas Ingram
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Remember my bass viol? Its finished!

Post by Douglas Ingram »

A good number of you have been very interested in the viola da gamba that I've been building. Well, it is finally finished!

The biggest hurdle in building this bass viol was the research. All of the learning that was required to understand the instrument and its construction was significant. Compared to when I was learning guitar making, this was a lot of work. There is so much information available for guitar making that the challenge is to make sense of it. The challenge in viol making is just finding the info, then making it.

This viol was not built after any extant model, but rather following a set of student lutherie plans as they were the only ones that I was aware of when I set out upon this journey. I have since become acquainted with far more resource than I was back then.

The top is Lutz Spruce and is formed using bent stave construction. This is not nearly as complicated or difficult as it may sound, and I can see it as viable for other instruments.

The back, sides, and neck are of soft maple. The back is actually a second back. Two summers ago I had a nasty setback due to an extremely high and prolonged humidity event which degraded many of the joints. I deemed it easier to remove the plates and do the repair. For the back, the inlay had been compromised such that I felt it better to start over, and to do a better job in the process.

The inlay on the back is following an example form Richard Meares.

The tuning pegs I turned from Indonesian Rosewood.

The headstock scroll is traditional for a viol. For a viol, it is either an open scroll with a plain back or with relief carving, or a figurative carving in the round. I used celtic style cats as a motif for the carving as my wife, for whom the instrument is for, is a cat lady. I used the same motif for the inlay on the fingerboard and the tailpiece.

My wife, who is a cellist, is now experiencing the joy of transitioning from a four string fret less instrument tuned in fifths to a six string fretted instrument tuned in fourths.

Next up is to make a bow. Probably several in the effort to get it just right.

And a case...
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I may be crazy...but I'm not insane.

Douglas Ingram
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Re: Remember my bass viol? Its finished!

Post by Douglas Ingram »

The scroll and other details
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Karl Wicklund
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Re: Remember my bass viol? Its finished!

Post by Karl Wicklund »

This is a wonderfully attractive instrument. I've watched your progress on this off and on. Remind me when you began?
Kaptain Karl

Wayne Brown
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Re: Remember my bass viol? Its finished!

Post by Wayne Brown »

Great looking instrument! I know wife should be proud of it!

Greg Steil
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Re: Remember my bass viol? Its finished!

Post by Greg Steil »

That is just beautiful, please post a sound clip!

Jason Rodgers
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Re: Remember my bass viol? Its finished!

Post by Jason Rodgers »

This just knocks my socks off! That scroll is amazing. Your wife is one lucky lady.

So, is this similar to the arpeggione, for which Schubert famously wrote a sonata?
-Ruining perfectly good wood, one day at a time.

Bill Raymond
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Re: Remember my bass viol? Its finished!

Post by Bill Raymond »

Gorgeous!

Douglas Ingram
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Re: Remember my bass viol? Its finished!

Post by Douglas Ingram »

Thanks everyone!

Once I get the bow made, and the case, I can return to some guitar making.

Its a lot of work making these, I made this one for love. Next one, if there is a next one, is for cash!
I may be crazy...but I'm not insane.

Fred Battershell
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Re: Remember my bass viol? Its finished!

Post by Fred Battershell »

Truly lovely in all aspects!!!!!!
Frederick

Joshua Levin-Epstein
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Re: Remember my bass viol? Its finished!

Post by Joshua Levin-Epstein »

That's pretty spectacular.

Is there no carving of the top? Or is it "assembled" and then carved?

Douglas Ingram
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Re: Remember my bass viol? Its finished!

Post by Douglas Ingram »

Jason Rodgers wrote:This just knocks my socks off! That scroll is amazing. Your wife is one lucky lady.

So, is this similar to the arpeggione, for which Schubert famously wrote a sonata?
The arpeggione was made by Stauffer and was, essentially, a guitar played with a bow. A hybrid instrument, actually. Six strings tuned like a guitar with fixed metal frets.

The viol family of instruments predates that, being a Renaissance and Baroque period instrument. Six or more strings, tuned like a lute, with movable gut frets. The viol evolved from the vihuela, as did the guitar.
I may be crazy...but I'm not insane.

Douglas Ingram
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Re: Remember my bass viol? Its finished!

Post by Douglas Ingram »

Joshua Levin-Epstein wrote:That's pretty spectacular.

Is there no carving of the top? Or is it "assembled" and then carved?
This is a bent stave soundboard. Slip matched pieces of spruce are bent, then glued together, then carved. The pieces are each no more than 1cm thick and the carving goes pretty easy compared to "traditional" arch top carving.

I first learned how to do it on this very forum! See the original thread here. http://www.mimf.com/old-lib/waters_viol_top.htm
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Last edited by Douglas Ingram on Sat May 09, 2015 12:24 pm, edited 1 time in total.
I may be crazy...but I'm not insane.

Douglas Ingram
Posts: 120
Joined: Sat Jan 07, 2012 3:05 pm
Location: Lorette, Manitoba, Canada
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Re: Remember my bass viol? Its finished!

Post by Douglas Ingram »

Karl Wicklund wrote:This is a wonderfully attractive instrument. I've watched your progress on this off and on. Remind me when you began?
About 7 years ago!

There has been a lot of other work that has had to be done during that time. A lot of research, a lot of living, and a few setbacks.

Its ironic that, now that I am a "relative" expert I may not have opportunity to make another. Unless there's cash involved! This one was for love.
I may be crazy...but I'm not insane.

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Paul Waters
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Re: Remember my bass viol? Its finished!

Post by Paul Waters »

Douglas Ingram wrote:
Joshua Levin-Epstein wrote:That's pretty spectacular.

Is there no carving of the top? Or is it "assembled" and then carved?
This is a bent stave soundboard. Slip matched pieces of spruce are bent, then glued together, then carved. The pieces are each no more than 1cm thick and the carving goes pretty easy compared to "traditional" arch top carving.

I first learned how to do it on this very forum! See the original thread here. http://www.mimf.com/old-lib/waters_viol_top.htm
Hey Douglas,

Just came across this and what a fine job you've done. I'm glad that little photo essay on stave bent construction I did here all those years ago inspired at least some one to give it a go..

I haven't been on here for a number of years due to pressures of work and life etc... You know how it goes. I even had to re register so that dates me back to before the big change. When was that? I'm looking forward to finding out who is still about.

Me, I've moved workshop and house twice since then and have just done so again. Just started converting a block of stables into workspace so I can avoid paying over the odds for the shabby little shacks they rent out round here...

Any way good job and I promise to drop in a little more often in future...

Douglas Ingram
Posts: 120
Joined: Sat Jan 07, 2012 3:05 pm
Location: Lorette, Manitoba, Canada
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Re: Remember my bass viol? Its finished!

Post by Douglas Ingram »

Thanks Paul!

Yes, your essay helped a lot. I did do a few alterations from the described method, but nothing of consequence. Mostly I didn't use the jointer table for the hand plane but instead made up a shooting board for jointing the sides of the staves.

I haven't been on for awhile, either, or I'd have found your response earlier. I get pretty busy with work...
I may be crazy...but I'm not insane.

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