This is by far the largest kit we
have found from the 17th century back, and we had to enlarge it by 7%
to make the numbers work. It is still significantly shorter and
very much narrower than any standard fiddle.
As usual, to start an instrument one needs to design the instrument
form and create templates. So that's where we started.
The templates ready to be glued to the masonite. Can't create a
'production' model without templates.
Rough cut from a block of hard cherry. Side view with templates.
Rough cut, bottom view.
Size comparison with a standard
full-size violin. The instrument will be little larger than it is
in rough block form.
Starting to rough in the form and hollow the body. Modified
forstner bits used in the pegbox and body cavity. Now to a spoon
plane and some scrapers. This is such a standard art of building
these instruments, pictures are boring. So I will move right
along to an interesting part...
THE SOUNDBOARD!!!! This is a departure from the traditional
rebec, in that it is a lightly carved top. Still no bracing or
soundpost, no bass bar, but much more structurally rigid. Add to
the fact that it is only a couple of inches wide, and it can be made
very thin to make up for some of the sound volume lost by simply having
such a small surface area. Here is the blank, cut from a AAA
violin carpathian red spruce soundboard block and shaped on the top.
A spoon plane to work down the inside of the soundboard.
Add some c-holes and glue it to the
body, and VOILA!!!! It's
starting to look like an instrument.
With the top on, next comes the fingerboard. Brazillian
Cherry. The simple scroll has been hollowed. Just a bit of
shaping on the fingerboard, a nut, saddle, and bridge and some tuning
pegs, and off we go.
The tail end of the pochette. 4 holes drilled through the body
wood and the saddle, a circular recess bored in the tail of the
instrument. SInce the instrument is so small, a tailpiece, while
possible, would not have allowed the proper afterlength of the strings,
so I decided to borrow this method from an instrument shown on the
National Music Museum site.
The scroll and tuning pegs, and the antler nut. Nothing
Here is the bridge. Carved in a traditional manner from hard
maple with the medullary rays showing as dots on the face of the
bridge. The feet straddle the c-hole cuts, but the bridge is
fitted in such a way that most of the force is on the section of
soundboard between the cuts. Again, no bracing, no sound post,
nothing except a small curve to keep the soundboard from falling in.
Here is the finished
instrument. A dozen hand-rubbed coats of oil as a finish, without
a final compound or pumice polish. It has a very sweet and
focused sound, though lacking a bit in volume it can still play
usefully in a small room. It could very easily be used to correct
a single player in an orchestra without disturbing the rest, or to play
in a parlor while teaching dance. The bow is Yew, with a clip-in
sycamore frog and white Siberian mare hair. It is just 1/4 inch
less than the finished length of the instrument.