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Monthly Archives: October 2009

Patrick Gale, who commissioned the baroque cello that I completed earlier this year, spoke  about why music was important to him in a recent broadcast on  BBC Radio 3.  If you missed his  brief and amusing  talk,  you can listen to it  here for the next few days.

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Back in May, I wrote about making a baroque violin, a loose copy of the Charles IX violin of 1564 by Andrea Amati, now in the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford. After it was completed, and while still in the white, it went off for a short trial by the violinist who had commissioned it and, having been approved, came back to be varnished. Varnishing is now finished and the fiddle has been set up again just in time for its new owner, Pamela Rosenfeld, to play it in the Buxtehude festival in Cornwall later this month.

Below are a few photographs of the completed instrument.

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The zebrano guitar has now been collected by its new owner, Dave Crispin. He played it for a while before taking it away, and allowed me to capture a few minutes on a pocket recorder. The recording isn’t very good, I’m afraid, because the microphone is positioned much too far away from the instrument, but Dave has promised to come back for another session after he has had a chance to get used to  his new guitar and when I have worked out a better recording system. In the meantime, here’s a taste of the sound it makes.

Either click on the blue labels to download them to your own media player, or simply start the audio player in the bar.

Dave trying out his guitar for the first time

Dave improvising on the new guitar – with a bit of help from Jamie in the background

A while ago, a friend bought himself a lap steel guitar – the sort with a hollow neck, square in section – but became frustrated because he couldn’t find a capo that would fit it. He couldn’t use the usual type of capo, of course, because the hollow neck of the guitar was too thick and too fragile to allow the clamp to work and because the strings were too high over the fingerboard. So I made him this device, which is easy to fit and adjust and works well.

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In case anyone else has a similar problem, I thought it might be worth explaining how it’s made. You’ll need a scrap of hardwood roughly 2.5 x 1 x 3/8 inches in size; a piece of bone or ebony to make the inverted nut; some cork or leather to damp the strings on the headstock side of the capo; a 2.5 inch length of round bar in brass or steel of 1/4 inch diameter; a short length of threaded rod of 1/8 inch diameter; and a small piece of wood or metal or plastic to make a knob with which to turn the threaded rod. You’ll also require a matching tap to cut a thread in the hole of the brass bar.

The photographs below should make the construction clear, so I’m not going to give details. If you have any queries, please email me at info@finelystrung.com. The only thing to watch out for is that the threaded rod that pulls the bar against the underside of the strings shouldn’t be too long or it may damage the fingerboard.

To fit the capo, loosen the screw holding the metal bar – but not so far that the bar becomes detached. Hold the capo with its long axis parallel to the strings and insert the bar between the two middle strings. Then rotate both the capo and the bar through 90 degrees, making sure that the nut side of the capo is orientated to face the bridge. Slide the capo to the desired position and screw it up just tightly enough to produce a clear sound from all the strings.

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