Monday, July 15, 2013

Get the tools

I don't recommend being your own luthier but my experience in Singapore has opened me to one grand realization:

Yes, it's a more "violin enthusiast" friendly country wherein playing the violin isn't as foreign a concept as in the Philippines. You can easily get a good private teacher and lots of bulk lessons from promo vouchers in the net. You can say the violin here is as mainstream as perhaps the keyboard or even the guitar is in the Philippines.

But Singapore being what it is - a progressive country - maintaining violins can quickly become a major headache for that one simple reason: $$$ / kaching - kaching / moolah

I remember being quoted SGD $150 to have a new soundpost fitted and the existing bridge shaped by a local luthier. Did not get that of course because as only a beginner, my ears don't really know yet how to differentiate optimal setup sounds like. I'm not yet at that level nor do I think I'll ever be.

So off I went to another more commercialized establishment not far from the iconic Marina Bay Sands and got the service for a third of the quote: SGD50 (plus taxes rounding up to total SGD 53). Not bad. The soundpost was something essential and without which the violin just would not make any sound at all.

My only splurge would be this musical hobby of mine and so I actually prepared to set aside $150. Now what to with the $100?

I decided to invest on some luthier tools. Hence I started the "Be My Own Luthier Project"

  • Soundpost setter / Gauge / Retriever tools set which the greater part of my project ; got it off from Ebay
  • Extra fine needle files set ; only $4 with free shipping from China which I just received today.
  • Bridge blank machine another $18
  • A large sheet of sanding / finnishing paper which I got with the violin for $6.25 - this will last me a long long way
  • Other stuff I got from Daiso ; cutting board, epoxy, compass, steel ruler, hand saw.
So far I was able to to re-setup Nic's nut specifically the spacing between the strings they were too close for comfortable left-hand finger movements.

To make the long story short, since the nut was at proper height (elevated from the fingerboard at about the thickness of a business card), I only had to cut in the new grooves with the correct spacing. I covered the factory grooves with epoxy, sanded flush with the original nut height and "grooved away" for a lack of a better verb.

I have the internet to thank really because of the valuable information related to the craft that it has made available now to people like me.

Oh and there's yet another splurge: a new set of violin strings! 

D'addario Pro-Arte violin strings from $32.50 only when converted from USD. Local shops sell these for $42.
Free polishing cloth as a nice customer service touch. Love it!