This is a photo diary of the restoration of a "Gaspard Duiffopruggar" concept violin made in France circa 1850. Records show no real violin maker named Gaspard Duiffopruggar, or many of the other spellings, ever made a violin like this. The concept of this violin was made using a Brescian pattern and the head of a man, there are not real violins from the 1600s by Gaspard D., all of of these style instruments are 19th century or later, and mostly French. These violins were made by the top French makers of the day, many being made for the Vuillaume shop. Some makers of these instruments that I have seen are: Derazey, Collin-Mezin, Mirecourt Shop, and unsigned French makers. These violins are a large scale pattern, with long back length. The plates are graduated evenly to fairly thin dimensions, and the tall ribs are a few of the unique features I have noticed with these instruments.
Jacob Mehlhouse, Luthier Tulsa,Oklahoma Feb-March 2008
Click here for more photos of the restoration:
Correct top center seam -The center seam had been glued with white glue (not for violin repairs, only guitar and furniture) Even out joint, the prior repair had not properly glued the joint together, it was stepped badly.
Lengthen neck - the neck graft had shortened the scale length, my corrections were to help the string length to better fit the large pattern of this violin, otherwise it's shortened string length made it more like a 7/8 size.
Replace lower block -the lower block had split, and also damaged the ribs in several spots, it was repaired poorly. Removing the old block and glue are the big jobs for this repair, putting it back correctly was the easy part.
Reset Neck -the old willow block could not hold the neck in place, and with some minor bushings, and gluing the ribs back to the block, it will allow the neck with the modifications to be seated and glued properly.
Soundpost Patch - the soundpost area had a tiny hairline that would not stay closed with a good hide glue joint. I patched it with a soundpost patch that was went 2 mm deep, and thickened the post area a hair to 3.3 mm. The grain lines of the patch were a good match and the fit was very clean.
Bass Bar Replacement -the old bar had one grainline in the entire bar, unusual for good French work. I selected a nice old top that I had milled for the post patch, and from the same piece cut a bar, and fit it in a new placement that was a bit farther out then the original bar. This violin had lost a certain focus and needed a new tensioned bar, with more than one grainline in the spruce. The piece used had tight grain with thin winter grains, very similar to the top.
Reglue Top and Touch-up -the center seam and neck adjustments are the largest areas to touch-up, but with patience for the filler needed on the top center seam, it should look like it did right from the bench of the maker, 150 years ago.
First the neck is removed, not to be rushed, and only to be done by a trained luthier.
Then removed the fingerboard, allowing me to create the fingerboard surface on the old neck graft for a new ebony board, and the neck modifications for the longer string length.
Then the bumper, or shoe is added to give move length to the overstand (amount of neck that is between the top and fingerboard).
Next the bottom of the neck is flattened, and the new endgrain shoe as well, then primed with hide glue, reflattened and joined, then trimmed. I trim the bumper before flattening the bottom of the neck.
Next the top was removed and the loose pieces reglued to the top.
You can see the beads of white glue used to badly repair this center seam, if it had been glued with hide glue this would have saved hours of time removing the stubborn old white glue, and not taking pieces of the spruce as well.
Center seam apart, finally all cleaned, this was a full day, and I was very pleased with the results.
The seam was cleaned, then allowed to dry in clamps overnight, the next day it was reglued in just the upper bout area, then in two other days the other two areas were glued. Splitting the gluing of the top joint into multiple days, allows me to join that area, and only move on once it is perfectly matched. This joint had to be repaired as it was made, perfect. It glued up great. The inside joint was fresh and looked as it had never been apart.
The old lower block, made of willow. It had split (not uncommon, the wood of the block shrinks and splits around the endpin over time). The repairs to the block had been super glue). The ribs had cracked on the block as well and drops of old white glue are visible next to the block.
Part Two Click Here: