Posts Tagged ‘Oregon Myrtle’

Myrtle and Port Orford Cedar Oliver 5-String Fiddle; and an upcoming Show

Please share with your friends!

New Five-string Fiddle

Myrtle Wood and Port Orford Cedar

Some time ago, a friend (Cliff Stansell, of the Pistol River Trio) asked me to build (strictly on speculation) an Oliver five-string fiddle of Oregon Myrtle wood (for back, sides and neck) and Port Orford Cedar (for top and bassbar). He prevailed upon his brother (Les Stansell, a maker of Guitars and Ukuleles, using those woods) to donate the wood for the experiment. This is the result:

New 5-string fiddle

New 5-string fiddle

Back view

Back view

 

Front view

Front view, hanging up

Back view hanging up

Back view hanging up

What about Sound?

Well, quite honestly, it has been strung up for less than 12 hours, and, though I have spent some time playing it, and adjusting the soundpost, etc., it is really still too early to be sure how it will sound.

So far, I feel pretty positive about it. I know the arching and graduations are good, but I have never used this combination of woods before, so it is hard to be sure what is a product of the wood, and what is a product of the luthier.

It feels heavier to me, quite naturally, simply because Myrtle is a harder, heavier wood than Maple. But that may be OK. I know that Bubinga (even harder and heavier) is regularly used for five-string fiddles, and I actually have some Bubinga to try someday soon.  The Koa I used for the 5 string fiddle last year was also very hard and heavy, and it turned out to sound very good. So I am hopeful that this one will too. It already sounds good…but I want it to sound Great!

(Update: by the next morning the sound had improved remarkably, as new instrument frequently do: I had adjusted the soundpost just before calling it quits for the night, and such adjustments frequently take a few hours to “settle in”.)

Marylhurst Show is coming up in two weeks.

For anyone interested, the Annual Marylhurst Musical Instrument Makers’ Show  (click the link for details) will be April 30th and May 1st this year. I hope to see you there. Come and test-drive this fiddle and the others.

Thanks for looking.

 

 

If you found this post helpful, please share with your friends!

Beginning Three New Five-string Fiddles

Please share with your friends!

Three 5 String Fiddles On the Way

Different Molds

I decided to make two new molds, so that I could have more than one handmade five-string fiddle in the works at any given time. The new molds are made from the same half-model template, so they are very similar in character, but I did notice that somehow my original mold had been a little narrower in the center bouts than I had intended (don’t know how it happened), so the new ones are wider there, which may make the sound even more deep and clear. The instruments from the first mold have all been very good, so I am hoping the ones off the new molds are even better.

Different Materials

The original Oliver 5-string mold has the ribs and linings in place, and the chosen material for ribs, back and neck is spalted maple. This is an unusual choice, from a classical perspective, but a five-string fiddle is an unusual instrument, and I think it will prove a good choice. I really like the looks, so far. The second and third Oliver Molds (essentially identical, otherwise) have higly figured Oregon Big-leaf maple and Oregon Myrtle, respectively, for the backs and ribs. The Myrtle is a two-piece back, and the neck on the Myrtle fiddle is Big leaf maple; otherwise all the fiddles have matching ribs, backs and necks. The other two are each a one-piece back, also.

I am planning to use Port Orford Cedar for the two-piece front plate on the Myrtlewood  fiddle. This will be the first time I have used anything other than spruce for a violin top, but I have been told it is exceptionally good for other types of instruments, and a friend gave it to me to try in a fiddle. I plan to use Sitka Spruce for the on-piece top of the curly big-leaf maple fiddle, as well as for the spalted maple fiddle. I am hoping to experiment with front plates made of Alaskan Yellow Cedar sometime soon, too.

Different fittings

Depending on the way they look when completed, I may vary my fittings a little, too…haven’t decided yet. I tend to like simple fittings, but I have used fancier fittings, once, and they did look nice– I am just not sure they belong on a bluegrass five string fiddle. Perhaps I can get a set of Oregon Mountain Mahogany pegs, or something. Mountain Mahogany is a very hard wood native to Oregon, but much lighter in color than Ebony, so it adds a different look.

Same Workmanship

I intend to use the same methods as always, including the double purfling that adorned the previous five-string fiddles. I will still use a scraper for the final contour and texture, though perhaps I will leave a little less “corduroy” texture on these than on some others. Some people like less.

Same Varnish

I will use the same Spirit varnish that have always used on all three fiddles, as well as the same graduation scheme and internal arrangements (bass-bar shape and size, etc.), so the sound should be the same.

Same Strings

I will use the Helicore five-string sets, as usual, though I have found some other combinations that work remarkably well.

Progress reports to come

As things progress, I will post photos, so you can see each of the three fiddles grow from a small stack of wood to a completed instrument.  Each will emerge as a brand-new, handmade bluegrass 5 string fiddle when complete.

Stay tuned… (no pun intended). 🙂

If you found this post helpful, please share with your friends!