New Book Available

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The Bread Bag Fiddle is now “Live!”

Some of you know that I have written numerous articles over the years, and posted some on my various websites, including a couple of books in .pdf format; but this is the first time I have attempted to use the Amazon Kindle Publishing software. I felt pretty intimidated by the huge array of choices, almost all the way through: but it turned out to be fairly user-friendly, once I got over the “fear of the unknown” aspect.

Anyway, this is a small work, only about 3,800 words, and about 30 photographs, chronicling the “Resurrection of a Dead Violin” which literally had arrived at my shop in a plastic bread-bag, with the top tied off to prevent the loss of loose parts.

As it turned out, a customer wanted an “old fiddle,” and agreed to have me resurrect the old junker. They are delighted with the result, and it is a daily player, today.

Here’s the link, if you are interested in looking:


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New Five-string Fiddle Progress

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Hanging in the dining room to dry.

I completed the varnish-prep work on the newest five-string fiddle, inculding the sealer. The back, sides and neck are Oregon Big Leaf Maple. The belly (a first for me) is Douglas Fir. I have never tried Douglas Fir in the past, but there was a famous maker (Otto Erdesz) who used to make professional level instruments, using Douglas Fir for the front plates. So, I decided to try it.

You can see the results here:

Should be playing in a couple of weeks.

Have a look!

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Latest Development

5-streing fiddle
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15″ Five String Viola in North Carolina!

A shop in Charlotte, NC has agreed to take one of my fiddles on consignment.

The shop is called “The Violin Shoppe” and is a pretty important outlet in that area for stringed instruments, so I am thrilled to be represented there.

One of the owners, Glen Alexander, is a great fiddler, and demonstrated the posiblities offered by my little five-string viola, on his facebook page as well as on YouTube.

Here is the YouTube video: Glen Alexander putting my 5-string fiddle through its paces.

I’m gratified to see an Oregon Five-string fiddle, there, and to hear him play it!

Meanwhile, I have others on the way. 🙂

Thanks for looking!

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(Customer Review)

I recently brought in my family heirloom Violin to Mr. Bishop: The violin was in terrible shape as it had sat in my grandmother’s closet for nearly 70 years. There was a large crack on the top of the violin and many seams on the top had become delaminated. The tuning pegs were no good and the bow had lost all curvature and most of the hair. There were also many other unforeseen issues from previous repairs on the interior of the violin.

I initially contacted Mr. Bishop because I could tell that he is very passionate about these instruments, and his original builds are absolutely beautiful. He quoted me a very reasonable price for the amount of repairs this instrument needed, he gave me a very realistic time frame and completed the repairs right on time.

Not only did he finish the repairs on time, but we were right on budget with his original quote. Now my poor old family heirloom looks amazing and plays much like I imagine it did for my grandmother.

I can never thank him enough for the quality of effort he put into this instrument, and for the quality of the finished product. Thankfully my family heirloom can now continue to be passed down, and I’m sure my grandmother will be absolutely ecstatic when I bring this up to show her how it now looks.

I highly recommend anyone who is looking for a new instrument, or just looking for repairs on their current instrument to contact Mr. Bishop first. You will not be disappointed in any way.

Eternally grateful, Lucas Cunningham.

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Five-String Double Bass

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Five String Double Bass on the way!

I began this bass some time ago, but it was set aside for several years, because of other jobs that came in, and because I was very dissatisfied with how the rib-bending was going. I had a huge, propane-heated bending iron I had made, which simply did not get hot enough. 

This year I made a new bending iron, heated with electricity, and it worked very well. So I am up and going again.


Steel tube with a charcoal-briquette lighter inside, controlled by a 600W dimmer switch.

I completed the rib garland, and, more recently, traced the front plate outline, cut it out, and now I am shaping the outer arching of that plate.

For more information on my five-string offerings, please visit

Thanks for looking!

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Bandsaw Repair

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The old saw needed help!

A number of years ago, I had a sudden opportunity to buy an 18″ Jet bandsaw (for which I had yearned, lo, these many years...) and I jumped on it without hesitation. It has been a great saw, but it was gradually becoming more and more impossible to saw a straight line.

New Guides

My youngest son looked it over, and pointed out that the original guides were worn out, and that conversion kits were available to make all the guides roller bearings, instead of sliding surfaces. But the kits were $250, or so, and I hesitated. I attempted various adjustments, to no avail, and finally went online, and watched a number of videos explaining why the saw behaved the way it did, and decided that, since the saw was effectively useless the way it was, it was well worth the upgrade cost.

So I ordered the correct kit from Carter tools, after watching a bunch of videos by Alex Snodgrass, and installed it, expecting the change to be instantaneous. (Well, almost: It still took meticulous re-setting of several variables: the blade had to be correctly positioned on the drive wheels, the guides had to be correctly adjusted for the size of the blade, and the blade had to be correctly tensioned…and I did all that.)

Upper guide kit correctly installed.
Lower guide was harder to photograph, but there it is, also correctly installed.

Results? Not exactly what I expected.

It sawed exactly the same as before! (Augggh!)

I attempted a re-saw, and the blade dived for the left edge.
See the angle? There was no resisting it…it was determined to go left!

Back to the Manual

So I went back to the computer and downloaded a manual that was for almost the same machine as I have, and looked at the trouble-shooting list.

It turned out that the blade I was using had been damaged, and the teeth had lost their set. I installed a new blade, readjusted everything (different size blade) and tried again:

Just an old chunk of 1 x 4 fir, chosen for the test. Perfect re-saw!

And that was it! It turned out that, while the guides really were worn out, and needed replacing, the blade was also worn out, and remained as the final issue. Now that it has been replaced, the saw cuts like magic!


So now I have begun resawing all the chunks of maple I have set aside for fiddles! 🙂 I can saw rib-stock, and neck billets, and backs, and have them come out usable again. What a relief!

Thanks for looking

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Bluegrass 5-string on the way

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This is only a note, to point you to a new build over on my other website:

And, further progress:

If you know anyone looking for an acoustic five-string fiddle or a five-string viola or cello, please send them my way. 🙂

Thanks for looking.

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New Five-String Fiddle Commission on the Way

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New Five-String Fiddle Request!

A client contacted me through my other website ( and asked whether I could build a 5-string fiddle of primarily Oregon woods. (Sure!)


So, she came for a visit and played eight of my hand-made instruments (all good fiddles), finally declaring a particular one to be exactly what she wanted, except that she did not care for the look of the one-piece Sitka Spruce top plate. It had very wide grain on the bass side and narrower on the treble side. (It sounds great, but the looks were bothering her.) Soooo…

Custom Build!

I went into my storage and retrieved a really wild-grained piece of Big Leaf Maple, and two billets of very straight, even-grained Spruce: one of Englemann, and another of Sitka: she chose the Englemann and loved the maple. She wanted an instrument essentially the same as that first one, but without the odd-looking belly grain. (Same model; made on the same mold (form), and sounding just like it, as well.) It will be tough to do, because the one she really likes is already five years old; it has had time to settle, be re-adjusted, and settle again. (Yes, it sounds good!)

Select Woods and a Good Start

So, we went out to one of my other buildings and hand-picked some likely-looking wood for the neck and ribs, and we were ready to do business. She presented a deposit, and I suggested that she take home the one she loved, for the time being, to keep her interest up while waiting for me to complete her personal treasure. She went home happy, and I began sorting willow for blocks, finding my proper templates, and enjoying the prospect of a new build. I will post follow-ups as they occur.

Thanks for looking.

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