First is the choice of woods used. While this instrument was originally designed as a commission, I kept the wood choices desired. The top and back plates of the instrument are made of highly-figured Bubinga wood from Africa. The neck is made from American Holly, a very strong, light-colored wood, and a species in which wood anomalies – color differences, small knots, etc. – are simply a part of the wood. To find a find a piece with no “flaws” is rare. For this instrument, I used three pieces and laminated them to form what would be the neck and peg box. The tailpiece is also of the same Bubinga wood, though with a 1/4″ piece of Ebony in the middle, added both for strength and to accent the fingerboard and the ribs. The ribs are made from Maple, and I steam-bent them to the shape of the somewhat “cut-away” design of the instrument’s body. In its original conception, the ribs were to be black, and so they are: approximately 20 thin layers of high-gloss black lacquer were used to achieve the color and light reflection in the ribs. The lower section of the back of the instrument has been branded with my DBCV company logo.
This instrument is a hollow-body instrument. There are 28 individually-carved pieces that make up the instrument’s body. There is also a sound post in the instrument, placed a goodly distance (7 millimeters) from the feet at the lower end of the bridge. The thickness of the top plate – graduated intentionally to clearly bring out the notes on the C and F strings, in combination with the placement of the sound post – is intended to provide both a warm and clear tone for all 6 strings. There is a 1/4″ output jack on the left-lower rib.
The two pieces of this instrument that are not, in the main, hand-made, are the top and back plates. After doing the initial pen and ink drawings and considering the “working qualities” of Bubinga wood, for the first time, I employed the use of a very intelligent C.A.D. master (Thank you, Joe V.!) and a computerized router. While mapping the x, y and z coordinates was challenging – especially in that the angles in my hand drawing were not perfect – once the plates had been realized in 3-D, having the computerized router cut them out didn’t take a great amount of time at all. There was still a good deal of work that needed to be done by hand once the plates had been cut out, though for this instrument, the use of modern technology was a time, hand and carving tool saver. The fingerboard is made from African Ebony. The “f-holes”, which I had great freedom with as far as design, are two symmetrical “dolphins”; a couple, if you like. As you may be able to see in the photos, the top plate is quite thick by acoustic violin standards (i.e., 5 – 7 millimeters at the thickest points). True to form for an “acoustic” touch, I did make a label with my company name and the year of completion of the instrument (2015).
The bridge is a Barbera Twin-Hybrid piezo bridge. This means that there are 2 piezo pick-ups for each string, making a total of 12 piezo pickups on the violin. Rich Barbera’s bridge transducers are an industry standard, and have the cleanest, warmest and least “digital” sound of any bridge that I have heard. The peg box uses 6 “Perfection Pegs”. For those who are not familiar with them, these pegs are made of hard, black plastic synthetic with internal gearing. What this results in is nearly effortless tuning, with a very slight push of the peg toward the peg box to retain the its position. “Perfection Pegs” are are resistant to temperature and humidity changes as it is possible for a tuning peg to be. They are accurate to the point where no fine tuners are needed. Lastly, in the picture of the chin rest and tailpiece assembly, you can see that I have employed rope-core steel as an end gut material ensuring no stretching, and that the tailpiece will remain secure.
As with all my instruments, this instrument uses a standard violin scale length of 328 millimeters (the distance from the middle of the top of the bridge to the lower end of the nut.) This means that the finger placement on this instrument will be the same as on that of a full-size acoustic violin. The string separation at the nut is approximately 4.8 millimeters – very slightly less than the string separation at the nut on a full-size acoustic instrument. The string “action” is what most people would consider low, making playing in the upper positions easier without any buzzing of the strings when played as open strings. The chin rest is a Hill model with gold hardware. There are 6 strings, tuned in fifths. The pitches are, from the highest string to the lowest: E, A, D, G, C and F.
If the new owner wishes, I will personalize the instrument with a thin bronze plaque listing the owner’s name, my company name, and the year of the instrument’s completion.
Have you had enough of the description? Are you ready to hear this amazing instrument?