New Five-String Fiddle Completed!

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Five-String Fiddle from the Vallery Tree

The Beginning:

This instrument was actually begun last winter, but is only now coming into completed form. The back, sides and neck are all salvaged from a tree taken down years ago on my wife’s parents’ property, where she grew up. (I buit a commissioned instrument from this same tree last year.) I wish I had a lot more of it but much of the tree was lost to rot. Too bad… it is pretty wood. The Sitka spruce top came from somewhere here in the northwest, but I don’t know esactly where: I bought it from a local wood dealer.

Early stage Oregon five string bluegrass fiddle by Chet Bishop
Early stage… at this point there was a long way to go!

 

Eventually I had the corpus (body) completed and had begun working on the neck and scroll. Arthritis was plaguing me a little, so it was slow progress.

handmade Oregon 5-string fiddle in progress
Completed corpus with partially carved scroll and neck.

 

hand carved five string fiddle scroll for oregon 5-string fiddle
Nearly-completed scroll joined to fingerboard, for final shaping as a unit.

 

completed scroll and neck assembly with fingerboard ready for installation on Oregon five-string fiddle
Completed neck assembly, ready for “neck-set.”

 

Then it was time to set the neck. This is one of the most exacting steps in building a violin: everything has to be correct, or it will be impossible to correctly set the instrument up for playing.

Beginning the neck mortise on an Oregon handmade 5-string fiddle by Chet Bishop
Beginning the neck-mortise into which the neck heel will be set.

 

Final Assembly

Once the neck mortise is completed, such that the neck fits perfectly and all angles and dimensions are exactly right, I liberally coat the mortise and neck-heel with hot hide-glue, and quickly ram the neck into place, check all measurements one last time and clamp it with a single clamp at the heel.

neck set completed on a handmade oregon 5-string fiddle by Chet Bishop
Successful Neck-Set! (The button and heel still need to be trimmed…)

 

back view neck-set handmade Oregon 5-string fiddle by Chet Bishop
Back view

 

After all the woodwork was completed, I varnished the instrument: The first coats are quite yellow, to provide a “golden glow” from under the color coats.

five string fiddle handmade by Chet Bishop in Oregon
First coat of (yellow) varnish. The Spruce shows the yellow strongly.

 

varnishing a 5-string bluegrass fiddle handmade in Oregon by Chet Bishop
Back view: the Maple was darker to begin with, so the yellow is not as obvious.

Final Set-up

Finally the instrument was fully varnished and set-up:

Oregon handmade five-string bluegrass fiddle by Chet Bishop
Front View of the completed instrument.

 

Oregon Bluegrass five-string fiddle, handmade by Chet Bishop
Side View:

 

Oregon five-string bluegrass fiddle, handmade by Chet Bishop
Back view.  (I love that grain!)

 

The Verdict:

The sound on this fiddle is very strong and clear: it has a well-focused C-string and is well-balanced across all five strings. I think this is possibly my best instrument so far.

 

Thanks for looking!

 

 

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