Another year flies by and now we find that it is already 2016. I admit that while I love the holiday seasons I always look forward to getting back to “normal life”. Starting new adventures and getting back to work (where I belong). This is going to be another exciting year at Fegleys and we will be adding a Piano Tuning and Rebuilding page to the website.
It is only natural to start with the best of the best in the piano world, a Steinway & Sons “baby” grand piano. This particular Steinway piano is a 1951 Steinway & Sons Model S. It measures 5’ 1” long and has resided with just one owner, sitting in the corner of her living room for over 50 years before she passed away in 2006… This Steinway “baby” grand piano was played on daily and was well maintained and cared for before it fell into the hands of a certified piano tuner. That certified piano tuner happens to be my older brother Jason D. McDevitt, who also graduated from the North Bennet Street School.
This Steinway Model S was in amazing condition before he took ownership, but he took it one step further and decided to give the “baby” grand piano a complete rebuild. He rebuilt the plate, refinished the soundboard, and installed all new strings along with new damper felt, making this piano a joy to play! But that wasn’t enough; he took it one step further and polished the outside case of the piano.
Taking a dull/cloudy finish and returning it to the original highly polished finish that Steinway & Sons pianos are known for.
This Steinway “baby” grand piano would not only look great in a church, concert hall or another living room where space is a premium but would fill the room with a rich, powerful sound of a much larger piano. The asking price for this rebuilt one-owner 1951 Steinway & Sons Model S “baby” grand piano is $18,999 and is available to play by appointment.
A fine violin by Nestor Dominique Audinot in 1898, also referred to as N. Audinot. Audinot was the son of Leopold Audinot and apprenticed with him in Mirecourt. Audinot also worked with Sebastian Vuillaume in Paris. N. Audinot’s are made with remarkable maple and are well built instruments.
This particular violin comes with paper work from well-known Philadelphia shop Frederick W. Oster Fine Violins. This Audinot is in fine condition and has a great tone!
Although I build my instruments based from many different makers, I focus most of my attention making Stradivarius and Guarneri Del Gesu violins. They end up sounding quite different once they are completed but both have a great sound to them! The Stradivarius violins end up with a very bright, direct sound. While the Del Gesu has a warmer, mellow tone.
Here are two violins that I am currently building, one Stradivarius, the other Guarneri Del Gesu…
Can you tell which is which!?!
I started making another violin this month. It is a commissioned build for one of my clients who purchased a viola from me a few years ago. I love building violins with a particular person in mind.
It allows me to build the instrument with their personal style of playing in mind.
In this instance we are building a Del Gesu violin, he currently plays on a 200 year old violin that has a dark, mellow sound to it. We decided to stick with a Del Gesu style over Stradivarius because it will have a darker, warmer tone compared to the Stradivarius violin, which would produce a brighter, more direct sound to it.
Follow me as I build this violin for my client! A violin build from start to finish!
Guarneri Del Gesu f-holes! I love carving Del Gesu f-holes, although they are a different change of pace compared to carving Stradivarius f-holes, it is always nice to switch it up as a maker! In this post you will see the many stages it takes in order to accomplish a well-placed f-hole. Follow this custom build as I hand make a violin from start to finish.
This violin is being built for a college student who is looking to upgrade his current violin. He is looking for more volume and personality in his violin…
I am happy with his decision to play a Guarneri Del Gesu violin!
The Guadagnini cello is suntanned and ready for some varnish! The hard part is making sure to let your instruments get a nice base before jumping into varnish work… Easier said than done because you have this beautiful instrument in the white that you just spend endless hours making and perfecting.
Then you need to wait to work on it once you are done. It doesn’t seem fair, but patience is the key!
Allowing the instrument the proper time in the sun allows for the varnish process to go quicker and more smoothly.
Here is ‘Evergreen’ the Guadagnini 7/8 cello I have been hand making with a nice suntan and the first ‘ground coat’ prior to varnish. I am anxious to see how this little cello ends up sounding!
A few more weeks of varnishing and cure time and this thing will be ready to sing!
As I work on this current violin build I will continue to give updates on my progress! Or at least I will try to force myself to sit down and write a blog every week or two…
This build has been quite challenging, it is hard to match perfection that was built so long ago. This instrument is just a few months shy of being 300 years old! So take that into consideration when seeing pictures of the original!
Attached are photos of the f-holes being carved, I always have an extra sharp knife when planning my attack on the f-holes. Stradivarius f-holes are extremely precisely cut and lay on the instrument beautifully. I draw on one f-hole at a time letting them lay just right before finalizing both f-holes to make sure that they are straight and I have all of my proper measurements according to the original.
I always carve about 95% and make myself walk away from the work. This allows me to return with a fresh set of eyes, seeing things that I would have never saw if I continued to stare at the f-holes trying to finish in one sitting… Enjoy!
As I continue with the 7/8 Guadagnini cello, I like to update my clients about the progress that has been made. I am very interested to see how this small Guadagnini cello model will throw the sound. I am use to making Stradivarius model cellos so it should be an interesting experiment to say the very least. Since the last blog about the 7/8th Guadagnini cello I have been moving right along.
I plan to update the blog with one final post after I varnish the cello and set it up!
I have to be honest when I say that this Guadagnini cello build has been quite different from what I am use to. I normally focus my handmade cellos on Stradivarius models. Stradivarius instruments were made with a precision that left his instruments quite remarkable and refined. Guadagnini instruments dance on the boarder of a rough build, making his instruments with haste, leaving behind many signs of tool marks, heavy outlines and edges.
Most musicians aren’t familiar with the Guadagnini name, they mostly hear of the Stradivarius and Guarneri instruments. But as players become more educated, the Guadagnini name has grown tremendously in collectability and with players around the world!
My latest violin build is another Stradivari copy… I know, surprise, surprise!
But he really was ahead of his time. The craftsmanship that you see in his work is truly incredible! And as a modern violin maker it is truly inspiring. I was fortunate enough to see a handful of Stradivari violins and get to study them first hand.
When you are up close and personal with an authentic Stradivarius violin it is almost an out of body experience!
For this violin I decided to copy the famous “Messiah” Stradivari. It is in truly remarkable condition for its age! Made in Stradivari’s “Golden Period” in 1716. It is one of the more famous Stradivarius violins in existence!
It is in near mint condition, making it ideal for a modern maker such as myself to copy, showing little to no signs of wear! I am having a lot of fun on this custom violin build, I am anxious to hear it once it is set up…
It should have a bright, powerful tone that can power through to the back of a concert hall!
Over the years I have slowly started to organize the workshop at Fegley Violin Shop. I will admit it wasn’t one of my easier tasks, but it was however extremely rewarding.
I can imagine Jim looking down and saying, “Where is all of my stuff! I had everything exactly where I wanted it!” But I know he would be proud of how far I have come and where I want to take it in the future.
I still have quite a bit of work to do to get the shop exactly where I want it, but I can say that I put a huge dent in the organizing aspect and I look forward to tackling more projects as the years go by.
Most people don’t realize that I never had the opportunity to meet Jim Fegley, when he passed away I was only in the 8th grade! And needless to say back then I didn’t even know there was a life outside of a Jr. High classroom!
I wish we could have spent some time together, I am sure we would have shared many laughs and violin making stories! I look forward to carrying on his Legacy well into the future and passing along the Fegley name.