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Scott Raber
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I am planning on using my GI bill to go to violin making school in Chicago. I don't get out of the Military for years and it takes 3 years to just learn how to make a violin and usually many more or repair work or making your own before you can make a living. I figure I can keep my hands in the dirt with urban community gardens, aquaponics, mushroom growing in whatever apartment I end up in, and now looking into urban forestry, ect, ect.
I feel like this is something I need to do but emotionally I also feel like I need to get onto a piece of land yesterday. Such is life. But was curious what place more refined crafts than spoonmaking ect have in this permaculture world we are trying to create.
Part of the appeal to me is that it would be a valuable skill for society if things where to downsize (ie The World Made By Hand novels by Kuntsler, which I just read) and knowing how to make music is always useful. Eventually I plan to have a violin shop on my homestead. Does anyone know someone who does this on a homestead? How can I possibly do both things as soon as possible?
 
David Livingston
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Hi , I play Irish music and know a couple of violin makers and even a guy who " just " makes bows ( almost a different skill its self ) The problem they all tell me is under cutting by the chinese, its difficult to compete on price, and avaerage quality , the only way it to offer top end very traditional violins and it takes years to make a "name" for your self . Promotion is also important and that takes time . Sorry if I sound like I am bursting your bubble but I thought I had better say what my experiance is . Guitar makers seem to have it better as more folks collect guitars but still there is the issue of the time it takes to sell and promote your stuff when you could be working the land .
Have you thought of becoming a farrier or black smith ? Thats what I would do as competition would only be very local
 
Scott Raber
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Blacksmithing does not appeal to me. My brother is a farrier and my girl is a metalworker. I am concerned that I will be wasting time in school while I should be on the land though. The reasons I think it won't be a waste of time are that if we run out of fossil fuels or whatever weird economy the future holds I can always make violins (could say same for metalwork I guess); I can teach my children a skill, I will be in a new wider social circle as a maker/repairer and can travel in that circle, it will be an additional legacy, being able to create live music is an asset, maybe it can segway into other fine woodworking for added revenue on the farm. I am looking into what maple, resins, strings, ect are produced in America and if I could grow them profitably. I was thinking I would make use of my time at school putting my ideas of urban agriculture to work and further planning my farm/homestead. I just feel it is way easier to make friends if you can make music.
 
Zach Muller
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I have always been hopeful that fine crafts and the fine artistry of musicianship that demands them wont be lost or degraded in my lifetime. If you feel like its something you need to do, its not wasting time. If you dont regret the time spent learning and making instruments then you will grow and be better for it. Your urgency to homestead is a trend I have seen in a few friends and i have certainly observed that jumping in too much too soon can be stressful and counterproductive. So keep in mind those things, you cant just make a violin the first day out, and you cant just have a successful homestead the first time out.

Homesteading can lead to being isolated depending on where you are and how you do it, and that may or may not be what makes you feel good once you return home. Being in the city might give you a community to reabsorb into, or it might piss you off. It really depends on you, and how you feel at that time. Maybe you could get land outside of town and commute to violin school? You have options.

I knew a woman who was a very cool lady and luthier who lived on a homestead. She succeeded because of her presence in musical circles and most people did not even know where she lived, they knew her instruments and which musicians had them. Guitar making is not violin making, but with guitars i have noticed many top players going with younger luthiers who are blazing a fresh trail through the tradition. Times and music are changing rapidly, so the demands of the intruments must be adapted and a lot of older more traditional builders are not willing to change things so readily.

Heres a whole different take on instrument making possibilities, which can be adapted to a low energy future.
 
chip sanft
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One thought about learning to make violins (and similar items): I'd bet those skills in precision woodworking would transfer well to other kinds of woodworking, too, and give you a huge head start on cabinetry etc., if that exact path doesn't pan out.

If you want to learn it, learn it. Keep saving your money as much as you can -- the land will still be there when you've got your skill set. If you're really dedicated -- maybe a bit obsessed -- you'll find a market for your work. It may take time, it may be a small market, you may need to move in unexpected directions, but that kind of learning won't be wasted. (Actually I think the only learning that is a waste would be something you didn't want to do, but that's another story.)
 
Scott Raber
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I am obsessed and I am almost definitely doing this. Actually Chicago has a thriving urban agriculture scene and if I can stay out of trouble I have lots of ideas that I can do in the city. Maybe I will try to get a business or garden going, do little experiments with mushrooms and silkworms ect in my apartment. The future of the violin industry is interesting. The idea of jumping into an unbroken line of craftsmen is so appealing, and I would love to be part of making something great in America.
 
David Livingston
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I totally agree with the idea of getting a buisness going preferably skill based as a way of getting " cash " to suppliment what ever you grow yourself . I think trying to get 100% from selling your produce as far too much like hard work
For instance my partner works part time whilst I grow veg and we make a little money from our music and stuff ideally in the future I will supply nearly all our veg and eggs etc . But to try and support us both from the land would mean selling stuff in large quantities which takes time and effort plus dealing with the "man " you would not believe the paperwork here in France plus having the tax system work against us .
For instance If I was to produce and sell jams I would be lucky to make 1 $ profit on each jar of jam and certainly not the minimum wage but if I look at it as making something that I dont need to buy then each jar saves me buying a jar of jam for 3$

David
 
Chadwick Holmes
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Learn to make uilleann pipes, there are fewer makers available, most have a back log.

 
David Livingston
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I 'd not thought of that Chad but you are right !
If you can learn to make pipes and yup its difficult but even an average half set costs thousands ( of pounds ). For those folks who dont know what we are talking about here is the great Paddy Keenan

and yes there is a world shortage of pipemakers . Pipemakers usually also make flutes and whistles too . When there is a shortage of product you dont have to promote yourself so much plus it combines wood working and metal working skills and even leather working skills .
What a great idea
 
Chadwick Holmes
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I tend to lead folks that way, might be a personal bias......here's me with my 3/4 set, and the first chanter I made! 3/4 set is made by Childress and Koehler.
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Chadwick Holmes
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With the Childress 3/4 set, and the Koehler chanter, I have about $7000 in that set, so the profit margin is high, and the work to be done is done in stages over a year to bore the pipes and turn them, so it can fit into a ebb and flow lifestyle well. It took 2.5 years to get the 3/4 set and 1.5 year wait for the chanter. And that's a quick turn around.
 
Chadwick Holmes
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NPU is the mothership for pipes, it is in Dublin and they have a pipemaking school now, www.pipers.ie check it out. I know pipe makers who sold their first chanterson eBay to get started, and did so at $900 or so a pop several years ago.

If you are into toolmaking, about all you need to start is a wood lathe, metal lathe, and a ton of "want to" which is way better than "know how" most times when you are starting something. Biggest thing is getting used to making your drill bits, reamer sand most of your cutting tools by hand.

In the 70's there were 4 guys making pipes if I remember correctly, it is over 40 full time makers now, and they all have a back log. You can't order pipes from some, as they choose who "gets" to have them.....that kind of demand is a good thing....
 
Niele da Kine
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And once you have gotten tired of violins and pipes, there's also ukuleles. Lots of folks value those around here and will pay well for them. Especially if they are made of koa wood. Really pretty stuff and it sounds good, too.

Even if you don't make a living making violins, I would think that at worst case scenario, it would still be an interesting hobby that brings in side cash.
 
David Livingston
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and a uke costs ? Frankly peanuts as they are turned out by the million .

Very nice set of Pipes Chad. Is that a box wood Chanter ?
I often play with a Chap who has a Dave Williams set . I dont want to think how much that would be worth I suspect 25k + and in £

David
 
Chadwick Holmes
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Actually cherrywood! Benedict is a friend of mine, and I felled the tree and sent him a piece and he sent it back a chanter! He is one of the best living makers. And this chanter does things my others don't ......makes them feel like toys now! His best friend is Kevin Rowesome, so he has a leg up there! Fruit woods were preferred for pipes before britan started taking ebony, the softer wood makes a mellowed tone that I appreciate.

Uke s would've fun to make, and the materials would not be much......

Hey David, what is a nice new fiddle worth anyway?

Fiddle making sets a lot of good traditional skills: hot bending, gouge work, hide glue management, symmetrical carving and domeing, and small scale joinery for sure!
 
Zach Muller
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Ukes are relatively cheap at 1000-2000 for a koa handmade instrument. Because of the string tension these might be easier to make in general, and no bent wood.

A handmade quality violin can run from 6000 up to 10000. Primary woods are spruce and maple.

A handmade guitar can run from 3000 and up.

These prices are all pretty flexible since it really depends on who's building, material choices, and options. If you find a piece of spruce at the bottom of a lake to build with your violin might be worth magnitudes more.
Theres an idea, someone start a business of ancient wood retrieval so they can sell the old timber to scott.

ancient timber story this company has 7.5 million dollars worth of orders for the old wood in lake superior.
Well storys from 1997, so you wont be finding it in that lake specifically.
 
Chadwick Holmes
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I had no idea violins were that costly! Wow!
 
Zach Muller
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It boggles my mind too chadwick. I mean people commonly pay as much for their instrument cases as i did for my instrument, which I consider nice and very expensive by my standards, but was still turned out by an asian factory. I only dream of someones heart and soul going into crafting an instrument i will play....

Violins have their own crazy thing going on, some 250 year old instruments sell for millions no joke. Theres history for every instrument, but the classical strings seem to soar above all else in prices willing to be paid.

 
Scott Raber
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That is true. There is also a proud history of fraud and swindling if you get into the history of violin making. It is accepted practice to antique new violins to make them look like the "more valuable" older instruments. I think a big part of that price is the hype.
I will look into pipe making.
 
David Livingston
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Hi Chad
For sure fiddle making is a highly skilled prosess . I know a chap who goes to SW europe and chooses the trees that he makes fiddles out of before they are cut down ,( he goes to the mountains and says I want that one ) he learned in Italy in the same town where Strads where made, wonder ful workmanship etc etc and a price to go with them- he sells in China . I know someone else who buys cheap Chinese fiddles ( 150$ including case ) and takes them apart sets them up improves the finishing etc etc and sells them on for 400$ . You pays your money and makes your choice .
The antique wood thing is a good idea big money paid for rare woods . Knife makers etc want that sort of stuff ( like this guy https://www.facebook.com/neemantools/?fref=photo )

David

 
Satamax Antone
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Hi everybody.

Scott, i did a city and guilds of guitarmaking in UK (i'm French. ) In a school called the Newark and Sherwood college of violinmaking. I went there with my best friend at the time. Who did his three years of violinmaking. Besides Mirecourt in France, and Cremona. It's one of the best schools of violinmaking in the whole world. My friend did two or three years in calgary, and two or three in San fransisco, for big dealers and repairers of violins. Now he's set up shop in limoges, center west of france. He does mostly repairs, and rental for music school students etc. For the rental, he buys chinese violins in the white, and sets theses up properly, with a good quality varnish. Often thins the scoop of the arched top. To enhance the response of chinese violins. He also buys old french, italian, german and eastern european violins, either needing tlc, but only good for rental. Or sometimes he buys a good one, if the price is right, to resell. Well, it's a business. He sells violins from his old classmates too. But seldom builds anymore. One violin every two or three years, may be. If time permits. I don't know that Chicago school. Never heard of it before. I don't want to diss it; But if you could get the chance to go to the Newark and sherwood college. Mate, go for it. It's the coolest place to be, if you want to delve into this sort of trade. They not only teach instrument making, they also teach the trade. And have contacts all over the world. There was a cool nightlife too. 5 days a week, there would be a band playing. Either school students, or local. And parties were great too. It was ranging from 18yo students, to retired people, who wanted to learn something new. From all over the world, Japan, iceland, germany, brazil, UAE, Australia, south africa etc. Lots of german and austrians too.


Hth.

Max.
 
Scott Raber
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That sounds great. But I can only afford the Chicago School of Violinmaking because of my GI Bill. In America that is money they give you to go to school if you are in the military. I will look into it though. While I have read a lot about violins and gleaned what I could from asking around Chicago shops, I still don't know much about the world of violin making. I was so impressed when I saw a Joshua Bell concert and I used to take lessons and I played with a jam band in a pub for a minute for free beer, but that was years ago. It is intriguing and beautiful though and I want to be part of it. I will try and put my mind to some clever way to pay for it and maybe I will end up going to school there.
Also that is great info on how to make a buck in this trade. I really appreciate that. If I can make beer money while farming I would be happy. That is totally the kind of thing that makes the permies message board great. I think that deserves an apple. Thanks.
 
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