Violin/neck block cut


Mr. Lashof-  In the process of a 7/8th violin build.  I have determined a 189mm length from the plate edge to the nicks.  From the nut to stop I have 2 measurements- 128mm and 126mm.  I don't know which one I'll use but how deep does the neck pocket need to be?  Do I include plate overhang in the pocket cut depth mesurement or start measurement at the ribs.  Please verify that neck pocket depth measurement is not included in the total nut to bridge length.  
 On a side note- I used an unusual inside back contour pattern from Heron-Allens book.  While carving and finishing I can't tell if he and Chanot were creating work for a future repairman or they really figured something that works.  thank you

Hi Duke

For a 189mm neck length from plate edge to nicks (assuming that is where the bridge will be), the neck length, the distance from the end of the fingerboard to the plates edge (same location as previous)will be 126mm - that is the ratio of 3:2.

Typically a neck mortise depth at the top edge will be around 5.5-6mm for a 7/8 including the overhang.  This depth when measured at the ribs edge will be about 3-3.5mm deep from the ribs, the depth will be more at the base of the neck mortise.

The mortise depth is not included in the neck length when measuring of the mensur ratio. Obviously that depth is part of the vibrating string length but don't count it twice. There is a change in angle between measuring for the neck length/stop length ("mensur ratio" of 2:3 and measuring the string length which will be longer by 2mm because of the changed angle. So do not worry so much about the string length when setting a neck.  If you have set the bridge location correctly, and use the mensur ratio, the string length will be correct for that instrument assuming that the overstand is typical.  IMHO -  the ratio is more important than the exact string length.  Do not try to make up for a short stop by making a long neck to achieve a certain string length, that would be bad. The long touted SL of 330 is more often than not - too long (for a 4/4 violin). 327-328 is more feasible and comfortable.

For a 7/8 violin - Stop = 189, neck length = 126 - this is a 3:2 ratio. This measured in one length = 315. The resulting string length will be approx. 317 because of the deflection.

Time always reveals the truth - That sounds like something Mulder would have said

Hopefully that clarifies things for you. FYI - I have 7/8 measurements on my web site if you need some, but glad to clarify anytime.  


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David Lashof


I can answer questions on violin, viola, cello and bass making, repair and maintenance as well as supply general violin value ranges and information on instrument makers’ assuming the instrument's as labeled. I don't give values for modern makers as many of these modern makers are yet unknown to me. I can only give you feedback based on what information you give me, and no authority on the instrument can know every maker's work that ever lived. I have access to many books on makers and auction prices on over 25,000 makers, as well as having 36 years of experience with selling and appraising violins. Without having the instrument in hand, any estimate over the internet is just a guess as the label inside an instrument is more often wrong than right, so just having that information is not very useful. Pictures can sometimes be helpful but only so much, as the "feel" of the instrument along with small clues in workmanship and varnish cannot be seen in pictures. Any pictures should be high quality close-ups of the top and back. Additional photos of the front and treble side of the neck are also useful. It is always best to have an instrument seen in person at a violin shop that does appraisals. I can also provide advice on bows, rosin, strings and other string instrument accessories. As I am now retired, I have no bias towards selling anything; I only wish to share my knowledge and experience by providing information for those that may be getting confused by misinformation, misdirection or conflicting statements. (While I have seen many thousands of instruments and have performed numerous appraisals; if I have not evaluated an instrument in person, any information I set forth in an opinion is just that, an opinion based solely on what you have provided. Thusly, no financial decision should be based on that opinion, but rather, further investigation should be performed by having the instrument examined in person.)


I am a retired violin maker and repairman with 35 years experience having worked in Chicago and Maryland at 5 different violin shops and music stores including the first violin repairman at William Harris Lee in Chicago, the head repairman at Weavers Violins in Maryland, and in my own shop of 25 years. I have made 160 instruments and have restored countless professional level and student grade instruments. I am an accomplished violinist having performed with semi-professional as well as amateur groups although I haven't played for years and mostly stay away from questions about playing. I have taught violin making and restoration to about 20 students; three of which have gone on professionally and now have their own shops. I know violins from playing, selling, repairing, making and teaching.

Violin Society of America (VSA). American String Teachers Association (ASTA)

I graduated from the prestigious 4 year Chicago School of Violin Making in 1981 under Master Violin Maker Tschu Ho Lee. I also studied with violin maker Willis M. Gault in Washington DC from 1973-75, who was the former owner of the oldest known example of an instrument from the modern violin family, an Andreas Amati Viola.

Awards and Honors
2008 Chester Petranek Award for service to the music community. ASTA award for service. Top All Expert in Violin for 2014 and 2015.

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I have worked with many professional musicians from DC area Symphonies as well as players from all over the US. Here are just a few, Leonard Slatkin - Former conductor of the National Symphony Orchestra. Doris Gazda - Nationally renowned string specialist and composer. Bernard Greenhouse, Tanya Anisimova - Internationally renowned Solo Cellists. Jody Gatwood, Mark Pfannschmidt, Lori Barnet, Doug Dubé, Judy Silverman - National Philharmonic Orchestra. Robert Blatt, David Hardy, Glen Garlick - National Symphony Orchestra. Eddie Stubbs, Brendan Mulvahill, Nate Leath - Professional Fiddle Players. David Basche, Pat Braunlich, John Knudson, Romano Solano, Ed Ferris, Fred Lieder - freelance musicians.

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