Welcome to the virtual incarnation of my workshop where you can find out about the different aspects of my work - without disturbing me. My website http://www.basscare.se/ is being kept as simple as possible. Here is where you'll find the stuff I chat to my customers about, or stuff that I would chat to my customers about if there was more time and I was more chatty. Feel free to browse around and if you'd like to get updates in your facebook newsfeed click on 'like' at my facebook page: Elinore Morris - instrument maker www.facebook.com/Basscare. The colours of this blog attempt to match the colours of the inside of the workshop, which has been renovated with historically accurate linseed oil based paint, and you can see a snippet of the newly sanded wooden floor.

Tuesday, 21 December 2010

Creative Problem Solving with Plaster Casts

The big project of the moment is correcting the arching of a bass table. It had had a bass bar that was fitted with with far too much tension causing the whole table to warp. The sound post side was also pushed up out of proportion. So I built a bass shaped container and made a plaster form of the table. After correcting the plaster form I needed to find a way of applying even pressure over the entire table. This is usually done with bags of sand, but hey, since mid november all the sand has been frozen under half a metre of snow. What to do? Hmmm....Pling!! Sugar is like sand.

When I started the business I got lots of advice about how I should put exactly everything that I buy through the business to save on tax. Well, I haven't actually done that in practice. Apart from not feeling entirely honest, it makes for a lot of boring bookkeeping, so things that I buy for the workshop go through the business, and the rest I pay for myself. I maybe the poorer for it but I do sleep well. Relevance? My brainwave was that I could buy loads of sugar to press in to my bass form and then afterwards take it home to make pretty christmas candy. 1. bass form (tick) 2. cosy family activity (tick) 3. edible christmas presents (tick)

This was just a test run, but I liked the look of the plastic bags filled with suspicious white powder. The actual procedure involved warming everything up with hot air, dampening the wood with hot water, layers of paper to absorb the moisture and then bags of sugar carefully arranged for even pressure (sugar has the added advantage of holding the heat well) and finally quantities of wood on the top for extra weight. Repeated several times.
After all that, I boiled up the sugar with food colouring.

Sunday, 12 December 2010

Meeting Koussevitsky's old Double Bass

The other day I got to visit the orchestra at Konserthuset with my little bag of tricks. A new bass had just arrived and the bridge and sound post needed to be put back into place. Luckily that was simply done and I was able to spend a good long time admiring it together with its proud new owner.

This is no ordinary bass. It was once the property of the virtuoso Sergei Koussevitsky. Not to be confused with Gary Karr's alleged "Amati" which he got from Koussevitsky's widow, this "Tononi" is a much smaller instrument (string length 97cm, though you would never guess from looking at it). According to the seller there is no proof that it was in fact made by Tononi but it does in all likelihood come from Bologna around 1720. It certainly is a magnificent instrument and it has the most wonderful form and full arching which is not evident in this picture. Accompanying the instrument is some interesting documentation and I hope that its present owner will be able to piece together and bring to light a considerably more exciting story than what is presently available at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sergei_Koussevitzky
It was certainly a great privilege for me to be present when the first notes were played and I'm looking forward to making a new bridge for it in the new year.

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

Kora Diary 3

Provisional fitting of the neck. Koras can be up to 1.5m tall. This one is 1.4m at the moment. I might take a bit off after I've plotted the string lengths, not sure yet.
The sound hole turned out rather nicely I think. The calabash is very obliging to cut shapes out of. I'm sure I can use the African shaped piece that came out for something too.

Thursday, 2 December 2010

Kora Diary 2

Had a brainwave of threading guidelines through the skin for the crossbars. It worked nicely.
The crossbars I made from an old double bass fingerboard. I didn't turn them, I formed them with a spoke shave, and drilled holes so I could thread them through the holes.

Wow, it really looks like a kora!

It's a bit asymmetrical, so that there is space for the sound hole on the left side there.

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Kora Diary

It was so pretty this morning when the sun came up that I took my goat skin outside for a quick photo shoot. 

But it was so cold -14 or something that I had to hurry back inside. I'm using the cellar of this lovely building for my kora project, at least the skinning part. It used to be the kitchen where they made all the food for the course participants a hundred years ago. Here is the old stove:
The goat skin is from Senegal, shaved african style with a razor blade.