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Don Rickert Musician Shop

NEW Custom Deep Body Travel Violin - Viola II by D. Rickert

Posted by D. Rickert on

The Custom Deep Body Travel Violin - Viola II is 100% U.S. made in the workshops of D. Rickert Musical InstrumentsThis new instrument is available at the Don Rickert Musician Shop

There is a new version of the "Custom Deep Body Travel Violin-Viola" by D. Rickert Musical Instruments. It is called the "Deep Body Travel Violin-Viola II".  Deep Body II a revised 3 w shoulder rest

This instrument was originally conceived as a 4-string 3.5-inch wide, 4/4 length travel violin, which is capable, when strung with special octave strings, of playing, with good projection volume and a full-bodied timbre, an octave lower than a normal violin. Additional information about the original instrument can be found in the article, Don Rickert Travel Viola - Octave Violin. Among other innovations, the instrument was designed accommodate a variety of necks and stringing configurations.

What we are now calling the Deep Body Travel Violin-Viola II has become one of the most popular instruments we have ever sold. It is definitly the best-sounding pochette-type travel violin we have ever produced.  Interestingly enough, not a single customer has opted for a 4-string octave violin (aka baritone violin) configuration. Rather, to date, we have made (or are in the process of making) the following configurations:

  • 4-string standard violin or viola tuning (base price applies to this configuration)
  • 5-string violin/viola with standard 5-string violin neck (this is what most customers buy)
  • 5-string violin/viola with custom extra-wide 5-string neck
  • 10-string instrument configured as follows: (See photo essay on 10-string Pochette D'Amore)
    • 4 playable strings tuned C3, G3, C4 (middle C), G4 (G above middle C)
    • 6 sympathetic strings that run through a channel under the fingerboard and then through a special cut-out in the bridge (i.e. the sympathetic string bridge) and attached to metal hooks on the underside of the tailpiece (just like a Norwegian Hardanger Fiddle)

Why a New Version of the Deep Body Custom Travel Violin-Viola?

There were no design problems from the player's standpoint and the instrument sounded absolutely great! In fact, we recorded some video of a top competitive Bluegrass fiddler at a recent fiddle competition. To see and hear fancy Bluegrass-style (aka “modern style”) fiddle playing on a 5-string version of the Deep Body Custom Travel Violin/Viola, watch our video on YouTube.

The BIG Problem

The instrument was extremely labor-intensive to make. Taking labor in account, these instruments have cost us more to make (a full 7-day week; about 50-60 hours) than we have ever charged for them. Of course, raising the price (a lot) has always been an option. The problem with this is that our market research tells us that our current pricing has been close to the maximum of what people are willing to pay for a travel violin, no matter how good it sounds.

So, we have taken a loss on these instruments for several years because they have a high reputation value. They are so much better than any other travel violin being made that there really are NO serious competitors.

A Possible Solution: Have Them Made at a Lower Cost

Having these instruments made in China would be the logical choice for many musical instrument designers. Besides the fact that such a manufacturing decision would ultimately lead to knock-offs all over eBay, we just wanted to keep this a 100% U.S. made instrument.

Would use of CNC and/or Laser Cutting Help?: Not much, as we already use CNC to partially carve the necks. Laser cutting would speed up cutting of sound holes and such. Of course, we could go with cheaper and faster varnishing, but we are not going to do that. In the final analysis, the most time-consuming aspects of making the Deep Body Custom Travel Violin-Viola have been the following:

  • Bending the wood (complex and tight bends in the top, back and sides)
    • The back alone changed bend direction 4 times, to produce a contour that we needed for our original shoulder rest adaptor track...not even needed with our new shoulder rest adaptors.
  • Gluing in the end block and neck block (Bent wood does what it wants to do. Very difficult to coax bent sides to fit end blocks and neck blocks for a good glue joint)
  • Fabricating internal framing (all of those complex 3D bends!)

We were able to solve all of the problems with some subtle changes in the body curvatures and the way the instrument is constructed. The details are trade secrets; however, it is evident in the accompanying images that we now have a more visually elegant design. The instrument actually sounds a wee bit better than its predecessor.

Yes, we have reduced build time substantially, without decreasing the quality even a small amount. In fact, because the parts fit together better at the outset, the quality is better, with less use of heat bending, which tempers the wood and makes it more brittle.

We only raised the price by a small amount, which we were going to do anyway.

Special No-Extra-Cost Features:

  • Custom-made chin rest
  • Wittner FineTune internally-geared tuning pegs
  • Latest version of the Rickert Adjustable Shoulder Rest Adaptor
    • The Phantom Shoulder Rest (shown in one of the product images) is now available as an option. Soon the Wittner ISNY Shoulder rest will be an option as well)

Case and Bow

The standard case is a 31"x5" tubular case. See Related Items.

An appropriate (to the stringing chosen) full-size (not a short bow or take-apart bow) bow is recommended. See the BOWS category.

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