FRETS.COM Field Trip

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My field trip to Egg City and the violin shop of
Joe Grubaugh & Sigrun Seifert
© Frank Ford, 6/22/98; Photos by FF, 6/21/98

Older Californians (like me) remember Petaluma as the home of about a million chickens, and not much else. Its been decades since the chickens moved out, and Petaluma has become recognized as a desirable community within striking distance of the bustling San Francisco Bay Area. Joe Grubaugh and his wife, Sigrun Sie\\eifert, have lived and worked here since 1980 and have built an enviable reputation as violin makers and restorers.

Yesterday, I was fortunate enough to spend the day with Joe and Sigrun talking restoration and comparing the fretted instrument traditions to the world of violins. We have different aesthetics, but the same ethics, so we have a lot in common, and a lot we can learn from each other.

Their well-organized shop is in a cottage at the end of a residential street. The only sign is that tiny blue violin on the corner of the building.

Here's Joe giving me a priceless tip on making plaster casts:

I'll pass the tip along as soon as I have some pictures.

This particular cast is a big one, and it serves as a work board to support this 18th century cello top:

Joe gave me a quick lesson in the technique he and Sigrun will use to restore the exterior appearance of the terrible worm damage in this fine instrument.

Just look at the inside where the worm holes had been filled with glue:

The wood is so damaged in some areas it will have to be gouged out and replaced with new spruce to restore its strength. On the finished front surface, similar tracks will have to be individually scooped out and filled with new wood. Notice that the tracks follow the soft grain between the hard winter growth rings.

Joe demonstrated how they'll go about it.



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