Mon Violon

Pirate violin

Add on Tuesday, January 01, 2013
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We will strip a 1st prize violin and then disguise it as an antique. This "pirate violin" will be perfect to play on a trip or in the rain.


violon populaire

The violin, before being the "king of the orchestra", is a popular instrument. It doesn't take much to stir or to make people dance: a box (a clog, a little can, a cigar box), a fingerboard under four strings… The violinist has so much power over the sound (attack, pitch, colour) that he is the determining factor.[1]
Not the varnish.

1) Buy a violin

violon neuf

Three-penny music

Very cheap (between 50€ and 70€) the factory violin that we are going to modify is the one that beginners are likely to buy online or in general music shops. It is an instrument in the shape of a violin, but it has little to do with the creations of violin makers. Yet, like the clog violin, it can be played with a few adjustments.

Change the strings

First of all, we will have to change the strings because the original ones break at first tuning. Choose cheap synthetic strings: around 25€ (yes, violin strings are expensive).

Rework pegs and scroll

Usually the pegs need to be reworked: the holes for the strings have to be redone (often misplaced) with a small drill it, deburr the holes of the the scroll and then apply chalk and dry soap.

Balance sheet

We are at 100-130€ minimum for a playable violin + bow (prices updated in 2020).
I am often asked the question so here it is.

But we are not going to stop there.
We can now have fun giving this violin a more singular aspect…

2) Remove the original varnish

violon poncé

Alas, this varnish is very resistant!
It is generally an epoxy varnish that we will have to sand down with sandpaper. It is very time consuming. The dust is toxic.

The violin finally appears with all its defects, which were hidden by the coloured varnish: often bad adjustments, filled in with wood pulp.

3) Carve a head fiddle

volute sculptée

A classical scroll can be quite easily transformed into something more baroque. All you need is a small knife for handicrafts and a little patience.

4) paint and varnish

table vieillie

Wear and tear, wormholes, patina… everything is fake.

The worm holes are made with a needle. Remember to make a few flush galleries in addition to the holes.

The colour is acrylic paint. Start with a light background, let it dry and then add dark stains that you will then wash with a sponge at the supposed points of friction.

Finally, I waterproofed the whole thing with a “special bathroom” wood sealer. I thought it would make a strong coat. I was in a bad way! The sealer doesn't harden very much, I should have put an epoxy varnish back on.

Photo gallery

crosse faux vers peinture tete profil tete face vitrificateur cordier alu ame ouie chevallet patine brillant dos face atelier

  1. To hear popular violins:
    - Didier Oliver testing a cigar box violin from Claude Ribouillault's collection with Joachim Montbord on guitar:
    - Philippe Langlois playing a piece by Corrette on a clog violin: (start at 1′30)
    - the orchestra of recycled instruments of Cateura (Paraguay): (website:


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Bottom-up reading

Piano Dom

nice trick :)

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