Wednesday, February 9, 2011
Tom's Oud #3
The oud top is shown above. This was taken after I removed the old braces from it and saved them to brace the new top which you can see below it. The old top had structural problems, basically it was folding up on itself under the tension of the strings. For an older instrument with this kind of construction it happens frequently. There are two basic cures, rebuild the old top with new supporting structure or replace the top with a new one. In this case it came down to top replacement, but I used the original braces as the structure under the top. I'll show this and tell why in a later post.
The new top turned out well, I made all new appointments for the top, pick guard, that oval shaped thing, bridge and the beard. The beard of an oud is that piece of wood near the neck that looks like an old dudes beard hanging down the face of the instrument. Only it's anatomically weird because if this were actually a face, the beard would be growing over the eyes way up on the face. This is a great reason to refrain from anthropomorphizing an oud and the main feature which distinguishes ouds from human beings.
But I digress. The rosette is made of hand carved walnut as are the other details like the beard and bridge. I had to remake the details of the top with walnut for two reasons. The old parts were made of really bad soft wood and had fallen apart or were deeply scratched. Since this oud is honestly not of historical value, it's a mass produced but good sounding instrument, we decided ( the customer and I) the attention to remaking the details and appointments would be an enhancement both structurally and aesthetically. Had this been an oud of value due to it's maker or other factor a more conservative restoration would have been carried out. This was an old oud about to die and we revived it to have another long music making life. In the end it's a players instrument not a museum piece. It's important for a restorer to understand when to make those judgements.