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Argon55

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    Yorkshire, UK
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    Biochemistry, immunology, violin playing, lutherie, cycling, natural history, astronomy, art

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  1. The afterlength of each string will be different. So is the afterlength important or not? I've read here many times that it is (though I've never detected a consistent difference of sound on my own violins when I change it). Presumably if the afterlength is significant, one of either a standard or harp tailpiece would give a clearly better sound, and common use would have settled on that type (as it seems to have with standard tailpieces). Surely nobody would be so devious as to try to get people to buy their product without any factual evidence of it being better than the competition? That would be shocking.
  2. You may well be right about that. But if it's so difficult, it rather undermines the idea that Strads etc are acoustically unique and generally believed by players, many in the trade and many contributors to this forum, to be acoustically superior to other violins (though they may well be superior in other ways). I wonder whether it is similar to wine tasting, where, when using blind tasting, experts struggle to identify superior wines better than a rate equivalent to mere chance. The hypothesis being that wines are so complex in composition and therefore taste, that it is beyond the human palate to consistently recognise and identify them. As with wine tasting, perhaps with violin sound. This is an interesting article: https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2013/jun/23/wine-tasting-junk-science-analysis
  3. I'm always depressed when I see articles like this. The reason being that some misguided scientist comes up with fancy ways of analysing Strads to show how some varnish component or other contributes to their "unique" material and compositional properties. Well that's as maybe. But if you want to approach this issue scientifically, the absolute first task is to demonstrate objectively that Strads and del Gesus do indeed possess unique acoustic properties, otherwise your analyses are meaningless. As far as I'm aware, a this has never been done in a well-controlled, double-blind test with sufficient numbers of violins of Strads etc versus well made instruments across time, to provide a significant sample. This issue has been discussed many times here and I don't wish to re-open the topic but just to point out that these sorts of papers, while interesting, are a bit pointless from a scientific perspective.
  4. In the UK at least, Rondos are available from the major online sellers of strings and you can even get them from Amazon. But they're one of the more expensive string sets here.
  5. Sorry but it's not my violin. Let me get back to the owner for permission to put up the name.
  6. How interesting. If so, the violin is wrongly attributed (it's apparently by a relatively well-known English maker). But I've since had a look at other pics of this person's violins and they do have distinct similarities to the one I posted here. And the grain is distinct in them if not quite as pronounced. But then again, people fake things.
  7. Thanks for that. Hadn't considered stain accumulating in ridges in the grain but that certainly makes sense. Strange though that this is probably the fourth violin with this pattern on it that I've seen in the last few years. Unfortunately I didn't take much notice of the ages or makers of the others but this one is definitely modern and British.
  8. I came across this violin (made in the UK, 1991) with a striped stain that I've seen on a few other violins. It seems to be differentially staining the dense wood in each tree ring and I assume it's done before the varnish is applied. Can somebody enlighten me about how it's done (i.e. what stain/ground/whatever) and why? Just aesthetic appearance or is there some other reason? I rather like it, though many may react to it like marmite.
  9. Argon55

    Old strings

    Agreed. It would be difficult to do double blind tests. And probably not worth the effort unless somebody decided to do a PhD on this sort of stuff. Hmmm....now there a thought!
  10. Argon55

    Old strings

    Absolutely. A few years ago in the UK, they got a bunch of Masters of Wine (the qualification for professional wine buyers, so rather expert) together to do blind tastings. Overall, their opinions were no better than guesses. I think in that trial, they also found that with blind tastings, they couldn't distinguish white from red! Says it all really.
  11. Argon55

    Old strings

    Well yes we are all subject to some sort of herd mentality. In human societies, if you don't conform, you can often get ostracised, which in some circumstances can be disastrous for that individual. Psychology tells us that unless we have some sorts of neurological developmental disorders, we all take some care to be one of the crowd. We've evolved to be members of groups with complex dynamics requiring cooperation and influence. We've also evolved with lots of cognitive biases too, which make most of our opinions extremely subjective. So for example, if I knowingly pick up an expensive pair of binoculars, I'm likely to prefer the view in them to a cheap pair, even when I know of this cognitive bias. The same things apply to sound as well. That's not to be critical of people. After all, we are human and can't escape from the way our brains work. But at least the scientific method attempts to correct for these biases (mostly successfully), which is why I asked if there was any objective evidence about strings going off.
  12. Argon55

    Old strings

    So, this is a question about strings, their ageing and how that might affect the sound. Perhaps it belongs in The Fingerboard but it's a technical question really and I though I was more likely to find some expertise in here. I'm an amateur violinist (not especially talented but good enough to play in a community orchestra playing mainstream symphonic repertoire) and I've always been rather puzzled by the claim you need to change your strings regularly because they age or "go dead". I've never encountered this, despite trying to create the condition by leaving strings on my violin for at least a three years in a couple of instances. I do hear a change in sound after a few days when I put new strings on my violin (especially with Dominants) but after that, they settle and seem to sound the same for a long, long time. I only play on synthetic strings by the way and practice daily. Now I may have cloth ears but I have good hearing and am quite sensitive to subtle differences in sound in other areas of life outside music. So I wondered whether there is any objective evidence for string ageing and an accompanying change in sound? Blind testings or objectively different string acoustic spectra on ageing? Or is it one of these issues that has become commonly accepted without any actual evidence? When people claim to hear a change even when they don't so as to appear one of the crowd, or perhaps even believe they hear a change because they expect it as it's "common knowledge".
  13. I heard her play the Brahms concerto at the Proms in 1971 when I was nobbut a youngster. Also heard her play the Tchaik in 77. I just loved her playing and think she was severely underestimated at a time when all the great soloists were men.
  14. Unlikely that a British man of his age in the 1950s would use a # as an abbreviation for "Number". It would be a bit unusual now, even. The usual British abbreviation at the time was "No.", therefore more likely American or perhaps Canadian (or Australia/NZ/SA, though my assumption would be that they'd use British usage)?
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