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Torbjörn Zethelius

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Posts posted by Torbjörn Zethelius

  1. 20 hours ago, RobP said:

    I have a mid-quality violin on which you cannot play any closer than about 1/4" to the bridge without having to use a lot of bow pressure to avoid the whistle and no tone.  By a lot I mean breaking bow hair level of pressure even on a freshly rosined bow.


    The string lemgth to the bridge is 238mm from inside the nut to the face of the bridge.  The rear edge of the bridge feet are on the line between the nicks and it is vertical and centered.  The soundpost however is further toward the centerline than the bass bar by about 1/8" and is about 3/8" behind the bridge feet.

    I'm wondering if moving the soundpost out and forward would eliminate the problem of not being able to olay all the way to the bridge.


    Your thoughts?

    May I suggest that you make it fit properly and move it closer to the bridge and outward as you said. That should make for a good improvement. 

  2. I have been thinking about this and would also very much like an answer from someone knowledgeable in the history of the evolution of the modern violin. There seems to have come into fashion in the late 18 hundreds to play on larger instruments, and I think this is due to a development that began in France. 

    The Hills, Stradivari his life and work, Dover edition p. 257, quote a letter from Rev. Thomas Twining, dated May 4th 1791, who complains about his Stainer when compared to his Strad, that it is "undersized, and on that account less valuable". 

    I guess It may have been due to a new playing technique and/or sound preference. I also have a theory that goes deeper, that I may spare it for another occasion. 

  3. 9 minutes ago, jacobsaunders said:

    Your encyclopedia page from 1751 shows no oustside moulds (as far as I can see). The earliest outside moulds I have seen were the half outside moulds (one made first the left side, then the right side) used by Thomas Zach in the mid 19th C

    Yes. That's what I wanted to point out.

  4. Not a myth. The outer mould possibly came about in the late 18th century when copying Stradivari instruments, and later Guarneri del Gesu, became fashionable. There was apparently quite a lot of innovation in French violin making around that time.

    Edit. I don't know what was going on in Mirecourt at the time that you're asking about.

    From Encyclopédie, ou dictionnaire raisonné des sciences, des arts et des métiers. Printed in 1751.


  5. On 3/7/2021 at 2:13 PM, Arbos said:

    Makers of the past tended to copy Amati and Stainer, but at some point everybody starting copying Stradivari and, a little later, Guarneri del Gesu. The most accepted theory is that it happened because these models give a more powerful sound, more suitable for the music of the time. Where do you all see the violin going in the future? It seems like del Gesu has displaced Stradivari as the most inspiring or copied maker these days and I wonder if in a hundred years people will be copying Balestrieri, for example.

    I wish to see an end to copying altogether, but it will most likely never happen.

  6. 2 hours ago, Davide Sora said:

    Such an arching would seem to me more in the direction to look for something to be able to make thin thicknesses avoiding distortions.;)

    Thicknesses aren't as important as the curvatures. Make them thin or thick, I don't care. 

  7. 1 hour ago, plasterercaster said:

    Venice 1770?  What makes Francesco Griselini an authoritative source in regards to violin making?

    The proof is in the Tarragona, as they say in Cremona. :P I just made that up, pretty clever, eh? That guy knew a lot. 

  8. 9 hours ago, David Beard said:


    You also can't rule out that they ALL might have worked under the shared common notion that the top long arcs should be carved differently than backs in basically exactly the way we see them today.


    Funny that you ignored my post with the quote which was actually from the time and place that some of these makers were still active.

    You also need to show why, if they really made the top more flat, that there's any advantage of doing so. The most sought after instruments as far as I'm aware, are rather more curved than not.

    1 hour ago, Davide Sora said:

    Leaving aside for a moment distortions or intentions, are we really sure that a flattish top long arch is better than a curved one?

    This guy seemed to have come to think otherwise.


    Breaking the rules? Love this guy.:)

    A case in point. Del Gesu made rather thick plates that keeps the shape well. 

  9. Some of you may have seen this pic before, but anyway. Since the discussion is about what the old makers did or did not, consider this excerpt from Dizionario delle Arti e de Mestieri, by Francesco Griselini, Marco Fassadoni, Venice 1770



    ”The principal point for the goodness of the instrument is to find good, old and sonorous spruce for the belly: the best is from Tyrol. The cavity shapes given to this belly in a vault shape more or less high, the diverse thicknesses to be observed, the way that the bassbar is placed inside, to the side of the cordone, which is the thickest string of the violin, the height of the ribs, and finally the excavating of the back which has to correspond perfectly to that of the belly; all this together with the true way of positioning the two holes in the shape of S which are carved in the violin belly, the placement of the soundpost and the bridge, contribute in an essential way to the goodness of the instrument." 
    Dizionario delle arte e de’ Mestieri, volume 8, page 196.

    Note that the long arch isn't mentioned at all. The internal curves should reflect each other, there's no reason to make it more complicated than that. The difference in the outer shapes of the back vs belly is due to different distribution of thicknesses, that combined with distorsion from 300 years of constant string tension. Thin bellies tend to distort more than thicker ones, to the extent that they sometimes cave in under the bridge.

  10. On 1/2/2021 at 1:59 PM, Paul McClean said:

    I am currently making my second violin and have graduated the top plate to 2.9mm in the top and bottom bouts and 3.3mm in the centre between the C bouts.  The thickness is ~3.5mm just inside the gluing platform all the way around.  The overall plate weighs 89g which I believe is high.  Attached is a photo of the Chladni patterns of modes 1, 2 & 5 along with the respective frequencies.  Mode 5 is currently at 353Hz.  My aim is to keep the modes in octaves and for mode 5 of the back plate within a tone of the top mode 5.

    Question:  How should I proceed with graduating the top?  Should I be aiming to drop the weight and if so what is a realistic target  as 0.2mm will reduce by  2-3grams

    Happy New Year

    P.S the back plate has been graduated to a starting point for plate tuning as follows:

    Weight 129g

    Mode 1  114Hz

    Mode 2  182Hz

    Mode 5  376HzModes.thumb.png.a5e6ed733c4c858955b90e6f0f805411.png

    You want smooth curves inside as well as outside. Taptones /Chladnipatterns are distractions IMO.

  11. According to The Brompton's Book of Violin and Bow Makers, there was a Karl Johan Engström, born 1879 in Ven, Sweden. Perhaps this Gust(-av?) was related to him? The colour is quite Swedish looking for the time. Maybe he was a Swedish immigrant, I'm speculating.

  12. Thanks for the interesting observation, Kevin. The marks seem to correspond with musical intervals. Considering that the distance between the upper and lower blocks correspond with the original vibrating string length, it makes sense IMO. 

    I found the following intervals: small second, small sext, small ters, big nona and (of course) the octave. Are there more?

    P.S. I will argue that this distance (the vibrating string length) is the starting point for the design of the violin. 

  13. 5 minutes ago, MikeC said:

    Hi TZ,  I read that article.  I have a question,  how do you determine the first turn on the back?  See the circled area.  The rest of the scroll is easy but that part I just kind of eyeball it.  


    This part is commonly made fairly straight. Its development follow from the angled template (first turn) to the width at point B. 

  14. On 11/9/2020 at 1:54 PM, Wood Butcher said:

    I’ve seen pictures of the templates for marking out the back of the scroll in the Sacconi book, so I understand the principle of how it works.

    I have never seen anywhere information on how it is generated.
    Does anyone know the position of the compass locations? Presumably the chin is the starting point, and it works from there. How do you work out the changing distances between the points, and how to work out the widths of the circles for a violin scroll?

    Any help is appreciated.

    I wrote an article about how to measure out the scroll and pegbox in The Strad's Trade Secrets. If you manage to follow it then from there it should be easy to make a template. Strad's templates were made for a busy workshop IMO. A lone maker doesn't need it. I have made a storey stick with the essential measurements, the same as marked out in my article.

    Carving a scroll using angular templates.pdf

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