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Don Noon

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Everything posted by Don Noon

  1. The key to its survival for the last 40 years has been Bill Barnitz. Here's a few lines from his message: This year, 2022, is my 40th year of guiding this Association. Rather than see our group struggle and strain in such an undesirable condition , I feel the proper thing to do is formally close our doors and be proud of the many things we have been able to accomplish since we started back in 1958. Bob Wallace and his friends had a great vision of a violin makers group when he and his friends started this Association. That was 64 years ago. I have only been going there every year for the last dozen years.
  2. I just got the email notice that VMAAI is shutting down. Dang, it was a great competition to hear all of the instruments being played, and hear the differences for yourself. However, I fully understand the problems of declining attendance and membership, and the increased cost of travel and hotels adding to the difficulties. SCAVM died some years ago from the same disease. In a way, it's a slight relief... so I don't have to tell them that I wasn't going to go this year, since it's a VSA competition year and I only have one violin to enter. Anyway, thanks to Bill Barnitz and all of the other volunteers that kept the organization going for so long.
  3. Why do you need it dry? I thought it was only used in low percentages, dissolved in water.
  4. If you're talking about the top grads, that's pretty extreme variation. I started out with a similar graduation concept (thin cheeks and edges... the "speaker cone" idea), and generally found it to be loud... but with the excessive and unpleasant midfrequencies that you describe. I don't do that any more, and use a hybrid of what I see in Strad/Guarneri patterns. But arching probably matters more.
  5. Strong peaks in the "transition hill" range (mid-tones) is what I listen for when trying to tell if an instrument is new or very old. The peaks seem to even out somewhat over time, even on new ones. Also, a weak response in the higher frequencies will allow the mid-tone peaks to stand out in painful relief, which also is often a characteristic of newly made instruments. So I think we're talking about tonal balance of a violin, not anything specific to a 5-string. And IMO it has to do with the details of the arching and graduations and bass bar, not a simple thick/thin choice. Perhaps something can be done with adjustments, but I would expect that to be very limited. 5-string fiddles should have a pretty nice C string, as the C# air mode will give a strong first overtone. I assume this is a newly made instrument, and I'd give it a few weeks or months to settle in before doing anything drastic.
  6. I have also seen a burn-in effect due to extremely deep flame, where the grain turns near perpendicular to the surface. Even though it may not be burnt with color, the appearance remains fixed over any normal points of view.
  7. Ankles on a bridge blank usually need to be thinned out quite a lot... you could thin mostly on the outside, and adjust the effective ankle width narrower.
  8. Adding a mass to a pegbox string is something new to me, but since there is some movement of the peghead in the B1+ mode, it could work, in theory. The general theory is that the string/mass in the pegbox needs to be tuned to the wolf frequency to work, similar to a wolf eliminator mass added to an afterlength. But the afterlength version I think is more common, and definitely should be more effective. But "effective" might not be so good, as the eliminator takes some time to build up amplitude to do its thing... so there are odd transients. You could have an instantaneous wolf, and then de-wolfs as the eliminator builds up, and then an after-ring when you stop playing. I messed around with these, and generally found that the cure was worse than the disease. The other type of wolf eliminator... a mass stuck somewhere on the plate... works differently by adding mass to a high-amplitude area of the plate. It can work, but is more likely to have side effects. The cost some suppliers charge for these is ridiculously steep in some cases. You can test out the effects either with a small blob of tungsten putty on the appropriate string location, or in the second type, get a couple of small neodymium magnets (one outside, one inside) and see where they work.
  9. I just measured a few of the "42mm" bridges I have, and the distance between the center of the ankles runs between 30 and 32 mm. So it a bass bar is 16 mm from the centerline (is that to the inside, or center??), I'd say the alignment isn't too bad. The ankles is where the force comes in, and the feet just spread it out.
  10. For new making, it certainly makes sense to have a general standard. But in the case of an existing instrument, where the bass bar is already there and closer to the centerline than standard (which is the specific OP question), there are two choices as I mentioned... either give up on the "standard" 42mm bridge, or change the "non-standard" bass bar. Going with a narrower bridge... or even a 3/4 bridge... would be far preferable, as it is reversible. Changing the bar depends a lot on the skill and experience of the luthier, and IMO wouldn't be a tranformative improvement anyway. Could even be slightly worse, but hard to say anything with confidence, especially without knowing the other construction features of the given instrument. In any case, the soundpost should end up where it works best, rather than any precise symmetrical dimension.
  11. There may be good underlying acoustic reasons why the bass bar is aligned (mostly) with one bridge foot and the soundpost is aligned (mostly) with the other foot. But beyond that, imposing rigid symmetry just because there is a "symmetry rule" seems arbitrary to me. The soundpost should go where it works best for the player, which is the ultimate goal. For the OP question about narrowly placed bars... use a narrower bridge would be #1. If the F eyes are wide enough and you want to put in the time: new bar.
  12. My one attempt to decarboluxate copal was more like carbonization. It went from rubbery to charred. I have had much better success with pre-run copal, but WFE doesn't carry it any more.
  13. Both upper and lower blocks are similar... thin and wide. My guess is that the idea is to get a larger vibrating soundboard area with a smoother shape. You can wave arms about whether it's strong enough structurally or if the sound would be better or not. I can't say anything with much certainty, as you just have to try it and see. My armwaving is that the sound won't be significantly better or worse (depends a lot on how you graduate the plates at the blocks), and it will probably be structurally stable at least for a while, if the glue joints stay solid. Longer term, you just have to see what happens... but it does seem less robust than using a larger block.
  14. I'd think an electrical resistivity test would be good to detect salts in water.
  15. To be picky, "as light as possible" the way I defined it for a violin means "as light as possible while still keeping the same modal frequencies"... which in turn means that using high radiation ratio wood is essential. But that's only for flat-plate vibrations, which the violin is not, entirely. The arching brings other vibration factors into play, which differ from flat-plate, and screws the whole thing up (in addition to those other things I mentioned).
  16. I have tried the "as light as possible" concept with violins, and yes, it can be loud. But not necessarily what a good player really wants. There are issues with dynamics and impedance that get abnormal and uncontrollable, and the light plates tend to louden some frequency ranges but not others. So it's more complicated. Other than that, I agree with the other things you said. If you want to hear an undistorted string sound of a violin, there is the electric violin... which sounds very different from the wooden box version.
  17. There are all kinds of speakers... cones, flat panel, electrostatic, plasma... but my favorites are these: the travelling bending wave type on the left, and the pulsating sphere (compression bending leaves?) on the right. IMO, a violin is none of these, or perhaps a blend of them, but speakers and violins have very different goals in terms of sound and performance. Trying to "improve" the violin by chasing extreme speaker concepts would make it less like a violin. However, I'd like to see someone make a plasma violin.
  18. I don't see that the higher vibration modes would change much, but the lower ones likely would, and structural stability would certainly be worse. The overall depth of the structure and the middle would be significantly thinner, and much less stiff in bending. Fingerboard projection I think would wander around. Speaker cones are cones for stiffness reasons, not so much to get efficient radiation in one direction. They become too directional if the wavelength gets close to the diameter of the cone... and tweeters (and some midranges) are frequently dome shaped to avoid that problem. When it comes to violins, I think speaker cones are mostly a misleading concept. But have fun. I have certainly done my share of oddball experiments, which have often been educational disasters.
  19. Interesting that this topic should come up, as I am diddling around with new varnish ideas now: various metal salt precipitated rosin (a la Michelman) resins. I've just started, so it will be a while before I actually cook up a varnish with it. The idea is to find a more durable, sweat-proof varnish than the limed-rosin stuff I have. It's too Old Italian, but fine if you want that kind of behavior. One thing I use for cooking that I find helpful is a board covered with aluminum foil. After starting the rosin/oil cook (using limed, well-cooked rosin), I put a drop on the foil and poke it with a toothpick after it cools, then turn the board vertical. This way, I can check for self-healing and flow character. Initially, the cook is a bit cloudy and doesn't self-heal very well. I find about an hour or so at 220C ends up where I want it... your results may (will) vary.
  20. I don't discount AD's results at all. Sure, individual taptone recording methods have a LOT to do with the sound on the recording... which is why I asked for a recording of a new plate to calibrate out those uncertainties as much as possible... which I think it did. And it is not terribly surprising (to me, anyway) that there is a distinct difference. The problem comes in when trying to figure out quantitatively what is going on with the physics, not just qualitative judgements. However, I would like to get that top plate of the Golden Era Strad to mess around with myself, to see what else I can determine. I'll even pay the postage (but not the insurance).
  21. Well, that's not the ideal way to get the mode frequencies to show up clearly, especially M2 where there are + and - antinodes close together near the middle of the plate which cancel each other out. My plots (posted earlier) were recorded with a computer mic placed very close to the area of maximum mode amplitude, held at an exact nodal line, and excited with a 5g vinyl-tipped "hammer". The best way I can think of to get a measurement that really doesn't matter. Anyway, the new plates apparently have more "ring" to them, compared to the old ones, and the modal frequency peaks are more distinct. I would expect so, with enough effort. Basically it would be a measure of acoustic energy out divided by the vibration energy going in... as a function of frequency. However, if there is a "gong" effect, where energy gets transferred to other modes, that might be more complicated. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mL2r6E1E7sM I have noticed that my most "lively" wedges of wood tend to be high RR and low damping, as physics would suggest... with long "ring" at the lowest frequencies too. The tricky part is how something can have deadness at the lower frequencies, but lively elsewhere... as anecdotal evidence seems to suggest.
  22. If the "box" has a flat plate, then RR applies as an indicator of how light you can make the plate for a desired frequency. If the plates are curved, then C determines the "ring mode" frequency, where RR begins to apply above that frequency (where the plate breaks up into smaller antinodes, and bending begins to determine the physics). Violin plates are curved in different directions and flatter in others, so it's a complicated mess. C and RR both indicate something about what the wood will do in a violin plate... just different things. The problem with high RR is that (due to math) it indicates low density... which is not always a good thing, for durability reasons. There is also the issue that extremely high RR means you will have to work in an abnormal range of very light plates or very high bending frequencies, and abnormal is usually a bad thing.
  23. There's a reason for the size and shape of "regular" violins. Reduce the plate size or body size, and you'll get something different.
  24. If the sound is modified by those modernizations, then they should be directly comparable to modern, since the necks and setups would be the same.
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