David Beard

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    : Santa Barbara, California

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  1. You got lots of interesting replies, on many topics. In my opinion, the wooden pins were about more than locating, though they do provide that function also. I believe their primary purpose relates to building on the old thin Cremona style molds, and needing to align the neck and sides on the board for a plate before creating the plate outline. As described by Hargrave, this involves twisting the joined neck and sides around the pins fit in to both blocks and the board for the plate. Twisting is used to put the sides and neck into straight alignment. The flexible sides are also pushed and pulled some to get the width as desired. Clamping in place is required. Then the sides are etched on to the board. Only after all this can the actual plate outline be determined. This old process of working is also a major cause of significant assymetry in corner locations for classical work. So, you see these pins as essential to makers working with Creomna type molds and still working the outline related to the sides after this twisting and aligning using the pins. So primary Andrea Amati from c1550 through the Old Cremona making until things modernize. The pins are essential if you work this way. Otherwise, I think people use them primam to imitate the Cremona work. Even if they are somewhat helpful simply to register placement of back to sides, they aren't that essential to modern copyist style making.
  2. Thank you for posting these. If files are too large they won't upload. You can make a reduced sized copy in many photo editing programs.
  3. Not really. As long as one is one the max, then the others mighy be just a different choice of where to measure the tapering.
  4. David Beard

    f holes

    I also am going to disagree about the old masters. I've gone to ridiculous effort to dissect and understand the geometry used in the old master Cremona work, including the soundholes. And I've made lots of crazy complicated mathematical illustratuons of their work. But I don't believe they went through any of that. And I tend to believe that making lots of study sketch before working, hanging them on the wall to contemplate and adjust for days, I think all that tinkering and pains taking is a specifically modern copyist thing. Rather, I believe that all the fancy stuff found from my research is all very simple to carry in pracitce. It's all just what comes easy if use dividers as you make. And the old master knew what they where doing. No need to scratch the head or second guess or navel gaze. They would have been trained to these methods since youth. Swing this arc from here. Take half of that. All of it dead simple and known to them. No need to tinker in the current instrument. You can always tray a few different choices within the traditions for your next instrument. No need to fuss as you work. ***** And, I'll agree with Burgess, beyond and method of working one might choose, a good eye, talent, skill, and experience must be added for great results. The means of working I'm proposing as used in Old Cremona are only just that, a means of working. And, they account the full range of making in Old Cremona, including the less talented. Though, of course, all we remember were both skilled and experienced. Nevertheless, we see a range of quality even within old Cremona work, even within the output of single makers. No. Fussing and tinkering aren't needed. But talent and eye and ear are. The methods I'm starting to make public do not insure the untalented or in experienced will suddenly make good workers. They don't even insure you will make something a Cremonan would make, or even just with the 'structure' a Cremonan might make. No. They don't give that much. What I found amount to 'recipes' appropriate to each feature as you work. These are recipes of simple divider geometry, and simple divider ratios. And some recipes provide guides in locating or sizing things. But using the recipes still requires discernment and skill, and making choices. At every point, the recipes offer structured method, but also options. The maker must still 'steer' the work through their choices, and must still carry out the work with skill and talent. And, I may not have found all the rules yet, or all the interrelationships between rules as the old masters understood things. My work is limited to what I could find and comfirm across many classical examples. The things I've found are consistently present in classical work. Breaking the recipes I've found would result in work outside what the Cremonans did. But that doesn't mean there weren't further traditions guiding them that I haven't found. Further, even if we imagine finding the all the traditions someday, still you have to steer your choices well to get good results. Depending on choices, the same system embraces small violins, tenors, cellos, and all sorts of variations. It is a system that can go to more places than you want to go. I'm not proposing a system of divider recipes that forces you to old Cremona results and only old Cremona results. But I am proposing that all Old Cremona results fall within these divider recipes. ****** So, once again: talent, experience, and some assembly still required. ******* I myself have spend more energy so far in finding these 'traditional divider recipes' than in using them. I'm beginning to make entire by using these recipes, from mold to instrument. And I'm learning just how much the results still fall squarely on the makers shoulders. And how much I have to learn about carrying out these things in a good way. Theory versus practice, etc. ****** But, for the old masters all of this would have looked familar, known, straightforward, and simple. All of them brought skill and experience to the workbench and these tradition recipes of geometry. Some of them also developed into great talents.
  5. I think we can safely say three things: 1) it's too small to have role of physically secure the plate to the bench or anything close to that. 2) too many examples poke thru for that not to notivated. 3) any explanation should show a benefit not just for the hole being there at all, but for it poking through in a small delicate way. It would be very nice for people, particularly Bruce, but orhers also, to weigh in on several points: 1) Have you personally seen Amati examples where the hole seems to be missing? 2) Where the hole doesn't poke through? 3) Where the hole does not seem to correspond to the Maximum back thickness?
  6. Interpret as you will. These are visually composited from the image series Davide showed above. All the Strad maps are made partially transparent stacked on top of each making a visual average. Same with the Del Gesu. The numbers shown on the maps are from Buen's data set. Strad backs: Del Gesu backs:
  7. Circular enough. Del Gesu tends to not connect and continue the thickness as fully to the cBout sides as Strad, and he tends to significantly elongate the mass into the upper and lower bout areas. Scientific observation, like these measue maps, always have a range of uncertainty. So they are very squishy. It's wrong to read presentations of data with a false degree of precision.
  8. Also in this thread, the idea emerged that the string length equaled the distance from block to block, and the idea of the string length as a key length in instrument design. I'd like to treat these ideas as hypothesis, and test both if they might be true, even if in a variation, and also challenge and test if they aren't true. This is something I go through with any idea I entertain as possibly true with classical making. But first, I need to acknowledge my significant bias in this case. I've long ago accepted a related but actually different idea from my own research as actually what is key to classical Cremona violin family instrument design. And that is the distance from the bridge to the top of the instrument body, and more specifically the 'Stop Unit' as 1/3 this distance. But with the complication that makers freely calculated this either from the outer edge or from the mold line. Many things, particulary in the stringing system, the head and neck, and the span across the upper soundhole eyes derive directly or indirectly from these 'Stop Units'. But leaving that aside, let's hypothesis and test the ideas that string length is broadly fundamental to N Italian string instrument design, and that more specifically old Cremona makers set the distance between blocks equal to the string length. Okay. Just a gross check on the broad version of this: This is an Andrea Amati tenor. Now the two colored bars are equal in length. And, the bar equals the string length but is too short to reach from block to block. Well, probably the string length, and perhaps the body length have been changed over the years. Ok. But does that create the possibility that our hypothesis was true before alterations? Body lengths of tenors have often been shortened, but not lengthened. Undoing such a change would only break our hypothesis more dramatically. Well perhaps the original neck was actually longer? That is more plausible, but our hypothesis is hanging on a very tenuous thread. Now what of the broader hypothesis that Instrument design was based on string length? A Zanetto viola shows the same issue we had in the Amati tenor, but more dramatically. Looking at a larger vielle and lira d'braccio both by G Maria of Venice doesn't help our hypothesis any. There is no simple relationship with string length simply giving the distance from block to block. No. Both string length and body length tend to change with pitch range, but string length is more freely allowed to lengthen than body length. And body length is more freely allowed to shorten than string length. And neck length changes are partially independent of both. Now, this failure of a simple equality relationship from string length doesn't mean there isn't some more complicated relationship present. But, I will suggest again, that the system I've proposed, using 'stop units' is correct and tested out for Cremona violin family making. And, it is the simplest possible system that correctly accounts the complex range of historical exmples that actually exist. ******* Alright, let's look more narrowly. Perhaps the string length matches the distance between blocks just in violins, from old Cremona, and maybe just in some makers? This is a smaller domain for our hypothesis, but still very interesting if true. And there are other special relationships that distinguish violins from other members of the violin family, so why not this? Our difficulty is finding evidence that allows direct comparison of the old string length to the distance between blocks? So far, we've looked at examples that fail grossly enough to disprove the hypothesis outside violins. But finding examples that positively confirm single cases of the hypothesis relationship will be more difficult. Here is the brookings again: This shows there is room for the hypothesis to perhaps hold in this case. And we know from earlier in this thread that the distance between blocks in this is 320mm. But do we know if the original string length here was 320? No. It's reasonable to think it might have been, but we don't get to know. And, classical examples don't seem to hold to fix length approach. Rather, string length, body length, stop length, neck length: all seem to vary in similar degree -- far beyond modern standards. Here we have the Plowden, Willemotte, and Titian -but with modernized necks and string length. Which we can see are too long for our hypothesis in each case. But we can see the block distances well. And we can look to see if it seems plausible that the original string lengths might have been these. Again, we don't get positive confirmed cases of our hypothesis holding. But, we also haven't had our hypothesis actually break yet. With the 1595 Brother's Amati King Henry IV violin, we have more full length xRay views. Same situation. No prove, no denial. However, we also have a side view xRay that clearly shows us the rib line. From this, we can look at the string length given by the block distance. And we can test. We can test against the four specific possibilities of neck length spelled out by the 'Liberties at the Margins' in my proposed system. However, the block distance is still shorter than the nut position for the shortest neck length anticipated. This appears to me to be a counter example. And the Lady Blunt: Here, we can see the outline of the ends of the original neck. And, the inside of the pegbox tells us which mold. If we take the trouble to put all the puzzle pieces back in alignment to each other, we get our cleanest direct test of the hypothesis, which breaks. However, we can still simply reduce the domain of our hypothesis. We don't know the hypothesis doesn't hold for N Amati violins, or maybe some subset of his violins.
  9. The OP observation is very interesting! I'd like to know: Is the stick made by the maker or an the observer? Does the stick thickness document the plate thickness? Ideas: As noted, the marks are symetric around the center. And at least some pairs of marks appear to follow a feature and then show a symetric reflection (bridge, bottom of soundholes). Perhaps these where used to guide a symetric taper of back extra center mass? Someone suggested the thicknesses might be standardized, only requiring location. But given the variations seen, that seems unlikely to be broadly true. But perhaps the maker had already set these somehow for the particular instrument at least? I know in my own work, I use a compass from the max point to guide tapering more or less symetrically. And I use the idea of proportions between the Max thickness, down to the general diaphragm thickness of the back. 3/4 1/2 1/3 or such. Perhaps this is the use of the marks? This then suggests motive for pushing your compass point all the way through the plate, especially if you might lower the max any after its original setting. The hole and stick (as suggested earlier in this thread) allow a positive measure of the Max to work your proportions from. ???
  10. Carlson, who has seen a good many of these, seems to be saying that all he's seen are visible from the outside.
  11. Yes. I would like to see a wiki collecting details about historical instruments.
  12. The reason is that making since Vuillaume's time is copy making. Modernized copy making. Experts can by eye reliably enough tell what something is. And what something is turns out to be quiet a good indicator of the upper limit of how well it might sound or play. And the market pushes for modern copy making to look either very clean and perfect, or very like better old making. Even though those things are appearance only, they tend to influence many buyers, and therefore price. For 2 centuries, many buyers would rather buy something that they can be confused about and believe is a better thing than they paid for, above buying something that is clearerly and unconfusingly what they paid for. These aren't the buyers that drive the market by actually wanting and discerning the best instrument they can afford, and would spend more for better if they could. No. But these people who want to he confused about what they bought are the most numerous buyers.
  13. I realy can't agree with any notions that time makes trash good. Each of the first 3 generations of Amati beat the world and the earlier Amati's in their lifetimes. The later generations of Amatis beat noone. Strad beat all three first generations of Amatis in his lifetime. Paganini recognized the greatness of Del Gesu in under 50 years from his making. And noone has out done either Strad or Del Gesu in the very long time since them. Vuillaume established the level of success he still has in his lifetime. No. Age is certainly good to string instruments, a plus. But who is good and best is found out quickly and doesn't really move or change with time. That idea that aging will turn modern corners into classical ones, and medicore instruments in tongreat once is just wishfulness. Didn't want to say anything serious today, but oh well... Happy Thanksgiving!!!!
  14. Well, you can judge a book by just looking at it, you just can't judge the writing inside.
  15. I get many of my ingredients from WFE. I always feel comfortable with what they deliver. I also get things from Kremer in NYC, Natural Pigments in California, and Zecchi in Florence.