David Beard

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    : Santa Barbara, California

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  1. There are some soloists playing Vuillaume, perhaps more than any other non classical Italian maker. But your point stands. Contemporary success and later success don't always agree. I think that happens in other arts also though. In the case of fiddles, I think the main part driving all this use of historical instruments is that Italian making really did build from a better recipe. Vuillaume was a great copyist of Italian work, and did so sincerely enough to copy the features to a thorough deep extent. I suspect that has helped his longer term success. Its probably fair to say that until very recently, no copy work since Vuillaume was as completely faithful to the actual Italian models. I do believe that if you build decently well and follow the main distinct structural features of Italian work, then you should come out fairly well. But over the last several centuries, how many makers have followed the Italian examples in all these features: *choice of wood *extensive flat area of long arc for top but not back *simple even diaphragm for general plate thickness and extra mass in central patch of back with the maximum point somewhat above the bridge line, and extra wood outside the ff holes * channeling running a nearly consistent width within each bout area, but with wider channeling chosen in the outer bouts than the center, and upper usually widest * linings mortice into blocks for cBout and not outer bouts *shallow purfling with basically typical edge work * reduction of ribs from upper corners to top block * corner blocks longish extending toward outer bouts, top block longish? Even though this is a very limited and simplified list of features, the answer is probably very few, until quite recently. Even today when awareness of Italian features is much more wide spread and detailed thanks to the work of Hargrave and others, still most makers decide to 'improve', 'fix', or ignore at least some of these.
  2. what determines the sound a luthier aims at?

    These phenomena, which I think of as 'harmonicity', are also part of what distinguishes different types of strings. And one of the big reasons some players prefer good quality gut strings still, and sometimes thinner strings. I tend to suspect that in both strings and instruments this quality is somehow related to 'pliancy', and that inelastic stiffness is its enemy. This might also be linked to the effect were you can sustain a pitch/tone with the bow, slightly after you release the finger stop. This is useful in the sense of legato across shifts and jumps. And is something you can experiment with easily. Harmonics exhibit this strongly, but stopped notes also have this potential to some degree. Its like a speaking tone on the instruments has a bit of inertia to it.
  3. Is there a Sound Post "General Rule/Tendency"?

    A somewhat poor fit (not super off) will eventually smash itself into the plates enough to fit well for purposes of sound, but will also damage the plates.
  4. what determines the sound a luthier aims at?

    Not so simple!
  5. what determines the sound a luthier aims at?

    Plenty of stuff is said trying to justify the price difference between one factory instrument and another.
  6. Unless you're the most bankrolled factory producer, or have more orders than you can meet at a price you couldn't want to be better, reputation in the market is probably an overwhelmingly more critical factor then time or cost efficiency In that light, I think ones tool choices should be whatever helps you work your best, and supports the character of work you aim for. For someone who is trying to make what the old classical makers did, as they did, then hand tools all the way makes sense. But for one taking a more science and tech motivated approach, using power tools and modern tech generally makes sense. So the answer depends on the character of your approach.
  7. what determines the sound a luthier aims at?

    Again just opinion: I feel that claims of 'targeting sound' or even playing characteristics are much more marketing than reality. Yes, you can making heavier or lighter, or more or less stiff, and you can tailor many features with a hope of producing a particular character. But I believe there will always be a significant degree of uncontrollable variance in actual results. But you can focus on making well, and in was that consistently give good results, just not completely predictable results
  8. what determines the sound a luthier aims at?

    Just an opinion: I would say you're right about the old instruments setting the standard and acting as a reference. On the other hand, old pianos and trumpets aren't the reference in their fields, for example. So this reference arises and is sustained by the best players historically and still finding themselves most often most comfortable and happy playing these instruments. If one succeeded in making an instrument that the best players more often and more consistently found more satisfying and comfortable to play and perform on, then that would have fair claim to be a better instrument. And tastes can and do change with time. So it's quite amazing that these instruments have been the favorite for so long.
  9. separate violin plate joint

    I think many a new maker in this kind of situation would choose to make a fresh back plate, rather than trying to rescue the existing one.
  10. Seeking Arching Templets

    You assume the old makers used templates. But there is no evidence for this. The earliest arching templates existing are the ones produced by Guadagnini for Cozio. But these are known to have been in the nature of documenting the arching of particular instruments for study, a wooden equivalent of taking a cast. A number of modern makers have demonstrated that arching can be done without templates. Some essentially work freehand. Others use some rules that govern the shape. I've put forward an approach that I believe allows you to create exactly the range of arching shapes seen in the classical work. Classical arching without templates.
  11. miniature milling machine

    I got my three longest wooden planes reasonably flat by first planning them clean and square, then using sand paper. As in hand making a straight edge, you expect a true result if you work three of them against each other in pairs. I put one the vice with sandpaper wrapped around it. Then worked the other two against. Then put another in the vice and repeated, working through all pairs. Started very coarse and worked in just a few stages to fine. I used a crisscross of conte chalk to see the progress. To me, the ease of flattening, repair, and modification is one of the great advantages of the old wood planes. Plus, I love those monstrously thick old blacksmithed blades.
  12. Carbon Fiber Cellos

    Just for fun, I play quartets as often as my life will allow. In the last few years, I've fairly routinely played with about seven different cellists, and one likes to play a carbon fiber instrument. She feels it is easier to play. It is tonally just not as good as the wood instruments. The tone is ringing and bright, but also hollow, thin, and lacking body and complexity by comparison.
  13. Experimental Violin at The Violin Shop in Nashville

    Congrats, Berl! Brave enough to experiment, and rewarded in the results.
  14. Delicate f-holes

    Well, both are focused on higher rather than lower frequencies. However, that might be the end of the analogy.
  15. Delicate f-holes

    Thanks for posting that Marty. Nice summary of material that would otherwise be pretty dense to wade through.