David Beard

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    : Santa Barbara, California

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  1. We can guess that they sounded a lot like a good baroque violin. But the OP questions are a touch whacky. Obviously we aren't time travelers, so can't actually experience how they sounded back then. No, there weren't any records for us to hear. No, centuries old violins aren't unaged or unchanged. There is no violin today that we can assume sounds exactly as it did then. Take a Strad or other and put in good baroque setup. That's the best estimate we can make. But we can know that Strad violins were successful in his lifetime. It didn't take huge amounts of aging for the y
  2. You might have noted in a recent thread the some wooden Chinese traditional string have working lives exceeding 2 millennia. Something to consider. I think the survival of instruments has much more to do with how cherished and desired they continue to be, rather than with the wood getting too old.
  3. I believe this is a great part of what goes on. Amazing playing is voodoo. No player ever knows how much more they might be capable of. And how much a player gets from an instrument is also voodoo. And how much a setup luthier gets from an instrument is voodoo. If a player picks up a famous instrument, the thought they have found the limit of the instrument will be farther from their mind. And their voodoo will be all the stronger for it. Likewise, when we doubt an instrument, that doubt can be significantly self fulfilling.
  4. Why did Howard Hughes make the Spruce Goose out of spruce? It's actually a very special material. It's tough and strong for its weight, and it's highly elastic. It returns a high portion of energy spent mechanically flexing it. Whatever the technical details, multiple cultures independently have indarrived at preferring spruce as the primary sound radiating wood for many traditional instruments. Cedar and a few other woods are distantly in thw running, but far behind spruce. Such traditonal cultural preferences reflect generations, or even millenia, of collective learning. Bu
  5. It's not so much that alternative materials are necessarily unsuitable, but they are contrary to tradition. If you want to make a violin with a Scots Pine, Titebond, metal strings, and a Teak back, then make it. Perhaps you will deem it the best violin you've seen? But it won't be traditional. Maybe you don't want traditional. I do. But maybe you don't. So skip the Italian Spruce and Balkan Maple. Leave the hide glue on the shelf. The guitar world doesn't seem to miss the older traditions.
  6. YES!!!!! It doesn't need to be improved on. Not for violin work.
  7. For the two surfaces to make a perfectly straight approach to edge, so for actual sharpening, the coarser work is the most important. Your coarse sharpening should be perfect. As the grits get finer, the more it's about smooth the surface rather than perfecting the shape and approach to the edge. And the greater the chance that your work will round the edge rather than perfect a straight clean approach. I always sharpen to over 1000, and usual to 2000 or 3000. Then I strope. I agree that 1000 can be quite serviceable and durable.
  8. Does anyone know if the Giralamo II Amati cello Bonjour is uncut? 1690 739mm
  9. I very much agree on focusing this idea of surfaces meeting. And, the use of a 10x loupe and strong light to see what's going on. As an aide to seeing progress, I also often blacken the surface I'm working. This can be helpful, but not always. The loupe is more certain for confirming things. I also distinguish between the different tasks of making the two surfaces meet well at a good angle, and making those surfaces very smooth -- between sharpening and honing is how I think of it. I think working the surfaces truly is much more important. I do like also getting the surfaces
  10. One dimension parameter tend not to have simple meaning by themselves on a violin. Consider instead of just the height, the whole cup shaped area created by thw arching? What area of the plate has been given an overall cohesive downward dome like shape, all concave on the inside? This area can vary considerably. But it never depends just on the plate height. It also depends on how quickly the long and cross arches come down. Or, in a different but related way of thinking about it, the area depends on how wide the channels are, and where convextivity changes. Few things exist
  11. Thank you for posting and sharing. I always appreciate your work.
  12. It was and remains a perfectly good romanticized picture of violins from the view of an enthusiastic amateur looking from the outside via a 19th century English trade perspective. Not to be taken seriously as a guide to either good making, modern making, or historical making. But is a good book to spark or fuel budding interest.