David Beard

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    : Santa Barbara, California

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  1. David Beard

    Which maker do you prefer and why

    I don't know about how easy they might be to fake, but for the reasons you describe I generally enjoy a chance to see/play a Scarampella. Not so much with the other fella.
  2. David Beard

    An experimental pegbox and nut

    Very clever!
  3. David Beard

    What does a (too) high air mode do to the sound of a violin?

    So my fault, I misspoke. I said the ratio of ribs to body when I should have said ratio of sides to body. What is correct is " the old tradition was to make the side height 1/9th the body length in violins and violas, 1/6th in cellos. Variations when found will be based on including or excluding the plate edges in the calculations." As noted, different instruments might use a different ratio, or variations using the same ratio could be achieved by including or excluding the edge thicknesses. With Cremona violins, we overwhelming see a 1 to 9 ratio, calculated including both edges. The example of Lady Blunt above is clean and straightforward. The back lies pretty well in a straight line, and the rib height and edge thicknesses seem pretty much fully intact. We see the expected full height at the bottom block and corner blocks, with the expected reduction heading to the neck. The concept of edge height is complicated by wear damage and repairs, but also by the notion of a 'working edge' that was higher than the 'final edge' in Cremona work, and further by the possibility that Cremona makers didn't always work the edges to the same plan choices. However, to make a rough calculation for violins, edges are about 1/8 the rib height or equivalently 1/10 the side height. So, given a body of 354mm, the normal Cremona choice of (1 to 9, including both edges) predicts the sides to be ~39.33mm, with the edges ~3.93 and ribs ~31.47. Of course, using ratios and dividers as the primary measure in the workshop is not going to exactly match these numbers. It's valuable to recognize that modern methods using standardized rulers and numeric precision calipers will produce different kinds of characteristic errors compared to a workshop relying primarily on ratios between parts, calculated mechanically by dividers and related tools. ********** I examine these sides to body ratios using software to overlay a scalable graphic of the ratio onto the example instruments. The overwhelming majority of Cremona violin examples show the maker choosing a 1 to 9 ratio, and including both edges in the calculation. Even with his otherwise experimental 'long violins' we still see Strad using the common (1 to 9 ratio, including both edges) choice. ********* For violins, we can see that a ratio choice of 1 to 9 for (Sides including both Edges) to (Body) was 'normal' in the Cremona tradition. It also wouldn't have been normal for them not to experiment some with this choice. And indeed, we can see some examples of that in the Sides to Body choice. To be consistent with their practices with other features, we would expect to see Cremona makers experiment more often and more readily with the specific application of the ratio first, and then later resort to change the actual choice of ratio used only if needed. But we would not expect to see them ever abandon the basic principals and range of choices traditionally used in a feature. Notice, that including/excluding the edges leads to three distinct options in applying a ratio for the sides and ribs. You can 'include' both edges. You can 'include' only one edge. Or, You can 'exclude' both. 'Including' edges in the calculation will give a shorter rib from the same ratio compared to 'excluding' edges. So the 'normal' Cremona choice of including both edges in a 1 to 9 ratio for violins gives ribs on the short side of what's possible using a 1 to 9 ratio. To experiment with taller ribs, a maker could choose a different ratio like 1 to 8, or 1 to 7. But, we don't actually find examples of this. Observing the broader practices in Cremona making, we can see a preference to first experiment by varying the specific application of a ratio, rather than the ratio itself. So in example, a maker could stay with the 1 to 9 ratio choice, but experiment with taller ribs by excluding one or both edges from the calculation. And in fact, in the later Cremona generations we see some experimenting with a taller violin rib created by choosing the 1 to 9 ratio, but excluding one edge when applying the ratio. Did they also experiment with shorter ribs?? This turns out to be a bit less secure turf for us to examine. After all, repair work and damage can end up shortening ribs. So when we see abnormally shorter ribs, how can we tell if it was made that way intentionally, or arrived at a lower height by some accident? One thing that might suggest ribs purposefully made shorter is if we found a group of shorter rib instruments that we can also see as distinguished or grouped together in additional ways. Unfortunately, I haven't yet identified any clear cut case of purposefully shorter ribs in Cremona work. But there are some Ruggieri example that I suspect might represent an experimentation with a shorter rib choice. However, consistent with Davide Sora's concerns, these same instruments tend to also show more distortions of the sides and the line of the plates, making them less certain as clean examples of anything. The normal Cremona choice for violin ribs includes both sides, and therefore is the shortest choice you can get from the traditional 1 to 9 ratio. Thus, to experiment with shorter ribs while staying within the traditional framework of ratio choices, a Cremona maker would need to resort to a different ratio, namely 1 to 10. Here is one of the several Ruggieris I suspect might represent an experimentation with choosing a 1 to 10 ratio. ******* With violas, we of course see freer diversity in the ratio and inclusion/exclusion choices, but still a 1 to 9 ratio is clearly the normal choice. ( 1 to 9, including one edge) ( 1 to 9, including one edge) ( 1 to 9, including both edges) (1 to 10, including both edges) ( 1 to 9, including both edges) ( 1 to 9, including both edges) ********* With cellos, we see a 1 to 6 ratio, and compete freedom about inclusion/exclusion. ( 1 to 6, excluding both edges) ( 1 to 6, including one edge) ( 1 to 6, including one edge) ( 1 to 6, excluding both edges) Andreas, I know this is a bit tangential to your quest. However, it illustrates how you could if you wish conduct your experiment with the traditional Cremona framework of choices. You could for example choose a higher ratio like 1 to 10, 1 to 11, or 1 to 12. Then narrow that down by your choice of inclusion/exclusion of edges. It does look like choices shorter than the normal 1 to 9 might well need some kind of compensating reinforcement for stability.
  4. I'm only teasing. But hope you'll look to absorb part of the position opposing you, instead of just digging in deeper. You say many interesting things. Isn't that more engaging than denying a balance in positions to the point of just being combative?
  5. You are of course entirely right. As I say, that is just a powerful emotional bias I have. Probably more relevant to my own personal choices as a maker. However, an individual can make indifferently and NOT provide this kind of satisfaction I require. And a team (probably small) can work under a unifying leader and provide this sense of humanity in the work.
  6. David Beard

    What does a (too) high air mode do to the sound of a violin?

    I believe if you check you will confirm that the old tradition was to make the main rib height 1/9th the body length in violins and violas, 1/6th in cellos. Variations when found will be based on including or excluding the plate edges in the calculations. But as you said, this would exclude the notion of tuning by adjusting rib height. It is also my working conclusion that the two arcs on the molds are the full and reduced rib heights. This again indicates setting the rib height early on, rather than adjusting it at the end as would be the way if any tuning was involved.
  7. Seems like people are just enjoying a good brawl here! Danube is definitely over playing and being over stubborn. Others have tried to acknowledge portions of his claims, but ultimately get frustrated and dragged into the fighting. Who needs WWF for entertainment? A reduced summary of Danube's basic claim: various elements of valuation trace back to long term historical evaluations of sound, and some aspects of value and/or saleability relate to sound more directly and immediately. Isn't this at least partially true? The other side that Danube seems to completely deny, earning him troll comments: Specific value of a particular instrument for sale is only minimally and indirectly related to sound. Doesn't seem like there's any real incompatibility in these assertions, just people enjoying the combat. I liked best Burgess's comment about negative or zero value for factory work. This plays into my own prejudices. I really like feeling a human presence behind objects and works, be it antiques, art, or instruments. So I struggle to be fair minded about factory work having any value. I truly hate the idea. Anyway, on with the theatrics.
  8. David Beard

    F hole eye piercing tools

    I keep it simple. First I mark the size and location I want for the eyes. Then a small pilot hole made hand by rotating a small bit in a holder. I widen the hole some with a small rasp. I finish the eyes just by rotating an appropriate sized round file.
  9. David Beard

    Fustic as a stain

    Thanks for showing.
  10. David Beard

    What does a (too) high air mode do to the sound of a violin?

    These is a completely intuitive guess, and very possibly off base but... There is a airy kind of extra resonance you can pull into a tone, depending largely on how you bow (flowing, somewhat light in weight, and not too near the bridge). This kind of 'air tone' effect is most powerfully available for the tones from about d string d to treble g. I suspect this kind of tone relates to the air inside the violin, and therefore will likely by affected by significantly reducing the ribes. Please let us know what you find.
  11. David Beard

    Tapering the Ribs

    Andreas, You might well be correct about them not tapering for the sake of flexing the top. I have no way really of knowing. But I've not for myself experienced any good reason not to do the taper or the flex of the top, so I will do it just because I see them doing the taper. Have you tried just making the plate naturally flat and flexing it over the taper? It makes the whole business oh so much simpler and straightforward. I've not experienced any reason to complicate things trying to avoid the flex. And at least to me, it's easy to view the flex as a positive feature.
  12. David Beard

    Tapering the Ribs

    Hi Andreas. For me, I find enough cause to go ahead and taper the ribs from the front and only the upper bout, simply because that appears to be what they did. I have my guesses about why it might matter. But following their tradition is enough reason for me to use the feature. I imagine (but admittedly can't know) that most of their choices likewise were first off about following the Cremona tradition. And I imagine that with some features they understood what virtues depended on or were altered by the feature, but with other features maybe not. I believe their development method was primarily a matter observing and evaluating consequences from experimenting with slight variations within the tradition. Such an 'evolutionary' approach can be a powerful (but slow) way to find 'what' works. But it won't necessarily produce correct understanding or even any understanding of 'why'. I'm o.k. with that. With violin making, I've come to believe in letting go of the modern approach more centered on an effort to 'understand' as footing to find a 'how to improve' idea followed by a systematic 'innovative redesign'. Instead, I want to dig in historically and rejoin the old evolving conversation of Cremona making. So I'm very interested in trying to understand and use the 'what' of these tapers. But understanding 'why' is only a secondary curiosity. So I care whether the arcs on the molds represent the full and reduced rib heights, and how these might have been related to other features in the old methods. But my comments on why the taper is a good thing, or even if it actually is good within some theoretic understanding, these are just casual guesses. I can see that the taper has a visual effect I don't mind. I know that the taper results in shape change that introduces a small degree of increase in the geometrical stiffness of the sides in relation to the neck. I suspect this is a good thing. And I know that the way I carry out the taper introduces a flexing of the top's long arch. Which I suspect helps put the top and excitations from the bridge into more immediate direct relation. But I haven't experimented enough with this feature to confirm any of this notions. They're still just guesses. As for the piano analogy, who knows? I wouldn't dismiss it easily though. Pianos are of course significantly different. But it can be useful to remember that pianos and all lute type instruments share some common basics. Fundamentally, all of them radiate sound from a soundboard which is driven by exciting strings of different pitches via a bridge(s). These basic parallels are very significant. Perhaps we should let these basics inform our efforts. For example, from the folks trying to 'understand' their way to better violins we hear lots of talk about resonances, and very little of driven systems. It's as if they believe that violins are one of the instruments that radiates by a system of dedicated sympathetic resonators, like a marimba. But it isn't. Despite the many differences in details, a plucked guitar, a violin, and a piano are in related in their basic sound production. Oddly, in terms of sound production, the piano, harpsichord, and clavicord are more related to violin than they are to an organ or synthesizer. And yes, there are important differences between striking, plucking, and bowing, but even more important parallels. You can for example pluck or strike repeatedly and rapidly, either cascades of overlapping notes or the same note. Driven stimulation from strings, connection through bridges, and primary radiation from soundboards unite all these.
  13. David Beard

    Any Cremonese Basis for Colored Rosinates?

    I read somewhere recently that research had contraindicated Michelman type metallic rosinates. It was either in Tai's survey of researches, or perhaps in Brandmair.
  14. David Beard

    Maestronet is a Wonderful Resource

    Maybe this isn't really a thread topic? Just got to say it. Maestronet is a great thing!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I've been using Google to go back and read old threads about varnish. The openness, mix of viewpoints, mix of innovation and expertise, novices and authorities.... It's wonderful to see topics explored 'in the round' this way. Even many of the annoying detours often end up teasing out more interesting details and debate. Deepest thanks to the community!