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David Beard

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Posts posted by David Beard

  1. Sort of like the near endless possible grape choices to make a wine.

     

    If only there were a species or a region, or perhaps a species and a region with hundreds of years of great instrument making behind it to test and prove the merits of that particular wood selection.  Alas?

  2. Very good point!!!     This business of 'playing in' only applies to fiddles which feel like they're 'sleepy'. 

     

    To really test the phenonmena, you probably need a fiddle with every right to sound bright and lively, but which has been neglected and actually shows that blanketed sleepy character.

     

    From my 'old wives tales' perspective, the play in phenoma doesn't make bad fiddles sound good, and it doesn't have much affect on fiddles that are already sounding bright and full and free.  It only applies to decent fiddles that are for the moment sounding dull and sluggy and unlike their expected selves.

  3. It's a sweet article.

     

    I love to hear about someone who's life is focused on bring forth the best vioilin wood they can imagine.  In some crafts, like cultivating violin wood, or curing a perfect ham or a great cheese, I'm not so sure it matters if the 'logic' is logical, as long as the practitioners get good results.

     

    I'm always puzzled when slow growth or 'ice age' stories are put forth to explain violin quality.  If that were the issue, then the best vioilins would simply be the once with the finest tightest grain.   It doesn't seem to me that top instruments particularly display this.  Rather, the best of the best often seem to have compartively wide grain.

  4. Another possible (though probably less likely) scenario:

     

    The arm is easier to align and install if there is at least some adjustability to it.   Also, the mechanism requires a bit of metal work which might be beyond the normal scope of a violinshop's efforts.   Perhaps someone outside made such arms either for all the local violin makers, or for some other purpose.   Perhaps the arms were made more adjustable then needed for this one installation, in or order to allow a range of other potential installations?     

  5. As you suggest, I'm inclined to believe the long slot was designed to allow a side to side adjustment that is not actually used in the device we now see.

     

    Various scenarios could account for this:  1) The arm was taken and repurposed from some completely unrelated device, 2)  The frame surrounding the arm might not be the original frame.  Perhaps an earlier version allowed the anvil to move,  3)  The arm might be intended to also work with one or more alternate frames with anvils in different locations,  4)  Perhaps the maker at somepoint imagined using sideways adjustment, but then abandoned that idea after the arm was made but before the frame was made.

     

    I'm sure many other scenarios might be devised.   Deduction from evidense is not necesarily as straight forward or as definitive as television defective shows make it seem.  The number of scenarios increases if we allow that humans, even famous and great humans, are not always consistent, or pusposeful, or rational,  

  6. Perhaps my own experience that heavy beats work best is rather related to Michael's preference for low pitches instead of high.

     

    Lower pitches are both slower, and more massively energetic.  Beats are even more extreme on both fronts.

     

    My impression is that nothing short of prolonged and intense real playing full wakes an instrument up.   But when you want to kick start results, the best thing is to play something like Eb or C# against the open D, or Bb or G# against the open A.  Playing the half step double stops extra tight makes the beats slower and more intense, and more effective.  Ten or 15 minutes of intense beats seems to get results similar to several hours of strong general play.

     

    At least to my perception, instruments that are waking up for the first time, or after long dormancy, don't hold the gains very well at first.  At first, it seems the instrument can close up again overnight, or certainly after a few days.   Strong beats give an easy way to get back to the prior gains.  But after an instrument is long and thorough played in, the benfits seem more durable.

  7. post-30802-0-76622100-1365373523_thumb.jpg

     

    This is the punch I use.  It's so easy and effective.   Much quiter and more movable than a drill press.   I can reset depth rapidly and punch hundreds of guide marks in almost no time at all.    Almost no chance of hurting myself, or the work piece!

     

    Somehow I got it into my head to sharpen the point into a star shape.   I might rework that into a simpler shape.  But I do prefer that the punch actually cut the wood fibers rather than just push them to the side.

  8. post-30802-0-09167500-1365365839_thumb.jpg

     

    My version of the thickness punch.  I love it.

     

     

    A simple method to check symmetry:

     

    post-30802-0-65951200-1365365887_thumb.jpg

     

    post-30802-0-73149800-1365365942_thumb.jpg

     

    post-30802-0-92161700-1365365956_thumb.jpg

     

     

    The idea is to visually compare the height were the straight edge crosses the divider leg.   As long as your pivot point is on the centerline and you hold the straight edge at a right angle to the center line, then the divder leg will touch the straight edge at equal distances on either side of the center line.  You can then just visually compare the depth for symmetry.

     

    Demoing this on the only plate I have open at the moment.   I find myself actually using this technique more in the late stages of thickenssing the back, and in my early stages of stablishing the arching for both plates.   I carve my arching essentially freehand, working between the front and the back in a series of stages that naturally lead to the kind of shape I like.   At the earliest stage, I set the outside center height, then center depth using thickness.  After, I work the profile of the long arch to a plan that only specifies the proportional decline at a few set points.  Then I set a flat working ledge around the outside outline.  Next, I work from the inside to make some basically catenary shaped scooping to begin the cross arching.  It's at this stage that I check the symmetry most.   Later I also recheck the symmetry as I thickness the back.  Like Roger suggests, I finalize the back's outside arching before this point.

     

    (If you aren't careful, its easy to drill a little unsightly hole on the inside of the back with your divider!!! :wacko: )

  9. As for the OP,

     

    More or less bigish violins tend toward fuller darker tone, smallish toward brighter tone.   But there are so many other factors at play.  I think and correlation to body length alone is rather weak.

  10. I suspect that bow length is more limited by appropriate playing force for the instrument, rather than player arm length.  Obviously the length of bows for low strings is governed more by force dynamics.    Even with the lighter forces of a violin, a longer bow would likely either feel to squish in the mid section, or too heavy. 

     

    I'm 6'2'' with extra long arms for my height.  I never feel like the bow should be longer.

  11. Sounds to me like it could be an effect of lower damping.  However, I've also heard it said that good instruments stop sounding immediately when you stop bowing... the opposite effect.

     

    Yes.  A good fiddle doesn't railroad the player into one kind of voice or color.  Instead, it gives the sense that many colors and effects are readily accessible.    

     

    Even though your driver opens up many possibilities, it still might not be sufficient to examine some effects that are readily available in live playing.  

     

    There isn't a simple input output relation between what the player feeds in and the results the instrument produces.  Rather, the player is listening to achieve a particuar efffect.  Many physical input factors can be dynamically adjusted to open up and sustain a desired effect.  In a good player's hands, a bowed string doesn't just allow dynamic adjustment of pitch and volume content of the input, but also adjustment of things like impedance and dampening (manipulating the bowhand weight and contact point i.e). 

     

    Lab replication some of the effects important to a player's experience of instruments might require some sort of computerized system to listen to the sound output and dynmically adjust the driver to achieve and sustain targeted effects.  

  12. Nope.  The calibrated impact hammer is much better than this at characterizing instruments, and even that isn't going to replace good players.

     

    However, for the nitpicky, there may be some use for electronic drivers to look into the finer points of transient behavior.  Maybe.

     

     

    Your dirver arrangement might allow exploration of some of the less static characteristics of violin tone.  

     

    I'm guessing that by transients you mostly meaning the beginning of a single note.  However, there are also interesting phenomona in the change from one note to another. 

     

    Better violins often seem to give an impression of 'hanging on' to the prior note, or at least making this affect available to the player.  It feels like a fatness of sound that carries from note to note.  It feels like one can develop a resonance in the first note which carries on into the new note.

     

    Another playing phenoma which seems to distinguish better instruments is a sense that the instrument favors harmonicity, that the instrument almost pulls toward harmonous playing in the way resonances develop in the tone and preferentially support some combinations over others.

     

    These are two characteristics which IMO help distinguish better insturments and set them appart from lessor creations.   I didn't describe these very well, but hopefully others will recognise the phenomena.   

     

    Your driver arrangement makes it possile to exploring these and other time related aspects of violin behavior.  Other than col legno and pizzacato, it isn't normal for the violin to be driven from a strike of energy.   Violins are normally sounded by a sustained and pitched driving vibration. While such sustained and driven stimulation is likely too complex to be the favorite choice in some experiments, it's also much closer to normal playing.  

  13. I believe Hargrave points out that on some classical violins you can actually see what appears to be a gauge mark to guide the cut down.  Also, if I remember correctly, the molds have two rib heights scribed on them, a full and a reduced mark.

     

    Makes a compeling case that they very deliberatedly reduced the ribs.

  14. IF.......       The rim of the back plate is basically cut flat, and the ribs reduction is cut down from the top side, and the rim of the top plate is cut flat

    THEN:  The reduced rib height in the upper bout will slighlty flex and crown the top plate when glued on.   This certainly will have some impact on the behaviour of the top plate.   There should also be some resulting stiffening of the overall upper bout structure.

     

    Considering that a piano soundboard is also crowned some-- obviously with no interest in visual aesthetics, it seems possible that a similar function purpose was intended.

     

    Just conjecture, but I would imagine that such crowning tends to make the mid-area of a soundboard more engaged and governed by the downbearing of the strings, and a bit less governed by the glued edges of the board.

  15. Were these part of classical making, or a later development?

     

    Does anyone know the history?      Are small planes part of the Strad Museum's tool inheritance?

     

     

    I'm curious.  Also wondering about buying these.  So far I haven't.  I've just been using fine feather cuts with the gouge, followed by scraping.  I don't feel like I'm missing out by not having these, but maybe I'm wrong?  Wondering both about their value and their historical place.

     

    Are there other makers who don't really use small planes?    My smallest plane today is about 3 inches long.

  16. I kind of felt like grinding off metal let me dig in at a steeper angle, when I'm hogging out wood as aggressively and quickly as I can manage.  But, I didn't do any back and forth comparison, just took off metal and thought it helped.

     

    Probably only matters when the chips coming off are thick enough to be very solid and firm.

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