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Posts posted by Arash

  1. Some years ago Melvin wrote:

    Most of the maple I use is brought to me, often as soon as it is cut by travelling wood sellers from Eastern Europe. It is often wet and heavy but with waxed ends and I am sure it has never seen a kiln!....I immediately store it vertically in the warmth of my workshop it dries OK without staining.

    My question is: if the wood is freshly cut, isn't there a chance that it might warp if stored vertically? How do you prevent fresh wood from warping while leaving it to dry?

    (The question is not addressed to Melvin, although I would be happy to know how he does it :) )

  2. So could the "old" maple which is reported to be softer be a contributing factor to that elusive sound present in the old instruments?

    Curious to know where old maple is reported to be soft?

    Isn't the wood of older instruments supposed to be brittle due to its age, which apparently contributes to tonal qualities of the instrument? Not saying that it makes any older instrument or wood better, just that it is one of the factors.

  3. Here is a different alternative wood. I've made a couple of cellos from cherry wood. I've been very pleased with the results.




    oops that's a picture of me holding a chicken.....;- )

    I had seen the cherry cello on your website and quite liked it. Very beautiful. But I think finding cherry backs is not easy :)

    Beautiful chicken too. I don't suppose it is varnished :) We used to keep chickens, they are nice and beautiful animals with tasty eggs.

  4. When I first started getting things together to make my first violin I had looked at some pieces of poplar and noticed it had a wonderful ringing tone when you tapped it.. I thought it might make a good instrument wood. The density is somewhere between spruce and maple. The problem for me was finding two pieces in the stack at the hardware store that would make a nice "matched" pair. Biggest problem was there was a lot of green discoloration which I didn't care for. Do they sell it in 1/4 cut wedges I wonder? I guess you could use a wider 10" board slab cut for an instrument.

    You can easily get one piece slab backs for violas and cellos; that's at least my understanding. But from all that I read, poplar is less commonly used on violins. Others will correct me, if I am wrong.

    As for the ribs, again, as far as I have seen, you find "matching" willow ribs as well as poplar. But a lot of people seem to prefer other woods as well, such as beech, right? I like willow ribs, they can look beautiful.

  5. It's important to choose the right model if you intend to use willow. Willow tends to produce a more diffused, less focused, warmer and darker sound. If that is matched with a model that tends to also be darker and more diffused the result could be a not very desirable instrument. But matched to an aggressive, focused model, it can bring warmth, greater ease and quicker response to the instrument.

    Knots can be an issue, keep them small and away from the sound post or other areas of stress.

    Oded Kishony

    Thanks, Oded, for mentioning these two points: cello model to take into account the sound quality of willow and avoid knots.

    Beautiful cello. I assume you made it.

  6. Hi Arash,

    I have made a few cellos of willow from Italy, and have been pleased with them and sold them.

    I find the willow sold by the Italian woodmen for cellos to be very soft and light, and you have to acomodate this in the thickness. I went on feel for this, making the plate to have about the same heft and flex as maple. I ended up with about 13 mm in the centre,and over 10 for the whole central area. The willow tree is prone to rot in the centre, and the wood can look nearly ok, so take some strips from the piece, especially in the centre and at the edges, and make sure they don't snap across the grain.

    Willow and poplar are often matched with beech sides, and that's well worth doing, because willow sides can be very plain, and have a shine to them that can look flat under varnish. The ribs can look like a cheap guitar, till they get beaten up and warped with age.

    I think it would be worth trying some English willow. It's harder, and though it's whiter, I think it might be very good. If you find a good source, please let me know!

    Thanks for all the information. I was going to post more practical questions later, but can now start collecting useful data.

    Someone had once suggested on MN that if you live in the UK, you could find cheap but good willow in sawmills. I have failed to find a sawmill nearby and as a result I have failed to locate (English) willow. Will make sure to post here, if I find something.

  7. Thanks, Joe. That cello back is fantastically beautiful (and without any knots). I understand people make violins with poplar too, but both willow and poplar seem to be mostly recommended for violas and cellos. Melvin uses poplar for his cellos and he too seems to be very happy with the tonal quality of poplar.

  8. Hello,

    Here, on MN, and elsewhere willow is often recommended as an alternative to maple for cello and viola backs. I know that willow can have rather pronounced knots. My gut feeling is that one should not worry about the small knots, which may make nice visual features, but what about larger/largish knots? Are they a problem when preparing the back? Will it be a problem to get the surface smooth? Or, when is a knot in a willow back a problematic knot? I would be grateful for your thoughts.


  9. Thanks, Oded. From what I have read here, I gather that this fungus can spread to the rest of the wood, is that right? Is it best to stay away from wood that has this type of fungus or is it irrelevant if it is outside the area which will be the back?

  10. Thanks! At the time I hadn't found good resources. You might also check out the luther's library


    but pay no attention to the published arches (pdf's) as they are only generated cyloid curves. GREAT photos and dimension datails on lots of amazing instruments.

    What a fantastic resource. Thanks for the link.

    So are recommended posters you are mentioning available in the archives, or do you have to pay for previously published posters?

    I don't know about the archives, but the posters are available here:

    The conventional wisdom is that beginners are better off copying Guarneri than Stradivari. I don't think it makes much difference.

    I have two children, who are hooked on Stradivari, so a Guarneri is out of question :). But out of curiosity: Is there a particular Guarneri violin that the conventional wisdom applies to?