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scordatura

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Everything posted by scordatura

  1. I like this line of thinking...I think!
  2. I knew this would possibly evolve/devolve into what is good sound debate. I am lucky in that I am a professional player (mostly classical and some jazz) and also someone who delves into making from time to time. I have enough skill on the violin to extract the good qualities of an instrument and play around the inadequacies of an instrument. BTW I am not trying to “toot my own horn” or play my own violin if you will…laughing. What I can suggest is that I am a pretty good evaluator of violin sound (or noise) and most of those really great instruments have been Cremonese. I have played some modern instruments that might also fall into that category. I am not saying that a particular genus of wood is always going to be a complete winner over all others. The question in my mind is--how can we best have control over the things we can most control? Yes even wood varies from the same tree. But if as makers we can establish a range of density that we want to work from, that aids in our ability to gain SOME control in this impossible endeavor of instrument making. How do we know a piece of wood is great before it is done? It looks good? So many grain lines per cm or inch? Gradual or distinct winter and summer grain lines? Sounds a certain way when we run our hand across the grain? Tap it and hear the noise/sound that it produces? Cut into it with a plane or gouge to sense the qualities? All of the above? The wood supplier says so? Or just take any piece that strikes our fancy and work our magic and vary the arching/scoop and thicknesses and hope for the best. It seems to me that we need something quantifiable to assess the raw materials. For me that probably means sticking to a genus (if we can trust our wood supplier) with a target range of density and use some or all of the above tests to determine and then manipulate with arching and thickness. Or do we just subscribe to the “it’s all in how you use it” theory…LOL You have to love the black art of violin making. It makes for some interesting debates.
  3. I have been to Simeon's site. What I was wondering is how does his wood compare to others like Orcas Island (Bruce Harvey) or Mountain Voice (Carson)or others? My aim is to order a number of pieces so that I can season them. Perhaps I should order one from each to see what works best. Opinions welcome. A side note some years ago I was fairly close with a maker who knew well one of the major wood suppliers in Germany. He said that some (not all) of the wood that people thought was European was in fact from North America. I am not trying to start up anything by mentioning this other than back in the day there was a pretty significant bias against North American tonewood. The arguement being that the Cremonese did not have access to it therefore the NA wood could not be the answer to what we are all after--how to consistently make awesome sounding instruments. And yes, I personally played some Cremonese instruments that from a sound standpoint were not that great. But I have played some that were in a class of their own rarely touched by non Cremonese makers. I am not trying to sterotype and say that only Cremonese instruments are superior sounding to all others but there is a kernal of truth there.
  4. Speaking of the Cannone, a few days ago I watched a youtube vid with Eugene Fodor playing the instrument in CA. Very interesting from a number of standpoints. The fiddle sounded great as far as one can tell from the video. What a tragic figure Eugene ended up being. Got to know him a bit--one talented and crazy dude. He was really fun on a sailing boat.
  5. Ahh the benefits from working in a shop like B&F or your newer venture with Stephan to see legendary fiddles come across the bench...lucky you are. How did the 1736 violin sound? Was it as responsive and sound as rich as thinned examples? Difficult to compare apples to oranges but you know what I mean.
  6. Wait a minute. Could it be that this "NewNewbie" was the guy who sold me the wood
  7. I don't think I or anyone was implying that this is as simple as a species or give type of wood. Although if you do not start with good (whatever that means...) materials, you are finished before you begin. My aim is to have a discussion of what type of top wood people are using and where you purchase that wood. Back when I was into making, anyone who discussed (openly anyway) using anything other than European wood was a heretic. It seems that that line of thinking has gone out of favor to some extent--which I think is a good thing. This reminds me of Formula 1 racing. You could not just put a McLaren undertray/diffuser on a Ferrari chassis with a Red Bull front wing and hope it would work to make the fastest car. That being said when McLaren developed a trick thing called an "f duct" last season all of the teams scrambled to copy it AND integrate it into their vehicles. Sorry for the F1 reference...
  8. Did you compare European or Sitka to the Englemann? It would be interesting to see the differences.
  9. Thanks for the responses. So low density = engelmann. It does make sense that a less dense wood would not have as much inherent dampening so the complexity of the sound might suffer. I find it interesting when people say that del Gesu's are thick. I am not sure that this is true. I was just looking at the Biddulph del Gesu books that have measurements taken from the exhibition in the 90s at the Metropolitain Museum and some of the Strad posters/plans that I have. From what I could see the tops were all in the 2.3-3+ range. Not like the really thick French violins that need to be regraduated. Before anyone gets worked up...I am aware that most of the Strads, Guarneri and other antique instruments are not in their original state (due to Vuillaume and other shops over the years). And yes tenths and even hundredths of a mm make a difference. Also how many wood samples from Stradivari and other great Cremonese makers have really been scientifically put to the test to quantify the properties of the wood. I am aware of Condax and a few others that had access to samples for mainly varnish and ground analysis. If there are any studies of such things anyone could point to I would appreciate it. To me the question is would you rather have a less dense wood and work around the problems of complexity of sound or modulate a dense wood that tends to not vibrate with the freedom that wood with a lower density does. As with many things the answer lies somewhere in the middle. Perhaps that is where things beyond the wood like ground and varnish figure in to the above...which is indeed another rich topic!
  10. After a long hiatus from violin making, i've got the bug back... Anyway, I am interested in opinions about so called "low density spruce". Is this garden variety engelmann? I realize that there is quite a bit of variation within a given species but I have noticed the term "low density spruce". Does this differ that much from others selling engelmann spruce or is it a different species? Thoughts, opinions? I have a stash of spruce that was purchased from a famous maker. When I asked him why he was selling this wood he said "we found something lighter".
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