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Kevin Kelly

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  1. Not my area of expertise (not sure what is), but I would have guessed French. The head maybe doesn’t look it so much, but also looks like it has had some work done
  2. I'm confused. As far as I know, 1704 is mostly shellac to begin with, isn't it?
  3. Reading through this thread it occurs to me that maybe a simple fact got buried - that the entire violin body bends like a banana under tension. If, for example, you measure the arching height of a 300 year old back, to get a better idea you would normally measure it both along the center line, and across the arch, because those are two different numbers - it's higher along the arch than across it. Presuming the back was what we would all consider relatively flat when it was made, this means the back arch is slightly rounder than it was when it was made. The same forces are obviously at work on the rest of the instrument, which is why ribs bend and bellies bulge. Another thing that hasn't been mentioned is that the bar, especially if it's under tension, will keep the bass side of the upper and lower bouts pulled down somewhat more than they otherwise would be, which means that the belly on the opposite side gets pushed up. This effect can be amplified by replacing the bar with a new one with new tension, which can happen multiple times. A consequence of this is that the arch can actually appear "round" on one side of the center line, and "saddled" on the other. If you look at the fiddle from the side, and tilt it towards you and away from you, you can get very different impressions of the long arch, even with a small change in angle. Because of this, I think it's wise to take any photo or drawing of a long arch with a grain of salt.
  4. It’s interesting how piano builders and violin makers think of soundboards. When a piano soundboard gets old and warped and develops cracks, a piano restorer will rip the thing out with a claw hammer and throw it in the trash, and replace it with some fresh, new pieces of Spruce! If violins had lids we would probably do the same.
  5. Of course you are right - thanks. I should have noticed that was the wrong image. The Titian has a very distinctive shape. My wife has been trying to get us to have less caffeine in the morning, but I think I'll have to go back to my normal amount!
  6. The reason I posted this observation is simply that it shows a bit more about one artifact in a museum full of Stradivarian artifacts. I thought it was interesting to see how an artifact connects to a real actual violin. In this case, there is a written description referring to a particular type of violin (Amati “large pattern”) of a particular year, and I happened to have ct scans handy of a violin of that description. The strip of wood references thicknesses, but it doesn’t say what the thickness are, and it looks like it fits between the upper and lower blocks of that instrument. for me it is just an interesting thing to know, even though it doesn’t explain anything. This is just an observation of academic interest to me, and it is the kind of thing I would just notice and file away until something came along that looked like it might be connected, like the Stainer back. I still dont’ know what, if anything, it means, but eventually a lot of observations may lead to something interesting, if more people know about it. I don’t think it explains the secret of Strad, or that it has anything directly to do with violin design, it’s just an interesting stick that now has a bit of meaning that it didn’t before. Maybe I should have titled the thread “interesting stick” instead of referring to pins, but that’s what reminded me of it.
  7. There is another possibility that hasn’t been mentioned. My own theory is that the hole may have to do with centering the c bouts. There was a long thread about this several years ago that I can’t find now, where I posted some pictures of a jig I used when I was making “baroque” violins. I can’t find any picture of that now, either, and the jigs are in a box somewhere, but it was just a piece of wood, about 50mm tall and 140mm wide, and about 7mm thick or so. There were two slots about 3mm wide and 32mm tall cut into it at the distance of the ribs, so the jig slipped over the ribs rather snugly at the narrowest point of the c bout. In the center of the piece of wood is a small hole that is drilled through, from top down. I made the jig because I was trying to emulate the process that Hargrave described. The system worked well, but I ran into a problem - using locating pins keeps the upper and lower blocks on the center line, but the rest of the ribs are free to move around, and are hard to corral when it comes time to glue things together. I wanted to keep the center of the fiddle on the center line as well, especially the part between the upper eyes of the ff’s. What I did was 1) drill a hole on the center line of the form at the narrowest spot (same size hole as the one for the jig) 2) with the finished ribs still on the mold, place them on the back using the locating pins and take the first outline for sawing. At the same time, place the gimlet through the hole in the form and drill all the way through the plank for the back, which has been thicknessed pretty much to the finished height, but is still just a flat board. Put your finger on the other side so you can feel when the point starts to emerge. 3) finish the back except for the final outline and purfling/edgework 4) take the ribs off the mold, attach the neck 5) place the ribs w/neck on the back using the center pins, place the jig on the ribs, slide the gimlet through the hole in the jig and rescrew the gimlet into the hole in the back that it made before. Now the upper block, narrowest point, and lower block are all on the center line, and will stay there while glueing up. This system works pretty well, but it doesn’t explain exactly the ventral pin thing. For one thing, the placement of the pin is not normally the narrowest point of the ribs. But maybe it could be that whatever jig they were using was designed to go wherever they decided the thickest point was going to be, as when you reinsert the gimlet there’s just not that much wood to hold it in place. It might also be handy to have a hole already where you’re going to measure the thickness from, so you don’t have to keep re-measuring it as you go. I don’t strongly believe that this is the reason for the pins, but I think it’s possible that it’s something like this. my idea may be some primitive version of the actual model. thought I'd throw it into the mix.
  8. Thanks, but I would say it's not that much of an insight, since it had a description written on it! I think I just spend more time looking at things like this than most people. One side-effect of not watching tv. That's what I think is interesting, it hints that the thicknesses are assumed, and just the location needs to be pointed out. Whether it was from one of the Cremonese workshops, or, as you suggest, by Cozio, it points maybe to a different way of thinking about thicknessing than I have. the stick is 320 x 14mm according to the catalog, no thickness is given. maybe Bruce knows, if he's reading this. I get the impression from the photos it's just a strip of rib stock or something. I agree that the string length is the starting point, the other things you mention I was not aware of, but that's why I posted it - i thought others might have ideas about it.
  9. I thought about posting this in the “rib taper” thread, but it seemed like it had gone far enough afield by page 15…. (edit: looks like that thread got picked up again as I was writing this) In that thread someone linked to this excellent post by Jacob Saunders that included this photo of an opened Stainer violin, with pin pricks along the center joint. That reminded me of something interesting I noticed a few years ago while looking through the catalog of the Museo del Violino. MS 995 is a stick with scratch marks and writing on it. It’s 320 mm long, and the writing says “thickness of the violin of Amati of 1654 large pattern” (I won't post a large image of it because I'm not sure the museum would be happy about it) Of course I had to clean it up a bit and take a look at it compared to a “large pattern” Amati of 1654. This was made easier by the fact that there happens to be one in the collection of the Library of Congress that is in the public domain. the yellow lines are lined up with the scratch marks on the wooden strip as well as I could this image is a composite of ct images of the back, front, and sides of the "Brookings" Amati of 1654 You might notice that the pin in the back closely coincides with the "x" marked in the middle of the wooden strip, while the first yellow line is at the bridge location. Not sure what any of it means, I just think it's interesting.
  10. I don't know, but, Sacconi did say in his book that his observation was that the bridge was always placed at the balance point of the top in Stradivari's instruments, sans bar. He wrote that he thought the bridge placement and f hole layout of each model was determined by trial and error, and then cemented once he found the perfect position.
  11. As far as I know there are only five Cremonese instruments for which we know the original neck length. Two are tenor violas, two are small violins, and one is the Lady Blunt. I say this because four of them have their original necks still attached by their makers, and the Lady Blunt has its original fingerboard definitely associated with it. The Soil is another candidate, but it would have to be clear that the board is definitely from that instrument. If anyone knows about another Cremonese instrument where the neck hasn’t been removed and replaced (like the Amati tenor in Oxford) I would be interested to know about it. There is, as far as I can tell, nothing at all to tell us what the original neck length of any cello was. There are neck templates in the Museo, but those are all longer than they need to be, and there’s no mark to clearly indicate where the string ends or where the root ends. The five instruments are Stradivari tenor A. Guarneri tenor Lady Blunt Bros. Piccolo Del Gesù quarto Add to this the Soil if you like. This list spans about 120 years. The violins, in spite of their different sizes, have kind of similar neck lengths, in order: 120, 118, 119*, 118 (* I don’t have a quality measurement of this neck, but it’s close to that) The two tenors have similar neck lengths, at 156 and 158 If I were to look for a relationship between neck length and some other aspect of these instruments, there are two possibilities that I can see- stop length and body length. If we exclude the two small violins, the ratio of neck to stop length for the list above is (to two decimal places) 0.60 Strad. Tenor 0.60 Guarn. Tenor 0.62 Lady Blunt 0.60 Soil The ratio of neck length to body length is 0.33 Strad tenor 0.33 Guarn. Tenor 0.34 Lady Blunt 0.33 Soil ( I have 356 for a body length measurement) So from this meager list it looks like either one is a possible direct relationship, but the body length maybe is a better match. It’s possible that they are both a match, because in these cases, the ratio of stop length to body length is pretty consistent also (which would have to be the case) These are 0.56 Strad tenor 0.55 Guarn. Tenor 0.56 Lady blunt 0.56 Soil The next issue is that the relationship of stop length to body length varies quite a bit. I have measured lengths that vary from 54.6% to 56.3% for violin, and 53.6% to 54.6% for viola and cello. Interesting that there are two ranges. So what I notice is 1) we have a very tiny sample size, 2) that sample size is uncharacteristically consistent in the ratio of stop length to body length 3) guessing from the sample, it’s possible that the stop length, body length, or both (or none) could be used to find the neck length 4) it’s not possible to have "both" be true for most Cremonese instruments. If the stop length or body length were used as a reference then it would have to be one or the other. my own guess, for the above and for other reasons that have to do with my own bullshit, is that it’s more likely that the neck length may have been related to the body length, and not the stop length. my opinion is subject to revision without notice...
  12. Yes, I understood that - my comment wasn't in response to you, it was just a general question about whether one should expect to find some particular ratio of neck length to stop length in the original Cremonese instruments the way we expect to see in modern instruments, especially, as you point out, the stop lengths vary quite a bit. Does that mean many different neck lengths for many different models of violin? Maybe it did. Just an interesting question. Thanks, by the way, for the information about the Soil fingerboard. I wonder how confident you are that it goes with the Soil?
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