Michael Darnton

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About Michael Darnton

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    Check out my photos: http://flickr.com/photos/mdarnton

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  1. Violin shops have been tossing around these ideas for centuries, attempting to keep up with the demands of players. Just because you haven't been there, it doesn't mean this discussion hasn't happened, over and over. You, however, convinced of the correctness of your ideas, with apparently no experience (I'm guessing you don't work in a shop and probably haven't worked on instruments in a demanding setting, if at all---have you ever set any violin neck according to the usual professional standards, not in your basement?), choose to enter in and try to revamp concepts you clearly don't understand. And you wonder why you are getting a lack of interest? I'd suggest you inform yourself about the history of neck setting and get a real understanding of the parameters, so that when you talk about the subject you make sense. As it stands, you really do not know what you don't know. I can't stress that last sentence enough.
  2. I believe that what you are saying is really too simple to be useful, in that it does not nearly cover all of the variables involved.
  3. Directed at Sospiri, not you. I should have been clearer.
  4. I don't actually wing it. I have a gauge* which allows me to accurately predict what the string angle over the bridge will be while I am in the process of setting the neck, and adjust on the fly to achieve whatever string angle I have decided I need, considering the bridge height, appui, and saddle height I think best for the situation. But all of this is fundamentally based on achieving a specific string angle over the bridge (which may or may not be 158 degrees, depending usually on the arching height and arching shape of the specific violin under consideration.) So, in a sense, I have only one critical measurement, the string angle, with bridge height variable within a much smaller range than your suggestion--say from a pitch of 26.5 to 27.2mm, at the extremes. * http://www.darntonviolins.com/images2/neck-angle.jpg A couple of things may not be clear in the photo: there's a scribe line on the plastic which indicates where the string will be, and if you look at where this ends at the bridge, the angle is between that line and the edge of the template down to the saddle. This angle is marked in degrees on the paper tag to the left (and you can't read that at all in the photo). 157 to 159 is a sufficient range to cover all possibilities, and yes, one degree does matter. Bridge height also has a separate effect. My parameters are necessarily narrow because what I'm looking for regarding tone and behavior is relatively narrow in scope, resulting in what you might call a "shop sound" based on our customer profile. We're able to hit this target quite reliably, if a violin hasn't been previously f#$%^& over by some fiddle butcher (read that as "over-regraduated"). Likewise for cellos, though the specific rules are of course different.
  5. I thought people made it clear in the original thread that if one is looking for a general good situation, that violin was a poor example to use, and that the poster who made the drawing didn't consider all the variables when drawing his altered baseline, so the whole statement and drawing doesn't make any sense. . . at all. But that was all covered in the original thread, which is why I'm confused as to why this regurgitation of a bad thread.
  6. Perhaps because you have not stated your case clearly enough to understand? Tell us, then, what is the right neck angle, in a way that can be used with any violin of any arching height, string length, stop and neck length. If you are saying that you can calculate it as an angle of the top of the board relative to the ribs (Is that where your 7 or 8 degrees comes from? You did not make that clear!), then no, that will not necessarily work equally well with a violin with a 14mm arch and one with a 21mm arch, unless you are changing the overstand as well, and how can you measure this angle when doing a real neck set? And then where does the saddle come in on all of this, because it doesn't matter if you follow the arching heigh increase and keep neck angle the same and then don't realize the effect of the saddle height as arching height changes. And in a violin with a twist or worse, a sag in the middle, as many violins do have, where do you measure it (7 or 8 degrees) from, the center where the bridge rests, the length to the saddle? But then what do you do with bridge height if the c-bout is sagging 2mm as many do; make it 2mm higher? That won't work. Or do you just go for 7 degrees to some arbitrary point and not worry about anything else? If that's your idea, huge mistake! My point is, some number which does not take ALL the various things going on does not lead to a definite result.
  7. I don't understand why you keep hammering on a photograph of one violin that may or may not be accurate and which may or may not work in its present or a previous iteration, which none of us will ever hear and no one cares how it sounds? And what does that violin have to do with 158 degrees as a set-up parameter?
  8. I fail to see your point. No one has said, or cares, where the 158 degree idea originated. All the number represents is a general pointer to what works with many violins, through experience, not from looking at any one violin, but from thousands of all kinds that do and don't work and it's a measurement that's easily taken as one parameter of neck setting. It's isn't written in stone--sometimes some other angle works better--but it's a good starting point to work from. Wandering off of it in either direction results in specific changes, and this also is handy to know. I always completely measure a neck I am about to reset, determining from how it works what direction to go with the new neck set, and this is one of the things that can be measured and repeated or changed as necessary to make tonal corrections. That's all. I don't do something because someone 200 years ago did it: I do it because I know what the results will be when I keep or change that angle, depending on what changes are required, today, with modern players and strings. Further, some people here have maintained this angle doesn't even matter, in which case your point is even more irrelevant, if you care what they think
  9. I've seen a few Sacconi instruments. The later ones have been better, the earlier more like the usual 30s-40s modern Italian. In general, I think getting out of Italy and into good American shops was something he took immediate and full advantage of. One later one, a copy, was so good that I was fooled into thinking I was looking at a real del Gesu that had been stripped and revarnished. In general, I don't think he was trying to fool anyone, and the instruments I have seen looked like he was playing with various ideas he had at the moment. In general, I'd class the better ones at the very best of modern making, the early ones as ordinary. At his best he captures a lot of golden-period details that most makers have missed.
  10. As Hogo mentions, I think the bottom line here is that any time you put a hard varnish on top of a soft one you are playing with fire. It doesn't matter whether oil is involved or not. Each resin has a characteristic crackle pattern, and sometimes what happens is not something you wanted, not authentic, or sometimes downright ugly. For instance, many older instruments have been overcoated with a spirit varnish that's mostly sandarac. This is easily recognizable as non-original and weird by a crackle that is small rectangular interlocking ladder shapes that follow the arching. Other resins have their own identifiable patterns. One of the more common antiquing processes results in a unique and identifiable pattern that is not "ancient" by virtue of the specific materials and technique used. Another example is when a restorer uses a hard retouch varnish on top of a very soft original varnish. The result can be ugly mud-crack pattern. Some [respected] modern makers have used lacquer in their varnish to aid spraying, and this can stay flexible for years, leading to retouching problems. The analogy I like is of thin ice on water. When the water moves, the ice breaks up. The resulting pattern is not the pattern of the original water, but of the ice. Undesirable results can take years to mature into visible problems.
  11. I have seen just one. It is no more literally there as a defined line than there is literally the line drawn around the edge about 6mm inside all around in Sacconi's drawing that represents the platform the ribs and linings are glued to. In both cases, those flat zones are gracefully blended in so that you don't see them as defined space. Take it more that straight out from the ends of the blocks is a thick zone that represents the thought of the block platform continued laterally, a little bump of an area where the main graduation pattern of the plate doesn't reach into. In that sense, it's the same soft blending line that goes all the way around inside the corner blocks and linings, more like there wasn't any intent to add discontinuity to that line by digging up around the sides of the end blocks. If you didn't know it was supposed to be there, you wouldn't have seen it. It's the opposite of what a lot of amateurs and beginning makers do when they feel like they have to get that 2.5mm out as close to the linings as possible, and leave a sharp step around the edge.
  12. To me the opposite of "broad" is "sounds like it's not firing on all cylinders. . . can we do something about that?"
  13. Lady Blunt Strad f-profile2 by Michael Darnton, on Flickr Not really parallel to the edges, as you can see. Just not popping up at the lower end as so many lesser violins do. If you work hard to make them parallel to the ribs, you ruin the arching through the bottom half of the holes. Notice how beautiful this f-hole is from the side: balanced, not closed up on the bottom as would happen without some careful wing lowering. Notice that my photo is tilted just a bit to make them look flatter than they are! Here's another example; notice that the bottom photo is, again, tilted a bit. The top is what you don't want to do; the bottom, better, but still a bit tight on the lower end, the wing flying upwards: The way to achieve this is by slightly altering the elevations around the bottom of the f, looking from the side, and altering the arching slightly just around the holes on both sides, bottom half. Think of it as recarving from the side view by altering the levels. Most of the time the bottom wing will need to be lowered a bit to open up the bottom half to look the same as the top half. This lowers the tip of the wing a bit compared with the arching just below it, but this isn't a problem because it pre-avoids the common problem of the lower wing popping up when the string pressure on the middle of the arch, and a bit of time, are added. The Strad example at the top is really perfect. Of course. . .