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Michael Darnton

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Everything posted by Michael Darnton

  1. End grain glue strength is pretty obvious to people who have to remove violin necks (and often find big pieces of the block ripped out by the end-to-side grain glue joint at the end of the neck, where the failure is in the side grain piece). But I wonder what would happen over time with humidity fluctuations to a purely end to end joint.
  2. What has worked best for me is to try to develop a mechanical model rather than an acoustic one. That is, what kinds of movements do I want to encourage, and how can I do that. What do I want to discourage, how can I do that. Basically, formulate a theory, then test it. I believe this would have been much closer to the way the original makers saw the problem then relying on a theory of acoustics that did not yet exist in their time. For instance, I personally believe that the mico-inconsistencie in tone quality over time that good instruments show is what makes those instruments interesting to listen to. Because old violin grads are often all over the map and one characteristic of a lot of later instruments that I don't like in that respect is very consistent grads (I once suggested to a maker that his instrument tops didn't vary by 1/10 mm and he said "Oh, no, it's much less than that!"), I tried making my top grads as inconsistent as reasonably possible for a while. . . without the expected results. And so I moved on to other ideas. I didn't waste a lot of my own work on this--a lot of it was learned by graduating cheap factory instruments that came through my shop. And on those instruments I often have tried to test only one idea at a time. Try an idea; discard it; try another. Now when an instrument comes into the shop with a tonal problem, there are a few things I know might help and a few more I know won't help. And a lot I still don't know but am working on. I also test a lot of "common knowledge" that way to sort out myth from truth. For instance, experimenting to see the effects of changing the bass bar in different way for issues that have been traditionally assigned to the bass bar, to find out exactly what has an effect and what doesn't. One test can't tell you anything reliable, but tens of tests can start to point you in a direction. That's why you're getting a lot of advice to make a lot of violins: the first task isn't necessarily to make a good violin, it's to make a consistent violin so that when you do something you like you know where it came from and how to do that the next time. If you have no control you can't ever learn that. Example: with the bass bar experiments, a lot of the variability is removed by using the same violin and the same bridge, and post if possible, removing the variability of trying different bars in different violins. All of this depends on learning through practice. I don't know why so many people think violins are different and they can come in and make the best instrument the first time they try, without a lot of practice--they don't learn to drive or write or learn to play a sport or anything else with that attitude. Referring to your first post, if you think having the treble side thicker did something, perhaps you will try that strategy for a while. If the situation never happens again, good; if it does happen again, perhaps that wasn't the solution you thought it was. This is how both learning AND myths accumulate, so be careful! :-) Incremental learning.
  3. Because of the harder wood, purfling on the back often appears more precise than the top because it's easier to cut a sharper track for it in the back. Cutting the left vs right f-hole is a difficult problem. Because of reading and our habits of looking at text from left to right, the lean and movement of the left hole is more natural and easier to "see" than the right, so many makers do a better job on the left than the right. The appearance of centering of the scroll spine is often an effect of lighting for both the view and the cutter.
  4. The majority, including me, seem to be telling you that tuning is a waste of time. Perhaps you should listen to them. Perhaps you missed Don's recent post in another thread:
  5. This is why I initially asked for peoples' definitions of response. I have heard two things referred to this way. One is demonstrated when cellists have a C string that starts poorly, often with a nasty noise, the full tone catching somewhat late into the note, after a lot of trash, vs clean and fast. When you see a cellist flick the string with one of his extra left-hand fingers, that's his way of getting around this problem by initiating the note by plucking at the start of the bow attack. That would be poor response, the opposite being a note that starts cleanly and easily. This is most obviously demonstrated by asking how lightly, at the tip of the bow, on the edge of the hair, the player can play and still get notes that start well and whether that is OK, or if more response is needed there. It doesn't show up as obviously with loud, forceful playing as light and quiet. The other is when a violin does or does not have a clear and sudden impact to the note. The way I look for this is to ask the player to play their fastest rising slurred scale in first position on the middle strings. With good response by that definition each note will start with a clear snap, an impact, click, pop, whatever, in spite of the slurring bow. The scale sounds like the image of a string of pearls being pulled out of maybe a hole in a drum head. The opposite of this is a blurred scale where the notes don't separate but rather run into each other without definition. The overall effect is that the player sounds mushy, undefined. Players *usually* prefer the snap and will often refer to this a good articulation (the obvious opposite being bad articulation). You can fake this when playing slowly and there's a video in David Finckel's (Emerson Qt.) youtube series where he shows how to do this, recommending it as a habit, I think. But it can't be faked slurring at lightning speed, I don't think. Either test works on all instruments, but each situation is most obvious on the ones I named. I find that these are adjustable traits, not built in by construction, mostly. I'd call that second one complexity and variability, I guess. Usually I don't call it anything because I don't have an adjustment to fix it. :-) For me, the quick test is to play a note with vibrato and if the vibrato is just a simple change of pitch, bad; if it's a throbbing envelope of harmonics, good. The less movement to give this the better. A perhaps more obvious test is to bow successive strings sliding the bow down from over the board to near the bridge ***without making any attempt to change the tone***. If the tone changes a lot, from foggy to clear and harsh, that's good. If the tone doesn't change at all, that's bad. Variability in abundance is actually a very rare trait, in my experience, and the ones who want it look long and hard to get it, and then when they test an instrument it's the very first thing they test for. Cellists seem more clued in on this than other instruments' players. In my experience. Dynamic range is an odd one. I guess I think of it more as power curve. If low end response is set up well, you can play quietly; then you push. How soon you get to FFF is more about power curve and some like it fast, some slow. I'm under the impression that most good violins will put out about the same level on the high end, but exactly how much work it takes to get there is an issue for personal preference regarding whether one is constitutionally a pusher or a tickler. As with the case of extreme complexity, I think this is more about construction than adjustment.
  6. FWIW, all "real" instruments show instability, which as I said was a problem for the first generation of synthesizers. What you show there looks like bow noise (I might be wrong), and most players I deal with want that gone, if possible.
  7. Wow! As someone working with musicians daily, to me that's about the only issue there is. I can't even imagine you can have return customers with an attitude like that. They try to communicate those issues to me, and I try to understand to the fullest possible extent so that I can fix things. I'm absolutely relentless in getting the fullest descriptions I can, and trying to understand, and I treasure those players who have been as relentless in helping me to learn this aspect that I can't experience myself. I've also learned to appreciate that as good of a player as I could ever be (and which I definitely am not), I would never be able to replicate the experience of some specific other player, that they're all different, and that doing the job means seeing things from their individual perspectives, not my own. That's one reason I always discount statements like "You need to be a player to work on violins".
  8. Something that's always interested me is high-frequency interference effects which produce third (Tartini) tones. There are entire speaker systems that use this effect to image sound at a particular point in space using inaudible high-frequency projection from other locations, and I wonder if there isn't some of that going on in violin sound. I have certainly observed effects that could be attributed to that. This implies frequencies that normal sound equipment can't deal with, hear or reproduce. In that context, Marty's electronic instrument might replicate the sound of a recording of a violin better than a real one.
  9. Whenever this type of discussion comes up, I feel like it always falls short of explaining how violins behave over a period of time, and it's never made clear how a snapshot from a tap can explain that. For instance one characteristic of human-driven instruments over simple first-generation synthesizers was that the synthesizer tone was consistent and tonally flat, where real human-driven instruments had random micro-inconsistencies over time. I have noticed that some violins stifle that inconsistency where others encourage it. Perhaps Don or someone can explain how to see that in an FFT chart. The click or pop is one simple example of such a phenomenon, which is why I asked Anders the questions I did about v/F and notches. That's getting as close as I've seen to dealing with this issue. Thanks to Peter for his one-word answers. :-)
  10. OK, I have just one (two?) question: if you wanted to change this in an existing violin, could you? (Or is it inherent in the violin.) If you consider it adjustable, what adjustment parameter would you work with, if you will say? One word for each query is sufficient, since that's the mode you seem to be in. :-) Thanks.
  11. OK, I think I need some explanation of this to understand, sorry. 1/ What is v/F? I haven't heard that term before. I see it in your post about the cello tests. I guess you are referring to notches in the FFT chart. 2/ Does more v/F cause more "click" or "pop" at the note start, or is that an effect of less v/F? Do I understand that if the wolf is subdued the v/F goes down with it, or does it go up? 3/ How would you adjust this on a real violin to make the "pop" effect greater or less? If I read your last sentence right, there's an implication that there is some validity to the common belief that good violins have stronger wolfs? At least in this context? I guess that implies that more v/F is better for more pop, but I am not sure if that means you can get more pop by directing wolf energy into the pop, removing it from the wolf, or whether the two travel together and one needs to be present for the other to be present. I had some trouble formulating these questions properly. I hope they are clear enough. . . Thanks.
  12. It's not clear to me that the question is about a socket stuck in the endblock. Since it's from someone who sounds like a high school orchestra student I'm suspecting that either the metal pin won't move in the wood socket (a humidity issue) or the tip has fallen off and the pin is rattling around inside the instrument. If the problem is a socket stuck in the endblock, I usually find the easy cure is to put out the pin, have someone hold the cello down, hold the end of the pin, and crank it like a hurdygurdy. Eventually it will work itself loose. If that doesn't work, it's time for a strap clamp similar to an oil filter wrench, but small, with a rubber strap. Sometimes that and the hurdygurdy crank, together.
  13. Since I am able to adjust that quite easily on virtually any instrument, this implies that that particular characteristic is an effect of the adjuster and adjustment rather than being inherent in the instrument itself. That brings up the interesting question of how one would separate the effects of adjustment from the inherent qualities of the instrument. No one seems concerned about that in this discussion so far. Andreas still hasn't explained what HE means by response. I find that players call two separate things "response", and that the treatment for them is not the same, plus, he might have his own personal third definition, so HIS explanation is necessary here to have any discussion at all.
  14. Except that I believe that most of those older recordings were made with old ribbon mics which had their own response patterns similar to what I'm seeing here. So you have managed to replicate the filtering of a ribbon mic and possibly also some additional effects of the electronics of the time.
  15. What I see is a lot of tightly placed peaks up to 3K, then a quick drop too early than I would like (I'd rather see it start at 6K--here I'd expect a lack of cut or carrying power) followed by too much remaining out towards 10K. I'd expect a sound that was full and rich, but too dark and lacking sparkle, but perhaps still too bright in a bad way. I wonder if you aren't being seduced by the smoothness of the sound, which is probably a strong attribute here. Since any definition of response is 3D and your graph is 2D (pitch, dB, lacking the time dimension), I don't know how you'd expect to see response. And to know anything you need to come up with a definition of response that would be visible on a graph. I know two definitions of bow response and there may be more, so defining what it means to you, here, is certainly necessary.
  16. Quality control for a bridge is that it makes a violin work and sound better than another bridge. That is literally ALL there is to it. This is the result of MANY different aspects of the bridge, combined. If you get that 3000 Hz and everything else is wrong, the 3000 Hz isn't going to help a thing. The process you should be following is to learn to cut a normal bridge, get a violin where it makes a difference (cheap violins sound about the same regardless of what you do to them) and learn to tell good from bad. Then you can start playing with bridge parameters to find out what they do and construct a bridge which benefits that particular instrument. Without those skills you will not be able to do the job. There's no silver bullet.
  17. I've not been exposed enough to Mirecourt violins to know if this is a type of that, so I'll give it the benefit of doubt and say that it's probably a very low level French maker's violin from the late 1800s. If someone wants to place it as a better Mirecourt instrument, I won't protest. This video makes a good case for B&F's policy when I worked there of not hiring people who had any previous experience or training, preferring to work with a clean slate.
  18. No, that's me with the felt pen coloring over logos and planing off bridge brands. If you want me to advertise for you, give me the stuff. Don't charge me to use me as a billboard. I haven't used Aubert blanks for a couple of decades. They don't do what I need a bridge blank to do, that's all. If they work for you, great. I looked around and found something that worked better for me.
  19. Two thoughts on high frequencies: First, to make a kettle drum sound higher you don't replace the skin with a one inch board just because stiffer objects vibrate at higher frequencies. This might accomplish the job, but the result would be much quieter, less efficient and wouldn't compete with the other drums' sound volume. I think the same with violin tops: you don't get high freqs EFFICIENTLY by making the top thicker where you think the highs will appear. To make a drum sound higher you make the drumhead area smaller and still thin. If I were thinking of stimulating highs, I'd think of thinner wood, not thicker, in smaller sized areas in the most critical locations. With that in mind. . . Second, Kinberg (famous Chicago maker of the 50s and 60s) violins are unusual in their spectrum in that they have a lot of crunchy bright highs. Where the normal E string might only sound the first four harmonics of the note loudly, on a Kinberg six or more are loud before the response drops off. The only difference I have found in his grad pattern is that the widest parts of the upper and lower bouts of the top are as thin as 2 mm or less (only in the area outside the respective corner's longitude--a very narrow band of wood) on an otherwise 2.8 mm or thicker top. Not saying that's how he does it, but it's the only oddity I've noticed in his work. I don't like this sound quality, so I haven't attempted to replicate it. Needless to say, this spectrum isn't at all like what a classical Cremonese shows, nor is the sound similar. But since AP seems to want nasty. . . One additional thought: a lot of the ideas I see in this thread seem to rely on old ideas that are passed along without proof. I think you might get farther if you thought wayyyy outside the box, as in the example above. LIke in the opposite direction. Those familiar with working with players have probably observed that you get the best results if you give them the opposite of what they think should be done. If they say the sound is tight, for instance, tighten the post, don't loosen it. Etc. I find that model useful, myself.
  20. Because I'm a pita. Problem with that? I don't really care. Move on. If you have any advice for the OP, you are welcome to give it.
  21. I told the OP privately. Because of the amount of garbage about adjustments on the web that all seems to be viewed as equally valid and has resulted in lots of confusion and bad advice, I don't feel like the internet is an appropriate place to contribute on that topic anymore. What I specifically see is if eight people say the same thing, and it's stupid, where two say the right thing, most readers interpret as eight votes winning against two. I no longer play that game.
  22. Mastic isn't necessary and is not similar to dammar. You are wasting your time trying to make a cold dammar/oil varnish.
  23. Dammar has quite a bit of wax and perhaps also some soft components in it that need to be burned out. Thus my recommendation for boiling it to half the amount you start with. You cannot make a proper oil varnish without cooking the dammar and oil together at a high heat to the spider web stage. Oil and resin mixed without cooking do not make a real oil varnish where the oil and resin are permanently, chemically joined. Only mastic permits that, of all of the resins, AFAIK. Most real oil varnishes dry faster as they age in the bottle. Six months is a good start.
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