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Andreas Preuss

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Posts posted by Andreas Preuss

  1. Most of the famed fiddles from the workshop of Antonio Stradivari and Giuseppe Guarneri del Gesu have with very few exceptions very nicely flamed wood. 

    From a pure acoustic standpoint the difference between flamed and inflamed wood is probably insignificant. Other MN members might have a better answer.

  2. Honestly, I can’t hear any significant difference.

    If you ask me as a luthier, I think the biggest difference in different bridges is not what the audience can hear. It is how the player can manipulate the sound to his/her own desires, how fast the instrument can respond to all this or in short how comfortable a violinist feels with his/her instrument. 

  3. 57 minutes ago, fscotte said:

    I don't see any evidence to suggest that the individual wood resonances have any bearing on the tone.  So that's why I'm thinking about this topic.  Chasing modal patterns may be worthless as some suggest.  Perhaps they are only good for determining stiffness/weight ratio?

    I don’t know either. 

    57 minutes ago, fscotte said:

    So that's what I'm trying to get at, perhaps a super thin top (within structural limits and longevity) could be countered with a super stiff back (but only stiff enough not to exceed your target stiffness combination).

    Seems to be a good path in my view. The experiments on my new concept violin however showed me that the back alone doesn’t hold everything together. The ribs play a more important role. Paper thin ribs destroy the sound no matter how thick the back is. 

    I think it is possible to make a top thinner than what usually is regarded as safe. We just need to redesign the bass bar and eventually add other supporting beams to it. It is also better to bend the top instead of carving it.

    When doing so, tap tones become absolutely irrelevant. Instead arching height and string angle must be adjusted to each other. Because the classical construction concept leaves almost no space to do this I started to think about other ways constructing a violin. 

    I ended up with a top which had literally absolute no tap tone, just a deep ‘blub’ but sounded IMHO very interesting. 

    You can listen to the result here, go to section 014-174.1 



  4. On 11/24/2023 at 3:03 AM, fscotte said:

    Instead of trying to match mode 5 top plate at 350 hz and the back to 370 hz (examples only, not necessarily "ideal" tap notes), what if a good sounding violin is achieved by combining the two plate mode 5 tap notes together to a target value, say 720 hz, (again another example, not necessarily "ideal")

    To clarify, let's say you've decided that a combined mode 5 target value of both plates is 720 hz which yields a good sounding violin.  So you finish up on a top plate that ends up with mode 5 at 280 hz.  Pretty low by most standards.  However, what if that low tap note would be countered by a back plate that is 440 hz, combing the two plates to achieve a mode 5 target of 720 hz.

    Since the top and the back are ultimately connected by the rim, and the sound post, do they not simply work as a one piece of wood with a chamber of air inside.  They work in unison, not as separate entities?

    Anyway, just a thought that maybe a loose top plate and a very stiff back plate could create a very nice sounding violin.



    You might question what the mathematical sum of the tap tone frequencies really means when you go the extremes. So a paper thin top will work with a brick type of back? And a brick type of top will work with a loose back? I think this explains without any physics that it’s not likely to help in any way. 

    For me the balance looks different: ribs plus back can counterbalance a thinner top and it functions better this way than the other way around. (A thin back with thin ribs trying to hold up a thick top.) 

  5. On 11/23/2023 at 3:09 PM, ctanzio said:

    if not done right, can ruin the effect.


    The ‘right’ way of using chemicals lies rather in learning how to use it in rather homeopathic concentrations  paired with a good amount of patience.

  6. On 11/24/2023 at 8:21 AM, Nick Allen said:


    I've been thinking lately, probably too much, about perfectionist habits as they relate to our trade, and how they can be destructive in our lives as a whole... It's an issue that I've been struggling with for the past while, exacerbated by the likes of Instagram and other social medias. The notion of being perfect in one's work is a weird subject, in a way. It seems like it both permeates every little book and cranny of the job, but at the same time also tends to be superfluous a lot of the time. 

    I'm well aware that there is no actual "perfect" in reality, and trying to achieve that is a fool's errand. But there seems to be the idea that perfect is the only acceptable result in many applications, from making to repairs and restoration, and even customer interaction. 

    As someone who has really come to terms with such an issue, and has seen the damage that it has done to not only myself, and my relationships to other people, I'm curious about how other people have dealt with such a beast, and if they ever actually got out from under it or not. 

    I know that this is kind of a personal subject. I feel as though the mental aspects of our job aren't discussed all that often here, so I just wanted to throw the question out there, and anyone who feels comfortable talking about these things can if they want to. 

    As far as myself, my perfectionism is a maladaptive trait, that I have a hard time escaping because I need to prove myself to myself constantly. Working under this pressure has probably garnered some good results by squeezing blood from the stone that is myself, but at a tremendous cost in the long run... My nerves feel shot, and my self esteem has slowly eroded because it feels like no matter how good the result is from my hands, I will never accept the results as sufficient as a professional... I know that this is all irrational, and my work is more than adequate, but the feeling is hard to shake. It's gotten better over the last few months and I see light at the end of the tunnel, so I'm not making a sob story here. 

    It really concerns me when I see other young people going through the same thing. I want to say something, but I know that it's not my place, which is frustrating as well. I just hope that going forward, we in the industry can do what we can and help foster environments that offer people other perspectives or support with issues like this...

    Maybe a little late to answer and maybe some other members gave you already a similar answer. (I didn’t read all the previous answers)

    When it comes to pure perfectionism we are running a race against machine work which is getting better and better and when assisted in an intelligent way by human labour it is already at a very high level. 

    What we Violinmakers have to work on (imo) is a different sort of perfectionism. We need to develop what I call ‘individual handwriting’. All the famous violin makers had their own unmistakable handwriting. 

    And last not least, looking at the huge number of violin makers trying to work perfect and are therefore hard to distinguish it might be a better idea to develop a sloppy individualised approach taking the work Stefano Scarampella as a guideline. 

    This might be easy to say but difficult to say but difficult in terms of breaking one’s own habits. From my own experience, though I was never a sort of absolute perfectionist, I started to look at what is actually really important for a balanced aesthetic, and also how to incorporate all sorts of hand-work-flaws into the finish of my work always with view on the macro aspects than getting too fussy about the micro aspects. In my mindset there is then always someone asking ‘do you really think this is important for the sound???’ And of course the answer is no. 

    Hopefully this gives some ideas.

  7. 10 hours ago, Michael Szyper said:

    Honestly i measure RR on a regular basis and have plenty of data, but never recorded cross-grain stiffness.

    I think that the entire stiffness of the sound box in the direction across the grain (east-west) is very important. However this must not necessarily come from the top. Somehow this helps to get a soprano quality and therefore is important on violins. For violas things are quite different.

  8. 2 hours ago, Anders Buen said:

    When stringing up a new instrument, the impression you get is quite different with the sympathetic strings on and tuned in comparison to playing with only the main strings on. However, I do not think the fiddle body response changes much, nor noticeably. I think this ties in with experiments some have made with violins as well. It is the ringiness and possibly the effect the extra strings may have on the playability that come into play, I think. 

    The string length of a HF is shorter and possibly more damped than normal vilin strings and lenghts. So the playing strings alone appear somewhat more «dead» than on a violin.

    I ordered Fuhrs book from 1925, I guess the second edition. Thanks for the abstract on what to expect. 

    Do you know if Fuhr was the inventor of the «Fuhr tube»?

    Fuhr was presumably a very educated man but this means also that he a sort of looked down on people with lesser education. The text is full of this attitude starting right away with a big claim title. From my vague memory of the entire book I think he made also a claim to be the inventor of the glass rod rubbing method. But who knows, maybe he got the idea from an ‘uneducated’ violin maker.

  9. Nice article about your family tradition.

    Interesting to see that makers of hardanger violins also used scientific research although there some significant differences such as the sympathetic strings and a different arching (if I am not mistaken) This makes me wonder what effect additional string load has on the acoustic behaviour of a violin. Does the sound of Hardanger violins change after tightening the sympathetic strings?

    As a side note I would like to mention that Prof. Fuhr was maybe the first who would dismiss free plate tuning as relevant measure to get reliable and repeatable sound results. His book on violin acoustics is a bit boring to read for all too lengthy explanations and some polemic sections against the mainstream of acoustic research in his days. But there are some useful insights that can be put into practice with almost no additional equipment. 

  10. 2 hours ago, Anders Buen said:

    Does it contain graduation data, plate weights or other useful information regarding building instruments?

    Going to Oberlin to get to see it, seems a bit expensive. But understand that his archive is there.

    Will look it up at our larger libraries.

    IMO the Goodkind book is useless for your research. Nothing about the stuff you are looking for.

    What you find are photographically records, previous owners and other historically interesting information. 

  11. 2 hours ago, Shunyata said:

    This is what has me VERY confused.  

    When I follow your graduations carefully (finished thickness about 3.0-3.5 near edges, 2.5 in the upper and lower lungs, 2.7-3.0 in the center) I wind up near 65g  But also I get hollow, tubby sounding instruments, every time.

    When I go for 3.0-3.5 near edges, 2.7-2.8 in the lungs and 3.0-3.2 in the center I wind up 70g+.  I get wonderful tone with a wide range of colors possible, especially on G and D but the E is not as open as I would like, especially in the high positions.  Responsiveness is good but not exceptional throughout.

    Would love any suggestions!

    For a thinner top the neck angle is in my experience the factor which determines how tubby your instrument will sound. Generally flattening the angle over the bridge reduces the tubbiness. Otherwise too flimsy ribs can reinforce this kind of sound. For a thin top plate I make always sure that I have very solid linings.

    Otherwise, there are also makers who go for rather thick top plates and 70g without bass bar and f holes might be heavy but is not over the limit. In the end if this satisfies your ideas on the sound it doesn’t matter what other people tell you. 

  12. … because left and right hand do simultaneously different things which are for the human brain difficult to practice correctly while keeping it at he same time in the right balance on your shoulder and relaxing your muscles from your feet to the neck without thinking of the stress your teacher imposed on you in the last lesson by screaming at you in a heavy foreign accent while you were thinking about how you could probably explain your parents that there are much more pleasurable and useful things in the world to devote your time on for showing that you have special abilities. :D

  13. 9 hours ago, LCF said:

    Does anyone have thoughts, caveats or experiences to share about this?

    Not directly. But it seems to me that the dilution of anything you put on the wood and how many times you need to fill up the pores is more important than what resin or oil you use. 

  14. We should have learned from the past 200 years of violin acoustics that it is by far too complicated to make precise predictions about the final sound from whatever we measure on the single parts, including tap tones and chladni patterns. I find it a kind of amazing how stubbornly this idea persists instead of looking for better and simpler ways to create a specific violin sound. 

    I find the idea of mapping out in the construction process trigger points to calibrate the sound shape at consecutive steps much more intriguing. Some makers call it ‘doing with experience’ but it also reflects the idea which got driven away by modern science: alchemy. In contrast to science which is able to make precise predictions based on calculations from given parameters alchemy uses observations in several steps to approach the desired goal. 

  15. On 11/7/2023 at 11:35 PM, Davide Sora said:

    I agree, it would be interesting to do a statistical percentage, but I fear that objectivity would be a chimera, given the high-sounding name and the psychological influences

    Considering all the acoustic alterations which have been done to his instruments, starting from neck reset and going in extreme cases to extensive ‘patch work’, I’d say it is pretty useless to do such a research.


  16. 5 hours ago, Don Noon said:

    I have yet to see any correlation between plate taptones and quality of the completed instrument (excluding way-the-hell-out-there bricks or overly thin plates).  You can find a vague correlation with signature modes, but try showing that signature modes matter to quality of the completed instrument (excluding pathologically extreme examples).

    In my oversimplified logic more flexible plates give the player more possibilities to take control of the sound in dynamics but also for different bowing techniques. So it is not directly correlated to things you see in a sound graph. 

  17. 16 hours ago, FiddleMkr said:

    And at this point is there anything more important than the tap tones? (Since the wood quality and archings are done) 

    What is the weight of your top plate?

    If it is too heavy this would be a major concern and eventually a good reason to make a new top.

    Otherwise you can ‘scan through’ the top plate in search for too much material. I use sometimes simply a light source to see the denser areas. I don’t care if further scraping creates slightly irregular thicknesses. Half a gram weight reduction in 10 spots adds up to 5 gram. This can be around 6-7% of the total weight and should not alter the tap tones significantly. However I prefer to do this after f-hole and bass bar, aiming at a weight of 60-65g.


    Edit: concerning tap tones we have the tendency to look alone on the frequency. I think it is by far more instructive to listen to how a tapped plate reacts. 

  18. Carbon fibre is too heavy and it is impossible to adjust the thickness of such a bridge. 

    For this reason I love my carbon reinforced wooden bridges. They will never warp, can be made ultra thin when needed and still look like a normal bridge. The carbon rod under the e string functions simultaneously as a protector. For anyone who is interested I wrote an article in the trade secret section of the STRAD magazine a few years ago. (on a cello bridge)


    Now that I listened with good headphones to the video demonstration I would say that the chosen violin had a kind of metallic sound which was reinforced by the wooden bridge and subdued by the carbon fibre bridge. I guess it is a madder of taste, I just know that the carbon fibre bridge won’t work on my instruments. 

  19. 8 hours ago, Wood Butcher said:

    Great post!


    Maybe because very long ago I believed also in the genius of a single person in his workshop creating miracle instruments in every aspect from scratch. 

    Little by little this ‘Elfenbein’ (ivory tower) picture crumbled mostly through reading history books. The overall picture is a complex structure in which people were working together in the aspect of manufacturing, distribution and finances. 

  20. 2 hours ago, David Burgess said:


    Why is that strange? Not having a pre-existing belief allows people to have a more open mind, and to put forth arguments from either perspective which may have been under-represented.

    It seems that throughout most of human history, humans have had a preference for what they thought they already “knew”, over advancing knowledge. Some viewpoints are more comfortable or “warm and fuzzy feeling” than others, but that doesn't make them correct.

    So you are playing the role of Edward de Bono. Which hat will you take next? 

  21. 8 hours ago, Dr. Mark said:

    Soulier Balthazar https://www.researchgate.net/publication/318761811_Varnish doesn't altogether agree with your implications. 

    Unfortunately In the bibliography list there is no historic reference to his claim. :wacko: And I understand this paper more than a summary from a scientist and not than a paper from a historian who wants to bring practices of varnish making to light. 

    8 hours ago, Dr. Mark said:

    Has this been shown, re Northern Italy, Cremona in particular?

    I take the receipes of medieval alchemists as a proof. Or, if varnish making was in general in the hands of lute makers, alchemists wouldn’t have bothered to write varnish receipes for lutes and other musical instruments. There are plenty of them and all over Europe which reinforces the idea that it was normally in the hands of alchemists.

    Speaking of northern Italy, each of those violin making cities had for all of its makers a special look in one or another way for colouring and texture. I find it more reasonable to see one varnish source in each city behind it than individuals coming up by pure chance to the same result. (Unless you build again the assumption that they agreed on one receipe.) 

    Then, if we compare this to time periods where we know that violin makers definitely made their own varnish, you find all of a sudden all sorts of varnishes with different characteristics. 

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