Quadibloc

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  1. Quadibloc

    Where did Stradivari get his wood?

    I've seen quite a bit as well. For example, most account say that Stradivari, at least for violins, almost invariably used spruce for bellies, and maple for backs. For cellos, he may have used poplar for the back at times instead of maple. But other accounts say that the Cremonese makers in general, apparently including Stradivari, used fir or pine for their bellies. And sycamore for the backs. However, I've found that in Europe the names "maple" and "sycamore" sometimes get switched around between the trees involved. Also, I recently ran across someone quoting - derisively - the claim that Stradivari used wood from the south side of trees growing on the south side of the forest, so that they were exposed to the Sun. While modern research papers will no doubt accurately identify the types of wood in Stradivarius violins, how Stradivari purchased wood does not appear to be known with certainty. It is reasonable, as commonly conjectured, that he had, as a relatively good customer, working relations with his wood supplier(s), but I don't think we know who they were.
  2. Quadibloc

    Stradivari's secret was a concept?

    Indeed. In case anyone hasn't noticed, if one goes to order a violin, one of the first things one will encounter is the choice between a "Stradivari pattern" or "Guarneri pattern" violin. The former is usually, although not always, a copy of the "Salabue" or "Messiah" instrument. Of course, just because arching is visible, and not "secret", is not a guarantee that modern makers won't get it wrong. There is a tendency toi abstract and simplify what one sees, particularly as, when one expends effort to shape a violin plate, one will concentrate on those aspects one thinks important. Incidentally, a persistent category of claims about the "Secret of Stradivari" has been that he did something to reduce the difference between the along-grain and cross-grain strength of the wood. Using spirit varnish, treating the wood, and special climate variations have all been proposed as causes. But no attempt to imitate this has taken the world by storm. It occurs to me that perhaps the experiments in that direction failed because they went too far. Perhaps Stradivari did add a little cross-grain strength to the plates of his violins, but he did so with a gentle and tasteful hand. How might he have done so? Here is one possibility offered for consideration: When applying the ground coat, leave tiny, hairline-width, gaps in the ground coat, running horizontally across the belly of the violin. (The back, being of maple, a wood so much harder, is unlikely to require any such secret manipulation.) Then, the first thin coating of linseed oil will create little second-order bass bars of extra stiffness to transmit vibrations across the belly. (Remember to only leave the gaps in the area where the original bass bar of a baroque violin would have extended, as Stradivari could not have foreseen what changes would be made later in his violins.) Here is a flexible technique that allows adding just a tiny little bit of extra stiffness across the grain to the belly, without the choice being between adding none and adding a whole lot, which is likely to be too much. Here is a diagram, to more fully illustrate what I am thinking of: additional details are present, such as not going all the way to the edges, and following Dr. William Fry, paying special attention to the area between the f-holes: And the gaps in the ground coat perhaps should be more than a hairline in thickness. Of course, this is so variable that one can adjust it so as to do no harm - and have no benefit either, as being too slight to have any effect. But it is a way of gaining an additional degree of freedom in making a violin that has perhaps been overlooked.
  3. Quadibloc

    Heating rosin to make it soluble in alcohol (denatured)

    Ah. But what if one uses the one true oil varnish? First, a thin coat of pure linseed oil. Second, after the first coat dries, another coat of linseed oil, this time with a small amount of some mineral red pigment, perhaps cadmium red, vermillion, or some form of iron oxide. Third, a coat including pine oil as an ingredient, and likely more red pigment... the rest of the paper where Stradivari's varnish was analyzed was, unfortunately, behind a paywall.
  4. And here I thought it would have to be Cardassians, since they're the ones with the Obsidian Order.
  5. Quadibloc

    2018 Joe Thrift workshop

    If one is going to be recognized as the next Stradivarius, and one's violins are going to be around 300 years from now, yes, that is a valid consideration. I had not thought beyond a much shorter timeframe. Incidentally, I thought the typical carpenter's wood glue was casein glue, just with additives to give it a brownish color.
  6. Quadibloc

    Stradivari's secret was a concept?

    So that's the term for a violin where arching is produced by steam pressing of thin sheets of wood, instead of hollowing out thick blocks of wood. If there were a way to make violins of the highest quality this way, it would help to conserve our forests. A while back, I had seen a web page discussing the use of a 3-D printer that uses wood fibers to make copies of a Stradivarius, so people could "have a taste" of its good quality. I see, though, that while using wood fiber gives things the appearance of wood, and a lighter weight, the wood fiber is still surrounded by plastic, which determines the mechanical properties of the result.
  7. Quadibloc

    Stradivari's secret was a concept?

    I listened to that performance all the way through. It was only near the end that I recognized music that I'd heard before. Every now and then, there was a note that sounded "ordinary", and I was inclined to blame the violin instead of the performer. But my initial impression on hearing the first part of the performance was that the violin had a smooth and creamy tone, and it seemed that it was perfect for that musical material, and a Stradivarius sound would not have been better. But then I listened to the Anne-Sophie Mutter performance of the same material. Not the "Strad sound" I was expecting, but a haunting and mysterious quality to the notes. I perceived that as better than what I heard from Hillary Hahn, but I haven't yet listened to the whole performance. But I wondered: if that level of difference in timbre depends on the violin, not the performer's choice of how to play... wouldn't a normal soloist need, say, five violins - and maybe change from one to another between movements of a compositon, to use the one most appropriate to its mood? I figured I needed to educate my ears some more. So I tried a performance of the same piece by Yehudi Menuhin. Nice violin, but I was not impressed, it seemed blah. Then Henryk Szerying. Did someone tamper with his sound post? It sounded like his violin was making an annoying sound an octave higher than written. I concluded that it wasn't them, it was me, and my ears must have been getting tired. Listened to Hilary Hahn again, couldn't quite find the smooth creamy tone I remembered, so definitely I could not trust my impressions. Did notice from the visual part that both she and Anne-Sophie Mutter were applying vibrato like mad.
  8. Quadibloc

    Heating rosin to make it soluble in alcohol (denatured)

    I noticed in the Eastman Strings catalog that most of their high-end violins are varnished using an amber varnish. I was surprised in this, because an old book on violin-making had said that chemists could find no way to dissolve amber in varnish. Current chemical analyses say that Stradivari used metal-based pigments, like those used in artists' oil paints, and not organic pigments, so the notion that he used an amber pigment, which did exist, was mistaken. So I'm both surprised that they've found a way to do this, and that they think it is worth doing. I didn't realize that oil varnish needs sunlight to dry. This makes resorting to spirit varnish more understandable, although in my opinion it's far preferable to use artificial ultraviolet lamps, which is only a deviation from a purist approach, than to use spirit varnish, which stiffens the wood and directly changes its acoustic properties. Plus spirit varnish is said to soak through most ground coats; if one had a ground coat impervious to spirit varnish, then this would be less of a concern.
  9. Quadibloc

    Stradivari's secret was a concept?

    I can see two possible advantages. A greater volume for a given maximum height. Ease of sound post adjustment. But the real advantage, presumably, is that plates made that way sound better. Why that would be would no doubt have a very complicated technical explanation involving Chladni patterns and so on, if such an explanation could be made. Of course, some guesses are possible. Given that the high arching of older violins like the Stainers and the Amatis had advantages and disadvantages, perhaps this form of arching, compared to a lower arching of the same general shape, is intended to allow retaining the advantages, but avoiding the disadvantages, of a higher arch somehow. A flat plane would not be rigid, but a dome would be very rigid. So arching is a way to control the rigidity of the plates.
  10. Quadibloc

    Is theTertis model still used by makers?

    After some more thought on the subject, I think I see now why the unusual shape of the Pellegrina was necessary. One way in which the air modes of a violin are classified are in terms of being 1/2 wave, 1 wave, 1 1/2 wave modes and so on across the length and width of the violin. So if you want to make a viola that sounds as if its body is 22 inches long, in some direction it has to have a length of 22 inches. The Pellegrina viola may not be bilaterally symmetric, but it puts a long dimension in as inoffensive and out-of-the-way a place as possible. The direction in which I was going could have led to a "hammerhead" style of instrument which would also have a sufficiently long dimension not directly obstructing the player, but the Pellegrina design is less awkward than that.
  11. Quadibloc

    2018 Joe Thrift workshop

    Oh, no! But seriously, while hide glue appears to be necessary for attaching the belly and back to the ribs, so as to allow for their later removal, this consideration doesn't apply to joining the wedges from which the top is made, or to many other joins within the violin, which can be viewed as permanent. The only reason for using a stronger formulation of hide glue instead, so as to do things the way Stradivari did it, it seems to me, is the danger of a modern glue soaking into the wood, hence stiffening it. So, I guess the thing to ask would be, among modern glues, which ones soak less deeply into the wood?
  12. Quadibloc

    Stradivari's secret was a concept?

    The logical conclusion here is that the violin he was familiar with for over 40 years was likely a better violin than the one he wasn't familiar with, since the one he was familiar with for over 40 years sounded the worst he had ever heard it and yet was equal to the one he wasn't familiar with, which presumably was heard on an average day for it.
  13. Quadibloc

    Stradivari's secret was a concept?

    A publication: On the Violin Bridge Hill - Comparison of Experimental Testing and Finite Element Modeling Jansson, Barczewsk, and Kabala. As to why this is: another paper which I couldn't find right away blames the arching pattern; the French violins are arched between the f-holes, while a Stradivarius is said to be nearly flat there.
  14. Quadibloc

    Is theTertis model still used by makers?

    Although this thread, after being resurrected after 12 years, is probably old again, I thought I should note that the Tertis model of viola is apparently so common that it can be found in the Eastman Strings catalog. So it does exist. It is considerably less radical than David Rivinus' Pellegrina. Given that the viola should be much larger than it is, to be in proportion to the violin for its lower pitch, and that viola players today often end their careers with repetitive strain injuries, I think that a re-design of the viola to make it both larger (for sound) and smaller (to the player) is a good and necessary idea. I would tend to be less radical than the Pellegrina, but more radical than the Tertis; as the top part of the viola is less limiting than the bottom part, I would make the top part the wider one. In fact, as I remember reading that the standard size for the violin is large enough that many players even of the violin have RSI issues, it might be worth considering using the Tertis pattern on the violin, to permit a 7/8 violin to have the unimpaired sound of a full size violin (except, of course, that the quality of the strings is inevitably compromised a trifle).
  15. Quadibloc

    Stradivari's secret was a concept?

    The tradition of Lupot and Vuillaume apparently led to the complete absence of the "bridge-hill" in their violins, which at this stage I view as unfortunate. As for the German tradition: I'm actually not surprised by this. British violin-makers were probably comfortable enough in Britain, but a lot of Germans in various specialized fields came to the United States seeking opportunity in the early years of industrialization. And violin-making was in decline in Italy at the time. Not everything made in Markneukirchen was Dutzendarbeit, after all.