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gottawonder

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  1. OP here again. Confirming that working with the Saddle Rider has been both fun and a learning experience. Now that I have finally gotten everything else about the violin addressed that I can and have spent some time working with the Saddle Rider to see if I could discern any effects from varying the string break angle on this old Markie (a few recent pictures below), I thought I should contribute some observations on the experience. [Caveat for anyone reading this post who has not previously read any of my totally amateurish questions/comments - I am just an underemployed dad with more time than money (or probably sense) to commit to getting a first full size violin in the hands of my daughter.] Short version (long one immediately following) of my takeaway from working with the Saddle Rider - really well designed device that, with much care and attention, can be safely installed by even non-professionals such as myself and easily adjusted to vary string break angle in search of optimal setting for a given violin. Before getting into working with the Saddle Rider, a number of other things were changed/adjusted on this older violin. Resetting the neck to get the fingerboard projection down from 30ish to 27 was ruled out (for now anyway) due to cost, thus the decision to work at the saddle end to alter the string break angle which was initially just less than 156 degrees. Prior to the exploration of string break angle, modifications to the violin entailed: A few open seams were glued closed (by a local luthier) A new soundpost was cut and installed (by a local luthier) The warped bridge was given a borax treatment (by me) per this old MN thread - Top of the bridge was shaved (by me) to reduce the string indentation depths New geared pegs were installed (by me) strictly for my daughter's convenience New tailpiece was installed (by me) to adjust string after-length closer to 1:6 ratio New strings were installed (by me) With all of that done, it was time to try the Saddle Rider. I should mention that my daughter was playing the violin regularly in the time it took me to make all of these modifications, so we had some baseline idea of the sound of the instrument and how it had responded to modifications. So, I removed the end pin and installed the Saddle Rider to see what could be accomplished by altering the string break angle. Turns out, a very satisfying improvement in the sound of this instrument could be achieved! I experimented with angle adjustments over a range of just over 2 degrees (just under 156 to just over 158) in small increments of one half turn of the Saddle Rider adjustment screw. I did not record how many half turns it took to cover the 2 degree range unfortunately; all I can say is that it was quite a few. My initial impression that the sound of the violin, while loud, was somewhat thin and harsh at the smaller angle (higher stress) were quickly confirmed. As I opened up the string break angle, the sound of the violin opened up correspondingly, becoming richer and more resonant across all of the strings. The G and D strings on this instrument seem to my ear to be consistently more ringing than the A and E strings, but the degree of discrepancy was diminished as I opened up the string break angle. The violin remains quite loud (my daughter almost never takes off the practice mute) at the 158 degree string break angle. My guess is that the unusually tall bridge still exerts a marginally greater than average force on the table; would be interested to know if anyone can confirm that bridge height would be likely to have that effect. I did work in both directions - increasing the angle for some time then periodically decreasing it again to compare - as I explored the range of possible string break angle settings. Ultimately I decided to leave the Saddle Rider set so that the string break angle is a full 158 degrees. In my case, the Saddle Rider will remain on the instrument for the foreseeable future as changing the neck setting is unlikely to become a realistic possibility for us any time soon, and I can discern no negative consequence of having it in place on on the violin. The violin I am working with benefitted in a way that few others could be expected to due to its extreme neck setting. I do not have prior experience or available opportunities to compare the Saddle Rider on any other full size violins, but I do feel that my experience with the device demonstrates that it has value as a diagnostic tool. For anyone with long experience of working on the instrument, I imagine it would be child's play to install and remove the device. For me, the Saddle Rider has helped get my violin sounding more than good enough for my daughter's next steps in learning the instrument. Thanks to John, the inventor, for helpful advice along the way on how best to make use of the Saddle Rider. Thanks as well to all of the generous MN participants who deign to share their wisdom with the rest of us; it's been a big help for me. Best, Ben P.S. - there is a bow; two even. Some pictures of the ones that made the cut for those who take a special interest in such things. The strange looking heel plate on the BAUSCH bow is an improvisation - lead tape for a tennis racket; just enough to get a good balance point. Call me a heathen but it's working like a charm.
  2. Very interesting. Thanks for the specific example! Helps even the entirely uninitiated like myself to see the implications at least a little better.
  3. Inspired by the cheese / wine analogies introduced above, I am wondering about the the significance of the 'organic' nature of the materials traditionally used to make violins on the study of "how they work." Has there been much systematic testing of the impact of characteristics of wood that remain variable over relatively short time scales on the acoustic performance of (ideally "driven") stringed instruments? It seems to me that changes in, for example, atmospheric humidity levels would generate measurable changes in wooden components of an instrument that would then measurably change the sounds produced by the instrument in predicable, and reversible, ways. I might be grossly exaggerating the degree to which changes in environment would impact the wood used in an instrument. I am also assuming here that the mechanisms built into instruments and bows that allow string and bow hair tension to be set to determined values effectively render any impact of similar variations in characteristics of those materials/components on sound production comparatively inconsequential. The wood of the bow stick and the instrument body that receive the driven vibration might however still exhibit variations in characteristics such as stiffness that I am inclined to believe would have meaningful impact on the acoustic performance of the instrument. If this is correct, it should be possible to factor such changes into making and/or setting up an instrument, but many more consequential decisions in the process of making an instrument, such as selecting great raw materials based on other empirical properties like grain patterns and density, would not be effected. So a marginal impact at best of this "how it works" consideration. I guess the short version of what I'm thinking is something like - since the materials employed in traditional making are organic and therefore continually reacting to variations in environment, there is always some unknown in working with the instrument. Not a big revelation, but maybe a specific way to identify limits on the ability to use fixed models to guide making.
  4. I was afraid that was about as much as could be said but couldn't resist asking anyway. Thanks!
  5. Thanks for sending that link; I've gotten sidetracked by the beer section of that primer more than once. I probably did not express myself clearly in my first post to the thread. What I am specifically wondering about now is making the chronological distinction, not the regional/geographical one. How does one tell late 19th C Markneukirchen from early 20th C Markneukirchen, for example?
  6. This has likely been addressed somewhere before (in which case, I would love to know where best to look), but I am curious how one differentiates between late 19th & early 20th C instruments from the large European centers of stringed instrument production. Is there something about increasing levels of mechanization that shows in the making of the instruments? Or independent of mechanization a transformation from cottage industry to factory organization? Anything else besides the experience of working with 100s of the instruments useful for making the distinction?
  7. Is there a concern that the current re-varnish is compromising the sound and/or playability of the instrument? If not, the varnish will stay as-is however unacceptable from any other perspective.
  8. A disclaimer I might have included from the first had I realized how creative and entrepreneurial responses would get - I have no commercial interest in product or service mentioned in my posts!
  9. Very cool. Accomplishes what I am interested in which is to have the opportunity to test whether or not the particular instrument would benefit from any change to the string break angle and therefore whether or not it would be of any benefit to, for example, have a new saddle made; not to have a permanent option to tweak the set up. Maybe this instrument is at its best with the steeper string break angle, in which case I am fine to leave well enough alone. It just seems like it would be preferable to be able to test whether or not that is the case. Could also be that the unusually steep neck angle is simply an error in the making of the instrument with consequences that it would be worth trying to mitigate.
  10. I hadn't asked for a price on that at the shops I've taken the instrument to. One for the discussion when I determine where to have other repairs made. Thanks.
  11. So like my dad always used to say, "If it ain't Baroque, don't fix it."
  12. You recall correctly. The instrument is not with me because I have been getting prices on closing some gaps in seams and professional opinions on what else the instrument might need in order to perform at its best, however mediocre that may end up being. It will be in the hands of a professional to make the eventual adjustments. I put the question about the Saddle Rider here because this seems like the place to potentially catch any rare direct experience with such a doohickey and to get the best range of expert responses.
  13. I just came across a curious device - the Saddle Rider Tone Adjuster (https://saddleridermusic.com/) - and am hoping that someone here will be able to help me understand whether or not this item could be worth trying on a violin (few pictures below) on which I would like to try changing the string break angle. The angle is currently a touch over 156 deg. I would like to try intervening at the saddle end first because: 1 - the string heights are a bit low 2 - the bridge is rather tall 3 - the neck angle is high 4 - the string afterlength is short I will not have the violin in hand again until tomorrow afternoon to put exact numbers to those points (I did measure once, just carelessly did not record the values), but given the combination of 1 - 3 it seems to me that in order to adjust the string break angle from the nut side would entail having the neck angle changed. I would rather not go there (primarily a question of the cost relative to the value of this violin), and since I was thinking to try a shorter tailpiece to address the afterlength, installing the Saddle Rider mechanism would be a simple thing to add alongside making that change. I'm not even sure what the acoustically / structurally relevant concerns would be here, but one thing that I did wonder about is whether or not eliminating the contact between the tailgut and the saddle would be expected to make any difference to the sound of the instrument. Tension is still transferred to the end pin in what seems to be a substantially similar way. What else should I be taking into consideration (the chinrest in the pictures is going to be changed one way or the other)? Any and all input appreciated! Thanks.
  14. Am I correct in thinking that some grain reversal is visible on the table? Would that be something to be expected with such a dark varnish, or would it rather be considered a mistake?
  15. Pleased to have been of any sort of service here! Otherwise I'm just a lurker and mooch.
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