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One piece back vs. Two piece back


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I think it is just a matter of appearance. I've not found any difference in sound due to the number of pieces of maple wedges that were glued together to carve the back from.

Sometimes a maker is making a copy (or "impression") of a famous violin that had a one-piece back, largely because he found a piece of maple that resembles the back on the original. Violin makers seem to me to be visually esthetic people who will choose their wood, the finish color, the proportions of the scroll, and other design aspects to achieve goals in several sensory realms. As the owner, for 50 years, now, of a violin with one of the most exquisite one-piece ("deep tiger") backs I've ever seen, I can tell you that there is a certain pleasure in just looking at such a violin, without even hearing or playing it. When Iwas younger I would rock it in the light whenever I had a chance, just to enjoy that "look."

A piece of wood with a nice grain, large enough to make a one-piece back is rarer than the smaller size needed to make a two-pice back. It might cost the maker more to acquire the blank for the one-piece back. Such a piece of wood might be moving one into the more expensive realm of half-width cello blanks.


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And I was once told by a maker that his one-piece backed violins seemed to generate a warmer tone than the brighter ones of his two-piecers. It was true at least with the violins of his that I tried. While a violin repairman noted that when he saw a violin come through his shop which had a "twist" to it--warping so that the lower bout and upper bout are not in the same plane--he always looked for and usually found a one-piece back.

I suppose it all depends on who makes the fiddle, and how carefully the wood is chosen. The above might be all smoke and mirrors, I guess. I have always viewed both comments with a certain amount of scepticism, and it would be interesting to hear responses to the above ideas from more of you luthiers.

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I have a one piece back labled Salzard that has soft grain on the left treble and hard on the other. The horizontal hard grain gradually gives way to an s shaped vertical grain the flows the length of the violin. Certainly the variables must be more uncertain than a two piece back in this case. The French golden red color and wild river grain makes this violin a pleasure to see. I have been slowly restoring this one for almost a year now. I just happened to be doint the last rebushing today.

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I support the theory that a one piece back is more likley to warp than a 2 piece, quarter-sawn back.

I once was given an old german student violin that was left in a damp basement and had come completly apart. It was in pieces. The only piece that was warped was the one-piece back. The two-piece top was perfectly alligned.

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