Sign in to follow this  
MANFIO

Is theTertis model still used by makers?

Recommended Posts

The book "Viola Making Plans" by Harry S. Wake 1975, published by H.S. Wake Publishing, Glendale, California has many. full size drawings of everything you need. 

 

If you can't find a copy I could send you mine.

Thanks Marty, I will look around for the book. Have you made one of these violas?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I suppose one could make a “smaller Tertis model” viola, although it would seem something of an oxymoron to me. One should perhaps first contemplate the original motivation of Richardson & Tertis: to create a large viola that would be as comfortably playable as possible for an (less than) average sized person. This model had a large degree of success during Tertis' lifetime, and rather less so since, mostly due to a lack of a high profile proponent, although I suppose that could always change at some juncture.
 
The “Tertis Model” viola was developed by the violin maker Arthur Richardson, in conjunction with Tertis, and its original title was “Richardson-Tertis”. Tertis, who was not a famously nice person, fell out with Richardson around 1960, and my father succeeded him in the role of “Tertis' violin maker” for the first half of the 1960's.
 
In 1962, Tertis commissioned 6 violas from my father, all of which were destined for the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra. I can illustrate one of these instruments here, which was played for many years by Daniel Benjamini, then principal violist of the orchestra, as well as a member of the Tel Aviv string quartet. The quartet always visited Dad's workshop during the Israel Philharmonic's annual London visit, coming from Nottingham Midland Railway Station in 4 Taxis (one each!). The varnish of this viola soon darkened far more than my father would have wished. The colouring agent was rust. Benjamini resisted all re-varnishing offers though.
 
post-24603-0-79238900-1413234414_thumb.jpgpost-24603-0-58661600-1413234435_thumb.jpgpost-24603-0-03341300-1413234453_thumb.jpg
 
The basic Richardson-Tertis idea was to create a large viola with a (relatively) short string length, which would facilitate the finger-stretching needs of the left hand, without sacrificing the viola “sound”. There were a whole list of further (small) adjustments, in particular to facilitate playing in the high positions of the A string (Tertis was the leading virtuoso of his epoch).

These features which are all intended to facilitate ease of playability include:

  • A fairly small upper bout (in relation to the lower one) and an outline with rather sloping shoulders, to be less “in the way” when shifting above 4th position.
  • A very small “overhang” of the plate edges over the ribs. This should have achieved the maximum inner “air room” in relation to minimum outer size.
  • The shortest possible “stubby” corners, so that they don't “get in the way” (although my father seems to have revolted in this respect on the illustrated instrument).
  • A rib taper such that the ribs are considerably shallower at the neck root vis a vis the end pin, again for the maximum inner “air room” without inhibiting shifting above 4th position.
  • Since this model was always a “work in progress” the later improved ones had a “reverse tilt” of the fingerboard, so that the fingerboard, tilted upwards towards the A string, so that the A string was closer for the left hand fingers to reach in the higher positions.
  • The scroll, on such a large viola, had 'cello style “shoulders”, but these were moved upwards, by means of a fairly sophisticated nut, so that the shoulders would not be “in the way”. 

Should one wish to be critical, one will still be obliged to accept that the above features, particularly cumulatively, aid the playing of a large viola. A couple of other brainwaves however were not so much to do with “ease of playing”, but were rather a cranky marotte which Tertis was convinced were advantageous for the tone quality. In particular, he insisted on having the sound post (and bass bar) positioned almost outside of the bridge foot (see technical drawing in post #27). This is a red rag for any practical violin maker, since it decimates the half-life of any instrument. When offered an old Tertis model viola, the first thing I always examine is whether the arching by the bridge has been impaired by this practice. Should this damage not yet become acute, a wider bridge will be the order of the day. This practice was also the main reason that almost any violin-maker would acrimoniously fall out with him after a matter of years. However, in my father's case, the last straw on the camel's back was when Tertis invited him to his wedding. He went all the way to Birmingham on the train, only to belatedly discover upon arrival that he had been invited to the service, but not the reception!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The “Tertis Model” viola was developed by the violin maker Arthur Richardson, in conjunction with Tertis, and its original title was “Richardson-Tertis”. 

 

In 1962, Tertis commissioned 6 violas from my father, all of which were destined for the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra.

Thanks, Jacob, for that very personal insight. The instrument of your father I saw some years back did have 'stumpy' corners, as far as I recall.

I don't remember the varnish being as bright as that though.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

  However, in my father's case, the last straw on the camel's back was when Tertis invited him to his wedding. He went all the way to Birmingham on the train, only to belatedly discover upon arrival that he had been invited to the service, but not the reception!

 

That is just priceless :lol:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

We applied similar principals when developing our 5-string fiddles. Broke most of the rules, but they work great!

 

If you'd like to listen, this young man gets a lot out of the 5-string. He'd had it less than a year when this was recorded, but he gets a lot of colors out of it. Sound is from a mic mounted on the fiddle. The mic on the stand is for ambiance.  Overdrive

post-23499-0-99114300-1413922250_thumb.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Funnily enough I was speaking to a professional viola player of the right generation yesterday about his Tertis... Told him if he wanted me to sell it he should think Tortoise instead.

His opinion was that Tertis really pushed them on his students and anyone associated with him so you really had no choice but to get one in the day. As soon as he shuffled off, people were under less pressure to use them and promptly dumped them. It seems as if this led just as much to their latter-day stigma. They are neither ad wonderful as Tertis says, nor as crap as many others indicates... :)

Having said that, damned hard to sell..

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thank you for the beautifull attachments. Where is possible to buy the book with the Tertis shapes??

I personally play a Marino Capicchioni 1954 - 43 cm Tertis model. I would never ever change my instrument to a small one or to a different one. The tone of those type of violas specially the Capicchioni are unique.

In 1997 i have decide to have a copy of my viola. I personally went to Mario Capicchioni son of Marino to ask if it was possible to have an exact copy of my viola..it ended up costing too much than I have decided to assign the work to a young up and coming cremonese maker.. Alessio Ferrari. I still use the cremonese copy of my Capicchioni every day in orchestra while I use the the Marino ones wherever there solos.

Capicchioni Tertis violas are very common in Europe trough Italy, Germany and France.. I can file a list of emeritus violists and colleagues who still in activity who are using those violas...

Recently I saw on eBay some Chinese Teritis models on sale for 400 $. I am tempted to buy one of those..

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

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).

Edited by Quadibloc
Avoiding Double Post

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think that the Rivinus' Pellegrina and Tertis violas are very different animals. I talked with Rivinus during a Viola Congress in Germany, if I am not wrong, I remember he saying that his viola model was designed to be used by players who had some kind of physical problem, his model would make playing the viola possible to these players.

I think that the Tertis model had - and still has - an influence over many makers, mainly the idea of rather  wide, flat, thin  plates, with almost no scooping on the edges combined with deep ribs.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
4 hours ago, Quadibloc said:

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).

For the time being I've got the feeling that if I were to try what you suggest here for a violin that I'd still have an underpowered instrument after all is said and done.

Following my thoughts on my own personal rule of "it's better to have it and not need it rather than to need it and not have it" I would still have an easier to play violin 7/8 size as compared to my others {7/8} because of shorter scale length but still be under powered as compared to, for example,  a smaller 352-353 del gesu.  I do believe the shorter neck length can help prevent pain anguish while playing, if one wants to sacrifice volume of sound and extra expeditures on hearing aid batteries as one gets older. 

I see the wider lower bout usage of the Tertis slowing down bowing response because of the extra wood width involved - but the plan looks good enough for me to want to try this just to see if more volume from a 7/8 size can be had. 

I'm a bored hobbiest maker, whose not looking forward to making another mold but will get out the paper, pencil, compass and jigsaw eventually,  after resizing the Tertis plan to how I see fit for something that could work for more sound than the usual 7/8 size.  Any maximum rib height suggestions from anyone?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

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.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 

The first viola I made was a Carleen Hutchins Alto vertical viola.  It followed the idea that the body should be around 22 inches but since then I've made many much much shorter violas that also have rich bottom notes which seem to correspond to having a low A0 frequency.

Most of the low frequency output below about 1000Hz comes from body volume changes ("breathing") rather than bending modes of the instrument plates.  So if you want a deep sounding instrument it doesn't necessarily mean that it has to have a real long body.

On the other hand the vibration forces going into the body are determined by the string tension.  Since shorter strings have less tension than longer ones for the same pitch they inherently produce a weaker sound.

So if you want a short easy to hold viola or violin then the body should be quite flexible (thin ribs and plates) but still use a long string length.  This requires redesigning the shape and it messes up the standard neck length/bridge position/body length proportions but this is better than keeping the standard proportions.

If the plates are shorter and narrower they have to also be thinner in order to keep the same bending mode frequencies and sound character of a larger instrument.  These smaller plates are therefore lighter than larger ones.  So if you put the same string bowing energy into a smaller lighter body it will move more easily so there is a strong possibility that a smaller instrument with long strings can actually be louder than a bigger instrument.

It is true that a long body is more efficient for producing sound than a short body due to the 1/2 wave length effects that were mentioned but the smaller lighter body has a higher admittance.  I suspect that the loudest output will come from some optimum tradeoff between admittance and  efficiency.

Attempts to make louder instruments by making them larger (Hutchins' Mezzo violin and Alto viola are examples) may have been going in the wrong direction.

Anyway a shorter and lighter and easier to hold instrument sounds better than a large one because the player can practice longer which in turn produces better music.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, Marty Kasprzyk said:

Attempts to make louder instruments by making them larger (Hutchins' Mezzo violin and Alto viola are examples) may have been going in the wrong direction.

It depends on what frequencies you want to make louder, and what "loud" in an overall sense means.

I don't recall Hutchins having the goal of making instruments louder, but started with the premise that violins are perfect, and then tried to scale the violin up to reach that (undefined) perfection.  Then they were tweaked to make them work.

The problem is that the physics of acoustic and structural scaling don't all follow the same factors, so there is really no way to make a small instrument sound exactly like a big one, or in Hutchins' case, make a big instrument sound like a large version of the small one (which doesn't make any sense at all, taking into account how hearing works).  

That's not to say that it's pointless to tweak viola design to try to get a larger sound out of something that is more comfortable for a human to play.  I'm trying to do that now.  But everything matters, so I don't expect that two instruments with significantly different sizes and/or shapes can be made to sound quite the same.  Heck, even ones that are exactly the same size and shape will sound different, too.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, Marty Kasprzyk said:

 

1.  So if you want a deep sounding instrument it doesn't necessarily mean that it has to have a real long body.

2. On the other hand the vibration forces going into the body are determined by the string tension.  Since shorter strings have less tension than longer ones for the same pitch they inherently produce a weaker sound.

3.  So if you want a short easy to hold viola or violin then the body should be quite flexible (thin ribs and plates) but still use a long string length.  This requires redesigning the shape and it messes up the standard neck length/bridge position/body length proportions but this is better than keeping the standard proportions.

4.   These smaller plates are therefore lighter than larger ones.  So if you put the same string bowing energy into a smaller lighter body it will move more easily so there is a strong possibility that a smaller instrument with long strings can actually be louder than a bigger instrument.

5.  It is true that a long body is more efficient for producing sound than a short body due to the 1/2 wave length effects that were mentioned but the smaller lighter body has a higher admittance.  I suspect that the loudest output will come from some optimum tradeoff between admittance and  efficiency.

Attempts to make louder instruments by making them larger (Hutchins' Mezzo violin and Alto viola are examples) may have been going in the wrong direction.

6.  Anyway a shorter and lighter and easier to hold instrument sounds better than a large one because the player can practice longer which in turn produces better music.

 

1.  Higher ribs will surely help.

2.  I don't see it that way yet.  I'm thinking along the lines of AO differences determined by using higher ribs or lower rib heights.

3.  This is where I will be going back to reinvent the wheel.   The Tertis is a redesign.  One where I feel a shorter neck length is needed rather than a standard sized neck - mostly for intonation issues, or at the least, to avoid intonation issues.  Scaled down to a smaller violin the Tertis numbers add up to my liking.  I'm thinking extra unneeded string length can be a detriment with these smaller builds.  I do realize Teris is for viola for the most part.

4. True but the sound in regards to radiance and timbre will still be puny unless AO is greatened somehow.   

5.  I don't have a helpful or critical reply for any of that.  Sounds good, I guess.

6.  Maybe for the viola inspired instruments but not for the violin/fiddle users.   An acceptable sound must be had to keep one playing for extended periods.  If the big, heavy instrument offer the most bang for the buck then I'd think the extra weight could be managed.  More enjoyable sound for less time used.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, Marty Kasprzyk said:

Most of the low frequency output below about 1000Hz comes from body volume changes ("breathing") rather than bending modes of the instrument plates.  So if you want a deep sounding instrument it doesn't necessarily mean that it has to have a real long body.

While I noted above that a long body can help, because that is what is needed to lower the A0 mode, and so the Pellegrina viola design makes more sense to me than before, it certainly is true that performance at lower frequencies can also be helped by increading rib height.

After all, the cello, like the viola, is too short to be a scaled-up violin. But unlike the viola, its performance for the frequency range it handles is generally considered satisfactory, so unlike the viola, it is not the butt of jokes. And it is precisely because the cello has a rib height proportionally larger than that of a violin that it achieves a sweetness of sound.

So, yes, we have proof that this other way does work.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
5 hours ago, Quadibloc said:

While I noted above that a long body can help, because that is what is needed to lower the A0 mode, and so the Pellegrina viola design makes more sense to me than before, it certainly is true that performance at lower frequencies can also be helped by increading rib height.

After all, the cello, like the viola, is too short to be a scaled-up violin. But unlike the viola, its performance for the frequency range it handles is generally considered satisfactory, so unlike the viola, it is not the butt of jokes. And it is precisely because the cello has a rib height proportionally larger than that of a violin that it achieves a sweetness of sound.

So, yes, we have proof that this other way does work.

I’m afraid once again this is a speculation and not experience-based.

plenty of big violas sound small and plenty of small violas sound big. There may be some scientific reason why a viola is an unsatisfactory concept, but in the real world it seems to work fine!

violists are the butt of jokes because the instrument tends to play a rather functional role in orchestration. The best response to viola jokes is any random 30 seconds of Primrose on YouTube  

A Scot btw ...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, martin swan said:

There may be some scientific reason why a viola is an unsatisfactory concept, but in the real world it seems to work fine!

It would be unsatisfactory only if the desired result is defined as something other than what it currently is.

But, that's not science.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, martin swan said:

I’m afraid once again this is a speculation and not experience-based.

plenty of big violas sound small and plenty of small violas sound big. There may be some scientific reason why a viola is an unsatisfactory concept, but in the real world it seems to work fine!

It's true I got this from reading, but the people who wrote what I read no doubt had a chance to listen to some real violas.

But I will accept thet "in the real world it seems to work fine", as you say. After all, the viola shares three strings with the violin. So it's only "too small" for some of the notes on the lowest string, if anything.

And a 1/32 violin for a child: it may not sound great, but I presume they don't have to sound terrible. (Otherwise, those instruments would end up playing perhaps an octave higher, as the lesser evil.)

The... functional.. role of the viola is apparently more a consequence of it being harder to play, due to being too large, than to it not sounding as good due to being too small.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...
Sign in to follow this  

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.