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Jacob

Viola rib height

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Does anybody have any ideas about rib heights for a 16" viola? What are the likely problems when the ribs are either too high or too low?

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Too high ribs may cause hollow sound and perhaps difficulty in shaping the sound, as well an unfocused sound. Too low ribs may cause a lack of depht, a sound more towards a violin sound, and a weak G and C notes. I'm generalizing of course, you will find exceptions.

Rib height may be studied together with the arching and the model. A high arching will encourage the use of shallow ribs and vice versa, I think. Deep ribs will ask for more thick plates and vice versa too, I think.

Good sounding viola are very difficult to make anyway, they are very temperamental.

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What Manfio said is very true about arching height relating to rib height. Obviously you will have to find a good balance, as an instrument with a really high arch will probably not be powerful enough for modern performance. My first viola (16 1/4" body) had a rib height of 1.5 inches and what I would describe as medium arch height, and I must say that it sounds quite good. I wouldn't make the ribs any taller than about 1.7 inches though because then you will probably start to have some of the problems that Manfio described.

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If the arching on a 16" viola is 16mm, would rib heights of 40mm tapering to 38mm be too high? Have you ever had a problem with wolf notes on a viola?

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Hi Jacob: I don't know if it helps but these are some measures (in milimeters) of the viola I've made and is being played by the associate solo viola of the Odense Orchestra, in Denmark:

body lenght: 417

upper bouts: 205

center bouts: 137

lower bouts: 250

rib at the neck: 36.5

rib at the button: 37.5

table arching: 21

back arching: 20

table thickness: 4 and 4.5

back thickness: 3.5 and 6

But I've also made a good viola with similar measures but deeper ribs: 35.5 and 39.

The model is not all that elegant but I have sound in mind.

The model is loosely based on the Andrea Guarneri Conte Vitale.

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Although i don`t make violas ,i bought a load of stuff from a deceased makers shop last year and there was allsorts of posters ,moulds and measurements regarding the Gibson viola,Does anyone make this model?

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Thanks Manfio,

what I'm wondering about is how a 407mm viola will work with 40mm-38mm ribs. I suppose if it doesn't work I can take the top off and trim the ribs down. I will also have to shorten neck root in that case.

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fidlecollector: violists and viola makers are not all that fond of the viola Stradivari model. There is a trend and a preference towards Brescia (Maggini, Gasparo), Venice (Busan) and the Guarneri and Amati family.

Jacob: 407 is indeed a good measure for violas, very confortable to play, but I've made five 407 mm violas and just one of them is being professionaly played. The problem with the others is that I can't shape the sound. Since we have good sounding violas of this size, the problem is with me, not the size, but I gave up making violas of this size.

I would try to see how does it sound with the ribs you have and, if you see any problem, you can make take some milimeters from them. It seems that tinkering with viola rib's depth is very commom, I remember reading a text by a famous violist about this.

By the way, I remembered of a Strad viola in England that has violin like ribs (probably they were altered). I would like to know how does it sound.

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The Strad viola you are thinking of with low ribs is most probably the Archinto of 1696, it has ribs of 31.75 at the neck rising to 34.5 at the end pin, I think the general consensus is that they where originally higher.

I’ve made a few violas based on this model, but find that it doesn’t work so well for me as the ones based on Andrea Guarneri,……… but I’ve heard the original and it works very well.

The Royal Academy collection in London, of which the Archinto is part of, has another interesting part Strad viola from circa 1720. The front and sides are cut from a viola d’more by Stradivarius (the original head is now in the Paris collection) the head is a fabulous brothers Amati and the back is by Vuillaume (whom I think is thought to have done the violarisation)

The fount is quite spectacular with a very crisp edge and lots of wounderful original varnish.

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Hi fiddlecollector: I said I had problems, you will not have them most certainly! Don't be contaminated by my pessimism please! I have to say you somenthing: since violas are dificult to make, when you make a good one your pleasure and satisfaction is very great!

By the way, I'm deciding what will be the next instrument I'm going to make.

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Hi Louis
I am deciding the meassurements of a viola I will make soon.
I was reading your post because you make violas with sucssess; so I have faith in your words.

The past year was asking about some imformation about meassurements to make a 40,3 cm viola .Now, the mould, has blocks glued . They will be about 37 mm (when finished).

Question:
Are  brecian´s archings prone to bring a warm sound?

I don´t like violas with violin sound.
Regards
Tango

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A while ago I studied the Guadagnini violas on Cozio. I started with Hargrave's blog on a Guadagnini he found in China. He says he lost his notes at one point, or they were stolen, but still gives a good description of that instrument.

Several on Cozio had the same body length (402mm, just above 16"). The rib hight was consitently 37/38. I find violas with a powerful C string benefit from tib height up to 39/40. Rib thickness is also important as much of the C-string sound is an air resonance.

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On 2/3/2020 at 8:26 PM, tango said:

Question:

Are  brecian´s archings prone to bring a warm sound?

 

Tango, I have no experience with Brescian archings. My model is inspired in Andrea Guarneri, it is mostly a personal model.

Here the main problems to avoid while making a viola:

- dead C string,

- a too narrow dynamic range. When you draw your bow from the end of the fingerboard towards the bridge and increasing the bow weight, a dramatic difference in volume and color must be  noticed, that happens only in very good violas. The dynamic range in violas in general is too narrow, you change your bowing and nothing happens.

- slow response,

- hollow and unfosed sound,

- lack of clarity, notes will mix in quick passages,

- wolves.

 

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45 minutes ago, MANFIO said:

>

- lack of clarity, notes will mix in quick passages,

>

 

Does this imply a note rings for a long time after the bowing stops?

Thanks for all the insights.

 

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14 hours ago, Marty Kasprzyk said:

Does this imply a note rings for a long time after the bowing stops?

Thanks for all the insights.

 

Clarity is like human voice diction, just think about Ella Fitzgerald of a very good soprano singing, you will be able to listen to every note and word very clearly. 

 

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On 2/8/2020 at 8:37 PM, MANFIO said:

Tango, I have no experience with Brescian archings. My model is inspired in Andrea Guarneri, it is mostly a personal model.

Here the main problems to avoid while making a viola:

- dead C string,

- a too narrow dynamic range. When you draw your bow from the end of the fingerboard towards the bridge and increasing the bow weight, a dramatic difference in volume and color must be  noticed, that happens only in very good violas. The dynamic range in violas in general is too narrow, you change your bowing and nothing happens.

- slow response,

- hollow and unfosed sound,

- lack of clarity, notes will mix in quick passages,

- wolves.

 

Hi Louis

As always you are very kind .

Tango

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My 16” Strad model viola has ribs 39mm-37mm. Table arching 18mm, back arching 17mm. Sound and response is wonderful. C string is equal to the others. 749D74B4-5BCB-4AEE-A744-8AF3DC8949F8.thumb.jpeg.c35e8fdaaadeaa0d541e400218f28209.jpeg

 

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Hi Okawbow

I am making a 40,3 viola of my desing. 37,8 mm rib at the bottom to 35,5 at the neck.Same archings height as you. Stop 221 mm. As time pass I doubt about meassurements but now it is too late to go back haha !
About fiteen days I expect to close the box . May be I will test before  varnish (I am ansious)

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