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Thick plate effect on sound?


Rich
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I am helping a friend with her violin, straightening the bridge and set up. The top plate is very thick. What will be the effect of these factors:

1. Too thick of a top (4 mm)

2. Piano wire used as tail gut. (have you ever heard of that?)

The violin sounds terrible now. How do these factors affect it?

Thanks

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Well, since no one else seems to want to answer, I will at least tell you that in my own experience a thick, heavy instrument does not sound right--a hard sound, and not a great deal of volume, in the case of one I made too thick. But that could have been my arching, too, I suppose. Certain frequencies will suffer, too, I would expect, more than others.

Is it an inexpensive instrument? On the one I made too thick, I have opened it up, and will regraduate it to more reasonable thicknesses, but in the first place it is mine, and there is no question of messing up someone else's instrument-- in the second place, I am also the maker, so the work will still be considered "original", even though it was done years after the varnish was dry. And, in the third place, if it isn't a huge improvement, there's no great loss.

What else have you tried? Has the instrument been played very long? I have one that had not been played in at least 50 years when I received it, and it sounded terrible--it took a year of being strung up, and played intermittently, and then it suddenly improved a lot. I expect it would have happened sooner, but we just hadn't played it very often.

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It was made in Czechoslovakia with no maker listed. I moved the post back to about beyond normal which seems to help some. I hesitate to keep moving it back, but perhaps I should try. The G string still lacks warmth. The tailpiece is metal with built in tuners. I have an extra adjustable tail gut, but it won't fit in the holes in the tail piece. That's probably why the wire was used. I can't figure that out. I can't believe wire for the tail gut can work. Have you ever seen that? Probably regraduating is out of the question on someone else's instrument. The instrument does have corner blocks and linings. I'm not sure if the purfling is real or not. I would guess it is since they put in corner blocks. The sound post is back about the full width of a sound post. Should I be moving it back further?

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The higher frequencies travel better than the lower ones so a thick top could favor the higher frequencies (bright). If it's too thick to vibrate freely the fiddle will be muted. I have regraduated these trade violins (for practice and learning) and they can turn out remarkably well. Normally I wouldn't bother. A good setup and strings generally will make the Czech trade fiddles playable.

I've worked on two fiddles with the metal wire tailpiece and they both improved after I installed an adjustable nylon one. Of course at that time I also set the correct string length and after length so part of the improvement was due to that. I would do this first and then adjust the sound post as needed. That's just the order I do things in but it seems to work for me.

If the old tailpiece is odd get rid of it. You can replace both tailpiece and tailgut, they are not very expensive. For this type of fiddle it would cost less than a set of mid level strings.

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I'll take a look in the near future. I just sent it home with her. I was able to get all sounding pretty good except the G string. It just isn't warm or rich. What effect would an integral bass bar have? Neutral? Bad? In what way? What effect will piano wire have as tail gut on the G string sound?

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Sometime I wonder myself why a violin was made in such a way. (In this case, thick top) Supposed that a big built (physically) fellow wants to play violin, he would ask his favorite luthier to make one with thick top or look for one as such. Would he? Effortless kind of violin is not of his favor. (Unless he plays for long hours )

The original question was on effect of thick top. I think,the sound is smaller but more concentrated.

Sugestion: Hit a tuning fork and place it immediately on top of its bridge to see

if the violin has a smaller sound comparing it with other normal violins.

Just my thought. /yuen/

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Looking at plate thickness in isolation from the other factors that make a violin work (or not) is fairly pointless, it really only starts to tell us something when considered together with the arch, material and model. And the even when all these factors are working together a poor neck set and fit up will stop a great instrument working properly.

Unfortunately there isn’t a in my opinion one magic formula, but there are tried and tested combinations that seem to work best. I think that’s why sometimes a fairly low key instrument turns up that works remarkably well even though it appears to break some fundamental rules…..but I’d put this down to lucky chance rather then a reason to totally rethink my approach to violin making and fit up.

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I have worked on a couple of old Czech violins where the inside of the top was not finished and graduated at all. There were very deep gouge marks and ridges over the entire top. The bass bar was carved into the top. The back and ribs were smoothed, but one can see that part. The area next to the f-holes was smoothed to give the appearance that it had been finished inside. Oddly enough, they were made out of beautiful wood. I graduated and smoothed the top, installed a new bass bar, and both made good fiddles. Wire tailpiece cords are not unusual on old fiddles down here in the rural south. It was a common fix. I have seen guitar E strings, haywire, and a large diameter copper wire used. Surprisingly, the wire made the fiddle have more volumn. Tone left a little to be desired.

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