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StringFreak

Viola tap tones?

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I’m afraid that’s a bit like asking “how long is a piece of string?” :-)

Firstly many successful professional makers think “tap tones” are quite irrelevant to making good sounding instruments.

And then for those that are keen on tap tones and believe that they are useful, or even essential, there are as many theories and systems to follow as you could wish for………..now I’m going to put my head below the wall and watch the chisel fly!

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I agree with you Nertz. In the case of viola, some variables like bouts width, body lenght and rib height change so much from model to model, rendering the question of tap tones useless, I think.

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Very funny, but that makes me want to ask this question:

(keep in mind I am a beginner and going by the strobel and Corenal(sp?) books.)

With out tap tones, what process or methods would be used to get the best tone or projection from a violin of viola?

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Hummm... experience gained making good sounding instruments is the best method, I think. We keep what had worked well and incorporate that, what worked bad is not made anymore.

I do take some notes about tap tones for my records (these notes are rather simple) but I'm not a tap tone slave, In general, for instance, I prefer keeping a higher tap tone to make my Cannon inspired violins with a table with less than 3.5 mm.

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There is a fairly common desperation for a tap tone system that makes the construction of consistently fine instruments, like a universal and fool-proof formula. Unfortunately I’m quite sure that it doesn’t exist, despite the multitude of theories that are around.

Like Manfio says, it’s years of experience and a process of elimination, that together with learning from careful study of past masters and a bit of luck that leads to finding what works best for each individual maker, and I think in the end because making is so personal what works for one maker may not be ideal for another.

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Yes Nertz, the tap tone system would suggest that there is just one way of making a good sounding violin, but it seems it's not the case. Good violins can be made in different ways.

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Hi,

I’m just making my first viola after a dozen or so of violins. The top plate of my viola was tried to tune according to Jansson’s and Hutchins system: first too thick (5 mm) and than thinning from the border at the indicated regions to create tap tones for the mode #5, #2 and #1 pitch. Hutchins advises to go down in thickness to make a so called bi-tri octave plate tuning for both top and back. However I must say that for the top plate I stopped thinning when the plate was 3.5 mm thick because I found that the best thickness. The taptones without ff-holes were clear and had the pitches: 362, 163 and 92 Hz for mode#5, mode#2 and mode#1 respectively. After carving the F-holes they lowered to 326, 157 and 87 Hz for #5, #2 and #1. In a dissertation Carruth mentioned that the mode#2 and mode#5 pithes for a viola top and back plate should be: 115-125Hz (mode #2) and 230-250 Hz (mode#5) but these seems only to be reached when the plates become 2 mm thick. In my opinion experience is more than applying a system here.

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