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Soundpost too tight?


florea
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Oded,

I was talking about the typical distortion on the iner margin of treble f that typically leaves them a little higher than it was intended to be. Major bulges and cavities are way past the point I thought this topic was discussing. I have used this approach and believe it can be done over long periods. The only problem is that the problem is corrected in a time period that does not bear fruit immediatly. It sounds not balanced at first but in a period of days improves gradually. Fractional tension is bearly measureable in terms of the sound post differece in length. I very well might be out of the box on this one more opinions are welcome.

Mike

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I have questions regarding adjusting soundpost. In order to fine tune soundpost position, e.g. within 1-2mm movement, are the following procedures correct?

1) Loosen strings

2) adjust soundpost

3) tighten strings

4) check sound

Repeat 1) to 4) when necessary.

Can I adjust soundpost without loosening strings althought it would be tight?

Does the soundpost top and bottom have to move together to keep soundpost to stand vertically?

Can I move only the top OR bottom without letting it down?

What is the effect in sound by only moving the position of top or bottom? For instance, effect of moving up, down, right, left(if you face to the violin with pegbox up)?

I had my soundpost reset by a luthier more than a week ago. The soundpost was too loose so he moved toward the f-hole on treble side. He measured that it is on the right position. Now to my ears the sound is not as "clean" or "pure" as before. It also lost a little bit of resonance. It now sounds a little bit raucous or coarse. Does it help if I move the soundpost a little toward the f-hole on base side?

Your ideas are very much appreciated.

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>What is the effect in sound by only moving the position of top or bottom? For instance, effect of moving up, down, right, left(if you face to the violin with pegbox up)? <

Moving the TOP of the soundpost up makes the sound smoother,down edgier, right brighter, left darker

Moving BOTTOM of post down sound is smoother, up more edgy, right darker, left brighter.

OK

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Quote: "TOP" "left darker" and "BOTTOM" "right darker"

Oded,

I take this to mean that tilting the top slightly toward center and the bottom slightly out (from verticle) will darken the tone? If so, do you first position verticle for "best" fit/tone and then slightly adjust top/bottom to brighten/darken?

Or, do you start with a very slightly longer post (for off verticle fit) if you want to brighten or darken the violin?

In other words, is the movement/tilt so small that post length is not affected?

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>In other words, is the movement/tilt so small that post length is not affected? <

Yes.

BTW this system was developed by David Carone, a violinmaker who moved from Chicago to New Mexico.I've been using it for many years and I find that it generally works well. It's certainly not the only system around. I'm sure there are other ways to handle sound post adjustments.

Oded

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>I can't tell you how much damage the school instruments have suffered as a result of a students dad "helping out" by either setting up a fallen post, or replacing one with a portion of hardwood dowel from the hardware store.

I was the "helping out dad". Good thing that the sound post fell on its own.

Thanks a lot again, CT.

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>Do you loosen the strings before adjusting(fine tuning) soundpost? If so, to completely loosen or slightly(with some pressure on the bridge)?<

If I only intend to move the post a little I don't loosen the strings. If the post is in too tight then I do loosen the strings. Mostly common sense-don't want to injur the instrument. I'm more cautious about moving someone else's sound post but if it's one I made, I'm confident it fits and won't dig in.

OK

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So it seems with this system that a sound post can be positioned "correctly", even though it might be on an angle from the vertical when viewed from the rear (i.e hole in end block). Am I understanding this correctly? If so, is there some sort of practical or accepted limit upon which this angle might be considered too severe - perhaps the arching of the instrument is a consideration in this as well? Two of the last three instruments I have handled have had the post angled towards the centreline of the back when viewed from the end block (i.e "bottom-left"). The camber on each end of the post matched the belly and back perfectly with respect to this angle. The tension was also such that they weren't going to move around, so it is likely both were positioned that way (I confirmed with one of the luthiers that the post he set up was deliberately angled).

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>So it seems with this system that a sound post can be positioned "correctly", even though it might be >on an angle from the vertical when viewed from the rear (i.e hole in end block). Am I understanding >this correctly?<

Yes.

>If so, is there some sort of practical or accepted limit upon which this angle might be considered too severe - perhaps the arching of the instrument is a consideration in this as well? <

First do no harm. These are small adjustments requiring a good level of skill. If you have any doubt whether you can do it-don't.

>the luthiers that the post he set up was deliberately angled. <

Some luthiers find that a post needs to be angled and refitted to get a good, smooth sound. I'm not familiar with this technique and would like to hear of other methods of setting up a sound post.

Oded

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Thanks. Don't worry, I would never ever attempt to even touch my soundpost, let alone experiment in re-positioning it. In fact the more I play my relatively new instrument in, the less inclined I am to even ask the luthier to tinker with it. But it is very educational for a player such as myself to have a better understanding in how the various positioning systems work and what can be acheived (and just as importantly, can't be achieved).

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>what can be achieved (and just as importantly, can't be achieved). <

Indeed! Assuming I'm starting with a well fit, well placed sound post, my menu for what I can usually achieve is: 1) make the instrument generally brighter or darker 2) emphasize the G string over the E string side and vise a versa (different than #1) 3) make the sound more edgy or smoother. What I don't do with sound post is fix an individual note (except sometimes the open A string), change the fundamental core sound, alter the projection of the instrument. (although a edgier sound is more audible it doesn't increase the actual volume)

I'd love to hear of other soundpost options that luthiers work with.

Oded

PS this is a good time for the 'doctor' to jump in and inform me of how completely wrong I am ;-)

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If the soundpost is _noticibly_ tilted, it's probably too tilted. That's just my opinion, based on the idea that the tilt should probably be no more than a mm or so, which is hard for most people to notice against all the non-straight lines of the violin.

Arching is a factor, though. Tilting the soundpost makes it somewhat more flexible (as far as transmitting vibration to the back), and can compensate for the greater rigidity of high arching.

Some people also figure that a high arch reacts more seasonally, so they cut the soundpost long, then tilt it so it's not too tight.

Finally, sometimes the arching makes it very difficult to set a truly vertical soundpost; the soundpost wants to slide. Tilting it makes one end at least more square to the inside surface.

-Claire

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Shift the top of the soundpost to the G side for more

Pull the top of soundpost toward E string side for more

You may have to tweak the bottom of the post to adjust for tension.

These are very minute adjustments.

I've found that post adjustments is a 'zeros sum gain' what you add to one part of the the sound gets subtracted from another. No free lunch.

Oded

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See, that is where it is really interesting too. When you say post adjusted is "zero sum gain". In other words, if I want more biff on a the G string, seems like I have to lose it somewhere else. And I guess this zero sum gain works not only for volume, but also "edginess", "brightness", "darkness"? I have pretty much decided to just ask my luthier to examine my post for correct fit (the instrument has now been played for about 9 months), rather than any actual tweaking. I mentioned to him that the instrument only has one bad point and the rest good points. And it seems like trying to rectify that bad point could well result in the bad point just shifting elsewhere. No instrument is perfect and my feeling is that perhaps we should consider string tweaking to go very much hand in hand with post adjusting.

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Yes, I tried your tapping procedure and it actually tapped equally well on both places. The post also stood up with all the string tension removed when I put on a new tailpiece the other day. When changing the tailpiece I looked at the fit of the post on the belly and back and it appeared perfect (at least my my amateur eyes and with respect to the area I could actually see), although it was angled "bottom-left". But I will certainly ask the luthier to check it. The only really "bad point" is that the G string is a bit warmer and a bit less responsive than the other three strings. The response issue seemed to occur hand in hand with the G string sound becoming warmer as the violin has played in. But it's a relative complaint. It is still "OK" in this respect and infact the problem was partially rectified last week when I put on a new D and G string. I am just wondering if it could still be a bit better though. But then again I always keep hearing about the G string sometimes being a weak point with even great violins. The actual volume of the G is excellent - it's just the warmth and reponse compared to the other strings. but if it meant compromising anything else about the violin's sound whatsoever, I would rather it be kept the way it is now.

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Oded,

Thank you for sharing those techniques.

I've tried many strings but found that they can alter the sound to some extent but not too much. Therefore, I basically gave it up and came back to Dominant with Gold Label E. Recent new strings come with high tension to boot up volume(most violin players want volume) but that is a bit too hard under my fingers. Besides, I need to put more efforts to pull those high tension strings in the already awkward position while playing violin. That makes me tired quickly. I believe the sound is determined by the violin itself(almost unchangeable) and setup(changeable). Sound post has a significant role. We should look for "perfect" setup before trying different strings to compensate.

In the process of fine tuning sound post position to get the "perfect" sound, how do you work with the violin player? What I mean is that, the player has been playing the violin for a long time and he/she knows the weakness/strength of the instrument and what he/she wants to achieve. A luthier has never played the instrument hence how can he determine if the sound post is setup right and correct it in 30 minutes or an hour?

Yes, the player can work with luthier during that hour and feedback to luthier. But that comes up with another problem. The room accoustic at luthier's workshop can be very different from where the player usually practice. So the player's judgement might be off. Like myself, I like the sound if I play in a small bedroom; however, I dislike the sound when play in a much bigger living room. One time I brought my instrument to the shop where I bought from to compare it with their other fine instruments because I did not like my violin sounded. In a small test room, my violin sounded differently and I did not think there was any problem. But after came home, I still thought the sound was not good.

So, my point is, the judge is the player to determine if the sound post is set up right or tweaked to what he wants only in the SAME room, before and after.

Of course, I don't yet have much experience working with a luthier to fine tune the (sound post) setup. Last time the luthier reset the sound post and I came to pick up my violin. Overthere, I thought the sound is better(but not perfect) but had no idea what needs to improve. Now at home, I think it needs some tweaking. That is just from my perception, not reality. Anyone's input on their experience will very much help me and appreciated.

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Hi W.G.

>>The actual volume of the G is excellent - it's just the warmth and response compared to the other strings. but if it meant compromising anything else about the violin's sound whatsoever, I would rather it be kept the way it is now.<<

Here's something you can try that is easily reversible. Move the tailgut towards the E side of the saddle. That should help the G string ,still a zero sum gain, but you can play with the balance until you come up with a compromise that suits you.

Oded

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johnlee

>> So, my point is, the judge is the player to determine if the sound post is set up right or tweaked to what he wants only in the SAME room, before and after. <<

You are correct, this is why I sometimes adjust instruments in the concert hall for musicians before concerts, auditions and competitions. For most situations though, adjusting an instrument often involves aligning everything to where it belongs, the result is a generally healthier sounding instrument in any environment. If the musician in unsure of the adjustment I sometimes have them go outside where there is no room acoustics to confuse the picture, as well as other techniques to limit room acoustics.

Oded

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  • 9 years later...

Tap the top above the F hole,next to the fingerboard,with your fingernail, then below the F hole next to the tailpiece. Listen to the vibrations of the open strings as you tap, if only the upper area cases the strings to vibrate the post is too tight(up=tight) if only the lower area causes the strings to vibrate it's too loose. Ideally both areas should cause the strings to vibrate.

Don't worry about which particular strings vibrate only that they both vibrate with the same sustain and volume.

Oded Kishony

 

 

"CT Violin - what are you listening for when you tap the sounpost with the setter?"

"the sound of the soundpost toppling over."

Absolutely.

If it's too loose then I want to know that also.

If the question is "Is the soundpost too tight?" then finding out if it is too loose is part of the process.

Only when the string tension is off of the violin, can I determin if the tension is correct. The tension is always fairly tight with the strings tensioned and checking the post then is not good for the inside top.

The tapping sound that the setter produces when tapping on an overly tight soundpost is pretty distinctive - in addition to the fact that the post doesn't move at all...

I guess that my point was that when I am checking for the tightness of the soundpost, my method is a direct check on the tension of the post in the relaxed corpus.

Rather than tap, I will also push the bottom around a bit without moving the top and if the tension and fit seem correct - then, if they are, I'll just tension the strings back up to pitch.

Odeds vibration method is interesting - but this is the first I've heard of it. I'm curious how many others use it?

"Apartment Luthier - Good one! I will stay away from the post tapping technique for now."

Why?

If you want to know if the post is too tight, then don't you also want to know if it's too loose? And a post that just falls may well be too loose. Though it may just be too far West.

The worst that could happen is that you'd have to set it up again and if you can't do that, then I'd recommend not checking the tension yourself in the first place, and take the fiddle to a qualified luthier.

 

I just put in a new soundpost into my new viola as the old one fell over when I removed the string to clean up the instrument last week.  The new one went in and it sounded like I had plugged a microphone in when the soundpost went into position.  Rubbing or tapping on the soundpost with the setter sounds like if you were to rub or tap on a speaker cone with your fingers.  I think this is something that you want.  The soundpost to be an integral part of the instruments vibrational structure. It slid is very nicely well but with a little effort. It's not too difficult to move around but it seems to tell me in my gut its a little too tight.   I tried the above test Oded mentioned but could hear no difference in the string resonances.

 

The volume of the viola is significantly improved, since I believe the top was overly compressed by the short soundpost before the change which limited the vibrational aspects of the top.  A violist I met earlier in the year said she had a soundpost in her instrument that was too tight and having since put in a shorted post opened up the sound for her.

 

Since my viola volume/sound has improved, would that not be evidence the current post is not too tight but perhaps just a bit tight? :D

 

I "fixed" this (I hope) just in time for the VSA Competition... as I am in Indianapolis this week (visiting a work customer first part of the week, and VSA Thu - Sat)  .

Already met Burl Mendenhal... :)

 

Joe

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