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GMM22

Is there any cure for this major problem?

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I have a decent looking mid 50's violin made by an amateur maker that has a problem. The top (which is thin) has sunk at the bridge, so much so that the arch is reversed for a portion. I liked this violin when I acquired it (and before setting up) as I thought the G was very resonant, and thus it showed much potential. I have now tried every major setup change (multiple string types, posts and positions, bridges, tailpiece, after-length, etc.) and nothing cures the violin of its main problem, which is a boxy howling kind of sound, as if the violin is incapable of a midrange. It's all highs and all lows.

Stranger still, there is only one exact spot where the post is remotely adequate. Every other location in both planes is very intolerable. I have never before met a violin with such a small window of possible post positions.

The violin's construction is such that a new top is out of the question, but I am wondering if there is any way to restore or reinforce the arch. I am also wondering if a new stronger bass bar could offer any improvement.

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GM I assume you know about the usual arch-restoration procedure with hot sandbags and a resculpted casting? Detailed in Weisshaar, and it's appeared at least once in the last 10 years in the Strad.

Otherwise I wonder if soundpost fit is an issue here, if the top is bulging 'inwards', might soundpost fit be even more difficult to achieve than usual?

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It's not unheard of to epoxy an elongated patch into the top to stiffen it. I think you'd need someone very experienced in this type of work to make the attempt. There's a bit of a dillemma here--one might hesitate to attempt it in a master violin, and the cost might be prohibitive for an amateur one.

What have you done to check the bassbar? Have you had the top off?

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Andres, Unfortunately I do not yet have Weisshaar but it is on my list of future acquisitions. The soundpost may have been what precipitated the sag (e.g., positioned for many years way behind bridge and with strings at full tension), but I have tried several posts including longer and tighter fitting than usual to compensate. They were tonal disasters as they made the violin very harsh. I am fairly certain that the post will not make enough difference as I have tried at least three.

Are you saying that the exact Weisshaar article on arch restoration was re-printed in the Strad? If so, I can access back issues of the Strad at a nearby music library. Weisshaar would be harder to get my hands on without buying it.

Mark, I have not yet had the top off. I am sure it is not a master instrument. If my memory serves me correctly, at the time I was told the maker was not found in Wenberg. From its appearance, it is an interesting if somewhat idiosyncratic amateur violin numbered 12, so it is one that I would contemplate working on. Granted the task is beyond my scope at this moment, but as with all other things, I tend to plunge ahead once I have accumulated the requisite information. I would not attempt it on a significant violin.

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No the Weisshaar article wasn't reprinted, but an arch restoration was discussed--it may have been on a violino piccolo a while back, or it may have been one of the 'trade secrets' articles more recently.

About the soundpost, I'm wondering more about fit than tension, but probably someone with a better idea will be along shortly. ;-)

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Thanks for the thoughts so far. I have to say that my SP fitting on scores of other violins has been very good. I tend to be extremely fussy about such things, and I am always in there with the light and the dental mirror to make sure things are perfect.

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I don' t know at all whether the soundpost is a likely candidate, but it may be particularly difficult to get a good soundpost fit against a possibly convex surface. I have in mind Michael's approach which is best summarized in his comment at the end of his first post HERE in your post-moving thread of a while back.

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I recently did such a reshaping on a maker's instrument, but instead of the breast patch described in Weisshaar I used "straps" - there was a discussion about in a thread a few months ago.

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I'm sure that this violin is too thin in some important areas. The trick is to find which areas control this range of sound (mid to high frequency) I agree with Jacob that stiffeners are the best likely course to improve your instrument. Make up strips of spruce with different thicknesses, widths and lengths then using bee's wax or some other safe adhesive attach various combinations of stiffeners to the corpus. Using trial and error find the combination that most improves the sound. Finally remove the top and transfer the stiffeners to the inside in the same position that they were on the outside. I think this would be your best shot at improving the sound of this is instrument

Oded Kishony

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