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sooyeon

pernambuco tailpiece from dov-music - any comments?

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Interesting debate.

Could it be that this new hype of pernambuco tailpieces just

be another manifestation of chronic tonal insatiability of the

"middle class" player? As a friend of mine once said, using the

words of recording engineers, "you can't polish a turd".

Now I'm not putting down the actual pursuit of great

tone. However, I think I'm going to suggest experimenting using a

different brand of underwear will help tone a bit (translation:

precious practice time wasted). Think about it - everything on a

violin nowadays is being made out of such and such of material,

which has been proven to improve tone. Probably none of the truly

great concert instruments out there have these devices on them.

It's true that using new technology is some attempt of bridging the

gap between powers of "greatness", but if a simple tailpiece is the

mere "improving agent" between a decent chinese fiddle

compared to a Strad...

I have a "hunch". Many of the products (including the ever evolving

lines of strings) in the market are not driven by "provable" (even

subjective) outcomes. Rather, they are fuelled by the perpetually

unsatisfied musician. Looking from the outside in, as ignorant

about the effect a pernambuco tailpiece may produce, I see a

certain level of this phenomenon. I myself used to use the Harmonie

boxwood tailpiece with the four fine tuners on it. It was

beautiful! Both to use and to look at! But was I convinced that the

difference in sound it made on my violin commanded me to go out and

rave about it? Uhh, debatable. I liked it because it was an

improvement in tuning and aesthetics. But sound? Sure, it was

different.  

Let's go into "my world" for a minute. Let's say that these

tailpieces actually do work, and that it is an "advancement". Now

check this simile out: most of the guys I study did their work well

before the 20th century. Most of them wrote on skin,

papyrus, or new types of paper with inks and quills or

simple pencils. Others later on used parker pens or even

typewriters. One maybe even used a word processor. Here I am, now

doing some low-level writing myself, using a 2k machine. Obviously

my technology is better - I have all kinds of peripherals to use. I

can contact another theologian in the blink of an eye through

e-mail. I can run spell check. I can read volumes of work through

eBrary portals. But does that make me a distinct theologian? Does

having superior tools make me a superior scholar? Absolutely not.

Having a computer doesn't make me better than Athanasius, Aquinas,

or Albert; nor Barth, Tillich, or Luther.

I guess I've just paraphrased what MD says about using Hemmingway's

pencil. To tie in with the topic at hand: perhaps pernambuco is

excellent. But will a player fail it? Perhaps pernambuco is

terrible. Will it fail the player? To that end, I believe there is

no real "test". People will use it because it won't get in their

way.  

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In relation to that, here's another hearsay (not to me, but to you).

When I was in Bloomington, IN, I heard Josef Gingold saying, "You folks spending too much time on accessorial stuff. Cut it down; pick up the fiddle, and practice." Sitting next to him, I saw Janos Starker staring him in disbelief....

My take is that every fiddle, whether it's a Strad or Chinese one, has its maximum potential. My obsession (as well as many netters' here) is simply an attempt to achieve that potential. Will we ever achieve that? I doubt it. So, the journey continues.. It is both tempting and addictive as so many different factors (materials, locations, physics, aesthetics, even social class, why not?) are associated with this tiny little fiddle. So, basically you never get bored.

Look at this Maestronet forum.

The Pegbox is like First Lady (or to be fair, First Husband if Bill ever comes back to the WH.)

The Fingerboard? A bit, but not much better than a Concubine... (sorry...)

ym

P.S.: But such irrationality can be found among players (or more precisely, among parents). A dear friend of mine in Chicago is sending his daughter to Miami for weekly lesson. He is convinced that there is only one teacher who can teach his daughter. Is this going to make her a better player? Maybe or maybe not. But the fact of the matter is she is only 4. Maybe Chicago sound is inferior to South Beach sound?

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Wow, I never thought so many people would be interested in

tailpieces; I am amazed by the interesting debates that

happened in just one day.

ymkim, I am not in the market for a new (expensive) set of fittings

at the moment, but the pernambuco thing got me interested because

of some other posts I read in the past as to the wood's resonance

ability. Also, I wanted to know how dov's pernambuco

tailpieces fare with those from other suppliers (who charge

much much more) as a future reference. The pusch tailpiece

looks interesting (esp. in light of Allan's posts here), but I've

heard so much that it makes re-stringing very hard and cumbersome,

so I don't feel like investing in it yet.

Oh and my ms. willow has boxwood fittings at the moment,

in plain french style , but it has a black Wittner

hypo-allergenic chinrest. I'm not crazy about this

style/combination really, but after shelling out a good amount of

money for a new bridge, fitting a new set of pegs seems like an

overkill. *sigh*

Michael Darnton, when your order from dov comes in, please let us

know what they look like, how they function, etc. The price is very

competitive and if dov's products are really like any

other pernambuco tailpieces that other people have raved about,

maybe I'll shell out some grocery money and get one.

(Violin has been helping me to stay in fit! ) By the way, please

pardon my ignorance, but how would you define "naked" sound? Is it

something similar to what people refer to as the Dominant sound?

(as in, like some say, Dominant strings bring out the instrument's

true tonal character?) The Asian tonal preference thing is beyond

my guess, too.

Allan Speers, I have experienced strings dying prematurely due to

frequent loosening and re-tuning, too, at least with a set of

Tonica. It was supposed to last at least a few more months, but the

sound just died earlier than its usual lifespan (based on marketing

claims and other people's reviews) and both my teacher and I could

feel how the violin suddenly sounded very nasal and stuffed. I

don't have the luxury of having a manufacturer ship me a box full

of strings, though,  so I would just have to be very careful

with the new set of Zyex that I replaced the Tonica with...

and dfxlr, people say that players spend several thousands of

dollars to upgrade to an instrument with 10% more or so of

capability, and the gap of upgrade cost widens as you go up the

ladder further. Similarly, I don't see why it's inappropriate to

spend a few dozen bucks to achieve a few more percentages

of whatever makes players happier. Of course, if one

realizes that the instrument has reached its maximum potential and

no accessorial change (strings or whatever) would help anymore,

then it's time for fiddle shopping; but until then, slowly climbing

the ladder with one tweak or another wouldn't hurt... as long as

the player doesn't deplete the fiddle fund and doesn't lose too

much practice time by that. Just my 2 cents, anyway.

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I take it everyone arguing for this tailpiece feels that the incremental improvement in sound is worth using a rain forest wood? Just curious. While I just have to play a pernambuco bow (sorry, I just can't get excited about composites, etc.), I'm probably not going to be buying any more pernambuco bows, and I guess, thinking globally, it's just not worth it to me to encourage more cutting down of pernambuco trees. It seems to me that a few minutes extra practice time a day might make more difference in my sound than a different tailpiece. Just my 2 cents...

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Allan,

I completely agree that changing the pitch of the strings shortens the lifespan.

I change tunings frequently due to the type of fiddle music that I play. I also change my strings more often to compensate for the shorter string lifespan.

Which core materials and/or strings do well in first position under such conditions (restringing or tuning to higher pitches and then being returned to lower positions)?

I ask because I've had good luck with Vision Titaniums Solo's and Tonicas. I recall Obligatos did reasonably well, too. I'm currently experimenting with straight Visions. They seem to do ok (at least in first-third positions).

What happened with the Evahs?

- Ray

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RCC,

A string's ability to survive severe tension changes is not

something I specifically have been testing for, so my opinion on

this is anecdotal.  (I would never pick a string based on

this, so it's waaaay down on the priority list of things to

qualify.)

Best as I can recall, strings that managed to still sound

acceptable were, well none.  -But those that didn't make me

puke were Vision T's and Zyex.  Violino didn't

seem to change at all, but that basically means they went from

dismal to still dismal. they have no highs or lows to lose.

 (awful string)

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quote:


Originally posted by:
sooyeon
and dfxlr, people

say that players spend several thousands of dollars to upgrade to

an instrument with 10% more or so of capability, and the gap of

upgrade cost widens as you go up the ladder further. Similarly, I

don't see why it's inappropriate to spend a few dozen bucks to

achieve a few more percentages of whatever makes players

happier. Of course, if one realizes that the instrument has reached

its maximum potential and no accessorial change (strings or

whatever) would help anymore, then it's time for fiddle shopping;

but until then, slowly climbing the ladder with one tweak or

another wouldn't hurt... as long as the player doesn't deplete the

fiddle fund and doesn't lose too much practice time by that.

Justmy 2 cents, anyway.

I just wanna point something out. First, I don't know if I can

quantify a 10% improvement of sound. What's a 100% Improvement?

Secondly, you've said that people will spent "thousands of dollars"

for 10% more. X,000 = 10% improvement, X0 = X% improvement?

In all seriousness and respect, I wish you the best. If it works

out let me know. I'd certainly be entertained.

RS, great point about the depletion!

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quote:


Originally posted by:
ctviolin

If you changed one wooden tailpiece for another wooden tailpiece (say, an ebony tailpiece for a boxwood one) and noticed a change in the tone, would you still believe what Mr. Morel (or anyone else for that matter) wrote about the subject?

The only way to see or know for yourself is to change one and see if there is a change in the response.

Everything else is just someone elses opinion and is hearsay.

It is not a difficult thing to do, and then you will know for yourself what is true and what is theory or opinion.

Well, I took Craig's post seriously.

I've been setting up a cello for the past two weeks. Here's what I did:

1. new soundpost and bridge

2. new strings (Evah soloists A & D; Permanent G & C)

3. new BH French boxwood tailpiece and tailcord

Then I tried to optimize by adjusting afterlength (even beforelength too) and moving soundpost by mm, but just couldn't get to the point of my satisfaction. Especially, no matter what I tried, I couldn't tame somewhat diffused wolfnotes on F and F# (more prominent on G than D).

Yesterday, I replaced BH boxwood tailpiece with an old bulky Ebony Hill Pusch tailpiece that was much heavier and denser than BH boxwood. It was a sort of desperate move after exhausting every possible way of adjusting....

In short, I couldn't be happier! Those annoying wolfnotes disappeared without a trace, more responsiveness, and hence much better playability. What Craig said is worth citing again. "The only way to see or know for yourself is to change one and see if there is a change in the response." Plus, a more expensive accessorial stuff doesn't necessarily produce a better result. So I will possibly tackle Evah's infidelity (or her unfaithfullness) next time.

ym

P.S.: Regardless of which tailpiece, my cello seems to be sounding better when:

Afterlength tuned on Fourth, not on conventional Fifth (i.e., 1 to 6 ratio)

Beforelength at 695mm (note that Pirastro suggests string vibration length should be 690mm). So my bridge is further down to the south, deviating from conventionally centering with inner f-hole notch.

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"In short, I couldn't be happier! Those annoying wolfnotes disappeared without a trace, more responsiveness, and hence much better playability. What Craig said is worth citing again. "The only way to see or know for yourself is to change one and see if there is a change in the response." Plus, a more expensive accessorial stuff doesn't necessarily produce a better result. So I will possibly tackle Evah's infidelity (or her unfaithfullness) next time."

Congratulations.

Well done - I have had the same results with a violin before (well, more than once actually), that's why I posted the advice.

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Interesting.

That was me at Morel's shop.  And that was my comment from

violinist.com--I am very happy to see that it's

been copied and pasted for scrutiny of others ;-)

Morel was replacing a tailpiece for me for the second time in a

row.  I had had one installed by his shop just two weeks

prior, but it snapped in two in the middle of a rehearsal.

 I mentioned to Morel that I was considering pernambuco since

it is denser, but had heard that the effect on tone can be

undesirable.

At first he argued that no one even makes pernambuco tailpieces

these days.  After some discussion he relented, then asked me

to show him where I had seen them.  In his office I

pulled up Bois d'Harmonie online (he later did say he

recalled their name).  

It was then that he, in classic Morel fashion, pulled out his

pocket rule and began to explain how sound is affected by

afterlenghth ("The material could be ebony, boxwood, rosewood,

whatever. This is what matters...").

So perhaps Mr. Darnton, I was wasting his time.  And maybe he

was giving me the same brush off you yourself are familiar with

giving. Or maybe he was just being Morel, and having some

stubborn fun wasting my time.  

Luckily I live just three blocks away.  

Eric Livingston

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Perhaps he was just saying what he thought was true, or what was true for him.

The truth isn't really something that is only one set of rules that everyone knows, that never varies, and anything else they say is an intentional lie. Everyone must work from a set of rules that they find to be true, and not everyone finds the same set of working parameters are true. (not by a long shot)

Realistically, you have to find someone who can simply do the job right, and not compare their every thought with what everyone else thinks about the matter.

With the violin there's often more than one way to accomplish the task - whatever it is.

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I'll start with my usual disclaimer about my relatively low

experience and expertise compared to the members present.

 And, as usual, it won't stop me from chipping in my little

$.02 anyway, for whatever it's worth.

I'm going to agree with Allan's comments on the Storioni

website...that read like any other piece of bad marketing...they

did have me going for almost a moment, but they did indeed blow it

at the end.

My personal opinion is that tailpieces do not matter that much,

(I'm not saying that they don't matter at all) and that they're

primarily cosmetic outside of their function in holding your

strings.  Perhaps they do affect the sound in that they are

attached to said strings, and do transmit some vibration along, but

the OVERWHELMING part of the vibration going through your violin

comes through the bridge.  Next to that, I just don't think a

tailpiece matters that much.

...Except with regard to afterlength.  That part I believe

matters a bit more, again due to its potentially large impact on

bridge vibration.  Outside of that, I think the material of a

tailpiece is nearly negligible, unless one is going to start

experimenting with exotic and almost zero energy loss composites.

 Now that could be interesting, yet potentially

deleterious.

This is most likely more related to a long ago psychology

experiment (of which, I apologize, I can't properly cite at this

moment) where the researchers turned up the lights in the factory,

and found the workers were happier.  They figured that

brighter lights meant happy workers.  But then they turned

down the lights, and found that the workers were happier.  Did

darker lights mean happier workers too?

No.  Paying attention meant happier workers.  

I think with the vast number of just "ok" players out there (and

I'm one of those, believe me) the act of paying attention to and

changing something as "inconsequential" as the tailpiece on the

violin creates the perception that the sound is "better".  I

believe that had the opposite change taken place, they would think

the same thing.  I think that they make the change, and then

they play a lot with their new toy, and make a bad psychological

misattribution.

Which of course begs the age old question:  what is "better"

sound?

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Banzai says: "I think with the vast number of just "ok" players out there (and I'm one of those, believe me) the act of paying attention to and changing something as "inconsequential" as the tailpiece on the violin creates the perception that the sound is "better". I believe that had the opposite change taken place, they would think the same thing. I think that they make the change, and then they play a lot with their new toy, and make a bad psychological misattribution."

I'm pretty sure I could do a couple of tailpiece material changes that woud convince you there was a difference that you could quantify. One of them is what happens when you hollow out of violin tailpiece underneath. All of the geometry stays the same, but the effect is usually quite noticible, and not positive. I've done this a couple of times adjusting for players if their tailpiece is a common one that I can replace, and not even telling them I'm doing it, and they can usually catch it right away. After a few times, it's a strategy I don't bother with anymore.

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Gret observation, Michael.  You are not the only respected

luthier to say that a light tailpiece isn't always optimal.  I

wonder, tough, if a lighter tailpiece might "work"  (be better

in some ways, worse in others) if the after-length were then

changed?  -Or perhaps if the tailpiece were lighter, but also

longer, resulting in less tail-cord.  

or .....

Head explosion imminent.  

Danger, Will Robinson, danger!

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Michael,

Perhaps I stand corrected, though let me clarify my thought

process.

I figured, in my surmise about misattribution, that it was material

that was a negligible variable.  That energy transmission and

loss through a given "standard" tailpiece, one that is largely

solid, will not vary greatly with material change if that material

is one variety or another of dense wood capable of performing it's

function in holding strings.

Hollowing out a tailpiece I could see having a significant effect.

 Much like thinning many other parts of the violin.  You

are facilitating energy transmission...but as you noted, too much

energy transmission isn't always a good thing.  Hollowing

would be akin, I think, to a tailpiece that is "solid" yet made out

of a space age zero energy loss composite of some sort.

Correct me if I'm wrong.  I just think that the actual changes

brought about by swapping similarly dense pieces of wood aren't

that huge.  For a cosmetic change it may be worth it, but for

an acoustic change I think I may look to my strings first, or

something with a more "direct" effect.  

Again though, I may be entirely off base...I just wanted to clarify

the thought process behind my own supposition.

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I think in a general sort of way you're right, however, when you change something, something must change. Whether any specific individual may notice it is another issue, but I'd caution against assuming because one person doesn't perceive a difference, it's necessary that no one would.

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Hi Michael, I wonder if you can elaborate about the gap distances in a tailpiece. Right now I have a $2 108mm Hill tailpiece and my luthier comments that the spaces between the strings is too close. He said that the sound would open up if I got a tailpiece that allowed the strings to more or less come into the tailpiece parallel, rather than pinched slightly.

Is that true in your experience? I remember you once commented about the distance between the strings at the tailpiece as having an effect, but I didn't understand what the expected effect would be. Thanks much if you can elaborate.

Clare

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That's a fair summary--the sound opening up. The problem is finding a tailpiece with wider string spacing. I haven't had much luck finding ones that were attractive *and* widely spaced. Arcos Brasil has a French-style tailpiece with slightly wider spacing, but I'm not wild about the appearance. If anyone has any recommendations for attractive, wider Hill-style tailpieces, I'm all ears.

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Why would the horizontal angle matter, assuming the after-length

was adjusted to the same amount?

Anyway, I just ran an interesting experiment, which is easy to

replicate:

On two separate violins, I recorded them with and without weight

added to thie tailpieces. The weight was significant- about 2

ounces of brass (a small clamp that I had handy) The

tailpieces still vibrated well, it did not feel like they were

being damped in the high frequencies, just heavier.

One tailpiece is a typical 110 mm ebony.  The other is a

Wittner ultra, with the 4 tuners.  Both violins have their

after-lengths at exactly the "2 octaves and a fifth" point.

 (I don't have the ear nor understanding yet to tune this

otherwise, and a recent maestronet thread wasn't much help on the

subject)

In both cases, the added weight made the sound subjectively

"better" to my ears. The difference was not subtle. The notes had

more definition and power, and the highs were sweeter.  Sadly,

the lows didn't get fatter, which I had hoped for, just more

defined.

This is clearly a different  result from what happened when I

damped the backs.  In that case, the sound also got more

defined (I assume from minimized phase-cancellation / comb

filtering) but it also took away some of the violin's life and

airy-ness. With the weighted tailpiece, I don't hear

that same negative trade-off.

Interesting.  Perhaps a heavy tailpiece with a more flexible

tailcord would be something to try.  -Or a tailcord that could

be variably damped, or have its length adjusted at the tailpiece

without changing after-length.  All these things would have

SOME effect.  It would be fascinating to quantify them.

----

Another change, though VERY subtle, was that when the tailpiece was

weighted, a hard bow-strike on the A & E strings sustained just

a hair longer. I don't know if that's good or bad, but it

definitely was so, on both fiddles.

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Michael, attached is a picture of two violins by the same maker. The one on the right has the Bogaro and Clemente tailpiece. The one on the left is mine and I put in a $2 Dov Schmidt 108mm Hill tailpiece. You can see the difference in the string spaces. I just ordered a B&C 108mm French style tailpiece and will make the change soon. Since afterlength tweaking is a pain, and I want to get it exactly the same as the other tailpiece, I want to make sure I gain something for all the effort.

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