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Perhaps this is just another angle on what Jeffrey already wrote.........

Why do famous actresses often wear expensive jewelry at public events?

Does it improve their acting?


Alternate explanation "A": They wear it "because they can".

Alternate explanation "B": People expect them to wear it.

Alternate explanation "C": It generates additional publicity and exposure.

"D": A place to park money.

"E": It's a status symbol.

Is a Rolls Royce truly a better automobile than a Lexus?

Any possible relationships to expensive violins?

Jeffrey, Steve Doane rates among my favorite cello players of all time. I wouldn't want him to evaluate a cello for me, because I just wouldn't be able to tell!

A very modest guy. Not everyone climbs aboard the publicity machine.

Another is Bryan Epperson of Toronto.

Either one of these guys can melt your heart, knock your socks off and earn your eternal respect at the same time. Some high-profile concertizing cellists might be put to shame.

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I own a Buick and it is the most comfortable car I ever owned.

 I also own a 1930 Model A Ford.  It is not comfortable

to drive, but it is pleasurable, just because of what it is.

 Maybe the same is true with violins.  I own several,

none of which are great italian violins, but some are very nice.

 My favorite?  A 1950 student model Juzek.  When I

got it, it was in pieces and took more repair than it was worth if

one was looking at resale value.  But when playing, it still

raises the hair on my arms every time.

I would like a great violin, but maybe, just maybe, I already have

one.  It just isn't worth much money.


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Thanks to all who contributed to my musings. Tax season is over. My cheap factory violin went back for an adjustment to recover some good bass. It is still recovering but getting better. Amazing how much a mm shaved off a sound post can alter the characteristics. I suggested a thicker bridge to cut down on plate vibration (there is a mild wolf note) but he said no. What do I know. I'm the guy who glued a chunk of pine on to the feet of the previous bridge because it was not allowing the strings to clear the fingerboard properly. Now I find out it is probably the fault of the neck angle rather than the height of the bridge and I am not about to have the neck altered to test that theory. The wolf is not serious, just occurs on a double stop A-F on the D and A string. A wolf eliminator did nothing. It might disappear, but I do have a question possibly related to this:

Since there is so much talk about extremely small variations of dimensions making big differences in sound, why are luthiers in such a hurry to slap all kinds of patches inside to strengthen re-glued cracks, when by all accounts the glue is supposed to be stronger than the wood in any case? Doesn't that change the dynamics of the plates?

PS I'm still waiting for some rich benefactor to lend me a great Italian violin...............

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  • 3 weeks later...


Jacob is right, of course.  (He's a pro, I'm just learnin',

but I know THAT much.)  FB height determines bridge height,

and bridge height definitely affects overall tone.  There are

interesting arguments about exactly why this is, but all agree it

is so.  

If I'm not mistaken,  the lower you go, the more mellow the

tone and also the less volume you get.  If it gets really,

REALLY low, the violin is Baroquen. (that was a looong

way to go for such a tired joke.)

If your luthier recommends a lift, you really should go for it.

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Allan, it's about the string angle (in front of and behind the bridge, and overall), not really the bridge height as such. The string angle determines the downward pressure on the belly (and also how the strings themselves will respond to this angle), and how this angle is divided by the bridge is also of importance. If there is a big difference between the two angles (and when this happens, it is mostly the case that the afterlength angle is too acute) the effect is to "push" the bridge forwards.

You could have a certain bridge height, but a different angle of the strings over the bridge depending on where the nut is (low or high in relation to the top edge) and on the height of the saddle. The different string angles produced in this way will influence the tone, even on the same violin with exactly the same bridge height.

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Jacob, thanks for that clarification.

-But of course, if the FB gets TOO low, then isn't it the case that

no amount of saddle adjustment can bring the correct angle back?

 Surely there's a reason why all those neck adjusts and

lifts are done. (besides violin techs having to pay the rent!)

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that sounds exactly like your previously-described experience when

making small tonal adjustments:

You make a compelling change, and its sonic validity doesn't

come into focus until later. (g)

I believe, sir, that after so many years at the bench, you are

actually becoming one with your instruments!  

Must be some kinda' Zen thing...

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"But of course, if the FB gets TOO low, then isn't it the case that no amount of saddle adjustment can bring the correct angle back? Surely there's a reason why all those neck adjusts and lifts are done."

You've lost me. What's with too low fingerboard and saddle adjustments?

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How could that lose you?  A slightly low FB means a slightly

low bridge, which you say can be compensated for with a lower

saddle so that the string angle is still correct.  OK, makes

sense, I doubt the sound wouldn't change AT ALL, but I'm sure

you're correct that this is an acceptable method.

However, as the FB gets even lower, requiring and even lower

bridge, no amount of saddle adjustment would be able to correct the

string angle.

Is that not correct?

Otherwise, wouldn't a lowered saddle always be the preferred method

for fixing a weak string angle?

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No, you misunderstood me. If the fingerboard is too low, and one tries to compensate by lowering the saddle as well, the bridge will become too low very quickly and will not function properly. A good setup depends on the bridge height and string angle being within quite narrow ranges.

What I was trying to point out is that the string angle is critically important tonally, and this is an element of the setup which is, in a sense, independent of absolute bridge height. When the setup changes, the element which is responsible for this is the neck (string) angle - the saddle or bridge cannot become higher or lower "by themselves", as can the set of the neck. I mentioned the saddle because this part is very often too low on older and/or trade instruments. To correct the setup it is not enough in such instances to only work on the neck set - the saddle also needs be checked.

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