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Measurement questions for a Strad Milanolo model?


Steve_W

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When I took my good fiddle into my local shop for a minor adjustment a couple days ago, the guy looked at it and said that he was surprised I could play it because the neck angle (overstand?) was too low. Not only that, he said, the fingerboard was scooped too much, particularly on the G string side, the bridge was a mm or so too low, and the soundpost was a bit short.

Although I'd noticed this instrument was a bit difficult to play in comparison to a couple of my other instruments, I hadn't experienced any major problems (probably mainly because the music I play isn't too technically demanding, and I also play guitar and have a lot of finger strength). However this shop has a lot of professional clients and does a high volume of business and I'm sure they know what they're talking about. At any rate, when I asked what it would cost to correct these issues the guy quoted an approximate price but said that since this instrument was made recently by another local luthier, they wouldn't touch it, and to take it back to him. They've gotten into contentious situations before, including one maker threatening to sue them because of something they corrected on one of his violins. OK, I see their point although it's inconvenient for me...

Anticipating some discussion on this with the maker, I'd like to be more informed on what a typical range of measurements for overstand, bridge height, string height off the fingerboard should be. Can anyone give me these measurements? This violin is based on the Strad Milanolo model. Thanks -Steve

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Hmmm,

I'm not certain that knowing what the measurements of the original are will speak to what the measurements of this violin should be. For example, a bridge that is "a mm low" is not really something that can be generalized about, without looking at some other factors, like, the playability and tone of the violin. IF the other set up parameters are correct. A mm off of "factory spec" isn't really off factory spec, if you know what I mean, especially if the violin performs well as it sits. Every violin will not be a specific given number, to the mm, even if it was made based apon a specific model.

This is a difficult call, because there could have been comments made and intrepreted incorrectly on either or both sides, regarding "problems" with this particular violin...

There are many examples where a violin that is working well and playing well, is messed with just to satisfy someones arbitrary wishes or thinking - whenever someone is surprised that you can play an instrument that, in your opinion, is playing well, that alone should say somethign useful to you, after all, all the repair person should have to do is play it for a minute and see that it isn't problematic...

Pretty much, one of my basic rules for dealing with repairs is;

If it ain't broke don't fix it.

One observation I make is this.

Unless the soundpost was just in the wrong position, and even then, pronouncing it "too short", might have not been correct.

I believe that this can only be determined with the strings & bridge off, and the soundpost checked manually for the actual physical fit - because without doing that, it could be in there too loose or too tight, no matter whether it was in the exact correct spot or not...

I wonder how they could tell it was "too short" just by looking?

I'd be a bit curious about all of their other observations, just based on this one surprising comment.

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Also, just for the record - it (this violin) being just a bit difficult to play, compared to some of the other instruments you are playing - could easily be the result of the fact that the post IS mis-adjusted - either a little or a lot. Just by looking, this is a problem that someone with experience would be able to see.

Between the post and the bridge (either/and/or, depending on how it was set up originally) some fairly amazing corrections can be made with regard to zeroing in on, and correcting, playability issues...

You know, right, that it is impossible to determine this from a post without having the violin here in front of us? So, this might be the absolute worst kind of guesswork. But, since you asked...

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Thanks Craig, I think I'll take it to another shop and get a second opinion before I take it up with the maker. The only complaint I've had with this violin is that it's a touch on the bright side, and my original intent on taking it in to these guys was to sit down with one of their people and see what the effect of moving the soundpost around a bit might have on the tone. I was somewhat taken aback to hear there might be major issues with it since it's a fairly new instrument by a well-trained and decent luthier! I wondered about the soundpost comment as well; I assumed that the comment had something to do with the position. The main point seemed to be that the angle of the neck was wrong, and that the G string was too far off the fingerboard, but as I said, I don't notice this in playing...

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Hi Steve,

And the varnish is the wrong color too....

I'm with Craig in the "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." To be fair, however, you did take it in to a shop, which may be interpreted as "something is broke, help me."

I haven't seen your violin, don't have the measurments for the Milanolo, and don't know who made your instrument. From that point of ignorance, I could say that the violin is his or her intepretation of the Milanolo (or that's the story), given the wood on hand and the mood he or she was in. Perhaps the instrument is a mess. But maybe not. It can be easy to find "problems" in an instrument, and it seems odd that the request for comments on a soundpost adjustment would turn into such a discussion.

Here's a couple numbers to consider -- others will have different ones I'm sure. 1 mm relief on the G side, about 1/2 on the e. As far as the angle is concerned, one very rough rule of thumb is a height of about 3/4" measured from the top of the violin to the top of the fingerboard. This can vary quite a bit. However, if the fingerboard relief is ok, and the height measurement is very low, then it's hard to fit a bridge that will work at all positions on the fingerboard.

I do work with instruments like this, and it is not too much of a problem if you don't play much out of first position, typical of many fiddle tunes. (Is that what we're talking about here?) I do tell my customers of the problem, and some will go for a neck re-set, but many are content to have a fiddle that works for what they do, and save the money for another bottle of whisky. A fine thing, as long as they share it with me.

Why don't you just take it to the maker with your questions?

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quote:


Originally posted by:
Steve_W

Thanks Craig, I think I'll take it to another shop and get a second opinion before I take it up with the maker. The only complaint I've had with this violin is that it's a touch on the bright side, and my original intent on taking it in to these guys was to sit down with one of their people and see what the effect of moving the soundpost around a bit might have on the tone. I was somewhat taken aback to hear there might be major issues with it since it's a fairly new instrument by a well-trained and decent luthier! I wondered about the soundpost comment as well; I assumed that the comment had something to do with the position. The main point seemed to be that the angle of the neck was wrong, and that the G string was too far off the fingerboard, but as I said, I don't notice this in playing...

Well, it is often incorrect for repair people not to listen to the owner/player about what is required especially if they are experienced players. It's sort of like when a doctor refuses to listen to the patient about what they think the problem might be.

It is a simple matter to adjust the post (perhaps a bit further away from the bridge, or, even perhaps it is just a bit too tight to begin with, etc.) for less brightness without changing anything else - just to see if that changes anything in the direction you want to go.

Players - the better the player, the better their intuition about such things - are often spot on regarding what needs to be done to their instruments in order to get the response they are looking for. Even when they've got the exact fix wrong, their description of the problem might suggest what the correct fix is. I'd think that the G string could be lowered a bit, if the other strings don't have a problem, by adjusting the bridge curve lower a bit in that area.

Beginning players, are, of course, excepted, as they tend to repeat just about anything they hear...

Also, I don't think I'd hesitate to take the problem directly to the maker.

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Steve,

These are some numbers that Henry Strobel, USEFUL MEASUREMENTS FOR VIOLIN MAKERS, 4TH ed offers as "standard" for a violin:

bridge height (p.20): 33 mm, measuring at back of bridge, between A and D strings, from surface of fiddle top, to highest point of bridge.

String clearance between string and fingerboard at bridge end of fingerboard, measuring from middle of cross section of string to top surface of fingerboard p.10): Gut E, 3.5mm. Steel E, 2.5 mm. Gut G, 5.5 mm. Steel G, 4.0 mm.

Overstand (height of that part of neck root that rises above the top of the fiddle up to the bottom of the fingerboard, measured at the point where neck root ends against the top of the fiddle): 6 mm.

Those are Strobel's numbers. Here are the numbers that work for me, as a player, on the various fiddles I own:

bridge height: 32.5 to 34mm. On a highly arched fiddle, I can imagine a lower bridge, maybe as low as 31 mm might be used. On very flat arched fiddle, maybe a slightly higher that 34 might be needed. I would think that 31mm and 34.5 or 35, would be the operative extremes for bridge height.

string clearance: 3.5mm for steel E. 5.5mm for synthetic G. Strobel's 2.5 for steel E would be too low for me. The times I've used a Helicore steel G, 5.5mm worked just fine. Strobel's 4.0 for Helicore (and, I suspect, for most other metal core strings) would be too low for me.

Overstand: My fiddles vary from 4.5 to 7.5 mm.

These measurements come from my 4 best fiddles, 3 of which were professionally made, and set up, more or less, as standard. The fourth is made by an amateur who is pretty careful with his dimensions and stays within the range of "standard."

I would in general agree with what CT and Ken are proposing. Whatever works best for the player is what is best. Start with "standard" and try something else if it isn't working.

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  • 3 weeks later...

A belated thank you to everyone who responded on his thread. The measurements do fall into the range that skiingfiddler posted, and I finally had a chance to take the instrument back to its maker this week for a checkup. After a bunch of measuring he said the violin was to his specifications, and was pleased to see that nothing had shifted in its 6-year life! He did move the soundpost slightly rearward and that made a subtle but positive change in the fiddle's tone. He said that in his experience, the shop I initially took it to, and particularly the guy I spoke with, has a tendency to badmouth any fiddle that they didn't make or sell... I suppose I should have been suspicious of that assessment in the first place but they have a very good reputation in this area!

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