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Lilylynne

Setting a sound post

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The strings on my violin were really loose and the bridge fell

down.  As I was putting the bridge back into place, the sound

post fell.  Is that normal?  I have sound post setter,

but have never set a sound post.  Can I just let any luthier

set it?  How much does it cost to have a sound post set?

 Do I need to leave the instrument with them or can they just

do while I'm at their shop.  Does the sound post go directly

underneath the bridge?  How does different placements effect

the sound of the instrument?  Sorry for all the questions, but

I'm really concern that the tone of my instrument will change

completely once I have it reset.

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MANFIO   

Take it to a luthier, it's a rather complicated operation... since it seems the case it was too loose, I think your violin will sound even better. Yes, he may do that quite quickly.

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Fellow   

Good advice. Manfio

If you are not experienced and good to set the post, you may run into the danger of breaking the wing.

Not to mention scratch the f-hole then you need to touch up the varnish.

A luthier does this kind of things everyday, he or she can close her eyes to do it. Like my local

luthier, I let her do it with a charge $15. If I say about how pretty she is, sometime she waives

that charge.

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"Is that normal?"

I would say that it is common. It could be an indication that the soundpost is too short or was in the wrong place.

"Can I just let any luthier set it?"

I'm afraid I have seen some people calling themselves luthiers, claiming to know a lot about violins and even making violins who I would not want to have set up my soundpost for fear that they would damage my violin in the process. But I think most people who regularly work on violins could do this quickly and safely. I can only suggest that you ask experienced players for recommendations.

"How much does it cost to have a sound post set? Do I need to leave the instrument with them or can they just do while I'm at their shop.?"

I can't speak for others, but I do not charge to set up a fallen soundpost and I do it while the customer waits and watches. (If you're near Concord, NH, come on over.)

"Does the sound post go directly underneath the bridge?"

Normally, not quite. The normal position is about 2-4 millimeters behing the E string foot of the bridge. By "behind" I mean towards the tailpiece.

"How does different placements effect the sound of the instrument?"

This is a much-discussed question on this forum with few definitive answers. Different instruments respond differently to soundpost position.

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PhilipG   

Perhaps there are some that may think me a bit too careful about things, but when I get a new violin, I always mark where the sound post is. What I have done, is to whittle down a pencil till it is thin enough to stick into the f-hole. There I make a single mark on both the sound post and the back, where the bottom of the sound post sits. Then if the post falls for whatever reason, at least I know the spot where it used to be. And the orientation of the sound post as well.

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iburkard   

 



If you find yourself asking "Should I..." or
"Can I..." concerning repairing your priceless violin, you should
always default to the answer of, "No.  I shouldn't, until I
learn more."



 



A post should not fall while loosening or
replacing strings.  There are a lot of "perhaps" statements
that I could make as to why your post fell. 



 



In your case, it would not be wise for you to
reset your old post.  If the post fell while relieving tension
on the top, something isn't fitting properly (so why try to
reposition something that doesn't fit).  There could be
broader structural problems at play. 



 



Setting a post is very difficult for beginners
(like me).  As everyone has stated, you have the right tools,
but could very easily damage your instrument.  I find that
most new setting tools require tweaking (rounding corners and
better bends) to function properly.



 



The sound post is NOT centered underneath the
bridge.  It goes about 1/4 of an inch (general statement - not
a golden rule) below the right bridge foot.



 



I wouldn't worry about your instruments
tone.  People love to obsess over post position.  I'll
take the unpopular stance of... Something would have to be severely
wrong to dramatically impact your instruments voice.  Besides,
you can't play without a post, so it simply has to be done. 
Worst case scenario, you can always take your instrument in for
fine adjustments.

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I disagree that the soundpost was too loose, often to bring out the

bass you need to loosen the soundpost so that only string tension

will keep it in place, this is why you only change one string at a

time when replacing strings, you can put the soundpost tight so it

never falls over but then you have a too bright treble and weak

bass, that's my opinion, sincerely Lyndon J Taylor

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quote:


Originally posted by:
iburkard

I wouldn't worry about your instruments

tone.  People love to obsess over post position.  I'll

take the unpopular stance of... Something would have to be severely

wrong to dramatically impact your instruments voice.  Besides,

you can't play without a post, so it simply has to be done. 

Worst case scenario, you can always take your instrument in for

fine adjustments.</p>

Interesting subject.

This is both true and not true - depending on what you are trying to accomplish.

It is true that some situations, and some instruments, don't warrent wasting much time setting the soundpost, by virtue of what it is the instrument and/or student needs.

Most school instruments, and many lower priced introductory instruments, and perhaps even some mid-priced student instruments simply don't warrant more than a general ballpark soundpost setting, by virtue of the fact that a proper set up may cost more than the price of the entire kit, and the student will not be able to discern the difference in any case - etc.

Most often, such violins don't have anything near a proper size or fit soundpost anyway, so, putting it in its proper place is only a theoretical exercise .

When the student can't really play yet, and the instrument isn't really set up well to begin with, and where the post was probably ill-fit, as was the bridge, and everything else, a proper soundpost adjustment isn't going to change much with regard to the voice - so in this situation the above is absolutely correct.

On the other hand, in a situation where the violin belongs to a player who demands the best tone avalable, and who knows exactly what voice he wants, every aspect of the fitting and positioning is critical.

Even crappy instruments can be made to sound well with a proper set up. Of course, since such a thing doesn't make them worth more (except, perhaps, to the person playing the instrument) I wouldn't recommend spending $250.00 setting up a $99.00 violin kit - but the fact remains that in most cases even really crap violins can sound like violins costing much more, by virtue of the set up alone.

Misplacing the post by a half mm can make a HUGE tonal change, and very often does.

So, in this instance the above is not true.

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Lyndon states:

"I disagree that the soundpost was too loose, often to bring out the bass you need to loosen the soundpost so that only string tension will keep it in place, this is why you only change one string at a time when replacing strings, you can put the soundpost tight so it never falls over but then you have a too bright treble and weak bass, that's my opinion"

There are many reasons why a violin might have a weak G. There are many possible corrections for this but I wouldn't advocate cutting a sound post intentionally short so that it would stay put -only under pressure. This act changes the whole dynamics of how the belly moves and would likely handicap the overall quality of sound.

As to the sound post, most definitely take it to a luthier with a good reputation. The fit and placement is easy but many repairman & makers don't know how to approach this well.

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My cello teacher once told me, that whenever he had a new soundpost

cut that he would take a piece of card and cut a semi-circle to fit

around the the soundpost slide it through the f-hole and draw

the f-hole outline on the card. He could then follow the movement

of the post and account for it if ever there was a sudden change in

the instruments tone. Not a solution for a downed soundpost, but

neverless an interesting idea. 

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quote:


Originally posted by:
Taylor's Fine Violins
I

disagree that the soundpost was too loose, often to bring out the

bass you need to loosen the soundpost so that only string tension

will keep it in place, this is why you only change one string at a

time when replacing strings, you can put the soundpost tight so it

never falls over but then you have a too bright treble and weak

bass, that's my opinion, sincerely Lyndon J Taylor

................................................................................

..........................................

If the sound post is to loose fit the belly will sink..even on a

great arch....

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I agree with Lyndon. Some violins need a looser fitting soundpost, others a tight soundpost. A properly fitted soundpost may be loose or tight, depending on the instrument. I haven't seen many instruments with a sinking top due to a loose soundpost (just overly thin tops), but I have seen many instruments with the treble side wings lifted or deformed due to a tight soundpost. It seems that when a correctly fitted soundpost slides easily into place and stays put with little or no pressure from the strings, I seem to get the best out of the instrument. But then again, everybody has their own opinion.

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I always fit the SP in new violins with some amount of pressure and instruct the owner to bring the violin back after about one year. I then install a slightly longer SP. In Sacconi's book, he mentioned the Strad upper wing of right sound hole is scraped because it is lifted up by the soundpost.

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quote:


Originally posted by:
David Tseng

I always fit the SP in new violins with some amount of pressure and instruct the owner to bring the violin back after about one year. I then install a slightly longer SP. In Sacconi's book, he mentioned the Strad upper wing of right sound hole is scraped because it is lifted up by the soundpost.

Yes, I think that this is fairly commonplace.

A new soundpost must be re-checked, and maybe even recut after a suitable interval, where the new violin has "settled in".

'

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GMM22   

Hi Melvin, I was just wondering, do you drink regular or decalf?

There seems to be two issues, tone and structural integrity. To the first I would agree with others that a less snug fit can be tonally advantageous on some violins. To the second, truth be told, I have never read here or in books the notion that a loose post will cause premature sinking in the top, and I do not have enough direct experience to argue about this specific point. The structural mechanic in me leans toward a less critical posture (especially in sound violins) but it is just my conjecture, and but for the virtue of timing, it would have fallen to me to take the wrath instead.

That a loose fitting post could cause a sinking top seems plausible. I am going to think about this for a while.

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I think the tone we see in Melvin's post was appropriate. Maybe you don't understand the depth of expertise that Melvin has acquired. Something as ludicrous as a loose post concept and the fact that it remains "a subject" is worthy of a firm post.

"I have never read here or in books the notion that a loose post will cause premature sinking in the top,"

You will never read in any book the concept that it is appropriate to place a post anew, so loose that it will not stay by itself without the pressure of the strings. Perhaps the discussion deviated from this concept by Lyndon to the difference between a snug fit and a loose fit where a post can stand on its own? Even this in silly; A proper fit is just proper.

Here's another vital point. Books and articles are nice but the knowledge of this art is far above these tools. Recognizing superior knowledge (Melvin et al) is critical to learning. Take their word and test it if necessary but don't randomly challenge them without basis. That's how we lost Michael Darnton.

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DarylG   

quote:


Originally posted by:
Dean_Lapinel

Here's another vital point. Books and articles are nice but the knowledge of this art is far above these tools. Recognizing superior knowledge (Melvin et al) is critical to learning. Take their word and test it if necessary but don't randomly challenge them without basis. That's how we lost Michael Darnton.

Well said.

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If yours is an inexpensive instrument, and you would like to again be playing, you can fashion a tool from a piece of wire coat hanger. Bend into a parallelogram shape, and using a metal file sharpen one end into a thin and sharp point. this will stick into the soundpost. Look for the hole already there, it is on the bottom side and most commonly at an angle to the direction of the arch slope. After wrapping your tool with electrical tape to protect the varnish wet the hole of the post, carefully poke the knife into the post, and through the F hole carefully. Since your post is short you will need some string tension, and this requires care so you don't scratch the inside of the top. Put the top of the post against first, and while gently squeezing the violin from across the C bouts causing a small flex pull the post into place with the grain perpendicular to the top. Put it just behind the bridge, vertical. Stop the flex, pull the knife out carefully.

Good Luck

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Jacob   

After all that has been said, I must admit that I think it is a pity that George got "zapped" on the basis of terms such as "loose" and "tight", which can be interpreted in many different ways.

George is an old-timer - older than me even, in terms of Maestronet membership - and although he has a pretty low profile these days, some of us will remember that he was regularly recommended as a straight dealer, and being very efficient in the setting up of the instruments which he offers. I doubt very much that the standard of sound-post setting would differ much, if at all, between the workshops of George and Melvin.

For all those relatively recent know-all members - George was a fairly regular, if low-key contributor when the Pegbox was in its prime in terms of the quality of both contributors and contributions.

I'm a bit ashamed that I waited so long to post this response, but I'm flabbergasted at the lack of response from others who should be even better qualified than me to speak up on George's behalf.

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"loose" and "tight" and ".05mm behind the crest of the talisman of the royal.." well I'm getting carried away. Anyway, all of this can be quite subjective. What I hate is when someone reads somewhere that if you do this, and this, and that then you will get some kind of magical tone. In reality, there are about a million ways to be not quite perfect, but for most stuff there can be several right ways. Go with a reputable shop, take their word for what needs to be done. If you like the results, then you are done. If you don't like the results, ask if there is something they can do about ________. Let them try. If not, try something else.

I know that I can't comment on an instrument that I haven't seen. There are way too many variables. Most newer instruments need a new (longer) post within a few years. Most other instruments need a new post, and sometimes about a thousand other little adjustments, because they were never right to begin with. Some you let slide, others need to be addressed. You can get very picky, and spend a lot of money if you want to. Most student violins just need a soundpost that is close to fitting, and a well-fit bridge. You can't get blood from a turnip.

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