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New York Setup?


LadyAmati
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I came across this interesting article about Zyg in Strings magazine. In it he describes a New York Setup that includes changing things in the bridge, post, bassbar and strings. Does anyone know what the characteristics of this type of setup are? In terms of lower/higher bridge, thinner/thicker bass bar, post position, and recommended strings, action, neck angle.

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A parallel story of recent decades is the emergence of what Zygmuntowicz calls the New York School as the worldwide mainstream style for solo violinists. Zygmuntowicz describes its development as the product of "René Morel plus Dorothy DeLay's teaching, godfathered by Isaac Stern." Characterized by a forceful, percussive attack and intensely focused sound, the bowing style maximizes the high-frequency output of the violin in the range where the ear is most sensitive for a very projecting, penetrating sound. "People play to the ability of the instrument," says Zygmuntowicz. Morel developed a set up - bridge, post, bass bar, and strings - that maximizes the high-frequency response, coloring the entire sound. This supercharged set up delivers a shimmering intensity, especially in the highest positions.

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I think it comprises a relatevely high bridge, a longer string afterlength, a sound post with some more pressure. It makes the instrument more difficult to control, it will neeed a bit more bow pressure, the sound will get more agressive, mistakes in execution will be clearly noticeble. Soloists, principals and players with a big sound will love it, some players will just hate it. It's a question of pesonal taste.

In my recent visit to NY, all my four violas had a NY set up.

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I think that's an interesting question.

Others will correct me if I'm wrong, but a NY Setup ranges across a spectrum:

1) high tension strings like Evahs and Obligatos

2) higher bridge

3) lower neck set AND higher bridge

I have a European friend who, whenever he plays my fiddle, sighs and says "You New Yorkers and your high tension strings...." And his thought was precisely that: it makes the violin louder under the ear but not out there.

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So what kind of setup allows the sound to be projected out to the audience but not hurt your ears? I have a French violin that can make my ears ring when playing the E major Partita Preludio.

How will it sound under the ear? It is all very confusing. If it sounds muted under the ear, what is the guarantee it can be heard out there? If it screams under the ear, how do we know it is not thin sounding out there?

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I don't think it's a strict equation: NYSetup=LoudUnderTheEar / Gentle=Muted. I have the impression it's more about what maximizes the range of tone/over tones in any given instrument.

I think the more traditional idea of a setup is that there are standard measurements with deviation depending upon the instrument. That's why the luthiers get the big bucks. To know from a plucked A string and a knuckle on the back what will optimize any given instrument.

I wish some of the members who actually DO setups would weigh in.

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What constitutes "high tension" in strings? I.e. where is the line of demarkation from "normal" to "high"?

Evahs are typically refered to as being high tension, and I think I would agree. But Obligatos? Each string of the Obligato set is about 0.2 lbs/force more than its Dominant counterpart, save for the E which is identical. Evahs compared to Obligatos the difference is more pronounced. Each Evah string has much higher tension than its Obligato counterpart: E; +2lbs/force, A; +0.5lbs/force, D; +0.9lbs/force, G; +0.9lbs/force.

From the description this "New York setup" seems to be an effort to put the entire instrument under much greater tensions, regardless of strings. Of course, one could assume that a player seeking this kind of response would be drawn to some pretty tight strings as well.

I assume the art in this kind of setup involves accomplishing this feat of "super tension" without stifling and crushing the sound. Too much tension in the wrong place could, I imagine, be deleterious.

This kind of setup I'm certain makes sense for many soloists, who seldom make mistakes and need to saturate a concert hall with sound. For amateur hacks like myself however...

I wonder how an older violin takes the the New York treatment?

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Banzai,

I think you are correct that Obligatos are not high tension compared to Evahs. But they are compared to Eudoxas.... Which is what I have on that instrument now.

But I mean for the string factor to be the least NY of the NY Setups.

Omo, there was a thread on Viola setup a while back. I did a search for Setup in Title limited to Pegbox and came up with a bunch of interesting old threads. I'm not sure the viola comments can be generalized.

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From hanging out with Rene Morel a bit, I think that the "New York" setup has to do with optimizing a violin to handle a forceful player, so it doesn't "bottom out" when played hard.

Modern US players have moved away from a "lyrical" style of playing. I don't know whether the lyrical style (fast, light bow) was ever the best, or just a compromise given what players had to work with.

My own suspicion is that older fiddles have become weak with the ravages of time and playing, and are improved by induced stress contributing to rigidity (tighter post, higher tension).

When I asked Rene what it would take to make an instrument that worked well with a "too loose" soundpost, he said, "Make it thicker".

Yet many violinmakers today achieve a "too bright" tone using the same thicknesses as in the Cremonese era.

Is this an indication of setup compensations in instruments that are "played out"?

Isn't it interesting that guitars are considered to "play out", and in need of new tops to restore their original sound, but the same has not been said of violins?

Does the "New York" setup restore violins to their original sound quality?

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quote:


Originally posted by:
falstaff

David,

Can you say more about what you mean by bottoming out when played hard?

And is this idea that a NY Setup is the best for a "forceful player" accepted wisdom these days? Or a theory specific to Morel?

By bottoming out, I mean that harder playing will no longer produce greater volume or further tone color change. You work harder and use all your tricks, and nothing changes, except that maybe the tone cracks, like when using too much rosin.

"Best for a forceful player" is only my theory based on various comments from Morel, and observation of a number of Morel sound adjustments. Morel himself never used this phrase in my presence.

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quote:


Originally posted by:
Janito

Do you mean the plates (top, bottom or both) or the soundpost?

I took his answer to mean that the instrument should be more rigid by virtue of thicker body components, not having to do with dimensions of the soundpost.]

I asked the question because I don't like to fit soundposts as tight as some people in New York, and as a maker, I may have other options.

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Another article in an older Strad issue talks about the N.Y. setup as performed on Stern's Del Gesu. The interesting thing was that the soundpost was intentionally angled so the bottom foot was closer to the violin's edge than the top. If my memory is correct (as I only borrowed the issue, long ago) it was Morel who had done the setup. Are there any thoughts on this angling? I have tried this on a few violins, and I think I like it.

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I believe the angled post is also about making the structure more rigid. In most cases, the bridge will stand on very firm ground if you put the base of the post closer to the c-bout seam, whereas the spot underneath the best contact point with the table might be more flexible and the instrument becomes less resistant to the earlier mentioned forceful playing.

Some instruments are loud under the ear and loud out there and some are rather silent under the ear but draws a lot of attention in the hall, so I believe there can be no general rule there? That's at least what I've come to think. Still with some experience I think you can sort of tell if it carries well, by listening to the quality.

I think some instruments are really loud, but still they don't have the kind of sound the brain prefers to keep focus on, so you are sort of trying to filter it out in your ears (I think this happens, if you do this rigid kind of set up on low-quality instruments).

But that was certainly not the case with the folks that created this "school" of set up. The thing is, that with all that tension, the archings and neck angles and so on has to be fit for it.

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quote:


Originally posted by:
David Burgess
Isn't it

interesting that guitars are considered to "play out", and in need

of new tops to restore their original sound, but the same has not

been said of violins? Does the "New York" setup restore violins to

their original sound quality?

I also hear that piano soundboards suffer from the same thing, 100

tears or so is about the most you can expect as a working

lifetime.

Are we looking at a Bass Bar on steroids here as well, sprung in ?

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I'm using your message to create a new one. The new topic program is not working. Everytime I type a letter is comes up twice. Maybe you can post this for me and replies can come to Funflome@aol.com.

I have a violin that has two labels on the inside back. One is hand printed in pencil and reads somethin like "Glass-Starner". The other label is machine type and reads "Germany." It has a singe line black rectangular border around it. I believe that due to changes in import/export laws around 1917, labels had to read Made in Germany, or Japan, to indicate the country of origin. At any rate it appears to be a violin that was made for export.

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quote:


Originally posted by:
David Burgess
....Yet many

violinmakers today achieve a "too bright" tone using the same

thicknesses as in the Cremonese era. Is this an indication of setup

compensations in instruments that are "played out"? Isn't it

interesting that guitars are considered to "play out", and in need

of new tops to restore their original sound, but the same has not

been said of violins? Does the "New York" setup restore violins to

their original sound quality?

David,

A well-played flat-top guitar typically starts to go at

around 50 + years.  This is because such guitars require a lot

of flexibility at the edges of the top, to create satisfying bass

& volume.  After so much time, the edges become TOO

flexible, and the guitar becomes boomy or bass-heavy.

 

I'm not sure I'd call this "played out," since the treble/harmonics

are still there.

Anyway, violins do not require this kind of edge flexibility.

 Also, the arching and soundpost significantly lessen the

effect.  I guess, though, that a violin's edge might still

become too flexible after 400 years.  It's interesting that

you are all discussing arching a soundposts as regards this.

 Probably not a coincidence.  

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