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Student Instruments, Glue in the sound post


Dwight Brown
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Dwight -- you wanted a feeding frenzy, didn't you? The soundpost is a solved problem. If it was a good idea to glue them in, then we'd be doing that. But we don't. If the soundpost keeps falling over, either it doesn't fit, or you have a student who has learned to knock it over to get out of practice.

Some folks glue the blocks in a bow. You can find threads related to that, see what people think about it.

The violin/viola/cello comes from a different time period, folks with different expectations about mechanical performance. I can remember the time when one actually had to tune-up an automobile. Those days are gone for many of us. We just drive.

In addition to learning to play the darn thing, stringed-instrument students are faced with a device that does not behave as predictably as nearly anything else they know.

Johnmasters -- interesting soundpost crack repair idea. I don't know what I think of it, but I'm sure I'll have the opportunity to give it a try in the near future. I think it would be nice while installing the 'boot' to write on the inside back 'eccentric soundpost attachment on top' to aid future repairfolk.

Maybe this topic could give rise to another "summer seminar" aimed at those people in

similar situations as Dwight. I think there are some printed guides available for educators

but there is nothing like being shown how to do something by qualified and competent

repairmen. A course like this could be geared specifically to the school teacher and the

like who have little or no hand skills but the responsibility and need to take care of their

schools instruments but small or non-existent budgets to do so.

Also, those of us in the business can help out our own schools on occasion.

Once a year we ask our local high school conductor to pick out

the most problematic instruments and bows and donate some time in order to get them

into shape (within reason of course!).

So here's the real issue -- money. It's a shame that school districts can spend a million dollars on a computer system that no one understands, and the orchestras have to fight for hall-space for their classes.

Now if the computer folks want to donate time, that makes sense. After all, by the time the system is installed, it'll be obsolete, and they can sell the schools another one.

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Johnmasters -- interesting soundpost crack repair idea. I don't know what I think of it, but I'm sure I'll have the opportunity to give it a try in the near future. I think it would be nice while installing the 'boot' to write on the inside back 'eccentric soundpost attachment on top' to aid future repairfolk.

Now if the computer folks want to donate time, that makes sense. After all, by the time the system is installed, it'll be obsolete, and they can sell the schools another one.

You can easily see the taper of the post through the f-hole if it has been done with a pencil sharpener. No reason to make it a blunt taper. This may be eccentric, but that is one reason I mention it. One thing is an advantage, the contact with the top is perfect. Since most post adjustments work by getting the post to where it fits best, adjustment is not an issue.

As to obsolete computers, I can't see that. Kids would learn more using a 1985 DOS spreadsheet than any of the modern things with Bells and whistles. I still use my old LOTUS and it does more than Excell, at least for complicated calculations; Excell does not make it convenient to write branching menues and if-than commands. Modern software is made to be "user-friendly" which means it eliminates the need for figuring out things.

With computers, state of the art is non-eccentric. With violins, 17th & 18th century is non-eccentric. I know why people think this way, but I am a left-wing maverick.

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You can easily see the taper of the post through the f-hole if it has been done with a pencil sharpener. No reason to make it a blunt taper. This may be eccentric, but that is one reason I mention it. One thing is an advantage, the contact with the top is perfect. Since most post adjustments work by getting the post to where it fits best, adjustment is not an issue.

As to obsolete computers, I can't see that. Kids would learn more using a 1985 DOS spreadsheet than any of the modern things with Bells and whistles. I still use my old LOTUS and it does more than Excell, at least for complicated calculations; Excell does not make it convenient to write branching menues and if-than commands. Modern software is made to be "user-friendly" which means it eliminates the need for figuring out things.

The viola I fixed: The insurance company took my own viola. I had four days until my next rehersal, so I did this. The top was not just cracked, the post was punched through and the grain was broken corss-wise for about 8mm. I put a thin patch over this, not inlayed, in addition to the shoe. I could revarnish it along with a Chinese white viola and sell it for a few hundred. Now it looks pretty bad. I did not bother to touch up anything, anticipating a revarnish. (It is a Roman Teller clone)

With computers, state of the art is non-eccentric. With violins, 17th & 18th century is non-eccentric. I know why people think this way, but I am a left-wing maverick.

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You can easily see the taper of the post through the f-hole if it has been done with a pencil sharpener. No reason to make it a blunt taper. This may be eccentric, but that is one reason I mention it. One thing is an advantage, the contact with the top is perfect. Since most post adjustments work by getting the post to where it fits best, adjustment is not an issue.

As to obsolete computers, I can't see that. Kids would learn more using a 1985 DOS spreadsheet than any of the modern things with Bells and whistles. I still use my old LOTUS and it does more than Excell, at least for complicated calculations; Excell does not make it convenient to write branching menues and if-than commands. Modern software is made to be "user-friendly" which means it eliminates the need for figuring out things.

With computers, state of the art is non-eccentric. With violins, 17th & 18th century is non-eccentric. I know why people think this way, but I am a left-wing maverick.

I was thinking of situations when the post is no longer with the instrument, and a new one was being fitted. But, just one more thing to look for. Being warned is being armed.

Regarding the computers, I agree with you, in principal, although my stripped-down Apple spreadsheet allows fairly easy use of if-then statements (as long as you can count parenthesis pairs, which I find more and more difficult :) ).

But programming in schools appears to be something of a memory for dinosaurs like us. A few years back, I was at a parent-teacher conference with my son. A quick glance of his assignment scores didn't add up to his final score. I asked the teacher about it.

Teacher: The scores are weighted.

Me: Ok, what is the weighting?

Teacher: That's where one score is actually worth more than another, even though the raw points are the same.

Me: Yes, but I mean, what is the weighting scheme?

Teacher: Oh, it's in the computer.

Me: Right, but which one of these assignment scores has the highest weighting factor?

Teacher: Well, it's part of the program that we use.

I felt that I was in some sort of Abbott and Costello routine, and I never did get an answer.

Ken

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I know about a dozen reasons why you would not want to do this on a good instrument. But after having the 1 millionth sound post fall on a student cello the other day I got to thinking.... Why not glue the damn things in on student instruments! It's not like we are going to sit with the violin maker and adjust the post back and fourth for hours. If gluing the post was toooo horrible why not glue just the end against the back. OK let the feeding frenzy begin!

Dwight

OK, I have to ask.

How many student cellos (or any cellos) are there in Del Rio? Seriously.

I was walking around "downtown" the other day and I stopped by a store that I noticed advertised "Violins" in its stock. Oh...my...god. What I saw were three incompletely strung up wooden "cereal boxes" with painted on "purfling"...two of them had the bridges on backwards and obviously in the wrong place. It was horrifying!

I was told, with due gravity, that those were the "student instruments...for students to learn on." I hope my expression wasn't obvious, as I thought to myself; "I hope no students are learning on those things...what would they learn?"

On a totally different tangent.

My teacher back in Salt Lake inherited her grandmother's violin...a very nice instrument, that some shop, somewhere along the way, had decided to glue the sounpost on. She took it to Peter Prier's for restoration...the staff was horrified. After taking it apart, they took pictures to show future students what NOT to do to a violin.

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If you are resetting posts, then you are still doing at least one component of set up. If you are a disaster at setting up posts, then one asks, why are you setting up posts, or resetting posts that have fallen?

Your original question was to ascertain why not glue posts in.

The simple reason again is that it's unnecessary, and never done by anyone but the most incompetent persons. Given that you know that it should not be done, you cannot even take refuge in incompetence, since truly incompetent people never even bother to think long enough to inquire if something is being done wrong.

Can you not get the school to have the operation performed by someone who knows how to install a post without glue? If not, you might reconsider trying again with the provided tips of applying a little chalk or rosin to post ends, making sure there is full contact top and bottom using a mirror, and inserting more firmly. It is possible to master a single luthier task like posts without being a luthier, and probably quicker than you imagine, provided you have O.K. hands and eyes.

Dwight lives in Del Rio.

You should come visit...I promise that you won't judge him anymore after that trip.

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Hey Dwight, perhaps you could get the school to sponsor you to take a summer repair course? You could learn how to set a post as well as some other common repairs. Just a thought. Cheers,

Bwaaa ha ha ha ha hoo hoo hoo haa haa haa hee hee. Hee. Ahem.

Del Rio.

In my newcomer's brief here I was informed the percentage of the population whose highest education level didn't include high school. It's horrifying, as is the endemic poverty here.

Of course, I'm just passing through. Dwight probably knows the financial state of the schools better than I do.

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I was thinking of situations when the post is no longer with the instrument, and a new one was being fitted. But, just one more thing to look for. Being warned is being armed.

Regarding the computers, I agree with you, in principal, although my stripped-down Apple spreadsheet allows fairly easy use of if-then statements (as long as you can count parenthesis pairs, which I find more and more difficult :) ).

I have a PC. But I agree with your other comments to the extent that kids just use a computer for the internet and research. You know that there is software now to help teachers find plagerism.

I mentioned the DOS Lotus because it allows the user to see all the logic behind the formulas in a very easy way. Computers have become as common as (old-fashioned) telephones. I don't see the need for schools to keep updating them except that they are told that it is "technology." It is like giving a fish rather than teaching how to fish.

Most violin makers don't like new technology. I was making that point too. Meanwhile, most look for tricks without any idea about what they want to find.

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Strangely, we have quite up to date computers, all very new Dells. The tiny town west of us issues a Mac Book to each of it's high schools students and teachers. We actually have many recent graduates attending Harvard, Yale, West Point, MIT, University of Texas, Texas A&M, Notre Dame, Annapolis, Air Force Academy, and many others. We do quite well teaching upper level kids Physics and Calculus , etc. My son just graduated Cum Laude (3.6999) from Texas A&M in Mechanical Engineering with a minor in math (he now make more than I do! ) On the down side we also have many drop outs teenage mohers, and a state school system that only cares about the TAAKS test (standardized test) I agree that there is not much computer instruction about real computer science, but the course and curriculum must be approved by the state. No matter how good an idea you have for a course it has to fit into the approved norms. One bright spot are the pre-engineering courses that introduce students to CAD rapid prototyping, some machine tools and materials science. I spend some of my instruction time teaching the kids the vocabulary they will need to pass their test. All of my kids have my home telephone number, cellphone, and email,l they or their parents can call me anytime of the day or night and they know I mean it. Sometimes it is great news "Mr. Brown I got into college"! And sometimes it has been "Mr. Brown I need formula for my baby, can you help me". They know I love them all the same and that I will do what ever I can for them, or find someone who can. I know that music will not be the be all and end all of their lives, but they know I will always fight for them.

Geeze, I said I wouldn't write any more on the this thread- guess I'm a liar to boot :-)

Dwight (his real name)

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Geeze, I said I wouldn't write any more on the this tread- guess I'm a liar to boot :-)

Dwight (his real name)

Dwight,

Not to worry about that. It was a good thread in that it challenged how we think about soundposts. Good for the gray-cells!

The forum here is off-the-cuff conversational, yet 'engraved in stone' in that people years later can read what we casually typed out. If anyone expects us to be completely consistent, they'll have to ask for a refund. :)

Cheers,

Ken

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  • 12 years later...

I bought a junky $300 cello. Sounds pretty good despite the garbage strings and sings out with some beautiful overtones. The other day the sound post fell out, and y'know what?  It still plays pretty good without it. I'm hoping for a volume/tone boost when I get a chance to reset the thing, and when I do, I'm very tempted to glue it. No future repair person will ever work on this cello, just as no future repair person will work on my $75 trumpet. A practical instrument can have practical repair solutions. It's like the guitar tech who insisted I get a dampit when I bought my $400 guitar. Half these gear heads don't even play an instrument. 

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14 hours ago, YES. Glue it said:

I bought a junky $300 cello. Sounds pretty good despite the garbage strings and sings out with some beautiful overtones. The other day the sound post fell out, and y'know what?  It still plays pretty good without it. I'm hoping for a volume/tone boost when I get a chance to reset the thing, and when I do, I'm very tempted to glue it. No future repair person will ever work on this cello, just as no future repair person will work on my $75 trumpet. A practical instrument can have practical repair solutions. It's like the guitar tech who insisted I get a dampit when I bought my $400 guitar. Half these gear heads don't even play an instrument. 

If you leave out the soundpost, the top can crack.  You need to release the string tension and drop the bridge until you can get the post replaced with a new one long enough to stay put when the strings are tightened.  :)

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FIT THE SOUNDPOST - that will keep it up till the weather changes.  How much can the weather change!  Why i've never seen the temperature  change much more than 100 degrees F in a day. And the humidity usually does not go higher than 95% or lower than 10%.  And of course all of your children have air conditioning at home,  And in the bus that brings them to school. 

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5 hours ago, Rue said:

Just wondering...if you were to glue in the soundpost, what if you only glued one end and not the other?

IMHO, that would change the bending mode into what a whip antenna or a flagpole does, which is a type of a cantilever, and gluing both ends gives you a sort of a column.  Neither is what a friction-fit soundpost does, which is going to affect sound transmission.  :)

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Just don't glue it. 

It's gonna be too short or too long at some point in the not so distant future. 

Then, you'll have a fixed SP that doesn't fit. Great. 

This is a terrible idea even on the humblest of student kits because, A: you candy do any adjustments, and, B: it'll probably be more likely to cause internal damage over time being fixed. 

Just don't do it. 

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12 hours ago, Violadamore said:

IMHO, that would change the bending mode into what a whip antenna or a flagpole does, which is a type of a cantilever, and gluing both ends gives you a sort of a column.  Neither is what a friction-fit soundpost does, which is going to affect sound transmission.  :)

Yes. I was wondering about seasonal expansion/contraction and bumps in the road (literally!). It's tough being a student instrument - even belonging to one of the rare careful kids.

I remember my school violin classes, hauling my violin around with me (er, and I was one of the careful kids), I was a band parent for years and witnessed the trials and tribulations of band instruments(:wacko:) and I've also watched string teachers tuning a seemingly endless parade of student instruments before classes, recitals, etc.

I think a teacher's time would be better spent teaching than tuning, especially unnecessary tuning. Never mind taking additional time to reset soundposts. 

Surely if we can put a man on the moon we can find a way to keep soundposts up in school instruments.

Has anyone tried velcro patches??? Would work, easy to remove if not required/wanted down the road (non-permanent). 

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