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Oppio / Field Maple


GlennYorkPA

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I have a magnificent slab of Italian oppio with wild figuring. It's over 100 years old and I'm keen to have a violin made using it for the back and ribs.

I consulted a respectable violin maker here in the US and he declined the work saying that he was unfamiliar with this type of wood and didn't know how to adjust the dimensions when using it.

Could it be that a departure from standard maple requires different graduations or taptones?

None of the classic violins (Storioni, Bergonzi etc) made with it seem to have suffered from its use.

Glenn

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Hi Glenn! Some makers will just use their tested and proved woods, and will not be willing to risk with wood they don't know.

Oppio (also known in Italy as "acero nostrano" was widely used by the classic and modern Italians.

Here an Omobono Stradivari violin with an oppio back:

http://www.cozio.com/Instrument.aspx?id=3033

Here a Bergonzi:

http://www.cozio.com/Instrument.aspx?id=93

Roger Hargrave mentione that the Milanollo Strad was made with oppio (back, sides and neck), as well as many violins of his last period:

http://www.roger-hargrave.de/PDF/Artikel/S...lanollo_PDF.pdf

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Hi Glenn! Some makers will just use their tested and proved woods, and will not be willing to risk with wood they don't know.

Oppio (also known in Italy as "acero nostrano" was widely used by the classic and modern Italians.

Here an Omobono Stradivari violin with an oppio back:

http://www.cozio.com/Instrument.aspx?id=3033

Here a Bergonzi:

http://www.cozio.com/Instrument.aspx?id=93

Roger Hargrave mentione that the Milanollo Strad was made with oppio (back, sides and neck), as well as many violins of his last period:

http://www.roger-hargrave.de/PDF/Artikel/S...lanollo_PDF.pdf

Hi Manfio,

Thanks for these links by my wood is not like that at all. It was probably taken from the root or near a branch because the flame is completely undisciplined, not like the regular stripes in the examples you show.

Andres, what do you mean by 'tuner'?

Glenn

post-5422-1245640543_thumb.jpg

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Glenn--by 'tuner' I meant a maker who uses some form of mode-tuning strategy.

That wood is so wild that I am not surprised a maker would hesitate before using it. It has a nebulous threatening aura of instability to it even if it is 100 years old.

A lot of people are going to have trouble loading your image due to the file size. I managed it once, but when I tried to download it to put it up on a faster server I couldn't get the whole thing to load.

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Hi Manfio,

Thanks for these links by my wood is not like that at all. It was probably taken from the root or near a branch because the flame is completely undisciplined, not like the regular stripes in the examples you show.

Andres, what do you mean by 'tuner'?

Glenn

I think you,ll find in very difficult to find oppio in a decent size clear of branching, knots tec.. The tree itself is very `branchy`, and of a sort of stunted appearance. Wood like Manfio has linked to is very difficult to get hold of .More easily obtained is the type used by Guadagnini,Testore,Ceruti, Sgarabotto,etc.. Where the flame sort of changes direction over the length of a violin back and its difficult to get quarter sawn pieces..

guadagnini

ceruti

testore

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Glenn--by 'tuner' I meant a maker who uses some form of mode-tuning strategy.

That wood is so wild that I am not surprised a maker would hesitate before using it. It has a nebulous threatening aura of instability to it even if it is 100 years old.

A lot of people are going to have trouble loading your image due to the file size. I managed it once, but when I tried to download it to put it up on a faster server I couldn't get the whole thing to load.

Andres,

I thought that's what you meant by 'tuners' but was just making sure. So you are suggesting that luthiers who use electronic equipment for tuning the plates could make a decent fiddle out of any kind of wood?

Thanks for letting me know about the file size. I'm still coming to grips with this new Apple mac and nothing works the same. Here's another attempt with what I believe is a reduced file size.

This slab is 18" x 22" and 35mm thick. Used judiciously it should be enough for 2/3 backs.

OK, most makers, and probably buyers today would spurn the irregularity of it but, as Manfio notes, the old makers produced some stunning results with unconventional wood.

post-5422-1245680094_thumb.png

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I think this wood was taken near the root part of the tree. I think Dario Vettori, from Florence, made some violins with similar wood.

One of the problems of making an instrument with crazy wavings is that, eventually, the soundpost may tear the back, in the case the wood immediatly under the post has "upright" or almost "upright" grain. I saw that happening in highly flamed pioppo.

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Ooops. This file size is bigger than before. I don't know what to do about it.

Glenn

resize the file in photo editing software...

I'd like to get a look at the whole chunk of wood :)

In the middle of the crazy crotch figure in the upper right, it looks as if there is cracking. If so, does that run through to the other side? Looks like the pith of a branch.

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resize the file in photo editing software...

I'd like to get a look at the whole chunk of wood :)

In the middle of the crazy crotch figure in the upper right, it looks as if there is cracking. If so, does that run through to the other side? Looks like the pith of a branch.

Dorje,

This is my third attempt to reduce the file size. Let's see if it works.

There are imperfections including some worm holes and cracks in the piece but it is large enough to avoid these although the classic makers sometimes filled worm holes if the wood justified it.

David, That's a very nice violin but I wouldn't have known it was oppio if you hadn't said. Why did you choose it?

post-5422-1245695425_thumb.jpg

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Glenn, I was just making an observation, not a recommendation. :)

Understood.

:)

I'm attaching some examples of what it make be possible to extract from this wood. It's a bit like planning to cut a diamond but here is a one piece, and a couple of two piece options.

I take Manfio's point about possibly winding up with an unsuitable grain structure in the post area but one way or another, I'll do it just to see the beauty of the wood and if the violin sounds good, that will be an added bonus.

(It's either that or make a coffee table out of it!).

Glenn

post-5422-1245715887_thumb.jpg

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Hummmm .... that's tantalizing Glenn!!! I would love to see how this wood would appear with my oil varnish over it... Glenn, take a plane to Sao Paulo with your wood and we will cook some shrimp raviole, eventually you will get some wine and forget this wood on my workshop!!!

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Honestly, if I had the chance to make a violin from that block of wood I think I'd pass too. There are many bad defects on the surface, who knows what would be seen once the wood gets cut into. I wouldn't want to be the person to say "sure I'll make you a violin from this wood" and then tell you in a couple weeks "sorry it's just wood chips now and there was nothing usable inside the wood." and then not have a violin or your block of wood to give back to you.

Every once in a while we hear about someone building a violin or guitar from some very old piece of wood. My view on this is if the wood was any good for anything wouldn't it have been made into a violin, guitar, or table when it was still fairly fresh. A hundred years of craftsmen who didn't use this for anything kind of makes you scratch your head and wonder why.

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Manfio and fiddlecollector have linked to some good photos of what we believe was traditional use of oppio.

Yours shows more potentially problematic defects. It's a fascinating piece of wood, but like Johnston, I personally wouldn't invest the time into trying to make a fiddle from it. It would be fabulous for something which is purely ornamental, and doesn't have much of a structural role.

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that wood while nice looking is not suitable for a violin....there is not enough clean wood to get one out of it...

you can not have check{splits} and cracks as well as knots in the mix....there is not enough uniterrupted wood to get one let alone two halves that could make a full sized fiddle, that i see...

i mean i could make a fiddle out of it....but i would be the only one who would dare, ofcourse it would get sliced up and turned into a parquet back...

the reason i think youll find most will deny this wood is that too much work would go into shaping the back only to have an area give out not because of poor workmanship, but because the wood worker encounterd bad wood in the process, and either had to keep going or give up...either way it does not make one look or feel good to have work fall apart....

burl's or stumps can have uniform grain but it is rare, they usually come from massive stumps and you will have wood that is consistantly swirlled and rock hard, but has no splits or cracks...it is rare and usually bowl turners snap up that wood...its the #1 market for burl

well if you want a crazy jesupe goldastini parquet back fiddle, which i'm just guessing you don't, let me know :) ...elsewise i don't think anyone would attempt a one or two peice back with that....heck even i would'nt do that....

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  • 5 months later...
that wood while nice looking is not suitable for a violin....there is not enough clean wood to get one out of it...

you can not have check{splits} and cracks as well as knots in the mix....there is not enough uniterrupted wood to get one let alone two halves that could make a full sized fiddle, that i see...

i mean i could make a fiddle out of it....but i would be the only one who would dare, ofcourse it would get sliced up and turned into a parquet back...

the reason i think youll find most will deny this wood is that too much work would go into shaping the back only to have an area give out not because of poor workmanship, but because the wood worker encounterd bad wood in the process, and either had to keep going or give up...either way it does not make one look or feel good to have work fall apart....

burl's or stumps can have uniform grain but it is rare, they usually come from massive stumps and you will have wood that is consistantly swirlled and rock hard, but has no splits or cracks...it is rare and usually bowl turners snap up that wood...its the #1 market for burl

well if you want a crazy jesupe goldastini parquet back fiddle, which i'm just guessing you don't, let me know :) ...elsewise i don't think anyone would attempt a one or two peice back with that....heck even i would'nt do that....

jezzupe,

I thought you and some others might like an update.

I found a violin maker in China who was prepared to use my wood to make a violin and here's the result. True, there is the odd blemish but that's all part of the charm.

An additional bonus is that he seems to have used a varnish containing propolis because as I am playing and it gets warm, a wonderful and sweet aroma is given off.

As for the sound, well, let me just note that I have set aside all my 17/18th century violins in favor of this one. It performs effortlessly with a clear voice and is a joy to play. I have played Chinese violins before and they always sounded, well, Chinese, in spite of the good workmanship but this one does not sound Chinese. It's just a fine player and that fact that I find it attractive to look at (and smell) makes it a winner for me.

Manfio, I'm sure it would have looked even better with your varnish!

Glenn

post-5422-1260716545.jpg

post-5422-1260716642.jpg

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that wood while nice looking is not suitable for a violin....there is not enough clean wood to get one out of it...

you can not have check{splits} and cracks as well as knots in the mix....there is not enough uniterrupted wood to get one let alone two halves that could make a full sized fiddle, that i see...

i mean i could make a fiddle out of it....but i would be the only one who would dare, ofcourse it would get sliced up and turned into a parquet back...

the reason i think youll find most will deny this wood is that too much work would go into shaping the back only to have an area give out not because of poor workmanship, but because the wood worker encounterd bad wood in the process, and either had to keep going or give up...either way it does not make one look or feel good to have work fall apart....

burl's or stumps can have uniform grain but it is rare, they usually come from massive stumps and you will have wood that is consistantly swirlled and rock hard, but has no splits or cracks...it is rare and usually bowl turners snap up that wood...its the #1 market for burl

well if you want a crazy jesupe goldastini parquet back fiddle, which i'm just guessing you don't, let me know :) ...elsewise i don't think anyone would attempt a one or two peice back with that....heck even i would'nt do that....

Pablo de Sarasate's 1724 Stradivari was of Oppio.

The Hills in 1902 said; "Sarasate's Stradivari stands apart by itself both in tone and style; and all who have listened to this delightful master of the art of coaxing forth pure and beautiful tone must have been struck by the ethereal and sparkling quality of his "Strad" - never sonorous, yet always clear and distinct, even when passages of the most extreme rapidity and delicacy are being rendered on it. The instrument and the performer seem to be merged in one individuality."

Bruce

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