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sinebar1

An idea on a sound post configuration

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I don't know maybe this has been tried before but I was thinking why not make a flat sound post boss on the inside of the top and back during the carving process so that one could have a sound post with square ends instead of angled ends. It would be easier to fit a sound post with square ends to flat surfaces than one with angled ends to angled surfaces. In fact you get the sound post length just right before glueing the top on. Any thoughts on this radical idea?

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You've just eliminated one of the major tools of adjusting sound: post tightness. Any idea how you'd deal with seasonal changes that require tightening or loosening the post just a little bit, for a little while? Or likewise for different playing styles or music? I can do that in about 15 seconds, now, and I don't see cutting 20 posts in .05mm increments and running through the pile every time to never quite find the right one as being a very viable alternative to that.

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It would no longer be adjustable in terms of how much pressure you want, though almost infinitely adjustable in terms of precise location. I don't know what the added mass at those locations would do, beyond the obvious dampening.

Besides, wouldn't the two flat bosses necessarily go out of parallel as soon as the strings are tensioned, the humidity changes, the wood ages a bit, etc? I think you would be faced with essentially the same problem, though at a smaller scale of adjustments. There is a beauty to the wedge-shaped status quo, in that the compression of the plates is self-adjusting to allow adjustment of the soundpost.

(Sorry Michael...I was typing too slowly, and didn't realize a sharper mind was already on the job. )

:-)

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You've just eliminated one of the major tools of adjusting sound: post tightness. Any idea how you'd deal with seasonal changes that require tightening or loosening the post just a little bit, for a little while? Or likewise for different playing styles or music? I can do that in about 15 seconds, now, and I don't see cutting 20 posts in .05mm increments and running through the pile every time to never quite find the right one as being a very viable alternative to that.

Well you could make the sound post bosses large enough so that the post could be shifted to different positions on the bosses. As for variations in tightness well yes I guess you would have to have several sound posts of differnt lengths. I don't know what this would do for sound though. I'm just thowing this idea out there to get some pros and cons on it. It might be worth trying. But please don't flame me. This is just a thought. :)

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I don't know maybe this has been tried before but I was thinking why not make a flat sound post boss on the inside of the top and back during the carving process so that one could have a sound post with square ends instead of angled ends. It would be easier to fit a sound post with square ends to flat surfaces than one with angled ends to angled surfaces.

Therein lies the inspiration and pitfall of the idea. You are imagining that it would be easier to fit a square ended soundpost. In other words, the entire concept is rooted in simplifying a task that should be very simple to begin with. This is a lot of extra work (integrating bosses) to simplify a task that should not be a problem for you. There is definitely room for innovation in violins, even though it is the most traditional of crafts. And I would be of the inclination to support an innovative concept, if there was merit, but I think solving the extremely minor problem presented to relative beginners- that being fitting posts- by incorporating bosses is actually quite inefficient overall. I say move on to the next idea, it might be a good one. :)

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I sense a case of my own early response to sound post setting. This is one of those areas of making where there really is no substitute for experience. It's an odd bit of engineering as done traditionally, and learning to do it well and in a reasonable amount of time is frustrating. However, having just completed a round of tests (more on that later) I can say that this is an acoustically sensitive area of the fiddle, and the traditional way of doing it works. It also allows for a fair amount of adjustment over time.

Although there is more room for innovation than many will suggest, this is one place where I -- and this is just me -- think it best to master the traditional method before messing with it.

I have seen -- somewhere beyond recollection -- an instruction in building to leave an island for the sound post when carving the top and bottom plates. Given the damping this would produce, it feels intuitively wrong to me. Just my two cents.

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if you do that you might as well build {invent} a telescopically adjustable sound post...like a twist lock painters pole....

the root of your idea seems {could be wrong} to be based in the difficulty of getting your post in right or easily...

a strange as it seems, in time it becomes like riding a bike, but until you get the hang of it, it seems very "un natural"...

i think a lot of the "what if" type ideas and inventions are based on people having a hard time grasping the skills needed to do things in a "standard/right" sort of way...

look at geared pegs, while the idea has some merit...its really a invention born from the mother of lazy unskilled players who "can't deal with how hard it is to tune"...i have caveats for injury related to that....

a good idea is a good idea...easier sometimes makes one part better, but as pointed out by strado it can lead to other connected "issues" which just over complicate things...imo

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Hey thanks guys for that damping tidbit. Saved me a bunch of money.

Here I was getting ready to plunk down $2 mill on a Strad when I noticed in the western hole that some fool had glued in a hunk of wood under the top. Damped it all down it did. Then I noticed even more little hunks of wood all over the inside. Don't understand why brass isn't used more often for this stuff. Brass rings like a bell. :)

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if you do that you might as well build {invent} a telescopically adjustable sound post...like a twist lock painters pole....

the root of your idea seems {could be wrong} to be based in the difficulty of getting your post in right or easily...

a strange as it seems, in time it becomes like riding a bike, but until you get the hang of it, it seems very "un natural"...

i think a lot of the "what if" type ideas and inventions are based on people having a hard time grasping the skills needed to do things in a "standard/right" sort of way...

look at geared pegs, while the idea has some merit...its really a invention born from the mother of lazy unskilled players who "can't deal with how hard it is to tune"...i have caveats for injury related to that....

a good idea is a good idea...easier sometimes makes one part better, but as pointed out by strado it can lead to other connected "issues" which just over complicate things...imo

Well thanks for all the repies so far. They have been interesting and informative. I love simplicity so I'm always looking for an easier way so long as it doesn't make things worse.

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This might say something more about my own personal abilities, but, I made a sound post for my flat back bass a few weeks ago. I found that fitting the bottom of the post to the back just as hard as fitting it to the arched top. I don't think it would make it easier, based on that experience.

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I have seen several violins with just this sort of thing. An amateur maker in Baker, Oregon, used that idea -- I think it was original with him, but I'm sure many others have come up with it at many other times and places. He has since passed away.

He even went so far as to put a bull's-eye pattern on the flat areas -- I believe he was a retired engineer before he started making violins -- so that you could make sure you had it perfectly vertical.

His square areas were 1 inch on a side. He was also very precise with his square cuts on the soundpost ends.

Since that time, at least one other maker around here is doing it that way, though with 1/2-inch square platforms. As has been mentioned, just because it's flat doesn't mean it's any easier to fit. If you just nibble off the end, you can have a bad fit on a flat panel. And the pressure/tension argument certainly is valid -- not much room to go one way or the other when you have flat ceilings and floors.

But it makes a good story when you're sitting around drinking beer.

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I have a similar fiddle (Samuel Parker, American 1912)--it has a platform on the back only, so you can still adjust the post, it's just 50% more difficult. I guess he was trying to split the difference between flat and traditional post mounts.

Dave

I have seen several violins with just this sort of thing. An amateur maker in Baker, Oregon, used that idea -- I think it was original with him, but I'm sure many others have come up with it at many other times and places. He has since passed away.

He even went so far as to put a bull's-eye pattern on the flat areas -- I believe he was a retired engineer before he started making violins -- so that you could make sure you had it perfectly vertical.

His square areas were 1 inch on a side. He was also very precise with his square cuts on the soundpost ends.

Since that time, at least one other maker around here is doing it that way, though with 1/2-inch square platforms. As has been mentioned, just because it's flat doesn't mean it's any easier to fit. If you just nibble off the end, you can have a bad fit on a flat panel. And the pressure/tension argument certainly is valid -- not much room to go one way or the other when you have flat ceilings and floors.

But it makes a good story when you're sitting around drinking beer.

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In my own mind and experience, I believe that the amount of tightness and placement of the soundpost has more of an effect on sound than an exact fit of the top and back angles of the soundpost.

Scott

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