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Pinpricks and Dimples revisited


Torbjörn Zethelius
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If most of his instruments left the shop in this state would it not conclusively prove a) that the outside sarch was finalized before work began on the inside

Original blog post: Pinpricks and Dimples

I am still not convinced that Stradivari started his archings from the outside. Quite the contrary. Let's examine the details.

First, let's look at the violin belly. The 'conclusive proof' mentioned above by actonern (here) is flawed because not "most of his instruments left the shop in this state"; this is a rare example. The fact that the marks weren't removed indicates that something other than graduation was going on. If done properly, there wouldn't be any marks remaining or they'd be very scant. Looking closely, it actually seems that some of the cleats were also indented as Mr./Mrs. Somebody was happily chopping away, but that must surely be accidental. :)

We turn our attention to the cello pics. I insert photos of the actual graduation punch (catalog nr 665) below. To understand how the tools were used, we need to examine them closely. We can see that the anvil doesn't fit the dents on the cello. Another indication is that the inside dimensions are too small for a cello (about 57x374 mm*). Stradivari had another graduating tool for cellos which was hand held; (cat nr 664). It is illustrated in Sacconi's book on page 79. It's made of forged iron. It measures* 115 mm at the widest end, 254 mm deep. Neither of these tools correspond to the dents in the cello.

Ok, so what do the actual punch marks look like, according to me? I'm glad that you asked. :)

For those lucky enough to have the latest Strad poster, the march 2010 issue, the very well preserved Stainer viola has many pin pricks on the belly. Yes, that is on the outside folks. They are very small, barely noticeable, as should be expected. Although they are scattered all over, notice in particular there's a row of tiny pin pricks stretching across the upper treble bout. The upper and lower bouts are typical places to find these marks. Holler when you see them. :) Generally speaking it's a bad idea to spot these pin marks in photos, but if the instrument is in a very good condition as here, I think it's alright.

Torbjörn

* My measurements.

post-24030-1267178264.jpgpost-24030-1267178305.jpg

Notice how the punch was adapted especially for making the pin pricks on the outside of the arch. Michael's drawing shows the opposite approach.

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The fact that 99% of violin makers have started with the outside arch leads me to think that Strad & his contempoaries did the same.

People tend to do much the same things, heck, Strad probably had a team of young apprentices roughing out his plates for him, earning their blisters.

The photos of the caliper are interesting, thanks.

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The plates are hold with the concave part up in the graduation punch. The graduation punch can be used in other tasks too, such as while thinning the ribs, and to determine the thicknesses of the edges too.

On Michael Dartnon's blog there is an interesting photo of the inside top of a Stadivari with many holes that were left by Antonio, as mentioned by Sacconi also.

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The fact that 99% of violin makers have started with the outside arch leads me to think that Strad & his contempoaries did the same.

That's your assumption. I think you're wrong. I know that there have been traditions of inside first arching, from what I've been told. Violin making have traditionally been a secretive craft.

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Aside from whatever historical evidence might exist supporting the claim of inside arching, I'm interested in learning what advantages there might be in constructing an instrument this way?

Oded

That's a good question. I thought that I had answered it in my Strad article (August 2006), but maybe not? The advantages are freedom in workmanship and sound. Hmm, I think that's it. Try it to believe it. The fact that the method is comprehensible and really works, acoustically and visually, is to me the most convincing argument.

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I haven't read your article, could you give a synopsis-especially what acoustical principals are at the core of arching from the inside? Why should arching from the inside result in a better sounding violin?

Oded

That's a good question. I thought that I had answered it in my Strad article, but maybe not? The advantages are freedom in workmanship and sound. Hmm, I think that's it. Try it to believe it. The fact that the method is comprehensible and really works, acoustically and visually, is to me the most convincing argument.
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I insert photos of the actual graduation punch (catalog nr 665) below.

croppedPA020944.jpg

It would be interesting to know the dimensions of that punch, to see if the point actually extends far enough to be used on the inside. Seems like it would need to extend at least 15 mm, and maybe even farther if the punch is to be kept perpendicular to the shape of the arching.

There seems to be more clearance on the anvil side. Could mean nothing, or it could suggest that the anvil was used on the inside, and the point on the outside.

Interesting stuff to think about, so I'm glad you've brought it up again.

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That's a good question. I thought that I had answered it in my Strad article (August 2006), but maybe not? The advantages are freedom in workmanship and sound. Hmm, I think that's it. Try it to believe it. The fact that the method is comprehensible and really works, acoustically and visually, is to me the most convincing argument.

Freedom of workmanship is cultural, modern. Your proof in tone? I hope it's not just that you and some other people like the way your violins sound, since we all have that going for us.

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I haven't read your article, could you give a synopsis-especially what acoustical principals are at the core of arching from the inside? Why does arching from the inside result in a better sounding violin?

Oded

As I said; try it to believe it. I can email the article to you. Considering the inside changes how you think about the sound. At least that's what it did to me.

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croppedPA020944.jpg

It would be interesting to know the dimensions of that punch, to see if the point actually extends far enough to be used on the inside. Seems like it would need to extend at least 15 mm, and maybe even farther if the punch is to be kept perpendicular to the shape of the arching.

There seems to be more clearance on the anvil side. Could mean nothing, or it could suggest that the anvil was used on the inside, and the point on the outside.

Interesting stuff to think about, so I'm glad you've brought it up again.

The anvil is 29 mm, and from the anvil to the metal that holds the screw (in closed position) is 24 mm with an extra 2 mm or so, clearance to the handle. I should have measured the whole distance but forgot. It was kind of an awkward situation.

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Freedom of workmanship is cultural, modern. Your proof in tone? I hope it's not just that you and some other people like the way your violins sound, since we all have that going for us.

By freedom of workmanship I mean that different types of archings as seen on Cremonese instruments can be achieved. I don't have proof in tone, since I'm not into measuring it computerwise, but I have positive reports from people who have tried it.

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By freedom of workmanship I mean that different types of archings as seen on Cremonese instruments can be achieved.

That's the same argument some people use for doing it by eye, and it's the argument for templates, too, but there is a difference between "can" be achieved and "must" be achieved.

I think that a system which when used correctly does not inevitably lead to a definitely correct result in all respects is a weak system, if the idea is being utilized as a proof of concept.

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I'm new to this stuff, and have previously been unaware of some (or maybe most) of the tools and techniques used to

make violin family instruments "back then".

I have to say that I am really impressed at the simplicity and ingenuity that went into tools such as these. They are

simple but at the same time, quite sophisticated.

Chris

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Chris, it's a fascinating subject, but you need to learn to separate fact from fantasy if you're going to explore the violin world. If you're interested in the old ways, one thing you absolutely need to get into is history, and the cultural context of the development of the violin. You'll find that their way of thinking and working was quite different from ours, and trying to figure things out the way someone modern would do it or think of it is the way to take yourself down a lot of bad paths, if your intent is discover the original intentions and techniques.

Renaissance art is a great place to start, because there's so much written about the way those people thought and worked. As I implied above, "winging it" wasn't in their repertory: structure was important for the most obscure things, and Renaissance art is a huge repository of the most obscure and defined structure, in ways that people who haven't studied it can't even begin to imagine.

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I am still not convinced that Stradivari started his archings from the outside. Quite the contrary.

With regard to inside/outside arching first: IF the luthier were an acoustic-design-freak, meaning complete understanding

of what the final geometry "should be" [for acoustic Perfection], then it matters not which is carved first - only the jiggery

for securing plates/templates may need change.

Pinpricks and dimples neither prove nor disprove anything.

Jim

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Freedom of workmanship is cultural, modern.
???????

This is just a historical fact. Methods of work and style were rigid. Look how hard the Impressionists had to work to break the barrier of tradition. Lifestyles and methods of work were relatively fixed. Even methods of war were steeped in tradition until the 18th century (regional). We live in a completely different world now (many countries). I guess a society that stones an adulteress to death is still somewhat unchanged and still stuck in a past culture.

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