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This is not a post for those of you who really know what you're doing. This is a post for those who get all the way through the making of an instrument and get to the set-up phase and confront the sound post. You need to know a few things. This is not a "how-to" post.

First, the sound post part of making was put there to challenge you. Here you sit with your instrument, anxious to set it up and finally hear what is sounds like, and you are confronted with doing something midway between by-pass surgery and building a ship in a bottle. I have installed perhaps 25 sound posts in my life (new, that is -- not including dealing with the dreaded fall over). Unless you happen to be a surgeon (or have actually built ships in a bottle) there is no other skill set that will really prepare you for this operation.

Yes, grasshopper, you have to approach this with lots of patience. In fact, you're better off thinking of it as a whole new project. Gather the necessary tools, materials and your instrument. Sit (don't stand). Sitting provides a psychological edge -- it infers that this won't be over in five minutes -- and it won't be. Make sure that you've exercised appropriate moderation with the caffeine and/or the beer/wine/tequila.

If you have the standard sound post tool (designed to stab on one end and maneuver on the other) you first need to realize that when they formed the thing at the factory, they did it wrong. You need to re-bend it so that it makes sense.

If you bought one length of sound post material, go back and buy more. You may only need one length, but you don't want to add to the frustration level by running out (because the first bunch you cut and trimmed somehow got too short) just as you're getting a feel for it. This happens to even the best set-up people.

Keep all those posts that got too short in a little drawer someplace. I made a sound post gauge just like the ones you can buy. Nice shiny brass and works smoothly. The trouble is that any gauge is only going to get you in the ballpark. Having a collection of posts around will help you determine the right height more accurately.

Don't assume that there's only one way to do it. Think as you work. Slavishly following someone else's procedure may not work for you. Even heart surgeons vary in technique.

When you stab the sound post with the tool, remember that you need to get the blade in there deeply enough to hang on but not so deep that you crack the post (a normal result of frustration). It helps to grind the stabbing end down to being just thin enough to insert but not so thin that it bends.

Pull the end pin before you start. In the beginning you need to be able to look through the end pin hole to make sure the post is vertical and that the post ends conform to the aches. Peering through the f hole alone includes a certain level of optical illusion when it comes to judging the angle (curves, arches, etc.).

You need a good light that fits through the f holes. This is not optional.

Allow time to adjust to how to use a mirror and a light to inspect the post ends for fit. Unless you're a dentist the whole aiming the mirror thing will take a bit to fully grasp.

You just built a violin, right? You've really proven that you have some skill. Realize that it's OK if your first efforts at putting in the post make you feel like a total klutz.

Remember that a poorly fitting post can put a dent in the top or bottom plate that will make it very hard to fit a properly fitting post. I know this because I once fitted a post to a Chinese instrument where the original post had been put in with a sledge hammer. A properly fitting post will not require brute force to stand up.

Yes, you really want this done so that you can string up your pride and joy and play it. That's not how it works. The more you press the process, the longer it will take. Stop for awhile if you need to, but come back sober.

At some point you will be very, very close to having the post in position but the tool(s) is/are running into the edge of the f hole. You need to stop, pull-out and adjust as needed at that point, even though going for that 1/1000 of an inch with a tad bit of force will be very tempting.

When a post is too tall, you are very likely to cut off too much at first, so don't. Thin trimmings.

Don't compromise. The sound post is a critical part of setting up your instrument for the best balance of sound. The wrong sorts of compromises can even damage the instrument.

When setting the post I find myself wishing I'd spent about 50 years working in a shop setting up instruments and that I'd installed thousands of posts. This would mean that I'd gotten really good at it.

I've reached the point where I can do a very decent job of installing and adjusting a post. I've figured out what tools work for me, and which ones really, really don't. I've learned that this task can take 15 minutes or a couple of hours for me. Luck plays a role. I've persisted because I'm developing an instrument and messing with the set up is a critical part of that -- this is a skill I need to keep developing.

However -- and this is my best piece of advice -- knowing what I know now, if I only built an instrument occasionally I'd take it to a gifted set-up person to have the post installed. I wouldn't whimp-out on what I payed for this. I'd want that person who had put in scores of posts on quality instruments for good players. It would be worth every penny. You wouldn't ask a general surgeon to transplant your heart. There is no shame in this. If you follow this very good advice, ask with sincere humility if you can watch the process. If that answer is no, that's OK.

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If this is not a how-to thread, why are you telling people what they need to know? Why isn't this a post for people who really know what they are doing? Don't get me wrong, I like the description of how you do things, and what to look out for... just don't know what the intent is (edit... apparently some form of dry entertainment :)).

I was hoping to reach the end and read that you had figured out some new way to avoid setting a post with carbon fiber, but you just stated that you would take your violin to someone else to have the setup done. That would be like writing an incomplete poem and giving it to a friend to finish. This would be fine if you had no intent/reason to write the poem.

In all honesty, it's not that hard to cut a post and set the thing. If a person can perform all of the tasks if truly making a violin, not just doctoring imports, they should be able to stand a post.

I have never split a sound post before, and think that anyone would be hardpressed to do so.

I am not a surgeon, but I did build crude ships in bottles as a child.

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This is not a post for those of you who really know what you're doing. This is a post for those who get all the way through the making of an instrument and get to the set-up phase and confront the sound post. You need to know a few things. This is not a "how-to" post.

First, the sound post part of making was put there to challenge you. Here you sit with your instrument, anxious to set it up and finally hear what is sounds like, and you are confronted with doing something midway between by-pass surgery and building a ship in a bottle. I have installed perhaps 25 sound posts in my life (new, that is -- not including dealing with the dreaded fall over). Unless you happen to be a surgeon (or have actually built ships in a bottle) there is no other skill set that will really prepare you for this operation.

Yes, grasshopper, you have to approach this with lots of patience. In fact, you're better off thinking of it as a whole new project. Gather the necessary tools, materials and your instrument. Sit (don't stand). Sitting provides a psychological edge -- it infers that this won't be over in five minutes -- and it won't be. Make sure that you've exercised appropriate moderation with the caffeine and/or the beer/wine/tequila.

If you have the standard sound post tool (designed to stab on one end and maneuver on the other) you first need to realize that when they formed the thing at the factory, they did it wrong. You need to re-bend it so that it makes sense.

If you bought one length of sound post material, go back and buy more. You may only need one length, but you don't want to add to the frustration level by running out (because the first bunch you cut and trimmed somehow got too short) just as you're getting a feel for it. This happens to even the best set-up people.

Keep all those posts that got too short in a little drawer someplace. I made a sound post gauge just like the ones you can buy. Nice shiny brass and works smoothly. The trouble is that any gauge is only going to get you in the ballpark. Having a collection of posts around will help you determine the right height more accurately.

Don't assume that there's only one way to do it. Think as you work. Slavishly following someone else's procedure may not work for you. Even heart surgeons vary in technique.

When you stab the sound post with the tool, remember that you need to get the blade in there deeply enough to hang on but not so deep that you crack the post (a normal result of frustration). It helps to grind the stabbing end down to being just thin enough to insert but not so thin that it bends.

Pull the end pin before you start. In the beginning you need to be able to look through the end pin hole to make sure the post is vertical and that the post ends conform to the aches. Peering through the f hole alone includes a certain level of optical illusion when it comes to judging the angle (curves, arches, etc.).

You need a good light that fits through the f holes. This is not optional.

Allow time to adjust to how to use a mirror and a light to inspect the post ends for fit. Unless you're a dentist the whole aiming the mirror thing will take a bit to fully grasp.

You just built a violin, right? You've really proven that you have some skill. Realize that it's OK if your first efforts at putting in the post make you feel like a total klutz.

Remember that a poorly fitting post can put a dent in the top or bottom plate that will make it very hard to fit a properly fitting post. I know this because I once fitted a post to a Chinese instrument where the original post had been put in with a sledge hammer. A properly fitting post will not require brute force to stand up.

Yes, you really want this done so that you can string up your pride and joy and play it. That's not how it works. The more you press the process, the longer it will take. Stop for awhile if you need to, but come back sober.

At some point you will be very, very close to having the post in position but the tool(s) is/are running into the edge of the f hole. You need to stop, pull-out and adjust as needed at that point, even though going for that 1/1000 of an inch with a tad bit of force will be very tempting.

When a post is too tall, you are very likely to cut off too much at first, so don't. Thin trimmings.

Don't compromise. The sound post is a critical part of setting up your instrument for the best balance of sound. The wrong sorts of compromises can even damage the instrument.

When setting the post I find myself wishing I'd spent about 50 years working in a shop setting up instruments and that I'd installed thousands of posts. This would mean that I'd gotten really good at it.

I've reached the point where I can do a very decent job of installing and adjusting a post. I've figured out what tools work for me, and which ones really, really don't. I've learned that this task can take 15 minutes or a couple of hours for me. Luck plays a role. I've persisted because I'm developing an instrument and messing with the set up is a critical part of that -- this is a skill I need to keep developing.

However -- and this is my best piece of advice -- knowing what I know now, if I only built an instrument occasionally I'd take it to a gifted set-up person to have the post installed. I wouldn't whimp-out on what I payed for this. I'd want that person who had put in scores of posts on quality instruments for good players. It would be worth every penny. You wouldn't ask a general surgeon to transplant your heart. There is no shame in this. If you follow this very good advice, ask with sincere humility if you can watch the process. If that answer is no, that's OK.

Apart from being humorous, this post cuts very much to the heart of the issue for a newbie maker. The advice you give is mirrored in old posts by pro makers, as well as some violin-making books I recall.

Good advice, and a funny but true blow-by-blow account. I reckon I started to get a bit of a hang on good sound-post fitting round about the 1000 mark.

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Thanks for your response! Nope, no way to avoid the post in carbon fiber that I know of, although I have made and set a carbon fiber post which seemed to work just fine. I'll probably offer this as an option. The post in a carbon fiber violin is not structurally necessary, but it is acoustically. In my own humble experience if the top and bottom plates are not mechanically coupled the acoustics suffer (mostly on the high end).

The intent of this was to include things that I wish I had known when I tried to cut and fit my first post, not to provide a how-to. I didn't provide nearly enough information to fully describe the process (and I'd be the wrong one to do that anyway).

I'm of the ilk -- like you -- of being persistent in doing the whole thing myself. However, getting a really good fit on a post is -- I think -- a challenge for many new builders. It's possible to do a really nice job of making a violin and have it not sound to its full potential due to the setup, which is why I suggested the option. I've set up several, and I have the feeling that I haven't even peeked under the covers of all there is to know about it, even though I've thoroughly studied the subject. There so much experiential "feel" in the process.

If this is not a how-to thread, why are you telling people what they need to know? Why isn't this a post for people who really know what they are doing? Don't get me wrong, I like the description of how you do things, and what to look out for... just don't know what the intent is (edit... apparently some form of dry entertainment :)).

I was hoping to reach the end and read that you had figured out some new way to avoid setting a post with carbon fiber, but you just stated that you would take your violin to someone else to have the setup done. That would be like writing an incomplete poem and giving it to a friend to finish. This would be fine if you had no intent/reason to write the poem.

In all honesty, it's not that hard to cut a post and set the thing. If a person can perform all of the tasks if truly making a violin, not just doctoring imports, they should be able to stand a post.

I have never split a sound post before, and think that anyone would be hardpressed to do so.

I am not a surgeon, but I did build crude ships in bottles as a child.

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I taught myself in one day.

I simply took my beater fiddle put several pencil dots to target different spot's, took two and half legnths of post sticks. And sat there for about 10 hours setting, removing and repeating, I think i did almost 100 sets that one day. After awhile it got pretty easy, then I practice the "tap", that is much harder, none of this speaks to dialing in an individual post for an individual violin, bt it certainly makes it a very fammiliar feel...I did it several time after that as well, simply to develope the muscle memory

I suggest it's the best way. If you only set post's after each instument you build, the time frame in between becomes very long, the touch is lost. By sitting down and doing it over and over again you will see dramatic improvement in a short period of time, to the point where if you "loose" one and have to tong it out it becomes rare.

I on occasion will practice in between fiddle's just to keep the touch

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I taught myself in one day.

I simply took my beater fiddle put several pencil dots to target different spot's, took two and half legnths of post sticks. And sat there for about 10 hours setting, removing and repeating, I think i did almost 100 sets that one day. After awhile it got pretty easy, then I practice the "tap", that is much harder, none of this speaks to dialing in an individual post for an individual violin, bt it certainly makes it a very fammiliar feel...I did it several time after that as well, simply to develope the muscle memory

I suggest it's the best way. If you only set post's after each instument you build, the time frame in between becomes very long, the touch is lost. By sitting down and doing it over and over again you will see dramatic improvement in a short period of time, to the point where if you "loose" one and have to tong it out it becomes rare.

I on occasion will practice in between fiddle's just to keep the touch

Now that's impressive.

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Slightly off topic but this week my violin teacher showed me a violin she called "fiddlina" (I am not sure of the spelling). It was a normal size normal violin but it was strung with viola strings and the soundpost was going THROUGH the top and was as it appear a complete part of the bridge foot. I think I have seen this kind of violin on this forum but can't remember where. She is using it because she play in a blue grass band. Despite the soundpost going through the top the sound was really dark and deep. Have you seen this kind of instruments before?

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Slightly off topic but this week my violin teacher showed me a violin she called "fiddlina" (I am not sure of the spelling). It was a normal size normal violin but it was strung with viola strings and the soundpost was going THROUGH the top and was as it appear a complete part of the bridge foot. I think I have seen this kind of violin on this forum but can't remember where. She is using it because she play in a blue grass band. Despite the soundpost going through the top the sound was really dark and deep. Have you seen this kind of instruments before?

Rudolf Steiner and Franz Thomastik had this idea in the beginning of the 20th century, in search of a more "human" voice... and then they inspired the violinmakers Karl and Hartmut Weidler from Nürnberg to build instruments with this particular bridge/soundpost system.

But the original idea is much older, it was common on the medieval crwth for example...

Bernhard

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There is a maker in Britain who has achieved some notoriety for making small violas with this innovation. I'm sorry I can't remember her name but she's been in The Strad so I'm sure someone on this board will be able to respond.

I believe the luthier in question is Juliet Barker (Beament).

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I taught myself in one day.

I suggest it's the best way. If you only set post's after each instument you build, the time frame in between becomes very long, the touch is lost. By sitting down and doing it over and over again you will see dramatic improvement in a short period of time, to the point where if you "loose" one and have to tong it out it becomes rare.

I on occasion will practice in between fiddle's just to keep the touch

Now that is good advice. As they say, perfect practice yields perfect results.

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Thank you robedney for your information. We newbies find it useful. But.....I think you forgot something: Once the soundpost is set you allways ask yourself the same question: Is it in the dammed right place for this violin?

Never. :)

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Slightly off topic but this week my violin teacher showed me a violin she called "fiddlina" (I am not sure of the spelling). It was a normal size normal violin but it was strung with viola strings and the soundpost was going THROUGH the top and was as it appear a complete part of the bridge foot. I think I have seen this kind of violin on this forum but can't remember where. She is using it because she play in a blue grass band. Despite the soundpost going through the top the sound was really dark and deep. Have you seen this kind of instruments before?

This is the 'Hole in the Heart' that ( in my research) was first done in Finland.

The Idea is to remove the consatraint on the belly to permit to resonate at

lower frequencies.

It worked well on my Roumanian factory fiddle,

( one of the few violas that Stradivarius made while in Roumania

in the 1060's).

0

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Thanks Robert!!! Very humorous and reassuring...

Best advice of all: "Don't assume that there's only one way to do it. Think as you work. Slavishly following someone else's procedure may not work for you."

In general, I found that slavishly following someone else's procedure was a very good thing...except for the sound post.

Having just set-up my first violin (still in the white), I relate to every part of this...thanks!

--Bruce

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