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Fellow

Do You Make New Bassbar For Your Customers? Often?

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Hi All,

If a customer comes to your shop and tells you that he does not like the sound of his violin. (That is quite often, alright)

How often your customer would accept your advice to make a new bassbar for the sake of tone? ( I have not heard anyone tells me)

If they do not want to their violins to be opened, there is only a limited number things one can help them, bridge, soundpost etc.

Right? What puzzles me a lot is the fact that the bassbar would become a big road block for the exploration of the tone potential.

Pretty much it is a new area of exploration. Please comment.

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Fully agree with Brad. There are so many things that can effect the tone of a violin that I would consider replacing or modifying the bass bar a last resort, particularly if the violin sounded good recently. I have a few violins made in the 19th century that still have their original bars, and still sound great. It's so much easier to experiment with the strings, bridge, post position, etc. etc. that I wouldn't even consider the bass bar (unless you are regraduating something). And as Brad suggests, a new bar might end up sounding worse! It's possible, and if the client doesn't like it, you've got more work to do (free work) if it doesn't work out.

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I also agree. A new bass bar is an expensive repair, with no guarantees that it will improve the instrument. Not something that I would recommend to a customer. "Exploration of the tone potential" could end up being a very expensive wild goose chase.

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On the other hand, if it is your violin and you want to do the work yourself, what is there to stop you?

Any one who works on violins for long will encounter the need to learn how to do this. And it is much like (in the same category as) rethicknessing a plate - in that, it is not really a job for beginners, or, for the intrepid.

A customer, on the other hand - (we'll assume, for the sake of argument, that we have three hands...) that wants a new bass bar (and you will run into them) will often only be satisfied with a new bass bar.

Do not promise better tone.

Let them know that there is a specific cost (and risk) associated with the job, whether they like the results or not - there are never any guarantees as far as tonal results, but don't do the job for free, and don't reverse it unless you charge for that also. (...then again, you can't really "reverse" such a thing, as the old bar doesn't just pop out, and can be glued back in just like it originally was - it don't work that way.)

If it is a valuable old violin - just leave it be and don't mess with it.

In any case, if it is a customer you are dealing with, you must let them know that you have never done this before, and that they have many options, including the option where you don't do it because it is beyond your abilities - but I am supposing that this is your violin with the odd shaped bass bar, is this correct?

If you are going to do this anyway - as we all wind up doing it eventually, I find - then do it slowly and carefully and ask many questions.

If anyone offers you help - consider taking them up on the offer - you would benefit greatly by watching someone who has done it before, do it. It can be a mess for a beginner, but it is really a pretty straight foreward job for an experienced repairman.

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I would think a client asking for a new bass bar is actually a client that knows violins more than the average player! In fact I bet it's not very often that a client comes to a luthier's shop and ask from the blue: "I would like a new bass bar"... :)

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I would think a client asking for a new bass bar is actually a client that knows violins more than the average player! In fact I bet it's not very often that a client comes to a luthier's shop and ask from the blue: "I would like a new bass bar"... :)

You are right about this.

There is someting, though, that you will also eventually run into;

a. A student that gets told that their violin needs a new bass bar by their teacher, or by some other "authority" (who may or may not be correct, but who is usually guessing) will often obsess over the fact, and not be happy till they get it done, or,

b. someone who dabbles will often encounter the idea somewhere, (on-line, perhaps?) and then be convinced that this is THE answer for some particular violin...

You'd probably be surprised how often these things happen.

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On the other hand, if it is your violin and you want to do the work yourself, what is there to stop you?

Nothing. I have regraduated and replaced the bass bars in dozens of my own instruments.

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As have I. I should point out that when I first started with violins I read a number of articles stating that "the modern bar is too big" or "too long" or "too short" or not high enough or...well so on and so on. I experimented with these ideas, and while I was lucky in that most of the bars I replaced didn't degrade the sound too much, they didn't improve it much either. I came to the conclusion (possibly wrongly) that the bar is the bar, and unless it's cracked or damaged, has pulled away from the glue joint, or has visually distorted, or you are regraduating the plate, changing or modifying the bar can be useless work.

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As have I. I should point out that when I first started with violins I read a number of articles stating that "the modern bar is too big" or "too long" or "too short" or not high enough or...well so on and so on. I experimented with these ideas, and while I was lucky in that most of the bars I replaced didn't degrade the sound too much, they didn't improve it much either. I came to the conclusion (possibly wrongly) that the bar is the bar, and unless it's cracked or damaged, has pulled away from the glue joint, or has visually distorted, or you are regraduating the plate, changing or modifying the bar can be useless work.

Ok, fair enough, lets talk for a moment.

I don't want to be one of those guys that takes the contrary view for no good reason.

Yes, it can be useless work.

It's probably best to confront this fact from the start.

Then again (on the fourth hand) bass bars do get replaced - for whatever reason. Probably not as often as it is insinuated in the opening post of this thread, though.

Like you and Brad, I have replaced bass bars before, in old violins - not dozens of times, but maybe five or six times. (in any case I am thinking the number is less than ten)

In fact, it was an adjunct to rethicknessing a too thick plate more times than not, on a project violin that was too nice to get rid of, and that was destined for resale. I have always been happy enough with the results, though the results were never a shinny new stellar sounding violin resulting from a mediocre one.

The obvious and necessary exceptions would be, as you say, school (or student) basses and cellos, where there is a great numeric increase in the amount of bass bars with mechanical failure problems, requiring immediate repair - re-glue - pulled away - split - etc., where the bar MUST be replaced or fixed.

But we are not talking about that with this violin - this is for uncertain (tonal) reasons.

I have made and inserted a total of somewhere around fifty new (specifically violin) bars for replacement plates, repairs, and for my own new violins, - and if I run into a (violin) bass bar that requires replacement, I am inclined to simply carve the old one out and replace it outright, rather than try to repair or modify the old one.

For me it is easier, has less risk to the plate, and it allows me to place the new one exactly where I believe it needs to go.

There are a lot of etceteras making me want to just put in a new bar. But it isn't as if it (the opportunity) or even the desire doesn't come up now and again, either.

On two or three old re thicknessing jobs, the integral carved bar was simply too incorrect (too small, too rough, too arbitrary or incorrectly placed, etc.) and in the way of the re-thickness, not to simply replace it.

So, the circumstances are always slightly different as to why the old bar gets the axe, and a new one gets put in...

Here, with Fellow, I find that I have to read between the lines somewhat, and suggest for what I think might actually be going on - (for example, it is difficult for me to imagine that a customer comes "into the shop" asking for a bar to get replaced for tonal reasons, in the normal course of business. But it is easy for me to imagine that Fellow has it in mind to help one of his own famous acquisitions, by replacing an unusual or weak bass bar...)

I'm trying not to make this sound like an accusation, but rather it is the result of being "lured in", so to speak, more than once in the past.

It is also easy for me to imagine that Fellow has reached that point in his career where he desires to jump in to the deep end of the pool. We all get there eventually. When that happens, we are sort of like children who are fascinated by the deep end of the pool, for better or for worse - we usually take the jump. Hopefully we have learned enough by that time to swim.

Lack of accurate information is often what foils these particular discussions (though the motive escapes me) for me personally, and it is difficult for me to approach such a thing obliquely, and then speak with conviction about what should be done - and that is one reason why I will often let these discussions float right past, (having learned from past attempts ) without wanting to disturb the water for no good reason.

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[

++++++++++++

I do not know exactly what a good bassbar is in terms of measurements but they must have a limited range.

(I think you would agree). If you, experienced luthiers, not me, see a bassbar is out of that range, would you think a suggestion to your customer to replace a bassbar is a good idea ?

Our discussion is only within this context. No one can pin point what bassbar will result what good tone. That is an unreasonable expectation.

Some bassbars are so big, some are so tiny. Some must be in wrong size. If we consider the shape together, things are even more complicated.

The fact that some are in wrong size bothers me. Some makers may think they have a theory. One maker builds it one way and other in other way.

I think I do not have to know it. I see a bassbar fans out like a fish tail and low . Thin in the middle and high.

The side view is like a bell (mountain) shape which is common. :) I am sure they have a theory. What do I know? :)

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There is a whole chapter on replacing bass bars in Weisshaar & Shipman. That would give you some good information on the subject (along with a lot of information on the other repairs that you're trying to do).

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There is a whole chapter on replacing bass bars in Weisshaar & Shipman. That would give you some good information on the subject (along with a lot of information on the other repairs that you're trying to do).

+++++++++

Yes, I know. I do not want to be an expert. My interest in violin structure is very limited

If someone put a viola bassbar in a violin then I should have known.

If do nothing, who know some people put a cello bassbar, some day. :)

They think the bigger the better. No book covers thing like this sort.

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+++++++++

Yes, I know. I do not want to be an expert. My interest in violin structure is very limited

If someone put a viola bassbar in a violin then I should have known.

If do nothing, who know some people put a cello bassbar, some day. :)

They think the bigger the better. No book covers thing like this sort.

Again.

Good advice offered and some silly excuse from Yuen.

Just buy the damn book!

Don't worry, it won't make you an expert. :)

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