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Mike Spencer

body stop length

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When using Strad posters to build from should you go with the contemporary 195mm for the body stop length for positioning the nicks of the f's or use what is shown on the poster? If you do use something different than the 195 what impact does that have on the sound or playability?

Also I had a smallish person play one of my fiddles and she commented that the 1st position stops seemed further south of the nut than she cared for, is there a way to control this when building and/or setting the instrument up? On my first two fiddles I used 195 for the body stop and 130 for the neck stop.

Thanks in advance!

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String length may vary a bit on violins.

You can move the bridge up and down a bit, if you want. On the recent Strad poster with a Del Gesù violin Carlo Chiesa mentions that the wear in the bridge area points out to changes in the bridge placement to change the string length a bit.

Here some old threads about it:

http://www.maestronet.com/forum/index.php?...ring,AND,length

http://www.maestronet.com/forum/index.php?...ring,AND,length

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Here's a quote from fiddlecollector that appeared in one of the threads Manfio cited, above:

"Interesting,when i sell violins players always ask the string length ,very rarely do they ask for stop length?

I would say that its just players ignorance.

My friend has played for 40 years and has many violins but ask him a question such as what shape the corners are or what the blocks are made of and you`ll get a blank expression, but he knows the exact string length of each one.

I always make my violins with a 130mm neck and 195mm body stop and have been watching with interest at comments suggesting 330mm string length.

I have the Johnson and Courtnall book and if you read the section on set up,he suggests the 330mm as a starting point.

I believe this is too much as i don`t think anyone wants to move the bridge back and end up with a string length of 332-333mm.

Japanese buyers usually want 325mm or even less.

I believe 330mmm gives bad intonation problems.

Just my views on the matter. "

For what my opinion is worth as an amateur player who has studied violin in some professional environments, fiddlecollector's comment about vibrating string length being important to players is right on the mark. I have fairly small hands, and a vibrating string length of 328, measured from point where string leaves the nut and first hits the front surface of the bridge, is as long a string length as I want. That string length usually comes with a 130 neck and 194-5 body stop. A 330 vibrating string length would be longer than I want, and would require adjustment of hand for good intonation. I definitely notice a couple of mm difference in string length. Going 2 mm shorter than 328 is ok, maybe even to be preferred; going 2 longer is not ok.

I would say that a setup person should be mindful of a player with small hands who believes they are stretched out too far in first position. Reducing string length by 2 mm (presumably by moving bridge forward by 2 mm) will make a marked difference in the comfort of that player.

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Also I had a smallish person play one of my fiddles and she commented that the 1st position stops seemed further south of the nut than she cared for, is there a way to control this when building and/or setting the instrument up? On my first two fiddles I used 195 for the body stop and 130 for the neck stop.

Thanks in advance!

Make sure that the joint between the fingerboard and nut aligns vertically with the chin. Even average players are quite sensitive to the position of the nut in relation to the chin. This is definitely what this person perceived, and had nothing to do with the stop/string length. If it had anything to do with the latter, she would have noticed it in other positions as well. If you still have access to the instrument, you will most likely find that this joint is too far below (south of) the chin. It should be possible to fix it.

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Make sure that the joint between the fingerboard and nut aligns vertically with the chin. Even average players are quite sensitive to the position of the nut in relation to the chin. This is definitely what this person perceived, and had nothing to do with the stop/string length. If it had anything to do with the latter, she would have noticed it in other positions as well. If you still have access to the instrument, you will most likely find that this joint is too far into the pegbox. It should be easy to fix though.

Jacob,

I'm sure your comment about nut alignment relative to scroll chin is important. You have vastly more experience than I do in that matter.

But I would not discount sensitivity to string length. The player might not be concerned about string length in other positions than first because as you move higher up the neck, the space on the string between notes becomes shorter, and short fingers don't have to stretch as far to get the next note in higher positions. The relative finger positions that work in 3rd position will not work in 1st; the fingers will need to be farther apart in 1st. So, 1st position is the most stretched out position for the fingers on the fiddle.

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Jacob,

I'm sure your comment about nut alignment relative to scroll chin is important. You have vastly more experience than I do in that matter.

But I would not discount sensitivity to string length. The player might not be concerned about string length in other positions than first because as you more higher up the neck, the space on the string between notes becomes shorter, and short fingers don't have to stretch as far to get the next note in higher positions. The relative finger positions that work in 3rd position will not work in 1st; the fingers will need to be farther apart in 1st. So, 1st position is the most stretched out position for the fingers on the fiddle.

I agree, I didn't mean to discount sensitivity to string length. However, the pinpointing of the first position as a problem just gives me a very strong suspicion that the nut position may not be ideal.

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I find interesting that viola players can adapt to different string lengths quickly, in general. A friend, who plays a 17 inches viola, was able to play my daughter's 3/4 violin perfectly in tune!!!

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I find interesting that viola players can adapt to different string lengths quickly, in general. A friend, who plays a 17 inches viola, was able to play my daughter's 3/4 violin perfectly in tune!!!

That is absolutely true of the very best string players. They will adjust fingers so that everything is in tune, regardless of instrument dimensions. But that leads to two questions:

1. Should the setup person be setting up an instrument for the very best of string players, or for the string player at hand?

2. Even for the very best of string players, shouldn't the setup person accommodate personal preferences rather than go with some abstract standard, especially if the accommodation is a slight adjustment to a standard, but results in a significant improvement in player comfort?

Over the short run, during a few minutes on some instrument that's outside a player's comfort zone, any decent player will be able to make the accommodations to play in tune, but will the player want to make those accommodations hour after hour, day after day?

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I agree, I didn't mean to discount sensitivity to string length. However, the pinpointing of the first position as a problem just gives me a very strong suspicion that the nut position may not be ideal.

I agree with your observation that the hand is definitely sensitive to the feel of the nut and the shape of the pegbox around that nut. So, if the nut is too far back it makes good sense to put it in a more standard position.

Moving the nut forward would do two things: It would change that feel, hopefully for the better, and it would also shorten the string length, if the bridge is left where it was. So, maybe checking the position of the nut is the best place to start in correcting the player's complaint.

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Here's a quote from fiddlecollector that appeared in one of the threads Manfio cited, above:

"Interesting,when i sell violins players always ask the string length ,very rarely do they ask for stop length?

I would say that its just players ignorance.

My friend has played for 40 years and has many violins but ask him a question such as what shape the corners are or what the blocks are made of and you`ll get a blank expression, but he knows the exact string length of each one.

I always make my violins with a 130mm neck and 195mm body stop and have been watching with interest at comments suggesting 330mm string length.

I have the Johnson and Courtnall book and if you read the section on set up,he suggests the 330mm as a starting point.

I believe this is too much as i don`t think anyone wants to move the bridge back and end up with a string length of 332-333mm.

Japanese buyers usually want 325mm or even less.

I believe 330mmm gives bad intonation problems.

Just my views on the matter. "

For what my opinion is worth as an amateur player who has studied violin in some professional environments, fiddlecollector's comment about vibrating string length being important to players is right on the mark. I have fairly small hands, and a vibrating string length of 328, measured from point where string leaves the nut and first hits the front surface of the bridge, is as long a string length as I want. That string length usually comes with a 130 neck and 194-5 body stop. A 330 vibrating string length would be longer than I want, and would require adjustment of hand for good intonation. I definitely notice a couple of mm difference in string length. Going 2 mm shorter than 328 is ok, maybe even to be preferred; going 2 longer is not ok.

I would say that a setup person should be mindful of a player with small hands who believes they are stretched out too far in first position. Reducing string length by 2 mm (presumably by moving bridge forward by 2 mm) will make a marked difference in the comfort of that player.

I have personal experience with adapting to different string lengths. I play both violin and viola. My violin has string length 328mm and my viola has string length 382mm. I can switch from one to the other with minimal problems but I have very large hands, large enough that the higher positions on the violin are rather difficult. I've never tried a violin with much shorter string length but I imagine it would be a problem.

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I have personal experience with adapting to different string lengths. I play both violin and viola. My violin has string length 328mm and my viola has string length 382mm. I can switch from one to the other with minimal problems but I have very large hands, large enough that the higher positions on the violin are rather difficult. I've never tried a violin with much shorter string length but I imagine it would be a problem.

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

Small hand violinists can play 7/8 or custom built violins. Why not?

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I sometimes wonder whether switching between violin and viola, with some 50 mm difference in string length, might be easier than switching between two violins where the string length difference is only 2 mm. When you pick up the viola, you know you have a different instrument, and you know that you have to do different things with the hand. But there is no immediate, obvious, visual clue to let you know when you go to a new violin that you might need to do different things with your hand. Two violins might be confusing because of their similarities in ways that a violin and a viola are not confusing.

As an example of how similar things can be more confusing than clearly different things, it might be harder to switch back and forth between Spanish and Portuguese than it is to switch between Spanish and English.

All just speculation, and possibly quite irrelevant.

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I sometimes wonder whether switching between violin and viola, with some 50 mm difference in string length, might be easier than switching between two violins where the string length difference is only 2 mm. When you pick up the viola, you know you have a different instrument, and you know that you have to do different things with the hand. But there is no immediate, obvious, visual clue to let you know when you go to a new violin that you might need to do different things with your hand. Two violins might be confusing because of their similarities in ways that a violin and a viola are not confusing.

As an example of how similar things can be more confusing than clearly different things, it might be harder to switch back and forth between Spanish and Portuguese than it is to switch between Spanish and English.

All just speculation, and possibly quite irrelevant.

All of that is in complete agreement with my own experience of many customers at various levels of competence. That explains why different neck- and stop lengths on different sizes of viola don't seem to be an issue with players.

My comment about the nut position derives from an unfortunate experience I once had with making a mistake by aligning the upper edge of the nut with the chin. The fingerboard length to the belly edge and the body stop length were completely according to the book numbers - 130mm and 195mm. However, the incorrect placement of the nut wrought total havoc in first position.

My suspicion is that the nut is too far forward, not too far back, if you carefully look at the way the complaint was phrased: "...she commented that the 1st position stops seemed further south of the nut than she cared for..."

Translation: "...further south of the CHIN than she cared for..."

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Make sure that the joint between the fingerboard and nut aligns vertically with the chin. Even average players are quite sensitive to the position of the nut in relation to the chin. This is definitely what this person perceived, and had nothing to do with the stop/string length. If it had anything to do with the latter, she would have noticed it in other positions as well. If you still have access to the instrument, you will most likely find that this joint is too far below (south of) the chin. It should be possible to fix it.

So at lunch time I checked my two fiddles: On #1 the chin is 1.5mm north of the fingerboard/nut joint and #2 is dead on. In general terms though both these instruments play very similarly in stop position.

Part of the reason I posted is because I have 3 fiddles on the bench right now and I'm getting ready to locate and cut the f's and I am trying to sort out if I should change the f nick position or just go with the 195 measure and deal with the stop position by moving the bridge north during set up. And ultimitely I want the instrument to be as agreeable as possible to many players of all sizes.

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So at lunch time I checked my two fiddles: On #1 the chin is 1.5mm north of the fingerboard/nut joint and #2 is dead on.

If I were a lawyer I would state "I rest my case" :)

If it is possible, adjust this. Even though this will mess up your fingerboard-length-to-belly-edge, you may very well find that average players will cope with this more easily than an out-of-position nut, especially if the nut is further south than the chin.

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If we're conforming to some acceptable standard as a starting point, where do we want the nut/fingerboard crease (joint) in relation to the pegbox or any clearly definable part of the pegbox?

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If we're conforming to some acceptable standard as a starting point, where do we want the nut/fingerboard crease (joint) in relation to the pegbox?

It would seem to me that in line with the chin is the generally accepted standard. Slightly back of the chin doesn't seem to present the same kind of problem as in front of the chin.

In the case of the quoted mistake I made which painfully alerted me to this issue, I did a neck graft - apart from being a definitive solution, I regarded it as fair punishment for my carelessness :)

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Here's a quote from fiddlecollector that appeared in one of the threads Manfio cited, above:

"Interesting,when i sell violins players always ask the string length ,very rarely do they ask for stop length?

Interestingly, whenever I sell violins to other dealers it's exactly the opposite. They never care about the string length, but they always get out their tape measures to check the stop length, the neck length and the back length.

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Also I had a smallish person play one of my fiddles and she commented that the 1st position stops seemed further south of the nut than she cared for, is there a way to control this when building and/or setting the instrument up? Thanks in advance!

There is another possible explanation for this experience. Perhaps she is used to a significantly higher nut (more string clearance) than your fiddle has. That requires playing closer to the nut. Was it indeed the one with the 1.5 mm offset that she played?

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Also I had a smallish person play one of my fiddles and she commented that the 1st position stops seemed further south of the nut than she cared for,

I'm having a hard time understanding what that statement means. I took it to mean that in 1st position (ie, with the base of the 1st finger at the nut) the player felt like she had to stretch her individual fingers out farther, farther toward the bridge, than she's used to in order to play in tune.

I think Jacob took it to mean something quite different, namely that when the player places hand in 1st position with regard to the nut, with no regard to fingers being placed down, the player felt like her hand is farther up the neck (toward the bridge) than she is used to. This would not necessarily mean she has to stretch the fingers out farther than she's used to.

With my interpretation, nut position isn't important unless the nut is too far to the north, in which case bringing the nut farther south would shorten string length and make finger stretches consequently easier.

With Jacob's interpretation, the nut could not be too far north; it's assumed to be too far south to begin with.

So, the question is, was the player complaining about where the basic first position is as determined by the position of the base of first finger against the nut (Jacob's interpretation) or was the player complaining about the stretches the fingers have to make in 1st position (my interpretation). Given the numbers provided in relation to scroll chin, it looks like Jacob's interpretation is more likely, but maybe MikeS can confirm that.

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Interesting thread, & very relevant to me right now:

I have a problem with an electric viloin that I just bought (I will be posting pics & specs soon, asking for advice on what to do.)

It's a Yamaha SV-255, not some piece of Ebay junk, yet the scale length (vibrating string) is only 325mm! - and it can't be adjusted, because the bridge-pickup assembly sits in a recessed tray. Evidently, they cut the tray wrong.

I have very large hands, and so typically set my acoustic fiddles up at 330mm. I'm hoping to be able to add a shim to the Yamaha's neck, or maybe do a nut trick, or...

--------------------------------------------

But whatever, my point / question is:

Even more than stop-ratio, isn't an important factor the length of the neck? I say this, because the one really important physical guides for the player is feeling the neck-joint when hitting 5th position. If that changes by around 5mm, I think it will probably feel quite different, no?

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But whatever, my point / question is:

Even more than stop-ratio, isn't an important factor the length of the neck? I say this, because the one really important physical guides for the player is feeling the neck-joint when hitting 5th position. If that changes by around 5mm, I think it will probably feel quite different, no?

I think a player would definitely notice a neck that is 5mm shorter or longer than 130. You might get away with a mm or maybe 2 as a divergence from 130 and not get noticed, but 5, that's a lot.

That doesn't mean a player couldn't play it in tune; it would just feel very different.

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There are 2 things we have to address here, i.e. the feel of the neck and the string length. In some old factory violins, the pegbox chin is way too long. Also the thumb stop at the neck heel is important when you play at the high positions. We try to "standardize" the neck shape and the string length to facilitate switching instruments.

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