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Increasing mass of chinrest, tailpiece and endpins - effect on tone.


JoshT
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I've done a search and did not find the answer I need.

I've been testing a number of violins. They all differ in the mass of the various parts. Some have noticeably smaller chinrests, small tailpieces and lightweight endpins.

If one replaces all three parts with larger (more comfortable chinrest) parts and a larger tailpiece and heavier pegs that also weigh more, would that GENERALLY be detrimental to the tone or is there not a general rule on this?

This has a significant implication when picking a violin in a shop. For example, one may find a violin that responds just beautifully but the chin rest is absolutely wrong for one's style. If one picks the violin and then later changes the chin rest, the tone may change pretty dramatically. So a general rule would be helpful.

Thanks,

Josh

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The only "general rule" that is apparent to me is that more mass will lower the frequency of the signature body modes, primarily the B1- mode (usually 420-450 Hz). Whether that is a good or bad thing depends on where it is and where you want it to be. The chinrest is the big gorilla in the room, as its mass can be huge and vary quite a bit. Pegs and endpin seem too small to do much. For the tailpiece, it's probably more critical to pay attention to its vibrations (and how they mesh with the instrument) than the mass.

So, in general, I don't think there can be a general rule about mass of the accessories helping or hurting tone.

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I can't comment on the tailpiece. That's still a mystery to most folks, and there is a lot more going on there than just weight. After-length, damping, flexibility of the cord, whew...

I can tell you that its weight DOES rather drastically affect tone, but it's probably not the first adjustment to make, and te other changes will affect what the ideal weight is.

PEGS: It is well-established with guitar that more mass in the head-area increases sustain and harmonics. However, this is mostly because a guitar neck is relatively thin & flexible, so the extra head-mass (like adding a brass plate) has a stiffening effect. Since a violin's neck is already quite stiff, I would think the effect of heavier pegs would be extremely small.

Chinrest: My strong opinion is that the difference between them, & even going without, is sonically insignificant, to the audience. I stand firmly behind this statement, though I am interested in what Michael says, above. I did a LOT of double-blind testing on this, via recordings of many violins & MANY chinrests, and was quite surprised at the results. However, different chinrests do seem to make quite a noticeable difference to the PLAYER. I assume this is because they affect the audible transmission into the jaw bone.

This is not insignificant, of course, since what you hear affects how you play.

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Alan

Re Chinrest.

I have found from experience that trying to make subtle adjustments for fine players is unreliable without taking their personal chinrest into account.

I respect your findings re chinrests and sound to the audience with the qualifications you make....BUT personally I am very wary of heavy chinrests and their various fixings and am aware that they can effect vibrational modes of the violin ( see latest Curtin article in The Strad).

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Allan,

Funny you should raise this issue about chinrests. At the VSA a couple of days ago, a friend, Merrill Frantz (founder of The Wood Well), reminisced how Ed Campbell replaced a chinrest on my violin to greatly enhance its tone. It was something that anyone would have noticed. Maybe it was just a fluke. :unsure:

Anyhow I easily sold that violin. :)

Mike

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the difference between them, & even going without, is sonically insignificant, to the audience... do seem to make quite a noticeable difference to the PLAYER.

Not hugely surprising; the major (well, measurable at least) changes I've seen are at the lowest frequencies, which are not a big player in what the fiddle sounds like. It DOES matter to the player whether a body resonance is at G# with the chinrest and A without... they know exactly where their fingers are. The audience won't remember if it was a G# or A that was slightly more full. I have also experienced cases where there were wolf notes without the chinrest, and with the chinrest it became much more playable.

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I've been testing a number of violins. They all differ in the mass of the various parts. Some have noticeably smaller chinrests, small tailpieces and lightweight endpins.

If one replaces all three parts with larger (more comfortable chinrest) parts and a larger tailpiece and heavier pegs that also weigh more, would that GENERALLY be detrimental to the tone or is there not a general rule on this?

They all can make a difference, individually and collectively. Sometimes the changes can be very subtle, so a useful way to hear these differences can be to record before and after (keeping recording conditions identical), then play both back in an endlessly repeating loop.

No simple "tonal outcome" rules that I know of, not that I haven't gone through periods when I thought I had some. Depends on the fiddle.

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I scoop the inside part of my tailpiced to make them lighter.

For the chinrest I try to make it lighter too, and prefer simple and lighter brackets. But in many cases cases when a violist gets

my instruments they ask me to fit the chinrest they are currently using on the new instrument.

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