Cleats in new violin


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Hi, all, haven't checked in for awhile.

I recently acquired a violin which caught my eye as being very cute with a lovely finish. After major work (not by me) it now plays as well as it looks. This instrument has some crude seam cleats in the back which appear to have been there from the beginning and I vaguely remember a previous thread where some makers were discussing cleating new instruments. So I was wondering how widespread this is, and when did cleating a new instrument first start? There are no cracks whatsoever in the violin and the maple back seems to be a standard joinery of normal nice unblemished stock.

Keld

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Some people refer to these centerline cleats as studs - pretty common practice.

Cleating centerlines probably started with trade instruments?

There are others who take cleating new instruments to an extreme, with preemptive post patches etc.

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Hi, all, haven't checked in for awhile.

I recently acquired a violin which caught my eye as being very cute with a lovely finish. After major work (not by me) it now plays as well as it looks. This instrument has some crude seam cleats in the back which appear to have been there from the beginning and I vaguely remember a previous thread where some makers were discussing cleating new instruments. So I was wondering how widespread this is, and when did cleating a new instrument first start? There are no cracks whatsoever in the violin and the maple back seems to be a standard joinery of normal nice unblemished stock.

Keld

Joints were reinforced by wood or parchment on other musical instruments even before violins first appeared.

Bruce

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Joints were reinforced by wood or parchment on other musical instruments even before violins first appeared.

Bruce

Bruce, do you think the old cremonese masters glued cleats or parchment in their instruments? Have you seen instruments (violins in particular) showing evidence of that?

Just for curiosity...

Bernhard

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I recently acquired a violin which caught my eye as being very cute with a lovely finish. After major work (not by me) it now plays as well as it looks. This instrument has some crude seam cleats in the back which appear to have been there from the beginning and I vaguely remember a previous thread where some makers were discussing cleating new instruments. So I was wondering how widespread this is, and when did cleating a new instrument first start? There are no cracks whatsoever in the violin and the maple back seems to be a standard joinery of normal nice unblemished stock.

Keld

From what I have observed in the last few years, yes, it is fairly commonplace with newer, inexpensive Chinese instruments.

Why?

Who knows, probably it seemed like a very cheap way to add another "feature" to the violin - without really adding to the production cost. (If we're talking about the same thing, they are about the right size, just left square and not tapered or beveled, right?)

I have come to the conclusion also that they are not there for structural reasons, because, as you say the joinery is virgin (unrepaired) and typical, except *by coincidence* they may actually help down the road, add strength to the seam.

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I have come to the conclusion also that they are not there for structural reasons, because, as you say the joinery is virgin and typical, except *by coincidence* they may actually help down the road, add strength to the seam.

Also, it is my opinion that this type of addition (in particular, with this type of violin) does not really have much of an effect (if any) on tonal production. They might as well enhance the tone as detract from it - and so, are best simply left alone.

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Who knows, probably it seemed like a very cheap way to add another "feature" to the violin - without really adding to the production cost.

I agree-- at least in the recent past and nowadays, the practice is merely another antiqueing feature. This is a c 1900 instrument with original-make cleating; also heavily antiqued outside.

post-5156-0-30269100-1299086974_thumb.jpg

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Bruce, do you think the old cremonese masters glued cleats or parchment in their instruments? Have you seen instruments (violins in particular) showing evidence of that?

Just for curiosity...

Bernhard

Hi Bernhard,

No I can't remember having seen any.

I have seen instruments that were left slightly thicker along the center join in the upper and lower bouts but it is not always easy to understand if the thicknesses are original or not. The only reinforcements that come to mind are on the inner side of Stradivari cello ribs with linen and I recall something with the viola of the Spanish quintet with parchment that was later removed; even though the decorations were painted on and not inlaid in that particular instrument.

Bruce

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Here's a better sized picture:

Thanks Ron, you are correct - I have seen this also - it is worth noting, for those who are interested in such things, that you can also see this feature - not as a repair artifact, but as a manufacturing detail - in some European instruments, throughout the history of factory violins...

Completely aside from the subject at hand - you look nothing like the "mental construct" I had (as I do with every name that lacks a face) formed for you.

Thanks - speaking strictly from my own point of view, I like seeing who I am talking to, much better than the inevitable random (and usually waaay off the mark) guess I might make. (The same goes for you, iburkard - I much prefer being able to see your face)

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Completely aside from the subject at hand - you look nothing like the "mental construct" I had (as I do with every name that lacks a face) formed for you.

I suppose you had me looking like some old geezer...

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Cleats down the center line make sense if you are exporting, or using only decently seasoned wood. It must reduce center line pop, especially if instruments are being shipped with posts or tension.

Excellent explanation, iburkard! I don't know about chinese violins, but I have seen lots of these cleats in factory-made instruments from Mirecourt...

Hi Bernhard,

No I can't remember having seen any.

I have seen instruments that were left slightly thicker along the center join in the upper and lower bouts but it is not always easy to understand if the thicknesses are original or not. The only reinforcements that come to mind are on the inner side of Stradivari cello ribs with linen and I recall something with the viola of the Spanish quintet with parchment that was later removed; even though the decorations were painted on and not inlaid in that particular instrument.

Bruce

Hi Bruce,

thanks for your reply!

Did you refer to cremonese instruments, and do you think the thicker part along the center joint has been a reinforcement? Isn't it just the typical graduation scheme of the early Amatis (and Stainer), and part of their arching/graduation concept?

Interesting, the parchment in the spanish Strad viola... I didn't know about that. But it corresponds nicely with Stainers method, who used parchment as well and might have worked for a certain period in Cremona.

Bernhard

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Thanks for all the responses. The cleats are the ugliest I have ever seen. No attempt to shape them or trim down to size. Surprising because the violin itself is very pleasing to the eye. I am trying to determine approximate age. It belonged to an aged acquaintance who had this as her first violin until she bought a "better" one 15 years ago. It was not new at the time. The luthier thinks late 19th century which would surprise me based on exceptional condition. But of course it played like a dog before he graduated the belly to proper dimensions, so maybe it is not surprising. I can feel it improving daily now. Nicely balanced with big open sound. Just a completely different instrument. I will send a picture.

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would it make sense to put the cleats on a nodal point , say on the long grain stiffness where it crosses the centre joint

Ok, I'll' bite

Are you asking about placing a cleat at some point exactly along a specific "nodal line" for a particular "plate mode" where the "nodal lines form, and where the material settles along lines of no or less movement? These lines form geometric figures of (more or less) symmetrical patterns at particular frequencies corresponding to the imagined tonal qualities inherent in the plate - according to classic tuning lore.

Placing a cleat along a line of no or little movement would, I believe, have little to no discernable pragmatic or theoretical effect on performance.

But - that consideration is only in theory, because an attached plate, during play, does not really exhibit this "steady state standing wave" type behavior that it would when separated from the violin, resting on nodal points, with a speaker blasting a single frequency at some anti-nodal point. Since, in order to perform, it is attached to the violin as a whole, it is reproducing may rapidly changing and varied frequencies, at random, or even simultaneously, depending on the player and the music, they shift so rapidly that cleats seen not to really effect the tone much in a finished violin in a predictable way. (either way)

In fact, in the real world, used within reason, they seem not to degrade or improve the tone in and of themselves at all, and I would say that no one, without looking inside would be able to say, by listening "yes that violin has cleats interfering with its nodal patterns" or the opposite, or anything of the sort - pretty much no matter where they are placed for a necessary repair.

Of course there will be people who disagree with this assessment - perhaps strongly, but, I've seen and placed a lot of (proper) cleats in my career, and they seem not to be much of a determining factor for tone or performance.

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