Sign in to follow this  
martin swan

Horizontal Neck Angle

Recommended Posts

Michael Darnton agrees with Jacob, and since these 2 gentlemen are demi-gods I would discount Weisshaar on this point.

I see I have a lot of points to answer, I will attempt to do so soon .....!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

FWIW, we tilt the fingerboard to the bass side (higher on the E) and one of the comments I hear the most from high level players trying out our instruments is how easy the instruments are to play. That covers a lot of factors, but at least the tilt doesn't seem to bother anyone, and it may be a help. It is a small thing, indeed, but good setups are largely a matter of giving close attention to a lot of small things, and keeping them in balance.

I have tremendous respect for people like Weisshaar and Sacconi, but nobody has the last word on everything. I think it's great to respect and pay attention to authority, but it's also necessary to question everything, and never accept anything as "the final word". Whatever we know presently is just the best we have - for now - and should always be open to modification when better information arises.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I don't think Newnewbie was arguing that Weisshaar was the only way to go. At least that's what I gathered from it. He just stated what the Weisshaar book said and then he actually agreed with Michael Darnton on having no tilt at all. I think this has been an interesting thread and it has been very helpful to hear everyone's approaches to this important step in making and restoration. Whichever way people end up setting their necks, it helps to hear different stances and be forced to think about the reasons for doing something.

We set necks with a slight raise on the bass side (on violin, and the opposite on cello), but we also use a higher overstand than some, which I think makes up that difference. This was a good thread for me because it made me play the violin again and reexamine some of my thoughts regarding this step and I will have to think it through some more. So thank you all for the discussion.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

In new making what is your 'Projection' for setting your neck in?

Do you allow for some settling?

I know the question wasn't directed at me, but I will state what we do and I hope others will pick this one up because I am curious for their procedures.

I will set the neck slightly higher on the projection to take into account settling on new instruments and neck grafts. When I do a neck re-set, I will not. The idea is that the wood has already settled so the need is not there.

We aim for a rather high projection at 27.5 mm for violin and 82.5 mm for cellos, but my boss got a good portion of his training from the Jacques Francais shop. I know that the New York set-up style is notorious for higher projections.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

My current thoughts on this after reading the various posts again and playing some violins in the shop:

Would raising the E from tilting the neck be more about changing the angle of attack for the left hand than allowing more room for the left hand to get into the upper positions? It seems the room can still be achieved by having a slightly higher overstand overall. The change in angle may be beneficial however for those upper positions. There is more comfort in the position of the elbow and shoulder when playing in the lower positions when the tilt favors a higher G. I would probably have to be a better violin player to ascertain what is more important. Is the tilt to favor a higher G coupled with a higher overall overstand a suitable compromise? I would love to hear other opinions.

I can say without a doubt that I think the tilt of the neck lower on the C side for a cello is beneficial, but I am a much better cello player than violin player.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

My current thoughts on this after reading the various posts again and playing some violins in the shop:

Would raising the E from tilting the neck be more about changing the angle of attack for the left hand than allowing more room for the left hand to get into the upper positions? It seems the room can still be achieved by having a slightly higher overstand overall. The change in angle may be beneficial however for those upper positions. There is more comfort in the position of the elbow and shoulder when playing in the lower positions when the tilt favors a higher G. I would probably have to be a better violin player to ascertain what is more important. Is the tilt to favor a higher G coupled with a higher overall overstand a suitable compromise? I would love to hear other opinions.

I can say without a doubt that I think the tilt of the neck lower on the C side for a cello is beneficial, but I am a much better cello player than violin player.

I'm curious to know your overstand and arching model,I'm thinking sound more than anything else.How would 'board concavity affect playability with the raised E?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

For me, it's about everything: about making the board higher at the bottom on the E side so it rises towards the player's finger and they don't have as much of a reach around the upper bout, about making the board flatter on the E side so the player's finger doesn't slide off, and about what it does to the tone. I also do not continue the curve of the template out to the edge on the E side--I leave it flatter to give the player further confidence that his finger won't slip off. I haven't done any of these things on my own--in every case relating to physical comfort, these ideas have been developed over time with feedback from musicians. I've adjusted the curves I use, and scoops for all the strings and locations on the specific strings, and I'm using very non-standard string heights on cellos because I've worked with a couple of really excellent cellists to develop what works for them. I've asked players which choice they prefer, and then checked with them afterwards about how they liked it. There are a couple of other comfort-related things I do with necks outside of those, and tonal things.

I don't think we should ever be satisfied with the idea that what we're doing doesn't get comments or is taken favorably, so it must be fine. There's always room for doing things better. One of the more important things I do in my adjustments is keep a steady watch out for moments when a player looks uncomfortable, and listen for when a note comes out wrong, and ask "what happened there?" Sometimes they know, often they don't, and it's up to me to figure it out. There are tons of things a maker can do to help. Comfort is important, but player injuries are very common, and if we don't figure out ways to make things nicer for them, they certainly aren't going to.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Makers, do you fit your necks so that the top plane is nominally horizontal, or do you drop it down marginally towards the E string? If the latter, is the entire neck marginally rotated or do you just plane down the treble side of the top surface post-fitting?

Thanks in advance for any insights.

Martin Swan Violins

I did not understood the question at first...I thought it was common practice to make the neck surface perfectly horizontal and do all the differential gradation (from deeper G to higher E) directly on the fingerboard, unless the fingerboard at G gets too thin, in which case it seems reasonable to totate the other way round...I confess I prefer lighter fingerboards in general.

Thanks,

T.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Old, bad ideas die hard, especially when they come from people like Sacconi and Weisshaar.

I'll share some of Weisshaars thoughts behind his fingerboard tilt recommendations when I dont need to do it from a phone. In the meantime, I think I counted at least eleven people at the Entente meeting in Prague (our highest level professional group) with Sacconi or Weisshaar training, but I wasn't aware of a single Darnton-trained person, so..... oh nevermind. LOL

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The way I was taught to do it was to set the head flat (untwisted) relative to the body, with a platform on the face of the neck sticking up above the cheeks of the scroll. Then if you wanted tilt, you planed that into the platform, the on top of that the board was equal thickness on both sides. If you were given some strange situation, you had the option of correcting with different thickness board edges, but that's like the last choice. I put a thicker platform on my necks--about a mm--to give more neck surface planing before some careless workman snicks off the front of my scroll cheeks with his plane.

I did not understood the question at first...I thought it was common practice to make the neck surface perfectly horizontal and do all the differential gradation (from deeper G to higher E) directly on the fingerboard, unless the fingerboard at G gets too thin, in which case it seems reasonable to totate the other way round...I confess I prefer lighter fingerboards in general.

Thanks,

T.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm curious to know your overstand and arching model,I'm thinking sound more than anything else.How would 'board concavity affect playability with the raised E?

Disclaimer:

These next things are my procedures that I do where I work. I understand that some will do it differently. I am in no way attacking other methods. I think this method is a good one, but that is my humble opinion.

I'm not sure how to answer the arching part of your question. Most of what I do is work on other peoples stuff so I don't have an option for arching. On special occasions I get to do this on my own stuff. The biggest difference there, is that there is not as much stuff to deal with because it is newer. For the most part, I do a neck set the same way everytime with the same measurements. However, it ends up being customized because of the way we set it up for each instrument, but I will try and explain that next.

We use an overstand of 6.5 mm measured from the highest point on the edge to the fingerboard. This is measured from the bass side. We don't measure the other side. We ascertain the tilt of the neck based on where the bridge will be in relation to the rest of the instrument. I will try and explain that but it will be difficult in a post. This is probably one of the most spatial things we do, so a post will probably be pretty inadequate....

When I have the corpus by itself without the neck, I will find the center of the instrument. I do this by measuring the distance between the widest points at the upper and lower bouts and the narrowest between the C bouts. (We actually measure from the inside of the purfling because you can't trust the edge of an instrument to be true after wear is considered.) I will mark where the middle is between these distances. I will then use these marks to determine where the middle is at the bridge. This is how we determine bridge placement. We actually ALWAYS do this EVEN IF there is no neck set. It places the bridge in the acoustical center. (I know some people will just put it equally between the f holes, but you can't trust the ff's to be in the right spot. And I think it sounds better this way.) I will then place a "dummy" bridge (I made mine out of plastic) in that spot and sight down the instrument to see how the bridge relates to the edges by the saddle and then turn the instrument around and see how the bridge relates to the edges by where the neckfoot will go. Inevitably there will be a twist because almost all instruments I've seen have this unless they are new. I will adjust the height of one side of the bridge by putting pieces of low adhesive tape on the top plate under the foot that needs adjustment. I will build up the height until the bridge is right dab in the middle of the twisting corpus. I will then set the neck using the dummy bridge in its new adjustment. I ascertain the twist (1 mm higher on the G for violin) by looking at the dummy bridge, NOT by checking the overstand on the bass AND the treble side. The dummy bridge I made actually has lines etched in it for me to line up the end of the fingerboard. Your question may be, "Does the overstand end up being lower on the treble than the bass?" Not always. Sometimes, sometimes not. Often it is the same. That is why we keep it consistent by always measuring from the bass only.

Later when I carve a bridge for the instrument with the new neck set, I will have to cut more off of one foot than the other to tilt the bridge to meet the fingerboard. We do this on every bridge we cut. Find the center, and make the bridge meet the fingerboard. We also use different sizes of bridges depending on where the bassbar is in relation to the actual center of the instrument so everything will line up where we want it.

To relate this back to your question, by taking into account the twist of the corpus, I think we may alleviate some of the problems that would be associated with the arching getting into the way of the left hand in the upper positions on the "E".

Phew, I'm tired.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'll share some of Weisshaars thoughts behind his fingerboard tilt recommendations when I dont need to do it from a phone. In the meantime, I think I counted at least eleven people at the Entente meeting in Prague (our highest level professional group) with Sacconi or Weisshaar training, but I wasn't aware of a single Darnton-trained person, so..... oh nevermind. LOL

Whatever, David. No one's telling you that you can't do it your way, in fact I fervently hope you continue to do so. LOL

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The way I was taught to do it was to set the head flat (untwisted) relative to the body, with a platform on the face of the neck sticking up above the cheeks of the scroll. Then if you wanted tilt, you planed that into the platform, the on top of that the board was equal thickness on both sides. If you were given some strange situation, you had the option of correcting with different thickness board edges, but that's like the last choice. I put a thicker platform on my necks--about a mm--to give more neck surface planing before some careless workman snicks off the front of my scroll cheeks with his plane.

Thanks for the useful info.

T.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'll share some of Weisshaars thoughts behind his fingerboard tilt recommendations when I dont need to do it from a phone. In the meantime, I think I counted at least eleven people at the Entente meeting in Prague (our highest level professional group) with Sacconi or Weisshaar training, but I wasn't aware of a single Darnton-trained person, so..... oh nevermind. LOL

I know this kind of argument from somewhere:

You go to the Gaffer and complain that the Cello fingerboard template is too flat compared to the bridge, which leaves the two middle strings relatively too high. He screams at you: I MADE THAT BLOODY TEMPLATE WHEN I WAS AT HILLS; IT’S AN EXACT COPY OF THE ONE THEY HAVE BEEN USING THERE FOR X HUNDERED YEARS. And then gives you a filthy look with his red face, as if he had just beaten the shit out of you at ping-pong. 3 weeks later, you discover by pure coincidence that he has changed his template without telling you.

Perhaps you’re eleven wise men didn’t feel spastic changing from 4th position into thumb position (3rd. on the violin) or alternatively, never got that far up the fingerboard in the first place.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Quite a fanciful tale you've woven!

Actually, I've noticed much greater rigidity with one or two forum demi-gods, than amongst the "wise men". But why be constrained by reality when there's the need to take pot shots?

Should anyone have an interest in knowing what many Entente people are really like, take a look at the non-dogmatic nature of posts by Bruce Carlson.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Quite a fanciful tale you've woven!

Actually, I've noticed much greater rigidity with one or two forum demi-gods, than amongst the "wise men". But why be constrained by reality when there's the need to take pot shots?

Should anyone have an interest in knowing what many Entente people are really like, take a look at the non-dogmatic nature of posts by Bruce Carlson.

This thread started with Martins innocent question:

"Makers, do you fit your necks so that the top plane is nominally horizontal, or do you drop it down marginally towards the E string"?

The short answer must surely be “No defiantly not, because it will be more awkward to play in 3rd. position and above and you can just wait for the player to trash the belly edge and knock off the corners”. A fairly mundane mechanical question really, that just needs thinking about, why, and how much. Killer arguments like “Hills have always done it like that, and David Beckham does too” prohibit thinking for yourself. It makes it a bit like arguing with a Jehovah’s Witness, who always has god on his side of the argument.

You are quite right of course, if there were a contest to find who was the most pig-headed person in the trade, I would have pretty short odds. That is what everybody tells me anyway.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Mr. Burgess, you are of course also a demi-god!

Yes, this was a mundane mechanical question but there was a lot behind it for me ...

I should clarify a few points. The original argument was not with someone who had commissioned a violin. We don't make instruments to commission - if we did I would be more accomodating, provided I could be sure the tone would not be compromised by an adjustment suggested by a client. In this case the customer was interested in a violin of ours, but the disagreement over fingerboard tilt suggested that we weren't likely to have successful business dealings! The customer (in a different country) proposed that professional violins had a tilt towards the E string, and that a level neck was a sign of cheap & fast construction. I was offended, and told the customer I didn't think they should buy a violin from me if they didn't trust my judgment on this matter.

As to the issue itself, I haven't studied the literature, nor am I a violin maker, but I am a player/manufacturer(!), a reasonably rare combination. I work with a number of makers, all of whom came out of the old master/apprentice system in Hungary. I don't get in the way of what they're doing unless I see pressing arguments to do with playability & tone.

Of course this particular issue of level necks, like so many mundane mechanical questions, quickly becomes a central philosophical question, in that it is about playability and tone and the compromises one might make between the two. So here's my input ...

I play a lot in high positions on the E string, but I also spend a good deal of time in 8th position or above on the G string - it just happens to be a component of a "duduk" sound I use a lot. I find that a low string height on the E (absolute height above the table) is awkward, mainly because I end up bashing the upper C bout corner with my right index finger. Low action is great but low absolute height above the table on the E is bad news. Bow clearance can also be a big problem on the G string, particularly when using high positions or when bowing "over the fingerboard". Action can be much higher on the G because of the pliability of the string, though 5mm at the end of a bump-free fingerboard is not too low. Wide violins are less easy to play!

Operationally, the ideal is to have plenty of overstand and bridge height. Tonally this is rarely beneficial, and in fact if I would hold to any one absolute in setting up of violins it would be an ideal string tension/angle over the bridge.

In practice, these two concepts (good bow clearance and ideal string tension) seem to be at war, but it's easier to find an acceptable compromise on a new violin than an old one.

I haven't found any reason (in quite extreme playing situations) for tilting the neck angle one way or another - a flat surface is most likely to lead to the ideal bridge height & profile and the ideal action beneath the strings. A small platform allows for minor adjustments, also very handy with new necks that can settle unpredictably.

Personally I'm baffled by the discussion of "reaching" and how neck tilt might help this, but then I have very long fingers and I've never found any bit of the fingerboard inaccessible. Bow clearance is much more of a concern. And of course intonation in high positions (could we find a way to make the strings a bit longer as you go up the neck?).

There are many more associated issues which I think & worry about, but no-one seems to write very long posts and I'm in danger of getting a name for myself as a windbag .....!

Thanks to so many people for their insights - I didn't realize what a complex and contentious issue this would be.

Martin Swan Violins

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'll share some of Weisshaars thoughts behind his fingerboard tilt recommendations when I dont need to do it from a phone.

I would be interested in hearing this if you still feel inclined.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

For my part I strongly believe that the vast majority of players don't even know that a fingerboard can be tilted in a way or another by half a millimeter, they just learn with the violin they have. this is probably how they develop a very personal style. Not related to the fingerboard, but when I gave my last violin to my teacher she took it and immediately found the first position, was very comfortable with it and played very easily. I had to point out the violin was a good 6 mm shorter than a normal one (including the one she is normally using)!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

For my part I strongly believe that the vast majority of players don't even know that a fingerboard can be tilted

That's true, there are a number of things they don't know about, and they depend on us to know, and to take care of them in that regard. That's why we have to pay attention and figure those things out, by observing them and asking them relevant questions when we see they're having a problem, and thinking of things they haven't noticed and would be happy to have working better. I've met players with carpal tunnel syndrome and strings 7mm of the board who weren't told their strings were too high because they never complained, so their shop didn't fix it for them. It's not the player's job to figure this stuff out.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I've asked my wife who's a overemployed player for some 30 years. She's of the opinion that this matter sorts itself out once somebody actualy plays the violin WITH A PERSPIRED HAND. If the f/b is tilted Weishaar style her 4th will simply not stay on it and she doesn't need that either in the orchestra or as a sololist.

I myself wonder if the reverse is not done to make the E more pleasant under the ear ( and hard to hear at some distance ). For the benefit of our instruction, any comments ?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yeah, we have had an acrimonious discussion around that already. I like the firm smoothness you get with the higher E of a flat-set bridge, and the clearer, more stable A, and so do my customers.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I actualy think ( with all due respect and for what is worth ) that both sides are right. It simply depends on the type of client. Myself as barely an amateur used to like a soft E under the ear. My wife's problems during 60 Swan Lakes was not to mess up the solos in front of 3500 people while dancing was going on and to be heared.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

You're talking about perceived volume, not real. A quiet E that's filthy impure is a lot harder to listen to than a smooth E that's clean. You think the first is loud, because hearing it at any volume is still 30dB too much for comfort. That doesn't mean it will carry ten feet, though. The smooth one you think is quiet, because it's not hurting you, but that's an illusion, too.

A clean E pushes through without offending anyone, including the person whose ear is next to it. When I was at Bein and Fushi, they tried to sell the CSO concertmaster a del Gesu with a really smooth, dark sound. He brought it back. He said that he couldn't hear himself in the band, but that the people around him were complaining he was playing too loudly. There was no problem hearing that violin at a distance, nor was it offensive up close. I think you and your wife would have both been happy playing that one.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I would be interested in hearing this if you still feel inclined.

No problem, but let me get back to a real keyboard, instead of this cumbersome I-Phone. I'm not home from Prague yet.

Incidentally, it seems that some who are passionate about their positions on this assume that I must be too. I'm really not. I've tried it different ways, and have found pluses and minuses with each. Often, as with many things, it's a matter of finding a "best fit" scenario for a particular set of circumstances, rather than trying to champion some single holy rule. I believe that would have been pretty close to the approach of Weisshaar and Sacconi as well. Hans generally had pretty good reasons for what he did.

People who didn't know them often make the mistake of thinking that Weisshaar's and Sacconi's complete thoughts were represented in their books. How could they even come close, without the books being about ten volumes long?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...
Sign in to follow this  

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.