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Do Soundposts Drift?


GlennYorkPA
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Other than ordinary atmospheric changes (temperature, humidity etc.) or strings wearing out - in my experience most of this type of stuff in handled in the realm of maintenance and/or set up. The innate nature of the violin itself is the last thing you want to change.

Better to either keep up the one you have and like - or to trade the instrument up to one that suits you better, if necessary.

In other words, over time, the expectations of the player may change as much or more than the instrument.

Just want to clarify that the "fade" occurs over several hours, not years. Backstage, these instruments will play and sound more tired. Later the next day, the same instrument will feel more "crisp" for awhile, or until the next heavy two hour performance. No extra rosin, sometimes not even a re-tune, as the pitches have held. Maybe it's just me.

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Just want to clarify that the "fade" occurs over several hours, not years. Backstage, these instruments will play and sound more tired. Later the next day, the same instrument will feel more "crisp" for awhile, or until the next heavy two hour performance. No extra rosin, sometimes not even a re-tune, as the pitches have held. Maybe it's just me.

Or maybe not.

I'm not a professional player, my first guess would be strings..., but perhaps some of the more experienced repairmen or restorers will comment on this phenomenon.

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Just want to clarify that the "fade" occurs over several hours, not years. Backstage, these instruments will play and sound more tired. Later the next day, the same instrument will feel more "crisp" for awhile, or until the next heavy two hour performance. No extra rosin, sometimes not even a re-tune, as the pitches have held. Maybe it's just me.

Yes, Bairoin you make good observations and personally I must say other fine players have reported this type of experience to me with violins in particular... even with top end old Cremonese instruments that have been great until half way during a concert some time when they become muddy. ( in fact the grade of instrument seems not to matter) I think that the micro climate of an orchestra or around a soloist can become quite humid. The breath onto the bridge and into the F holes I believe has some effect here as can an increased level of perspiration associated with the effort of performance in some players. This is something to be considered in making and set up.

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baiorin

"This doesn't relate so much to the OP, so forgive this metaphysical banter. I pose this question to the players out there: have you had instruments that have started to fade? Mr Swan had spoken about bows changing - this word is used rather than "warm up" - and this occurs in predictable stages, but the most severe effects are felt (usually in the form of tightening) from the temp and moisture variations of the stage HVAC (climate/air conditioning) and lighting systems."

when your bow tightens do you feel like you have to work harder or easier at your vibrato?

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Glenn,

.......

Bows, on the other hand, do seem to need warming up, but this could just be to do with how the rosin responds to friction/heat. I've noticed that many very good bows seem to make a small noise initially, and that you have to use a bow for 5 or 10 minutes to get any idea of its sound.

Martin Swan Violins

Martin,

Martin, never before in my life have I heard that bows require a warm up period.

I'm intrigued by your comment but we are struggling to believe the violins, rather than the player, need a while to reach potential.

Bows are nothing more than a balanced support for horse hair and, unlike fine wine and violins, they do not improve with age.

Glenn

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Well these days I spend most of my life doing comparative assessments of violins and bows. I have come to my own conclusions based on a lot of experience, but I agree that these conclusions don't correspond at all with either the received wisdom or the considered opinions of others, often more experienced than myself.

A bow brings quite a significant tonal component to a violin - it's made of substances which respond to vibration, friction and humidity, perhaps more so than a violin in that the rosin is doing a lot of the work and it's a very volatile material. So you can't expect a bow to function in the same way from one moment to the next - I think anyone who performs regularly will agree with that.

I was really only talking about how to evaluate bows in a comparative context, perhaps when trying to choose a bow in a shop.

I have a number of bows which don't produce a good volume until they've been in use for at least a few minutes, and rapid comparisons between one bow and another never reveal their true quality.

I know I'm talking about a much shorter warm-up or "playing in" period than people talk about in the context of violins (which seems to range from a couple of hours to several months, depending on how awful the violin is), but I still think it's a real phenomenon.

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I know I'm talking about a much shorter warm-up or "playing in" period than people talk about in the context of violins (which seems to range from a couple of hours to several months, depending on how awful the violin is), but I still think it's a real phenomenon.

Honestly, I wouldn't really know how to address a violin that played well for some hours and then "tired" or "wore" out.

I believe I'd send them to the people I awlays refer people to who have a problem that I don't want to address, (a much larger shop in Albuquerque.) The only thing I could think of, that might cause something like that, would be a too thin plate perhaps?, or perhaps strings that were borderline "tired" or "worn out"?? A thin, in the process of bending, bridge maybe? Weak bass bar?

In any case - I don't believe I would accept a violin for repair without having some idea at the start, of how to remedy the problem.

I don't doubt for a minute that this is something you've encountered yourself, though.

It just sounds like something that could (would) happen in life - a problem with no apparent, ready, or easy solution.

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I don't find my bow needed any warm up, it just work after the initial half a minute of playing after rosining the bow at the beginning of the playing session. However I've heard people talking about bow getting tired instead, although I have not experienced any of that.

Speaking of sound post, I share the same experiences with Michael D. Every setting of the sound post doesn't work right away after stringing up. The instrument will need some time to adjust to the tension again, same for the strings to get stabilized, it can take a day or 2. Like what Michael D. mentioned, initial stringing up will result the instrument having livelier respond, at the same time more noisy/fuzzy. After a day or 2 the sound will be smoothen out and become somewhat less power. However, after this initial settling period, depends on the instrument, like mine for example, can take up to months to mature.

Some of you might remember my story previously posted here on Mnet, so I've found a sweet spot for the sound post 5 months ago and stopped adjusting it. The sound wasn't quite the same as how it sounded previously, but was the best setting nonetheless. Since then, I tested the violin almost every week, by playing the violin to my friend, and have him playing the violin to me too, same place, same excerpt. What's interesting is that the sound continue to mature and still maturing until today - more projection, smoother, juicier, and more focus, and it's getting closer and closer to how it sounded before everything messed up. So it's safe for me to form a conclusion that, instrument do need to be played in after adjustments, and sometimes, months to have the instrument to reach to its full potential, well at least it is the case for my own violin.

I remember about the story that a member here told me about a professional violinist's beloved violin encountered a disaster where the bridge break into half and no longer usable, and was never sounded the same anymore. The violinist then tap the bridge everyday hoping he can hit the magical spot, which didn't happen. Eventually he quit playing the violin. I guess if the violinist actually waited at least a few months, he could have enjoy the playing again.

PS: CT, totally forgotten about your great help last time. Souvenirs will be on the way soon!

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However, after this initial settling period, depends on the instrument, like mine for example, can take up to months to mature.

So it's safe for me to form a conclusion that, instrument do need to be played in after adjustments, and sometimes, months to have the instrument to reach to its full potential, well at least it is the case for my own violin.

I remember about the story that a member here told me about a professional violinist's beloved violin encountered a disaster where the bridge break into half and no longer usable, and was never sounded the same anymore. The violinist then tap the bridge everyday hoping he can hit the magical spot, which didn't happen. Eventually he quit playing the violin. I guess if the violinist actually waited at least a few months, he could have enjoy the playing again.

Very interesting.

For what it's worth - I have had the same experience.

I will change the soundpost out for a new post, some months after a newly made violin has been strung up to full tension and played for a while. And usually, I get much better results, and a much different fit, and the new post seems to fit at least marginally better than the original one - after all of the stresses and tensions have had time to "settle in."

Luckily most of my customers live here in Roswell.

Also, on older violins, there is a "settle in" time after major adjustments, or repairs, or even after putting on new strings.

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A bow brings quite a significant tonal component to a violin - it's made of substances which respond to vibration, friction and humidity, perhaps more so than a violin in that the rosin is doing a lot of the work and it's a very volatile material. So you can't expect a bow to function in the same way from one moment to the next - I think anyone who performs regularly will agree with that.

I'm sorry to be a nudge here, but after "performing regularly" (and for several decades now...)I must tell you I totally, totally disagree with your conclusion. The only material that is particularly "volatile" in a bow is the hair, and that only because of the level of relative humidity in the air. The violin, being half-exposed to the effects of atmospheric change, is MUCH more "volatile."

I was really only talking about how to evaluate bows in a comparative context, perhaps when trying to choose a bow in a shop.

I have a number of bows which don't produce a good volume until they've been in use for at least a few minutes,

If it hasn't already been said, it should be pointed out that it is NOT the bow that is changing from "being in use", but rather your muscle coordination adjusting to slightly different ways in which a given bow needs to be played to bring out its best qualities.

and rapid comparisons between one bow and another never reveal their true quality.

I know I'm talking about a much shorter warm-up or "playing in" period than people talk about in the context of violins (which seems to range from a couple of hours to several months, depending on how awful the violin is), but I still think it's a real phenomenon.

Actually, an experienced player can judge the tonal quality of a given instrument within 30 seconds. If you're talking about the decison to buy an instrument, of course, it needs to be tried out in a hall to judge its carrying power (if any). I've never in my life needed "a couple of hours to several months" to judge if I liked a given instrument, and in truth, the only really legitimate reason to try out a violin from a reputable shop "on approval" is to judge its carrying power, and to get the "approval" of one's colleagues.***

I'm really NOT trying to be obstreperous here, but I assume anyone who comes to MN wants an honest exchange of ideas, and these are from long professional experience, NOT my theory.

*** Of course, I'm teasing here...sorta'...

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Actually, an experienced player can judge the tonal quality of a given instrument within 30 seconds. If you're talking about the decison to buy an instrument, of course, it needs to be tried out in a hall to judge its carrying power (if any). I've never in my life needed "a couple of hours to several months" to judge if I liked a given instrument, and in truth, the only really legitimate reason to try out a violin from a reputable shop "on approval" is to judge its carrying power, and to get the "approval" of one's colleagues.***

I'm really NOT trying to be obstreperous here, but I assume anyone who comes to MN wants an honest exchange of ideas, and these are from long professional experience, NOT my theory.

*** Of course, I'm teasing here...sorta'...

Are you including a violin that is directly from the makers bench in this conclusion, or only violins that have been around - and up to tension and set up correctly - for a while?

And, I don't mean to pick nits here, but your honest opinion or your professional point of view is the only thing I would require from you - experience being a big plus.

Still, your opinions may well represent a theory or idea, and not reflect a universal experience.

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baiorin

when your bow tightens do you feel like you have to work harder or easier at your vibrato?

This is an unexpected question.

Because I am more clumsy at articulating the musical intent with the right hand, the left hand can suffer a little bit. Focusing on relaxing until there is a multi-bar rest where the bow can be loosened without too much distraction is sometimes difficult if the passage has something like expressive arpeggios. If the instrument shakes, it can be a problem.

Infact, trills during a quiet section (often in the middle movements or concerti) on the D-string can drive me nuts. Once the bow starts to tighten up, it can be more jumpy, and a fast left hand trill can set off chattering in the upper half of the bow. This is also a personal bad habit where I do let the bow glide along on these passages without much pressure or work in the right hand (good time - theoretically - to relax because there usually is a whopping musically contrasting movement/passage soon after). Moving towards the bridge minimizes the chattering, but it also brightens the tone.

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Are you including a violin that is directly from the makers bench in this conclusion, or only violins that have been around - and up to tension and set up correctly - for a while?

And, I don't mean to pick nits here, but your honest opinion or your professional point of view is the only thing I would require from you - experience being a big plus.

Still, your opinions may well represent a theory or idea, and not reflect a universal experience.

I know nothing about modern violins, but I'm not surprised that they have to be played in for quite a while to acquire maturity. I've heard stories (from very reliable sources), that makers like to look over their handiwork a year or so later for final adjustments, signing of adoption papers, etc.

My opinions, as I said, are based on long professional experience, but then as always, "A man convinced against his will is of the same opinion still."

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I burnished the inside of my first fiddle and installed a maple SP verneer...this made adjusting the soundpost almost too easy...way too slick and I was worried about the post drifting east so I applied some rosin dust on both ends of the post and it now grips much better...

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I had a young viola customer who kept coming back to me with the soundpost down. I was feeling a little exasperated, as I knew that post had been quite snug. Finally I noticed that this kid was pretty big, and had big hands. I asked him, "Are you picking this instrument up like this?" (demonstrating with my thumb and fingers spanning the center bouts.) He cheerfully admitted that he was. I explained that he was strong enough that he was flexing the plates, and making them release the SP. ("Doctor, it hurts when I do this... " "Don't do that!")

I set the post one more time, and the instrument never came back. Nice kid. Just had no idea what he was doing to the viola. :)

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Well...not necessarily "should", but apparently in this particular case it "will." Otherwise, maybe you have a specific caveat in mind you'd like to share?

Well, since I take everything literally, I often misread the implications in popular phraseology.

So, for me, when someone (me for example) hasn't been convinced, they shouldn't change their opinion. "Authority" or a contrary opinion shouldn't be enough to convince anyone, unless they agree with the opinion.

For example, to me the saying;

"A man convinced against his will is of the same opinion still."

Could either imply someone who was convinced under duress, whereby he would, at heart, not change his opinion and would be "of the same opinion still" because he was never truly convinced otherwise.

Or, in my mind - the other implications would include someone who will not change his opinion because, he is simply afraid that in doing so, he would perhaps go against social convention, or the popular opinion, and so he will, at least in public, remain "of the same opinion" - despite knowing that the opinion he stands by, isn't necessarily his genuine belief because he doesn't really have one yet...

Where neither state is really desirable.

Thus;

"A man convinced against his will is of the same opinion still.",

is "as it should be."

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Well, since I take everything literally, I often misread the implications in popular phraseology.

So, for me, when someone (me for example) hasn't been convinced, they shouldn't change their opinion. "Authority" or a contrary opinion shouldn't be enough to convince anyone, unless they agree with the opinion.

I don't need to "convince" you or anyone else; as a maker, you're welcome to your own separate reality. As a player, I know what's been experienced not just by me, but also by 50 other professional string-playing colleagues.

Being the nudge I am, I simply don't like to see mis-information spread around via the Internet. You get a pimple on your butt in New York, the next day everyone in LA knows you have pneumonia.

Besides, if "they already agree with the opinion", any attempt at "convincing" would be redundant.

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"Authority" or a contrary opinion shouldn't be enough to convince anyone, unless they agree with the opinion.

...I don't need to "convince" you or anyone else; as a maker, you're welcome to your own separate reality. As a player, I know what's been experienced not just by me, but also by 50 other professional string-playing colleagues.

"Authority" can sometimes represent a consensus of solid experience, so it needn't be negative, or contrary to any reality. It can also be many other things, including people on various kinds of power trips.

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"Authority" can sometimes represent a consensus of solid experience, so it needn't be negative, or contrary to any reality. It can also be many other things, including people on various kinds of power trips.

If it's really "a consensus of solid experience" that is your benchmark for "authority" then I think mine governs. I'd take the "consensus of solid experience" over anyone else's "theory" any day of the week. The idea of a bow needing to be played to "warm it up" due to "volatile materials" is a misunderstanding.

As I said, the only "volatile material" in a bow is the hair. In humid weather the hair absorbs moisture, and it is because of this that one needs to move the frog out further towards the button in order to maintain a given playing tension, as you very well know.

As the frog is moved "back" to the button, the balance point of the bow is changed, and IT IS THIS CHANGE IN THE BALANCE POINT which gives the player the impression a bow "needs to be warmed up." What's really happening is the small muscle coordination of the bow arm is making subtle adjustments to a new playing "reality."

Of course, when a violinist takes the bow out of the case it can take a minute or two to adjust to a different humidity level than that of the case in which it's been stored, but it didn't occur to me that's what was intended.

A scientific fact is not the same thing as a "power trip", irrespective of who may be driving the bus.

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According to Mr Swan, the "warm up" period takes a short amount time. This indicates a few things to me, and I have experienced this perception too. Please be patient.

I'll only go into one example, but the frog and the mechanism is an interesting assembly. Older bows (and even new ones) have a myriad of alignment issues. From loose hair to the desired tightness, the frog most likely does not travel in a wonderful, predictable, linear motion. Why? for those less familiar with the interaction, the metal tends to win over wood and steel over brass over time. Also, older handmade or hand-filed screws can really do a number on the eyelet. The contact between the frog and the stick might be bad too, not to discount tolerance issues throughout the system. There are many issues with bows and Mr Noykos could probably put together a 100 point list for us. Basically, if the point hasn't been illustrated, it is a frog that is climbing and binding its way to the player's desired tension that is at issue.

Because of this, there can be a delayed settling after the tension is set, and certainly after the player starts playing. Kids ask me why I back off their bows ( a 1/4 to 10th of a turn or so ) on occasion during a lesson, and it is because on less expensive bows, the frogs can and do bind. I'll tighten and re-relax if necessary.

Anyway, dos centavos mas.

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