Swiss Pear and Flamed Birch


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I am going to experiment with two different types of backs. Both have unusual flame but both pieces are considerably heavier than maple. I am still just working on the outside arching but I was wondering what experience makers have when using heavier than normal backs.

My normal thicknessing is around 4.5 - 5 mm at the center tapering to 2.5 in the upper and lower bouts while trying to keep the edges around 3 mm and usually I ended up with plates that are around 100 - 110 gms. If I follow this pattern I will end up with plates around 125 to 140 gm (about 25 % heavier)

The pear wood is on the left, and the birch is on the right.

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I finished one violin in birch, and have another incomplete. The flame was real wicked, and the tap tone unusually low...started that way. But the finished one seems to play nice. I think you can thin the edges down to 2.5-2.7 without any problems. The birch I have is very stiff. That might get you an extra 5-10 grams. Don't know about the pear wood.

Ken

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Hillaire made a "run" of violins for the American industialist "Fawick", many with birch backs. I've seen flamed pear used in several modern Italian instruments... the last one I recall was a Sgarabotto.

In both cases, the graduations weren't all that different than what might have been seen with maple. If anything, the Sgarabotto back was on the heavy side (thick), but not alarmingly so.

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Hillaire made a "run" of violins for the American industialist "Fawick", many with birch backs. I've seen flamed pear used in several modern Italian instruments... the last one I recall was a Sgarabotto.

In both cases, the graduations weren't all that different than what might have been seen with maple. If anything, the Sgarabotto back was on the heavy side (thick), but not alarmingly so.

Thanks Jeffery,

I appreciate your expertise in this area and I will post some updates on my progress. re: weights .. tap tones .. etc. Just one further question. Were the necks also done in birch and pear? I have some 2" + quartered pear that I can use for a neck but not birch. But both are heavier than maple and I am reluctant to have excess weight at the neck for both player comfort and acoustical reasons.

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I have some 2" + quartered pear that I can use for a neck but not birch. But both are heavier than maple and I am reluctant to have excess weight at the neck for both player comfort and acoustical reasons.

I would recomend making the scroll/pegbox out of the same wood as the back, but graft it onto a maple neck. It's a pretty look and your players will appreciate it.

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  • 4 months later...

I am going to experiment with two different types of backs. Both have unusual flame but both pieces are considerably heavier than maple. I am still just working on the outside arching but I was wondering what experience makers have when using heavier than normal backs.

My normal thicknessing is around 4.5 - 5 mm at the center tapering to 2.5 in the upper and lower bouts while trying to keep the edges around 3 mm and usually I ended up with plates that are around 100 - 110 gms. If I follow this pattern I will end up with plates around 125 to 140 gm (about 25 % heavier)

The pear wood is on the left, and the birch is on the right.

Just finished the flamed birch #13 violin. The back of 125 gm varied from 4 mm at the center to about 2.4 min the upper lower bouts and 3 mm around the inside edges with M5 tap tone of 315 hz. The top was a piece of Kermodie spruce from BC at 70 gm with a M5 of 350 Hz. It has a strong G and D, a medium A and a little weaker E string. I may have to open (thin the bridge a little) on the treble side. Again it is a little too early to tell since the strings have to settle in and the violin has to settle in to the new stresses of being strung up. But I am pleased with the overall sound ... so yes you can use flamed birch instead of maple!

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