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GlennYorkPA
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Thought I'd share a final comment on the 'afterlength' discussion. I have recently shortened the tailpiece gut on a violin here. I recorded the accelerance before and after the operation. I shortened the tailgut some 5-7mm and the afterlangth is about 49mm now. The G string afterlangth is at e.

There is quite a difference between the two situation. The B1+ is not splitted any more, so reversed this could have been a 'wolf fix'. I am not quite sure if the level of the hammer signal is the same for the two tests. The signal might be a little weaker so as the hammer signal is in the denominator the resulting curve becomes a little stronger. But there is quite a difference here. The increased level could also be that the tailpiece is further from the bridge. There is quite a difference in the high frequency region there.

These results support the notion here that short tailguts give a more aggressive sound and setup. For Hardanger fiddles there are hooks and more strings. We also use metal thread for the hooks and tailgut. My experience is that a short tailgut is not good for a Hardanger, but I use short hooks, and find that to be better than long. So I agree that a longer afterlength is better, but not a shorter tailgut for a hardanger.

post-25136-0-92050300-1322342279_thumb.jpg

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This is fantastic .... very interested that the greatest difference is in the 3.5 to 7.5K range. I have been convinced for a long time that this frequency band is "where it's at" for me as a player.

Maybe I just like these results because they support my own intuitions!

But it's very graphic, even to the extent of showing that there's very little difference in the area of fundamentals, but a dramatic difference in the higher harmonics.

I feel even more certain that modifying the afterstring length is to do with bridge damping and very little else.

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Richardz,

I can't resist jumping in here.

It seems to be important that the tailpiece should be free to rock ( or maybe roll!). I mean rotate about its long axis. This is to leave the G end of the bridge to move vertically and cause the top to vibrate unimpeded.

It follows that a shorter tailpiece and a longer tailgut is a good idea. Vittorio Clemente (of Bogaro and Clemente) is now advocating a twisted Kevlar tailgut so that only one thread is passing over the saddle rather than two. This leaves the tailpiece completely free to rotate and is no longer choking the free movement of the bridge.

Thanks for jumping in Glen.....yeah, maybe this tailpiece is rockin' but not rollin'. I'm going to go ahead and try a shorter one. Thanks for the info on the Clemente invention too. Always interesting to see someone come up with a new concept.

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Normally, tailpiece rigid-body vibrations are (with one exception) below the frequency range of played notes, and therefore don't have much effect. If you shorten the tailgut to zero, that will stiffen a torsional mode of the tailpiece to where it might get up to playing frequency, and cause (generally undesirable) interference.

Thanks Don. This might be what's going on here. Time to experiment......

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A digression: Regarding tuning most stringed instrument, each player who has taken time to truly listen to what occurs to a particular instrument may notice that biasing (sharp/flat, tighter/looser) a small amount maybe necessary as playing - and the environment - are dynamic things, especially at the limits. In the shop or at home, constant adjustments are possible, but on-stage with pieces like the Bruch g minor, Berg or Khatchaturian, there should be a game plan prepared for the player. I tend to sharp, which is no-nonsense, though there are those (old school) who tune to absolute "rock solid" 5ths, then sharpen the G-string by pushing down on (squeezing) the string behind the nut a variable amount. These are often players who use or used to use gut-core strings. I did this for several decades in orchestral playing, but tired of it, and the others in a quartet were simply annoyed by the repetitive action if there was a lot of open G or C work. Intuitively, one would use less graphite on the G/C-string at the nut.

Just a few meandering comments. And for the record, I do not adjust afterlength on visiting instruments unless suggested.

Mr Martin's experience/experiment at the afterlength is what has been mostly observed. On instruments that have a harsher top-end in the octave above the open e-string, if the afterlengths are dead on pitch, a little bit of that tonal harshness is taken off. Switching from Westminster to a Pirastro Gold may have the same tonal effect on some instruments. There must be some (undesired) energy being absorbed into the afterlength? Or the player is able and willing to shape string tone. Several years ago, a quiet but brilliant man taught me how to make tiny - single string - bridges of harder woods and we would move these tiny bridges (like those on a koto or a chinese harp) along the tailpiece (must drill additional holes for strings). This was an adaptation from the use of the non-pointy end of toothpicks that would be slid on to the tailpiece to sharpen the D/G-string afterlength to lock in on pitch. Anyway, I believe the effects are "audible and felt" by the sensitive player and to - at least - immediate bunk or in-mates, but not so much off-stage (though I believe that a more pure tone appears to carry further into the Hall than a harsher/unevenly-distorted one). But let me put this into perspective: If one practices with a relaxed, right-hand grip (hands, period), the audible benefits are mostly about the same?!? So much of getting an instrument "to sing," is literally in the player's hands. Thus the mis-information about "some players" being able to make any (though they can make many) instrument sound good.

As a player and teacher, the confidence of the student is crucial (mine, especially). I'd rather the students play well (heard as: Full) in the upper octaves. If their perception is that of harsh or harsh-er sound, they will back off, especially if "practice" is in a tiny practice room or apartment. Students should play at least for a short time at performance volumes to develop a better understanding of the mechanics of the hands and arms (as strange things can happen when physically tired or emotionally charged). Of course, softer rosins can help too (seasonally). One teacher/artist i knew practiced with an un-rosined bow, and swear that it was like watching a TV with the sound turned off. It was clearly "audible" visibly what was being musically expressed. Maybe I do tinker too much, but we (on the whole) are a neurotic bunch. So "tuning" the afterlength - for that matter, attention to what occurs behind the bridge - is a valuable tool, but that process does require some precision, and time, because restoring the "original" sound or feel, at least psychologically to the player, might not be possible.

For those of us who are miked at the bridge (via Countryman, BPM, lavalier-style/type microphones) or play a lot of harmonically complex compositions in a chamber setting, the afterlength set to its functional maximum and then tuned to non-pitches might be something important (as well as tiny "foam/rubber" dampers to keep the afterlength from ringing). Usually these amplified instruments are not expensive or exotics, but ones that travel well. To avoid anomalies through the sound system, higher output and response, that is reasonably well-behaved is desired at the bridge. In a chamber setting, often the other players are the ones who complain if an instrument rings too well. No wonder it's so difficult in keeping groups together. String players ring better in the keys of a few sharps of flats (Bb,F,C,G,D,A Major, plus associated minor keys and modes). When we are asked to play expressively in more complex keys, certain notes might be biased acoustically. If the afterlength is set, then it can make this situation worse. Less than 10 percent of the players out there have this issue.

Has there been an argument for or against integrated tuners yet?

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Richard,

I don't think it's correct to say that a short tailgut is "optimum". It depends entirely on the instrument. I try all sorts of things, though on our new instruments I tend to prefer the sound of a very short tailgut, and would probably use wire if it wasn't so horrible.

A long afterstring will give a more open and aggressive sound (there seems to be broad agreement amongst the seasoned pros here), a short afterstring will provide some helpful damping to an unruly or overly wild violin.

There is no optimum - nonado for instance starts with about 57mm afterstring and then changes things if necessary - that's also my approach (though my starting point might be 55mm). Michael Darnton feels that a long afterstring is more likely to please a trad player and a short afterstring a classical player.

On cellos the latest thing is Kevlar tailguts, short light tailpieces, and one point of contact between tailgut and saddle. This approach is intended to minimize damping effects, but that's cellos. The same approach on a violin would probably lead to a very unruly instrument.

With your disappointing violin, I would be surprised if you're going to find a cure in the afterstring area ....

Thanks for the concise clarification Martin. I'm not sure you got exactly what I described, and if that's the case or not, it's ok. Basically the tailpiece is so long it's right up against the saddle so you can't even experiment with a longer than 55mm afterlength, even if you want to. I'm going too put a shorter, more normal tailpiece on and see what the result is. I will post the result.

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Here is the comparison of the sound pressure level over force, 'Curtin rig response' of the same fiddle. Here it appears to be more sound in the long tailgut situation. The issue I focussed on was the removal of the split B1+ mode. Clearly the notes around B are going to work a bit different in the two settings.

I have no clear idea why the A0 seem weaker with the shorter tailgut. Maybe some damping is added by the tailpice being in a closer contact with the tailnut?

We also see the high frequency response (around 5kHz) being stronger with the shorter tailgut, not necessarily a good thing.

The back palte of this fiddle is thin in the central part, thus the rater low frequency B1+.

post-25136-0-75068100-1322349397_thumb.jpg

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Glen, Don, and Martin:

I put on the shorter tailpiece. In taking off the longer one I noted there was no twist or roll at all....not the slightest, it was tight. The immediate result with the new tailpiece is the sound is rounder, louder, and the strings would previously only engage with pressure and now there is dynamic shading...it sounds musical whether soft or loud. This is a notable improvement on a nice violin that I've been tinkering with on and off for years. As Martin would say, see what it's like tomorrow after it settles in. My sense is the improvement will remain. Thank you all!

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For newbies, I want to remind that string or afterlength frequencies are heard in the far field only to the extent that they excite a radiating resonance in the violin body.

Thus the first order priority for a maker is to form desireable arangements of the body resonances together with coupling by the bridge. This does not mean strong radiation at every possible frequency—the highly-regarded fiddles only radiate a few frequencies.

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Glen, Don, and Martin:

I put on the shorter tailpiece. In taking off the longer one I noted there was no twist or roll at all....not the slightest, it was tight. The immediate result with the new tailpiece is the sound is rounder, louder, and the strings would previously only engage with pressure and now there is dynamic shading...it sounds musical whether soft or loud. This is a notable improvement on a nice violin that I've been tinkering with on and off for years. As Martin would say, see what it's like tomorrow after it settles in. My sense is the improvement will remain. Thank you all!

Richardz,

This is very satisfying. Glad you got such a quick and obvious result.

The long tailpiece and short tail gut was like putting the vibrations in a straightjacket.

Let us know if the benefit persists (I think it will).

Glenn

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Thought I'd share a final comment on the 'afterlength' discussion. I have recently shortened the tailpiece gut on a violin here. I recorded the accelerance before and after the operation. I shortened the tailgut some 5-7mm and the afterlangth is about 49mm now. The G string afterlangth is at e.

There is quite a difference between the two situation. The B1+ is not splitted any more, so reversed this could have been a 'wolf fix'. I am not quite sure if the level of the hammer signal is the same for the two tests. The signal might be a little weaker so as the hammer signal is in the denominator the resulting curve becomes a little stronger. But there is quite a difference here. The increased level could also be that the tailpiece is further from the bridge. There is quite a difference in the high frequency region there.

These results support the notion here that short tailguts give a more aggressive sound and setup. For Hardanger fiddles there are hooks and more strings. We also use metal thread for the hooks and tailgut. My experience is that a short tailgut is not good for a Hardanger, but I use short hooks, and find that to be better than long. So I agree that a longer afterlength is better, but not a shorter tailgut for a hardanger.

is your first paragraph correct?

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What about lighter weight v. afterlength/tailgut length?

Good call Janito.....but it's not lighter weight. I know I changed more than one element, but intentionally. The new shorter tailpiece which I just happened to have hanging around is an aluminum Wittner with the 4 fine tuners so it is actually more weight. I wanted that for additional damping (thanks Ernie Martell). It's a bright violin and the old Boxwood tailpiece probably wasn't helping in that regard either, so I made an informed choice. Thanks for mentioning though.

Glen:

Satisfying indeed! Will report on the final settled in sound tomorrow

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Hm, didn't clock that Anders ... you must have started with an afterstring of about 43mm!! String length at 328 is definitely not short - that's some strange fiddle you've got there. What's the body stop, 200mm?

I think I'd be very interested in data for a shift in afterstring from say 50 to 58mm - the accelerance and the volume are useful to know, but decay would also be really good ...

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Hm, didn't clock that Anders ... you must have started with an afterstring of about 43mm!! String length at 328 is definitely not short - that's some strange fiddle you've got there. What's the body stop, 200mm?

I think I'd be very interested in data for a shift in afterstring from say 50 to 58mm - the accelerance and the volume are useful to know, but decay would also be really good ...

It is not my fiddle. It is supposed to be built by a student, and the label is removed. It's a 'problem child', I'd say. But better now. Owned by a female. The body stop is 195mm and the tailpiece is a bit long.

Decay? You mean the reverberation time?

Edited by Anders Buen
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A digression: Regarding tuning most stringed instrument, each player who has taken time to truly listen to what occurs to a particular instrument may notice that biasing (sharp/flat, tighter/looser) a small amount maybe necessary as playing - and the environment - are dynamic things, especially at the limits. In the shop or at home, constant adjustments are possible, but on-stage with pieces like the Bruch g minor, Berg or Khatchaturian, there should be a game plan prepared for the player. I tend to sharp, which is no-nonsense, though there are those (old school) who tune to absolute "rock solid" 5ths, then sharpen the G-string by pushing down on (squeezing) the string behind the nut a variable amount. These are often players who use or used to use gut-core strings. I did this for several decades in orchestral playing, but tired of it, and the others in a quartet were simply annoyed by the repetitive action if there was a lot of open G or C work. Intuitively, one would use less graphite on the G/C-string at the nut.

Just a few meandering comments. And for the record, I do not adjust afterlength on visiting instruments unless suggested.

Mr Martin's experience/experiment at the afterlength is what has been mostly observed. On instruments that have a harsher top-end in the octave above the open e-string, if the afterlengths are dead on pitch, a little bit of that tonal harshness is taken off. Switching from Westminster to a Pirastro Gold may have the same tonal effect on some instruments. There must be some (undesired) energy being absorbed into the afterlength? Or the player is able and willing to shape string tone. Several years ago, a quiet but brilliant man taught me how to make tiny - single string - bridges of harder woods and we would move these tiny bridges (like those on a koto or a chinese harp) along the tailpiece (must drill additional holes for strings). This was an adaptation from the use of the non-pointy end of toothpicks that would be slid on to the tailpiece to sharpen the D/G-string afterlength to lock in on pitch. Anyway, I believe the effects are "audible and felt" by the sensitive player and to - at least - immediate bunk or in-mates, but not so much off-stage (though I believe that a more pure tone appears to carry further into the Hall than a harsher/unevenly-distorted one). But let me put this into perspective: If one practices with a relaxed, right-hand grip (hands, period), the audible benefits are mostly about the same?!? So much of getting an instrument "to sing," is literally in the player's hands. Thus the mis-information about "some players" being able to make any (though they can make many) instrument sound good.

As a player and teacher, the confidence of the student is crucial (mine, especially). I'd rather the students play well (heard as: Full) in the upper octaves. If their perception is that of harsh or harsh-er sound, they will back off, especially if "practice" is in a tiny practice room or apartment. Students should play at least for a short time at performance volumes to develop a better understanding of the mechanics of the hands and arms (as strange things can happen when physically tired or emotionally charged). Of course, softer rosins can help too (seasonally). One teacher/artist i knew practiced with an un-rosined bow, and swear that it was like watching a TV with the sound turned off. It was clearly "audible" visibly what was being musically expressed. Maybe I do tinker too much, but we (on the whole) are a neurotic bunch. So "tuning" the afterlength - for that matter, attention to what occurs behind the bridge - is a valuable tool, but that process does require some precision, and time, because restoring the "original" sound or feel, at least psychologically to the player, might not be possible.

For those of us who are miked at the bridge (via Countryman, BPM, lavalier-style/type microphones) or play a lot of harmonically complex compositions in a chamber setting, the afterlength set to its functional maximum and then tuned to non-pitches might be something important (as well as tiny "foam/rubber" dampers to keep the afterlength from ringing). Usually these amplified instruments are not expensive or exotics, but ones that travel well. To avoid anomalies through the sound system, higher output and response, that is reasonably well-behaved is desired at the bridge. In a chamber setting, often the other players are the ones who complain if an instrument rings too well. No wonder it's so difficult in keeping groups together. String players ring better in the keys of a few sharps of flats (Bb,F,C,G,D,A Major, plus associated minor keys and modes). When we are asked to play expressively in more complex keys, certain notes might be biased acoustically. If the afterlength is set, then it can make this situation worse. Less than 10 percent of the players out there have this issue.

Has there been an argument for or against integrated tuners yet?

Balorin,

I enjoyed reading your contribution because it was written from the point of view of someone who has a deep, artistic relationship with the violin but no technical knowledge of its workings. That puts you on a par with the great makers of the past.

To my knowledge, no measuring device marked in mms (or equivalent fine divisions) was found amongst Stradivari's tools. There are certainly compasses and devices for estimating ratios. Those old masters knew what was important and what not according to principles that no longer figure in violin making.

If you lived in England in the 16th/17th centuries and wanted a violin, you visited a viol or violin maker and he would measure the length of your arm. From this measurement, the instrument was constructed just like making a suit. It wasn't a case of 'one size fits all' as seems to be the case today where the latest Strad poster acts as a blue print to the construction of a maker's latest instrument.

Glenn

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Glen, Don, and Martin:

I tested the violin now that it settled in more and the improvements remain, maybe even better. The G afterlength is almost a D# so I might adjust it more tonight. It's pretty nice as is. I "might", (but probably won't) try a lighter short tailpiece, I think light is probably wrong for this violin, which is light and bright.

Funny thing, the long boxwood tailpiece came on the violin, and looks really nice and the violin had been in and out of some good shops here in NYC so I assumed, of all factors involved in set up, the tailpiece must be correct.....wrong! I think this change brought this violin out of the beautiful but freakish mode and let it be the excellent instrument it is. Thanks again!

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Balorin,

I enjoyed reading your contribution because it was written from the point of view of someone who has a deep, artistic relationship with the violin but no technical knowledge of its workings. That puts you on a par with the great makers of the past.

We don't really know how technically adept makers of the past were. Lots of speculation...

To my knowledge, no measuring device marked in mms (or equivalent fine divisions) was found amongst Stradivari's tools. There are certainly compasses and devices for estimating ratios. Those old masters knew what was important and what not according to principles that no longer figure in violin making.

The metric system is somewhat more convenient for computing ratios, versus the inch system, from my experience with both. Stradivari probably used something different, but it wouldn't necessarily confuse the outcome.

Decimals and fractions aren't that different, once one learns the characteristic signatures and relationships of each.

If you lived in England in the 16th/17th centuries and wanted a violin, you visited a viol or violin maker and he would measure the length of your arm. From this measurement, the instrument was constructed just like making a suit. It wasn't a case of 'one size fits all' as seems to be the case today where the latest Strad poster acts as a blue print to the construction of a maker's latest instrument.

Maybe, maybe not. I will await your evidence.

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So far what I have learned from experimenting with things mentioned in this topic is...

If your setup is vastly different from the standard measures, you're probably altering the wrong parameter. Set back to standard, and try something else.

That's the Newbie News for today. rolleyes.gif

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It seems the average arm length in Cremona was especially high during the 1690s.

And it was pretty uniform among the musicians...

Matthias

I wasn't referring to Cremona in the 1690s. I think that by then, makers had more or less standardised on 14" back length.

Not sure what point you are making or why you are making it.

Glenn

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Glen, Don, and Martin:

I tested the violin now that it settled in more and the improvements remain, maybe even better. The G afterlength is almost a D# so I might adjust it more tonight. It's pretty nice as is. I "might", (but probably won't) try a lighter short tailpiece, I think light is probably wrong for this violin, which is light and bright.

Funny thing, the long boxwood tailpiece came on the violin, and looks really nice and the violin had been in and out of some good shops here in NYC so I assumed, of all factors involved in set up, the tailpiece must be correct.....wrong! I think this change brought this violin out of the beautiful but freakish mode and let it be the excellent instrument it is. Thanks again!

Glad we could help, Richard.

I'm not surprised by your experience in NYC.

There are so many pet theories and so much tinkering that there is often a failure to distinguish between first and second order effects. Switching from ebony to rosewood pegs may have an influence on performance characteristics but that's definitely in the second order category.

Glenn

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