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another point i was trying to make, its easy to tell the difference by tapping on the wood between a good piece of air dried spruce, and an often better looking piece of kiln dried spruce that has been tonally damaged by the kiln drying (i might add, that according to some suppliers, not all kiln drying processes damage the tone, certainly most agree the high temperature, vacuum kiln type used on most hardwood does do damage)

OK, here's the taptones of 3 pieces of spruce. Please rate them in order of goodness.

3 Taptones.mp3

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very funny don, my friend used to play pots and pans drum set at venice beach, i think your samples came from the kitchen cupboard, but as far as ring tones go, there all remarkably dead, only the second and third sample has any ring at all, and tone wise by my criteria, these are dead wood, not suitable for instruments, however it may be how you are holding the wood; do you even know how to hold a piece of wood to test tap tones? try putting a pencil mark exactly 1/4 the length and holding it it the middle with your thumb and forefinger on that mark

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Or is it possibly the same piece of tone wood held at different nodes? works for me in my LAB... can I ask Don,What is the hammer made of? It sounds like the same piece of wood to me. Shape and size plays a big role in sustain and pitch,as well as moisture content.

On topic,I was lucky enough to attend a semester at the new world school of violin making and am forever grateful for my time spent.I give My little plug for Brian Derber, Brian provided me with what I feel as rock solid Basic school edu.and well, Financial constraints prevented me from continuing. My thinking on German school training(including Three Yrs apprenticeship) is that it teaches strong fundamentals.Good ABC's that we then learn to compose with or to simply transcribe,to each their own.

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On topic,I was lucky enough to attend a semester at the new world school of violin making and am forever grateful for my time spent.I give My little plug for Brian Derber

Brian's a good man and a fine woodworker. Great beard too. At school, he was one of our brewmeisters and inspiration for the label (Geigenbrau).

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using your knuckle will bring out the lower resonances more at the expense of some higher, which seem to predominate your sample, when i say hold it at 1/4 of the length thats not the only optimal spot, 1/3 and 1/2 length can also give useful information, but unless you standardise where you tap the pieces, theres no way to do a comparison, unless the test is done the same way on all the pieces in the test, and yes i assume that youve got three different sources as the principal tone isnt going to change in frequency by holding it differently, i dont think. also for any serious comparison of different woods, you need identically dimensioned pieces, especially if you want to judge which has the higher frequency resonances, hence being stronger or heavier wood, you can compare wood that isnt identically dimensioned, but its a lot easier and more accurate to use identically sized pieces

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apropos of this discussion. One year at the Oberlin acoustics workshop Joe Curtin lined up six pieces of wood and challenged the violinmakers in the class to sort them in order of stiffness.

Of the 20 or so violinmakers present, most of them very experienced professionals, only ONE got it right.

As I recall Anders and I approached the problem the same way, we sorted the samples by pitch. We both had the same sequence but we both (or at least I ) failed to account for the weight factor in our calculations.

I have not seen any study that has found a common set of properties of the wood used by Strad. Maybe I missed it.

Oded Kishony

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the common properties your missing, oded, are stradivaris, fingers, knuckles and ears, they stayed basically the same throughout his life, he learned at a young age in nicolos shop what good and bad wood sounded like, and never forgot it the rest of his life......

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I have not seen any study that has found a common set of properties of the wood used by Strad. Maybe I missed it.

Oded Kishony

I can't help but wonder if the properties of Strad's wood that have been published aren't a very skewed set. If someone measures an unusually high or low value for density it would be much more likely to get published than a value that is completely average in every way.

That said I've seen values for his spruce's density that have been a little below average, average, and highish. I suspect that if you measured the density of all of his violins then it would show as much variation as is found in the supply of modern spruce.

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A fair amount of information has come out from the Xrays that have been done and I've also noticed that the spruce densities seem to cover a lot of ground. Anything else of interest been discovered?

I guess all the Strads I've ever seen were very carefully cut on the quarter, but OTOH I've seen and heard magnificent instruments with wood cut in every which way.

Oded

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this would be expected, quality of tap tones has nothing to do with density, you can have incredible tap tones in both low and high density wood, and likewise mediocre tap tones in both high and low density wood, if you always pick the wood with the higher frequency tap tones, youre probably going to get stiffer wood, but depending on what you start with, tap tones of the finished plates can be controlled by making the lower stiffness top thicker, and the higher stiffness top thinner, it would be very interesting to see if on unregraduated strads there is any correlation between higher density instruments having thinner graduation, and lower density ones having thicker graduations

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The problem with teaching acoustics in violin making school like something that is going on at Oberlin, is I'm not sure if everyone agrees on what is important yet. There is a lot data being collected which I think is important, but I get the sense from talking to a lot people studying acoustics that they aren't completely sure of what they are interpreting from the data. When you take a physics 101 course in college, you aren't studying cutting edge stuff. You are learning what has already been vetted.

edit: Acoustics are studied in violin making school to a certain degree by the way.

I would add to this, Matt, that a lot of folks -- admittedly, based only on my experience the last three years at Salt Lake -- start school either with little or nothing by way of background that has prepared them for the time they will spend at the bench. Consequently, the first year or so of the program can be a little overwhelming or at a minimum leaves them with little bandwidth to devote to looking outside the core curriculum. You might get a few really motivated folks who would be interested in acoustics in the second or third year. But for the most part, if students are working on home instruments and doing some serious varnish experimentation outside of school, it's something of an achievement. If schools are to give students a solid foundation on which they can then build by working in a shop after graduation and getting more involved with peers in the field, then making, varnish and repair, it seems to me, are more core than acoustics instruction for which the schools are less likely to be well-equipped both in terms of hardware/software and the core competencies of instructors. And if, with this post, I have managed to deflect some of the PM ire from you to myself, we can work out what you owe me offline. ;)

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I'm Inclined to believe that he, Strad was looking for a good ring, but that his Idea of tone wood also developed around many other criteria as well, I.E clear, straight, smooth to the knife, split, feel, dare I say tradition, availability. The density of the wood has very much to do with the quality's of a tap tone. Ebony will sound very different from balsa and have very different qualities,,,

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I have about 10 years to retirement age...and only twice because of industrial injuries I received while on the job did I have to make a career change (I physically could not perform my duties...I graduated from a well known technical college and began a new career...looking back now I can say that the school gave me a good foundation of knowledge and the little piece of paper/degree allowed me to apply...however my new career required continuous education...long story short...I no longer work in that career but it was not the end of my learning.

Graduating from another school made me aware of how much I did'nt know and how much more there was to learn...mostly from being around others more talented...it was a rough and humbling experience which was life changing.

Now I would like to spend the rest of my life doing what I have always enjoyed the most which is... music and woodworking...going to a vm school I hope will allow me to lay a foundation on which to start building credentials...I'm fortunate that my wife owns a successful accounting business and works alot with small business owners...so I receive free education in that aspect!...well...maybe not totally free if you count the honey-do lists.

If and when I graduate from a vm school...I will continue educating myself with whatever lifelong programs that will be available...like Oberlin.

Ernie -

I'm one of those career change guys at Salt Lake to whom Matt alluded earlier in the thread. PM me if you would like to chat about that aspect of the path on which you are embarking. Glad to share my experiences if that would be helpful. Julian

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james i didnt say the qualities of the wood would be the same, like density, stiffness, mass, etc; i said the quality of the tap tones(how well it rings, not what note it rings at) are not determined by the density, otherwise wed all be making ebony tops, my guess is that there is good resonant balsa and dead balsa, good resonant ebony and dead ebony, just like other woods and spruce

you might make a statement like "denser, stiffer spruce tends to have better tap tones" but im not sure that is true, certainly theres some really good lighter wood like engelmann spruce out there, and it can ring pretty good

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I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that maybe, just maybe, the curriculum should be somewhat flexible to allow those that have prior experience to move at a faster pace and get more than the basics the first year teaches.

I don't know about you but i would be bored *&^%less relearning how to sharpen a knife. What about those people that have tool skills and set-up skills but not making? Are they supposed to be held back just because the nominal skill set is below par.

I would like to think that schools would have "alternative" approach to these types of students.

My 2 cents

Jesse

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I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that maybe, just maybe, the curriculum should be somewhat flexible to allow those that have prior experience to move at a faster pace and get more than the basics the first year teaches.

I don't know about you but i would be bored *&^%less relearning how to sharpen a knife. What about those people that have tool skills and set-up skills but not making? Are they supposed to be held back just because the nominal skill set is below par.

I would like to think that schools would have "alternative" approach to these types of students.

My 2 cents

Jesse

I ran up against that a bit,I've got thirty plus years playing with sharp stuff for a living,I just resigned myself to learning as much as I could ...and low and behold , I did ...in almost every subject.Embrace the boredom, it won't last long.

Our curriculum allowed me to move faster,without skipping instruction, than other students,yet also held a continuity with my class mates.

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I ran up against that a bit,I've got thirty plus years playing with sharp stuff for a living,I just resigned myself to learning as much as I could ...and low and behold , I did ...in almost every subject.Embrace the boredom, it won't last long.

Our curriculum allowed me to move faster,without skipping instruction, than other students,yet also held a continuity with my class mates.

That is good to know. I guess it will always be "you get out of it, what you put in it".

I was mainly talking theoretically since i won't be able to go to a school. I don't have 3 years to spend on myself and not work unfortunately. I do however plan to go to summer classes as much as possible. Different route to the same end i guess.

Jesse

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as far as ring tones go, there all remarkably dead, only the second and third sample has any ring at all, and tone wise by my criteria, these are dead wood, not suitable for instruments, however it may be how you are holding the wood; do you even know how to hold a piece of wood to test tap tones? try putting a pencil mark exactly 1/4 the length and holding it it the middle with your thumb and forefinger on that mark

If I put a mark at exactly 1/4 the length, it would be in the wrong spot. Nodal points for free-free beams are .224 times the length from the end, which is where I put my mark and where I hold the wood.

Here are the pieces of wood in the tap tone test, in order left to right:post-25192-0-54047800-1323323029_thumb.jpg

The first (deadest) wood is air-dried Engelmann about a year or two old.

The second is wood from the same log as the first, but subjected to things including vacuum bake over 300F.

The third is also Engelmann (different log) subjected to even higher temperatures.

i might add, that according to some suppliers, not all kiln drying processes damage the tone, certainly most agree the high temperature, vacuum kiln type used on most hardwood does do damage

I certainly am not one of the "most". I have been experimenting with high temperature and vacuum (among other things) for a few years now, and I have plenty of evidence that it does NOT automatically damage the tone... some other undesirable things do happen, but if you just want to listen to the ring of the wood, the air-dried wood always has the deader sound, and usually the lowest frequency. Certainly there ARE ways you can heat wood to destroy the cell structure and therefore its mechanical/acoustic properties, but I don't see the anti-kiln rant as being justified by any real evidence.

I imagine this little demonstration will have little impact on those who have strongly held contrary beliefs. I just thought I'd raise a flag of caution for others who might mistake constant repetition of opinions for actual facts.

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well i was going to say your samples sounded like kiln dried wood, no idea why the untreated engelmann sounds so bad, perhaps you should talk to your supplier, i must admit i havent even heard kiln dried dead wood as dead as your sample 1, although obviously one or two years is not long enough for air drying, usually people try for 10 years before using it. and i should add ive never used hammers to tap on wood, perhaps thats causing some confusion.

what you have seemed to demonstrate well, don, is that "kiln type" heat treating of wood is better than green wood untreated, obviously there's something wrong tonally with the engelmann untreated piece you started with, quite likely because its still green. a good well aged air dried engelmann spruce will ring better than any of these three samples, and you may not see the same improvement when heat treating it, it might even get worse, i suggest you start over with source spruce, air dried at least 7 years from a reputable supplier, because all youve proved so far is that green wood sucks, tonally.

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well i was going to say your samples sounded like kiln dried wood, no idea why the untreated engelmann sounds so bad, perhaps you should talk to your supplier, i must admit i havent even heard kiln dried dead wood as dead as your sample 1, although obviously one or two years is not long enough for air drying, usually people try for 10 years before using it. and i should add ive never used hammers to tap on wood, perhaps thats causing some confusion.

what you have seemed to demonstrate well, don, is that "kiln type" heat treating of wood is better than green wood untreated, obviously there's something wrong tonally with the engelmann untreated piece you started with, quite likely because its still green. a good well aged air dried engelmann spruce will ring better than any of these three samples, and you may not see the same improvement when heat treating it, it might even get worse, i suggest you start over with source spruce, air dried at least 7 years from a reputable supplier, because all youve proved so far is that green wood sucks, tonally.

Lyndon, are you actualy making violins ? I'd love to see a couple of pics and maybe hear a sound sample.

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carl weve been through this many times before, im retired from instument building, run a violin restoration shop, part time out of my house, im a keyboard player, not a violinist and have built about 20 historical copies of baroque clavichords using spruce soundboards and my "secret" violin varnish on the soundboards,

my old clavichord website, clavworld.com is preserved by web.archive.org at the third link below at the bottom of this page, while the websites of my friends and colleagues are still active if you click on their name, the web hoster has only preserved about 10 pictures of my work,

to see the few pictures go to the website and click on lyndon taylor under north american builders, then click on under instruments, clavicord 1, and also instrument7; the cembal d'amour (pics taken before it was finished) these are the only pictures, as the web hoster is free, they dont have enough webspace to save all my pictures,

instrument 1 is totally varnished on the outside and the soundboard with my nitric acid coloured "italian" varnish, if you want to read about my work, click on the article; "reconstructing silbermanns cembal d'amour" to read about my historical copy of by far the largest clavichord ever built (9 1/2 feet wide!!), at the time one of about only 5 in the world, silbermann was a close friend of js bach and invented this instrument as well as the early german piano bach famously made two visits to try out

finally heres a link to lyndon taylor playing bach on a stradivari, no kidding

well, not THE maestronet lyndon taylor, but he is my best customers brother, and he plays for the LA philharmonic, im still dying to see his strad, and no im not going crazy, there are two lyndon taylors, i hope to god my reputation isnt rubbing off on him.

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