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fitting a sound post


Mat Roop

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But a perfectly reasonable one. There is obviously a certain amount of circularity in sound post fitting and placement. Nevertheless, small movements in the sound post, which would be minimal in terms of fit can have a significant impact on tone. I'm not down to David's 0.2mm yet, but I have experienced the above.

Thank you. I found ( I might be absolutely wrong ! ) that a post perfectly fitted with the strings loose will quickly loose some contact on the top because under string pressure the top rotates over the post. A nudge towards N fixes this. Because the movement of the plate is FRACTIONS of a micron small any loss of contact is CATASTROPHICAL. The flexibility of the post insures that a small nudge on top has no influence on the back fit. Of course, these are only my unworthy of attention , personal opinions.

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Listen to WHAT exactly ? Move HOW ?

Please explain us - we're ready to learn. You were there and he told you to listen to ....WHAT ? "what" did not sound quite right and he moved the s/p HOW ?

Is this simple enough for you ?

OK, here's an example:

When the sound has a bluish speckled quality, and is lacking gold, the bottom of the post needs to be more to the outside.

Keep in mind though that what I hear as blue with speckles, you may hear as wavy yellow with diagonal lines, needing a hint of blue. This is just a visual metaphor, although synesthesia works to varying degrees for some people.

Until the scientists give us some agreed-on technical definitions for most of the subtle tonal qualities of a violin, which can easily and consistently be measured, you will need to experientially assemble, and then work from your own aural library. If assigning words to some of these qualities helps you remember them, that's fine, but don't expect that the words will adequately convey the subtleties of a tone experience to someone else.

I have a violin here which some players describe as "dark". Others don't. I have a memory of what it sounds like, but this memory doesn't involve words, any more than the image of my sister which I carry in my mind, and would use to recognize her involves words. I might try to use words when describing the sound of a violin to someone else, but this is woefully inadequate, particularly for the fine points.

I also might do a pretty good job of describing my sister to you, but it could easily describe about a million other women too. But I know her when I see her, and this has nothing to do with a description involving words. It's stored in my visual memory as something unrelated to speech.

So my best advice to you would be to abandon your fixation with descriptions, and work instead on building up your data base of audio memories, including memories of what different soundpost positions do.

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OK, here's an example:

When the sound has a bluish speckled quality, and is lacking gold, the bottom of the post needs to be more to the outside.

Keep in mind though that what I hear as blue with speckles, you may hear as wavy yellow with diagonal lines, needing a hint of blue. This is just a visual metaphor, although synesthesia works to varying degrees for some people.

Until the scientists give us some agreed-on technical definitions for most of the subtle tonal qualities of a violin, which can easily and consistently be measured, you will need to experientially assemble, and then work from your own aural library. If assigning words to some of these qualities helps you remember them, that's fine, but don't expect that the words will adequately convey the subtleties a tone experience to someone else.

I have a violin here which some players describe as "dark". Others don't. I have a memory of what it sounds like, but this memory doesn't involve words, any more than the image of my sister which I carry in my mind, and would use to recognize her involves words. I might try to use words when describing the sound of a violin to someone else, but this is woefully inadequate, particularly for the fine points.

I also might do a pretty good job of describing my sister to you, but it could easily describe about a million other women too. But I know her when I see her, and this has nothing to do with a description involving words. It's stored in my visual memory as something unrelated to speech.

So my best advice to you would be to abandon your fixation with descriptions, and work instead on building up your data base of audio memories, including memories of what different soundpost positions do.

Very well put! Thank you.

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OK, here's an example:

When the sound has a bluish speckled quality, and is lacking gold, the bottom of the post needs to be more to the outside.

Keep in mind though that what I hear as blue with speckles, you may hear as wavy yellow with diagonal lines, needing a hint of blue. This is just a visual metaphor, although synesthesia works to varying degrees for some people.

Until the scientists give us some agreed-on technical definitions for most of the subtle tonal qualities of a violin, which can easily and consistently be measured, you will need to experientially assemble, and then work from your own aural library. If assigning words to some of these qualities helps you remember them, that's fine, but don't expect that the words will adequately convey the subtleties a tone experience to someone else.

I have a violin here which some players describe as "dark". Others don't. I have a memory of what it sounds like, but this memory doesn't involve words, any more than the image of my sister which I carry in my mind, and would use to recognize her involves words. I might try to use words when describing the sound of a violin to someone else, but this is woefully inadequate, particularly for the fine points.

I also might do a pretty good job of describing my sister to you, but it could easily describe about a million other women too. But I know her when I see her, and this has nothing to do with a description involving words. It's stored in my visual memory as something unrelated to speech.

So my best advice to you would be to abandon your fixation with descriptions, and work instead on building up your data base of audio memories, including memories of what different soundpost positions do.

Thank you, David ! The blue/yellow contrast was brilliant. I take it you also remember them by the color. Perfect pitch, I'd guess.

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Sorry if I appeared argumentative. Basically all I wanted to find out was how s/p problems due to fit were discriminated from the ones due to position. As the work was carried at the Oberlin w/shop and was amply documented I expected something like this to have been sorted out.

Oh, then why didn't you just say so in the first place, and confine it to that? It would have saved me a lot of writing! :lol:

I believe Rene's changes were mostly from changes in position and tension, rather than fit. That's partly because he described the movements in terms of tension and position, rather than fit, and partly because he seemed capable of producing consistent improvements with each post position change, without first having closely examined the fit of the post. If fit was the over-riding component, I'd think that the outcome would have been less consistent, since he hadn't examined the fit closely enough to know which direction would make it better or worse.

Not that I'm advocating moving the post without first checking the fit, but we were focusing on learning as much as we could from a man who could do some very impressive things, and were not there to try to teach him. ;)

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Oh, then why didn't you just say so in the first place, and confine it to that? It would have saved me a lot of writing! :lol:

I believe Rene's changes were mostly from changes in position and tension, rather than fit. That's partly because he described the movements in terms of tension and position, rather than fit, and partly because he seemed capable of producing consistent improvements with each post position change, without first having closely examined the fit of the post. If fit was the over-riding component, I'd think that the outcome would have been less consistent, since he hadn't examined the fit closely enough to know which direction would make it better or worse.

Not that I'm advocating moving the post without first checking the fit, but we were focusing on learning as much as we could from a man who could do some very impressive things, and were not there to try to teach him. ;)

My bad, I thought I did. Again, thank you for the explanations. And you are right : I do have an obsession with definitions. I believe we need them or ideeas get lost. Most people might not sense the qualia an expert might get but they can make at least SOME progress with ( lesser ) but verbal notions.

And thank you again.

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Thank you, David ! The blue/yellow contrast was brilliant. I take it you also remember them by the color. Perfect pitch, I'd guess.

Yes on the "perfect pitch", but it gets less perfect as I age.

I nailed a 440 A over the phone today though (someone who reads here was kind of testing me, along with several other tests), so maybe all is not lost. Yet. :)

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OK, here's an example:

When the sound has a bluish speckled quality, and is lacking gold, the bottom of the post needs to be more to the outside.

Keep in mind though that what I hear as blue with speckles, you may hear as wavy yellow with diagonal lines, needing a hint of blue. This is just a visual metaphor, although synesthesia works to varying degrees for some people.

Yes!

This reminds me of the book The Man Who Tasted Shapes. If you haven't read it, do!

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Is never lost. It just gets confused from the pitch mess around us. And do you really want to be all the time aware that

nothing is in tune ?

"Perfect pitch" is as much a curse as a blessing. I played a B flat trumpet in middle school, and the music notation was confusing, relative to what I was hearing. Basically, I learned to play the parts by ear, with some assistance from time signatures and other time cues, and whether the notes moved up or down on the page.

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Thank you very much. In other words you simply observed Morel adjusting the post and were happy with the result. He did not make a new post, I take it, but nudged the old one in another position and this improved the instrument.

I believe this simply improved the fit. But that's ( obviously ) my personal opinion.

That's correct, he did not make a new post, but 'tapped' (for lack of a better word) the bottom, thus moving it minutely. I wasn't looking inside to see how far it moved, but a properly trained luthier knows that if a post has to be moved more than just a tap then tension must be taken off the strings (or at least the top ones...) to avoid putting a dimple in the soft spruce underbelly.

I completely agree that the adjustment 'improved the fit', and that's what I was getting at, however inelegantly. Where we differ is that I maintain that 'perfect fit' isn't necessarily visible, but lies in the famous .2mm concept that we've been bandying about, and thus not visible at all.

The difference may seem subtle to the uninitiated ear, yet not at all so to the person who has to perform on it. A post that doesn't fit properly can make a $500,000 instrument sound like $5,000. Contary-wise, a 'perfectly' fitting post adjustment can really make a decent instrument sing. I've had my instrument for about 16 years, I know perfectly well when it's not working, even if it may sound perfectly fine to the people around me.

When we all get our fill of s/p talk, maybe we can move on to other aspects of the sound we perceive, like acoustics, and whether one person has a tin ear and can't make distinctions, while another is so completely neurotic so that no luthier would dare take him on as a client. :)

edit: BTW, Isaac Stern had perfect pitch, and also claimed it was as much curse as blessing. In his later recordings he demonstrated what he meant.

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"Perfect pitch" is as much a curse as a blessing. I played a B flat trumpet in middle school, and the music notation was confusing, relative to what I was hearing. Basically, I learned to play the parts by ear, with some assistance from time signatures and other time cues, and whether the notes moved up or down on the page. ..."

David:

With "A" moving around over the centuries, "a" must be a learned note, no?

As I understand it, "perfect pitch" means one has an ability to sing, or identify a note with no warm-up, no initial cues or anything. "Give me an A" and you can sing it...

But if "A" is a moving target how does perfect pitch adapt?

Best regards,

E

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"Perfect pitch" is as much a curse as a blessing. I played a B flat trumpet in middle school, and the music notation was confusing, relative to what I was hearing. Basically, I learned to play the parts by ear, with some assistance from time signatures and other time cues, and whether the notes moved up or down on the page. ..."

David:

With "A" moving around over the centuries, "a" must be a learned note, no?

As I understand it, "perfect pitch" means one has an ability to sing, or identify a note with no warm-up, no initial cues or anything. "Give me an A" and you can sing it...

But if "A" is a moving target how does perfect pitch adapt?

Best regards,

E

You've identified one of the problems with the term, "perfect pitch". Studies associate it strongly with genetics, but it still needs to be learned, since it is situational. That's one reason why I always try to put the term "perfect pitch" in quotation marks.

From the time I was conceived, I spent a huge amount of time around pianos and organs tuned to 440. I can do a reasonable job with all pitches based on up to a 445 A, but the level of confidence goes way down. In other words, I have no problem identifying 445 as an A, but if I was asked to tune an A string to 445, it gets a little shaky.

Jump to a normal musical interval above the 440 base, and I can transpose, given enough time to think. It doesn't work very well for sight-reading. I think it can be done, like flipping a switch, it's just that I didn't have strong incentives. The middle school trumpet parts I had to play were a piece of cake, and easy to memorize or take from surrounding musical context, almost like harmonizing, compared to the violin repertoire that I was playing.

The investigational research can probably offer more that I can. I started being investigated in 7th grade, and quickly lost my patience with questions like, "When you hear a D#, do you smell hot dogs? :lol:

Now, I understand better what all that was about.

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LeMaster, my phone is 734 668-7803.

The email isn't on my web site because I didn't have time to deal with all the spams, "I found a Strad" emails, repair inquiries, rental inquiries, people who wanted a quote on a case or an E-sting... all the stuff I don't do. For some reason people are much more selective about using the phone. B)

Sigh :rolleyes:

Why oh why do I often feel obligated to answer questions here? It's probably an indication of some deep-seated personal problem. :(

In light of those two statements-thank you again for responding so thoroughly and patiently to my PMs way back when-and for your very thorough posts you make so often.

(And I really don't understand the antagonism and confrontation in this thread. Well, this board. But this thread in particular)

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If there was a ranking "How usefull is this thread" tool(May be such a tool is already in consideration by the forum, not sure..)I would scale this thread 10 out of 10.

It is not easy job since every time sound post position changes, it changes tension very possibly, unless the belly is flat like a table top in sound post area.

Your technique might be private, if so please skip my question,

How do you find the best tension and position?

Any advices, suggestions, ideas are very welcome.

Once I watched Rene Morel in a youtube movie, posted here in this forum I think, He was working on a fully strung, tuned Strad with all accessories, a player was playing then He was adjusting,(by small hits to sound post by the setter) volume, color, response what ever..

I have been experimenting on fitting the sound post in strung violin. This may not be a traditional approach but at the end if post movement is confined to W-E direction, it does not look that hard.

Yes, as Roger Hargrave's wonderful post says, tension seems vital element in whole post setting, in which I was total ignorant for along time.

Why soundpost tension is effecting the sound so dramatically ?,..

I think it is an other dimension of discussion, of sound post, that might be considered in an other thread.

..

Thanks to all.

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Well, empirically, I can tell you that a post that is too tight kills the tone of the 3rd and 4th strings, and a loose post gives very little tone at all.

The lit. says the post is a node, so placement and tension are probably equally important. Beament also describes the post as a longitudinal pivot.

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The lit. says the post is a node, so placement and tension are probably equally important. Beament also describes the post as a longitudinal pivot.

If you have the Strad3D animations, look at the "bridge area detailed". There are many frequencies and modes where the soundpost is NOT a node.

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Well, empirically, I can tell you that a post that is too tight kills the tone of the 3rd and 4th strings, and a loose post gives very little tone at all.

Problem with this statement is "too tight" or "too loose" compared to what? In my experience, in order to reach the desired results, the length (relative tightness) of the post very much depends on the build of the instrument (material, thickness of the plates, shape of the arch, etc.). Tension is critical, but within reason, some instruments do quite well when the post has very little tension. Others require more tension.

I notice nodes, response (freedom) and other factors being discussed, but I tend to think of the post as a device that provides some control in damping of the instrument, as much as a device that promotes a "free" response (for lack of better words this morning).

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I mean in the extreme. Too loose falls over, too tight raises the treble upper wing. At these extremes the change in tone is also extreme. This implies that lesser extremes of tension have a lesser, but audible influence on tone. Therefore, tension is related to tone. Position is related to balance of tones(s).

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Problem with this statement is "too tight" or "too loose" compared to what? In my experience, in order to reach the desired results, the length (relative tightness) of the post very much depends on the build of the instrument (material, thickness of the plates, shape of the arch, etc.). Tension is critical, but within reason, some instruments do quite well when the post has very little tension. Others require more tension.

I notice nodes, response (freedom) and other factors being discussed, but I tend to think of the post as a device that provides some control in damping of the instrument, as much as a device that promotes a "free" response (for lack of better words this morning).

HA! So if I understand you: if an instrument lacks body/projection, and maybe even responds a little TOO easily, but is otherwise admirable, maybe what it needs is a slightly longer post IN THE SAME EXACT PLACE!

(am I getting warm???)

i

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HA! So if I understand you: if an instrument lacks body/projection, and maybe even responds a little TOO easily, but is otherwise admirable, maybe what it needs is a slightly longer post IN THE SAME EXACT PLACE!

(am I getting warm???)

Yes... warm.... depending on the case... but sometimes it's a shorter one that's called for. Depends on the build, etc. It's like the i before e rule. :)

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I mean in the extreme. Too loose falls over, too tight raises the treble upper wing. At these extremes the change in tone is also extreme. This implies that lesser extremes of tension have a lesser, but audible influence on tone. Therefore, tension is related to tone. Position is related to balance of tones(s).

Actually, the viewpoint is a little narrow in comparison to the way I think of things, Addie.... though I understand the wish to compartmentalize details for defining cause/effect. if damping is a factor (which I believe it is), then the tension of the post has as much to do with the response (feedback to the player) as it does with "tone"... and in fact, that has been my experience. That's a reason why I believe the tension is so critical.

I've also been humbled by tension settings that I couldn't seem to get my head around more than once ... each time I've done my best to figure out why it worked, though.

I now understand your comment concerned extremes. My response concerned things that were "within reason".

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