Harlequin tops


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I have seen a few violins with this effect, and it is generally on lower end instruments and not at all attractive,IMO.

The effect I'm calling harlequin is when a top is viewed straight on one side appears dark and the other light. As you angle the top

the sides reverse (dark to light, light to dark). In extreme cases it can be quite jarring.

This maybe a simple question, but I was wondering what caused this. I thought it was from poorly cut wood, or flipping one of the side of the spruce before joining.

I do see some of this on regular spruce, but no where near as pronounced as on these tops.

Thanks!

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Those photos by Markus Schmid are wonderful. Thanks CB !

BTW, Nicholas Gilles (Montpellier, France) has a great article int Trade Secrets of The Strad - "Sawing wood in the right direction", July 2011. He too concludes that you must split a piece to see if runout is an issue.

Stay Tuned.

Mike

Hi Mike, I agree it's a useful article in principle, but I don't think many suppliers of sawn wood are sufficiently generous with their dimensions to enable the method to be used very often....

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Care to demonstrate that at a VSA? :)

Probably not, because I don't have enough results yet. But I think almost anyone can understand the concept, and relate it to their personal thought model of how violins work.

On a curved object like a violin body, all other things being equal, no runout for a specific section will probably result in greatest stiffness, and more runout will result in less stiffness. Why not target this any less than other ways to control stiffness?

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Hi Mike, I agree it's a useful article in principle, but I don't think many suppliers of sawn wood are sufficiently generous with their dimensions to enable the method to be used very often....

A less "intrusive" way to get an indication of the fiber direction is to take a thickish plane shaving of the thicker side of the wood half (planing like when you join plates)

And then rip the shaving gently with your fingers down the middle. (From end to end if there's little or no runout)

I recently bought 10 old spruce tops on Ebay and thought I made a good deal. I turned out that nine out of the ten tops had so much runout that I think they are unusable ...

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Many commercial instruments end up with hareliquin tops...not by virtue of runout....but because in matching the top the maker chooses the "best" looking grain....so the inside of the book match is not exposed. This seems inherently week ...is this true? These tops are a pain to varnish, though it helps in learning to hide defects with varnishing technique!

on we go,

Joe

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