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Classical blocks and lining joins?


David Beard
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I'd like to better understand the classical treatment of the linings and blocks.

I've searched the internet for pictures, and there are a few. But it would be nice to see more pictures of the blocks and linings from classical violins. Particularly, I found it hard to find pictures of the upper and lower blocks and how they meet the linings.

Of course there are some great resources out there, like Roger Hargrave's articles.

post-30802-0-84966200-1327378787_thumb.jpg post-30802-0-84207800-1327378769_thumb.jpg

Latter makers seem to have changed these features very freely. Often, later makers seem to 'clean up' the asymmetries by centering their blocks more equally on the corner, and often by using the same kind of lining join on each side of the block. Obviously symmetry has a natural kind of appeal and logic to it, but clearly the classical makers had some other idea in mind.

The mortised C bout linings clearly have a rather spring like connection to the blocks. But all the other lining joins apparently are simple butt joints. These I would expect to be almost like hinged joints.

The shape of the blocks extending into the outer bouts and just barely reaching into the C bouts also seems to emphasize this disparity between the hinged and mortised lining joints.

I'm hoping and wondering if people have more pictures, and maybe some theories about why?

What are the consequences of their design? What might be the purpose?

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I'd like to better understand the classical treatment of the linings and blocks.

I've searched the internet for pictures, and there are a few. But it would be nice to see more pictures of the blocks and linings from classical violins. Particularly, I found it hard to find pictures of the upper and lower blocks and how they meet the linings.

Of course there are some great resources out there, like Roger Hargrave's articles.

post-30802-0-84966200-1327378787_thumb.jpg post-30802-0-84207800-1327378769_thumb.jpg

Latter makers seem to have changed these features very freely. Often, later makers seem to 'clean up' the asymmetries by centering their blocks more equally on the corner, and often by using the same kind of lining join on each side of the block. Obviously symmetry has a natural kind of appeal and logic to it, but clearly the classical makers had some other idea in mind.

The mortised C bout linings clearly have a rather spring like connection to the blocks. But all the other lining joins apparently are simple butt joints. These I would expect to be almost like hinged joints.

The shape of the blocks extending into the outer bouts and just barely reaching into the C bouts also seems to emphasize this disparity between the hinged and mortised lining joints.

I'm hoping and wondering if people have more pictures, and maybe some theories about why?

What are the consequences of their design? What might be the purpose?

Hi David,

In the Cremonese system the linings were glued in place before the rib garland was slipped off the inner form. If you have ever done this operation, or seen it done, the c-bouts have to be pushed outwards more than the other ribs to get free of the form. This extra reinforcement in that area helps avoid breakage. The upper and lower ribs are not stressed anywhere near as much as the c-bouts during this operation. The narrower section of the block opposite the c-bout curve makes it easier for them to be slipped as the have to be be less deflected. If the block travelled further into the c-bout the amount of deflection would be greater to free them of the form.

The asymmetry can be attributed to the fact that the corner block is reinforcing and maintaining the rib line, and to a large extent the corner shape, in the area where the rib is most sharply curved. In the c-bouts where the curve straightens out they likely felt the extra block was unnecessary whereas on the upper and lower bout side of the corner it stops approximately where the rib straightens out or curves in the opposite direction.

Bruce

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In your pictures, it appears as though some of the linings do not fully penetrate into the blocks. That would seem to me, to lessen the structural integrity of the ribs, no? It would also seem that by the linings not fully penetrating into the blocks, there would be more of a tendency for the linings to break loose while playing, from vibrations.

Unless there's a reason for not penetrating the blocks, I would have to imagine it would be more beneficial for the linings to penetrate.

....

As a side note, (a bit off topic) for beginners.. If you're following Courtnall, he says to put dried soap on the inside of the mould so that the ribs do not stick to the mould. I did this, however, the ribs stuck to the mould anyways, and ended up destroying my ribs. (All 3 of them. :( ) I would recommend putting a layer of blue 3M tape along the edges of the mould so that you avoid gluing the ribs to the mould.

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The treatment of the blocks/linings, are a result of which method was used to make the ribs, of which there were several. Working out which rib construction method was used is of great help when trying to work out where old violins were made. If you wish your violins to exclusively be mistaken for Cremonese, ca. 1700, you should stick to Roger’s drawings

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Hi David,

In the Cremonese system the linings were glued in place before the rib garland was slipped off the inner form. If you have ever done this operation, or seen it done, the c-bouts have to be pushed outwards more than the other ribs to get free of the form. This extra reinforcement in that area helps avoid breakage. The upper and lower ribs are not stressed anywhere near as much as the c-bouts during this operation. The narrower section of the block opposite the c-bout curve makes it easier for them to be slipped as the have to be be less deflected. If the block travelled further into the c-bout the amount of deflection would be greater to free them of the form.

The asymmetry can be attributed to the fact that the corner block is reinforcing and maintaining the rib line, and to a large extent the corner shape, in the area where the rib is most sharply curved. In the c-bouts where the curve straightens out they likely felt the extra block was unnecessary whereas on the upper and lower bout side of the corner it stops approximately where the rib straightens out or curves in the opposite direction.

Bruce

Bruce,

I take the point that the morticing of the C bout linings makes them strong enough to resist removal from the inside mold but I am curious to know why one would ever NOT mortice these linings.

Wood has a tendency to try and revert to its original shape which, in the case of the upper and lower bouts, would force them against the ribs. But in the case of the C bout linings, they spend their lives trying to get away from the ribs, most notably in the corner block region where the radius of curvature is greatest. Even the slightest separation would cause buzzing or rattling so I always inset them into a mortice even when using an outside mold; a little extra piece of mind.

Glenn

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If I understand Roger Hargrave's approach to the Cremonese Method of Working, they were basically Craftsmen, and not Engineers, or Architects, and so were mainly interested in eating, so work was done with a certain amount of efficiency.

Putting in and gluing both sets of linings, and 'striking/bending while the iron is hot', and when the glue pot is hot too, just makes for better output volume. Having the "C" bout linings spring free, does not aid in better output, and so it became necessary to put the 'work in' of securing them, but it was not needed, for the rest of the linings.

My guess is that things have not basically changed from their time to our time, in that anyone who works in a manufacturing capacity, has to deal with one constant demand, and that is that the client always wants it yesterday.

Hobbyist, or 'Ladies and Gentlemen' makers do not have to deal with this client driven problem, since they are their own client, so gluing in one set of linings at a time, is not a problem. The joy of making, achieving and sharing their endeavor being a higher priority, trumps production.

While retired Engineers for some reason still want to engineer, and so output is not a concern, until they see output as another engineering problem, and want to solve that.

As for Architects, they are still learning to draw a violin/mould outline and never manage to reach the step of actually building something. :P:o

Also having a baby on the way has been known to motivate work output, since now another mouth needs to be fed, after-all if Crafts-people like to eat, then surely their kids do too. ;)

Now let me see now, how many kids did Stradivari have again? :huh:

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Bruce,

I take the point that the morticing of the C bout linings makes them strong enough to resist removal from the inside mold but I am curious to know why one would ever NOT mortice these linings.

Wood has a tendency to try and revert to its original shape which, in the case of the upper and lower bouts, would force them against the ribs. But in the case of the C bout linings, they spend their lives trying to get away from the ribs, most notably in the corner block region where the radius of curvature is greatest. Even the slightest separation would cause buzzing or rattling so I always inset them into a mortice even when using an outside mold; a little extra piece of mind.

Glenn

Hi Glenn,

A lot of makers didn't mortise (or mortice, "as you like it") the c-bout linings. Pressenda, for one, comes to mind. Linings don't come unglued very often and in many years of repair I can't think of a single instance where I found a lining that was causing a buzz or a rattle (maybe it's just a coincidence). Even unglued bassbars I can count on one hand and they don't always make noise. Most linings are going to stay in place without a mortise if they have been decently bent in the first place. C-bout linings would only be able to straighten up in abnormal temperature and/or humidity conditions which generally wreak havoc with violins anyway.

Perhaps you missed the super duper skew cut slab bassbar and linings even over the end blocks photographs; so here they are again.

post-29446-0-22808500-1327435482_thumb.jpg post-29446-0-34521000-1327435461_thumb.jpg post-29446-0-85554600-1327435470_thumb.jpg post-29446-0-21689000-1327435509_thumb.jpg

Bruce

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ive worked on two violins with completely mortised linings all the way around, including into the top and bottom blocks, one claimed to be a jacob stainer, and certainly looked like it might be real or at least an early 1700s copy, the other was a 1937 eh roth!!

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If I understand Roger Hargrave's approach to the Cremonese Method of Working, they were basically Craftsmen, and not Engineers, or Architects, and so were mainly interested in eating, so work was done with a certain amount of efficiency.

Putting in and gluing both sets of linings, and 'striking/bending while the iron is hot', and when the glue pot is hot too, just makes for better output volume. Having the "C" bout linings spring free, does not aid in better output, and so it became necessary to put the 'work in' of securing them, but it was not needed, for the rest of the linings.

My guess is that things have not basically changed from their time to our time, in that anyone who works in a manufacturing capacity, has to deal with one constant demand, and that is that the client always wants it yesterday.

Hobbyist, or 'Ladies and Gentlemen' makers do not have to deal with this client driven problem, since they are their own client, so gluing in one set of linings at a time, is not a problem. The joy of making, achieving and sharing their endeavor being a higher priority, trumps production.

While retired Engineers for some reason still want to engineer, and so output is not a concern, until they see output as another engineering problem, and want to solve that.

As for Architects, they are still learning to draw a violin/mould outline and never manage to reach the step of actually building something. :P:o

Also having a baby on the way has been known to motivate work output, since now another mouth needs to be fed, after-all if Crafts-people like to eat, then surely their kids do too. ;)

Now let me see now, how many kids did Stradivari have again? :huh:

Hi NN,

The internal work on the old Cremonese instruments isn't usually over-finished and I'm sure they inset the linings where it was felt to be absolutely necessary. Efficiency and, in many instances, doing what was "good enough" on the inside left more time in the schedule to finish the outside of the instrument; that is to say, the part actually seen by the musician. What could be more cost efficient than that? I'm sure you've had the experience of removing a rib garland from an internal form with all the linings glued in place.

Bruce

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Wood has a tendency to try and revert to its original shape which, in the case of the upper and lower bouts, would force them against the ribs. But in the case of the C bout linings, they spend their lives trying to get away from the ribs, most notably in the corner block region where the radius of curvature is greatest. Even the slightest separation would cause buzzing or rattling so I always inset them into a mortice even when using an outside mold; a little extra piece of mind.

Glenn

I have to agree.

To me, this has always seemed self-evident.

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are you just totally ignoring what our top authority bruce just said, he doesnt see liners coming loose when theyre not glued in??

Hi Lyndon,

What's really great about new instruments is that you can do whatever you like and for whatever reason you like, be it rational or not. Heck with the whole thing, lets make instruments like some of the old Brescians and just use thicker ribs and NO LININGS!!!! :lol:

I don't really care if I'm a top authority or not as we should all be able put in our two cents but there's nothing like experience for answers.

Bruce

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are you just totally ignoring what our top authority bruce just said, he doesnt see liners coming loose when theyre not glued in??

Yes Lyndon, I guess I am.

My opinion, as a violin maker, is that the inset linings in the "C" bouts only,

are a precaution against them ever working loose,

they naturally tend to spring outwards.

While, the upper and lower bout linings, have their own internal pressure (even without glue) keeping them in place.

Is it your opinion that I (should not be allowed to form my own conclusions based on my own observations?

(No offense to Mr. Carlson, of course)

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If they were concerned with time saving production output then why did they bother to trim the inner edges all down the length of the linings leaving those knife marks on the inside of the ribs? Why didn't they just leave them with square edges? Is that to help remove it from the mold maybe? Yeah nevermind, that must be it. It would be hard to remove otherwise. But knifing those edges would be cumbersome while it's still in the mold.

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I'd like to better understand the classical treatment of the linings and blocks.

I've searched the internet for pictures, and there are a few. But it would be nice to see more pictures of the blocks and linings from classical violins. Particularly, I found it hard to find pictures of the upper and lower blocks and how they meet the linings.

Of course there are some great resources out there, like Roger Hargrave's articles.

post-30802-0-84966200-1327378787_thumb.jpg post-30802-0-84207800-1327378769_thumb.jpg

Latter makers seem to have changed these features very freely. Often, later makers seem to 'clean up' the asymmetries by centering their blocks more equally on the corner, and often by using the same kind of lining join on each side of the block. Obviously symmetry has a natural kind of appeal and logic to it, but clearly the classical makers had some other idea in mind.

The mortised C bout linings clearly have a rather spring like connection to the blocks. But all the other lining joins apparently are simple butt joints. These I would expect to be almost like hinged joints.

The shape of the blocks extending into the outer bouts and just barely reaching into the C bouts also seems to emphasize this disparity between the hinged and mortised lining joints.

I'm hoping and wondering if people have more pictures, and maybe some theories about why?

What are the consequences of their design? What might be the purpose?

Just the other day a rib garland fell down and came apart right where the ribs meet at the c-bout upper corner. It was hanging free waiting for assembly. Luckily I could fairly easily glue it. However, looking at those drawings it occurs to me that it wouldn't come apart in the first place, had I mortised the linings deeper into the block.

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Just the other day a rib garland fell down and came apart right where the ribs meet at the c-bout upper corner. It was hanging free waiting for assembly. Luckily I could fairly easily glue it. However, looking at those drawings it occurs to me that it wouldn't come apart in the first place, had I mortised the linings deeper into the block.

;-)

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Bruce,

Do you think that the haphazard way that del Gesu did the the morticing of the linings into the blocks may in some way contribute to the sound or playing charecteristics of his later violins?

-Peter

Hi Peter,

You probably need more than haphazard linings to change the playing characteristics of a violin and from an analytical point of view it would be difficult to verify.

Bruce

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While we are asking questions...

Why are corner blocks rectangular when they are attached to the mould in the Cremonese fashion? You end up cutting most of it away.

Regards,

Tim

Hi Tim,

Some feel that the blocks were at least roughly shaped (rounded) before they were glued into position on the form. The end blocks are still pretty much rectangular when finished. As for the cutout isn't it easier to make a rectangular one than a curved one?

Bruce

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