The Plowden arches


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I've decided to make my #10 after the Plowden,from the recent Strad poster and article.After working out the arch templates, I'm wondering where other makers might go in respect to the asymmetric bulging,most prominent in the upper treble top. I have decided(I think) to go ahead and reproduce the outline of the ribs in all it's asymmetric glory,but I am wondering about the arches. :blink: .....ANY input here would be most greatly appreciated. Thank you.

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I've decided to make my #10 after the Plowden,from the recent Strad poster and article.After working out the arch templates, I'm wondering where other makers might go in respect to the asymmetric bulging,most prominent in the upper treble top. I have decided(I think) to go ahead and reproduce the outline of the ribs in all it's asymmetric glory,but I am wondering about the arches. :blink: .....ANY input here would be most greatly appreciated. Thank you.

I have this poster and I recently made a mold that would correspond to this violin (but didn't keep the asymmetry of the outline). I certainly don't have near enough experience to give you any advice but it seems to me that the asymmetry comes from a clear all along "flattening" area just above the bass bar. If I was to give a guess I would say it's more of an arch collapse at some point in the life of the violin.

But again some people on maestronet will be of better help.

PS. When it comes to using the mold I will not try to reproduce this asymmetry in the arching.

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I wouldn't reproduce asymmetry with respect to the rib outline, nor the arching, but would rather strive to realize an idealized form in all respects (your finest interpretation of, which I would base upon the historical premise, the original intent, to the fullest extent possible...which comes down to more than form alone, method playing something of a large role as well). Let natural asymmetry fall where it will (a natural consequence of your own imperfection, as well as that of the wood).

As for the cause of the asymmetry we see today, in the arching and the outline, that one is subject to much speculation. No doubt instability of the wood (those particular pieces of wood and the manner in which they were worked up) has something to do with it, but also the almost 280 years of existence and the intervention of many since. In other words, for most (if not all, and certainly I), it would be little more than a guess.

I should premise the above by stating that I am not yet an experience maker, but an intensely passionate observer on the verge of becoming one (a maker). The above merely parrots a lot of what I've gathered, from those who have earned my trust and respect (and who are, I might add, quite adept in the area of interest).

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I wonder if we are seeing today, the results of Guarneri del Gesu using such fresh wood.

Anyone know if this violin wood has been dated?

And if so, then by who?

I mean who would want to go out on a date with violin wood is beyond me, but hey, who knows how hard a lonely violin makers likfe can be. :blink:

Got it!

"Dendrochronological analysis: Peter Klein, Hamburg, 1998. Youngest ring is 1729; both sides match both sides of the 1734 "D'Egville" (ID=417)." - www.cozio.com

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There can never be proof of why the geometry is what it is, but my guess is that it's partly distortion with time, and partly the maker's less-than-fastidious workmanship. I doubt there was any brilliant acoustic invention hiding those oddities.

So it depends what you want out of your violin: quirky and distorted like the original, or more "prettified". My choice would be like CT suggests, go for a clean start, and let your own inaccuracies (and distortion) have their way.

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When I ran a bass repair shop I noticed that many of the instruments with the best low frequency response had noticeable flattening of their top arch

on the bass bar side and in some cases the restoration of the arching , not by me, ruined this property. With some of our finest sounding instruments

you are listening to the vibrations of an asymmetrically deformed arch.

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Occasionally people pay big money for arching correction to bring things back to they way they were before the soundpost has stretched things.

First off, thanks for the responses, all, upon looking at the thicknesses closer the bass side is noticeably thinner than the treble, suggesting collapse in the bass side,as opposed to a sound post distortion, It does seem like "normalizing the arc rather than reproducing the distortion is defiantly in order,Now I'm thinking to bouzch( a blacksmith term,akin to tweek)the curve over into something more fair,attempting to keep the original intent intact.

I'm still on the fence with the outline though,I really like the asymmetry of it and feel that because I will be temporarily gluing the top and back on to the ribs while they are still on the form,as opposed to the Cremonesse method,of attaching the neck before top and back,this will allow for the same effect. I am VERY open to all thoughts and suggestions at this point.Am I just nuts for wanting to do this? ,Can anyone offer a solid argument for creating a symmetrical outline? or otherwise? :huh: thanks all

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When I ran a bass repair shop I noticed that many of the instruments with the best low frequency response had noticeable flattening of their top arch

on the bass bar side and in some cases the restoration of the arching , not by me, ruined this property. With some of our finest sounding instruments

you are listening to the vibrations of an asymmetrically deformed arch.

Missed this post while replying, Interesting thoughts. thanks

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IMO slavish symmetry equals sterility. But I don't think the old boys were going out of their way to intentionally be asymmetrical. The asymmetry of these old instruments isn't from a mold alone. It's from a combination of the mold, the bending of the ribs and their placement in a less than perfect way against the mold, the ribs not being perpendicular, wear and tear, and warping, shrinkage, corner blocks being freely cut, methods of setting the neck, and who knows what I might have left out.

I see you've made 9 violins, so you probably have already experienced this: I've found even when I try to capture perfectly the outline of a favorite violin, in the process it is hard to not have some variation. And I'm not convinced that all of these posters are entirely accurate. Still, it's hard to look at a poster of a violin such as the Plowden and not want to reproduce perfectly something so lovely.

The only arguments that I can make for symmetry is that when the Plowden was originally made it was probably closer to symmetrical than it is today. And, I can remember one violin by a very fine maker who intentionally did an extremely asymmetrical copy of the "Prince of Orange." To me it looked TOO intentional. I have come to the conclusion that a little asymmetry goes a long way, and too much designed asymmetry can look almost as sterile as too much symmetry. MO

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It seems unlikely to me that an experienced maker would have made an instrument with significant asymmetry in the arch by mistake. However, if one were to copy the asymmetry that exists now what would it be like after some years? Personally I would not worry to much, I won't be around and my violins won't be worth much.

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I would agree with Will's post. One idea you could do is to make the mould to reflect a smaller amount of the the asymetry then the original (or at least not more then the original as reflected in the purfling of the back plate). By the time you glue the ribs on and do the outline for the plates you will probally be in the ballpark. Don't try to "engineer" the results, but allow some natural randomness into the process somehow. As Will describes, the forces that added together to make it look the way it does were unplanned.

-Peter

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On the other hand, one could try to build a violin as close as possible to the current 'asymmetry' -- and then see how close you could actually come to that ideal. Then string it up and see what it looks like in a year. At the very least, it is a good challenge of ones skills. If you don't like result, you still have the experience. Also, most likely someone will like the result.

It's not my personal preference. I'm actually working in the other direction, with what I wanted to be a symmetrical design. I am completely capable of introducing all sorts of unwanted symmetry. :)

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It's not my personal preference. I'm actually working in the other direction, with what I wanted to be a symmetrical design. I am completely capable of introducing all sorts of unwanted symmetry. :)

guh-zactly.

That's close to what I do.

In my opinion, violins (in particular - those violins that we tend to venerate) tend to have "asymmetry" integrated into their structure, because they are hand made objects and they are made of wood. Wood requires a certain flexibility that does not conform as much to uniformity as it does to "feel".

They (asymmetrical "inaccuracies") naturally include themselves into the plates we make, as we carve them - even when we carve with the general intention of being "uniform". Since I learned a technique of carving plates by feel, and no longer rely on grids or thickness guages or maps, other than to get me "into the ballpark", (with an established arch shape), I have found that areas of different thickness occur rather of themselves.

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I have found that areas of different thickness occur rather of themselves.

We are talking about irregularities (or asymmetricalities) in outline, arch, and thickness, right?

Since I'm on the subject, I might as well include that, for me, the complete lack of cohesive agreement between most all of the various thickness maps, (as in, no two exactly alike, but many are similar in conception) is indicative of a more holistic approach - relying on the various properties of the wood itself to determine what the exact parameters are, in the finished product , rather than any sort of strict adherence to a uniform, unchanging plan.

Since I must interpret what I see for myself.

Which means, of course, that someone could easily see exactly the opposite thing happening.

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Thank again all,

I see that the road to the mountain top is neither straight nor smooth nor short,that said, It's neat to have the CT scans to ponder,AND all the fantastic input from everyone. I'm leaning heavily toward symmetry in the arch, favoring the treble side,as this area is the thickest and might have distorted the least,

I feel like, using the modern methods, that I will experience less movement of the blocks and rib outline than with the old school methods,I was taught to work toward accuracy,and My intent is very different from the makers,I also have access to finer tooling,so at this moment I'm leaning toward trying to accurately copying the inaccuracy I see,with perhaps a bit of correction.....

As far as graduations go It seems like something happened along the bass bar area, that it is thin and collapsed, I'd like to have my violins live long after I'm dead and gone,even if not particularly valuable.It seems like symmetrical grads +/- would be a good thing.

Sooooo ....How about that beer now?Ice cold Guinniss for Craig I see and,warm ones for Martin and Addie, How about the rest of you? I'm still interested in hearing ideas on the subject, if anyone has any thoughts they would share.

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It seems to me it gets easier and easier to introduce asymmetry in the outline when the thickness of the inside mould decreases. Some people use a 30mm thick, some use a 2 or 3 parts mould with a central unit of about 12mm, and some people will use a single 12mm with which it's easy to allow ribs distortion.

For the arching, without any template or pencil gauge, you can also probably introduce some asymmetry.

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It seems to me it gets easier and easier to introduce asymmetry in the outline when the thickness of the inside mould decreases. Some people use a 30mm thick, some use a 2 or 3 parts mould with a central unit of about 12mm, and some people will use a single 12mm with which it's easy to allow ribs distortion.

For the arching, without any template or pencil gauge, you can also probably introduce some asymmetry.

I see your point, I am using a 12-10mm central mold, My fist one was on a full thickness ,and I didn't like the flat sides, ...yep, too manufactured, for my Idea.....this will be my first set of arching templates and I'm excited about the change in Arch,I can see on It's way..as peter suggested if I understand correctly, I'm gonna try for a split the difference approach on this one.

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If you glue the ribs to the blocks with the rib/block assembly sitting on a table, and keep the rib edge flush with the table, one thing which will naturally introduce a little asymmetry is if the edges of the ribs aren't planed perfectly true, or if the table has some irregularities.

On archings, there tends to naturally be a little asymmetry if it's done without using templates, as I sometimes do, and as Roberto mentioned.

I'm not much on building distortion into plates, to mimic age deformation. It will happen soon enough, and if you want it to happen faster, you can string the instrument up and put it in a 95% humidity environment. Be prepared for the neck coming down too though. You would need to start with it high.

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If you glue the ribs to the blocks with the rib/block assembly sitting on a table, and keep the rib edge flush with the table, one thing which will naturally introduce a little asymmetry is if the edges of the ribs aren't planed perfectly true, or if the table has some irregularities.

On archings, there tends to naturally be a little asymmetry if it's done without using templates, as I sometimes do, and as Roberto mentioned.

I'm not much on building distortion into plates, to mimic age deformation. It will happen soon enough, and if you want it to happen faster, you can string the instrument up and put it in a 95% humidity environment. Be prepared for the neck coming down too though. You would need to start with it high.

Thank you for those thoughts....up till now I made my rib stock wide so I could true every thing Flat,to flat,I will be striving for symmetry in the arch,Lots to chew on.

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This is not exactly what I was looking for, but the below does delve into some of the reasons for the asymmetry:

http://www.roger-hargrave.de/PDF/Book/Chap_02_The_Mould_PRN.pdf

No doubt you are aware of the link, as well as all of the others on Roger's site (including the one which deals with the arch).

I am reminded of a speech given by Sam Zygmuntowicz, wherein he talked about his thoughts regarding interpreting Guarneri, especially within the context of making a "copy" (be it a strict bench copy, or an inspired interpretation of). It was rather enlightening, you should try to find a printed copy some day.

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Yes, Rogers theories are pretty compelling.

I should add that I don't really know how arching distortion affects sound, but a maker who has done quite well in "shootouts" makes a longitudinal arch on the top pretty close to a radius (with recurve), with no perceptible flattening in the center.

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Kinda like a late del Gesu, that way (maybe, anyway, knowing nothing more than the above). How do these violins, the ones that do well in the "shoot-outs", fare in the playability department? Tone is nice, of course, but ease of realization pretty important as well, especially for a player such as myself.

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