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fiddlewallop

Plate tuning

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The Art of Violin Making is written for someone who has never built a violin. I have the book, among others, and was a great help to get started. Strobel states from the very beginning that the book is written to help the rank beginner make a decent sounding fiddle that you can be proud of. I would suggest following the book for your first few fiddles. You will find it interesting how the note drops as you thin your plate. If you get to the target weight and graduations, tap the plates and record all the data. Have fun and don't worry about making a master violin. Pals, Vic.

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In another week or so, I should get some results from my unintentional experiment, where the top and back plate weights and taptones of violin #9 came out almost exactly the same as on #8 (and no, I wasn't tuning them). I don't expect them to sound the same, though. I'll fire up a new thread when I have something to post.

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Why do you think that?

Michael Darnton's skepticism concerning the technique has led me to question its effectiveness. Given the relative scarcity of truly remarkable modern instruments despite the publication of Carleen Hutchins' well-known research, I think it's fair to say that tap tuning alone isn't enough to control for whatever variables are present.

Do you believe that arching/outline/graduations don't manifest in tap tones?

I expect they do manifest in tap tones, but I'm not convinced that tuning the plates is a reliable means of finding an effective arching, outline and/or graduation pattern. It strikes me as not seeing the forest for the trees, when really what matters most is not the individual plates but rather the whole violin.

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I use a guitar to check the note. Tap the plate and match the guitar to that note. A tuner will tell you what the note is. Acheap method, but it works for me.

Oh really? I was wondering if I could use a guitar tuner to figure out what the tap tone was. Thanks for this tip!

....

Another aspect of thicknessing that I was wondering about is whether you can hold the plate up to a light and see the varying thicknesses by light shining through the plate. I use this method to thin ribs, but I haven't experimented with plates, because I am still working my way towards that point.

....

Do most people agree with Sacconi's thicknessing guidelines?

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Michael Darnton's skepticism concerning the technique has led me to question its effectiveness. Given the relative scarcity of truly remarkable modern instruments despite the publication of Carleen Hutchins' well-known research, I think it's fair to say that tap tuning alone isn't enough to control for whatever variables are present.

Sure, tap tuning alone isn't enough, any more than using a single wood cutting tool would be an effective way to make a violin. If my knife doesn't work very well to carve the scroll, or do the archings, it doesn't mean that I'm better off making fiddles without it. ;)

If ones knowledge of taptones is confined to Hutchins old methods and conclusions, I can understand some skepticism. But that's a very small part of the total picture. There are many methods of deriving information from tapping on instruments, or parts of instruments, and many successful makers who use some form of it to a greater or lesser extent. Personally, I'm more influenced by what a high number of really successful makers have found useful, than I am by one or a few maker's conclusions to the contrary, unless I come across evidence that those with the dissenting opinions are producing superior results.

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Another aspect of thicknessing that I was wondering about is whether you can hold the plate up to a light and see the varying thicknesses by light shining through the plate. I use this method to thin ribs, but I haven't experimented with plates,

because I am still working my way towards that point.

....

Yes that will work for a plate made of new wood.

Do most people agree with Sacconi's thicknessing guidelines?

He emphasizes the graduation around the f-holes and give one number for the rest for the top. I think these are advice from a repairman. The graduations he recommend are a little on the thick side for the back plate and border regions. Bear in mind that many tops have had their edges doubled. And that it may be good to have something to work with for the edge work. The graduations for the border regions are probaly finally set from the outside with the channel and edge work.

You can compare the average thicknesses for some 69 Strads and Sacconis recommendations (you need his book) from the charts here.

I use these as guides in working with the plates in violin. And the tap tones usually will fall into "a normal cremonese region" following these if the wood is good.

Interestingly Sacconi give 4mm for the thickness to use outside the f-holes towards the upper holes. This region abviously is important to strengthen so that the string tension that comes above the f-holes have something to "work against".

In my charts threre has not been done any sorting out of the better sounding violins of them.

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Let me reiterate my notions :) on Free Plate Tuning.

I found after five years of futzing around with balancing E1, E2, and E5, that I was getting nowhere fast and had an epiphany of sorts when Joseph Curtin found how E2 in Cremonese violins did not follow the formulation à la Hutchinson. I then realized that Hutchinson's prescription was invalid. I smacked my head hard because I also realized how futile it is to adjust an individual component outside its integration into a system. Sure, mode patterns can spot irregular densities in large cello plates and evaluate the uniformity of a plate graduation. But we need to look at the whole system.

So I have dropped Hutchinson's Free Plate Tuning and focused on standard thicknesses such as those found by Anders B) . Now, I am not an expert cum laude, but I do have enough experience to make a few solid recommendations. For instance, watch plate weights as Darnton and many others have noted! Also use the smooth figure eight contours in Sacconi as noted above. I find that these get rid of the "chipmunk cheeks" in the c-bouts and produce a very level f-hole. And most importantly, focus on workmanship and forget quick paths to producing the Cremonese sound.

I also follow the work by Anders and others such as Don Noon on body modes. Now, this is something that makes good scientific sense. But the problem is that there is so much information to the point of becoming noise. :blink: Some day someone will distill this work down into something that the Cremonese gang could have understood and used. :)

Stay Tuned.

Mike

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I don't mean to be critical, I'm not a mathematician and I appreciate Anders sharing information but....

I have a few questions:

  • just how meaningful is taking the average of many graduations?

  • I would want to know how many of the instruments had been regraduated?

  • Do these numbers make sense?

  • Have instrument been made using these graduations and how did they turn out?

  • What is the relationship of these graduations to arch heights?

Oded

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sacconi is not just a repairman anders, his instruments were selling for 20,000usd in the 80s, at the time perhaps the highest being paid for a modern violin,

quite possibly sacconi was getting his thicker graduations from what he considered un regraduated or un altered strads, while ignoring the thickness data from what he considered regraduated instruments

i agree with oded, the idea of taking an average graduation thickness, irrespective of the woods density, when some of the instruments were probably regraduated is just ridiculous

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I don't mean to be critical, I'm not a mathematician and I appreciate Anders sharing information but....

I have a few questions:

  • just how meaningful is taking the average of many graduations?

  • I would want to know how many of the instruments had been regraduated?

  • Do these numbers make sense?

  • Have instrument been made using these graduations and how did they turn out?

  • What is the relationship of these graduations to arch heights?

Oded

In terms of mass, stiffness, and springiness, I think we can "armchair theorize" some answers, in an abstract sense.

I would think that all three factors should be considered, not just one. But tap-tuning, I think, treats all three at once, as equals. But I would expect that tuning a low mass, high arched plate would not produce the same tonal results as tuning a low arch, thick plate.

For analysis of classic plates, you would need to compare arching, mass, and spring before you could expect to compare the tap tones for meaningful analysis.

My brain hurts now, so I'll stop. blink.gif

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i agree with oded, the idea of taking an average graduation thickness, irrespective of the woods density, when some of the instruments were probably regraduated is just ridiculous

I never said anything was ridiculous. I simply wanted to open a respectful discussion about the data Anders' is using.

Oded

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sorry oded, misunderstanding, i was simply stating i agreed with your post then adding my own comments, not intended to be a quote of you

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I normally have to do a lot of homework to understand Anders' posts. It hasn't hurt me yet, Lyndon. wink.gif

So far, I have discovered nothing "ridiculous."

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I don't mean to be critical, I'm not a mathematician and I appreciate Anders sharing information but....

I have a few questions:

  • just how meaningful is taking the average of many graduations?


Very effective for presentation of a lot of data. I do of course have the data for the individual fiddles.
These were originally made for correlation studies with data extracted from music played on some of these violins. But I have used them as a guide in graduation of the plates, e.g. following a Strad versus a del Gesu style.
I would want to know how many of the instruments had been regraduated?


I do not know, (and I do not care).
Do these numbers make sense?


I think they do. Anyone else may have their own opinion.
Have instrument been made using these graduations and how did they turn out?


I have used these for the last seven years or so. I think the fiddles in general have turned nicely out. One exception was an odd shaped Hardangerfiddle that went to Singapore a climate it was not built for. The top was flat across the grain and violin graduations on that one was not strong enough.
I have made a del Gesu copy regrad fiddle with a characteristics similar to the Titian Strad. The plate tuning I used for that one was a bit special. And the other fiddles of the same line sold while that one has been left here. (The pegs were set the wrong way, due to a mishap during shortage of time prior to a Oberlin trip)
What is the relationship of these graduations to arch heights?

I do have some data on that as well, although not as much as the graduation. Higher arched fiddles tend to be thinner.

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can a flat plate have the same tap tone as a highly arched plate?

OK

I guess that depends on what mode may be used for the comparison. Mode 5 is more arching dependant than most of the other modes. e.g. mode 2 is much less influenced by the arching.

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which do you think would be more useful, an average of 69 Strads or highly detailed information about one, very good Strad including wood density, arching details, tap tones, modal analysis etc?

Personally I would prefer the second.

I can't see that an average of everything means very much. Perhaps a mean of the graduations, with the extremes, regraduated and otherwise dubious examples eliminated, might be more useful

Oded

Very effective for presentation of a lot of data. I do of course have the data for the individual fiddles.

These were originally made for correlation studies with data extracted from music played on some of these violins. But I have used them as a guide in graduation of the plates, e.g. following a Strad versus a del Gesu style.

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I think it's good to have both (that is average and precise data on few instruments). Especially it can be quite instructive to have for example the average and variances on back and top plates from both Stradivari and Guarneri (like Anders provided on his link).

It's easy to spot that "on average" the center of the back plates from Gdg was much thicker than the strad while some areas of the front plates (for example between the edge and the f-holes wings) are pretty close for both makers.

When you are a beginner like me it's quite valuable to know that I have to be quite precise on this area whatever the model I am using while I can try some different graduations on other places.

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