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jazzpig

Violin Weight (parts and whole)

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I stumbled onto a website that gives "optimal" weights for

violin parts and the completed instrument. They are listed below.

My question is: Is this correct ? How much wiggle room does one have ?

And what if your top plate is heavier than 'optimal', can you take some

weight from somewhere else, or have you just messed up the top ?

(Just when I thought that I had the physical measurement side of this,

now I have to worry about weight !!! heh heh).

Sound post ================ 1 gram

Bridge ==================== 2 grams

Bass bar ================== 3 grams

End pin =================== 2 grams

Four fitted pegs ========== 16 grams (4 grams per peg)

Fingerboard =============== 67 grams

Tailpeice, strings,

fine tuner, tailgut======= 26 grams

Finished neck ============= 73 grams

Garland =================== 57 grams

Back plate (unvarnished) == 86 grams

Top plate (unvarnished),

with bass bar ============ 54 grams

Completed instrument

without chinrest ========= 400 grams

How close is this list to famous/outstanding instruments ???

How close is this list to reality ?

If some of you seasoned makers would answer the following:

- What component's weights do you "take more seriously" than others ?

- Do you try to consistently keep the weight of the parts the same ?

Thanks in advance for any comments.

-jazzpig

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The plate weights look abnormally low, which are about the only things I pay much attention to. I've been going to what I think is the limit of lightweight, yet have never gone below 55g for a top (with bar) or 90g for a back.

The other parts look reasonably close, but unless there's 16 grams of varnish, it doesn't quite add up to 400.

FYI the numbers I have (without chinrest) for Sloan's Guarneri is 384g, and for his Strad 371g. The Strad is a pretty large fiddle, but also very thinly graduated.

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The plate weights look abnormally low, which are about the only things I pay much attention to. I've been going to what I think is the limit of lightweight, yet have never gone below 55g for a top (with bar) or 90g for a back.

The other parts look reasonably close, but unless there's 16 grams of varnish, it doesn't quite add up to 400.

FYI the numbers I have (without chinrest) for Sloan's Guarneri is 284g, and for his Strad 371g. The Strad is a pretty large fiddle, but also very thinly graduated.

Don,

If the varnish added 16g, I would strip it and look for a different varnishing method.

Joe

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I found the same site sometime ago...

looking at my school notes the ranges I was given are

55-73 for the top W/ no Bass Bar.and 98-105 for the back ???none were given for other components...

somewhere I had some notes on the weights of historical violins, as I recall they were in the range of 385 GM -435 gm or there about....there was enough variation that my feeling was that weight was not a specific goal of Strad & co.....But what do I know?

I like to think of the violin as a truss bridge of sorts.

My concern with weight as targets is that there is a balance at play.... within a given range the lighter weights might offer a sweeter tone full of color and richness, but also become easy to bottom out with bow pressure,and not necessarily full of projection or even real control of volume, ..just touching it with the bow produces a loud sound.I also get concerned about wolf notes as plates get weaker...

then it seems like the ones I made that were on the heavy end of the range seem to have more volume control, they seem to play both soft and LOUD with varying bow pressure...somewhat at the expense of tone color, more high end, still a great sound but with more rip.

I'm wondering if others have similar experience? I'd hate to be just blowing smoke and moving mirrors....

on a Side note...some time ago there was talk about chin rest affecting tone ,A certain MR.Burgess I think...I have noticed a huge change in projection and tone with a chin rest compared to without...some time more is better.

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Don,

If the varnish added 16g, I would strip it and look for a different varnishing method.

Joe

The varnish on an old student fiddle came out to 29g after I stripped it. So I guess dipping a violin into a vat of molten plastic might not be the best method. I think ~5g should be a reasonable value.

Chinrest... yes, it does participate in some vibrations, primarily the B1-mode. So chinrest mass does make a difference. Depending on the instrument and what you want it to do, you might want more or less mass in the chinrest.

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The varnish on an old student fiddle came out to 29g after I stripped it. So I guess dipping a violin into a vat of molten plastic might not be the best method. I think ~5g should be a reasonable value.

Chinrest... yes, it does participate in some vibrations, primarily the B1-mode. So chinrest mass does make a difference. Depending on the instrument and what you want it to do, you might want more or less mass in the chinrest.

I don't know about other makers, but I find that I like to change the chinrest from an over the tailpiece model, to a side mounted model, and from lighter to heavier models, because different chinrests actually can change the response of a new violin quite a bit.

There is no telling what sounds better, until you try one.

Sometimes there is no real difference, and then you can put on whatever looks the best.

I don't believe that there is a way to determine which chinrest will work best before the violin is finished and varnished up. But I keep many chinrests around, to determin what type the particular violin wants.

I would like to hear what other luthiers have discovered about this variable.

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The varnish on an old student fiddle came out to 29g after I stripped it. So I guess dipping a violin into a vat of molten plastic might not be the best method. I think ~5g should be a reasonable value.

I have been weighing my instruments before and after oil varnishing and I find that after the ground/sealer followed by 2 clear coats then 2 color coats and finally 2 clear coats it usually comes to just over 10 gms. So I get roughly about ~ 1.5 gm per coat of oil varnish. I also believe that as the varnish finally (oxides(?)) hardens it increases a bit more in weight.

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My concern with weight as targets is that there is a balance at play.... within a given range the lighter weights might offer a sweeter tone full of color and richness, but also become easy to bottom out with bow pressure,and not necessarily full of projection or even real control of volume, ..just touching it with the bow produces a loud sound.I also get concerned about wolf notes as plates get weaker...

then it seems like the ones I made that were on the heavy end of the range seem to have more volume control, they seem to play both soft and LOUD with varying bow pressure...somewhat at the expense of tone color, more high end, still a great sound but with more rip.

I'm wondering if others have similar experience? I'd hate to be just blowing smoke and moving mirrors....

Any input on this? anyone? just trying to see what others think on these thoughts.

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Here is my data from 14 violins

Sound post ================ 1 gram

Bridge ==================== 2.2 grams

Bass bar ================== 4 grams

End pin =================== 2 grams

Four fitted pegs ========== 16-20 grams

Fingerboard =============== 65-68 grams

Tailpiece built-in tuners== 20-26 grams

strings ==================== 4 gm

Finished neck ============= 65-73 grams

Garland =================== 52-58 grams

Back plate (unvarnished) == 97-120 grams

Top plate + bassbar ======= 62-70 grams

varnish (~1.5 gm /coat) 10-16 gm

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the problem with relying on weight is that if you build a violin with some generic graduations (like the average graduations maps you can get for Guarnerius or Stradivarius) you will almost naturally end up with weight similar to the one of most other violins. Given the difference in wood densities, how would you know that your violin is too light or too heavy? And then if you want to reduce the weight, where will you take the wood off?

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Any input on this? anyone? just trying to see what others think on these thoughts.

Weight is just part of the picture; depending on the stiffness and density of the wood in the plates, you can end up with vastly different results with the same weight. But generally, a stronger box (usually heavier) I think can more easily be played with a variety of bow pressures, and more easily play softly, and be less prone to wolfnotes. But it might take more effort to get the same volume, compared to lighter plates.

Colors and tonal quality I'm not too sure about; if the plates are REALLY heavy, sure... you'll likely kill off some range of response. I think a lot of other stuff is involved in this area, though.

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I caught that same link 3 years ago.

I am in the habit of weighing any

instrument that comes in the shop

sans chinrest. A Byron Bebee 1910

weighed in at 357g. Most that I have

made weigh between 400-370g.

I wanted to forecast what violas, cellos

and basses could weigh.

So I made a table.

A rough estimate comes from squaring the difference

between the ie viola and violin. If a violin

weighs 400g and is 14 inches long..

...a viola measuring 16.5 inches is 17% bigger

17x17=289 ...about 1.289x 400g= 18.2oz.

My opus 14 viola weighed in at 19.1 oz.

My table calculated a cello to weigh between 7-7.5 pounds

My opus 7 poplar cello, 728mm lob weighed 6 lbs 1.5oz.

I have a 3/4 bass mostly whole in my living room. I can

weigh the components to satisfy our curiosity.

Density of wood and species is certainly a factor.

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FYI the numbers I have (without chinrest) for Sloan's Guarneri is 284g, and for his Strad 371g. The Strad is a pretty large fiddle, but also very thinly graduated.

Is 284g a typo? Should it read 384g?

Catnips numbers just for everything except the two plates is around 254.7g if you take the middle weights for those parts listed with a range, and use 10g for the varnish.

Jazzpig's list gives 257g if you take 10g for varnish, for the same pieces of wood.

Catnip Jazzpig

Sound post ================ 1 gram ----- 1 gram

Bridge ==================== 2.2 grams ----- 2 grams

Bass bar ================== 4 grams ----- 3 grams

End pin =================== 2 grams ----- 2 grams

Four fitted pegs ============= 16-20 grams ----- 16 grams (4 grams per peg)

Fingerboard ================ 65-68 grams ----- 67 grams

Tailpiece built-in tuners======== 20-26 grams ----- 26 grams

strings ==================== 4 gm ----- included in above 26 grams

Finished neck ============== 65-73 grams ----- 73 grams

Garland =================== 52-58 grams----- 57 grams

varnish (~1.5 gm /coat)======== 10-16 gm ----- assume 10 grams

............................................+_________________________________

...............................................254.7 grams ----- 257 grams

Lots of agreement in the above list.

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Let's get the facts straight. The weights reported by jazzpig were taken from the well-known website of David Lansather in Salem, Oregon.

Going forward I ask that all sources be cited (URL referenced) when data are published on MN. That's what engineers and scientist do - or at least that's what they are supposed to do. :D

Thank you.

Hope you are all keeping cool in this heat wave in the USA. :blink:

Mike

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I have been weighing my instruments before and after oil varnishing and I find that after the ground/sealer followed by 2 clear coats then 2 color coats and finally 2 clear coats it usually comes to just over 10 gms. So I get roughly about ~ 1.5 gm per coat of oil varnish. I also believe that as the varnish finally (oxides(?)) hardens it increases a bit more in weight.

catnip,

Your numbers are close to mine...I see 8 - 12 grams ...measured one week after the final application.

The del Gesu owned by Dr. Sloane is not known as the Sloane del Gesu.

on we go,

Joe

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Let's get the facts straight. The weights reported by jazzpig were taken from the well-known website of David Lansather in Salem, Oregon.

Going forward I ask that all sources be cited (URL referenced) when data are published on MN. That's what engineers and scientist do - or at least that's what they are supposed to do. :D

Thank you.

Hope you are all keeping cool in this heat wave in the USA. :blink:

Mike

I am at fault for not mentioning the URL in the original post, but I did say that the data was from

a site that I 'stumbled onto'.

My apologies to David Lansather.

-Pigjazz

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as to weighing stradivaris, arent 300 year old violins supposed to lose weight from when they were brand new, has to do with holding less moisture, which effects the weight, as well as the resins in the wood drying out

also violins can shrink in width 1-2% over 300years, but everyone copies the width of strads the way they are now, not the way they were brand new.

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All this talk about the weight of a violin, which is certainly very important, but can anyone tell me why the standard modern violin bridge (which we have all come to know and love.... or acquiesce) is OBSOLETE?

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