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Orientation of variable grain width in top plates?


Polk
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The title states my question. In most violins I've seen (and made for that matter), top plates with any variation in grains per inch, usually have the wider grains toward the center of each half of the plate (2 piece tops),and the closer grains toward the outside, although I have seen one or two where this was reversed.

I was wondering if there is a tonal consideration for doing this?

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'' wider grains toward the center of each half of the plate (2 piece tops),and the closer grains toward the outside ''

- It's usually the other way around, most two piece plates have the closer grain at the centre joint, wider at the flanks.

'' I was wondering if there is a tonal consideration for doing this? ''

- Interesting question, but the reason for joining plates this way seems to me to be initially structural, coming from a tradition of practical thought and application. If you think about it for a second, the two halfs are 'bookmatched', a technique used in lots of woodworking.

The two halfs will move similarly, wider grains expanding more than close grains, so the structure will be balanced.

Two halfs are joined so they simulate the structure of the tree itself, with the wider grains being at the outer edges.

IF there is a particular tonal side effect from joining plates this way, it is just a result of the building process.

Analysing that sort of tonal change in great detail using scientific methods is perhaps best left to the boffins, I rather just make things.

One could argue that the bridge area takes the brunt of the string pressure and so requires the close grain where the flanks act as 'lungs' and so they should be more structurally flexible, but there are plenty good violins with wide grain across the centre. It's true to say that the majority of classy fiddles have narrow grain (Strad used some VERY narrow grain) at the centre.

For my own curiosity I like to use different wood for fronts, the last two were one piece fronts with very wide grain on the bass side, narrow on the treble, with a lot of bearclaw. How this will affect tone, I don't know exactly, but since Ruggieri did one piece fronts with this type of configuration, so I'll try it too.

I also have a split one piece front with very even grain edge to edge, it may turn out to be the best I ever made.....or not !

Who knows.

:)

Good luck.

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The title states my question. In most violins I've seen (and made for that matter), top plates with any variation in grains per inch, usually have the wider grains toward the center of each half of the plate (2 piece tops),and the closer grains toward the outside, although I have seen one or two where this was reversed.

I was wondering if there is a tonal consideration for doing this?

Hi,

Ben explained most of the important points.

The wider grains are usually on the outside of the joined top for the simple reason that the early or younger growth rings are wider. In normal conditions, the tree grows faster when it is young.

However, some trees, especially sitka spruce firs grow to a great size and the wedge may go eny way. In abnormal growing conditions the later rings may be wider.

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  • 3 years later...

The title states my question. In most violins I've seen (and made for that matter), top plates with any variation in grains per inch, usually have the wider grains toward the center of each half of the plate (2 piece tops),and the closer grains toward the outside,

I've noticed more of the opposite.

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The title states my question. In most violins I've seen (and made for that matter), top plates with any variation in grains per inch, usually have the wider grains toward the center of each half of the plate (2 piece tops),and the closer grains toward the outside, although I have seen one or two where this was reversed.

I was wondering if there is a tonal consideration for doing this?

I've seen it both ways on acoustically interesting instruments but as David said, on a two piece front made from a divided wedge, the other way around is most common. Like Oded mentioned, if the hard grains are too far apart the surface where the soundpost rests may suffer and, in addition, for adjusting soundposts I have greater difficulty finding an acceptable position when there are too few annual rings in contact with the soundpost. It's as if the hard annual rings are affecting the soundpost adjustment more than the softer spring growth. On one piece tops you might want to think about which way to orient the table to have a larger number of annual rings over the soundpost area.

 

On the other hand, Stradivari has made violins both ways with virtually identical one piece tops. For example the "Conte de Fontana" of 1702 has the narrowest rings (the outside of the tree or towards the bark) on the bass side (along with a small wing to gain the necessary width). The "Emiliani" of 1703 is just the opposite. The spruce in these two instruments came from the same tree trunk.

 

Bruce

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