One Piece Back vs Two Piece Back


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Could you be a little more specific in describing grain direction and stiffness directions? Describe these in the grate photo above. (I get confused easily.)

Your'e looking at a cross-section of a tree stump.  At the bottom of the photo would be toward the center, up toward the bark, and you can see two annular rings.  In and out of the photo would be along the grain, the stiffest/strongest direction.  Up and down is radial, and the second stiffest.  Left to right (where the cell walls don't line up well) is tangential, the least stiff.  Of course, at about a 45 degree angle to radial and tangential, cell walls are least aligned, and is far less stiff than any other direction.

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Only the upper bout is four piece, the lower bout is two piece. Usually it's the other way around. I wonder if those wings were from having a very oddly shaped piece of wood, if they messed up while cutting out or carving the back or if this is due to later work.

Most likely due to the reducing down of the instrument, I would guess? Someone will probably know and enlighten us.

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This is the kind of stuff I love!

Let any modern maker try this and they would be thought deficient in skill or wood choice or blah blah blah. I would assume that none of these instruments would stand a chance in a modern competition because of those extra joints. (I hope I am wrong.) But the makers we admire most just put the thing together, and made compromises when they had to. Granted, in a very nice way.

 

And I have to wonder, how did a maker of Mr. S's  skill not pull off matching the flame better on all three backs.

'Cause #$% 'em! That's why.

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This is the kind of stuff I love!

And I have to wonder, how did a maker of Mr. S's  skill not pull off matching the flame better on all three backs.

'Cause #$% 'em! That's why.

Hmm. If only it were that simple.....

Each of those instruments have their own not doubt complex story.......

but he probably thought 'better make the most of what I got here'?

The Amati viola will be another story again...

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I just started a viola with the remainder pieces from my cello top. It will be three piece top with wings in the lower bout. 

 

It was common for Spanish guitars from the time of Torres mid 19th century and earlier to be made with many different cuts and qualities of wood. Italian guitars were the same. Torres used mill ends, pieces left of from resawing more expensive lumber used for furniture of church doors etc. He also bought the header from a door frame in a house that was under construction which was a beam of clear vertical grain spruce. He purchased it and admonished the carpenters for using such a prize piece of wood.  

 

During the twentieth century Spanish guitar makers saw the Spanish Civil war either as participants or was civilians who had to deal with a supply line of goods that was unreliable and narrow. They hoarded wood and used every scrap, you can see it in many great guitars from the 1930's 20's 40's ect. up until the about 1960, then it becomes more about cosmetics and collectorship over musicians guitars made with carefully saved pieces. 

 

Today we have wide supply lines and are fairly spoiled with what we can get in terms of cosmetic acceptable woods for both guitars violins, although top violin wood is a bit more difficult to get, but not by much. I always wonder what some modern makers would do if they really had to piece together instruments from left overs, would they be driven enough to do it? My teacher made me practice building tops an backs for guitars by putting them together with book matched sets that were not wide enough so I would have to make invisible wings. He was around in late fifties and through the 70s measured and worked on these Spanish guitars from the which are now very valuable and not out in public too much. It's difficult for players to see them and for makers starting out today to see them, so the idea that pristine full width book matched sets of wood is the norm is a kind of fantasy that is not historically accurate. It's also difficult to get players to see that if you slip a wing in here or there you are not ripping them off, you may in fact be making the top better. 

 

On violins and cellos I love to see wings, different cuts of wood, the evidence that the maker had to think around material limitations and still come out ahead. It leaves a path through he work that you can follow...I mean anyone can pick flawless wood and use it, but can everyone act with economy of means? It's not essential in a judgement,  but as a maker of these various instruments I always give another maker a higher mark for utilizing well what  someone else might throw away. Players and sales well that is a whole other thing, you have to do what you have to do to make money including using wood you know is too fancy. I do that, but I also scour the remainder bins at lumber yards looking for special pieces that I can make my pieced together instruments just to satisfy the challenge of keeping myself in shape to figure out how to make something from nothing. I like to speculate that my favorite Spanish makers from the lean years in Spain would approve.  

 

Wood is funny, I made the most fabulous and beautiful neck with wood I picked up out of a mud puddle in a lumber yard. I tossed it in the back of my truck because it was covered in mud, but one little section told me it was gold. It was a piece of a pallet. I took it back to the shop, with the expensive neck wood I purchased, let it all dry a few more years, then when it came time to use that wood, the stick from the mud puddle was the most interesting and made as good a neck as the stuff I paid top dollar for. 

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Not directly related to the discussion but I easily found three early Strads that have those little 'wings' on a one-piece back.

Reasons might vary - not wanting to waste material, or Stradivari yet to have big money to buy precisely what he wanted?

 

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These must have been added for tonal reasons. Surely Strad would not have used pieces that were not quite big enough, even if they were stunning. Surely not. Anyone have a theory? Nice story Stephan I also have some fine reclaimed timber.  I never throw wood away.

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These must have been added for tonal reasons. Surely Strad would not have used pieces that were not quite big enough, even if they were stunning. Surely not.

Why?

I can't find a postable picture online, but take a look at the 1670 'Tullaye' violin.

A very early instrument, but still a pretty wild choice of wood for an up and comer.

(or perhaps I'm missing the sarcasm? :blink: )

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These must have been added for tonal reasons. Surely Strad would not have used pieces that were not quite big enough, even if they were stunning. Surely not. Anyone have a theory? Nice story Stephan I also have some fine reclaimed timber.  I never throw wood away.

Strad did it because he could.  :)

 

Actually, I think this fits in with his exploration and research to see what can happen. 

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These must have been added for tonal reasons. Surely Strad would not have used pieces that were not quite big enough, even if they were stunning. Surely not. Anyone have a theory? Nice story Stephan I also have some fine reclaimed timber.  I never throw wood away.

 

Now we're closing in on the Secret of Stradivari.  Surely Strad would not have used tops that had pitch pockets, either, so they were obviously carefully selected for their superior tonal potential, and then patched up as best he could to look OK.  I'm sure Melvin goes along with this theory.

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My feeling is Strad considered it wasteful to pass up such a beautiful piece of wood simply because it was slightly too narrow; and probably because he felt the customer wouldn't care about such a trifle. Then again, maybe it was a mutually arrived at decision between the customer and Strad, with a discount due to the less than visually ideal wood.

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These must have been added for tonal reasons. Surely Strad would not have used pieces that were not quite big enough, even if they were stunning. Surely not. Anyone have a theory? Nice story Stephan I also have some fine reclaimed timber.  I never throw wood away.

 

Really? Sometimes dry wit doesn't come across well over the internet. Given you added wings to the top of your bass and the eye's of the scroll i assume you are having fun with us!

 

Here is a blond Monteleone mandolin with a wing added. 

 

chris 

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Now we're closing in on the Secret of Stradivari.  Surely Strad would not have used tops that had pitch pockets, either, so they were obviously carefully selected for their superior tonal potential, and then patched up as best he could to look OK.  I'm sure Melvin goes along with this theory.

I'm sure that any flaws in the wood were patched in the most expedient manner. If this wasn't possible, then maybe it would be relegated to the stock pile for fittings or other purposes. It's clearly seen on La Messie where pitch pockets were filled with a sliver of wood; there's no crime in that.

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Really? Sometimes dry wit doesn't come across well over the internet. Given you added wings to the top of your bass and the eye's of the scroll i assume you are having fun with us!

 

Here is a blond Monteleone mandolin with a wing added. 

 

chris 

 Oh well spotted Chris! I like the mandolin. I always fancied making one, but I have to work off the time I wasted on the bass first. 

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