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Terrini

Wood on the back other than Maplewood?

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In my understanding, most of the violin are using Maple wood for the back.  (Cello may use some other…). 

In guitar making, there is Brazilian Rosewood, Indian rosewood, Cedar, and bahbahabah.  The selection of wood clearly affect the tone a lot on the guitar.

 

So, my question is … is there are any study for applying different type of wood as mentioned on Violin making in the recent day?

 

Anyways,

Happy new years… :o)

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I think many different kinds of wood for instrument backs have been used.  There are violins with beechwood backs, cherry wood backs and violas with willow backs, poplar backs. poplar.  Obviously, different kinds of wood produce different types of sound, and perhaps making techniques would have to be different with various kinds of wood.  You might have to experiment to find out how to work with woods other than maple.

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Some day I just might try something in lieu of maple, but I was told by Gregg Alf years ago to stick with traditional woods, namely curly (European) maple. I also had a customer say the same thing.

 

Other than appearances, there is the issue of acceptable tone. Customers expect a certain sound. If the wood alters that, you will have a nice looking ornament for the shop wall.  :D

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The sound can vary a lot even with maple; different pieces of maple require adjustment to a degree.  As we know each piece of wood is unique and one piece of maple might work differently than another.  What sound you get depends on how you work the wood.  So if you want to work with other woods I suppose you have to adjust your working methods to the wood to get the result you want.

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Some day I just might try something in lieu of maple, but I was told by Gregg Alf years ago to stick with traditional woods, namely curly (European) maple. I also had a customer say the same thing.

 

Other than appearances, there is the issue of acceptable tone. Customers expect a certain sound. If the wood alters that, you will have a nice looking ornament for the shop wall.  :D

 

 

Compare to guitar, Violin is a "group" instrument while guitar are mostly "solo" instrument.  So, a greater variation in tone is alright on the guitar, not on the violin.  And, of course, Guitar is a very young instrument...  Would it be a good hypothesis on the "acceptable" tone?

 

Since I'm just a hobbist, I should try things as such after my guitar project... :)

 

 

Do you mean apple wood?

Sorry, edited.

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 What sound you get depends on how you work the wood.  So if you want to work with other woods I suppose you have to adjust your working methods to the wood to get the result you want.

 

While all of this might be true and while a few (not many) violins were made with other materials, in the end it will boil down to sales. As Charles Beare was fond of saying, “Some violins have built in customer resistance”. A few years ago I made a Grancino copy violin from beech. It turned out well, but it took a while to sell. I am just one of those idiots that like to make weird instruments (like basses). It can be fun, but it is often financially stupid.    

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Maybe the factor was more that it was a Grancino copy, rather than the material.  I'm curious Roger if back many years ago when you had that brochure which showed all the different makers you copied, if it was harder to sell a Testore copy than a Strad copy?

 

It seems customers may expect a Strad or dG copy to be a better violin than a Balestrieri copy.

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Compare to guitar, Violin is a "group" instrument while guitar are mostly "solo" instrument.  So, a greater variation in tone is alright on the guitar, not on the violin.  And, of course, Guitar is a very young instrument...  Would it be a good hypothesis on the "acceptable" tone?

 

Since I'm just a hobbist, I should try things as such after my guitar project... :)

 

 

Sorry, edited.

A guitar sits on you lap so you don't want to waste a lot of vibrations there (well maybe sometimes not) so the back plate and rib woods tend to be heavy and stiff to limit their vibrational energy.

 

A violin is similar.  You don't want the back to produce a lot of vibrations or sound that would be absorbed by the left shoulder and chest area.  So you make the top light so most of the sound comes off top and has a direct shot at the audience.  Sound that did come off of the back which was not absorbed by the player would still have to bounce off of the floor and the back wall of a hall before it could reach the audience. Some sound is lost in each bounce  so much of the sound coming off of the back is wasted. 

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A guitar sits on you lap so you don't want to waste a lot of vibrations there (well maybe sometimes not) so the back plate and rib woods tend to be heavy and stiff to limit their vibrational energy.

 

A violin is similar.  You don't want the back to produce a lot of vibrations or sound that would be absorbed by the left shoulder and chest area.  So you make the top light so most of the sound comes off top and has a direct shot at the audience.  Sound that did come off of the back which was not absorbed by the player would still have to bounce off of the floor and the back wall of a hall before it could reach the audience. Some sound is lost in each bounce  so much of the sound coming off of the back is wasted. 

 

Good points !

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I have always wondered what rosewood would sound like for the back and sides of a violin, but I'm not a luthier with the skills to try it out.  It sure seems to be the best wood for guitar backs and sides, IMHO.  On a guitar it seems to have both a more complex high end as well as more definition in the bass than maple.   The main difference between guitars and violins is that the former are only plucked and so all the complex overtones pop out right at the beginning of the envelope and fade away soon after, while a bowed instrument produces complex overtones over the entire envelope.  Rosewood is probably more cantankerous than maple to carve, as well. 

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Hi Terrini,

 

I stick with maple myself just because I'm the kind of person who will drive the exact same way to the exact same grocery store.....Anyway, there is a guy named Barry Dudley who has made some really nice instruments using all sorts of woods.  Google his name and you should come up with his website.  It might not hurt to send him an email.

 

Good luck!

James

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Hi Terrini,

 

I stick with maple myself just because I'm the kind of person who will drive the exact same way to the exact same grocery store.....Anyway, there is a guy named Barry Dudley who has made some really nice instruments using all sorts of woods.  Google his name and you should come up with his website.  It might not hurt to send him an email.

 

Good luck!

James

Just took a look of his website...  Some of the fame pattern is quite interesting...  It seems "alternative" musician are his major customer, and it is consistent with the discussion above.

 

This article probably provide more information about him:

http://www.fiddle.com/articles.page?index=0&articleid=67505

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Maybe the factor was more that it was a Grancino copy, rather than the material.  I'm curious Roger if back many years ago when you had that brochure which showed all the different makers you copied, if it was harder to sell a Testore copy than a Strad copy?

 

It seems customers may expect a Strad or dG copy to be a better violin than a Balestrieri copy.

 

It has always been that way. However, some customers are well versed in the different models and their qualities. Also, many of the copies were copies made of instruments that players already owned, or were owned by someone they knew. But not having customers for instruments has never stopped me from making copies of instruments that I like. Conversely, I have never made a copy of any instrument that I did not like. After writing the Guarneri book I only seemed to get orders for 'del Gesu's'. This has generally been fun, but almost every year I make a copy of something different for myself. If they are not too strange they usually sell fairly quickly. I make a few Amati and Stainer copies as baroque. This balances the craftsmanship book. People think that you cannot use tools when you make 'del Gesu' copies. Actually, to get them right, they need more skill.   

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I have always wondered what rosewood would sound like for the back and sides of a violin,

In my experiences, dead, as if a large mute was placed on the bridge.

 

Cocobolo however, a relative to rosewood, can be made into a pretty respectable violin if you can overlook the weight factor. It has very different acoustic properties compared to Rosewood.

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In my experiences, dead, as if a large mute was placed on the bridge.

 

Cocobolo however, a relative to rosewood, can be made into a pretty respectable violin if you can overlook the weight factor. It has very different acoustic properties compared to Rosewood.

Were the rosewood and cocobolo back plates made to the same weight that maple backs would have?  Or were they heavier?

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At first I made them the same thickness as what I would do with maple. Later, I thinned them out considerably in an attempt to lighten them up. The Cocobolo was a very nice instrument, but the Rosewood was dead, before and after thinning.

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Hi Folks,, how about woods for a beginner to gain a bit of experience for the first few builds ??, something not so expensive and easier to work with??, or how about recycling, i have access to some old maple and woods taken years ago from school gym equipment??,,

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