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Stradivari's Secret


Roger Hargrave

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In the Old World, two techniques were used to prevent sap from rising in the spring.

As far as I've been able to determine from reading the forestry and botany studies, sap content throughout the tree remains about the same year-round. Except that carbohydrate/sugar content tends be a little higher in the fall and winter, because this is stored energy is needed for spring growth and re-foliation, prior to there being enough leaves for photosynthesis to kick in.

 

So apparently, there is no advantage to cutting wood in the winter, except that transportation may be easier, and the wood may have a chance to dry a little bit before temperatures become warm enough for mold growth.

 

And according to the paper Violadamore linked to, the notion of sap reduction (aside from water loss) from ring barking looks a little sketchy. In some cases, they found that the sugar (etc.) content of the trees had increased (was higher than the controls), a year or two after ring barking.

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We are (almost) an infinite number of monkeys with typewriters (keyboards). At some point one of us will come up with something new.

 

/lkakdsjgreuidjbza/dngjaeorigtjeargt/a;zvjadiigjearetn'oreioajgzlkvma'drtjaerjtarentgjaer

aejga'gj'4tijaer'gjaeg'artjiertgd'oigjadfgzjg'aiet'apertja'gja'epgjtjpetjeerptea'rgui'aetjq'ptti

apokdgaerpotikajmc/vma/gujvmjweSFIUj'JJJAGFRAGGJ'pjg'eaejga'gja'ejta'garetjtlkdf

;lkasjndafjAndthesecretisthatStradreallywasaspacealienwithsupernaturalpowers!aldfjl

lasdkfjlfjad'fjsdflajsdfa'dfj'asldfja'sdfjld'kfjsdlkfja'dfja'dfjsdf'ldfjweoua'jfl'rje'lja'ejejrf'ajj'fjj'

jfadlfkejfaldkfjadf;lkejf;lakdjflkduopduvzjer;oeuz;ojdaderjeoa[[afgujaz;ldkjreorjra'fadefjj

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/lkakdsjgreuidjbza/dngjaeorigtjeargt/a;zvjadiigjearetn'oreioajgzlkvma'drtjaerjtarentgjaer

aejga'gj'4tijaer'gjaeg'artjiertgd'oigjadfgzjg'aiet'apertja'gja'epgjtjpetjeerptea'rgui'aetjq'ptti

apokdgaerpotikajmc/vma/gujvmjweSFIUj'JJJAGFRAGGJ'pjg'eaejga'gja'ejta'garetjtlkdf

;lkasjndafjAndthesecretisthatStradreallywasaspacealienwithsupernaturalpowers!aldfjl

lasdkfjlfjad'fjsdflajsdfa'dfj'asldfja'sdfjld'kfjsdlkfja'dfja'dfjsdf'ldfjweoua'jfl'rje'lja'ejejrf'ajj'fjj'

jfadlfkejfaldkfjadf;lkejf;lakdjflkduopduvzjer;oeuz;ojdaderjeoa[[afgujaz;ldkjreorjra'fadefjj

 

Really?

(Yeah, I knew it all along...)

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As far as I've been able to determine from reading the forestry and botany studies, sap content throughout the tree remains about the same year-round. Except that carbohydrate/sugar content tends be a little higher in the fall and winter, because this is stored energy is needed for spring growth and re-foliation, prior to there being enough leaves for photosynthesis to kick in.

 

So apparently, there is no advantage to cutting wood in the winter, except that transportation may be easier, and the wood may have a chance to dry a little bit before temperatures become warm enough for mold growth.

 

And according to the paper Violadamore linked to, the notion of sap reduction (aside from water loss) from ring barking looks a little sketchy. In some cases, they found that the sugar (etc.) content of the trees had increased (was higher than the controls), a year or two after ring barking.

Hi David,

 

I wonder if cutting wood in the winter enables freeze drying to occur which might reduce the density lower than warmer drying.  Taxidermists use it on small animals.  I tried it on my ex wife and she finally lost some weight.

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As far as I've been able to determine from reading the forestry and botany studies, sap content throughout the tree remains about the same year-round. Except that carbohydrate/sugar content tends be a little higher in the fall and winter, because this is stored energy is needed for spring growth and re-foliation, prior to there being enough leaves for photosynthesis to kick in.

 

So apparently, there is no advantage to cutting wood in the winter, except that transportation may be easier, and the wood may have a chance to dry a little bit before temperatures become warm enough for mold growth.

 

And according to the paper Violadamore linked to, the notion of sap reduction (aside from water loss) from ring barking looks a little sketchy.

This may be true of some species, but I can offer some information from first hand experience: Years ago I was hunting in November, and the weather turned cold very quickly, dropping from a nice fall day to below 0F overnight.  In the tent at night, I heard a shot, and then another, followed by more. Thinking somebody was in trouble I went outside and listened, trying to determine which direction the shots were coming from, when a tree beside me exploded with a crack like a rifle shot. After my adrenalin returned to normal levels, I found what was happening were the trees were splitting open.

 

I related this story to a forester sometime after the event, and he told me that this can happen in conditions where deciduous trees quickly freeze while still having the sap high in the trunk and branches. Perhaps normally in winter the water recedes, but leaves the oils in the trunks, which won't freeze.

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Good for him but I wish he'd make his own thread and stay there.  :(

 

Actually I did, I made a whole new site and got me a domain too www.thestradsound.com The traffic from maestronet.com to my site surprised me :)

 

You are always welcome there, even if you don't want to be my friend here and don't like new discoveries.

Every once in a while I will visit threads here.

 

Peter

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Addie any data on this in the del Gesù Code? :ph34r:

 

Yes.  I can announce to the violin making world, for the first time ever, that the del Gesù Code contains a full chapter on the harvesting and processing of tonewood, how it was chosen, and who the suppliers were.  I’ll attach a quote...

 

oh, someone’s aiming a laser pointer at my chest... AAAAAHHHHH!  A dart!  They hit me with... a... dart...

 

....   they....   found....   me!              Carlo....   Plan....   B7....    NOW...

 

....................  dart....        was....       drugged....  

 

color-eyes-smiley.gif?1292867573

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I related this story to a forester sometime after the event, and he told me that this can happen in conditions where deciduous trees quickly freeze while still having the sap high in the trunk and branches. Perhaps normally in winter the water recedes, but leaves the oils in the trunks, which won't freeze.

Maybe so. The most plausible sounding explanation I'd read wasn't water related, but was that when the temperature drops suddenly, the outside of the tree thermally contracts much faster than the warmer core.

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We evidently need theese kind of threads here every now and then, thank you Roger. And who knows in 15-20 years or so, you can all make Strad sounding violins like I do. For now you are stuck with copying only the look ;)

http://www.thestradsound.com/home/modal-goal---strad-average

 

Fight on :)

 

I'll tune some Strads in the meantime.

 

Peter

I keep wondering what the purpose of your anonymity cloak is. If you ever want to convince anyone of anything, that would be a requirement. Tell us who you are. Is it just a game with you?  People really don't like being taken for fools. It is puzzling.

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Actually I did, I made a whole new site and got me a domain too www.thestradsound.com The traffic from maestronet.com to my site surprised me :)

 

You are always welcome there, even if you don't want to be my friend here and don't like new discoveries.

Every once in a while I will visit threads here.

 

Peter

How can anyone be your friend if they don't know anything about you. This is getting to look a little pathalogical.

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Maybe so. The most plausible sounding explanation I'd read wasn't water related, but was that when the temperature drops suddenly, the outside of the tree thermally contracts much faster than the warmer core.

 

 

A quick read-up on maple sugaring will fill in a lot of missing info here.  Sap definitely flows in the spring, daytime only.  Sugar can be made from all maples, as far as I know, and they make birch sugar in Scandinavia.  Sugaring ends when the buds leaf out--the sap content changes, and makes bitter sugar.  

 

Not the same story for needle-leaf evergreens.  They tend to grow in nutrient-limited conditions, and can’t afford to throw away all of their leaves every year, though they typically shed about 1/3 of them every year.

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I am not sure that I agree entirely. As much as the need for the wood to be protected and as Carl says, to provide a key for what was placed on top, they were also well aware that the wood needed to shine through. I always think of those Andrea Amati decorated instruments that were, (for the time), painted in a conventional way. Had the appearance of the wood not been relevant, they would have prepared the ground as painters of the time prepared their wooden panels. That is with an opaque gesso. It is quite clear that this was not the case. They were certainly sealed. This is clear because no paint has penetrated the wood; not even the black paint which is always so fine that it gets in everywhere. Under this paintwork the wood is as reflective as it is on the unpainted areas. Does this make sense? I'm not sure if I have explained myself correctly. 

 

Hi--

 

If the violin had been invented in the 18th century, then it might be easier for me to agree with this.   However, the violin arose 200 years earlier, with roots in prior instrument making that go back much further.    For that reason, I tend to think that some sort of particulate ground would have been an assumed necessity.   Even though later makers weren't necessarily consistent in this, I suspect the earliest instrument makers would have been. 

 

As far as I can tell, the ideas of 'no ground' or 'oil ground' or 'liquid ground' are much later developments in art materials.  They did however have methods and recipes for making various things transparent.  They made paper and parchment transparent for tracing work.  They made cloth and paper transparent to serve as windows, etc.  The basic technique for transparency was penetration by a drying oil.  Not too surprising.  And hot or warm application gets mentioned. 

 

You yourself describe applying a whitish mineral layer, then making it transparent.  I believe this must have been the origin point for early instrument finishes, a focus on making the de rigueur mineral ground, but  transparent in order to show the wood.   I can understand later instrument finishers making this ground thinner and thinner, and eventually at times abandoning it.  But it seems an actual particle ground would need to be the conceptual starting point.     

 

Colored grounds were also an early idea.  Cennini discusses colored grounds on papers using a calcined and ground bone for the particles, and adding very small amounts of pigment for color.  He presents this as one of the first foundational things for an artist to learn.

 

Given these things, I'm inclined to assume that some variation on a lightly colored particle ground made transparent would have been the starting point for earlier instrument makers.  And that any sealer or other wood preparation would be seen separately, making way for but not substituting for the actual ground. 

 

But of course, who can actually know?

 

 

 

 

http://www.noteaccess.com/Texts/Cennini/1.htm

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We evidently need theese kind of threads here every now and then, thank you Roger. And who knows in 15-20 years or so, you can all make Strad sounding violins like I do. For now you are stuck with copying only the look ;)http://www.thestradsound.com/home/modal-goal---strad-average Fight on :) I'll tune some Strads in the meantime. Peter

Really. This is great stuff. You just managed to insult everyone on here, some people, several times. Good job.Please don't ever leave. Some MNers would like to follow your career. But then as an anonymous poster, I guess you cannot say much. Well, don't quit posting anyway. Your discoveries are priceless.

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Oh I am sorry to tell you that they certainly did use this ring barking method. It is well documented. I am not sure if this method was employed for tone wood production but the reason that this interested Koen and I was that quite apart from insect protection; the wood was considerably lighter in weight, and not just a few percentage points.

 

By the way I was not trying to suggest that Strads are tonally superior. I don't know that. But they are still the greatest, with the Amati family taking the prize for esthetics.   

 

Girdling a tree at the base or topping it results in dehydration as far as 2.5% MC in the standing wood. The wood’s density is markedly decreased; so is the drying time, enabling the use of recent wood, as the Italian violin makers did. Consequently, the risk of attack by insects is reduced. I witnessed these practices in the French countryside when I was young.

 

www.kreitpatrick.com

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Maybe so. The most plausible sounding explanation I'd read wasn't water related, but was that when the temperature drops suddenly, the outside of the tree thermally contracts much faster than the warmer core.

 

Where do you guys live for goodness sakes? I don't need to hunt for food and it hardly ever gets colder than minus 3 or 4 celsius or hotter than 25.

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Hi--

 

If the violin had been invented in the 18th century, then it might be easier for me to agree with this.   However, the violin arose 200 years earlier, with roots in prior instrument making that go back much further.    For that reason, I tend to think that some sort of particulate ground would have been an assumed necessity.   Even though later makers weren't necessarily consistent in this, I suspect the earliest instrument makers would have been. 

 

As far as I can tell, the ideas of 'no ground' or 'oil ground' or 'liquid ground' are much later developments in art materials.  They did however have methods and recipes for making various things transparent.  They made paper and parchment transparent for tracing work.  They made cloth and paper transparent to serve as windows, etc.  The basic technique for transparency was penetration by a drying oil.  Not too surprising.  And hot or warm application gets mentioned. 

 

You yourself describe applying a whitish mineral layer, then making it transparent.  I believe this must have been the origin point for early instrument finishes, a focus on making the de rigueur mineral ground, but  transparent in order to show the wood.   I can understand later instrument finishers making this ground thinner and thinner, and eventually at times abandoning it.  But it seems an actual particle ground would need to be the conceptual starting point.     

 

Colored grounds were also an early idea.  Cennini discusses colored grounds on papers using a calcined and ground bone for the particles, and adding very small amounts of pigment for color.  He presents this as one of the first foundational things for an artist to learn.

 

Given these things, I'm inclined to assume that some variation on a lightly colored particle ground made transparent would have been the starting point for earlier instrument makers.  And that any sealer or other wood preparation would be seen separately, making way for but not substituting for the actual ground. 

 

But of course, who can actually know?

 

http://www.noteaccess.com/Texts/Cennini/1.htm

If I understand you correctly, we seem to be at cross purposes here. I have been advocating all of what you say. Where did you get the idea that I was saying that they used no ground? Of course in some way they must have sealed the wood. I was simply pointing out that they sealed it, not simply with the idea of protection, but also with the express purpose of making or keeping the wood looking beautiful. Why use highly figured wood otherwise? And yes I know all about their ability to make papers and parchments transparent. There are several good real books on these subjects. And I have read Cennini from cover to cover. I even knew his wife's sister who told me several unpublished secrets. If you are nice to me I will introduce you. Oh no! I forgot that she is dead. I knew her when I was a teenager. You will be too young. 

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Please allow me to add something to my post #58 about Strad's Secret being in the wood, and the aging of the wood.

Logic would seem to dictate that if this was true, then hundreds of old violins the same age as Strads, and built as well,

would all sound as good. Not So.!! Their wood was not treated with borax like a Strad, a Guarneri, a Guadanini, and a few

more. Of course I cannot prove it, but this has got to be where the answer lies. Treat your tonewood with borax, find a way

to speed up the aging process, and you will have yourself a wonderful violin.

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Hi Roger,

 

I'm disappointed I won't get to meet her! 

 

Sorry, I misunderstood your prior post.   I somehow thought the gist was a liquid sealer instead of any mineral ground.  I did find that confusing since I remember many places where you discuss a mineral ground made transparent.  So we agree.

 

My apologies.

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A quick read-up on maple sugaring will fill in a lot of missing info here.  Sap definitely flows in the spring, daytime only.

I did a long read-up, and it doesn't appear to be as simple as that.

The reason that maple syrup can be easily tapped at certain times of the year is the large swing between day and night temperatures. As the tree warms in the day, the sap expands, creating positive sap pressure within the tree, and this will leak readily out of a wound. The pressure goes negative at night when the sap contracts, but the trees will still yield sap at night if they are hooked to a vacuum pump, to maintain a pressure differential. This method is used by some commercial operations.

 

There is sap present all year, including the coldest part of winter, but it's so viscous (or frozen) at cold temperatures that it's difficult to remove from the tree.

 

A little more about vacuum tapping, from the Penn State School of Agricultural Sciences:

http://extension.psu.edu/natural-resources/forests/maple-syrup/collecting/tubing-system-installation/vacuum

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Please allow me to add something to my post #58 about Strad's Secret being in the wood, and the aging of the wood.

Logic would seem to dictate that if this was true, then hundreds of old violins the same age as Strads, and built as well,

would all sound as good. Not So.!! Their wood was not treated with borax like a Strad, a Guarneri, a Guadanini, and a few

more. Of course I cannot prove it, but this has got to be where the answer lies. Treat your tonewood with borax, find a way

to speed up the aging process, and you will have yourself a wonderful violin.

 

Exactly what property of the wood do you imagine is changed by borax, and to what degree?  Or does borax produce fabulous sound magically without changing any of the wood properties?

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Where do you guys live for goodness sakes? I don't need to hunt for food and it hardly ever gets colder than minus 3 or 4 celsius or hotter than 25.

Heh heh, we live in the Northern Colonies, where men can still be men. :)  (and where some women are men too :lol: )

 

It was minus 26 C here the other morning. ack2.gif

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Hi Roger,

 

I'm disappointed I won't get to meet her! 

 

Sorry, I misunderstood your prior post.   I somehow thought the gist was a liquid sealer instead of any mineral ground.  I did find that confusing since I remember many places where you discuss a mineral ground made transparent.  So we agree.

 

My apologies.

 

Probably my fault, I'm a foreigner.

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Exactly what property of the wood do you imagine is changed by borax, and to what degree?  Or does borax produce fabulous sound magically without changing any of the wood properties?

Eye of newt tincture + borax. Should only be applied during a full moon.

That, and human blood, as we all saw on the documentary "The Red Violin".

Shhhhh!

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