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Don Noon

Guarneri F-hole placement

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I was just scanning thru some photos to get them embedded into my brain, and noticed a bit of variation.  This may be old news to most of you, but I hadn't noticed before how wildly some of these locations varied from the reliable old Strad placement (the top of the lower eye being level with the purfling curve).

 

If anyone has any clue how these placements affect performance, I'd be happy to listen.

post-25192-0-22141600-1457059824_thumb.jpg

 

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Well, for one thing it looks like those two fiddles would have pretty different vibrating string lengths... but do they in fact?

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Nice find Don thanks for sharing ,My wild guess,  I would expect that since he's making the smallest part (the CC bouts) smaller by moving the ff holes north overall into the narrows of the cc's that should loosen the diagonal  hinge across the middle section effecting the twisty action of certain modes, what frequencies tend to twist the body?  I'd also expect greater movement in the wings.

  looking again I also see greater flex in the front to back aspect around the lower eyes on the '42 , it wants to flex more , Makes me want to try one.....

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My impression is that Del Gesu experimented with the length wise aspects of the soundholes. This includes the placement of the lower eyes as you note, but also how far the cut of holes extend beyond the eyes. I think this experimenting contributed to the wildness of soundholes.

Obviously these changes in the cut have some effect on the freedom of movement of the top plates.

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I was just scanning thru some photos to get them embedded into my brain, and noticed a bit of variation.  This may be old news to most of you, but I hadn't noticed before how wildly some of these locations varied from the reliable old Strad placement (the top of the lower eye being level with the purfling curve).

 

If anyone has any clue how these placements affect performance, I'd be happy to listen.

attachicon.gifGuarneri F locations.jpg

It's a little weird how much I can move ff holes around, and almost nobody notices. I might not notice either, had I not been personally involved in the decision. And I probably wouldn't have noticed the extreme Guarneri variations, had you not pointed them out.

 

So my conclusion is that a thematic process, involving how well things "hang together", is more important than measurements, when it comes to aesthetics.

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One thing maybe to consider as you move the f-holes north and south is to consider the center graduations.  If your reference for the thickest area is at the narrowest location of the c-bouts for example (on front and/or back plate), then the relationship between the thickest area and the the "island" between the FF's is quite different as you move the ff's (as well as likely bridge location).  I guess this fits into the how well things "hang together" category...

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Here's an interesting article from Roger Hargrave about Guarneri working methods.  This one focuses on arching and fholes, but he has other chapters on his website if anyone is interested.  There's no answer in here about the effect on performance, but there is some detail about where Guarneri was consistent and where he varied.  Also some speculation as to how he may have laid out the fholes.

 

Download (1952kb)

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The first looks like the "Dancla" of 1727 and the second looks like the the "Leduc" of 1747.   I think that these are just outliers.  I can't find any other extreme examples like these except for the Dancing Master "La Fountaine" of 1740 which is like a pochette violin.  Maybe he (or his assistant) just made a mistake and he didn't want to throw out the plates.

post-24376-0-58123800-1457131927_thumb.jpg

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It's a little weird how much I can move ff holes around, and almost nobody notices. I might not notice either, had I not been personally involved in the decision. And I probably wouldn't have noticed the extreme Guarneri variations, had you not pointed them out.

 

So my conclusion is that a thematic process, involving how well things "hang together", is more important than measurements, when it comes to aesthetics.

The Engineer in me is learning this more and more each and every day.

Sometimes the hard way!

 

davinci.jpg

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Just to explore, I've drawn some guide lines onto a selection of Del Gesu tops.  

 

People sometimes discuss a relationship between a line across the tops of the lower soundhole eyes and the purfling.   I think this is a somewhat loose relationship in Classical Cremona work.   Not particularly discussed, there is also sometimes a relationship to a line running below the low eyes to the lower corner circle centers.   I've drawn both these lines in to help visualize.

 

I've not heard anyone else discuss how the upper eyes relate to the upper bouts, but I believe this relationship is something widespread in the old Cremona instruments. I've drawn in boxes to show this.  I've drawn the inner box on the outside edge of the purfling.  This should normally correspond roughly with the line of the mold.

 

 

 

 

Here are three early, three middle, and three late Del Gesu violins. 

 

post-30802-0-83733900-1457396237_thumb.jpg  post-30802-0-94668400-1457396315_thumb.jpg  post-30802-0-48090500-1457396402_thumb.jpg

 

post-30802-0-35683600-1457396625_thumb.jpg  post-30802-0-78598600-1457396649_thumb.jpg  post-30802-0-91251100-1457396662_thumb.jpg

 

 

post-30802-0-44382300-1457396755_thumb.jpg  post-30802-0-98627100-1457396774_thumb.jpg  post-30802-0-11938600-1457396790_thumb.jpg

 

 

Three of the violins, the 1729, the Kreisler, and the Pannette, show the same relationship between the guides and the soundholes eyes as are most commonly seen in other old Cremona maker's work.

 

I think it fair to say the later instruments shower increasingly chaotic placement of the eyes.  But more than the placement of eyes, he seems to experiment with increasing the amount the soundholes extend above and below the eyes.  This is the main cause of elongation of the later soundholes.

 

 

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I'm not sure what the rectangles are supposed to represent but I think it is more helpful to just draw a few lines and see how the f-holes fit onto the rest of the violin. Whether or not this is the method that was used to select their position doesn't matter to me. I'm just interested in why they work visually on these particular violins.

 

On the attached pictures I've drawn lines between the purfling miters, the widest portion of the lower bout and a point approximately at the end of a modern fingerboard. On Strad and early del Gesu violins the line between the widest points of the lower bout and the upper f-hole eyes  points to the end of a modern length fingerboard*. On a late del Gesu they tend to point more towards the line joining the purfling miters. It's interesting that the lower eyes usually also fall on these lines and that the arm connecting the two holes is approximately tangent to this connecting line. Anyways, I've found that drawing these few lines on a violin helps a lot with getting reasonable f-hole placements relative to the rest of the outline, especially where you are not producing a copy of an old violin.

 

*Of course these violins didn't have modern fingerboards when they were built but this might be a clue why the modern fingerboard looks good on an instrument that was meant to have a short one.

post-24240-0-35585400-1457401017_thumb.jpg

post-24240-0-50082400-1457401026_thumb.jpg

post-24240-0-19351600-1457401037_thumb.jpg

post-24240-0-39752600-1457401046_thumb.jpg

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  Anyways, I've found that drawing these few lines on a violin helps a lot with getting reasonable f-hole placements relative to the rest of the outline, especially where you are not producing a copy of an old violin.

 

Before I saw your white lines and Beards DG collection above I wasn't sure I had a good Del Gesu plan.  I had to make one from scratch.  Using the white line idea on my own plan I could compare to see what I really have to work with.  Mine is supposed to be a 1733- it still is thankfully.  It matches well with the early DG's excepting the lower ff hole alignment - I'm lower like the Ol' Bull.  Reason being I believe is because I changed the stop length down to 128.5mm from 130 mm, string length 325.75 - 326mm.

 

Specs -

353.5 mm Corpus

41 mm eye to eye

107 mm eye to eye wing side/inner

 

Good enough for me.  Thanks Mr. Johnston and Mr. Beard. 

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Interesting bridge placement on the 1727. Obviously the bridge was set for stop length and the inner F nicks don't represent much. The image catnip shows has quite uneven inner nicks. Makes me wonder why bother with them when we want a specific stop length in the first place.

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I was just scanning thru some photos to get them embedded into my brain, and noticed a bit of variation.  This may be old news to most of you, but I hadn't noticed before how wildly some of these locations varied from the reliable old Strad placement (the top of the lower eye being level with the purfling curve).

 

If anyone has any clue how these placements affect performance, I'd be happy to listen.

attachicon.gifGuarneri F locations.jpg

Looking those photos, the area of the lower wings is increased when f`s are placed toward the south position. Intuitivly, I think that the lower wings movement will have slightly lover freq. response and increased amplitude of movement. And vice versa when f`s are placed north. 

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Having tried six or seven different ff's on the same small viola model in the last few years, I've found less variance in sound than you'd think. Than I would have thought...

I suppose if you know what you're after vis-a-vis flexibility and twist, finishing a top plate off with the sound holes noticeably higher, lower, longer, or shorter pushes the work into other aspects of the plate. Like graduation, bass bar angle, etc.

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Just a newbie commenting, but besides the location of the ff's their shapes (to my eyes) are also rather different.  So was Guarnerius consistently inconsistent?

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Just a newbie commenting, but besides the location of the ff's their shapes (to my eyes) are also rather different.  So was Guarnerius consistently inconsistent?

The first violin, illustrated with the date of 1727 reflects the pracice of his father, Giuseppe Giovanni Battista 'filius Andreae' who often made a longer than normal stop, sometimes exceeding 20 cm. Later in his activity, 'del Gesù' chose to use a shorter stop length (bridge position) than his father. This shows in the placement of the lower holes and to a certain extent the different treatment of the corner blocks which, in turn, influence the shape of the c-bouts and the corners. The second violin is at the end of his career where he no longer shows any influence of his father.

 

Bruce

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The first violin, illustrated with the date of 1727 reflects the pracice of his father, Giuseppe Giovanni Battista 'filius Andreae' who often made a longer than normal stop, sometimes exceeding 20 cm. Later in his activity, 'del Gesù' chose to use a shorter stop length (bridge position) than his father. This shows in the placement of the lower holes and to a certain extent the different treatment of the corner blocks which, in turn, influence the shape of the c-bouts and the corners. The second violin is at the end of his career where he no longer shows any influence of his father.

 

Bruce

Bruce,

 

Thank you for the detailed info.  Regarding the ffs, they look (to me) significantly different (not just their placement).  Is this to be expected?

 

Greg

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Bruce,

 

Thank you for the detailed info.  Regarding the ffs, they look (to me) significantly different (not just their placement).  Is this to be expected?

 

Greg

I think you have to see a series of 'del Gesù' soundholes in between 1727 and 1744 to note the progression. 'del Gesù' changed a lot during his relatively brief working life, especially in the last four years. He died at the ripe old age of 46.

 

Bruce

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