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How long will a violin top survive without a soundpost?


murrmac
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Bit of a weird question, I know, but on another forum somebody claims to have seen  "many" violin tops collapse as a result of the violin not having a soundpost..

 

My main question is, does this claim sound realistic ? Has any repair person on here witnessed "many" tops collapse as a result of the instrument not having a soundpost? I would have thought it an extremely rare occurrence for a violin to be missing a soundpost in the first place, but hey, I could be wrong.

 

That leads me on to question #2 which is : if a violin were to have the soundpost removed, and left in that condition, would the top in fact collapse at all, and if it would,  how long would it take  to collapse under string pressure ? Would the pressure alone be sufficient to collapse the top (assuming that that would in fact happen) or would the instrument have to be played extensively minus the soundpost for this to occur?  I am sceptical that any violinist would continue playing an instrument without a soundpost, but maybe stranger things have happened .

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Quite so... it depends not only on the thickness of the top around where the soundpost sits, or the thickness of the load bearing areas of the top, but also it's overall architecture, so just a function of shape could be the difference of a top that can withstand unsupported tension or not. A structural engineer could have far, far too much fun with this (and probably come to the conclusion that you shouldn't make violins the way that Stradivari did)... 

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I have a couple of cheap chinese violins that are frequently subjected to abuse in pursuit of acoustics experiments.

under string pressure the top collapses instantly when the soundpost is removed, but I don't know how long it would take for the collapse to be irreversible.

the upper strings sound lovely though - just like a mandolin. :)

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but somebody claims to have seen  "many" violin tops collapse as a result of the violin not having a soundpost..

 

My main question is, does this claim sound realistic ? 

That leads me on to question #2 which is : if a violin were to have the soundpost removed, and left in that condition, would the top in fact collapse at all, and if it would,  how long would it take  to collapse under string pressure ?

 

  I am sceptical that any violinist would continue playing an instrument without a soundpost, 

 

I would think just seeing 4 or 5 violin top collapses as realistic so if the person has seen more than me, then yes.

 

It depends on the wood if a collapse would happen or not.  A strong belly and bassbar could hold for 10 years possibly fully strung but not in tune, so maybe a slight collapse but no breakage.

 

I'd think a violinist could hear a soundpost rattling around inside and in return thinking "I better get this fixed".  But some don't -  I found a real fine violin in that condition once.  Back plate popped loose, soundpost rattling inside, fully strung with Domonants and went back together fine.  Appeared to be setting for an eternity before I found it.

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Hi All - engineer here - please define "collapse" - are we talking about terminal failure, permanent deformation or reversible deflection.

 

thanks edi

 

It is not a good word.  For a catastrophic breakage,  one calls that "failure."   The bending wouild be proportional to the forces up to a point.  Then the material goes into an accelerated stretching until it "fails."   I used to test reinforcing steel in the Ohio transportation dept. laboratory,  a summer job in college.  The meter measuring the force on the hydraulic pulling machine would go up gradually with force,  and then all of a sudden the meter would fall as the steel stretched faster than the machine could move.  Then it would break.    The linear portion of the stretching is within the parameters when the steel follows HOOKES LAW.   (Distortion is proportional to applied force.)

 

If you took out a soundpost,  you would not have enough force to violate Hookes law.   But something else happens.  The wood is not close to an ideal material (steel is closer) and it will CREEP.   There would appear a depression where the bridge is,  and this would continue.   I have read that it takes about a year for the creep to stop or get very small.   Creep DOES happen even with a complete violin,  but it is much smaller because of the post, and strength of the bar and arching.   But obviously,  it happens,  as one needs to "sandbag" tops on ocassion.

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Unless there's a new meaning for "collapse" that includes a slight temporary subsidence, this thread is nearly complete nonsense, and you people should be ashamed of yourselves spreading it.

You'll just have to have Murrmac find the person from the other website to elaborate some more - maybe sunk/sagging would be better.  Common sense tells me if you leave a violin strung up with no post a dip of sorts can happen, not sure about breakage.  

 

Maybe the Whitesox can win today, alas was not meant to be last night. :ph34r:

A problem is the bullpen - they are too big and heavy to be effective, must be good food in Chicago.

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As a rather careless student I kicked my viola about London (got it across Piccadilly circus once) and I think at one point it had no sound post ! 
Funny to think of it now, but I really didn't care at all, just wanted to play the notes n get paid. 
Around the same time I noticed that playing in the snow made the rosin slide....later the varnish actually melted on tour in Tuscany
but I blame that on the Tippet, horrendous piece. 
Anyway, the £700 viola I went thru music college with got nicked out of the boot of a car, 
the case was worth almost as much and the bow was a good one, sadly. 


Benning's posted a photo of a Cello with a pine back.....seemed structurally ok but some serious wear to top edge 
as would be expected. 

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As a rather careless student I kicked my viola about London (got it across Piccadilly circus once) and I think at one point it had no sound post ! 

Funny to think of it now, but I really didn't care at all, just wanted to play the notes n get paid. 

Around the same time I noticed that playing in the snow made the rosin slide....later the varnish actually melted on tour in Tuscany

but I blame that on the Tippet, horrendous piece. 

Anyway, the £700 viola I went thru music college with got nicked out of the boot of a car, 

the case was worth almost as much and the bow was a good one, sadly. 

Who cares about the post lol. 

I never really paid attention to the post during the early days of tinkering.  I figured if it's standing then it's good enough.  Now, I actually realize what perfect post setting can do for a violin and if I get it close to perfect then it's one less thing to worry about.

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Of course the post position is important etc, but when you're a clueless musician ( as most are ) or art dealer for that matter
the post position is at most a theoretical proposition. 
My guess would be that your bog standard (as pattented by Crapper) fiddle would do ok without a post for a while. 
It would sink eventually of course, but the immediate effect is the totally hollow sound you get without a post. 

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hmmm - how well, I wonder, will your car run without tires?

 

Well you could drive around for while on the rims, I would guess... but why?

It definitely wouldn't be an improvement, or so I have to assume - never having done so.

The post and bass bar are both necessary parts, of a classically made (built) violin - without either, I believe that you would be talking about a variation of the classical norm - which (the "classical norm, that is) has been refined -design wise- for some hundreds of years' in order to arrive at, or achieve the particular tonal result desired.

 

So, I would guess that if you're not looking for violin-like results, you could most likely design an instrument that WOULD actually not need a sound post - or perhaps, not even require a bass bar.

But then, we'd be talking about something that isn't exactly a "violin"  wouldn't we?

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As a rather careless student I kicked my viola about London (got it across Piccadilly circus once) and I think at one point it had no sound post ! 

Funny to think of it now, but I really didn't care at all, just wanted to play the notes n get paid. 

Around the same time I noticed that playing in the snow made the rosin slide....later the varnish actually melted on tour in Tuscany

but I blame that on the Tippet, horrendous piece. 

Anyway, the £700 viola I went thru music college with got nicked out of the boot of a car, 

 

 

Are you a professional viola player ?

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In support of Ben Conover - as a student at college I gave a first year acoustics demonstration - also with a viola - where I played it with and without the soundpost. It was one of those awful greenish Czech instruments from the 1980s and really heavy... having made a complete fool of myself because the soundpost had been very likely glued in and wouldn't budge, once I'd finally smashed it out (I mean it) it didn't make a blind bit of difference to how the viola sounded. 

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In support of Ben Conover - as a student at college I gave a first year acoustics demonstration - also with a viola - where I played it with and without the soundpost. It was one of those awful greenish Czech instruments from the 1980s and really heavy... having made a complete fool of myself because the soundpost had been very likely glued in and wouldn't budge, once I'd finally smashed it out (I mean it) it didn't make a blind bit of difference to how the viola sounded. 

 

Now, with all due respect - is it possible that it was actually your playin' ??   :lol:

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My limited knowlege and experience indicate that the soundpost only helps the very high notes. So if you don't play in high positions it should not matter.

I know there has been a thread about when it was first used, it would be helpful if someone found the thread.

Perhaps the soundpost was not necessary with low tension gut strings?

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My limited knowlege and experience indicate that the soundpost only helps the very high notes. So if you don't play in high positions it should not matter.

 

I see one potential problem with what you say.  Let's assume the soundpost was put in a position originally that allowed the high notes to be heard to along with balance throughout the other strings for sound.  Now the soundpost moves some and the effect is now no high notes with an acceptable volume.  What I see or think I see after that is the bridge feet not making full contact on belly because post is not in the ideal position.

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My limited knowlege and experience indicate that the soundpost only helps the very high notes. So if you don't play in high positions it should not matter.I know there has been a thread about when it was first used, it would be helpful if someone found the thread.Perhaps the soundpost was not necessary with low tension gut strings?

Hi joe, actually the soundpost has a big effect on the low frequency signature modes. Especially a0 which is very strongly diminished for horizontal bridge motion in the absence of a soundpost.

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Hi joe, actually the soundpost has a big effect on the low frequency signature modes. Especially a0 which is very strongly diminished for horizontal bridge motion in the absence of a soundpost.

 Hi John,

I'm a bit sceptical about "modes". It is true that high tension strings compress the top more without the soundpost and slightly change the the resonance of the body. Regarding plate tuning it depends more on the internal structure of the plate and its seasoning. If you aim for a certain "mode" in every plate, you may spoil more than you get right :)

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