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Michael_Molnar

Simeon Chambers - Going Out of Business

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Sad to hear about  Simon Chmbers!!!

 

I saw the Movie "The Big Short" and did not realize at the time it would strike so close to home.

The 2008 housing crisis is still hurting America and the rest of the world.

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I have some  really low density Simeon Chambers tops (no longer available) that I'd be willing to sell, along with some bearclaw or "haselfichte" tops from Mountain Voice Tonewoods.

 

Nothing about either of these woods didn't work, but it probably took me about an additional 50 hours per instrument to get them in the zone, versus woods  that I was more accustomed to using.

Interesting reading, as usual from you. Does these 50 hrs include one or several regraduations of the tops?

Id guess bearclaw would give higher crossgrain stiffness, and thus stiffer tops, at the same grads and arching as for a non BC top and violin.

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I liked getting spruce with a specific density range. I am amazed how other makers use almost any density spruce. Granted I am not a award winner but I have learned to use consistently similar spruce to control tone. There are subtle differences even with wood having similar density. I like 0.36 +\- 0.02 .

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There are subtle differences even with wood having similar density.

 

Some may not be so subtle.  I have two pieces of Engelmann at .37 density; one has a speed of sound 5100 m/s, the other 5800 m/s.  Maybe that's subtle, maybe it isn't, but I'd rather use the stiffer piece.

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Some may not be so subtle.  I have two pieces of Engelmann at .37 density; one has a speed of sound 5100 m/s, the other 5800 m/s.  Maybe that's subtle, maybe it isn't, but I'd rather use the stiffer piece.

So would I, but it would be interesting to see if the tonal differences are subtle or blatant.

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 it would be interesting to see if the tonal differences are subtle or blatant.

 

That's the motivation for many of my odd experiments... firewood, slab top, $44 Chinese, etc.

So far, the differences don't seem to be as blatant as you might expect for such wide variations in the wood.  Still, it's worth paying attention to the small differences, too.

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What is more interesting is your guard dog protecting your wood!

The cat and dog work in 12 hour shifts, plus the cat is responsible for daily inspections.  :)

 

-Jim

 

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I can imagine that if I had a neatly stacked pile of wood like that in my living room, someone - like my mother in law - could be impressed with how neatly I stacked the firwood. The least she can do since she is visiting is to make sure it is nice and warm by the time someone else comes... 

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I just finished a stick of .42 flamed Sitka, cut in the 60s-- I've made 9 violas and two violins with it for the top wood in the last year--ione piece with lower bout wings. An exercise in letting my obsession with weight and density retreat in importance in my philosophy, after discussions with very successful makers that don't bother to bother with it. It taught me a lot, and taught me what flexibility needed to be augmented for successful violas with tops in the 100-110 gram range, as opposed to the 72-90 gram tops I was taught to make...

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Wow, that's so very dense! Do you perceive any particular difference, or better yet have you had player feedback on a test of your dense top instruments vs your lighter top violas?

What's the approach with denser wood like this? The fact that you offer a higher weight range suggests to me that you don't make the dense tops extra thin to bring them into the zone. Very curious. Thanks for your time!

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Although i usually use European Spruce, I have some "heavier" hand split Engelman from Simeon Chambers that is gorgeous.  He usually has a surprisingly wide range of densities available. 

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Wow, that's so very dense! Do you perceive any particular difference, or better yet have you had player feedback on a test of your dense top instruments vs your lighter top violas?

What's the approach with denser wood like this? The fact that you offer a higher weight range suggests to me that you don't make the dense tops extra thin to bring them into the zone. Very curious. Thanks for your time!

Had one of my Nic Bergonzi violas played in the hall at Oberlin with this top wood in June to modestly positive acclaim, and it found a home in the National Symphony Orchestra by the end of the month. I've never heard a lighter viola of mine vs. a heavier, but havent made with anything but this spruce for a year now... The smaller violas are more difficult to push power with the heavier wood, but I compensated by putting the plateau of the bassbar back toward the mensur, going violin numbers in the bouts, yet leaving the bar ends 4 mm off the plate.

The mistake I made On the first go was deciding to thin the C bout out more for weight. I had to let weight go, and let the plate be heavy.

The violas are very successful, IMO, and really growl on the C. I went thinner in edge work and channel and especially the upper bout, without going below 3.3 in the soundpost and ffs. These were instruments that needed a week to play in, while so am used to my instruments kicking doors down from first note.

The violins made with the same ideas were fast-moving hits on my East Coast trip with Chris Ulbricht.

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Are there any other suppliers of spruce who give the densities? Simeon was unique.

John Preston from old world tonewoods had the odd piece marked with the sg. I think if you called him and gave him your specs he would measure the sg if everything else about the wood was what you are looking for. His website does not reflect all the wood he has available.

-Jim

Edit: His spruce is from Romania. He said he will have a booth at the VSA this year.

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