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Bass bar wha...?


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Davide, the beauty of a graphite core sound post is that, once it is set, the vibration of the plates marks the position of the sound post with perfect graphite dots.

 

Surely that's not right, there should only be one dot. Or do you remove the eraser? The slight squishiness of the eraser allows that end to conform perfectly to the interior of the belly creating a perfect fit. It also doesn't dig in to the soft spruce to cause damage if the post is jammed in and moved around. I can't, for the life of me, think of why anyone wouldn't use a sound post with an eraser on the end.

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Surely that's not right, there should only be one dot. Or do you remove the eraser? The slight squishiness of the eraser allows that end to conform perfectly to the interior of the belly creating a perfect fit. It also doesn't dig in to the soft spruce to cause damage if the post is jammed in and moved around. I can't, for the life of me, think of why anyone wouldn't use a sound post with an eraser on the end.

What happens to the sound quality?  I assume you"re using new pencils that have unworn erasers.

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Well, I guess tone has to be taken into consideration somewhere, and all of this is more of a thought experiment for me than something I do.

 

I feel that the eraser must have some dampening effect, but I think that it shouldn't be much of a problem. I think that the dampening at one end can be offset by thinning the other end. A simple pencil sharpener can do this very easily, thus bringing the post into balance. Getting the post to stand up properly might be more difficult than usual, but if one has one of those expensive instruments with the conical hole in the center of the back, it might be possible to work the point of the pencil over into that. The post would end up on a bit of a lean, but many posts do anyway and still seem to work somewhat.

 

A video of this would be worthy to be viewed along with the other videos listed in this thread.

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Hey, correct me if I'm wrong, but it sounds almost like you guys are suggesting a post that would be like a pencil.  Yes? No?  If so, maybe we could just use a pencil.  I could see great benefits: 1. It would avoid making a post which is only like a pencil, therefore saving time;  2. If you use a pencil with your advertising on it, the player could look in and see your name and telephone number. (You could provide a small flashlight with every newly installed post); and 3. Think of how you could effect the tone by your choice of the hardness of the graphite.  A good #2 would no doubt suffice for all but the most recalcitrant instruments.  Wait till the boys at Oberlin hear about this!  What a summer of fun they will have. 

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I didn't realize that the pencil soundposts were sharpened on one end and the other end still had the eraser on.  I thought they were just square cut off sections of pencils.

 

I've never tried it but I would guess that a shallow spherical bottom end in a spherical depression in the back might work well.  The graphite lead core (2B, 6B?) would provide good lubrication.

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Here is a useful graphic from the Accademia's "Useful Measurements for Violin Armchair Theorists."

 

Yes that helps me a lot, I can see the tone colours that the post could provide. Maybe go for a 3 or 4B for a Guarneri model, and I am guessing (as a Violin Armchair Theorist) that a Strad model might be an F or H. I think 6B and darker would sound a bit muddy, although I like the idea of a post that self lubricates. There must be some benefit to be found in that somewhere. The really light ones should be avoided unless one has a very dark sounding instrument, otherwise the tone might be more like a skylark.

 

Other people might see things differently though, and keep it to themselves. This is how secrets start, keeping information from others. However these people will let you know that they have their own way of fitting a pencil post, but they are not going to tell anyone, because it's a special secret. In reality they fit the post the same way everyone else does, because it actually works best that way.

 

Having said that I can already see a number of variables though that help to create secrets. Eraser length, eraser density, graphite colour tone and hardness, round post, hexagonal post, point taper, conical hole depth and location. These can be combined in too many different ways for there to be just one pencil post solution.

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Even from my completely opposite condition (good night's sleep, never drink coffee, "workday" has no meaning), this seems like a good post.  I too wonder what mindset drives these "certain individuals" to develop their ritualistic methods.

 

The only think I can think of is that they start with a belief that there is an order to everything, often somewhat magical and numerically oriented, and there is no effort expended to prove if these beliefs are true or not.  Seems to be a consistent syndrome.

Generally these types offer unified theories as to why their method attains superior results along with the magic and numerology. What they don't explain is all the other successful instruments built without any consideration to their method and theory.

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Which brings us back to my original post. If two instruments are built, one with new "innovations" and the other with traditional methods, and they both sound just as good, then what is the value of those particular innovations? Sure, there have been a few innovations over the centuries that have paid off (consider the chin rest) but I can't see the value in adding new features that add little (or even distract to some) from the 'norm'. I think that his bass bar method is a mistake.

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Which brings us back to my original post. If two instruments are built, one with new "innovations" and the other with traditional methods, and they both sound just as good, then what is the value of those particular innovations?

 

 

If they're both sound just as good, then what is the value of the traditional methods?

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I met David a few years ago while I was traveling through Oregon and I played on some of his violins! Very nice man and I think is more passionate about making violins and the topic of acoustics than anyone I ever met. He is a mechanical engineer who got into violin making on his own. Though his work is a bit unorthodox, his instruments really do sound wonderful and they have great projection. He is always making discoveries, experimenting, and sharing his insights on his website. I think some of what he shares, especially on the topic of tap tones is fascinating.

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Every time I hear of some new tapping system based on mysterious sounds to listen to and that it seems that no one outside of the inventor of the theory can hear and make sense of it, my mind goes back to when I discovered the book of Isaac Vigdorchik and I tried to see if could work or make sense.

 

http://www.violinresearch.com/loudnessbowingchart_014.htm

 

http://www.maestronet.com/forum/index.php?/topic/320134-plate-tuning-and-the-aye-aye/

 

Big waste of time, but perhaps it is my ear that does not have the ability necessary to be able to hear those micro tap tones, as always say the authors to justify those who do not feel what they hear.

Never mind, it will mean that I have to resign myself to follow more traditional methods and to listen to the best scientific and sensible suggestions, proposed by more concrete and reliable people around here. :) 

 

 

 

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When I hear one of these new systems, I think:

 

-Does it make any sense from what I know of physics and acoustics? (Usually not)

-Is this a well-known and respected maker? (Almost never)

-Is there any other evidence that the results of this system is superior? (Never, to my knowledge)

 

At best, following the promoter's ideas, you could match their results.  Why not try to find out the methods of the really good modern makers?  

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I guess anyone can make any sort of claims they like, but the proof of their work is in making of consistently good instruments that are in high demand by the professional musicians community. You can't pull the wool over the eyes of someone who knows what they want in an instrument.

Exactly, Bill. If you win awards and sell to the high-end players, that is the proof.

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I'm not absolutely sure of this. I have come across makers who produce consistently excellent sounding violins, but who are doomed to obscurity either through circumstance or personality or lack of refinement in their woodworking skills.

To be a great violin maker you need to do far more than simply produce excellent sounding violins.

Though of course, if you can produce excellent sounding violins you are doing better than most!

And producing excellent sounding violins is not a prerequisite for success, only for greatness.

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