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On average, how many years does it take for a violin to crack?


mapfluke
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So this may seem like an odd question but I am wondering how long it typically takes for a violin to crack. Without being locked in a climate-controlled box and just under regular conditions, will a violin eventually crack no matter what? I am asking because of the violin I had posted earlier that was sort-of-unsuccessfully dated has had no cracks and I am wondering (if this specified violin is 70-80 years old) if a violin that old is going to crack at any time or if the wood will resist cracking for many more years. Feel free to share instruments much older than mine that haven't cracked yet either or instruments that fell apart months after being made. DSC_0202.thumb.jpg.91c4024cd4ba879786ef1eb4467de7af.jpg

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1 minute ago, Stavanger said:

I think his question is actually if this perticular violin is really 70-80 years old considering it has no cracks... 

I guess that's also what I'm asking. However, David is right, the question I asked isn't quite answerable with a 1-sentence answer

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52 minutes ago, David Burgess said:

There is no specific time frame. A lot will depend on the severity of the environmental extremes it is exposed to, and how much stress the instrument was originally built with.

I would add to this list the state of seasoning of the wood when it was built.  It's not an original stress, but unseasoned wood will shrink and be more likely to crack, unless the glue is weak, and then seams will open.

No clear answer, but I think it is possible for violins to age without cracks, and alternatively fairly new instruments can crack.

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40 minutes ago, Stavanger said:

I think his question is actually if this perticular violin is really 70-80 years old considering it has no cracks... 

An 80-year-old violin with no cracks is not unusual.  You can't judge by cracks.

This one does look unplayed, but it's hard to tell from the picture.  And besides, it could look new if no one has played it (or wanted to play it) for 80 years.

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The choice of cases and how you handle your instruments has a great influence on cracking. At any given time I've owned 25 or more instruments, over the years that's probably getting close to 1000 violin-years- of ownership. And I've never had a crack develop on my watch. This includes instruments ranging from very old to brand new. I don't do anything special other than handle them with reasonable care (although some have seen heavy orchestra use) and store them indoors in cases. On the other hand I've seen careless orchestra players average a crack/year.

Of course as I write this I'm thinking of the big earthquake......

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My experience is the same as deans'.  Never had a violin out of quite a few, one as old as 1654, crack while I had it.  And I've taken some of those violins on tours through all sorts of climate change for months at a time.

The one place almost all violins get a crack is at the lower wing of the F-holes.  I assume those often occur within the 1st hundred years.  Fortunately, those are easily glued.

I was sitting next to a violinist with a Gagliano once during a rehearsal while the conductor was talking.  The violin suddenly cracked from the bottom of the treble F to the bottom of the violin.  What is interesting to me is that it made such a loud pop that the whole orchestra looked over to see what was going on.  Talk about great acoustical properties!  :)

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I have a fine violin from 1892 with no cracks. Before I got it, I think it was in storage for about 50-60 years, but I have no idea under what conditions. And the sound post was still up!

I have another fine violin from 1900 with no cracks, and another from 1914 that had a crack in the lower treble bout when I got it around 1977, but none since then. The one from 1914 had been stored in an attic, and also had a bulging lower bout under the chin rest, which may have contributed to the crack.

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1 hour ago, Will L said:

.

The one place almost all violins get a crack is at the lower wing of the F-holes.  I assume those often occur within the 1st hundred years.  Fortunately, those are easily glued.

  

Roth violins have cleats on the wings as part of the making process. Prophylactic cleats. 

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I don't understand what people mean by "at the lower wing of the f-holes." The wings themselves are just floating there, unstressed by anything unless someone is careless with a post setter, for example. Do you mean in the belly below the lower wing? Or at the top of the lower eye? That would make sense to me.

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Mark,

 

The lower wings of the f-holes, in certain styles of making, are scooped out and some people do that after the box is closed, making that area quite thin. I usually find that the wing cracks come not from a sound post setter but picking up and holding the violin with the thumb or hand somewhere other than the neck and the chin rest, as in hands on the top and back. 

It is not uncommon for the wing area to be well under 2mm.

 

 

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2 hours ago, Frank Nichols said:

Is this like, "How many licks does it take to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop?"
 

"Three." Says the owl.

 

Edit: Someone did a study...probably got a grant to do it...A licking machine(...)modeled after a Human tongue took 364 licks. 20 Human volunteers took and average of 252 licks. I'll stick with 3.

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8 hours ago, duane88 said:

"Three." Says the owl.

 

Edit: Someone did a study...probably got a grant to do it...A licking machine(...)modeled after a Human tongue took 364 licks. 20 Human volunteers took and average of 252 licks. I'll stick with 3.

For those not in the US in the ...late 60's?  There was an old TV commercial, where a young boy asked the question, "how many licks to get to the center..." A cartoon owl answered, 3.  Because then the owl bit to the center after 3 licks.  

Ah, here it is: 

 

 

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On 8/22/2017 at 0:03 PM, La Folia said:

An 80-year-old violin with no cracks is not unusual.  You can't judge by cracks.

This one does look unplayed, but it's hard to tell from the picture.  And besides, it could look new if no one has played it (or wanted to play it) for 80 years.

When I received the instrument, I tediously removed a thick layer of black rosin off the area between the bridge and the fingerboard... trust me, it has been played.

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On 8/22/2017 at 11:34 AM, Stavanger said:

Looks like a brand new (chinese) violin to me, but I might be wrong.

After I started a topic, trying to identify this violin, Addie stated; "The varnish may look Chinese, but the purfling is unique to Markneukirchen-Schönbach (now Luby).  All together, it is a better grade Saxon trade violin."

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4 hours ago, mapfluke said:

After I started a topic, trying to identify this violin, Addie stated; "The varnish may look Chinese, but the purfling is unique to Markneukirchen-Schönbach (now Luby).  All together, it is a better grade Saxon trade violin."

If Addie said that, then that is correct.

Congratulations on your really MINT condition saxon violin! (That makes it look new)

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