Julian Cossmann Cooke

Integral bassbars

Recommended Posts

Not being contrary for its own sake -- as much fun as that can be at times --, I have a few questions about integral bassbars.

Why did they fall out of favor?  Fell victim to the advent of springing bassbars?  Destroyed in the process of regraduating?  Creating something else for repair folks to fiddle around with?

Are there compelling reasons not to go back to the practice -- beyond the fact that the current approach may involve less time?

I'm sure there are other questions in this area.  It seems though, at least on superficial reflection, that there would be advantages in terms of strength, precision, wood sourcing, and perhaps working time.  (By wood sourcing, I mean automatically creating a perfect match in wood density, grain orientation, and relationship of winter and summer grains.)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Julian, Because your in a thoughtful hypothetical mode I'll through one at you.  After the plate is ready for a bass bar installation, you may decide that you want higher or lower density bar relative to the plate.  For example you may want to pair a high SG bar (40ish) with a low SG plate (33ish) if you went a little thinner than you wanted to based on the top plate SG, arch height, M5, hand flex, lunar eclipse...etc.  In other words, a glued in bass bar may give you more options should you want to postulate that our choice will make a difference.

Cheers,

Jim

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I speculate that an integral bar would be a stress riser, possibly making the top more prone to cracks.  I also don't think that it would make the top as stiff relative to a glued in Bbar given similar dimensions.  When regular bar is glued in it crosses the grain of the top whereas an integral bar would be exactly the same grain direction

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I just opened a violin yesterday that had an integral bass bar, only the second of such I have opened. 

One problem that has occurred to me is the method that must have been employed on both - in the process of separating the "bar" from what is to be removed, the starving German child scored heavily into the wood with a marking knife, cutting past the point of intersection between 'bar' and 'belly' and weakening the plate. This is begging for a bass bar crack, and one of the two I've opened had one. 

I was of the impression that integral bars were a peculiarity of a few schools and not a practice of the more historically treasured makers at any time, but could (as is often the case) be mistaken. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
4 hours ago, Michael_Molnar said:

Have you ever made one? That is your answer. ;)

3 hours ago, Julian Cossmann Cooke said:

I'll let you know what I learn when I try it.  

I have seen a few integral bars, and they have always been on crudely hacked out plates.  I have never seen a precisely graduated plate and finely shaped bar where the bar is integral.

I think if you have 20 minutes to graduate a plate and have a bass bar installed, the integral bar makes it easier to do, and the precision suffers.  If you want precision in the graduations and bar, I think the separate, non-integral bar is the easier and less time-consuming method, in addition to the possible niceties of using different wood for the bar, and crossing grain to reduce the likelihood of bass bar cracks.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, Jim Bress said:

Julian, Because your in a thoughtful hypothetical mode I'll through one at you.  After the plate is ready for a bass bar installation, you may decide that you want higher or lower density bar relative to the plate.  For example you may want to pair a high SG bar (40ish) with a low SG plate (33ish) if you went a little thinner than you wanted to based on the top plate SG, arch height, M5, hand flex, lunar eclipse...etc.  In other words, a glued in bass bar may give you more options should you want to postulate that our choice will make a difference.

Cheers,

Jim

Yes.

I like to be able to "feel the bar" when it's at a certain point in it's shape, a few are lost to cracks and breaks at this juncture.

Please don't ask me if I still save them at this point, I will refuse to answer.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
29 minutes ago, JacksonMaberry said:

I just opened a violin yesterday that had an integral bass bar, only the second of such I have opened. 

One problem that has occurred to me is the method that must have been employed on both - in the process of separating the "bar" from what is to be removed, the starving German child scored heavily into the wood with a marking knife, cutting past the point of intersection between 'bar' and 'belly' and weakening the plate. This is begging for a bass bar crack, and one of the two I've opened had one. 

I was of the impression that integral bars were a peculiarity of a few schools and not a practice of the more historically treasured makers at any time, but could (as is often the case) be mistaken. 

They have all looked just like this,,,,same starving kids an all,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
4 hours ago, Don Noon said:

I have seen a few integral bars, and they have always been on crudely hacked out plates.  I have never seen a precisely graduated plate and finely shaped bar where the bar is integral.

 

4 hours ago, Evan Smith said:

They have all looked just like this,,,,same starving kids an all,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

The maker was in his 70s when making this.<_<

IMG_136784.JPG

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
10 hours ago, Julian Cossmann Cooke said:

 

Why did they fall out of favor?

The demise of the integral bass bar seems to be roughly concurrent with the advent of the Tau violin plate milling machine. I can think of no other reason to abandon this method.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
12 hours ago, Don Noon said:

I have seen a few integral bars, and they have always been on crudely hacked out plates.  I have never seen a precisely graduated plate and finely shaped bar where the bar is integral.

I think if you have 20 minutes to graduate a plate and have a bass bar installed, the integral bar makes it easier to do, and the precision suffers.  If you want precision in the graduations and bar, I think the separate, non-integral bar is the easier and less time-consuming method, in addition to the possible niceties of using different wood for the bar, and crossing grain to reduce the likelihood of bass bar cracks.

Agreed. I also like to be able to feel or measure what's going on with the top alone, before the bar is installed. With a bar already in place, it not only becomes more difficult to distinguish between stiffness contributed by the top, and by the bar, but also much more difficult to alter the thickness of the top in a neat way, if desired.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

No doubt that fine instruments CAN be made with an integral bass bar, but my point is that there's no advantage to doing it that way, and some potential slight (but difficult to prove) disadvantages.  The only advantage to the integral bar is the speed at which you can crank out crappy plates, if that's the goal.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
31 minutes ago, Don Noon said:

 The only advantage to the integral bar is the speed at which you can crank out crappy plates, if that's the goal.

Don't know, but I'm sure that I can fit a bar like the one seen here within 5 minutes or so, then put a cramp on it and done.;)

Maybe it's more the philosophy if you need a separate bar for structural, tonal or what reason ever, or even not. Furthermore training, tradition, what your customers are expecting etc.

If it's true that the Cremonese closed the box before gouging out the edge fluting, they didn't bother to make experiments with the bar, did they?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, Don Noon said:

The only advantage to the integral bar is the speed at which you can crank out crappy plates, if that's the goal.

 

I can assure you, having tried it, that it is a lot quicker to glue a bar in afterwards, than it is to carve a neat bar (like the one BF pictured above)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, jacobsaunders said:

 

I can assure you, having tried it, that it is a lot quicker to glue a bar in afterwards, than it is to carve a neat bar (like the one BF pictured above)

That was pretty much my one of my points.

The other point is, if you're only interested in speed (not quality) and don't want to waste time with fingerplanes and scrapers, the rough gouged surface would not be easy for fitting a separate bar.  Faster to just leave a bit of a lump there and call it done.  That assumes manual carving; with a mechanized plate carver, I can see this reason evaporating.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The answer lies in why we put gaps at the ends when we fit the bass bar.

I agree all other explanations, but the real reason we do it separately is that we can adjust the amount gap,i.e., amount of tension.

If you don't understand why we put tension between the top and bass bar, all other argument are moot.

 

Koo Young Chung

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
23 minutes ago, chungviolins said:

The answer lies in why we put gaps at the ends when we fit the bass bar.

I agree all other explanations, but the real reason we do it separately is that we can adjust the amount gap,i.e., amount of tension.

Could you explain that part, please?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
9 hours ago, chungviolins said:

If you don't understand why we put tension between the top and bass bar, all other argument are moot.

 

Koo Young Chung

 

This idea can be sorted to "philosophy" - as far as I know most of the actual makers and repairers don't give the bass bar ends any tension, spring or load anymore, but make them fit the belly exactly without gaps.

I've seen too much violin tops being deformed  or cracked by this bass bar end spring, while the original intention, supporting the bass bridge area and feathering the string tension, has failed.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
15 hours ago, chungviolins said:

The answer lies in why we put gaps at the ends when we fit the bass bar.

I agree all other explanations, but the real reason we do it separately is that we can adjust the amount gap,i.e., amount of tension.

If you don't understand why we put tension between the top and bass bar, all other argument are moot.

 

Koo Young Chung

 

Hi, Koo Young,

problem is that  not everyone does spring tension into the end of the bar--many fine and successful makers put none in, many put gaps at the ends, yes--but some also gap tension into the middle of the bar. 

You can also put much more angle on your placement and set the bar further inside the foot, or put the bar in perfectly straight and set it closer to the outside of the foot.

 I imagine that with an integral bassbar  you could excavate it out much too tall, leaning 45° out  toward the bass edge of the plate, then stabilize the plate, steam the ridiculous tall bar, and force it straight. Then The confused spruce's desire to return to angled once strung up with a post in it could provide strange and wonderful stiffening tension.  I'm being silly, of course, but there is no end to ingenuity and good effect in the closed system of a top .

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 

6 hours ago, Blank face said:

I've seen too much violin tops being deformed  or cracked by this bass bar end spring, while the original intention, supporting the bass bridge area and feathering the string tension, has failed.

Is there a way to determine if violin's bass bar is under tension without taking the top off?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, GeorgeH said:

 

Is there a way to determine if violin's bass bar is under tension without taking the top off?

I think there isn't, as long as evrything is fine.

What's easily to spot are the deformations caused by inedequate tensions: As Christopher Jacoby wrote, there are many different ways of laying the "gaps" and there is, of course, no end in not always good effects in the system of a belly. There can be often seen more or less deep grooves, accomplied by ridges at each side, either at the ends of the bar, but the same in the center, or the bar appears to be pressed through the top, also at any place,  causing a hunch and often cracks.

We have a saying here that the smarter one will give in, but in regards of these delicate wooden constructions it's often impossible to predict who will be the smarter in the end, or better to say, the weaker, the top or the bar. I heard this lesson long ago from an experienced restorer, warning for any unnecessary tension.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.