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Options for creating a darker sounding violin


Julian Cossmann Cooke
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On ‎3‎/‎17‎/‎2018 at 5:02 AM, Fiddler45 said:

I concur with quite a few on here. It is very hard to find fiddles with the type of sound I am sure the op's customer is looking for. "Bassy" is how I have always described it. Trouble is, you usually lose clarity and bite if a fiddle is too "deep" sounding. In the rare cases you can find a fiddle that is not only pure and clear, but also possesses a very powerful, full low end, to the point where even the A and E have mellowed to sound even "deeper" yet still retain their clarity, they are a dream to play. 

I've made one and it sold very quickly to a great fiddler. It was a Maggini model 5 string.

On ‎3‎/‎17‎/‎2018 at 5:20 AM, Fiddler45 said:

I can't say with absolute certainty, but being a fiddler myself, I would guess this  would not be satisfactory. Unless a maker has produced many instruments already that have a darker "fiddly" sound, they are not very likely to arrive at the desired destination merely by messing with setup. You'd need a maker willing to try different body patterns, different archings, different graduations, maybe a larger bass bar, and when it's all said and done, not be stubborn about where the "correct location" of the sound post is. Oh, and probably also not slap a set of Dominants on it and call it good.

This is one reason the body of the Sultana caught my attention when thinking about building another 5 string.

 

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2 hours ago, Don Noon said:

Assuming you're referring to Mike Barnett, his website states:

 Mike Barnett is the recipient of the 2007 Daniel Pearl Memorial Violin created by Jonathan Cooper and awarded at the Mark O’Connor Sting Conference.

But it doesn't say that it's the one he plays all the time.

There's also Mark O'connor touting his Jonathan Cooper fiddle, that he claims is his #1 instrument  https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=127&v=GA9OaHtl-yo

I analyzed a Mike Barnett recording, and it appears that his fiddle has a very strong B1- resonance, which seems to be an important feature of a good fiddle.

I don't know  what  A and B whatever resonance patterns are, so you'd have to elaborate on what that means. I just know what I like, tone wise.

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1 hour ago, lpr5184 said:

A whole genre called Old Time was invented with those squawy, junky fiddles.  Of course the sound is often improved when cross tuned.

 

Agreed....equally not all fiddles are cut out for every fiddle style... Old Time from Bluegrass....Texas from Irish...Cajun from Cape Breton. Each of these styles require different things form a violin.

I'd have to argue these statements,  to a point.. what genre of fiddle music requires (I know you didn't use that word,  but I'm talking about today) the use of junky sounding fiddles? Just because that's what started  a style doesn't mean that's what  is preferable today,  or even then; maybe that's all they could afford. 

Also, I disagree that a certain style requires  a certain sound. Both Natalie McMaster and Ashley MacIsaac play Cape Breton? They are both great players. Natalie's fiddle, IMO, sounds good, and her husband's even better. Most times I've heard recordings of Ashley, I think his fiddle sounds terrible. Other styles also have  a wide array of different sounding fiddles, depending on personal preference, I'm assuming. 

I'd be interested to know what properties supposedly are related  to different styles of fiddling. I still think  a good violin is a good violin, and what's "good" can be totally the taste of the player.

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2 hours ago, Don Noon said:

Assuming you're referring to Mike Barnett, his website states:

 Mike Barnett is the recipient of the 2007 Daniel Pearl Memorial Violin created by Jonathan Cooper and awarded at the Mark O’Connor Sting Conference.

But it doesn't say that it's the one he plays all the time.

There's also Mark O'connor touting his Jonathan Cooper fiddle, that he claims is his #1 instrument  https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=127&v=GA9OaHtl-yo

I analyzed a Mike Barnett recording, and it appears that his fiddle has a very strong B1- resonance, which seems to be an important feature of a good fiddle.

I'm not sure if Mike was  playing when I saw them play live in 2012, but it was a great sounding fiddle, whoever it was. I was actually thinking about Andy Leftwich playing on a studio recording.

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57 minutes ago, Fiddler45 said:

I'd have to argue these statements,  to a point.. what genre of fiddle music requires (I know you didn't use that word,  but I'm talking about today) the use of junky sounding fiddles? Just because that's what started  a style doesn't mean that's what  is preferable today,  or even then; maybe that's all they could afford. 

Exactly my point.

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19 minutes ago, jowl said:

Maestro, would you be kind enough to send one to me too?

 

Manfio was kind enough to share it with me.  I hate to see his generosity causing him to lose work time.  As payback send requests to me.  I have more time on my hands right now.

Cheers,

Jim

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23 hours ago, lpr5184 said:

A whole genre called Old Time was invented with those squawy, junky fiddles.  Of course the sound is often improved when cross tuned.

 

Agreed....equally not all fiddles are cut out for every fiddle style... Old Time from Bluegrass....Texas from Irish...Cajun from Cape Breton. Each of these styles require different things form a violin.

Could you give us some ideas on what different things are required for fiddles suitable for these various music styles?

I tend to make squawky, junky fiddles and there's no sense in trying to sell them to the wrong people.

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15 minutes ago, Marty Kasprzyk said:

I tend to make squawky, junky fiddles and there's no sense in trying to sell them to the wrong people.

Unfortunately, most of the "squawky, junky fiddle" players are dead now.  Those were the ones who grew up in a few isolated areas of the South, and had no money.  Or indoor plumbing, like Tommy Jarrell, one of the great Old Time fiddlers.  Most living Old Time players, like Bruce Molsky, wouldn't be caught dead playing those bricks, and are very picky about their instruments.

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On ‎19‎/‎03‎/‎2018 at 1:40 PM, Marty Kasprzyk said:

Like I mentioned before, a naturally dark sounding wood has a low longitudinal speed of sound c.  The speed of sound c is equal to the square root of the elastic modulus E to density p ratio:

c = (E/p)^ 0.5 

So if you want a low speed of sound you want wood that is not very stiff (low E) and has a rather high density.

You can measure the speed of sound with a Lucchi meter or use the method Don Noon has described here on MN.

Or you can measure the resonance frequency of test bars or billets and calculate the speed of sound using the dimensions of the parts.

If you always use the same size bars a low bar resonance frequency indicates that the final violin will also have low resonance frequencies which gives a darker violin sound.

 

Thanks Marty.

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On 19/03/2018 at 1:40 PM, Marty Kasprzyk said:

Like I mentioned before, a naturally dark sounding wood has a low longitudinal speed of sound c.  The speed of sound c is equal to the square root of the elastic modulus E to density p ratio:

c = (E/p)^ 0.5 

So if you want a low speed of sound you want wood that is not very stiff (low E) and has a rather high density.

You can measure the speed of sound with a Lucchi meter or use the method Don Noon has described here on MN.

Or you can measure the resonance frequency of test bars or billets and calculate the speed of sound using the dimensions of the parts.

If you always use the same size bars a low bar resonance frequency indicates that the final violin will also have low resonance frequencies which gives a darker violin sound.

 

 

 

Does this mean that the thinning out of wood with funghi (https://mycosolutions.swiss/en/mycowood/) causes lower density with same stiffness and hence a brighter sound?

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On 3/15/2018 at 2:52 PM, MANFIO said:

Hi Jim, the article is not online.... give a look in your mail box.

Hi Jim or Manfio, apologies in advance for being a pest but would appreciate it if you could send me the article when you have a chance. Thanks in advance.

Joe

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17 hours ago, uguntde said:

Does this mean that the thinning out of wood with funghi (https://mycosolutions.swiss/en/mycowood/) causes lower density with same stiffness and hence a brighter sound?

Fungal treated wood (from the minimal data I've seen) does reduce density, but I think it also reduces stiffness somewhat.  I don't see any hard data in that link, just promotional stuff.

But the question does lead into what I'm doing right now:  trying to get a fiddly sound out of an old reworked VSO, using a top out of low density, high stiffness spruce.  The first iteration is done... 13.5mm arch height, with graduations left a little thicker than normal.  I'd say it's a failure in its current state, as the B1- mode is up at A#, very close to the B1+ mode at C, giving a lot of power to the low A string at the expense of the D string.  It feels/sounds too stiff, and too loud on the E string.

Interestingly, I have another old VSO rework from a few years ago, where the top is within 1 gram of what I used above.  It retained the original (normal) arch and the original crappy wood (low taptones for the mass), and it sounds a lot more like a bluegrass fiddle.

I will attempt a modification on the current test fiddle to see if I can nudge it where I want it to go, but right now it looks like the easiest path to a fiddle would be normal-ish geometry, dense-ish spruce, and thin-ish graduations.  I don't know about the back; probably a bit thin there too.

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On 3/20/2018 at 9:59 AM, Don Noon said:

Unfortunately, most of the "squawky, junky fiddle" players are dead now.  Those were the ones who grew up in a few isolated areas of the South, and had no money.  Or indoor plumbing, like Tommy Jarrell, one of the great Old Time fiddlers.  Most living Old Time players, like Bruce Molsky, wouldn't be caught dead playing those bricks, and are very picky about their instruments.

I think Fiddln' Sam Dingle was from that era too.

 

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18 hours ago, Don Noon said:

Fungal treated wood (from the minimal data I've seen) does reduce density, but I think it also reduces stiffness somewhat.  I don't see any hard data in that link, just promotional stuff.

But the question does lead into what I'm doing right now:  trying to get a fiddly sound out of an old reworked VSO, using a top out of low density, high stiffness spruce.  The first iteration is done... 13.5mm arch height, with graduations left a little thicker than normal.  I'd say it's a failure in its current state, as the B1- mode is up at A#, very close to the B1+ mode at C, giving a lot of power to the low A string at the expense of the D string.  It feels/sounds too stiff, and too loud on the E string.

Interestingly, I have another old VSO rework from a few years ago, where the top is within 1 gram of what I used above.  It retained the original (normal) arch and the original crappy wood (low taptones for the mass), and it sounds a lot more like a bluegrass fiddle.

I will attempt a modification on the current test fiddle to see if I can nudge it where I want it to go, but right now it looks like the easiest path to a fiddle would be normal-ish geometry, dense-ish spruce, and thin-ish graduations.  I don't know about the back; probably a bit thin there too.

How dense is too dense?

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1 hour ago, sospiri said:

How dense is too dense?

With fair certainty I can state that a top made from a neutron star would be too dense.  But for the range of spruce densities, I have no definite answer; some makers like very dense (well over .4) wood, others like under .4.   It's a variation of answering the question of what sounds good.

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2 minutes ago, Don Noon said:

With fair certainty I can state that a top made from a neutron star would be too dense.  But for the range of spruce densities, I have no definite answer; some makers like very dense (well over .4) wood, others like under .4.   It's a variation of answering the question of what sounds good.

Ah good. I measured some of my local grown European Spruce .43 to .45 and wondered if it was to high. Looking at the late growth variablity which was huge, made me wonder why such variablitly occured? It can't have been temperature, so perhaps it was a response to sudden exposure to strong winds from the felling of nearby trees which had provided protection up to then? So my next question is; does the extra late growth which increases density also change elasticity? I don't understand the relationship between elasticity and stiffness. And I can't find the reference to your alternative method of mesuring speed of sound in the wood?

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I think the biggest difference between what classical players need and what fiddlers need is that fiddlers are generally playing in smaller rooms or if larger venues then they are playing through a microphone. That means they can use very mellow sounding instruments and don't need the projection which is required to fill a large hall or stand out over an orchestra. The Nashville model by John Cooper is a bit oversize and flat designed to sound good to the player and to an audience after amplification. The Irish or Scottish fiddlers version of darker doesn't mean more bass but rather less high end 'edge".

The one thing most fiddlers share is that they want an instrument that needs very little bow pressure to speak. I have found that the better modern  fiddlers such as Allison Krause tend to play fairly standard violins although often some what over size or light in grads while some of the old time fiddlers like Tom Jarrell really did like a thinner edgy sound such as you find in the basic dutzen arbeit box. Those guys would have been playing for dances without the benefit of amplification and using the violin basically as a rhythm instrument.  I sold a violin to the Dave Mathews band (not one I made) and the equipment manager told me how to set up the fiddle for playability but said they would manipulate "tone" as needed via the amplification system.

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31 minutes ago, Marty Kasprzyk said:

Is my impression correct that fiddlers often use very short bow strokes whereas classical players use tend to use longer bow strokes?

Yes, as far as I have seen... and  I'm not aware of any exceptions, although I haven't seen everything.

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I think Jim is on to something. Most of the sound is the result of top plate vibrations, which is created by the bridge ( g side) . 

This is very much like a speaker driver. The bridge acting like the voice coil and the plate acting like the cone. The larger the cone, the more low frequencies the speaker produces. On the violin the space between the f holes helps define the size of the speaker cone.

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