Andreas Preuss

Researching information on super light violins

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I am collecting some information on new super light violins. 

I would like to know the following data

1. Maker or manufacturer

1. weight without chinrest

2. Materials employed

3. the basic idea why it is so light.

4. If there is a link to a picture it would be helpful

 

Thanks everyone in advance for your help.

 

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None will be as light as my helium filled violins.
I am also making helium filled cases, which carry themselves. A sparkly safety ribbon prevents them from floating away.

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Negative-mass wood is in rather short supply, beyond that, no comment.   You might try to research the slivovitz-fueled hypersonic biplane project that one of the less-reputable Eastern European countries allegedly convinced the Soviets to fund for a few years in the '70's.  Unfortunately, all of the prototypes went missing, and so did the developers. :):ph34r:

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4 hours ago, Andreas Preuss said:

I am collecting some information on new super light violins. 

 

 

You might google Douglas Martin,  instrument maker who likes to experiment with unorthodox materials such as violin made of balsa wood.

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2 minutes ago, Jim Bress said:

Same weight as a photon. :D

LIKE!!!!

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Just a word to MNers who didn't recognize the OP's name.

Andreas is a very fine restorer and maker with a respected international reputation. If he is asking about this it's because he is trying to learn something and if you don't blow him off you might learn something too.

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7 hours ago, Andreas Preuss said:

I am collecting some information on new super light violins. 

I would like to know the following data

1. Maker or manufacturer

1. weight without chinrest

2. Materials employed

3. the basic idea why it is so light.

4. If there is a link to a picture it would be helpful

 

Thanks everyone in advance for your help.

 

I believe Joseph Curtin did it before with carbon fiber and wood.

I believe he calls it the ultra light. You can find further detail information on his website. There’s also videos on YouTube.

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3 hours ago, nathan slobodkin said:

Just a word to MNers who didn't recognize the OP's name.

Andreas is a very fine restorer and maker with a respected international reputation. If he is asking about this it's because he is trying to learn something and if you don't blow him off you might learn something too.

Please forgive the earlier levity, but Andreas asked a pretty broad question, without any obvious answers beyond Marty's innovations, Doug Martin's experiments, people selling carbon composite instruments (Luis & Clark, Glasser, etc.), all of which have been explored here,

https://maestronet.com/forum/index.php?/topic/330946-david-bell-balsa-wood-violins/

https://maestronet.com/forum/index.php?/topic/326387-violin-weight-parts-and-whole/

https://maestronet.com/forum/index.php?/topic/327070-carbon-fiber-violin-questions/

......etc, etc.

In addition, at least from where I sit, the whole business is still pretty much where Frederick Castle left it when talking about violin weight over 100 years ago, https://books.google.com/books?id=3iouAAAAYAAJ&pg=PA255&lpg=PA255&dq=reduced+weight+violins&source=bl&ots=sMLmz33npg&sig=HwkgbV2mg9i72uJXoVVXDXkKL-4&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwiOytDnloHaAhUwVd8KHYtgDEEQ6AEIhgEwCQ#v=onepage&q=reduced weight violins&f=false

IMHO, it appears that pushing the limits on lighter weight will impact either performance or aesthetics, until you don't have a core-market acceptable violin any more.

With an answer to Don's question, we might have some different direction to proceed in to assist Andreas, but I feel that I just covered all the obvious bases. :)

That the OP question reads like a "homework assignment" might have influenced the original responses a little, as well.  :lol:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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8 hours ago, Don Noon said:

Why?

Don,

there are many reasons why I'd like to know.

1. As a craftsman it bugs me that some industrial manufacturers use carbon fiber and praise the light weight as the ultimate achievement. I got one figure which was around 300g for those instruments. In arealistic sense this seems to be hard to beat,  but unless we don't try we will never know. So I started to look on the violin like a manufacturer of a high performance car: Because I can't do anything about the engine (strings) I asked myself where can I reduce the weight without loosing the necessary structural strength.

2. Violin playing on a soloist level has become more demanding than ever. So if I say as a maker: 'My violin has this weight I can't change anything about it and you as a player just need to work harder to make it sound!' This is what is happening right now. More and more players are trained to use heavier bow arm and play closer to the bridge, all just to squeeze more sound out of it. Well, maybe there is a way to improve it on the technical level by reducing the weight without sacrifying the strength. (In terms of physics the string has only limited energy and the more mass it has to move the harder the player has to work)

3. Recently I started to teach a violin making course at the school in Tottori in Japan. I was thinking long how to make it an exciting experience for the students, given the fact that I can visit the school only every 2 month to lecture one day. I want them to rethink the violin to get a better understanding of how the violin functions and enable them in the future to build better instruments. So we are working together on a  'new concept violin'. We named the project PLAY ME YOUR FUTURE.

3. Finally, at the beginning of this year my 7 year old son said to me: 'Papa, I want you to become the Einstein of violin makers!' So there we go, even though I decided not to become a physicist like my father, now I am on the track to think about mass and energy on a different level.

 

 

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5 hours ago, Wee B. Bridges said:

 

You might google Douglas Martin,  instrument maker who likes to experiment with unorthodox materials such as violin made of balsa wood.

Thanks for the input, I'll look into it.

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4 hours ago, Jim Bress said:

Same weight as a photon. :D

Cool idea for a name! The 'photon violin'. :D

 

4 hours ago, James M. Jones said:

How light is light?    

Let's put it like that.

Average weight of a normal modern violin made by a professional maker is around 400 - 420g

Average Strad (if not over restored) seems to be in the range of 380 - 390g. Some Guads are even lighter around 370g.

 

So I would consider light weight anything below that, but I am asking myself the question if it is possible to build a violin lighter than a carbon fiber violin, using the traditional design and employing eventually new materials. I would hover not think it is a good idea to use other materials for top and back, because I believe that the material makes the characterstic violin sound.

 

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7 hours ago, Violadamore said:

Negative-mass wood is in rather short supply, beyond that, no comment.   You might try to research the slivovitz-fueled hypersonic biplane project that one of the less-reputable Eastern European countries allegedly convinced the Soviets to fund for a few years in the '70's.  Unfortunately, all of the prototypes went missing, and so did the developers. :):ph34r:

I got in contact with the secret weapon department of the US defense ministry and they offered me to make a violin from anti matter. Estimated production cost is 500 billion, but they told me it is worth the shot. :mellow:

But jokes aside, If you are a viola player, you should think about weight twice. The two best violas I made were very light and their players are still telling me how much their live has changed since they use it.

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Thanks, I had forgotten about the 2014 MN discussions which I just reread.  It was good to see Doug Martin's comment again:

"Having chosen to try a different evolutionary path, I struggle with doubt and fear of extinction every day. And foolishly go on."

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Andreas, some impressions of light experimental violins from having heard and played quite a few:

Some of them have sounded quite good from an audience perspective, but I don't recall any that "felt and played right", from a player perspective.  Maybe some exist, and I just haven't happened to run into them?

Better players still seem to be using the better old Italians as the reference standard. Perhaps that will change someday. After all, general acceptance of synthetic and steel strings (and the changes in playing styles they enabled) didn't happen over night. It was more like a gradual process spanning decades.

The lighter amongst the old Italians? My impression has been that many of these don't handle the modern playing styles you mentioned very well,  like playing close to the bridge, styles which have partly been enabled by modern strings.

So I don't happen to be one who is on the quest for a lighter fiddle bandwagon. If one was looking for a reduction in weight alone, and not a performance improvement, maybe the accessories and fingerboard would be the easiest place to look? I can remove a bunch of wood from the top without changing the total weight of a violin very much, but a conventional solid ebony fingerboard is pretty heavy. However, when I've run across thin or weak fingerboards on older instruments, or experimented myself with removing a lot of mass from a fingerboard, the sound and playing qualities seemed to suffer. Just my impressions.

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Hi Andreas,

Thanks for the detailed answer about why you are looking into this.  It's a pretty broad subject, and it would be hard to give good answers without this detail.

As a retired aerospace engineer, my initial focus was on this area... material properties, and how they can be used to build a "better" soundboard.  At first glance, the physics seems straightforward:  better stiffness/weight material => lighter soundboard => more sound per unit energy expended.  And that does seem to be mostly true, with qualifications:  1) Sound output does not get enhanced equally.  Some frequencies get louder than others, and the sound is different.  2)  Impedance... a lighter soundboard takes energy out of the string more quickly, and the player needs more bow speed to keep the string vibrating.  You run out of bow more easily.  3) Dynamics... like driving a motorcycle with no flywheel.  Every little bow movement, as long as it's strong enough to get the string moving, makes a lot of sound.  Harder to control.

I second David's observations, having also played ultralights by Curtin and Doug Martin, as well as my own (not using alternative materials, but selecting and modifying traditional wood):  they don't sound or play quite like I would want a violin to sound or play.  Something is different.

If one is just looking at reducing weight, and not doing anything to the plates for sound, you could get rid of the chinrest and cut off the scroll, which would save a huge amount compared to the few grams you could practically save in the plates.  I have done those things too, and it's not an improvement.  At most, I think hollowing out a few grams from the fingerboard (where it glues to the neck) is reasonable.

If you think about the extreme limit, where the violin weighs nothing (but still has some stiffness), all the mode frequencies would be infinite, and the plates would not vibrate at all... the strings would just push the whole instrument back and forth as a rigid body.  So there needs to be some balance of mass and stiffness to make it work normally.  I think I feel some of that in playing a lightweight instrument... the whole thing is vibrating more than normal.

This is all related to violins, where I have come around to David's view that ultra light isn't better, although I am still very much trying to push the balance of what can be done to make high-powered soloist violins.  The balance I think changes when you look into the larger bodied instruments, and I push farther into extremes for violas.  Even there, the idea of maximum response and power is not universally desirable for all viola players.  I have heard a balsa cello that seemed pretty good, but I know nothing about cellos.

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Looking at the weights of old intstruments, they do seem to be lighter for no reason that I can gather other than degradation, because new intstrument with the same dimensions are noticeable heavier. Did I read 5% difference over 300 years somewhere? Does this make them sound better or just different or is it impossible to make an objective judgement on what is a 'better' sound? 

I like the sound of both heavy and light istruments I own for different reasons, the lighter ones do seem more responsive, but the heavier ones seem to have a gutsier sound.

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7 hours ago, Jerry Pasewicz said:

I do not believe I have ever heard a violinist comment that their instrument was too heavy.  

I do not believe I have ever heard a violist comment that their viola was too light.

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1 hour ago, chungviolins said:

Light vn usually means top and back is very thin, as well as fb.

That is not good at all.

My lightest violin (356g without chinrest) had fairly normal plate weights, but the neck/scroll maple was extremely low density, under .50g/cc.   I didn't sell it, out of durability concerns.

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