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Andreas Preuss

Stradivari's secret was a concept?

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5 hours ago, Quadibloc said:

Oh, yes, but the ones the shape of which is most interesting are not particularly affordable. Although, as another thread notes, it is always possible to get lucky at a flea market.

second best would be the CT scans you can find on YT, here's a few Strads:

1697 Molitor: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R7Gm21kArSc

1727 Benvenuti: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X4rgR3N5k_E

1704 Betts: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kfqzFBkFT4s

1707 Samuel: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OJPprGL-6gg

 

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Sorry. Didn't mean to imply arching is unimportant, just hard to understand in an engineering sense.

Personally, I think arching is very important. And I think the channels are very very important.

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34 minutes ago, curious1 said:

What is good wood?

Good grief. After over 100 pages, with many contributions by well-informed people, what is the takeaway for a reader trying to learn from the experts what matters in making and evaluating instruments of the violin family?

To me the answers seem even further away than at the start, which makes me wonder, what is a good violin?

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42 minutes ago, curious1 said:

What is good wood?

Wood that can be turned into a good violin. :P

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16 minutes ago, John_London said:

Good grief. After over 100 pages, with many contributions by well-informed people, what is the takeaway for a reader trying to learn from the experts what matters in making and evaluating instruments of the violin family?

To me the answers seem even further away than at the start, which makes me wonder, what is a good violin?

My guess is that we would need to go away and make 30 violins or so, restore  a few hundred, (including some old Cremona ones),  and then we might be able to begin to understand what the experts are talking about.

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1 hour ago, Delabo said:

If archings are not important to sound, why do Stainers with there high arching sound different to Cremona violins ?

My first formulation was wrong and I had improved by "better said....."

Archings naturally should be very important for sound but nearly not to understand in an area of cutting fibres or rays in always changing angles. If you have a "good wood" (Torbjörn) the problem is somewhat more regular but still nearly not to understand in an engineerical sense.

So to observe archings and hear the combined sound is the only thing, one can do. However there are so many other important variables in the game like wood-properties, individual local grain-courses of wood samples, central-joint-angle, location of sapwood/heartwood-transition, even outline-shapes, eventually some typical arching-distortions in old instruments-  even the type of ground could play a role ( is it a strenghening ground or a more soft, mass-adding-ground, which strenghens (or not) the most cutted fibres- that mostly means the most ascending parts of arch).   It´s no fun to think about all that i.m.o.

So to discuss, where exactly the reverse-or scoop-points of an arch are located, in another than stylistical concern, seems to be quite ambitious i.m.o.

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So in layman's terms, you decide what quality the wood is, and then design an arch to best  match it for strength and  sound ?

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3 minutes ago, Delabo said:

My guess is that we would need to go away and make 30 violins or so, restore  a few hundred, (including some old Cremona ones),  and then we might be able to begin to understand what the experts are talking about.

It is always a good idea, to regard the opions of experts with decades of experience and knowledge aquired in many years.

However we should also regard, that there can be some very complicated areas, in which even experts don´t have reliable knowledge.

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48 minutes ago, John_London said:

Good grief. After over 100 pages, with many contributions by well-informed people, what is the takeaway for a reader trying to learn from the experts what matters in making and evaluating instruments of the violin family?

To me the answers seem even further away than at the start, which makes me wonder, what is a good violin?

A good violin is 

1) an instrument, which gives you as a player a little bit more pleasure and possibilities in playing than many other instruments 

2) an instrument, which gives your audience a little bit more pleasure

Some additions :

In many cases 2) has no importance, because there is no audience or only a small audience, e.g. your family

- point 1) is always very important, however (according to experience and also some research ) very individual. So the quality of instruments is on the one hand a phenomenon, senseful showing up only in a broad empirical way but on the other hand personal evaluations often will highly differ from this empirical quality-ranking in both directions. These facts probably constitute "the rules" of the violin-markets in a high degree.

The just told claims mainly concern the acoustical dimension of the violin. Beautiness, expressiveness of shape and varnish, wood-choice in an optical sense - are obviously also important to be a good violin.

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1 hour ago, David Beard said:

Sorry. Didn't mean to imply arching is unimportant, just hard to understand in an engineering sense.

Personally, I think arching is very important. And I think the channels are very very important.

What do you mean by "channel" ? The scoops of archings ? In my assumption until now the channel was the longitudinal part of top, not cutted by f-holes, but having the full lenght of top.

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1 hour ago, Torbjörn Zethelius said:

Glad you asked. It's good, old and sonorous spruce for the belly: the best is from Tyrol. Even the ancients knew this. Happy to catch you up. ;)

I’m sure I could think of something witty to say but my question was serious and your answer is next to useless. :(

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1 hour ago, John_London said:

Good grief. After over 100 pages, with many contributions by well-informed people, what is the takeaway for a reader trying to learn from the experts what matters in making and evaluating instruments of the violin family?

To me the answers seem even further away than at the start, which makes me wonder, what is a good violin?

A good violin is one which doesn’t disturb the behavior of the string thereby allowing the player the possibility of manipulating the string in the greatest variety of ways. 

A good violin is one which engages and stimulates the player’s musical imagination.

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4 minutes ago, curious1 said:

I’m sure I could think of something witty to say but my question was serious and your answer is next to useless. :(

Another "good" answer was this of Don.

Probably all or most of them don´t know, what a good wood is. You know the examination about the wood-choice of austrian makers, where came out, that these makers didn´t select wood by any of the many wood-properties, measured by the scientists, but they selected by some optical features and a little bit by density.

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6 minutes ago, Danube Fiddler said:

Another "good" answer was this of Don.

Probably all or most of them don´t know, what a good wood is. You know the examination about the wood-choice of austrian makers, where came out, that these makers didn´t select wood by any of the many wood-properties, measured by the scientists, but they selected by some optical features and a little bit by density.

Perhaps the old makers didn’t select wood based on ‘wood properties, measured by the scientists’ but we certainly can. We can measure by CT scanning the density of the wood in old violins as well as the volume of the tops and backs. That along with modal analysis might give an indication of their ability to consistently choose or their inability to choose  ‘good’ wood. 

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6 minutes ago, curious1 said:

A good violin is one which doesn’t disturb the behavior of the string thereby allowing the player the possibility of manipulating the string in the greatest variety of ways. This variety would be in the service of musical expression.

I would like to say it a little bit different : "..allowing the player to maximal manipulate not the string-oscillations but the outcoming sound ( coming from the violin body) and probably in the first rank having a broad spectrum of nice, easy to play sound-colours as also some things, which make it more easy to play difficult pieces of music. These could be a fast response and a sufficient tolerance against bow-pressure, bow-speed and contact-points.

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44 minutes ago, curious1 said:

your answer is next to useless.

That may be, but compared to the other answers you recieved, his was the first one that even attempted to provide a substantive answer to your question.

One thing that Stradivari knew, perhaps better than contemporary luthiers, but which contemporary luthiers presumably should also know to some extent, is what good wood sounds like when you tap it with your knuckles as you are picking it out from alternatives.

Obviously, we need a YouTube video on this. Speaking of YouTube videos:

2 hours ago, Emilg said:

second best would be the CT scans you can find on YT, here's a few Strads:

Actually, I've seen more than one, including the Betts. Actually, a CT scan is better than a stereo pair, since the precise shape can be obtained directly, whereas with a stereo pair it would still have to be traced by eye, and subject to error.

I was simply responding to the post saying that one could purchase a violin as a physical object as an alternative.

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13 minutes ago, curious1 said:

Perhaps the old makers didn’t select wood based on ‘wood properties, measured by the scientists’ but we certainly can. We can measure by CT scanning the density of the wood in old violins as well as the volume of the tops and backs. That along with modal analysis might give an indication of their ability to consistently choose or their inability to choose  ‘good’ wood. 

I didn´t make a statement about the wood-choice of the great old makers  - possibly they have had a special sense, get lost in later times. However eventually they only had found a source, which showed up during many decades as a very good one.

While I think, the density-measurements in old violins are quite easy, the measurements of other properties of woods in old violins by modal-analysis in complete old violins should be an extremly difficult thing. So far as I know, Curtin could measure single top-plates of great instruments, but without finding unusual properties with one little exeption : a relatively low crossgrain-stiffness in tops.

I would like to agree to Torbjörn in targeting raw spruce wedges showing a sonorous (tapping)-sound. Other things would be ( in the sense of arching) a best split in long and cross-grain direction. 

 

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45 minutes ago, Danube Fiddler said:

I would like to say it a little bit different : "..allowing the player to maximal manipulate not the string-oscillations but the outcoming sound ( coming from the violin body) and probably in the first rank having a broad spectrum of nice, easy to play sound-colours as also some things, which make it more easy to play difficult pieces of music. These could be a fast response and a sufficient tolerance against bow-pressure, bow-speed and contact-points.

The player can only manipulate the input. The player can not manipulate the modal behavior of the violin. It is fixed. 

The output is equal to the input (the tonal characteristics of the vibrating string as manipulated by the player ie frequency, wave shape, and harmonic content) filtered/amplified by the modal behavior of the instrument. 

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1 hour ago, curious1 said:

I’m sure I could think of something witty to say but my question was serious and your answer is next to useless. :(

Curious1, If you're looking for a more scientific answer you shouldn't ask me. I'm sure that you know more than you need to know about that stuff. I'm not going to pretend to know more than I know, as many other people do. My answer is pretty much what any violin maker needs to know. IMO

1 hour ago, curious1 said:

A good violin is one which doesn’t disturb the behavior of the string thereby allowing the player the possibility of manipulating the string in the greatest variety of ways. 

A good violin is one which engages and stimulates the player’s musical imagination.

Agreed. That's a good violin.

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1 hour ago, curious1 said:

Perhaps the old makers didn’t select wood based on ‘wood properties, measured by the scientists’ but we certainly can. We can measure by CT scanning the density of the wood in old violins as well as the volume of the tops and backs. That along with modal analysis might give an indication of their ability to consistently choose or their inability to choose  ‘good’ wood. 

Is there a cheap scientific way to consistently choose good wood yet ?

 

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2 hours ago, Danube Fiddler said:

A good violin is 

1) an instrument, which gives you as a player a little bit more pleasure and possibilities in playing than many other instruments 

2) an instrument, which gives your audience a little bit more pleasure

Some additions :

In many cases 2) has no importance, because there is no audience or only a small audience, e.g. your family

 

Point number 2 could be critical; one's family could easily expel you and the offensive instrument from the home, relegating music making activities to the distant alleyways.

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55 minutes ago, curious1 said:

The player can only manipulate the input. The player can not manipulate the modal behavior of the violin. It is fixed. 

The output is equal to the input (the tonal characteristics of the vibrating string as manipulated by the player ie frequency, wave shape, and harmonic content) filtered/amplified by the modal behavior of the instrument. 

While I agree to some of your claims

- the string is a standard thing 

- the behaviour of the same string will be quite different in different instruments because of 1) its mechanical limitions at several fixing points as e.g. bridge and 2) the energy flow into the violin-body ( frequency/eigenmode(shape) -depending 3) the frequency-depending energy - flow from violin-body into the air 4) the frequency/eigenmodes-depending damping 

In that way the violin-body decides a lot of the string-behaviour. The string itself doesn´t radiate very much energy. Finally the body does it and this the player and audience are hearing. Most features of the players "string control" will depend on the individual violin-body, the rest will be the standardized properties of the used string.

What should play a big role, is the directional radiation of violins, which is quite uneven. The player can´t know ( however feel to some extent by fingers of the left hand as also the bowing hand), what the string exactly is doing, he only can hear, what finally the body radiates. Some things, which play a big role in the string oscillation, he eventually will not completely recognize, if the concerning sound-waves don´t radiate so much to his ears but in other directions or are cancelled very near the body by dipol/interference-effects.

I think, we speak of similar things - naturally a player actually controls the string oscillations but gets his feedback mainly by the body-sound-radiation.

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3 minutes ago, Delabo said:

Is there a cheap scientific way to consistently choose good wood yet ?

 

I think don noon’s answer captures things well. ‘Good Wood is wood that can be turned into a good violin’. 

Define a good violin first and then find wood that can aid in making that violin.

There are certainly easy and cheap ways to measure the principal physical qualities (density, speed of sound, and damping) of a piece of wood. These have been discussed in other threads.

Most wood is good wood if you know what to do with it. 

 

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