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Stradivari's secret was a concept?


Andreas Preuss
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1 hour ago, Quadibloc said:

I was going to praise you for so succinctly explaining why the channel really exists, thus putting paid to that silly long post about wasted energy by... Marty Kasprzyk. Oops.

Even in my ignorance and simplicity, though, I feel I could add something.

Let's look at the other side of the belly plate - and the back plate - the sides of those plates that are hidden when they're glued to the ribs. On that side, one finds a central part that is hollowed out, but all around the edges the plates haven't been touched, and are left in their original flat condition.

The purpose of that is obvious. If the plates weren't flat there, they wouldn't be in contact with the ribs, and they absolutely couldn't be glued to them.

Although it is generally believed that during fabrication of the plates, the arching comes first, and then the gradation, in the initial conceptual design, the gradation could have been considered first. Thus, in addition to the very practical issue you've cited of the clamps holding on to the top (which could be dealt with by adding suitably carved bracing blocks to go over the arching - and, anyways, then why do violins have a raised edge, unlike guitars, which reduces the contact area for the clamps) it might well have been felt that the thickness of the plates should remain largely constant in the arched area, instead of increasing around the edges.

And the sound of the instrument would seem to be the likely reason for that.

In comic books when the guy falls out of the building he just goes "IIIIIIEeeeeeeeee!"

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10 hours ago, David Beard said:

Hi David,

it seems to me that your first statement is not reflected in the sound of Cremonese violins,  as it seems that the Amati with a wide and thin channel often have a clearer and crystalline sound while on the opposite one finds the Del Gesù with narrow and thicker channel, who often have a darker sound.

Do you mean primarily in the cBouts?

Yes, but also in upper and lower bouts the scoop of the channel of the Amati  is often deeper and broader than later makers.

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1 hour ago, Marty Kasprzyk said:

I  assumed everybody knew the violin plates were made out of wood which has damping.

And, of course, it is the relative lack of damping in most metals (which is why bells are made of metal) which explains why we don't make violins out of them, despite the fact that metal has nicely repeatable and reproducible qualities.

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Much as I hesitate to interrupt the conversation about channel work and arching with a stupid question...what happens if the grain of the top (or back) do not run lengthwise, but cross-ways (left to right)? or diagonally? with adjustment to distribution of weight through bridge feet, if required?

Cross-ways grain may look ridiculous, but a bit of slant on the grain, possibly reversing the angle between left and right so that the grain forms an 'A' or 'V' to the eye, might look OK. Would it sound OK?

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1 hour ago, John_London said:

Much as I hesitate to interrupt the conversation about channel work and arching with a stupid question...what happens if the grain of the top (or back) do not run lengthwise, but cross-ways (left to right)? or diagonally? with adjustment to distribution of weight through bridge feet, if required?

Cross-ways grain may look ridiculous, but a bit of slant on the grain, possibly reversing the angle between left and right so that the grain forms an 'A' or 'V' to the eye, might look OK. Would it sound OK?

The first thing that comes to my mind is that the longitudinal resistance would be so low that it would not resist the tension of the strings, or that it would require such a high thickness to compensate for this that the sound would be disastrous.

But I could be wrong, I would not cut off your creative spirit so please try and report, if you're so brave....:D

Of course you should need a one piece top, endgrain joint would be a nightmare.

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11 hours ago, Quadibloc said:

Let's look at the other side of the belly plate - and the back plate - the sides of those plates that are hidden when they're glued to the ribs. On that side, one finds a central part that is hollowed out, but all around the edges the plates haven't been touched, and are left in their original flat condition.

The purpose of that is obvious. If the plates weren't flat there, they wouldn't be in contact with the ribs, and they absolutely couldn't be glued to them.

 

Just how large an area are you imagining this to actually be?
1mm, 5mm, 100mm?

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4 hours ago, John_London said:

Much as I hesitate to interrupt the conversation about channel work and arching with a stupid question...what happens if the grain of the top (or back) do not run lengthwise, but cross-ways (left to right)? or diagonally? with adjustment to distribution of weight through bridge feet, if required?

Cross-ways grain may look ridiculous, but a bit of slant on the grain, possibly reversing the angle between left and right so that the grain forms an 'A' or 'V' to the eye, might look OK. Would it sound OK?

I have seen some like that, or maybe more of an «Y». By some famous maker too, and the sound just as fina as from a straight-grained top.

 

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4 hours ago, John_London said:

..what happens if the grain of the top (or back) do not run lengthwise, but cross-ways (left to right)?

Top:  tonal and structural disaster.

Back:  maybe you could get away with it (for a while, until it splits), but why?

I did make a slab-top experiment to see what happened with very low crossgrain stiffness, and it wasn't too bad.  But I have absolutely no temptation to try the experiment proposed.  With modest lateral runout (V-shaped grain at the center joint) I'd suspect it would be OK , but beyond modest angle, I think you'd have problems.

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On 8/2/2018 at 11:58 AM, Wood Butcher said:

Just how large an area are you imagining this to actually be?
1mm, 5mm, 100mm?

The ribs of a violin are to be made from maple 1/24" in thickness, according to one book, which is 1 mm. An image of the ribs of a Stradivarius in a book by Hill shows the linings to be about 2.5 times the thickness of the ribs. So the actual contact area, except in the case of the blocks, which are also glued to the plates, both corner and end blocks, would be 3.5mm wide.

EDIT: I have now learned that 1 mm is just a shade too thin for the ribs of a violin; the currently accepted standard is, according to some authorities, 1.2 mm, which is about 3/64" (1.19 mm), although others recommend 1.1 mm, which is close to 4 Cremonese Atomi (1.12 mm).

Additionally, Stradivari's linings appear to have been wider than I thought, at about 3 mm; I've seen a recommendation that linings should be 2 mm thick instead, but this is reasonable as Stradivari used willow, a very light wood, while most other makers, including Guarneri, use spruce or pine, which are heavier.

Edited by Quadibloc
Correction of incorrect thicknesses
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1 hour ago, Wood Butcher said:

Just how large an area are you imagining this to actually be?
1mm, 5mm, 100mm?

It can be varied at will. It seems that the Amatis made it quite large and with thin scoop. Probably intentional for sound. Strad and following del Gesu made it narrower and thicker. I can't comment on the effect on the sound as I haven't made an Amati type arch. Obviously, both types works.

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1 hour ago, Torbjörn Zethelius said:

It can be varied at will. It seems that the Amatis made it quite large and with thin scoop. Probably intentional for sound. Strad and following del Gesu made it narrower and thicker. I can't comment on the effect on the sound as I haven't made an Amati type arch. Obviously, both types works.

Do you suspect that some types might work better than others?

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49 minutes ago, David Burgess said:

Do you suspect that some types might work better than others?

I haven't thought much about it. But thinking about it now, because you asked, I suspect that the Amati type might be very well suited for orchestra or chamber music. With the right player, I might be tempted to try it.

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Several people mentioned vermillion (cinnabar) which has been identified in some samples of Stradivari's varnish. We know that it is toxic and I hesitate to experiment with it. In particular, I fear that shading a varnish containing vermillion, which I do with light sanding and buffing, will create toxic detritus. Any thoughts about this?

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42 minutes ago, Janito said:

I have been traveling and miss some stuff.

Within the 107 pages, which "it" are you referring to?

To make an Amati type arch with broad scoop which is also quite thin in this area. I suspect that this kind of arch might be better suited for many if not most players than the Strad/GdG type with narrower scoop and thicker. Does anyone have experience with this kind of arch?

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15 minutes ago, Torbjörn Zethelius said:

To make an Amati type arch with broad scoop which is also quite thin in this area. I suspect that this kind of arch might be better suited for many if not most players than the Strad/GdG type with narrower scoop and thicker. Does anyone have experience with this kind of arch?

I have enjoyed the results when doing this Amatese arching. 

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2 hours ago, Michael_Molnar said:

Several people mentioned vermillion (cinnabar) which has been identified in some samples of Stradivari's varnish. We know that it is toxic and I hesitate to experiment with it. In particular, I fear that shading a varnish containing vermillion, which I do with light sanding and buffing, will create toxic detritus. Any thoughts about this?

Mercury is indeed very dangerous. The commonest replacement for Vermillion among artists, however, is Cadmium Red. This avoids the issue of Vermillion changing color over time, but Cadmium is also a toxic metal. However, the pigment Cadmium Red is apparently considered to present a low safety hazard.

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Q, with respect - I and lots of others come here to read expert opinions. 

Questions or occasional responses from new or less expert folks are fun also.

Posts on many threads from somebody figuring things out on their own are not adding a lot to the conversation.  A different forum, like your site, might be more appropriate. 

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23 hours ago, Quadibloc said:

Mercury is indeed very dangerous. The commonest replacement for Vermillion among artists, however, is Cadmium Red. This avoids the issue of Vermillion changing color over time, but Cadmium is also a toxic metal. However, the pigment Cadmium Red is apparently considered to present a low safety hazard.

Substitutions that work for the painter don't automatically transfer to making semi-transparent or transparent violin finishes.    The painter tends to actually prefer more opaque pigments.    

The use of the words Cinnabar and Vermilion gets confusing.   Cinnabar more properly refers to the natural mineral, which has a very high refractive index (over 3) and can be relatively transparent.   Vermilion more properly refers to pigments either made from Cinnabar, Cinnabar processed with sulfur,  or man made versions synthesized directly from mercury and sulfur.    These often are more opaque.  Pigment ground from crystals of Cinnabar selected for better transparency would probably be the most suitable for violin work.  Vermilion and Cinnabar were produced in ancient Rome, and ancient China.   Even the new world prior to European contact shows use of the natural mineral (I don't know regarding Vermilion).   These colors were of great importance around the world before the invention of modern pigments.   The differences I've described would likely have been well understood by the general artisan community, and much more broadly than today.

The traditional arts did not avoid toxic or hazardous materials.  Though they did take precautions.  We currently have swung to an opposite extreme.  We tend to draw a bright line between 'toxic' and 'non-toxic'.  But animals and people tend to have degrees of tolerance and intolerance for substances.   Arsenic is highly toxic.   Artisan's still used arsenic pigments, but with considerable caution.    Lead and mercury are not toxic in the same way.  Long term and excessive exposure should be avoided, but you won't just drop over dead from a small moment of accidental exposure, the way you would with arsenic.   It's hard for us today to realize, but until very recent times both mercury and lead had fairly large places in daily life.    Both were used in cosmetics.   And both were used for thousands of years in close association with food.   Vermilion was the colorant in traditional Asian red lacquer ware that was used to prepare and serve food.  And lead of course played a big part in water supply for a long time. 

I'm not advocating ignoring the dangers.  But we could stand to moderate our caution.   The dangers presented by arsenic, mercury, and lead are not 'apples' to 'apples'.   We should not treat them as equal since they in no way are.   Hopefully the world will not get so hysterical as to start banning or destroying art works.  Our museums are full of 'toxic' art. 

Due to the realities of modern markets, it's probably a bad idea for any modern maker to use any lead or mercury ingredients in their normal violin finishes.   But for the occasional historically faithful project, there is no reason to be completely paranoid in handling these materials.   Use the traditional artisan precautions.   Don't touch your face, eyes, or mouth when working these materials.   Keep particles from going airborne by working them only mixed in water or oil, or similar that will keep the particles captured.  Clean yourself and your work space carefully.  Dispose of scrape and waste carefully. Etc.    With Vermilion or Cinnabar, be aware that pressure, from grinding or crushing or other, can 'bleed' out mercury.  This released mercury is more dangerous than the pigment directly.     

Historically faithful work probably pulls on us to use lead even more than it does to use Cinnabar.   Perhaps Strad frequently used Cinnabar, but overall it probably wasn't a constant ingredient in classical finish work.   But the arts of the time very much favored using various lead treatments for linseed oil -- basically always.

 

Cinnabar_on_Dolomite.jpg

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7 hours ago, David Beard said:

Substitutions that work for the painter don't automatically transfer to making semi-transparent or transparent violin finishes.    The painter tends to actually prefer more opaque pigments.

Thank you for your informative post.

In doing some searching, I may have found some genuinely useful information for those who are not prepared to attempt taking the necessary safety precautions for work with Vermillion.

A previous Maestronet thread discussing transparent red pigments for varnish produced no good answer. One thing noted was that a transparent iron oxide pigment was produced by BASF, but they did not distribute it in the United States because of its limited shelf life. (Iron oxide pigment being usually opaque, but through fine grinding transparency can be achieved.)

I have found that an Ohio company, Johnson Matthey, makes a similar product in the United States.

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On 7/29/2018 at 3:29 PM, curious1 said:

The modes of a particular violin are fixed.

What you mean by this claim ?    What exactly is fixed in your opinion ?

My ideas about your "fixings""

1) frequency-location and damping of resonance-peaks/ "modes" could be "fixed" - even here I am not sure, if they are really, because every tension-alteration like these ones, coming from different bow-pressures on strings ( and finally realizing within the violin-body ) will change mode-frequencies and damping ( the only question can be, how much)

2) What surely is not fixed, are the intensities of oscillating "modes" ( that they also depend on the input-(string)signal, is naturally )

3) your idea of a "fixed" body-modal-behaviour i.m.o. is the same, what most people would just call THE SOUND of a violin ( if they pay one million, they even should hope very much, that the sound (modal-behaviour) is somewhat fixed and will still be there the next day, even if they change the strings....)

4) I am quite sure, that the violin - body always "disturbes" the string-oscillations. However I would not be surprised, if this "disturbance" normally results in an improvement - and I assume, that nobody would like to hear just neutral amplified string-oscillations. Yes, one could and probably should separate between influences/energy-backflow of the violin-body -vibrations on/into the string - oscillations and the pure amplifying/filtering-action of the violin-body.

 

 

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