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Stradivari's secret was a concept?


Andreas Preuss
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1 hour ago, Bill Merkel said:

But since you say figured wood is harder to split, it could be an advantage to keep the tree from splitting.  Does it keep it from splitting in the direction that high wind would try to split it?  Does it occur in the tree where there's the most force?

I'm just throwing out a theory.  To answer your  questions, feel free to put strain gauges on a forest of trees and write up a report.  I'm going back to the shop.

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On 7/21/2018 at 6:51 AM, Quadibloc said:

I am aware of that. However, then, to clarify: it is generally believed, or so I thought, that the scroll of a violin is carved in advance of the maker assembling the body of the violin and determining where to put the bridge (which determination requires a finished neck for the violin, so that playing it can be attempted), and then cutting those indicative nicks in the f-holes to record his findings.

Now I realize what my mistake was - at least as I understand it.

I had forgotten that violin bridges come from the manufacturer as "blanks", which are higher than the bridge will be in actual use. Material is trimmed off the top of the blank, to make the curve of the top of the bridge as it will be on the violin.

Therefore, with the neck of the violin in place, and the requirement that the strings must run nearly parallel to, and a short distance above, the fingerboard, for any given position of the bridge on the belly of the violin, the height at which the strings will intersect the bridge is determined.

But the bridge may be cut to fit that height, so one is still free to choose where to put the bridge even after the angle of the neck is finalized.

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15 hours ago, Quadibloc said:

Now I realize what my mistake was - at least as I understand it.

I had forgotten that violin bridges come from the manufacturer as "blanks", which are higher than the bridge will be in actual use. Material is trimmed off the top of the blank, to make the curve of the top of the bridge as it will be on the violin.

Therefore, with the neck of the violin in place, and the requirement that the strings must run nearly parallel to, and a short distance above, the fingerboard, for any given position of the bridge on the belly of the violin, the height at which the strings will intersect the bridge is determined.

But the bridge may be cut to fit that height, so one is still free to choose where to put the bridge even after the angle of the neck is finalized.

Whatever.  I believe it's called "setup".  There's a little more to it all than that, as you'd find by reading the myriad threads people here have devoted to the subject, following the links and reading the stuff various luthiers have made available, and performing it on a hundred or so violins.  :)

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16 hours ago, Quadibloc said:

Now I realize what my mistake was - at least as I understand it.

I had forgotten that violin bridges come from the manufacturer as "blanks", which are higher than the bridge will be in actual use. Material is trimmed off the top of the blank, to make the curve of the top of the bridge as it will be on the violin.

Therefore, with the neck of the violin in place, and the requirement that the strings must run nearly parallel to, and a short distance above, the fingerboard, for any given position of the bridge on the belly of the violin, the height at which the strings will intersect the bridge is determined.

But the bridge may be cut to fit that height, so one is still free to choose where to put the bridge even after the angle of the neck is finalized.

This is kindergarten stuff that everyone here knows - why are you telling us?

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16 hours ago, Quadibloc said:

But the bridge may be cut to fit that height, so one is still free to choose where to put the bridge even after the angle of the neck is finalized.

 

17 minutes ago, martin swan said:

This is kindergarten stuff that everyone here knows - why are you telling us?

I did not know it, that one is free to put the bridge anywhere.

The height of the bridge is determined by neck-angle, fingerboard overhang and arching-height, which will remain quite constant in an older instrument while longterm-continuous use, at least in violins ( may be very little change by big humidity- changes). The bridge-height also depends on the players wishes about the fingerboard- string- distance as well as on the thickness of the fingerboard, which decreases in the course of its lifetime ( in continuous use of a professional musician ~ 15 - 20 years ). After the replacement of a fingerboard normally a new higher bridge is needed, sometimes with complications in sound-quality.

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There are many detailed threads on Maestronet where highly experienced professionals discuss in minute detail the pros and cons of bridge/action/string angle.

I don't understand the value of having to watch someone with no intellectual or practical, musical or scientific grasp of a violin struggling to explain to us all the most basic concepts. I would rather Quadibloc posted this stuff on his own website. 

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On 8/7/2018 at 1:59 PM, Jim Bress said:

From the limited examples I've seen the Amati "smile" is predominantly on the back plate.

14300200_CTsoundpost.thumb.png.774aa3437fedf3c9512848f0874933d4.png

Hi All - just catching up with this thread again.

Channels apart - just looking at the angle of the purfling - have I been out of step while struggling to keep the scalpel square to the floor? - or is there a case to be made for cutting the purfling groove square to the surface of the plate?

Similarly the f-holes?

That the back has asymmetrical thickness is a surprise - I would have expected it on the front plate. Does this suggest that the back has more of an effect on sound production than I thought.

Does the asymmetric thicknessing give credence to  post-assembly tap tuning by scraping away on the outside - before varnishing?

Shall I throw the verticality of the soundpost into the mix?

What a lovely picture - thank you.

cheers edi

 

cheers edi

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16 hours ago, martin swan said:

This is kindergarten stuff that everyone here knows - why are you telling us?

I'm not posting that to tell you stuff you already know. I'm posting it to note that I didn't know that when I was posting - and it was this which was my real mistake, rather than the other mistakes people instead saw, and pointed out, in the postings of mine in question.

Yes, you knew it. But you didn't know that this was what I didn't know.

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On 9/18/2018 at 2:27 AM, Danube Fiddler said:

I did not know it, that one is free to put the bridge anywhere.

I wasn't claiming that (depending on how you meant what you said). Rather, I noted that being able to trim the height of the bridge means that one doesn't have to adjust the angle of the neck (at great difficulty) to put the bridge in the right place - the one demanded by the characteristics of the body of the violin.

So it was far from me to claim the position of the bridge is irrelevant to sound quality - I was assuming the opposite, that it is as critical as the position of the sound post relative to the bridge.

On 9/18/2018 at 4:02 AM, edi malinaric said:

Shall I throw the verticality of the soundpost into the mix?

In looking through some old books on violins, I saw pictures of an invention to improve the violin that enabled having a tilted sound post - but it was tilted the opposite way from the one in the photo.

Edited by Quadibloc
typo
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  • 10 months later...
On 7/31/2018 at 1:31 AM, Emilg said:

Thanks Marty, this makes sense .. these kind of explanations really help to understand what's going on :)

 

Hi Marty, your explanation is correct when the structure is supported on a table like the figure. The problem is there is no table under the instrument. What is supporting on the instrument?

The load does not make the instrument heavier. How do you explain the IP and OP now to happen?

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6 hours ago, reguz said:

The load does not make the instrument heavier. How do you explain the IP and OP now to happen?

[Banks hard at the IP, lines up on the OP, tickles the "pickle button", and prepares to release a major load.........]  ;)

Go ahead.  Restart the bleeping thing.  I triple-dog dare you.  :ph34r:  :P  :lol:

image.png.789f1fe9b9d589b56fd4e058cdcca952.png

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Quote

those instruments have a certain beauty which certainly doesn't have anything to do with the sound. But because the term cane Dom dealers it is clear that they knew it would trigger buyers buying behavior.

[cane Dom = came from]

Rubbish. The term came, ultimately, from performers -- from Joseph Joachim in particular. Hill and Hart both obsessed about tone, as did performers.

Had they created that term to sell fiddles, it would have been applied to the productions of 1670-1698 (and 1720 to the end). Go back and Read the Hill book on Stradivari complaining of how difficult it was trying to sell a Strad when the architecture of it did not display "a certain apparent flatness -- an impartial trial of its tone being out of the question. The eye has decided." (quote from memory)

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Relevant (to the original post) quotation :

Quote

 

EH: What do you think happened between the time of the great makers -- Amati, Stradivari, Guarneri -- and the present time for their methods to be such a puzzle to modern makers?

KH: The modern frame of reference happened, and it takes some doing to know the world as a maker of the 17th century would have known it. This includes thinking about acoustics from a completely different point of view.

There was a huge shift in the whole basis of scientific culture between the 17th and 18th centuries – towards observation, verifiablility and mathematical proof.  Science began to be dominated by the eye.  Before that, science was closer to what we think of as alchemy, with one favorite activity of a scientist being to draw correlations between everything in the universe.  A musical instrument was a microcosm, governed by Pythagorean ratios and proportions, and before attempting to understand the makers’ way of doing things, it’s necessary to remember that the great violins got their start in the time just before Galileo.

http://keithhillharpsichords.com/about-keith-hill

 

 

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8 minutes ago, A432 said:

[cane Dom = came from]

Rubbish. The term came, ultimately, from performers -- from Joseph Joachim in particular. Hill and Hart both obsessed about tone, as did performers.

Had they created that term to sell fiddles, it would have been applied to the productions of 1670-1698 (and 1720 to the end). Go back and Read the Hill book on Stradivari complaining of how difficult it was trying to sell a Strad when the architecture of it did not display "a certain apparent flatness -- an impartial trial of its tone being out of the question. The eye has decided." (quote from memory)

I've come to associate better tone from Strad copies with longitudinal extension of the plate arches toward the neck root and the tail block, rather than with exaggerated flatness.  I'd also take some of the Hills' book with a grain of salt. 

For those who don't have it, here's a PDF link:  http://www.makingtheviolin.com/uploads/Sources/Antonio_Stradivari_-_Hills.pdf

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More, FWIW,  from  http://keithhillharpsichords.com/about-keith-hill

  If you’re copying, you’re relying on your eyes – the more exact people can see that your copy is, the better for you.  Not everyone who could afford a copy of a Strad had actually heard one played, but they’d heard of it, and knew it ought to look like a rare, fine thing. This is when a cabinet making approach began to dominate violin making, and the level of craft a maker could bring to an instrument decided its value. It’s still that way, with Strad copies taking months to make and looking very close to a real Strad costing lots of money on that basis alone.

KH: It’s important to me that Amati used non-harmonic ratios – minor thirds, perfect fourths, minor sixths, and so on. Whereas Stradivari pioneered the shift to harmonic ratios and knew how to tune wood perfectly.  But it’s pretty easy on a Strad to squeak when you play.  When I discovered the connection between tuning with harmonic ratios and the ease of squeaking, and the difficulty caused by these ratios to the ease of speech of the string, I called the effect “distortion resistance.” And Guarneri worked very hard to overwhelm that, which increases the playability and volume of tone of his violins.

. . .

EH: Something that’s kind of mystical?

KH: Yes, its mystical if you don't really know what you are doing and, No, if it is just something about the way they saw the world.  That way is something we actually know but have long since poopooed it in favor of the hallowed eye oriented scientific method.  What was that way?  Simple.  It was Pythagorean science, which boils down to the knowledge of and search for musical ratios in everything to make sense of the world from a musical ratio and proportion point of view especially where the sense of hearing is involved.  

For instance, I observed about 25 years ago that nature constructs living organisms and tunes the parts of their structure to pure musical ratios -- this is what the ancient makers must have known.  Our bones, then, are tuned to pure musical ratios that are part of the harmonic series, and it is the complex of these harmonic ratios in the various bones that makes each of our voices unique. The ancient musical instrument makers then figured out how to "build" these musical ratios into all the parts of their instruments and the results were musical instruments that sound like human voices. This way of thinking is what was lost shortly after the death of Antonio Stradivari and Giuseppe Guarneri, as makers became fixated on copying, mass production methods, and gradually lost touch with the other practices of their traditional acoustical infrastructure.

EH: This is where there have to be similarities between your work and that of Stradivari and Guarneri – in the acoustical infrastructure.

KH: My work is entirely based on acoustical principles, that is the acoustical infrastructure that guided the ancient musical instrument makers, not on copying the appearances of violins that great violinists have come to love, respect and covet.  If my violins bear any similarity to the work of Giuseppe Guarneri, it is not because I copied one of his violins, it is because, in a manner of speaking, I copied his mind-set.

 

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