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Stradivari's secret was a concept?


Andreas Preuss
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24 minutes ago, francoisdenis said:

Deformation  analysis  depends on the reference chosen  (plan or axis of symmetry in the case of an outline).
In the example of the Strad, rather than seeing a collapsed vault, we can consider that top and the bottom blocks have been pushed upwards and that the motion has been thwarted by the pressure of the bridge. The result is that the deformation is reflected in the long-arch under the fingerboard and under the tailpiece.

In this case the the long-arch original form reconstruction demands to
-lowered the plan of the top and bottom blocks
- lengthen the length of the table

(You can reproduce this experience of distorcion easly usind a simple strip of wood on a bench)

Agreed. In restoration, the idea is not to raise the bridge area to carry the curve of the bulged portions on through the bridge area, but to push those bulged areas under the fingerboard and tailpiece back down to where they originally were.

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13 hours ago, Danube Fiddler said:

Possibly this point is generally underrated. Fridolin and Walter Hamma wrote in their books quite often : "instruments of maker XY sound good, because he used fine tonewood " ! 

Then the issue is whether maker XY just happened to come into "fine tonewood" by chance, or that he had the ability to determine what was "fine tonewood", and where he could get it.

There's also the possibility that maker XY happened to strive for a tone which is currently desirable, whereas maker Z went for a tone that is out of favor (or, their making habits differed and whatever they ended up with gradually became the tone they liked).

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23 hours ago, Quadibloc said:

Indeed. In case anyone hasn't noticed, if one goes to order a violin, one of the first things one will encounter is the choice between a "Stradivari pattern" or "Guarneri pattern" violin. The former is usually, although not always, a copy of the "Salabue" or "Messiah" instrument.

Of course, just because arching is visible, and not "secret", is not a guarantee that modern makers won't get it wrong. There is a tendency toi abstract and simplify what one sees, particularly as, when one expends effort to shape a violin plate, one will concentrate on those aspects one thinks important.

Incidentally, a persistent category of claims about the "Secret of Stradivari" has been that he did something to reduce the difference between the along-grain and cross-grain strength of the wood. Using spirit varnish, treating the wood, and special climate variations have all been proposed as causes. But no attempt to imitate this has taken the world by storm.

It occurs to me that perhaps the experiments in that direction failed because they went too far. Perhaps Stradivari did add a little cross-grain strength to the plates of his violins, but he did so with a gentle and tasteful hand. How might he have done so?

Here is one possibility offered for consideration:

When applying the ground coat, leave tiny, hairline-width, gaps in the ground coat, running horizontally across the belly of the violin. (The back, being of maple, a wood so much harder, is unlikely to require any such secret manipulation.)

Then, the first thin coating of linseed oil will create little second-order bass bars of extra stiffness to transmit vibrations across the belly. (Remember to only leave the gaps in the area where the original bass bar of a baroque violin would have extended, as Stradivari could not have foreseen what changes would be made later in his violins.)

Here is a flexible technique that allows adding just a tiny little bit of extra stiffness across the grain to the belly, without the choice being between adding none and adding a whole lot, which is likely to be too much.

Here is a diagram, to more fully illustrate what I am thinking of: additional details are present, such as not going all the way to the edges, and following Dr. William Fry, paying special attention to the area between the f-holes:

secret3.jpg.10378acb4efb93e6dade14e7cfd7aef6.jpg

And the gaps in the ground coat perhaps should be more than a hairline in thickness. Of course, this is so variable that one can adjust it so as to do no harm - and have no benefit either, as being too slight to have any effect. But it is a way of gaining an additional degree of freedom in making a violin that has perhaps been overlooked.

Your prodecure sounds a little bit cumbersome.

If Stradivari or others wanted to increase crossgrain stiffness a litte bit, they could choose a  different way :

- just changing a wood, which has it by nature ( however Curtin assumed in one of his publications, that more helpfully would be, to decrease the crossgrain stiffness - to do so, you can choose a little out-running of vascular-rays in tops as e.g. G.B. Guadagnini often has done it )

The relation of longitudinal stiffness to crossgrain - stiffness should approximately show up in the frequency - relation of the 2-0 mode to 1-1 mode in spruce-samples. 

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40 minutes ago, Don Noon said:

Then the issue is whether maker XY just happened to come into "fine tonewood" by chance, or that he had the ability to determine what was "fine tonewood", and where he could get it.

There's also the possibility that maker XY happened to strive for a tone which is currently desirable, whereas maker Z went for a tone that is out of favor (or, their making habits differed and whatever they ended up with gradually became the tone they liked).

1) May be in some cases also by chance - but I think, not so probable for a whole working-live. Eventually by experience, possibly even not his own but more a general experience of a lot of makers/tonewood dealers, also monitored in the prices of wood, coming from different sources. One could/ wanted to afford, the other not.  I also could have been a sixth sense for tonewood, some makers owned. They were able to recognize  in wedges by tapping and viewing some things, which is important. 

2) Then it would not have been a question of tonewood. However I think, you are right - the personal taste of the maker should be very important.

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On ‎6‎/‎21‎/‎2018 at 5:21 AM, martin swan said:

I think the San Lorenzo is a particularly good illustration - thanks.

If we accept the premise that this type of arching works because it preserves more long fibres (a big premise to accept), then pulling down the top at the upper bouts would also help with this marginally. 

Another consequence of this flat arching (apart from minimising runout) would be the way the soundwaves reflect off the inside of the box.

 

Martin,

Due to the difference in long grain to cross grain stiffness in spruce pulling the top down at the upper block does not raise the center of the plate. It simply pulls the upper, middle area of the top down due to cross grain bending.

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On ‎6‎/‎21‎/‎2018 at 7:20 AM, Conor Russell said:

 

I feel that this shape is about achieving an area of the belly that rolls to and fro, with a stiffness rather like a half pipe -  imagine a piece of guttering. To bring the straightness too far can be dangerous. The grain becomes too short and yielding , and the angle of the arching too high at the ends, and the neck will fall too much before the belly stabilizes, if it ever does.

I absolutely agree with this and feel that more vertical c bouts such as most Strads allow the "gutter" to roll easily while rounder C's tend to leave a slight hinge at the narrowest point introducing a twisting that changes how the instrument sounds. 

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On 6/21/2018 at 2:21 AM, martin swan said:

If we accept the premise that this type of arching works because it preserves more long fibres (a big premise to accept), then pulling down the top at the upper bouts would also help with this marginally.

21 minutes ago, nathan slobodkin said:

Due to the difference in long grain to cross grain stiffness in spruce pulling the top down at the upper block does not raise the center of the plate. It simply pulls the upper, middle area of the top down due to cross grain bending.

I don't quite follow either of these.

However, I don't think preservation of the long fibers is that big of a deal, at least regarding flat-ish vs more rounded long arching.  The main ideas I think are:  1) Spruce along the grain is amazingly stiff, so it doesn't need that much of an arch longitudinally, and 2) Cross arching of the top, particularly in the upper bout, is a big deal, and a more rounded long arch leaves less to work with when you get into the upper and lower bouts.

On 6/21/2018 at 2:21 AM, martin swan said:

Another consequence of this flat arching (apart from minimising runout) would be the way the soundwaves reflect off the inside of the box.

The wavelengths of the sound of a violin are long enough so that this level of detail in the shape won't make any difference in how the sound reflects.

 

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20 hours ago, Torbjörn Zethelius said:

Is this from Euro Peluzzi's 1978 publication Tecnica Costruttiva Degli Antichi Liutai Italiani, or is it your own?  

 

 

 

 

 

The idea comes from a variety of sources correlated, I am sure others have noticed the relationship, so I hesitate to call it "my own"...

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5 hours ago, nathan slobodkin said:

Martin,

Due to the difference in long grain to cross grain stiffness in spruce pulling the top down at the upper block does not raise the center of the plate. It simply pulls the upper, middle area of the top down due to cross grain bending.

I'm saying that if you pull the top down rather than carve the arch in fully, you are minimising runout (keeping more long fibres intact). No idea if this is an advantage tonally but it could well be ....

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14 hours ago, Don Noon said:

The wavelengths of the sound of a violin are long enough so that this level of detail in the shape won't make any difference in how the sound reflects.

 

that's interesting, so there is no need to take internal reflections between the plates into account? like inside arch roundness and symmetry between belly and back?

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4 hours ago, Emilg said:

that's interesting, so there is no need to take internal reflections between the plates into account? like inside arch roundness and symmetry between belly and back?

Nope.

1 hour ago, martin swan said:

 

physics not my strong suit, but how long is a wavelength at 440 Hz?

78 cm.  There's an on-line wavelength calculator here.

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1 hour ago, Don Noon said:

Nope.

 

30 minutes ago, Torbjörn Zethelius said:

Yes, you should definitely take internal reflections into account. 

well, which one is it .. ;)

how do soundwaves with wavelengths higher than 6 cm (< ca. 5500Hz) reflect or behave when hitting a wall?

 

 

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2 hours ago, martin swan said:

 

physics not my strong suit, but how long is a wavelength at 440 Hz?

the formula is simple:

wavelength L = speed of sound through the air (at 20C/atm) / frequency F = 343 m/s / F

the longest L at G = 343 / 196 = 1.75m

edit: not counting subharmoncis i presume

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1 hour ago, Torbjörn Zethelius said:

Yes, you should definitely take internal reflections into account.

4 minutes ago, Torbjörn Zethelius said:

I guess you'll have to find out for yourself. ;) 

Apparently that means you don't have a rational explanation, or want to keep it as one of those "I know a secret, and you don't" kind of things.

 

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35 minutes ago, Torbjörn Zethelius said:

I guess you'll have to find out for yourself. ;) 

or i could improve my understanding first of what's happening inside the box, still a bit of a mystery

there's reflections, resonances, longitudinal waves through air, longitudinal and transverse waves through the plates, damping, radiation, standing waves inside the box, travelling waves outside the box, refraction (air/wood), diffraction (ff's), interference, etc..:wacko:

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14 minutes ago, Emilg said:

or i could improve my understanding first of what's happening inside the box, still a bit of a mystery

there's reflections, resonances, longitudinal waves through air, longitudinal and transverse waves through the plates, damping, radiation, standing waves inside the box, travelling waves outside the box, refraction (air/wood), diffraction (ff's), interference, etc..:wacko:

Yes, you can do that. It won't help though. Violin sound is still a mystery.

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On 6/21/2018 at 5:32 PM, Torbjörn Zethelius said:

 

The question remains: how do you prevent the long arch from creep?

 

The arching serves two purposes. One structural and the other acoustic.

To prevent excessive and/or continuous creep the arching shape and plate graduations must be appropriate to the wood’s stiffness..

For instance if a piece of wood Is formed into an arch that is either too high and/or strong in shape for its elasticity you may have to thin the plate excessively so that the plate is flexible enough to sound properly. This situation will lead to structural weakness and creep. 

 

 

 

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19 hours ago, Torbjörn Zethelius said:

Yes, you can do that. It won't help though. Violin sound is still a mystery.

i'll have to do both then, build, listen and learn :)

hey i saw Nigel Kennedy had one of your violins (1991), is he still playing it?

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1 hour ago, Don Noon said:

Apparently that means you don't have a rational explanation, or want to keep it as one of those "I know a secret, and you don't" kind of things.

 

So a rebec sounds the same as a violin? The violin arch focuses the sound, this is even true for archtop guitars. Classical guitars can't project, jazz guitars can better, see the relationship? It is undeniable, the arch is the "mirror" akin to a laser, creating the multiplicity required for projection at a distance, the f-holes are the lenses, if you understand a laser and the concept of incommensurability(not the wikipedia one, but the Pythagorean ), then you understand that this is a fundamental concept, mother nature doesn't suddenly change the rules be it a laser or a violin...

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1 hour ago, Pylorius said:

So a rebec sounds the same as a violin? The violin arch focuses the sound, this is even true for archtop guitars. Classical guitars can't project, jazz guitars can better, see the relationship? It is undeniable, the arch is the "mirror" akin to a laser, creating the multiplicity required for projection at a distance, the f-holes are the lenses, if you understand a laser and the concept of incommensurability(not the wikipedia one, but the Pythagorean ), then you understand that this is a fundamental concept, mother nature doesn't suddenly change the rules be it a laser or a violin...

I would guess that the projection difference between classical guitars (flat plates) and jazz guitars (arched plates) would be in the stiffness of the plates. The arched would naturally be stiffer and project better. Not to mention nylon vs steel strings too. Nothing to do with mirrors or lasers.

By your analogy a lute should sound like Jimmy Page on 11.

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2 hours ago, Emilg said:

or i could improve my understanding first of what's happening inside the box, still a bit of a mystery

there's reflections, resonances, longitudinal waves through air, longitudinal and transverse waves through the plates, damping, radiation, standing waves inside the box, travelling waves outside the box, refraction (air/wood), diffraction (ff's), interference, etc..:wacko:

I looked into all of that, even drilling holes in ribs and plates to use a microphone and see what was going on inside.  So far, nothing other than the well-known A0.  Even the next air mode A1 usually doesn't do anything.  Damping I still think might be a major player, but it's not simple.

1 hour ago, Pylorius said:

The violin arch focuses the sound

The violin arch can create a focused sound, but it doesn't focus sound.  All that laser and lens stuff is completely different.  A better comparison might be focusing radio waves with a lens.

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