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Stradivari's secret was a concept?


Andreas Preuss
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On 6/20/2018 at 10:12 PM, David Burgess said:

I don't know. My wild speculation would be that Vuillaume's top archings were made peakier to begin with, being a rather astute guy,  and having had 300 years worth of instrument deterioration to observe. The same may also be true for the switch from nailed to mortised neck joints, which was happening around the same time. Nailed necks are much less amenable to being reset, and certainly, many of the older instruments would have been in dire need of it by that time, even if they had been nursed along for centuries by inserting wedges, or by incorporating an ever increasing amount of wedge into replacement fingerboards.

Hey, I wonder what Andreas Preuss has been up to? :lol:

Hi David

sorry again for my absence. Now I worked my way through the jungle of post and read your comments in discussion with Torbjorn and David Beard.

Just generally speaking I am not convinced that the top arch and the back arch are from the beginning exactly the same. All the hints we get from old scriptures I mentioned above, is that makers of the classic period attributed different function to the top plate and the back plate most obvious in the choice of the different materials. From the manuscript of Antonio Marchi I read that the biggest concern was about the actual height of the arching rather than the shape itself. He makes a clear statement about Strad as the guy who makes low archings in general. And then he discusses the 'bulges' at the upper and lower end which I interpret as the more curved zones of the long arch. Though I see Marchi as a follower of Stainer principles, he says that the 'bulges' shouldn't be exaggerated, which I interpret as a long arch curve which does not follow inn its entire length on a perfect circle.

The question in this discussion boils down to 'how flat' the central area was designed, because we definitely know, and David Burgess showed it quite clearly, that the top plate with typical Strad thickness will definitely stretch into another form than it was originally made. But I have to add at this point that all this is caused by modern strings and was IMO not intended from the beginning.

For my own making I never copied any arch exactly to the patterns taken from the original instruments. I rather tried to figure out the original ideas. For Strad I am convinced it was done from the inside for both top and back though at the very end of finishing the plates I found myself always taking wood from inside and outside for the last minor adjustments to get an 'sexy' arching shape. :P This has also to do with the fact that I make plates warp with water (apparently very similar to how David Beard works) which needs permanent corrections wherever distortions are most visible.

In this sense my making is governed by a general idea at the beginning but for the final result I just go by general visual impression. With this combined method I never made a completely flat zone along the center, because it didn't look right visually.

Now in comparison to later Strad interpretations starting with Lupot  and others I think the archings are strangely enough the most different feature. We could muse that they actually copied the original archings before they got deformed by increased string tension, but then, why does this effect not show on those instruments after 150 years of use?

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2 hours ago, Andreas Preuss said:

In reality I have the strong suspicion that he just thins down white factory fiddles with a tapping technique similar to Vigdorchik,

Well, maybe that's all he needs to do to make instruments that sound fantastic.

Although not with Vigdorchik's technique; from what I've seen of it, I doubt that it could work that well. But if, instead, he bought a copy of Patrick Kreit's book - well, we have one maker here who has shown us response curves for his instruments, and that technique does in fact produce the famous "bridge-hill".

So I don't yet know enough to reject the possibility that he has found a way to make very good violins, even if the other people who already know how to do that are justified in viewing that as not sufficient to justify a claim to be able to do more than what is already being done by them.

But thanks to the myth of Stradivari - if it is a myth - even though modern makers are producing great violins, that is not generally known, so someone finding a way to produce a great violin might well think he has discovered a lost secret.

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3 hours ago, Quadibloc said:

Well, maybe that's all he needs to do to make instruments that sound fantastic.

Here I have to disagree vehemently.

Just fumbling around with white factory made violins will never make an instrument of superior sound quality because factories disregard fundamental important working practices. 

If you are quoting Patrick Kreit in this context, all I see in his method is building up everything from the beginning and I can't see how to use his method on already finished instruments. 

 

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5 hours ago, Andreas Preuss said:

Here I have to disagree vehemently.

Just fumbling around with white factory made violins will never make an instrument of superior sound quality because factories disregard fundamental important working practices. 

If you are quoting Patrick Kreit in this context, all I see in his method is building up everything from the beginning and I can't see how to use his method on already finished instruments. 

 

I was wondering what you consider the most important "fundamental working practices" that are disregarded in factory violins.  I have noted a fair number, but likely miss some important things.  Thank you.

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4 hours ago, Stephen Perry said:

I was wondering what you consider the most important "fundamental working practices" that are disregarded in factory violins.  I have noted a fair number, but likely miss some important things.  Thank you.

Number one is the selection of spruce  for relative weight and sound speed.

Similar for the back. Acoustically bad wood can't be improved with thickness corrections . 

Archings on top and back are just milled out by machine with no thoughts of which height is good for the chosen piece of  wood. 

Some instruments are too thin in the center of the plates from the beginning.

Just to name the most obvious factors. 

 

 

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Thank you.  I have a nice selection of wood I can't use, although I'm just working on density and response to tapping.  Some will make nice old time fiddles, I suspect, but not brilliant classical instruments.  The arching was what I have noticed is somewhat nebulous in design.  Thin in the center, I notice some backs at 4 mm, which is a bit paperish, and down to 3 or under along the waist.  As for tops, Loen's work showing reverse graduation is interesting, but doubt it's been adopted in factories.  I have indeed seen some rather spongy tops with quite varied and thin centers.  I've more often observed generous thicknesses, with frequent questionable rather thin spots!   

I figure hitting density about right with a good sounding piece of wood, and settling the arching in as I go along is likely a reasonable approach, the best I can do for the moment in my spartan conditions.

Thank you

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20 hours ago, Andreas Preuss said:

Unfortunately I didn't participate in the testing. I saw it on NHK TV so I can't say if the reponsive curve was more even. However the radiation in all directions did not depend on the frequency as much as on the more modern instruments.

I was  bit upset about this program because it was promoting the work of an amateur maker as the man who discovered 'THE SECRET'.  In reality I have the strong suspicion that he just thins down white factory fiddles with a tapping technique similar to Vigdorchik, varnishes them with a strange, brown, non-Cremonese looking varnish and sells his stuff as the biggest achievement since the invention of the wheel. :angry:

 

The topic of directional radiation i.m.o. is generally underrated at the moment, however regarded by some US-researchers, if I remember right.

It would be interesting, if this japanese amateur really is able to control directional things - I doubt.

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5 hours ago, Andreas Preuss said:

Number one is the selection of spruce  for relative weight and sound speed.

Similar for the back. Acoustically bad wood can't be improved with thickness corrections . 

Archings on top and back are just milled out by machine with no thoughts of which height is good for the chosen piece of  wood. 

Some instruments are too thin in the center of the plates from the beginning.

Just to name the most obvious factors. 

 

 

I would like to add, that a selection of wood regarding split seems not very probable in factory violins. However factory violins are produced in different quality levels - may be, that some higher grades also are available as white violins.

On the other side, I doubt if good real makers do bigger efforts to adapt an arching height on wood properties. Do you know makers, who make violins of the same model with quite differing archings ? My impression is more, that also good makers mostly use a standard arching, isn´t it ?

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23 hours ago, Quadibloc said:

Although not with Vigdorchik's technique; from what I've seen of it, I doubt that it could work that well. But if, instead, he bought a copy of Patrick Kreit's book - well, we have one maker here who has shown us response curves for his instruments, and that technique does in fact produce the famous "bridge-hill".

 

I'm pretty sure I already mentioned it in this  thread, but contemporary violins with "bridge hills" are not at all unusual, with the possible exception of factory violins, which I have not tested.

Do you ever really listen or pay attention to what others have posted here, or are you too caught up in your own blabbering?

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10 minutes ago, David Beard said:

I'm thinking he might possibly be some sort of A.I. bot.

Yes that makes sense - maybe an automated program Google uses to do its own research, based largely on its pre-existing erroneous research? A sort of self-nourishing fatberg of Wikiwonk.

It would explain the complete lack of understanding of the social niceties of forum discussion, and the inability to modify tone of voice when addressing genuinely knowledgeable people. Also the strange insistence on needing to be given information which can serve no real world purpose.

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On 6/26/2018 at 1:49 PM, Peter K-G said:

It's easy to draw conclusions from just one parameter (arch height/shape) , quite often wrong conclutions

S4, purple 17,5 mm 

S3, green 14,5 mm

Their tops follow the same S4 high arch, S3 lower arch

 

BackArchesS4_S3.thumb.JPG.44bb683fc8a925957160d8c0ea37a6d9.JPG

Spectrum_S3_S4.thumb.JPG.cc5dc628e21b76a84414e7d928bf7fd7.JPG

 

11 hours ago, Danube Fiddler said:

On the other side, I doubt if good real makers do bigger efforts to adapt an arching height on wood properties. Do you know makers, who make violins of the same model with quite differing archings ? My impression is more, that also good makers mostly use a standard arching, isn´t it ?

S3 ~4300 m/s

S4 ~3600 m/s

But I'm probably not a good maker 

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30 minutes ago, Peter K-G said:

 

S3 ~4300 m/s

S4 ~3600 m/s

 But I'm probably not a good maker 

Peter, I'm curious of your violins. If you're ever in Stockholm, show me a violin (or two) and I'll tell you what I think. We can also ask an experienced violinist friend to play it. Always good to meet in real life.

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1 minute ago, Torbjörn Zethelius said:

Peter, I'm curious of your violins. If you're ever in Stockholm, show me a violin (or two) and I'll tell you what I think. We can also ask an experienced violinist friend to play it.

That would be very interesting. I was outside your address some years ago with my wife, but I didn't have the courage to contact you. I did buy wood for a violin in a nearby shop, that violin is named Stockholm :)

I'm in Stockholm next time in September, I'll contact you a week before my travel plan.

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4 minutes ago, Peter K-G said:

That would be very interesting. I was outside your address some years ago with my wife, but I didn't have the courage to contact you. I did buy wood for a violin in a nearby shop, that violin is named Stockholm :)

I'm in Stockholm next time in September, I'll contact you a week before my travel plan.

I very rarely bite visitors. :) I'll see you in September then. 

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25 minutes ago, Peter K-G said:

 

S3 ~4300 m/s

S4 ~3600 m/s

But I'm probably not a good maker 

I allow myself to assume, that you are a good maker ! :)

Naturally on this big world there will be several makers, who do so ( or try to do so ). I even know a maker, who claims to adapt local arching on grain-course - his name is Schleske.

I should have assumed more precisely, that it seems to me, that most do not very much. 

Which are the m/s-numbers given by you ? Sound-speed of back ? In spruce these would be extremely low, particularly your S4 - top. Can you also report densities ?

 

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On 5/9/2018 at 6:55 PM, curious1 said:

The Medici Stradivari 1716 has a neck graft and I would assume a new bass bar that went along with the graft.

Messiah: neck graft, bass bar

Lady Blunt: neck graft, bass bar

I haven’t seen the CT scans of it but it does have a wedge added to the neck and extensive repairs to woodworm damage in the lower bout of the back.

  

Both the 1716 Medici violin and 1690 Medici viola have breast patches in the belly.

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41 minutes ago, Danube Fiddler said:

I allow myself to assume, that you are a good maker ! :)

Naturally on this big world there will be several makers, who do so ( or try to do so ). I even know a maker, who claims to adapt local arching on grain-course - his name is Schleske.

I should have assumed more precisely, that it seems to me, that most do not very much. 

Which are the m/s-numbers given by you ? Sound-speed of back ? In spruce these would be extremely low, particularly your S4 - top. Can you also report densities ?

 

Looked through my site blog and I mixed S1/S3 back arches (the image of S3 back is actually S1), the response curve is right and it's S3. 

Here is some more information about the woods:

S1: http://www.thestradsound.com/ongoing/backwood

S2: http://www.thestradsound.com/ongoing/baked2h45min http://www.thestradsound.com/ongoing/bakingwoodforthesoil2015

S3: http://www.thestradsound.com/ongoing/bakingwoodformynextproject-1

S4: http://www.thestradsound.com/ongoing/bakingwoodforthesoil4

 

 

 

 

Edited by Peter K-G
Wrong again, S1 - S4 corrected
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2 hours ago, martin swan said:

Yes that makes sense - maybe an automated program Google uses to do its own research, based largely on its pre-existing erroneous research? A sort of self-nourishing fatberg of Wikiwonk.

It would explain the complete lack of understanding of the social niceties of forum discussion, and the inability to modify tone of voice when addressing genuinely knowledgeable people. Also the strange insistence on needing to be given information which can serve no real world purpose.

Darn! I failed the Turing Test!

I've tried to be polite to everyone, whether they seemed to be knowledgeable or not. I lacked the knowledge to distinguish to whom I should be deferential. In any case, deference, like silence, implies assent, and given that I'm talking about the great Stradivari question, but haven't quite picked a side yet, I don't want to appear to be supporting the views of one group of people.

I don't know how good your violins are; all I know is that you're a fan of Roy Lichtenstein. (Even that I don't really know, as that could instead have been a property of someone at your ad agency.)

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17 minutes ago, Quadibloc said:

Darn! I failed the Turing Test!

I've tried to be polite to everyone, whether they seemed to be knowledgeable or not. I lacked the knowledge to distinguish to whom I should be deferential. In any case, deference, like silence, implies assent, and given that I'm talking about the great Stradivari question, but haven't quite picked a side yet, I don't want to appear to be supporting the views of one group of people.

I don't know how good your violins are; all I know is that you're a fan of Roy Lichtenstein. (Even that I don't really know, as that could instead have been a property of someone at your ad agency.)

I don't make violins - I'm a dealer, but I do by now have quite a bit of experience of fine Strads, del Gesus, and modern makers, and everything in between. I don't expect anyone to be remotely swayed by what side of a spurious oppositional debate I come down on, but I think people find it worthwhile exchanging ideas with me because I have a lot of pertinent experience.

Why are you talking about the great Stradivari question? This is what vexes so many here. And what resources do you bring to the question?

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6 minutes ago, martin swan said:

Why are you talking about the great Stradivari question?

That is a complicated question to answer.

I was getting back to the computer to edit my previous post.

Realizing that accusing someone of wanting deference when he asks for politeness is quite a "zinger", at which people might reasonably be expected to take offence, I was going to note that I had perhaps made the opposite error, of mistaking mere civility for politeness.

But as to your question:

I realize that if the question has not been settled for hundreds of years, I am not going to settle it for everyone here myself. I'm instead looking for information to at least settle the question for myself.

Why?

Well, I've recently added a few modest comments about violins to my humble web page. As this question is central to the subject, an answer would be useful in sifting out which authorities are trustworthy.

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