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Who do retouch thicknesses from outside ?

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Another aspect no one has mentioned yet it the unique character of Italian culture. 

Italians have a distinctive approach and appreciation of craft and art, richly expressed in the instruments created by the great Cremonese makers.


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20 hours ago, David Beard said:

I suggest looking for Strad to be inventive within the existing tool kit.

Being inventive by reinventing the tool kit is much more a modern mind set.

Not sure ....I agree. ....pretty sure I don,t. ...innovation is traditionally the way of the craftsman...collectively, innovation in the tool kit  arises solely from the workshop, at least those that work, Remember to that Strad ,at the time ,was entirely modern, surrounded by constant innovation and discovery,  as was Andrea Amati when he invented the inside form that must have shocked the production world of violin making. Personal I see innovation at the time as an almost moral imperative, we see this additude expressed most clearly in the Ff holes and purfling points,as each master added some small changes. Never simply accepting the status Strad we see other innovations in outline of the cc bouts , arch heights ,the  long pattern, his works on instruments other than violin family, the addition of color in the varnish. Perhaps always more concerned with making instruments than inventing new tools ...yes , but always with a keen eye towards doing it better or faster. knowing that what we see of his tooling is a mere shadow of the working shop , why then would we assume he only worked with tooling available to previous makers without innovation? Tradition? 

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I say this because for years now i've been studying the use of geometry and proportion in classical works.  And these are things that can be tested across as many examples as you want to check.

What is seen consistently through the generations is that they constantly tinker in small ways by making slightly different combinations of choices of ratios, but staying within traditional ranges. And slightly different applications of the geometry, but stick with the traditional constructions.

The moments when an actually different construction is introduced are rare and few. An example is the switch from the Andrea Amati soundhole construction to the later style.

But all the many varieties of soundholes from then until late DG just tinker with variations in applying an identical geometry construction.

Then in late DG he eventually wants the curves above the upper eyes to extend further than possible with the old construction. So he introduces one additional arc.  But consistent with tradition, this is the most minimal change possible to achieve his aim.

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On 5/6/2018 at 7:41 PM, Conor Russell said:

In his closing remark, he says that Cremonese violins show a roughness or unevenness on the outside, not seen on violins from other places. From this, he says, we can conclude that the Cremonese tuned the white violins by scraping bits out around the edges.

I can't help thinking that he's seeing what he wants to see. 

I can't judge whether or not the measurements which are claimed to show, statistically, that Cremonese violins are more symmetrical on the inside or the outside are valid. Maybe he is correct. For the moment, I am inclined to be hesitant and skeptical.

But this idea of adjusting the thickness of the violin from the outside - even if it is "all wet", completely wrong and misguided in the form it is stated, is still such a brilliant idea that I think it can be salvaged.

After all, when making a violin, you can't constantly put the violin together, play it, and then take it apart and open it up, and scrape a little wood off the inside. All that gluing and separating will cause damage.

So there are basic ways of doing it.

Dr. William "Jack" Fry devised an instrument which could reach through the f-holes so as to scrape material off the inside of the belly.

Or, you might simply somehow have acquired enough of an understanding so that just from "tap tones", maybe including more elaborate techniques such as Chladni patterns, you can work on the back and the belly before the violin is assembled, and make complicated adjustments to their tuning, and be able, after working on the plain belly and back, to put together the violin, and have it sound the way you want it.

Removing material from the outside of the violin in the white is vastly more convenient. It's easier to get at the material, and it's easier to hear the effects of removing it.

So, let's assume the worst case - that you have to remove enough material, in asymmetrical places, that by the time you get the sound right, your violin looks like the Moon with its craters.  So it appears this idea has to be thrown away as useless.

That's where I realized that one should think just a little further.

In that worst case, you can pop that funny looking belly off of the violin... and use its tap tones as a reference for what the tap tones of another top plate for the violin that you make in the conventional way, graduating it on the inside after arching it on the outside, should sound like!

So you don't need to learn what the top plate of a violin is supposed to sound like when you tap it through a long apprenticeship to a master violin maker, nor do you need an opportunity to tap the top plate from a Stradivarius and listen to its tap tones.

Thus, by graduating from the outside, even if that is unusable as a normal method of violin production, you can acquire the knowledge you need to accomplish the seemingly-impossible task of graduating from the inside - of telling from the "clunk" the top makes when you hit it with your knuckles (or a rubber hammer) what the finished violin will sound like.

This may not be the "secret of Stradivari" - Stradivari may never have had to stoop to this trick. But to me it seems like an obvious way of "cutting the Gordian knot" - of learning how a violin should be graduated, not from a book or a master, whose own knowledge may be incomplete, but from the violin itself.

And now I've come up with an additional wrinkle. Stradivari, after all, only made Baroque violins. So, when graduating a violin in the white, perhaps it should be set up with a Baroque neck and a Baroque bass-bar, just in case it is easier, with that set-up, to find the best graduations. (I quite admit that this is a lot of effort that is probably not worth the bother, but if one is desperate to attain the heights of the old masters, one might be driven to such a step.)

Also, I would take the principle of adjusting so as to get what you want in the finished state, rather than just wishing that everything is undisturbed, one step further, if I could. However, there is probably a good reason why things can't be done this way.

Now that I have a prototype top that is from a violin which sounds - in the white - the way I want it to sound, when I graduate my production top, from the inside, to match its tap tones (in the hope that when it is put on the violin, the sound of the finished product will be matched) -

shouldn't I varnish that production top first, so that by graduating it, I'm adjusting the sound of the production violin to match, in its varnished state, the sound of the prototype violin in the white?

If the effects of varnishing are deleterious, shouldn't they be corrected for?

(Note that this probably means the ribs of the violin, when the prototype belly - and back - were being graduated in the white should already have been varnished, so that, once again, the varnish isn't something that's applied after one has adjusted the sound.)

In my ignorance, I think I'm just advocating common sense. You want to make the violin sound a certain way when played and all put together and varnished. So, as far as possible, you make your adjustments to the sound of the violin when it is in that state.

When it isn't quite possible to do that, you try to have an equivalent proxy. Adjust the sound of the finished violin with back and belly plates in the white replacing the real plates. Then adjust the actual belly plates, already varnished on the outside, by scraping off material from the inside, so their tap tones match those of the prototype plates.

Of course, it's an assumption that the tap tones will determine the acoustic behavior of the plate both when tapped, and when put on the violin and the violin is played. But I don't think it's too unreasonable an assumption.

And I think that you should only need to make the prototype plates once, rather than doing that over again for each new set of ribs. (If that was wrong, but this method did work so well that it let people make violins that were acclaimed for their tone, their projection, and their responsiveness, I suppose the extra work could be endured.)

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Seems to me that the writer is a very inexperienced player/maker who is very ernest but has not thought through his ideas. He is mostly 'shooting from the hip' .

I considered replying to this post but got tired just trying to sort out all the misconceptions.

To point out just one: every violin has a unique voice, just like a finger print.  That is because every piece of wood is unique. If you try to 'normalize' the wood I think you would discover that the result would be a supremely boring instrument.


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4 hours ago, Conor Russell said:

Quadibloc, I'm trying to decide whether you're a comedian, or just off your trolley!

Well, being naive about violins, I've assumed that graduations matter. If it was just the right wood and the right thickness, they would have started mass-producing violins as good as Strads ages ago, I imagine.

That could be all wrong.

If graduations matter, and if you have to make them from the inside, then you need to be able to figure out how a violin will sound by tapping the plates. Maybe Carleen Hutchins and Stradivari could do that, but I can't.

Make a decent violin that looks funny, then take the plates off to see what the plates of a proper violin will sound like? And match those sounds from the inside with the next unique piece of wood you get?

It seems to be a way out of the maze. If you know it's a silly idea, you probably know why.

Not that I am above lightening matters with the odd bit of levity at times. Thus, this notion, along with Patrick Kreit's book on the use of software like Audacity to help in making violins - or, for that matter, Carleen Hutchins' work on Chladni patterns, discovered mere decades after Stradivari's death...

is not so much seeking the "secret of Stradivari", since these things could not have been done by him, but instead a search for...

The Crutch of the Sub-Stradivarius.

Edited by Quadibloc
Avoiding double post, added bad pun

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For the first time in my 10 years on MN, I have used the "ignore" setting.  It greatly saves on the effort to scroll past acres of irrelevant words, and removes the temptation to reply to such blather.

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