Where did Stradivari get his wood?


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Tests have shown that most of a good violin's sound output below about 1000Hz is from cavity volume changes whereas above about 1000Hz comes directly from plate surfaces.  This suggests that a violin is similar to a large wolfer speaker combined with a tweeter with a gradual cross over around the 1000Hz frequency.

Most investigations of wood quality have stressed the need for having a high radiation ratio R  or c/p where c is the speed of sound and p is density.  This applies for the tweeter action of the top plate where it is desirable to avoid the break up of the plate area into small anti- node shapes whose out of phase sounds cancel each other in the near field.  A high radiation ratio R wood (high elastic modulus and low density) gives larger anti-nodes which are more efficient at producing useful far field sound.

So some violin makers have been on a quest to find high radiation wood and wood treatments or finish systems  which add or at least don't reduce it.

However for producing a large sound output in the low frequency range below 1000Hz it is possible that the best wood would benefit from having a low elastic modulus.

The best wood choice is therefore a compromise. 

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8 hours ago, Dimitri Musafia said:

Now that is truly interesting, because in Italian language preservativi are condoms. Could that be Strad's secret?

Uh oh! I hope what was saved wasn't used as the "protein" layer. If it was, I will need to get much busier. :lol:

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A few years ago, when I lived in Vicenza, I took a drive into the Dolomites.  I was looking for a certain chapel that was the model in a watercolor that I'm fond of (found it! ... but that's a different story).  Traveling on SS241, I happened upon Lago de Carezza, which is a rather picturesque lake in the mountains east of Bolzano.  Walking through the tunnel at the visitor center there, they have these wood beams suspended in a shaft.  These are fairly massive beams; up to ~10"x10" and of varying lengths (I'm guessing 5' to 20').  So, the beams are hanging there like wood chimes.  You can wrap them with your knuckle and each length sounds a different, lingering tone, as varying lengths would.  Wonderful harmonics.  It was quite amazing that you could play music on these huge wood beams.  Anyway, these beams come from the surrounding forest that the literature at the center says has been harvested for centuries by instrument makers.  There are just 700 hectars of this particular wood in the valley that's known for it's very uniform and tight ring structure.  This alpine valley is very dry, very sunny and very consistent (year to year) in what precipitation it gets.  I can't remember if it's a pine or spruce forest. 

It's basically a strait line from Cremona to Garda to Bolzano.  Interestingly, I spent a weekend in Salo, on Lago de Garda, where one of the masters was from.  No doubt the locals of the time would be familiar with products brought down from the mountains.  

Just suggesting a possible source...

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When looking at The Saveuse. How can we explain that several (8)pieces of wood (not similar grain) were used by Stradivarius while he had the Dolomites and Alpen very close? Probably it was easy to get at that time what we call today a 2-piece  C-class plate but he did not made this choice.

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12 hours ago, Dnarud said:

It's basically a strait line from Cremona to Garda to Bolzano. 

It is actually, if you take the SS45 bis, a.k.a the Gardesana Occidentale, which originates in Cremona. For a while anyway, but when it runs along the Lake Garda it becomes downright scary. No wonder that they filmed a car chase scene in "Quantum of Solace" on that road (and an Aston ended up in the lake).  

My other favorite scary road is the Furka Pass in Switzerland, but I digress. 

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6 hours ago, Dimitri Musafia said:

It is actually, if you take the SS45 bis, a.k.a the Gardesana Occidentale, which originates in Cremona. For a while anyway, but when it runs along the Lake Garda it becomes downright scary. No wonder that they filmed a car chase scene in "Quantum of Solace" on that road (and an Aston ended up in the lake).  

My other favorite scary road is the Furka Pass in Switzerland, but I digress. 

The only thing I saw was the pavement directly in front of me.

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8 hours ago, Dimitri Musafia said:

It is actually, if you take the SS45 bis, a.k.a the Gardesana Occidentale, which originates in Cremona. For a while anyway, but when it runs along the Lake Garda it becomes downright scary. No wonder that they filmed a car chase scene in "Quantum of Solace" on that road (and an Aston ended up in the lake).  

I love that road along Lake Garda, but it is indeed scary.  It was especially so when I wound up between two trucks (traveling in opposite directions) while trying to pass one of them on my underpowered motorcycle, in a tunnel...

I'm going to have to look up that movie!

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22 hours ago, Dnarud said:

A few years ago, when I lived in Vicenza, I took a drive into the Dolomites.  I was looking for a certain chapel that was the model in a watercolor that I'm fond of (found it! ... but that's a different story).  Traveling on SS241, I happened upon Lago de Carezza, which is a rather picturesque lake in the mountains east of Bolzano.  Walking through the tunnel at the visitor center there, they have these wood beams suspended in a shaft.  These are fairly massive beams; up to ~10"x10" and of varying lengths (I'm guessing 5' to 20').  So, the beams are hanging there like wood chimes.  You can wrap them with your knuckle and each length sounds a different, lingering tone, as varying lengths would.  Wonderful harmonics.  It was quite amazing that you could play music on these huge wood beams.  Anyway, these beams come from the surrounding forest that the literature at the center says has been harvested for centuries by instrument makers.  There are just 700 hectars of this particular wood in the valley that's known for it's very uniform and tight ring structure.  This alpine valley is very dry, very sunny and very consistent (year to year) in what precipitation it gets.  I can't remember if it's a pine or spruce forest. 

It's basically a strait line from Cremona to Garda to Bolzano.  Interestingly, I spent a weekend in Salo, on Lago de Garda, where one of the masters was from.  No doubt the locals of the time would be familiar with products brought down from the mountains.  

Just suggesting a possible source...

Interesting. 

 Has the spruce from this valley been dendrchronologically tested? 

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19 hours ago, Mark Norfleet said:

I love that road along Lake Garda, but it is indeed scary.  It was especially so when I wound up between two trucks (traveling in opposite directions) while trying to pass one of them on my underpowered motorcycle, in a tunnel...

I'm going to have to look up that movie!

For those who are unfamiliar with the road, not only is it windy but it is particularly festooned with narrow, dark tunnels with Gothic-arch ceilings. Once I had to come to a complete stop to inch around an oncoming truck, also inching along, with the rock outcroppings threatening to break my sideview mirror. 

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On 1/20/2021 at 10:44 AM, Dnarud said:

A few years ago, when I lived in Vicenza, I took a drive into the Dolomites.  I was looking for a certain chapel that was the model in a watercolor that I'm fond of (found it! ... but that's a different story).  Traveling on SS241, I happened upon Lago de Carezza, which is a rather picturesque lake in the mountains east of Bolzano.  Walking through the tunnel at the visitor center there, they have these wood beams suspended in a shaft.  These are fairly massive beams; up to ~10"x10" and of varying lengths (I'm guessing 5' to 20').  So, the beams are hanging there like wood chimes.  You can wrap them with your knuckle and each length sounds a different, lingering tone, as varying lengths would.  Wonderful harmonics.  It was quite amazing that you could play music on these huge wood beams.  Anyway, these beams come from the surrounding forest that the literature at the center says has been harvested for centuries by instrument makers.  There are just 700 hectars of this particular wood in the valley that's known for it's very uniform and tight ring structure.  This alpine valley is very dry, very sunny and very consistent (year to year) in what precipitation it gets.  I can't remember if it's a pine or spruce forest. 

It's basically a strait line from Cremona to Garda to Bolzano.  Interestingly, I spent a weekend in Salo, on Lago de Garda, where one of the masters was from.  No doubt the locals of the time would be familiar with products brought down from the mountains.  

Just suggesting a possible source...

In terms of historical context, that seems a truly excellent guess.

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