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The ground ( sealing) of the great masters - which was it ?


Danube Fiddler
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9 minutes ago, Danube Fiddler said:

At the moment I don´t have the B/G- book in my home, it´s on loan to a collegue. If I remember right, more than one later authors had difficulties to re-find these particulates in Stradivari-grounds.  

However Brandmeir did find them in the ground of several J.B.Guadagnini - wood/varnish-samples as one can read in the book about the Parma Exhibition 2011. 

Also, if you read Hargrave's bass maing opus he says having a minaral layer made all the difference in tone for him. He uses plaster of Paris, there are posts on MN that Neil Ertz later used pumice instead. At least I cam understand how fine mneral particles seal wood in a hardening linseed oil matrix.

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16 hours ago, Don Noon said:

Survival at that low weight can be managed, as my 51g top has been alive for over 7 years without any obvious distortion (lightly torrefied wood, though).  The question is if lighter weight = better sound/performance, which I don't believe is true at these low levels.  I prefer closer to 60g these days.

Dito, top plate weight as a single parameter is not enough IMHO to use it as an independent predictor for sound quality. I have seen great sounding violins with tops with bassbar above 72g, one of my best sounding violins had a top weight without bassbar aroung 66 g, which is on the heavier side. More important is of course stiffness/weight, but even this factor is only limited as a quality indicator.

 

BTW, did anyone test the copaiva balsam as a ground? I am tempted to buy a bottle and make a few experiments, since due to Schleske it increases strongly the stiffness/weight ratio.

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8 minutes ago, uguntde said:

Also, if you read Hargrave's bass maing opus he says having a minaral layer made all the difference in tone for him. He uses plaster of Paris, there are posts on MN that Neil Ertz later used pumice instead. At least I cam understand how fine mneral particles seal wood in a hardening linseed oil matrix.

The use of pumice as a filler is a very classical thing, because it has this function in shellac-polish. 

Plaster of Paris seems to be a more heavy thing - but it is extremely interesting, what you tell from Roger Hargrave about the general use of a mineral filler for sound !!

Many years ago a maker told me, he would use pumice and glue for his ground.  This ground is similar to the use of lime and glue,  classical in oil-painting-grounds on canvas.

The use of a mineral fillers like pumice, diatomaceous earth in combination with a drying oil could have these advantages :

- the mineral particulates, which naturally have to be very fine ( << 50 um) thicken and bind the oil and therefore prevent from a deeper penetration of the oil ( at least to some extent)

- in the bigger pores like vessels and rays finally there will not only be dried oil but also minerals and therefore a too strong dampening can be avoided, which dried oil for its alone could have for a longer period of time

I never have read the bass-making opus - but I personally don´t like it to bring a hydraulic material and a lot of water into the wood ( eventually only until I will have read this opus :)).

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1 minute ago, Danube Fiddler said:

The use of pumice as a filler is a very classical thing, because it has this function in shellac-polish.  

Plaster of Paris seems to be a more heavy thing - but it is extremely interesting, what you tell from Roger Hargrave about the general use of a mineral filler for sound !!

Many years ago a maker told me, he would use pumice and glue for his ground.  This ground is similar to the use of lime and glue,  classical in oil-painting-grounds on canvas.

The use of a mineral fillers like pumice, diatomaceous earth in combination with a drying oil could have these advantages :

- the mineral particulates, which naturally have to be very fine ( << 50 um) thicken and bind the oil and therefore prevent from a deeper penetration of the oil ( at least to some extent)

- in the bigger pores like vessels and rays finally there will not only be dried oil but also minerals and therefore a too strong dampening can be avoided, which dried oil for its alone could have for a longer period of time 

I never have read the bass-making opus - but I personally don´t like it to bring a hydraulic material and a lot of water into the wood ( eventually only until I will have read this opus :)). 

The bass making opus is excellent.Hargrave is not only a good maker, he is also an excellent writer. I read it in one night, could not stop.

https://www.roger-hargrave.de/PDF/Bass/Bass_Making_Part_12_72.pdf

Zaal and Hargrave's view expressed in this article is as follows:

"This was about the time that John Dilworth and I started looking at the possibility of analysing varnish samples. This eventually led to the works of Professor White, and Barlow and Woodhouse. I can clearly remember the influence that those first electron microscope pictures had upon my thinking. The conclusions I drew from their work may or may not have been correct, but from that moment I began reading about fillers and extenders and experimenting with their affect, both visually and acoustically. Shortly after, both the sound and appearance of my instruments improved dramatically."

and

"What I can say is that the instruments where fillers were used, display one conspicuous characteristic; they all carry very well in large halls."

He takes is plaster of Paris through a long-lasting procedure to remove the smallest particles. I assume this is to avoid getting a layer of hardening plaster onto the fiddle. He then applies it in water, not in oil. No protein, and he  makes sure there are no glue residues in corners.

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It is helpful to keep in mind that there are many ways to varnish a violin.  Many of them are beautiful and effective.  However, if you are traveling that narrow rocky path to Cremona you should not confuse what you like, what works for you or what works for someone else with a Cremonese ground.

Also do not confuse wood color with ground.

on we go,

Joe

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On ‎6‎/‎30‎/‎2018 at 2:31 PM, Quadibloc said:

To make sure I am understanding this correctly: are you saying that boiled linseed oil is suitable for use as a ground coat, while raw linseed oil is suirable for use as varnish or the base for varnish?

I can't make such assertions yet. I suspect that raw linseed oil dries hard and boiled linseed oil dries soft, as that is my experience so far, but again, more experimentation is needed to be more assertive about that.

I also find that raw linseed oil dries quickly, which is counter to the conventional wisdom.

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On ‎6‎/‎30‎/‎2018 at 11:05 PM, Davide Sora said:

My experience with oil aging is the same as Michael's, it never gets hard and so it is not advisable to deeply impregnate wood with it, a substance that hardens completely would be more advisable for me. However if you use it appropriately in an extremely thin layer as Michael describes it does not cause acoustic problems, even if I have never tried to do it.  Here is how looks like and behave the polymerized linseed oil and naturally oxidized in air for a long period of time :

 

After the initial oil polymerization, it takes at least five or six years of natural oxidation to complete the process of transformation and make it completely soluble in alcohol. This is thirty years old (polymerization process started in 1986 year) and it is transformed into a stable substance, very plastic and not hard at all. In ethyl alcohol  it dissolves completely in a few minutes.

 

 

 

Davide, my experience is different to yours. I can get the oil to dry hard enough to resist scratching by fingernails. I would say that is hard enough. And this can happen in  few days too.

I also believe this enhances both tone and playability because it improves the responsiveness of the instrument due to the resilience of the dried oil. In this regard I agree with what many have been saying for at least 150 years. 

 

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1 hour ago, joerobson said:

It is helpful to keep in mind that there are many ways to varnish a violin.  Many of them are beautiful and effective.  However, if you are traveling that narrow rocky path to Cremona you should not confuse what you like, what works for you or what works for someone else with a Cremonese ground.

Also do not confuse wood color with ground.

on we go,

Joe

I.m.o. you mostly speak in a somewhat miraculous way by touching some things but then immediately stopping explanations. Is that, because some of your trade secrets could be nearby ? That naturally would be your right !

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3 hours ago, uguntde said:

The bass making opus is excellent.Hargrave is not only a good maker, he is also an excellent writer. I read it in one night, could not stop.

https://www.roger-hargrave.de/PDF/Bass/Bass_Making_Part_12_72.pdf

Zaal and Hargrave's view expressed in this article is as follows:

"This was about the time that John Dilworth and I started looking at the possibility of analysing varnish samples. This eventually led to the works of Professor White, and Barlow and Woodhouse. I can clearly remember the influence that those first electron microscope pictures had upon my thinking. The conclusions I drew from their work may or may not have been correct, but from that moment I began reading about fillers and extenders and experimenting with their affect, both visually and acoustically. Shortly after, both the sound and appearance of my instruments improved dramatically."

and

"What I can say is that the instruments where fillers were used, display one conspicuous characteristic; they all carry very well in large halls."

He takes is plaster of Paris through a long-lasting procedure to remove the smallest particles. I assume this is to avoid getting a layer of hardening plaster onto the fiddle. He then applies it in water, not in oil. No protein, and he  makes sure there are no glue residues in corners.

Thanks very much for the extracts !

I never read it, because I thought, it could be a little bit specialized only in basses. Probably I should make up for it in some time.

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17 minutes ago, Danube Fiddler said:

Is that the same as water glass or soluble glass ?

Or something different ? Does it produce continous surfaces in the inner spaces of wood ?

Diatomaceous earth

It's supposed to be good for your health, fingernails and hair :)

I don't know exactly what it does but it's super fine and completely invisible under ground/varnish

WP_20180703_18_01_11_Pro.thumb.jpg.21a58c2c37cccea46e2bf495e379d5e6.jpg

WP_20180703_18_01_34_Pro.thumb.jpg.5f1cf6eebec64c326206c31bb342981d.jpg

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30 minutes ago, Peter K-G said:

Diatomaceous earth

It's supposed to be good for your health, fingernails and hair :)

I don't know exactly what it does but it's super fine and completely invisible under ground/varnish

WP_20180703_18_01_11_Pro.thumb.jpg.21a58c2c37cccea46e2bf495e379d5e6.jpg

WP_20180703_18_01_34_Pro.thumb.jpg.5f1cf6eebec64c326206c31bb342981d.jpg

I doubt, if that is really good for your health. On wikipedia there is a lot to read but nothing about to eat it.

Yes, it is used as filler - similar to the use of a quite fine pumice. I think, eventually it has a little bit to much (red) colour. You probably will see the transition between sap and heartwood in a violin tops, eventually much more get problems with the flames in maple. You did not have these problems or does it disappear after application of coloured varnish or because you anyways use a stain ?

 

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4 hours ago, Danube Fiddler said:

I.m.o. you mostly speak in a somewhat miraculous way by touching some things but then immediately stopping explanations. Is that, because some of your trade secrets could be nearby ? That naturally would be your right !

DF,

I have very few secrets.

I make varnish,  ground,  and color.

I teach basic understanding of varnish and application.

I [along with  others] teach advanced topics in varnish and application.

If you have  questions, feel free to ask.

If they are questions  I can't or don't  wish to  answer,  I'll just say so.

on we go,

Joe

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6 hours ago, joerobson said:

It is helpful to keep in mind that there are many ways to varnish a violin.  Many of them are beautiful and effective.  However, if you are traveling that narrow rocky path to Cremona you should not confuse what you like, what works for you or what works for someone else with a Cremonese ground.

Also do not confuse wood color with ground.

on we go,

Joe

Nicely put. It had a nice proverbial flavor to it. 

Cheers,

Jim

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Darnton cynically observes that many of the best of the best old violins have barely any original varnish on them, having been played and abused constantly and continuously for 300+ years. So if one believes their magic is in the varnish, I think we can wash that idea down the drain with all of the original paint.

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24 minutes ago, Michael Darnton said:

Darnton cynically observes that many of the best of the best old violins have barely any original varnish on them, having been played and abused constantly and continuously for 300+ years. So if one believes their magic is in the varnish, I think we can wash that idea down the drain with all of the original paint.

One should respect 15 generations of excellent set up and repair.

Carry on.

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On 7/1/2018 at 10:46 AM, MANFIO said:

Don't worry about varnish. It seems that when a maker gets a good model, good archings, good scroll, f holes, corners, purfling, edge work,  good set up, personality,  sound and playability, the good varnish and ground will magically comes together with all those things.

So, don't worry about varnish and ground. At the time you solve the above mentioned problems, the varnish and ground problem will be solved too.

Couldn't agree more. Quit worrying about what someone found in their test. They all can be argued about just how accurate they are. Find something you like, there are excellent varnish's and grounds for sale. The key is learn to use it. Application and manipulation are everything. Lowly colophony, mastic, and linseed oil can be beautiful when used correctly. Same goes for good spirit varnish.

One other thing is, what you do with the finish after it's dry. How you rub it out can be huge as far as appearance. 

 

 

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1 hour ago, Michael Darnton said:

Darnton cynically observes that many of the best of the best old violins have barely any original varnish on them, having been played and abused constantly and continuously for 300+ years. So if one believes their magic is in the varnish, I think we can wash that idea down the drain with all of the original paint.

And of those that are missing most of their original varnish,  haven't they all been polished a lot also?  So would they all have a coating of french polish?  And that would be some mix of shellac and other resins?   They are shiny / glossy  so there's something on them isn't there? 

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1 hour ago, MikeC said:

And of those that are missing most of their original varnish,  haven't they all been polished a lot also?  So would they all have a coating of french polish?  And that would be some mix of shellac and other resins?   They are shiny / glossy  so there's something on them isn't there? 

Maybe shellac is the secret! :-)

Truthfully, one of the reasons I have sometimes used or recommended shellac as a ground is that it's historically possible, would have been attractive at a certain point in early violin making history (and I believe that I have seen a couple of early Cremona violins that were varnished with it), and I know from experience that it sounds good. This I learned when I had to have an instrument I had finished but for the varnish ready for pickup the next day, so I did the whole thing with orange shellac and aniline dyes. . . and was very surprised by the results. That one still sounds great, 25 years later, too. So. . . .

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3 hours ago, Michael Darnton said:

Darnton cynically observes that many of the best of the best old violins have barely any original varnish on them, having been played and abused constantly and continuously for 300+ years. So if one believes their magic is in the varnish, I think we can wash that idea down the drain with all of the original paint.

You may be right, but I would want facts and figures on which Strads have had spirit varnish applied to the belly (and more than a minuscule proportion thereof), and yet have subsequently been considered to have continued to have been instruments of the first rank, exhibiting the (perhaps supposed) unique virtues of such instruments. (That a Stradivarius could largely survive spirit varnish on the ribs, or even the back, is not a stretch to my credulity.)

Similarly with the alleged regraduated Strads (and/or Guarneris).

Maybe that's not possible for understandable reasons - information that might diminish the resale value of an expensive Stradivarius is kept under wraps.

But the unsubstantiated claim that many Stradivarius violins have been regraduated, hence either their special virtue is... either mythical, or not where people with a physical acoustical perspective who are so pedestrian as not to believe in magic suppose it to be... doesn't impress me as a good argument. On a point as serious as this, that overturns conventional thinking either way, some proof seems a reasonable thing to ask for.

On the other hand, that a Stradivarius could have had its original varnish on the belly replaced with, say, a quality linseed oil varnish from a supplier like OldWood, and with the use of a suitable ground coat as well, thus disproving the notion that the varnish was a secret magic formula that is the key to the legendary Stradivarius sound... if that's what you meant, I'm entirely happy to be in full agreement with you.

Edited by Quadibloc
Clarification in final paragraph
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52 minutes ago, Quadibloc said:

You may be right, but I would want facts and figures on which Strads have had spirit varnish applied to the belly (and more than a minuscule proportion thereof), and yet have subsequently been considered to have continued to have been instruments of the first rank, exhibiting the (perhaps supposed) unique virtues of such instruments. (That a Stradivarius could largely survive spirit varnish on the ribs, or even the back, is not a stretch to my credulity.)

Similarly with the alleged regraduated Strads (and/or Guarneris).

Maybe that's not possible for understandable reasons - information that might diminish the resale value of an expensive Stradivarius is kept under wraps.

But the unsubstantiated claim that many Stradivarius violins have been regraduated, hence either their special virtue is... either mythical, or not where people with a physical acoustical perspective who are so pedestrian as not to believe in magic suppose it to be... doesn't impress me as a good argument. On a point as serious as this, that overturns conventional thinking either way, some proof seems a reasonable thing to ask for.

 

I am sorry that you are being picked on so much, but you are reminding me of an incident that happened to me in college. A dorm mate had his high school student sister visiting him. I ran into them on the street, he introduced us, and she belligerently stuck two fingers in a V shape up in front of my face, and challenged me: "IF you're a hippie, then tell me what THIS means!" 

"facts and figures"
"perhaps supposed"
"stretch to my credulity"
"alleged regrads"
"information . . . kept under wraps"
"unsubstantiated claims"
"either mythical, or"
"so pedestrian as not to believe in magic"
"doesn't impress me"

" that overturns conventional thinking"

So dude, I gotta ask  . . . . are you her?????
Word: No one except for people living in the same alternate reality wants to discuss anything with someone whose entire world view is founded on conspiracy theories.

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On 7/3/2018 at 6:54 PM, Danube Fiddler said:

I doubt, if that is really good for your health. On wikipedia there is a lot to read but nothing about to eat it.

Yes, it is used as filler - similar to the use of a quite fine pumice. I think, eventually it has a little bit to much (red) colour. You probably will see the transition between sap and heartwood in a violin tops, eventually much more get problems with the flames in maple. You did not have these problems or does it disappear after application of coloured varnish or because you anyways use a stain ?

 

It is actually a health product that can be bought at all health stores and pharmacies in Finland. Can't see how it would turn red it's crystal clear in varnish and ground.  

This 4 years old:

WP_20180704_20_11_44_Rich.thumb.jpg.39dc62446b55b126fac87e3077d312a4.jpg

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