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Bass Bar Height


Michael_Molnar
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18 minutes ago, Michael_Molnar said:

I know that the standard peak height for a violin bass bar is 12 mm, but how was this established? I guess the snarky answer would be that "it works", but is there a better height?  Anyone have an idea and any old references to read?

 

My guess would be that given an average piece of spruce stock this is the height needed to raise the free plate by two half steps.

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38 minutes ago, Michael_Molnar said:

I know that the standard peak height for a violin bass bar is 12 mm, but how was this established? I guess the snarky answer would be that "it works", but is there a better height?  Anyone have an idea and any old references to read?

 

I think the height has been changing over time in response to the changes in playing style. As players have been seeking a bigger and louder sound over time, luthiers have been making the bar taller to accommodate those requirements.

It wasn’t too long ago that a lot of people used 11mm as a standard, and I’m already hearing some people using  13 or 14.

As is the case with other measurements, I think player preferences ultimately dictate these changes. What happens is that someone who works with players has success with a particular idea. Players talk to each other and spread the word that someone has figured out how to improve sound. Then the luthier either shares his findings with others by writing them down, or they gradually make their way into common knowledge through his colleagues, who eventually go out on their own and share the information. 

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2 hours ago, The Violin Beautiful said:

It wasn’t too long ago that a lot of people used 11mm as a standard, and I’m already hearing some people using  13 or 14.

That sounds to me like increasing that height produces more volume, but at the cost of compromising sound quality, which is why the standard didn't start out as 15 mm or so.

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8 minutes ago, Quadibloc said:

That sounds to me like increasing that height produces more volume, but at the cost of compromising sound quality, which is why the standard didn't start out as 15 mm or so.

i would think a higher/stiffer BB would allow a bit thinner plate, less mass overall and thus more power

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1 hour ago, Janito said:

Thanks.

Interesting that the Cremonese bars were so much shorter than modern ones.  Does that say something about their interpretation of what would now be called "M5"?

 

At one time I would have said that the shorter bar made sense for a lower neck angle and string tension. Now that there’s more evidence to suggest that the neck angle wasn’t significantly different and string tension was sometimes as high or higher than today, it appears to be more complex a question.

We can still agree that violins were originally intended for smaller and more intimate settings, making carrying power and loudness much less important. Playing demands were different, so a shorter bar was more appropriate. 

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9 hours ago, Michael_Molnar said:

I guess the snarky answer would be that "it works", but is there a better height? 

A height that works better for you. (an even snarkier answer)

5 hours ago, Emilg said:

i would think a higher/stiffer BB would allow a bit thinner plate, less mass overall and thus more power

I think this simplistic model doesn't apply very well to how a violin works.  It might apply to a few frequencies where the bass bar is most active.  Maybe.  In a lot of the important frequencies (above 1 kHz) the bass bar isn't moving much... but might be acting as a reaction mass.

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3 hours ago, The Violin Beautiful said:

At one time I would have said that the shorter bar made sense for a lower neck angle and string tension. Now that there’s more evidence to suggest that the neck angle wasn’t significantly different and string tension was sometimes as high or higher than today, it appears to be more complex a question.

We can still agree that violins were originally intended for smaller and more intimate settings, making carrying power and loudness much less important. Playing demands were different, so a shorter bar was more appropriate. 

I found a long and stiff (high) bass bar increases the high frequency loudness while decreasing the low end.  I speculate the abandonment of the original short low bass bars (a more mellow sound but still loud) might be due to a later change music tastes rather than a need for more projection.

I also suspect (in the absence of blind testing and fft comparisons) that a violin with a good low frequency output can also project well.  I live on the shore of Lake Ontario NY.  The cargo ships crossing the lake often use low frequency fog horns which project very well over long distances.  Conversely the police use high frequency sirens to catch drunk drives at night on our rural roads.  Their sound is intense and grabs the drivers attention but it dies out over a short distance so us people living near by can hear their partners snore away without any distractions.  

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5 hours ago, Marty Kasprzyk said:

I found a long and stiff (high) bass bar increases the high frequency loudness while decreasing the low end.  I speculate the abandonment of the original short low bass bars (a more mellow sound but still loud) might be due to a later change music tastes rather than a need for more projection.

I also suspect (in the absence of blind testing and fft comparisons) that a violin with a good low frequency output can also project well.  I live on the shore of Lake Ontario NY.  The cargo ships crossing the lake often use low frequency fog horns which project very well over long distances.  Conversely the police use high frequency sirens to catch drunk drives at night on our rural roads.  Their sound is intense and grabs the drivers attention but it dies out over a short distance so us people living near by can hear their partners snore away without any distractions.  

I’ve found that if the bar is too thick or too thin, the violin will lose power. Extremes tend to be injurious to sound. I will say that in every violin where I replaced a short and/or thin bar, the result was a much more alive violin with a considerable improvement to the bass. 

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I "resonate" with Curious1's remark. :) I feel that the bass bar should replace the stiffness lost to the f-holes and no more. 

Marty's remark about response makes me think that when a bar is over 12mm the violin becomes harder to play; that is, the bow resistance to producing a note increases. 

BTW, isn't there any effect of the bass bar density or other wood property? I am amazed that only the height may determine the response. 

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23 minutes ago, Michael_Molnar said:

I "resonate" with Curious1's remark. :) I feel that the bass bar should replace the stiffness lost to the f-holes and no more. 

Marty's remark about response makes me think that when a bar is over 12mm the violin becomes harder to play; that is, the bow resistance to producing a note increases. 

BTW, isn't there any effect of the bass bar density or other wood property? I am amazed that only the height may determine the response. 

There’s more to making a good bass bar than setting it at its proper height. If only height mattered, a bar that was the same height its whole length would suffice. Or, one could come up with all kinds of alternative shapes (there are countless examples already extant), but they wouldn’t work well. 

The question of density is interesting. It’s harder to quantify on paper, but I believe it does have a significant impact.

I saw an experimental bar that was one height until the ends, where it was cut at a rather steep angle. The experimenter drilled holes in it to tune it to the desired pitch in relation to the top. It didn’t produce  favorable results, and as far as I know, no one else felt the need to continue the experiment.

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1 hour ago, Michael_Molnar said:

I "resonate" with Curious1's remark. :) I feel that the bass bar should replace the stiffness lost to the f-holes and no more. 

Marty's remark about response makes me think that when a bar is over 12mm the violin becomes harder to play; that is, the bow resistance to producing a note increases. 

BTW, isn't there any effect of the bass bar density or other wood property? I am amazed that only the height may determine the response. 

It's a delicate optimization problem; Weight & stiffness, too light in the middle and stiff at the ends and you will have a lovely wolf note at B1+ (if the plates are in that range). I have reproduced it in 3 violins in a row. Mine are 10.2 - 11 mm,  depending on the wood and top plate and around 4 g.

I can't figure out how the baroque violin/bar worked because on a modern setup violin it would be unplayable. 

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Why do you want to know?

I just know that there are different standard measurements in different countries and all of them claim to be 'correct' or better than the others.. And in Japan I know a maker who will tell you that only 12.5  is correct and 12.4 is already a complete disaster.

historically standard measurements probably came either from France or Germany. I suppose they were used to have control on the output of factory workers. One of the earliest written down figures must be in Heron Allens book 1884. i cant remembetr if Antonio Marchi mentions anything in his manoscritto 1786.

Actually what about the length? 

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1 minute ago, Michael_Molnar said:

Well, I have nothing better to do than sort my socks. So, I asked myself what dumb question could I think of.

:P Good!

So what kind of socks do you suggest me to wear for my first participation at the Oberlin workshop? 

(I am just killing my time trying to fall asleep...)

chrrrrr chrrrr

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On 7/1/2018 at 10:05 AM, Michael_Molnar said:

 is there a better height?  Anyone have an idea and any old references to read?

Chanot/HeronAllen says in the book 2/5 of an inch.  So let me go to the online calculator and convert 2/5 of an inch to mm so I can get the amount of mm in 1/5.  Be back momentarily.............. o.k.  back, 1/5 converted to mm is 5.08 mm.

So their 2/5 would equate to 10.16mm  Let's say for my own belly thickness along the bass bar at the bridge location 25mm either way of the bridge line is at 3.6mm, just for example.  I'll go back to the online calculator to add my belly thickness along with the 2/5 - 10.16mm thickness together - one moment please.........  o.k. done,  13.76mm thick includes the bass bar max. height and plate thickness together.     

If I'm convinced to leave my plate alone graduation wise here's what I do -   after bar is glued I'll lower it height wise until it's height doesn't interfere with the plate lying flat on a table - if there's rocking I lower the height some more.   Then divide the bar into the 9? sections that Mr. Curtin prescribes.   Then make the intuitional adjustments I think I need to make the tone I need.

  I don't remember any 1800's Petherick stories in his book about bass bar work other than his worker has done so many of them that he needs no instruction and knows also to not induce any spring to the bar when gluing even though others were doing that with their repair work..    

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