fiddlerjer

Choosing an outline for my violin

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I'm going to make a violin this year. My plan is as follows: over the next couple of months, I'm going to make a template and mold, and cut out blocks for the mold. In June, I'll take the template, mold and blocks, plus the wood I have for top, back and ribs, to Cambridge Violin Makers; over the course of my week there, I am hoping to finish the rib garland and to get a start on shaping the top and back. Back home I'll finish the top and back, build a neck, put the body together, and finish and set up the violin.

At this point what I need to do is choose an outline and make a template. Any recommendations on what outline to use? 

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I would choose a not too small outline, possibly a strad. Make sure you correct any distortion or edge wearing and that the outline flows. Also be sure to spend some time on calculating the rib and block corners as these have a large effect on the appearance of the outline. 

Good luck and feel free to post how it turns out!

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There are a lot of good options out there to choose from. The Strad posters are full of good information and good pictures for reference. Since they are (mostly) accurate depictions of the instruments as they exist today, they aren’t necessarily symmetrical. You can choose between copying exactly or adjusting for symmetry.

A few years ago the VSA put out a great reference photo album for the Betts Strad. It has shots at lots of angles to get a better sense of the shapes.

Either of those sources will give you a good start, or you can order templates that are ready to use from International Violin. I haven’t seen them in person, but I believe they’re precisely machined.

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Violin Beautiful has some good suggestions and there is a lot of options. If I'm correct there was a post a couple months (or years) ago describing how to make a outline and mold from a violin you have currently. Or if you want to have some fun and make your own outline, scroll, arching patterns see below.

http://zhurnal.lib.ru/m/muratow_s_w/violin_design.shtml

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I'm at the same stage - considering starting trying to make a violin. Since I think there are too many awful Stradivarius-type violins in the world already, I intend to make an awful Stainer-type instead. I have got a poster from the Strad, with measurements. We'll see how it evolves (or devolves, as the case might be).

 

Looking at all these treatises with mathematical formulas for every single curve of a violin, I come to the same conclusion I reached with regards to photography: If you make a picture it so that it looks good, you will surprisingly often find many of the classical rules of composition in it. If you set out to put all the classical rules of composition into the picture, and compose it carefully with that in mind, the result is invariably boring. I kind of doubt that Stradivarius calculated the logarithmic spiral and the clothoid curve to construct the scroll, although he might have drawn a spiral with a pencil and a piece of string. Most of the design is far more likely to have been decided by "what looks good".

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5 hours ago, Felefar said:

I kind of doubt that Stradivarius calculated the logarithmic spiral and the clothoid curve to construct the scroll,

Me too! Some people find that interesting and more desirable than copying. Some people get drunk and free hand an outline (no offense to those who do or are viola makers). Whatever yanks your crank. Using a poster is probably the easiest and safest way. Maestronet is great for different ways of doing things. Looking forward to your making posts on the forum.

)

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6 hours ago, gtd said:

Me too! Some people find that interesting and more desirable than copying. Some people get drunk and free hand an outline (no offense to those who do or are viola makers).

 

Funny you should mention that. Since postage is more expensive than the posters, I got a second one at the same time: The Stainer tenor viola - I’m a big man who has been ascribed ourangutang genes in the arms, so I want to make a properly sized instrument for myself. Violin is for my stepdaughter.

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On 2/12/2019 at 11:18 AM, gtd said:

Me too! Some people find that interesting and more desirable than copying. Some people get drunk and free hand an outline  

So what about this, I have a Marktneukirche violin that I like, could I just lay it down on paper and trace the outline? Then I guess I'd need to go 3.5 mm inside that to get the outline of the ribs.

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This is Francios Denis' method he shared here on maestronet a while back. Found it in my notes. I was told rib material should be about 2mm. 

 

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54 minutes ago, fiddlerjer said:

 

So what about this, I have a Marktneukirche violin that I like, could I just lay it down on paper and trace the outline? Then I guess I'd need to go 3.5 mm inside that to get the outline of the ribs.

I did this once for a viola I am building based on a Craske instrument to which I had access (the owner being a potential buyer).  You won't be able to get a usable outline by placing the instrument on your paper and trying to stay true to the actual shape.  But, you CAN take a piece of cold press illustration board -- I used medium weight for its flexibility and draw the rough outline as you are suggesting. 

Cut a rough hourglass shape from within your rough outline.  The board's flex will allow you to maneuver the instrument inside the hour glass so the plate is sitting flat on the board.  You can then draw the outline around the edge with a fair amount of accuracy because of the proximity of the plate to the drawing surface.  Make your hourglass a bit smaller than you think you need at first.  You can always cut away more board to achieve your fit.

If you want more flex in the board to facilitate fitting around the instrument. make a few one-inch cuts perpendicular to your hourglass line.

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A poster is the easiest.  But you still have to draw it out on something.  Many times I just work from photos using the ratios I find on them.  But I think that takes a lot of study if you have any shot at it.  You could have a photo blown up full size, and cut it out at the purfling. Chances are the numbers wouldn't be right on, but close enough for a first one. You could even draw the outline right on the wood for the form.  I always draw the form anyway, the final dimension comes from the overhang.  7-8 mm or so for each dimension. 

If you want a copy of the one you like, take a photo of it.  Make a few copies.  Draw lines at the top and bottom, and through the upper, lower and c bouts. Then through the corners horizontally, and diagonally; criss-cross, and on each side going to the lines at the top and bottom.  All the lines are at the outside of the purfling; about 3.5 mm.

You can use more than one of the copies so it doesn't get too messy.  Then draw a triangle through the terminal holes of the ff's. Draw a horizontal line through the bottom holes to mark that point up an d down. Extend the diagonal lines to make another base at the bottom, or the line through the lower bout.  In some cases the triangle will end right at the width of the lower bout.  There should be ratios on this triangle too. 

Then measure the length, the widths, where the corner diagonals hit the upper and lower lines, and see what kind of ratios pop up.   They should pop up. If the violin has no ratios: .8 .786 .625 .618 .6 .809 .526 .85  I'd be surprised. Then draw it out full size.  Draw the lines using the ratios first.  Draw radii right on you copies find where they fit.  I've found about a half dozen ways that was done.  Sometimes the upper and lower curves to the middle blend.  Not always.  All kinds of neat things might show up.  Work until it looks right.

The c bouts are more trouble, and seem to be more variable maker to maker.

The poster is the easiest. But you won't learn as much.

Ken

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