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Shunyata

Tone Engineering

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I have made a three violins now.  In each case the resonance and responsiveness is great - better than my "forever instrument" that I paid a lot of money for.  My instructor agrees.

In every case, however, the tone is a little boxy sounding and the A string is a little dead compared to the other strings.  I can adjust the latter somewhat with sound post position. 

Is there something a can do with my next build to control this?

 

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37 minutes ago, Shunyata said:

Is there something a can do with my next build to control this?

I've already read where you mentioned that you don't believe in the use of tap tones but I'll ask you about how do you know what weight the plates were at before putting everything together?  Do you have a specific gravity reading of the wood used?  Those just some of the issues that can come into play.     

note:   you could wait a few years to see if your completed work starts to get better sounding as compared to now.  They say if a fiddle starts out sounding well it could keep getting better.  If you are going to make changes then just change one or possibly two different things just to see what can happen.  I was told to just change one aspect if I feel there should be a change.    

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I laughed out loud at "contagious disease". Seriously, though I am an engineer by training.  So I can't help asking.  Since I am achieving a consistent result, I came to the idea I am doing something consistently - I would just like to know what.  

Are you telling me I will eventually realize there is a huge crapshoot element to violin making?

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1 hour ago, Shunyata said:

I have made a three violins now.  In each case the resonance and responsiveness is great - better than my "forever instrument" that I paid a lot of money for.  My instructor agrees.

In every case, however, the tone is a little boxy sounding and the A string is a little dead compared to the other strings.  I can adjust the latter somewhat with sound post position. 

Is there something a can do with my next build to control this?

 

Yes, as Marty suggest's you have now caught a horrible disease, and now very well may be condemned to trying to find the answer to this question for the rest of your life.

It's  especially horrible when someone who has any merit encourages you with praise saying something like "wow this is a great sounding instrument" the next thing you know that goes right to your head and just makes it even worse.

It's like that kid who plays guitar really good and then so and so tells him he sounds great and he should keep it up!....fast forward 35 years later to the wait staff at olive garden....talent is a horrible thing, don't ever let anyone tell you any different.

well you know what they say "you can't win if you don't play"

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Agreed with all of the above,,,

Sounds like experience speaks again!

Next, do it all different,

different arches

different graduations

note the differences, pay attention,

do it again and again,  you'll settle on your sweet spot,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,eventually:)

Hang on to your saddle, it's a wild ride!

and there is no cure.

Horrible Disease just like Jezz said!

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5 hours ago, Shunyata said:

Is there something a can do with my next build to control this?

Yes... many things, as Evan listed.  But it's more than iffy to try to diagnose what's wrong just from a vague description of the sound.  A response plot of some kind, or a sound clip might help.  Or not.

If you still have your 3 violins, and have no grand plans for them, you can speed the experience curve up a bit by opening them up and thinning them out (assuming they are a bit thick).  I still have my first 3 instruments, all of them subjected to modifications of some kind.  Two are still useful, the third... a sacrifice to the gods of learning.

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34 minutes ago, Don Noon said:

 you can speed the experience curve up a bit by opening them up and thinning them out (assuming they are a bit thick).  I still have my first 3 instruments, all of them subjected to modifications of some kind.  Two are still useful, the third... a sacrifice to the gods of learning.

Don is right,,

This is the best route to take if you really want to learn and are willing to make the sacrifices and are not afraid to break things.

As you learn on the junk you create then tear up ,,then you incorporate it into your newest one with a promise that you will not tear it up.

Someone will come along and just have to have your experiments, despite the cracks and scratches and all the ugly stuff,,,

oh but it sounds so wonderful!!!

yea sure,, just don't tell any one who made it,, ok!

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So hints may be;

Arching arching arching....for some reason if it does not look right, it won't sound right either

never did meet an arch I liked that ever had a flat spot

something lives in the re-curve and it's location over the linings

it's all about thick and thin, it's just where thick and where thin....hint; look at "Master" grad maps...I have a feeling they knew a thing or two

what kind of wood are you using?, do you REALLY think it qualifies for what your trying to do? and just what kind of qualifications are "We" looking for , Bob Dole doesn't like crappy wood

think of everything that could have a gradient, and then look into that

save tuning for when your done string up your violin

have a big imagination, think "fantastic voyage" but instead of some fat guy, your inside a violin and the sound waves

ask lots of stupid question on this site...

Judas Priest, the hard rock band wrote a song "you don't have to be old to be wise" I think in violin making the song title should be " you don't have to be old to THINK that your wise" :lol:

 

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7 hours ago, Shunyata said:

I have made a three violins now.  In each case the resonance and responsiveness is great - better than my "forever instrument" that I paid a lot of money for.  My instructor agrees.

In every case, however, the tone is a little boxy sounding and the A string is a little dead compared to the other strings.  I can adjust the latter somewhat with sound post position. 

Is there something a can do with my next build to control this?

 

Hi Shunyata - you could try thinning the top 8 -10mm of the bridge. Blending it into the rest of the bridge with an arc. (not more than 0.1mm between testings)

cheers edi

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Check the setup, try out different strings, play with the soundpost and bridge. If nothing solves your problem, then start modifying the construction. 

Also, get people to review your instruments, let them be critical. 

Good luck !

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You might consider adjusting the tailgut to different afterlengths in addition to experimenting with the soundpost position. 
You can try the extremes first to rule out what doesn't work. 
The setup can affect the tone much more than you might think. 

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12 hours ago, Shunyata said:

I have made a three violins now.  In each case the resonance and responsiveness is great - better than my "forever instrument" that I paid a lot of money for.  My instructor agrees.

In every case, however, the tone is a little boxy sounding and the A string is a little dead compared to the other strings.  I can adjust the latter somewhat with sound post position. 

Is there something a can do with my next build to control this?

 

A little boxy:

I d check the the string angle. Maybe there is too much pressure on the top. Before resetting the neck I usually try a lower bridge regardless the string height over the fingerboard and/or a higher  saddle. 

weak a string

can have many causes. I'd try first different strings and at least one thick strings. Other checkpoints are if the soundpost fits well to the surface of belly and back. Some more tension might help as well but before I'd check the string angle. Sometimes a different bridge (low heart or high heart) can change the sound as well.

Have fun!

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Just a note about "tone engineering"...

To "engineer" something, the usual sequence is to start with some defined, objective, measurable goal.  Doesn't exist here.

The second part is to use tools of physics, acoustics, materials, and structural analysis to figure out how to get there.  At this point in time, there is a very large gap in the ability to use these tools to accurately predict the sound produced by our oddly curved wooden structure.

"Tone steering" is more what we try to do... adjust the tone in the direction we think sounds like we want.  That all takes a LOT of experience in understanding tone in diddling around with everything... arching, graduations, wood varieties, setup, etc. etc.   Take a look at the most successful makers who are known for consistently good tone.  I can't think of any that are engineers... they all got there by at least a decade of experience, usually in good shops.  (I hope to be an exception :))

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Could you post some photos here? It may sound good, but that alone, without good corners, good scroll, good archings, good f holes, good varnish etc. will not work with musicians. I imagine you may have somethings to work on these points too.  As some dealers like to say, "sound is subjective". In Cremona, some decades ago, they used to say "faccia un bel violino, si suona bene sarà un bonus per il suonatore" ("make a beautifull violin, if it sounds good it will be a bonus for the player). I am not saying I think that way, I am only mentioning it. 

 

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25 minutes ago, MANFIO said:

Could you post some photos here? It may sound good, but that alone, without good corners, good scroll, good archings, good f holes, good varnish etc. will not work with musicians. I imagine you may have somethings to work on these points too.  As some dealers like to say, "sound is subjective". In Cremona, some decades ago, they used to say "faccia un bel violino, si suona bene sarà un bonus per il suonatore" ("make a beautifull violin, if it sounds good it will be a bonus for the player). I am not saying I think that way, I am only mentioning it. 

 

It is a very good saying...you will learn many things with all the failures, if there is nothing bad there can be nothing good.

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19 hours ago, Shunyata said:

I have made a three violins now...................the tone is a little boxy sounding and the A string is a little dead compared to the other strings..........Is there something a can do with my next build to control this?

 

18 hours ago, Shunyata said:

I.....................am an engineer by training. 

In addition to carefully considering the responses you've gotten, I recommend sampling the vast literature on MN relating to "The Secret", followed by reading Goethe's Faust, and Mary Shelly's Frankenstein, to gain some inkling of the abyss you are teetering on the brink of.  :lol:

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Not trying to be snarky but as one of the designated curmudgeons I have to point  out that when making a wheel you can save a lot of time by making something similar to what is made by recognized, expert wheel makers. :)

There is a huge amount of information about violin making available for the asking but most beginners lack the eye to see arching and the tool skills to accurately thickness the plates or set a neck to the specs they intended. I am aware of one engineer who made a PBS video about his secret graduation plan but I had open one of his instruments for repair and found random variance of up to half a millimeter all over the plates. Another fellow who was doing some interesting sounding experiments on graduation patterns told me he "didn't fuss with them but got them within a tolerance of .2 mm of his intended specs". Where I trained .2 over spec would have merited a "don't show it to me until it's done" and .2 under would have resulted in "you're fired". 

I don't know what your skills are but unless you can write  a set of specs based on an existing successful instrument and then hit them exactly you are not going to improve through theoretical number crunching,nespecially as Don (former rocket scientist)  pointed out, there are too many variables to nail down a starting point.

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Even the engineers here realize it's more art than engineering, and that engineering kind of misses the point in this field.  Many members here are graduates of the best violin making schools in the world.  Why didn't they simply go to engineering school?  That stuff at the beginning was good-humored welcome aboard type stuff if you didn't recognize it.

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1 hour ago, nathan slobodkin said:

Where I trained .2 over spec would have merited a "don't show it to me until it's done" and .2 under would have resulted in "you're fired".

How long does it take to get it not over or under 0.2 at any randomly measured point?

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1 hour ago, Shunyata said:

I can see that engineers are held in the same regard as viola players on Maestronet.

Only those engineers who claim to be able to achieve superiority by formulas.

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