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Are claims that Borax treatment on spruce enhance acoustic properties correct?


Andreas Preuss
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5 hours ago, Marty Kasprzyk said:

I thought Itzhak Perlman playing the Schindler's List Theme" written by John Williams was pretty good.

Ya, in a schmaltzy commercial haberdashery of various prexisting familiar sounding styles, entertaining, but not really intellectually challenging, not that everything has to be...but when I listen to new composers I expect to be challenged if not provoked by something "new", but not something I would expect coming from a Hollywood film I suppose.

Again these kind of conversations always seem to come to the old "my music is better than your music is" thing, which is of course subjective.

In my opinion anyone is entitled to like anything they do,

 

 

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8 hours ago, Evan Smith said:

Bill,

That sounds like a beautiful instrument, do you have any pictures of it?

I think Cocobolo is beautiful,

Speaking about it in the past tense, I assume someone loved it  more than you did?

It was many years till I was able to say no and keep one for me.

All I could find is a photo of the scroll before it was finished. I still have the instrument. After carving cocobolo, maple is like butter.

DSCF0250.jpg

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12 hours ago, Bill Yacey said:

All I could find is a photo of the scroll before it was finished. I still have the instrument. After carving cocobolo, maple is like butter.

DSCF0250.jpg

From Borax treatment to cocobolo wood discussion!

actually very interesting. Never worked with cocobolo. But maybe this is a hint for using rather heavy maple. 

(So far the toughest wood I worked with was flamed chestnut. That's stubborn like hell.)

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3 hours ago, Michael Szyper said:

I would like to alert people who consider working with cocobolo. It usually causes moderate skin and airway irritations but can lead to a severe status asthmaticus. 

Otherwise it is an exceptionally beautiful wood and one of the best replacements for brazilian rosewood in guitar making.

An excellent point!  I certainly react to it, and also to rosewood.

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  • 1 year later...

It is very likely that there is nothing more to add to the topic, however I have one last question.
Has anyone here tested the following Nagyvary formulation: fruit gum, some borax, ox bile as an emulsifier and mineral powder?
Here is the step:

He heads into a lab at the far end of the bungalow and picks up a beaker filled with a solution of gum from the guar plant. He adds a bit of borax, "commonly used as an insecticide," he says, "but in this mixture it acts as a cross-linker, weaving the chains of sugar molecules into a sort of web." Suddenly, the liquid solidifies into a gelatinous mass. Nagyvary takes it into his hands and begins pulling it like taffy. "We need an emulsifier, of course, to make it fluid enough to work into the wood. I like to use ox bile myself." He also adds plenty of other ingredients, including quartz, amber, gypsum, coral, zinc, and powdered ruby and sapphire. By the time he's ready to apply the mixture to the instruments he makes, it has the consistency of mayonnaise.

 

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@Alessandro Peiretti

i really don't know what to think of a scientist who makes a lot of discoveries and at the side gets someone to make instruments for him to put whatever formula varnish on it to sell it as 'the sound of a Stradivari' but simply doesn't hold its promise. There was a tonal evaluation test made in Taiwan where his instrument participated and it ranked in the group of worst sounding instruments. 

In one of his first articles he found astonishing 12 different layers in Strads varnish and dared to publish it without further thoughts. What he was showing in reality were just the polish layers and the miraculous bkack layer sandwiched in between was certainly soot from open fire heating long ago. 

Reasons enough to be cautious. 

The recipe you mention sounds a bit like a mixture of the Rubio recipe and the Nigel Harris emulsion. In any case it is the attempt to make it fit some scientific result without any further thought if this was historically possible. 

Woodhouse & Barlow made some research too and found very astonishing ingredients in the ground, rare metals (I think it was Molybden) which was for sure not known in the 19th century. Unlike Nagyvary, Woodhouse & Barlow didn't take any direct conclusions and left it open to interpretation. 

David Rubio developed from there his mineral ground mix which apparently was put together from a chemical store, so certainly not the way Strad would have done it. 

Nagyvary repeatedly had an approach out of historical context. I think he had a recipe with dissolved shrimp shells claiming tonal benefits. 

Unless we don't spend thoughts on historical interpretations all is pretty useless. So it's up to you if you want to go ahead and test the nagyvary emulsion.

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46 minutes ago, Andreas Preuss said:

@Alessandro Peiretti

i really don't know what to think of a scientist who makes a lot of discoveries and at the side gets someone to make instruments for him to put whatever formula varnish on it to sell it as 'the sound of a Stradivari' but simply doesn't hold its promise. There was a tonal evaluation test made in Taiwan where his instrument participated and it ranked in the group of worst sounding instruments. 

In one of his first articles he found astonishing 12 different layers in Strads varnish and dared to publish it without further thoughts. What he was showing in reality were just the polish layers and the miraculous bkack layer sandwiched in between was certainly soot from open fire heating long ago. 

Reasons enough to be cautious. 

The recipe you mention sounds a bit like a mixture of the Rubio recipe and the Nigel Harris emulsion. In any case it is the attempt to make it fit some scientific result without any further thought if this was historically possible. 

Woodhouse & Barlow made some research too and found very astonishing ingredients in the ground, rare metals (I think it was Molybden) which was for sure not known in the 19th century. Unlike Nagyvary, Woodhouse & Barlow didn't take any direct conclusions and left it open to interpretation. 

David Rubio developed from there his mineral ground mix which apparently was put together from a chemical store, so certainly not the way Strad would have done it. 

Nagyvary repeatedly had an approach out of historical context. I think he had a recipe with dissolved shrimp shells claiming tonal benefits. 

Unless we don't spend thoughts on historical interpretations all is pretty useless. So it's up to you if you want to go ahead and test the nagyvary emulsion.

Borax is a fire retardant so don't use it on violas. 

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1 hour ago, Andreas Preuss said:

Nagyvary repeatedly had an approach out of historical context. I think he had a recipe with dissolved shrimp shells claiming tonal benefits. 

An improvement to violins consisting ( among others ) of re-varnishing with some sort of "bug-shell" varnish was advertised in a German radio magazine from 1936 or '37. The advertiser must've been of some substance as the issue depicts the TV filming and transmission of the Olympics. I am aware of this since 1979. In 1981 I received further confirmation of the actual use of the method from an old violin maker ( former player ) who knew of this since pre-WWI and knew of a number of people who had the procedure applied to their violins with apparently good but not "Strad-like" results. 

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2 hours ago, Alessandro Peiretti said:

Has anyone here tested the following Nagyvary formulation:...

Nagyvary isn't the only one out there who comes up with some discovered chemical in old Italian violins, or postulates something that could have been used, and then comes out with a "Possible New Secret of the Old Italians" article... without actually finding out what it does to the acoustic properties of the wood.  At least some of the fungus crowd has done some testing that shows it's bad.

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1 hour ago, Andreas Preuss said:

@Alessandro Peiretti

i really don't know what to think of a scientist who makes a lot of discoveries and at the side gets someone to make instruments for him to put whatever formula varnish on it to sell it as 'the sound of a Stradivari' but simply doesn't hold its promise. There was a tonal evaluation test made in Taiwan where his instrument participated and it ranked in the group of worst sounding instruments. 

In one of his first articles he found astonishing 12 different layers in Strads varnish and dared to publish it without further thoughts. What he was showing in reality were just the polish layers and the miraculous bkack layer sandwiched in between was certainly soot from open fire heating long ago. 

Reasons enough to be cautious. 

The recipe you mention sounds a bit like a mixture of the Rubio recipe and the Nigel Harris emulsion. In any case it is the attempt to make it fit some scientific result without any further thought if this was historically possible. 

Woodhouse & Barlow made some research too and found very astonishing ingredients in the ground, rare metals (I think it was Molybden) which was for sure not known in the 19th century. Unlike Nagyvary, Woodhouse & Barlow didn't take any direct conclusions and left it open to interpretation. 

David Rubio developed from there his mineral ground mix which apparently was put together from a chemical store, so certainly not the way Strad would have done it. 

Nagyvary repeatedly had an approach out of historical context. I think he had a recipe with dissolved shrimp shells claiming tonal benefits. 

Unless we don't spend thoughts on historical interpretations all is pretty useless. So it's up to you if you want to go ahead and test the nagyvary emulsion.

Andreas, thanks for the articulate answer. By studying violin making, I tend to separate the philological approach from the analysis of ways that can allow me to make progress, regardless of their historical verisimilitude.
For example, I would never exclude the possibility of using a mineral ground even if a definitive study should appear that demonstrates its absence in classical instruments, beyond any reasonable doubt.
My question arose from the fact that there was a lot of debate on the use of borax on bare wood but little or perhaps nothing in a fruit gum-based solution.
The cross-linking effect seemed to me worthy of a final reflection before finally closing the chapter.

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2 hours ago, Don Noon said:

Imagine if Edison had issued 1000 press releases about "Possible amazing new light bulb filament" without actually testing them.

Sound quality is a subjective parameter, however if the concoction generates a lowering in frequency, a lowering of speed of sound and an increase in damping, maybe the way is not the right one ... Nonetheless, they are rarely made comparative tests between two identical samples, so the choice of preparation for the next instrument is often a matter of faith.

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9 hours ago, Alessandro Peiretti said:

It is very likely that there is nothing more to add to the topic, however I have one last question.
Has anyone here tested the following Nagyvary formulation: fruit gum, some borax, ox bile as an emulsifier and mineral powder?
Here is the step:

.... He also adds plenty of other ingredients, including quartz, amber, gypsum, coral, zinc, and powdered ruby and sapphire. ...

 

Clearly this cannot work, because a key ingredient is missing: diamond dust! If this still doesn't work, the last chance is to add stardust...;)

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37 minutes ago, Davide Sora said:

Clearly this cannot work, because a key ingredient is missing: diamond dust! If this still doesn't work, the last chance is to add stardust...;)

Given that the best diamond, obviously, would be supercompressed carbon molecules obtainable from the vicinity of a white dwarf star, and therefore stardust itself, as well as that the closest natural source is in the α Canis Majoris system at a distance of 8.6 light years, one notes that we are back once more to the subject of really massive funding of the basic research necessary............   [Waves her tip jar (in this context, one dares not use "can") towards the audience hopefully.]  :ph34r:  :lol:

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1 hour ago, Davide Sora said:

Clearly this cannot work, because a key ingredient is missing: diamond dust! If this still doesn't work, the last chance is to add stardust...;)

I'll follow your suggestion Davide, you never know ...
But if we think about this "shopping list" for a moment, we immediately realize that all the elements it contains have been cited at least once by the various researchers under the microscope. Quartz = silica, amber = amber, gypsum and coral = calcium, ruby ad sapphire = alumina.
And then, didn't Beato Angelico use the very expensive lapis lazuli for his blue?

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1 hour ago, Alessandro Peiretti said:

............ if we think about this "shopping list" for a moment, we immediately realize that all the elements it contains have been cited at least once by the various researchers under the microscope. Quartz = silica, amber = amber, gypsum and coral = calcium, ruby ad sapphire = alumina.
And then, didn't Beato Angelico use the very expensive lapis lazuli for his blue?

File:Fra Angelico 009.jpg

He did a lovely job with such pigments, which are however, largely opaque

IMHO, all of the "magic varnish" and "sheep-dip" theories are counsels of desperation, and smack of sensationalism.  Most recent research is concluding that the Cremonese master violinmakers used common colophony-oil varnishes less remarkable than many of the modern recipes frequently quoted on MN, and experiments with various wood treatments have also produced less than Stradivarian results. 

Whatever the Cremonese did, IMHO, it wasn't a technical shortcut around sensible design and fine craftsmanship.  :)

 

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4 hours ago, Violadamore said:

Given that the best diamond, obviously, would be supercompressed carbon molecules obtainable from the vicinity of a white dwarf star, and therefore stardust itself, as well as that the closest natural source is in the α Canis Majoris system at a distance of 8.6 light years, one notes that we are back once more to the subject of really massive funding of the basic research necessary............   [Waves her tip jar (in this context, one dares not use "can") towards the audience hopefully.]  :ph34r:  :lol:

It was good enough for Juzek.

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