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ScotPiper

Effect of Too-Tall Ribs

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Hi, all. 

What might be the tonal effects on a new-made violin of ribs that taller? Let’s say the ribs are closer to 31mm, or perhaps 31.5mm.

Also, might it make a violin more susceptible to C-C# wolfs?

Thanks in advance for sharing your experience, opinions, and musings.

Bob

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Those heights are not too great. Of more importance would be the thickness of the ribs. If the ribs height near the heal of the neck is great it might make playing more difficult. The biggest effect would be on the Ao air resonant frequency. Arching height will also effect that. 280 hz is a normal frequency for the Ao air resonance. A greater air volume in the corpus will decrease the frequency. It is similar to the note when one blows over a pop bottle. More air volume decreases the resonant note. Blow across the f whole and you can hear the note.

 

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Many 18th C Austrian violins had high ribs, up to ca.33mm is not unusual. Some, like Meinrad Frank even had occasionally up to 36mm. It is a constant cause of annoyment when one comes across one of these that some moronic “violin improver” has planed them down to the “proper” height. Once I had a Meinrad Frank meeting with several of his instruments, and Segio Luca tested them all intensively. The conclusion was that “high” ribs, or planed down ones, puncto sound doesn’t make a blind bit of difference

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An interesting observation made by Bruce Carlson in an interview / article I did for the Michigan Violinmakers Association newsletter on the Cannon was that the thickness of the ribs of the Cannon (high ribs) might be misleading in that Del Gesu used a toothed plane on the inside and so the thickness printed in Biddulph book would be to the " peaks" of the channels made by the plane blade and the weight / stiffness would be different if they were a "solid" thickness

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2 hours ago, jacobsaunders said:

...

The conclusion was that “high” ribs, or planed down ones, puncto sound doesn’t make a blind bit of difference

Thank you. I agree. But it's nice to hear it from someone like you!

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As Michael Darnton pointed out, the Cannone has high ribs, as well as the Carrodus, they still have the original thicknesses on their tops and backs. 

I think that other Del Gesù violins that had their plates thinned had their ribs reduced in height at the same time to avoid wolves, hollow sonority and slow response, and that occurred to the majority of DG violins.   

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This is very interesting. Thank you all for your replies, and please keep them coming. I’m (still)  in the steep part of the learning curve and enjoying the climb. 

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2 hours ago, MANFIO said:

I think that other Del Gesù violins that had their plates thinned had their ribs reduced in height at the same time to avoid wolves, hollow sonority and slow response, and that occurred to the majority of DG violins.   

Are you saying that if the ribs were not lowered, consequently the violins would be no good?

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16 hours ago, Greg Sigworth said:

Those heights are not too great. Of more importance would be the thickness of the ribs. If the ribs height near the heal of the neck is great it might make playing more difficult. 

 

I never understood this. If the rib height were higher, as long as the overstand is the same, wouldn't everything work out either way?

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4 minutes ago, Nick Allen said:

I never understood this. If the rib height were higher, as long as the overstand is the same, wouldn't everything work out either way?

I don’t think so. Any change to the structure of the instrument is going to have an impact. Perhaps some changes will not be noticeable to the majority of players, but I am always suspicious of claims that changes in structure will have no effect on tone. 

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8 minutes ago, Wood Butcher said:

Are you saying that if the ribs were not lowered, consequently the violins would be no good?

Yes, that's it, when they were regraduated the ribs were lowered to avoid wolf notes and hollow sound. 

 

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9 minutes ago, MANFIO said:

Yes, that's it, when they were regraduated the ribs were lowered to avoid wolf notes and hollow sound. 

 

All these maniacs who know better than Del Gesu should have made their own new violins. They would have obviously sounded bloody marvelous

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3 hours ago, jacobsaunders said:

All these maniacs who know better than Del Gesu should have made their own new violins. They would have obviously sounded bloody marvelous

I think that, in the case of the Cannone, the thick graduations are counterbalanced by the high ribs. Thinner plates with

such high ribs would render the sound hollow and unfocused. That`s why I think that when DG violins were regraduated

they had their ribs lowered.

 

There are many references by old authors (Cozio di Salabue, Marquis de Picolellis, Abè Sibire, etc) about  the use of

thick plates by Del Gesu, as well as the use of high ribs.

 

Paganini was allways looking for a del Gesù with thick plates as his Cannon, but it was too late, the regraduation

machine was already working a long time ago.

 

Biddulph's book portrays 25 violins, just the CANNON and his twin brother, the CARRODUS, are that thick and,

coincidentally, they retain their high ribs.

 

Giovanni Marchi, an old author ("Il Manoscrito Liutario di Giovanni Marchi")  states that he himself had regraduated

many instruments.

 

Del Gesù inside work is rather crude in non regraduated instruments. When a Del Gesù has a fine inside finishing,

it points out in general to regraduation. I remember reading an article about the "Alard" del Gesù mentioned that it was

probably regraduated  by Vuillaume, who was Alard's father in law.

 

Some say that the Mantegazzas were the guys who have initiated the regraduation of Guarneri`s instruments.

Since Stradivari was the standard for a lot of time, most of Del Gesù violins were regraduated to conform to that

standard, making them easier to sell. Not all violinists will be able to master a thick del Gesù.

 

All Del Gesù violins had a conical hole on the inside back, that corresponds to it`s thickest part. When this conical hole

is missing, or was partially removed, it means that the back was regraduated, and that occurs with the majority of

Guarneri violins (Roger Hargrave mentions that in his article on Del Gesù on Biddulph's book).

 

Del Gesu knew what he was doing. His family was a musical one. His uncle was employed as a musician in Mantua

and he had many relatives that were musicians (the Orcelli, for instance). The Hills, in their book about the Guarneris,

say that perhaps Del Gesù was a player, perhaps even an outstanding player.

 

 

 

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6 hours ago, The Violin Beautiful said:

I don’t think so. Any change to the structure of the instrument is going to have an impact. Perhaps some changes will not be noticeable to the majority of players, but I am always suspicious of claims that changes in structure will have no effect on tone. 

I wasn't speaking about acoustics necessarily. But more ergonomics. 

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Thanks again for all your ideas. The history on the Del Gesu instruments is especially fascinating. 
 

I have C# wolfs on a couple instruments, and I wonder if the rib height might be part of the reason.
 

Rib thickness is 1mm, plate thicknesses are pretty normal, and possibly even a wee thick. The ribs are 31.0mm (neck) to 31.5mm (bottom); perhaps they’re borderline too-tall.


I always cut the blocks too tall initially because I’m afraid something will “go wrong” later and I’ll need that extra height to flatten the garland. But nothing has ever “gone wrong” and so I never need that extra height. Time to change that habit.

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Just an idea. When the left hand comes up to the violin body in higher positions the added thickness caused by the higher ribs may make it more difficult for the player to have freedom to move the hand. This may be the reason the ribs sometimes are reduced in height in this region of the violin.A good violinist would be one to respond to this idea.

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Some times we get so hung up on the weirdest stuff. I have a hell of a time telling the difference between violins (most sound similar to me with the biggest difference being the person playing the instrument). Violas and cellos are a different story.

I've made a few violas after the Strad Archinto (which had its ribs lowered unfortunately). in all cases I used normal or higher than normal rib heights - no loss of focus or dynamics - if anything they sound better. 

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5 hours ago, Greg Sigworth said:

Just an idea. When the left hand comes up to the violin body in higher positions the added thickness caused by the higher ribs may make it more difficult for the player to have freedom to move the hand. This may be the reason the ribs sometimes are reduced in height in this region of the violin.A good violinist would be one to respond to this idea.

In the higher positions, the hand will only be touching the top, with the thumb usually still indexed to the crook of the heel. So the height of the ribs wouldn't matter in this scenario.

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46 minutes ago, David Burgess said:

In the higher positions, the hand will only be touching to top, with the thumb usually still indexed to the crook of the heel. So the height of the ribs wouldn't matter in this scenario.

Yes, it is an issue only with violas.

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