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Shunyata

Sound Post Technique

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I sort of figured out something that works but would be interested in suggestions.

I place the Sound post from the bass f hole, reaching over to the treble side.

First I try to get the neck to endpin direction placement right, while looking through the treble f hole.  At the top of the post, the gap between the post and the bridge foot is about the same as the top thickness.

Looking through the f hole, I try to keep the post vertical, or with the post bottom slightly canted toward the end pin.  I then use a bamboo skewer inserted through the end pin hole to true up to vertical.

Then, looking through the end pin hole, i adjust to make sure the top of the post is under the foot of the bridge and just inside the top eye of the f hole.  Then finally i adjust the bottom of the post to vertical, using the edge of the top block as a sighting guide.

This takes under five minutes - and i dont chip any varnish this way - but is probably more involved than it needs to be.

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I think most people insert the post through the treble F hole, but there's no reason not to go in through the bass hole if that works for you.  I insert the post with an S-type setter and, once it is in, move it around with a scissors-type rather than a bamboo skewer.  But as long as you get it fitting well in the right spot, and you don't damage the instrument, I don't think it matters much how you do it.

I hope you realize that the post usually goes a little south of the bridge foot -- not directly under it.

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1 hour ago, Shunyata said:

This takes under five minutes - and i dont chip any varnish this way - but is probably more involved than it needs to be.

Anything can work in under 5 minutes if the post is perfectly cut the first time, or if you're resetting one that just happened to fall over somehow.

Making a new post and getting it cut to fit right is an iterative process that requires putting the post in and taking it out several times, and might change the idea about what works best.

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I suspect that many of us spend some time now and then in the place I (no so) fondly refer to as "soundpost hell". I've always inserted them from the treble side, but I know people who do it the other way. When fitting a new post, I first try to get it just short enough to stand upright near the center of the violin. Then looking through the end pin hole I adjust the fit incrementally as I move the post outward to its correct location. It gets easier once you've done about a thousand of them, but not always.

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4 hours ago, Shunyata said:

Looking through the f hole, I try to keep the post vertical, or with the post bottom slightly canted toward the end pin.  I then use a bamboo skewer inserted through the end pin hole to true up to vertical.

Then, looking through the end pin hole, i adjust to make sure the top of the post is under the foot of the bridge and just inside the top eye of the f hole.  Then finally i adjust the bottom of the post to vertical, using the edge of the top block as a sighting guide.

How have you come to believe that the soundpost being vertical, on either axis, results in the best sound or playing properties?

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11 minutes ago, David Burgess said:

How have you come to believe that the soundpost being vertical, on either axis, results in the best sound or playing properties?

Mind you, it's a good  place  to  start,  dont you think.

Do you have a pattern in your mind to adjust from the vertical  in a predictable  way? Or would  you  start with  a  leaning post because  of  some other features of the violin?

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I always read/heard that it should be vertical, and never notices any tonal difference if it wasn't.  So I blindly perpetuated what I heard. 

And in response to another commenter: yes, I know the post goes a little south of the bridge foot.  I put it south a distance about equal to the thickness of the top.

 

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I agree it takes a few tries if you are fitting a new sound post.  I measure height with a guage first, then cut about 2mm long.  It usually takes about three tries to get the length right, using 80 grit sandpaper. 

Then I do a last cleanup with a knife to carefully fit the plate surfaces.

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17 minutes ago, Conor Russell said:

Mind you, it's a good  place  to  start,  dont you think.

I do.

17 minutes ago, Shunyata said:

I always read/heard that it should be vertical, and never notices any tonal difference if it wasn't. 

Uh oh.

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49 minutes ago, Shunyata said:

I agree it takes a few tries if you are fitting a new sound post.  I measure height with a guage first, then cut about 2mm long.  It usually takes about three tries to get the length right, using 80 grit sandpaper. 

Then I do a last cleanup with a knife to carefully fit the plate surfaces.

36 grit wheel for an electric drill is even faster

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1 hour ago, Conor Russell said:

Mind you, it's a good  place  to  start,  dont you think.

... and a good place to end up, don't you think? If someone has a reason for a benefit from an out of vertical sound post I'd like to hear it. I always install a sound post with light tension on the strings so I can locate it well to the bridge foot and tune it up for testing purposes when it seems to fit. Drawback is you lose the advantage of looking through the end pin hole, which does make it harder to get perpendicular.

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1 hour ago, bkwood said:

 If someone has a reason for a benefit from an out of vertical sound post I'd like to hear it.

Soundpost position on both the top and and back end up where where they end up working best, unless this gets a little too expensive to determine, or one is lacking the skill-set or patience to even want to go there..

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Agreed.  Vertical is the starting point, but you move from there to balance the string color and responsiveness, control wolf tones, etc.  This process probably results in non vertical configurations, although I never thought of verticalness as a "control lever".

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If you cut the ends to perfectly fit the plates when the post is vertical then you can't tilt the post because the contact surfaces won't match anymore. To fit it tilted you will have to adjust the contact surfaces and will shorten the post in the process moving it some other place... or you cut a new post meant to go in tilted just to try it. Tilted which way and why? There are a million possibilities and you need a new soundpost to test each one. This can't possibly be a trial and error process and you need an idea/ concept that suggests a particular tilt in particular circumstances. No?

As for just tilting a post that was fitted vertically.... so far, I have come across three violins which sounded excellent and had the post tilted, but this was with a post where the contact surfaces obviously didn't match the plates anymore and where reduced to a small point of pressure (which is of course soundpost crack waiting to happen). Sounded better than I ever got these violins to sound again with a proper post. I had put that down to the posts having had a pressure point on both pates rather than a proper contact surface, not the tilt. But maybe I was wrong? 

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13 minutes ago, Guido said:

As for just tilting a post that was fitted vertically.... so far, I have come across three violins which sounded excellent and had the post tilted, but this was with a post where the contact surfaces obviously didn't match the plates anymore and where reduced to a small point of pressure (which is of course soundpost crack waiting to happen). Sounded better than I ever got these violins to sound again with a proper post. I had put that down to the posts having had a pressure point on both pates rather than a proper contact surface, not the tilt. But maybe I was wrong? 

For the most part, I have been able to move posts to positions where they no longer fit well, make a new post which fit into that position much better, with outcomes remaining quite similar. Except that the better-fitting post almost always sounded at least slightly better.

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A sound post is out of perpendicular due to how the ends are cut and such can work perfectly well. But nobody sets out to put one in crooked on purpose do they? Ideally plumber is better, right?

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3 minutes ago, David Burgess said:

For the most part, I have been able to move posts to positions where they no longer fit well, make a new post which fit into that position much better, with outcomes remaining quite similar. Except that the better-fitting post almost always sounded at least slightly better.

Thanks, that's good to know. One of the violins I mentioned I still have around. May try to fit a tilted post and see if I can get the magic back :-)

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6 minutes ago, David Burgess said:

For the most part, I have been able to move posts to positions where they no longer fit well, make a new post which fit into that position much better, with outcomes remaining quite similar. Except that the better-fitting post almost always sounded at least slightly better.

We had a long discussion  about  this  very subject a few years ago, and then, as now I wasn't  convinced  that one could  reasonably  predict  how an out of plumb post might alter the sound. 

Sure, we've all pushed the top or bottom  in or out  a bit and heard a difference. But here's  my problem. 

You have a perfectly  fitted plumb post, and you move the back end inward to the centre by a mm. The post now sits on it's outer edge on the back. If you rotate the post, it will pivot on the edge nearest the rib. Vice verca at the belly end. So the contact point of the post to the back moves outward, rather than inward. So, if you fit a post to the new angle, you shouldn't,  and in my experience  don't, repeat your result.

So if you move the post inward David, do you then fit your new  permanent  post inward,  or outward, at your actual new point of pressure? 

I've fitted and adjusted a lot of posts, never deliberately  tilted, and have never had a colleague  explain how to predict  the effect  of doing so.

 

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17 minutes ago, bkwood said:

But nobody sets out to put one in crooked on purpose do they?

I someone came into you with a fiddle they were ecstatic about, with a post which didn't appear "to be straight" to you, would you try to "fix it" or not?

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14 minutes ago, Conor Russell said:

We had a long discussion  about  this  very subject a few years ago, and then, as now I wasn't  convinced  that one could  reasonably  predict  how an out of plumb post might alter the sound.

Yes there was a prior long discussion about this on Maestronet, and I value your contributions, even when your observations differ from mine. :)

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23 minutes ago, Conor Russell said:

Well that clears it all up I suppose!!

That's Australian music, combined with some American symbolism.

Many Northern Americans and Australians consider ourselves to be kindred spirits, since so many of our ancestors came from far away places, leaving so much behind to go to some far away and largely unknown place, gambling that with enough creativity and hard work, they could make a go of it.

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1 hour ago, David Burgess said:

I someone came into you with a fiddle they were ecstatic about, with a post which didn't appear "to be straight" to you, would you try to "fix it" or not?

No, not if it wasn't in danger of toppling over.

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