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Sound Post Technique


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37 minutes ago, martin swan said:

Maybe players who have a concert the next day but feel the sound of their fiddle has gone just need a pat on the head. A Morel-like audible bash of the post without actually moving anything is worth trying first ...

ps I know I’m going to regret this post :ph34r:

Not from me. Rene had a pretty good sense of humor about soundpost adjustments, including "psychological" adjustments. He often told the story of a customer who brought in a coveted piece of old and supposedly superior wood, wanting a soundpost made from it. Rather than making a soundpost from this superior material, Rene installed a soundpost made from a pencil. Prior to knowing that the soundpost had been made from a pencil, the client was ecstatic with the outcome. Or so the story goes.

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I won’t deny the psychological aspect to adjustment, but instruments really do behave differently after drastic changes in surroundings, and there are many cases where something as simple as freeing a stuck bridge from the varnish can work wonders. Just like top notch players, great instruments can be especially sensitive. 

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5 hours ago, The Violin Beautiful said:

I won’t deny the psychological aspect to adjustment, but instruments really do behave differently after drastic changes in surroundings, and there are many cases where something as simple as freeing a stuck bridge from the varnish can work wonders. Just like top notch players, great instruments can be especially sensitive. 

I don’t disagree, and moving a bridge by a fraction can have a dramatic effect, but I’m inherently sceptical of the whole notion of dial-up post adjustments. 
I haven’t really found that sensitivity to adjustment is particular to great instruments, more that owners of great instruments tend to expect them to sound better than they do ;)

 

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21 hours ago, uncle duke said:

During my days when I wanted to be like Errol Flynn I would take a section of metal U channel longer than the length of the arrow I wanted to make, lay the squared stock in the u channel, plane to octagon shape and then chuck one end of proposed arrow into an electric hand drill and then shape with sandpaper to whichever diameter needed. 

With the use of a dust mask/respirator and a glove for the sandpaper holding hand this is also a decent way to make a length of soundpost material for several instruments.  Use a micrometer preset from 5.8 to 6.2 mm carefully to check diameter before removing from the drill.  Use good wood.

That's how I have made a few also...

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On ‎2‎/‎23‎/‎2020 at 1:55 PM, David Burgess said:

Nah, it finally just wore you down. Believing it sounds better allows you to finally take a break from working on it. ;)

Yah, it wore me down going through the work but, Nah, the viola sounds very good. Then again I would like one of those tools even though you sound terrible it's less wear and tear on the arthritis but Iwould need a prop to take the weight of that vibration tool, David luv XXX

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On ‎2‎/‎22‎/‎2020 at 8:40 PM, uncle duke said:

Understood and point taken.

As for the soundpost discussion.  Hopefully most here make plates with a sorta flattish inner contour area for easier soundpost placement instead of some of the ski slope interiors I tend to carve out that look real well visually but don't hold up soundposts very well at the beginning.  That's one disadvantage of building too high and slopey through out the middle section.  Doable but it's more work.  

Hiya Duke,

yes, graduating inside on the C bout area, dependant of the form, mould, as in, if you are going with a Guarnari, Strad, or any of the lads from the big robust era, keeping that area inside more flatter around the middle C bout inside and doing the graduations, edge flutings on the outside I feel is dependant on having been around alot of diverse violins, because a problem I found, whilst starting off with my restorations on violins was that the long Strad shape was easier to fit a sound post to it's interior because it, or those ones, was just simpler, than some German narrow bellied thick on the outside and the inside was very arched obviously. So, keeping the table bridge area thicker width wise inside by at least 2 mms across and not go too rounded inside, but the outside is where the fluting edges seem much better for a better sounding instrument. And fitting the sound post an easier exercise, although the vital area on the back plate usually is slightly more at a deeper angle up to the edge bout so, that needs more of an angled cut than the top of the sound post dowel.

The back plate always is more rounded but not so obvious in a bigger bellied width wise violin.

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On ‎2‎/‎23‎/‎2020 at 7:33 PM, The Violin Beautiful said:

So much depends on the context when a violin comes in under the weather.

If it belongs to the dealer, I would say it’s their duty to show it in the best condition they can, while preserving as much of the originality as is reasonable . If a luthier has identified a structural concern, it’s important to rectify it to avoid problems down the road.

If it belongs to a collector, I think it’s important to preserve as much originality as possible, and that might mean keeping something that doesn’t necessarily sound great in one’s own opinion. If there is a structural issue, take care of it conservatively. 

If a player comes in with it, they need the sound to be at its best for their style. Sometimes instruments come in with posts that don’t work for the climate they are suddenly experiencing. If the concert or recital is the same day I don’t like to take down a setup unless it’s a last resort and the artist insists. I want to make changes to soundpost position that will be helpful but will not make the instrument perform in a way that will affect playing and response to the extent that the instrument will feel like its character has changed. The player comes in with a memory of the sound they liked, and it’s my job to get back to that as efficiently as possible without worrying them by taking things apart. If there is a concern about the soundpost tension, I’ll certainly share it with the artist, but I’ll do it as respectfully as I can.

One of  the advantages of “megabuck fiddles” is that they usually come in with setups done at the highest level, so only micro adjustments are necessary. 

So, my luv, you deal with high end fiddles? Only high end bits of old wood? Give it a rest, we scum don't need to listen to your waffling. Okay?

I'm bored with this topic and you dear.

 

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On ‎2‎/‎22‎/‎2020 at 2:19 PM, martin swan said:

It certainly crushes the table's fibres, possibly ensuring better contact and conductance of vibrations :ph34r:

Personally I feel that high soundpost tension is from every point of view a BAD THING, and should be seen as an in extremis remedial measure for a bad sounding violin ... by high tension I mean a post that doesn't move easily with a slight pinching of the ribs.

Just my opinion ...

I agree and moderate tension is safer. But if a sound post falls down when the strings are being changed, should the dealer/restorer put it back into position free of charge to maintain customer relations?

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41 minutes ago, sospiri said:

I agree and moderate tension is safer. But if a sound post falls down when the strings are being changed, should the dealer/restorer put it back into position free of charge to maintain customer relations?

I only ever change strings one at a time. 
if the whole setup needs to come down for a new tailpiece for example, I keep the violin upright on its treble side ribs or maintain pressure between the plates by hand.

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17 hours ago, morgana said:

So, my luv, you deal with high end fiddles? Only high end bits of old wood? Give it a rest, we scum don't need to listen to your waffling. Okay?

I'm bored with this topic and you dear.

 

Where is this coming from? I have never and would never refer to another luthier as scum.

And by no means do I only deal with high end violins. I enjoy working with players. Period. As a sign of respect to my customers, I treat all their instruments with the same care and consideration. 

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1 hour ago, Jeffrey Holmes said:

Reverse minimization?

Sorry Jeffrey, sorry violin beautiful luv, however, why say a bigoted pointless comment? Oh I only work on high end instruments, then don't impart any useful input apart from saying they don't really do anything much, as these high end instruments are coming in with a high end set up!!! Agghhh! Come off it. If the person who owns it or borrows it, they aren't able to alter the set up, even when it may be necessary to work on it.

How does that work then?!

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1 hour ago, martin swan said:

Maybe you wanted to be like Errol Flynn for different reasons from all the boys at my school, but all I can say is that there are safer ways to attempt to lengthen your penis ....

Please Martin, there is no need for that.

Duke was just saying about how to make a decent sound post by explaining about making with a nice story from his youth, for goodness sake, pack it in, please!!!

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2 hours ago, sospiri said:

I agree and moderate tension is safer. But if a sound post falls down when the strings are being changed, should the dealer/restorer put it back into position free of charge to maintain customer relations?

If the soundpost falls down, when the strings are being changed, Sospiri, luv, and you have carefully taken down the strings, one by one, cleaned up the fingerboard, checked for any problems, like open seams, etc. Cos opening seams do happen, which causes the sound post to shift, rarely, in my experience it would fall down, unless it was too loosely fitted, you should check the sound post anyway, for such things, then no, you should explain that the sound post fell down because of looseness, and it needs either a better fitting sound post, so charge after explaining succinctly why, as you should know if the problem was a too fat too loose or badly placed, drifting sound post due to loose seam, whatever, then, if with the agreement of cost, accepted by customer, either reset the sound post correctly, or make another one, which fits well. Nothing worse than the customer who thinks you are incompetent, or a rip off merchant, so be aware of what outcome can and will happen with customers who don't think they should pay more than is quoted prior to involving any outcome, not within their capacity of knowledge imparted by yourself at time of having hold of their instrument.

 

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1 hour ago, morgana said:

Sorry Jeffrey, sorry violin beautiful luv, however, why say a bigoted pointless comment? Oh I only work on high end instruments, then don't impart any useful input apart from saying they don't really do anything much, as these high end instruments are coming in with a high end set up!!! Agghhh! Come off it. If the person who owns it or borrows it, they aren't able to alter the set up, even when it may be necessary to work on it.

How does that work then?!

Morgana luv, some people specialize in high-end stuff, and some people specialize in things like setting up or maintaining rental instruments. Both have value, and each has special skill sets, or can. Nothing wrong with that, as far as I can see.

And some people do a little bit of everything. That's OK too. :)

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My perspective is that most of you are Advocates.

The player to repair person/ dealer/ luthier/ friend/ relationship ...ultimately is not about fallen posts or after length. It is the player, as customer, that needs help. And dealers or Luthiers are smart enough to know and nurture better players to receive honest if not usable feedback. 

The player on the other hand is somewhat blind. We need competent others to tell us how we sound. So that advocate is one that listens. 

But as the bench jockey on the 4th seat, dropping a post during a routine string swap is a mistake hopefully achieved only once. I am right handed. I have many clean short pile carpet strips that are placed on the right of my bench during these swaps. As Mr Swan mentions, working treble side down is important. Also with clean, solvent - free hands, one should grasp gently around the island on the student instruments. The worst is when the owner has to explain to the client that their post went down for the 4th seat jockey. Makes the owner look bad. That fine shop owner will fix the problem and mention what is appropriate for that customer. Client should understand...

Most everyone here works to be a better maker or worker. Guidance is appreciated by the insecure player. If the post falls, it will most likely be rest without question. The player might not like how it sounds, but as the top adapts to the new post position, it will sound better. What the player needs to understand is that most shops do not want to make players unhappy. Sometimes there is this strange notion that the shop tech is trying to make things worse or they do not know what they are doing. The latter might be true but the former is certainly false. Trust the advocate.

If you are in a big city it takes about 3 years to piss every dealer off that will listen to your needs.

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54 minutes ago, GoPractice said:

My perspective is that most of you are Advocates.

The player to repair person/ dealer/ luthier/ friend/ relationship ...ultimately is not about fallen posts or after length. It is the player, as customer, that needs help. And dealers or Luthiers are smart enough to know and nurture better players to receive honest if not usable feedback. 

 

Agreed, but it doesn't necessarily come down to smarts.  Most of us in the luthier trade have a lot more experience dealing with players, than players have dealing with us. Either smarts or experience can be an asset.

Either smarts or experience can also be used to bamboozle or take advantage of people, and that is not something I endorse.

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5 minutes ago, David Burgess said:

Agreed, but it doesn't necessarily come down to smarts.  Most of us in the luthier trade have a lot more experience dealing with players, than players do dealing with us. Either smarts or experience can be an asset.

Absolutely true... Statistically true. i do not disagree with you, nor do i want to stress otherwise, but there are experts out there that fall short of heightened expectations.

And each luthier has their place market. I can say that I have never played a bad Jonathan Cooper violin nor a Christopher Dungee cello, which i have sought out both. I would never personally desire a Cooper as it does not suit my playing but the Dungee cellos are certainly interesting. Statistically, the average shop has a client base that will not play the instruments past high school. That is their core business. They need some expertise. It is not an easy to survive business unless there is a dairy of rental instruments for most shops. 

We as the instrument experts try to personify that experience with the more experienced individual player. That is the "customer service" aspect. Every better, or self-aware  player wants the best tool to hone. That is, in theory, the practical. There are costs, availability and timing situations that need to be worked out.

You are a player enough to understand the experience on both ends. Many of us do. But there are plenty who do not. Some of us are finer woodworkers than players ( and that is great to find good instruments too. ) I have witnessed enough awkward moments between shop owners/ managers and customers to know ( across the United States ) that there are those who need to rely on better players ( possible people skills ) for feedback. I worked in a shop that the average shop wait was 15 - 30 minutes but the wait should have been worth it. I did the best to please the parent, student and teacher. Also for any parent unsure to spend the large sums required to acquire an instrument folds back to their student. It is a stressful experience for both the parent and the student. But post-VSA competitions it was possible to find some best - of - breed ( here in the US ) instruments for sale and I have no regrets selling better example of the era...

And your point needs to be understood by the average customer. Perhaps that might be better communicated at other player websites.

This year is the international ASTA convention so nearby stores will be visited. The national convention is in Orlando so will not be going this year... Also an important anniversary for IVC i think.

 

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35 minutes ago, GoPractice said:

And your point needs to be understood by the average customer. Perhaps that might be better communicated at other player websites.

Oh chit. I had thought that I was already wasting too much time on the internet.

I am now looking into twelve-step programs which will enable me to post less, and work more. ;)

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18 hours ago, martin swan said:

I only ever change strings one at a time. 
if the whole setup needs to come down for a new tailpiece for example, I keep the violin upright on its treble side ribs or maintain pressure between the plates by hand.

Yes that's the best method, but I don't think I asked the question in the right way. What I meant to ask was, if a customer experiences a sound post falling when they change the strings, should the dealer/maker/restorer stand it back up free of charge to maintain good customer relations, and explain your method of string changing to avoid it happening again?

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12 minutes ago, sospiri said:

 if a customer experiences a sound post falling when they change the strings, should the dealer/maker/restorer stand it back up free of charge to maintain good customer relations, and explain your method of string changing to avoid it happening again?

An alternative would be to tell you that the post fell over because it’s too short, and charge you for fitting a longer one

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