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Curtin Ultralight Viola


ViolaGeo
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1 hour ago, ViolaGeo said:

Joseph Curtin introduces an innovative viola featuring a player-adjustable neck angle, an integrated chinrest, and micro-mutes that modify the brightness and power of the sound.

https://youtu.be/uB_2x-ga0qk

While I consider Joseph Curtin to be a friend, I wouldn't consider any of this to be "innovative". Experiments (and even production models of these concepts) have been going on for decades.

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Should we make any presumptions by the fact that there are no audio clips of someone playing it?

While I DO think that using lower density, high RR wood for violas might work well (and not quite so well for violins), it would be nice to hear what he has.  Nothing much was said about making lightweight plates (which I assume he would have done)... just the peripherals, where mass might be a good thing for playability.  Some years ago one of his lightweight violins was out here on display and I got to try it out.  Hated it.

I have nothing against Joseph, and we are friends as well.  Maybe if I had more time, I'd spend it going into these kinds of variations.  But for now, I'm trying to work within more traditional bounds (at least, the visible ones).

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33 minutes ago, Wood Butcher said:

I wonder how it would compare to one of Marty Kasprzyk’s violas?

Or Doug Martin's, or one by David Rivinus?

Doug Martin: His balsa instruments probably have the best strength-to-weight ratio of just about anything out there. So from everything I've run across, I am no longer thinking that reduced mass is the ultimate answer.

It's a little weird that I needed to search for about an hour to find this:

And this is one example of a Rivinus viola:

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With Curtin's conventional shape and arching, most likely it would sound like a normal viola.  And again, he says nothing about laminated balsa plates or anything abnormal there, and I presume he'd mention that if it was special.  The very light weight of the peripherals might do something to the way if feels and plays.

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I like the idea of the adjustable neck.

I don't like the idea of not having an endpin (and no view of the post from the endpin hole). The tailpiece may get too stiff without the tailgut that makes it "float" a bit.

The incorporated chin rest is nice, but may cause problems if you take it to another place and want a different time.

Also, if you have a canonical, orthodox viola, a luthier in any part of the world  will be able to make a quick adjustment or a small repair. That is VERY important if you are a professional, you may be in London today, NYC tomorrow, in São Paulo in a week and so and forth.

 

 

 

 

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2 hours ago, Wood Butcher said:

I wonder how it would compare to one of Marty Kasprzyk’s violas?

I don't recall Joseph having one of his light violas in any of the listener tests my violas were in.  But our  violins have been part of the same double blind tests at the Oberlin Acoustics Workshop.  Listeners rated my light violin and light viola as the least favorites in the two groups.  Somebody suggest I try making a cello the same way so I could go for a complete sweep.

The only public video recording of one of my violas was done in 2016.  It can be found in a Google search:  "Elias Goldstein Demonstrates 17 Modern Violas at the Oberlin Viola Festival".   My viola is played at 6:46 time.

https://www.violinist.com/blog/laurie/20166/19565/

 

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Even if the various ultralight instruments do not ultimately achieve wide acceptance, perhaps it is possible that the things makers learn from them could result in real, if marginal, gains in their more traditional instruments.  Anecdotally, I met Mr. Curtin at a meeting of the Michigan Violin Makers' Society last summer, and tried a viola he had in his workshop; in fact his first: an Erdesz cutaway model he had made in the '70s. He recently pulled it out of storage, and put a new top on it with wood choice, arching, bass bar, and bridge according to his current thinking. It was great, and I mean great even in comparison to the old Italian instruments I have been lucky enough to try. I would have bought it on the spot if I were pecunious... as a result, I have some violas for sale... (facepalm emoji) In addition, he's a very nice guy!

I would very much like to try his most recent viola evolution.

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I have never owned or worked on an original Chrysler hemi.
Why? Because while it produced amazing power for the time, (around 1951 through  1968), things have moved on, with much better cylinder head designs capable of making a lot more power. I still would like to own one, since it will always be a legend.

Dwight, if you are willing to make the trip up here, you are welcome to drive my 650 horsepower Corvette to your heart's content. Or if you need something a bit closer, I have had this car in the Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky area from from time to time. I might need to ride in the passenger seat for the first time or two. since it can be quite a handful. I have owned and driven much higher horsepower-to-weight ratio vehicles, and I'd still guess that it took me something around two weeks to push the pedal all the way down.

 
 

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1 hour ago, David Burgess said:

 

I have never owned or worked on an original Chrysler hemi.
Why? Because while it produced amazing power for the time, (around 1951 through  1968), things have moved on, with much better cylinder head designs capable of making a lot more power. I still would like to own one, since it will always be a legend.

Dwight, if you are willing to make the trip up here, you are welcome to drive my 650 horsepower Corvette to your heart's content. Or if you need something a bit closer, I have had this car in the Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky area from from time to time. I might need to ride in the passenger seat for the first time or two. since it can be quite a handful. I have owned and driven much higher horsepower-to-weight ratio vehicles, and I'd still guess that it took me something around two weeks to push the pedal all the way down.

 
 

Mine is not quite so impressive.  My C7 is only 455 HP but it's enough to get you in trouble!  It still has a pushrod engine but the LS type V8 is certainly a great design with a lot of potential.  I drive mine every day, looking forward to a C8 in a few years if I'm lucky.

DLB

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1 hour ago, Dwight Brown said:

Mine is not quite so impressive.  My C7 is only 455 HP but it's enough to get you in trouble!  It still has a pushrod engine but the LS type V8 is certainly a g

DLB

The pusrhrod engines can still trounce both the power output and fuel economy of supposedly "superior" engines. GM's highest horsepower engine, emissions-legal, using pump gas, and with a warranty, off-the-showroom floor, is about 750 horsepower. Chrysler has gone about 100 horsepower higher, but these need to use race gas to reach that power level, and are no longer emissions compliant. Both are pushrod engines.

Ford, with their much heavier and dimensionally larger dual overhead cam engine, seems to be stuck at about 760 horsepower for now. But manufacturers always keep something on the shelf, and don't play their best hand, until the next horsepower contest comes down the pike.

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