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Decorative pins?


Garth E.
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Garth:  Interesting question.  Who or when is the maker of that instrument?  Are there any pin marks on the front plate?  The standard teaching I have heard is that alignment pins were used to stabilize the plates during the gluing process.  

Anyone:  do you ever see pin marks on the front plate of old instruments?  I know the theory is that they WERE there, until the saddle and neck cut outs were placed, in which case those of you who have had the top off would see pin holes in the blocks.  

 

--Jay

 

 

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3 minutes ago, Jluthier said:

Garth:  Interesting question.  Who or when is the maker of that instrument?  Are there any pin marks on the front plate?

Quite possibly  18th c. French. Frebrunet was a strong possibility. I don't see any pins on the front. The experts here have had a good look at the violin, but the pins have been a mystery to me. 

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54 minutes ago, Garth E. said:

Were these pins/nails used solely as a decoration or a guide during construction?...

Many makers insert pins during construction to align the plates on the rib structure, but pins can also be used for decoration or to imitate a maker's style.  Since only one pin is required at each end of a plate for functionality, at least one of the ebony pins at the lower block is just for looks.

 

18 minutes ago, Jluthier said:

...do you ever see pin marks on the front plate of old instruments?... 

I see them fairly often.

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6 minutes ago, Brad Dorsey said:

at least one of the ebony pins at the lower block is just for looks.

The lower thick dark (Ebony?) pins seem to be a later addition, they look different to the single upper pin, which is smaller, more remote from the edge and of a different material.

With the ancient French construction method these pins weren't necessary like with the Cremonese inside mould construction, at least very probably.

Pine pins in the belly were used regulary with the built on the back construction, but I've seen them also occasionally at instruments made with a different method.

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2 hours ago, Jluthier said:

Anyone:  do you ever see pin marks on the front plate of old instruments?  I know the theory is that they WERE there, until the saddle and neck cut outs were placed, in which case those of you who have had the top off would see pin holes in the blocks.  

Actually Jay, there is a pin extending through center at the top plate. Just one that I can see.

locating pin 1.JPG

locating pin 2..JPG

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23 hours ago, Garth E. said:

Actually Jay, there is a pin extending through center at the top plate. Just one that I can see.

locating pin 1.JPG

locating pin 2..JPG

 

23 hours ago, Garth E. said:

Actually Jay, there is a pin extending through center at the top plate. Just one that I can see.

locating pin 1.JPG

locating pin 2..JPG

Thanks so much.  Very interesting! 

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Pins help you to easily return to the same alignment between sides and plate.

For old Cremona making, they had the additional role.  Their plate outlines weren't copied but design during the build, reconciled to the disposition of the sides on the plate.  The sides and neck assembly could be twisted around the pins to get a good alignment, and the sides could be pushed and pulled around a bit until the maker liked their arrangement.  This was temporarily clamped in place and the disposition of the sides was marked onto the back's board.  Then the sides and neck assemby were removed so the outline and plate could be work.

Later after working the plate, the pins and markings madee it easy to return the sides and plates to the desired alignment.

So in the old making, the role of the pins was very functional.

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2 hours ago, David Beard said:

Later after working the plate, the pins and markings made it easy to return the sides and plates to the desired alignment.

Would I be correct to assume the groove made for the ribs would be after the alignment? Thanks for the interesting information David.

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2 hours ago, Garth E. said:

Would I be correct to assume the groove made for the ribs would be after the alignment? Thanks for the interesting information David.

Grove for ribs sounds like 'built on back', which has nothing to do with classical Cremona methods.

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20 hours ago, David Beard said:

Pins help you to easily return to the same alignment between sides and plate.

For old Cremona making, they had the additional role.  Their plate outlines weren't copied but design during the build, reconciled to the disposition of the sides on the plate.  The sides and neck assembly could be twisted around the pins to get a good alignment, and the sides could be pushed and pulled around a bit until the maker liked their arrangement.  This was temporarily clamped in place and the disposition of the sides was marked onto the back's board.  Then the sides and neck assemby were removed so the outline and plate could be work.

Later after working the plate, the pins and markings madee it easy to return the sides and plates to the desired alignment.

So in the old making, the role of the pins was very functional.

Very interesting,David.  I looks to me like Strad used an inside mold, which is what many (most?) of us also do.  I use the rib assembly still inside the mold to establish the outline of the top plate, then similarly for the back.  I am trying to envision what it means to twist the sides and neck assembly around the pins to get a good alignment.  I wonder if you would mind expanding on that, or if there is a description in print, point me in the right direction.  

Regards, 

Jay

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25 minutes ago, Jluthier said:

Very interesting,David.  I looks to me like Strad used an inside mold, which is what many (most?) of us also do.  I use the rib assembly still inside the mold to establish the outline of the top plate, then similarly for the back.  I am trying to envision what it means to twist the sides and neck assembly around the pins to get a good alignment.  I wonder if you would mind expanding on that, or if there is a description in print, point me in the right direction.  

Regards, 

Jay

The information about nailing the neck, and the locating pin alignment method that David mentions,  might be this one, page 31 ..................

https://www.roger-hargrave.de/PDF/Book/Chap_04_The_Back_PRN.pdf

 

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That is a GREAT video, David!  I love how you use the biologic analogies to explain the evolution of the violin.  I understand what you mean about the pin use as well.  I guess I already use the Cremona methods as an autodidact, but I trace my pattern from the ribs while they are still in the mold.  Is there evidence that the early makers traced as you demonstrate in the video?  Thanks so much for doing the research and sharing that with us.  I look forward to more of your videos, and I am now a "subscriber" to your youtube channel.   

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1 hour ago, Jluthier said:

That is a GREAT video, David!  I love how you use the biologic analogies to explain the evolution of the violin.  I understand what you mean about the pin use as well.  I guess I already use the Cremona methods as an autodidact, but I trace my pattern from the ribs while they are still in the mold.  Is there evidence that the early makers traced as you demonstrate in the video?  Thanks so much for doing the research and sharing that with us.  I look forward to more of your videos, and I am now a "subscriber" to your youtube channel.   

Using the trace of the sides while still on the mold will reduce the degree of asymmetry and corner movement compared to what is seen in the historical instruments.

Roger Hargrave presented this idea of twisting and aligning the sides using the pins in his article, sited above.

 

The first layer of evidence is that this theory gives a good understand of how and why the corners get pushed around so much in classical instruments.

But then, my research over the last decade plus has been about the use and presence of geometry in the shapes of classical work.

I found that the centers of the circles used in making the corners actual are moved significantly to 'chase' the actual corner locations of the sides.   And, as I continued, I found other situations where the easiest way to understand the geometry choices seen in instrument examples was to consider that these choices were made in response to the actual disposition of the sides.

A very compelling bit of evidence is that there are a few example cases where the old masters actual make different geometry choices on the treble and bass sides of the instruments.  Strad's 1670c 'Tullaye' violin is a good example.   The main curve of center bouts is worked with one large circle.  

In ALL the classical Cremona violin family examples, the diameter of this circle is taken in relationship to the bout widths.  In most cases, it is taken either as the lower bout width, or as the upper bout width.  But in some later Cremona examples (see Bergonzi) it is sometimes taken as a larger ratio from a bout.  So, 1.5x the lower bout width is seen in some Bergonzi examples, including a mold.  

But, with the Tullaye and a handful of other classical examples, the diameter choices on the treble and bass sides are actually different.  The bass side uses the lower bout width, and the treble side uses the upper bout!!!    This is a reasonable thing to do if the curvature of the sides in the center bout area end up too different.  

But, this is also evidence about WHEN in the work process the decision was made.   The sides are flexible.  While still on the mold, the mold will hold the sides in a certain position.  And this held position just won't show that much asymmetry between the treble and bass sides.   So, these special cases demonstrate the choice of the main center bout diameter was made AFTER removing the sides from the mold.

Then, a further detail supports the same idea again.    The mold designs show only a simplified geometry compare to the final violin shapes of old Cremona.   Both the corner circle choices, and the vesici choices for the upper and lower bouts are 'standardized' in the molds, but diverse in the final outlines.   And, when you attempt to make a violin entirely by using the Old Cremona geometry recipes, you find out how this works.

If the outlines were all made from the shape of sides while still on the molds, then the standardized geometry in the molds would also allow a standardized geometry in the final outlines.   And, once off the mold, you would push and pull and arrange the sides to follow the outline you made.

But then, we would have to attribute the level of asymmetry seen in real classical Cremona examples to bad workmanship.   What makes much better sense of the full range of examples is to assume that the sides are removed from the molds FIRST, and arranged and twisted and pushed and pulled in the way Hargrave suggests.  And the AFTER that, the outline geometry choices are made to reconcile with this actual final arrangement of the sides.  This explains the more complicated range of geometry choices compared to the molds, the movements of the corners, and even the occasional examples where actually different geometry choices are used on the treble and bass sides.

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