When to change bass bar?


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5 hours ago, jacobsaunders said:

It will have had infinitely more to do with Vuillaume being an arrogant pig who was convinced that anything he did was the best ever, in the whole galaxy, including in particular, him being far better than Strad

It has been so long since I have hung out with him, that I may have forgotten a thing or two, so my position will need to be that I'm really not sure. ;)

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32 minutes ago, jacobsaunders said:

You remember him as a kindred spirit?

One thing I remember is that he was a fancy dresser, while I was not. He may have occasionally looked askance at my blue jeans and cowboy boots, until I'd bought him a drink or three.

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5 hours ago, HoGo said:

In some circles around me there is another version of the story...

"I dropped my violin and now suddenly it sounds better than before, there's a small crack from the fall (shows some old dirty crack) but I will never have it repaired as it released bad tension in wood and made it sound great... My violin teacher told me to leave it so..."

:-)

Cracks often start at f hole eyes of a top plate with cracks going north of the upper eyes along the grain lines and south from the lower eyes.  The spruce wood is weak in tension and cracks are natures way of reducing stresses in those areas. 

One of the problems with these cracks is that they are often very narrow and if one side of the crack vibrates differently than the other side their relative motion difference can cause unwanted sound effects from their surfaces sliding against each other.  Gluing them together  corrects this problem.

There was an experiment done at an Oberlin Acoustics Workshop where the top plate of an inexpensive student violin was sawed with long slots going the same direction that cracks would often go from the f hole eyes.  The saw cuts were about 1mm wide and the slots were cut in 1cm length increments.  After each cut the violin was played.

We were surprised that the violin's sound actually improved a lot as the slots were cut longer and longer.  I can't remember exactly but I think the best sound was achieved at about 5 or 6 cm.  It started out rather harsh sounding and it got mellower and mellower as the slots were lengthened. After further cuts its sound decreased in quality until at about 10cm it was back to where it being not very good although it sounded bad in a different way.  This experiment showed us that it is the narrowness of the crack that causes a sound problem rather than having two separate plate vibrating areas.

We were so encouraged with the results that we thought we should do it over again with a good violin but nobody volunteered one for a repeat experiment.

 

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On 3/20/2021 at 10:59 PM, David Burgess said:

One thing I remember is that he was a fancy dresser, while I was not. He may have occasionally looked askance at my blue jeans and cowboy boots, until I'd bought him a drink or three.

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So no secret handshake then?

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On 3/20/2021 at 10:14 AM, jacobsaunders said:

It will have had infinitely more to do with Vuillaume being an arrogant pig who was convinced that anything he did was the best ever

One of our violin superstars here in the US plays a Vuillaume. She is sometimes noted for her down to earth, no nonsense, choice in instruments.

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1 hour ago, deans said:

One of our violin superstars here in the US plays a Vuillaume. She is sometimes noted for her down to earth, no nonsense, choice in instruments.

That would be Hilary Hahn, I think? She may play whatever she wishes and will never sound less than glorious.

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12 minutes ago, PhilipKT said:

That would be Hilary Hahn, I think? She may play whatever she wishes and will never sound less than glorious.

There is ( I believe... ) a "mistake" in one of Mozart's violin c/tos - i.e. some bit, not insignificant, seems to me to have been added later. In order to study that I prepared a collage of some 30 violinists playing that passage and I sent it and discussed it with some reasonably competent people. Almost everybody picked up HH's violin and not in a good way. Basically, once is being compared with others in quick succession sticks out like a dull sore thumb. 

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On 3/21/2021 at 1:11 AM, Marty Kasprzyk said:

We were surprised that the violin's sound actually improved a lot as the slots were cut longer and longer.  I can't remember exactly but I think the best sound was achieved at about 5 or 6 cm.  It started out rather harsh sounding and it got mellower and mellower as the slots were lengthened. After further cuts its sound decreased in quality until at about 10cm it was back to where it being not very good although it sounded bad in a different way.  This experiment showed us that it is the narrowness of the crack that causes a sound problem rather than having two separate plate vibrating areas.

If I may respectfully ask, who were "we" from "we were surprised" ? The reason I ask is because the idea that a cracked violin sounds "improved" is often nothing but the incompetent opinion of unqualified amateurs. Not for a second I think that was the case there but then I am curious HOW and WHAT exactly was "improved" ?

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3 hours ago, Carl Stross said:

If I may respectfully ask, who were "we" from "we were surprised" ? The reason I ask is because the idea that a cracked violin sounds "improved" is often nothing but the incompetent opinion of unqualified amateurs. Not for a second I think that was the case there but then I am curious HOW and WHAT exactly was "improved" ?

This was about 15 years ago when I fell into the category of "incompetent opinion of unqualified amateurs" (but now, much later and wiser I still fall into that category). In fact that's why, as a new comer then I was elected by the group to do these slot cuttings. (I was quite nervous having people hoover over me as I wrecked something--I wanted to show them I had good enough manual skills to ruin a violin and I didn't want them to look for someone else to do this-- it sort of a personal pride thing of being accepted into group).  The others  were very well known makers had some curiosity about how plates vibrate and they had had apparently had heard cracks were sometimes actually helpful and they wanted to see if this was somehow true.

One of my impressions of the experiment was that there was a possibility that the f hole length was not fully optimized in classical violin designs that are copied with student violins.  We now know the "island area" between the f holes is responsible for much of the high frequency output of a violin such as the desirable "bridge hill" and the sudden drop off above it.  There were a large group (~2 dozen) of listeners who participated and I don't recall that we had done impact hammer or other frequency response curve tests.

We now know much of this is a matter of taste and there is a possibility that different people will want different things--

nevertheless cracks aren't what they are cracked up to be.

 

 

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8 hours ago, JacksonMaberry said:

Somebody tell this guy, I can't do it through my tears of laughter

Now that you might've finished laughing and ( hopefully ) taken your meds : Do YOU know of ONE violin Tony ( sic!)  made which was a "stinker" ? Try concentrate.

( And by the way, you are misgendering me : I am not a guy.  )

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If it were well known amongst those who actually trade in Strads that a good few were stinkers, it would hardly be polite or fair to the owners to flag this up on a public forum.

Of course there are plenty, del Gesus too ... this doesn't in any way undermine the fact that these were the greatest makers whose reputation is deserved. 

People are strangely willing to bypass the evidence of their own ears in favour of a label - we see this in all price ranges, why would classical Cremonese violins be an exception?

In the words of one of our principal sellers of Strads ... "everyone loves the sound of a Strad" :lol:

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38 minutes ago, martin swan said:

If it were well known amongst those who actually trade in Strads that a good few were stinkers, it would hardly be polite or fair to the owners to flag this up on a public forum.

Of course there are plenty, del Gesus too ... this doesn't in any way undermine the fact that these were the greatest makers whose reputation is deserved. 

People are strangely willing to bypass the evidence of their own ears in favour of a label - we see this in all price ranges, why would classical Cremonese violins be an exception?

In the words of one of our principal sellers of Strads ... "everyone loves the sound of a Strad" :lol:

My question wasn't what they are at present but rather if Strad made them like that at the time and I'd be curious of ONE example. Otherwise, after 300 years of accidents, abuse and "repairs" it's bound that some might've lost their shine.

And BTW, stinker seems to be defined as "something of very poor quality". Not quite on par with the Soil don't qualify.

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I would say a lemon rather than a stinker ...

No indeed I take your point - we can happily fantasize that at the time of creation all these violins were equally perfect, just as we can fantasize that only regraduation, degradation and minute alteration by successive luthiers has made themas good as they are today.

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3 minutes ago, martin swan said:

I would say a lemon rather than a stinker ...

No indeed I take your point - we can happily fantasize that at the time of creation all these violins were equally perfect, just as we can fantasize that only regraduation, degradation and minute alteration by successive luthiers has made themas good as they are today.

Agree. I suppose we'll never know. We might have some indications as to which direction things were pointing towards but it's all pretty speculative. My pet theory , which is nothing but a valueless pet theory, is that they were better in the past i.e. time and usage worked against them. Back to what we were actually discussing I wonder if  Strad & Sons would actually offer for sale "lemons". Or let them out the door... I have to suppose they knew at least what good enough is.

Nice chatting to you !

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2 minutes ago, Carl Stross said:

 Back to what we were actually discussing I wonder if  Strad & Sons would actually offer for sale "lemons". Or let them out the door... I have to suppose they knew at least what good enough is.

It's an interesting question - I suppose I would refer it to the standard practice of other great workshops whose work remains relatively unadulterated, and who clearly were more than happy to sell lemons to less discriminating clients. 

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It is interesting.

But - there are different levels of quality.

Do we know if Strad made instruments of varying quality for different buyers?  One would think that the instruments he made for nobility might have been 'better' than the instruments he made for Luigi Rossi (who lived down the road)...

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  • 2 weeks later...

 Soo... fiddle is back together and I did not change the bar . The result is exactly as I expected. Very nice fiddle very smooth and easy to play. However....  The G string is a bit weaker than I would like and can't be pushed hard to get more from it. It is about a $10,000 violin so more than likely it will appeal to an intermediate to advanced student and I expect will sell fast. My guess would be that with a heavier bar the G would be more to my liking but perhaps the violin would be less easy to play.  Since players who can manage a stiffer violin generally aren't looking in this price range probably a correct decision to leave the bar as it was but it still bothers me not to make every violin as good as I think it can be.

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On 3/23/2021 at 6:45 AM, JacksonMaberry said:

Everyone makes a stinker now and then, Tony included. 

You might ponder as well if those fiddles left a shop in Cremona as a stinker. I would be rather be inclined to blame over-restoration and/or wrong adjustment to most of them. 
 

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On 3/13/2021 at 3:00 AM, nathan slobodkin said:

That is a very valid point. When I make an instrument I am making for a well trained professional player or soloist on the off chance that YoYo Ma will see the error of his ways and buy one of my cellos. On the other hand many of the other instruments I sell are purchased by students or amateurs of one sort or another who may want instruments which are easier to play. I know that when I was at Francais’ in the 1990s Pinchas  Zuckerman was playing with a bar that was much higher and stronger than the norm in his Guarneri but which suited his very aggressive playing style.

I can confirm this. It happens that the bass bar doesn’t match the playing style. I had a cello customer who had previously his bass bar changed and things became worse for him. 
 

So when I the cellist came in my shop I made him first play his cello to hear the sound but more important to see how his bow arm makes the sound. This player had a very light and fluent bowing. 
After opening the top I took measurements of the existing bass bar including the weight to determine the problem. The bass bar was not only pretty heavy but also very stiff. 
 

Accordingly I chose the lightest material I could find and would give the new bass bar a less sturdy shape. Now 5 years later the customer still praises me as ‘my workshop guy for bass bars’. 
 

So my equation for bass bars is 

The heavier the bow arm = the heavier the bass bar

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