Remedy for a short slightly short neck


Recommended Posts

  For a while T-nuts were common on cellos to provide extra hand clearance in first or half position. Does anyone use such a stepped nut to increase neck measurement on violins? Seems like an inexpensive modification to short necked French instruments. I can’t really think of a downside other than looking funny and perhaps wearing out a bit faster than a nut with a wider string bearing surface.

Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, nathan slobodkin said:

  For a while T-nuts were common on cellos to provide extra hand clearance in first or half position. Does anyone use such a stepped nut to increase neck measurement on violins? Seems like an inexpensive modification to short necked French instruments. I can’t really think of a downside other than looking funny and perhaps wearing out a bit faster than a nut with a wider string bearing surface.

Nathan, I don't recall running across that on any pro-level violin. On a violin, it's pretty quick and easy to do a neck extension or a neck graft, and fix normal fingerboard height reductions which occur over time at the same time.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Nathan, I hear what your saying, and David, I don't think he was talking about a pro-level instrument.  My only quam would be that the players use the chin (mullet) as the reference point for first position and I would think that would throw them off more than the shortness of the neck.  I would think a novice player would struggle with that, more than the shortness of the neck.  I have, though, done what you are sugesting AND cut back the chin area (undercut) a little to match so the position feel would be right.  I'm interested in what others say on this as I'm a hack of a violin player and use others to make these judgements. Am I over emphasizing the importance of that reference point (chin/nut)?

Link to post
Share on other sites

If you examine 18th.C. instruments that retain their original neck, you will find that they mostly have the nut considerably further North in relation to the heal of the peg box. Any discomfort would only be when playing a strange violin. Once one plays regularly on the same violin this shouldn’t be an issue, since one intonates with ones ears, and not with ones fingers

Link to post
Share on other sites

I agree with everyone here. If the instrument is a players only violin then they will get used to it. If they like to have multiple instruments or want to be ably to quickly switch, then it might be useful to have it feel like most other violins and probably set up to close to the 2/3 neck/stop. 

Your question seems sort of general. Do you have a lot of short-neck French violins? Or are you trying to solve a problem for one violin and one customer?

Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, deans said:

I agree with everyone here. If the instrument is a players only violin then they will get used to it. If they like to have multiple instruments or want to be ably to quickly switch, then it might be useful to have it feel like most other violins and probably set up to close to the 2/3 neck/stop. 

Your question seems sort of general. Do you have a lot of short-neck French violins? Or are you trying to solve a problem for one violin and one customer?

 There are a lot of Mirecourt instruments from before WW2 which have necks set at 128 instead of the more usual modern measurement of 130. I assume that was in fact the standard measurement at that time. I don't know why that changed but teachers tell me that they dislike the short necks because when shifting to 5th (?)  position they want the students' fingers to land in tune as soon as the thumb hits the neck heel.  I hadn't thought about the positioning at the upper end and that may very well be a reason that one doesn't see this done but while neck grafts or resets with a shoe added are routine they sure would  add to the bill when setting up one of these instruments. 

For the serious players out there. How much does a short neck bother you and how well do you adapt to different neck lengths or widths? Where I trained a departure from the standard measurements of even a couple tenths of a mm. would merit a comment and more than half a mm. might warrant a do over.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Having a neck length that’s off can be very frustrating if the string length ends up changed as well. A poorly shaped or dimensioned neck is one of those things that makes players put violins down, either consciously or unconsciously.

So often the necks on those old French violins are set at a high projection with a very low overstand, so there are several reasons to do a neck reset if the neck is short and the violin is decent. 

Link to post
Share on other sites
18 hours ago, nathan slobodkin said:

  For a while T-nuts were common on cellos to provide extra hand clearance in first or half position. Does anyone use such a stepped nut to increase neck measurement on violins? Seems like an inexpensive modification to short necked French instruments. I can’t really think of a downside other than looking funny and perhaps wearing out a bit faster than a nut with a wider string bearing surface.

I don't think I understand, wouldn't a t-nut decrease instead of increase the already short neck length and only make the problem worse? 

Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, Joris said:

I don't think I understand, wouldn't a t-nut decrease instead of increase the already short neck length and only make the problem worse? 

Sorry. My mention of T=nuts was confusing. What I was thinking was to shave down the first couple mm.s of the nut to Fingerboard level so that the shaved down part acted as an extension of the FB effectively lengthening the neck measurement to the stopping point of the strings.

I was thinking this could be a cheap solution for making some of the nicer French student instruments more appropriate for intermediate students. Some of these instruments can be made to sound pretty good but I am concerned that adapting to a short neck may give the students  problems later when they move on to a nicer instrument with more standard measurements. After all there is at least a chance they will really learn to play and I don't want to be responsible for any twitching violinists.

From the comments I've seen it looks like this adaptation might not be well received but even if one can do a neck set or graft in a day it still eats in to the profit margin on these type violins enough that I'd have to get them pretty cheap to make it worth buying them. I am still interested in players and teachers opinions about the short neck as I do see these instruments sold for $4,000- $6,000 or even more with the short necks.

Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, nathan slobodkin said:

sold for $4,000- $6,000

In this price range I would go with a graft. Even as a retail customer I would pay ~2000K or so fo graft, and have done so 3-4 times on instruments in this category (these were all things that had some sort of damage or alteration to the neck). Its the fix that covers everything, and people like grafts, it can turn that 4K instrument into a 6K, and be more playable. 

Of course it depends on the value of your time as a maker. I suspect that some shops send work like this overseas.

Link to post
Share on other sites
On 3/27/2021 at 5:06 PM, The Violin Beautiful said:

 

So often the necks on those old French violins are set at a high projection with a very low overstand, so there are several reasons to do a neck reset if the neck is short and the violin is decent. 

I see this combo too, a lot.  I"ve noticed that the early "Nippon" instruments had this same combo, so I'm thinking that they used the older French instruments as a basis???  Well, that's always been my theory........

Link to post
Share on other sites
On 3/28/2021 at 5:58 AM, nathan slobodkin said:

 

From the comments I've seen it looks like this adaptation might not be well received but even if one can do a neck set or graft in a day it still eats in to the profit margin on these type violins enough that I'd have to get them pretty cheap to make it worth buying them. I am still interested in players and teachers opinions about the short neck as I do see these instruments sold for $4,000- $6,000 or even more with the short necks.

Nathan, when I'm setting up for my "stock", I make sure it's at the 130, dead nuts.  Reason being, a player can adapt to "their" instrument, but if they are trying one in my shop, I'm supposing they would be put off quite quickly by playing sharp in the 1st position and not knowing why.

Link to post
Share on other sites
On 3/27/2021 at 7:26 PM, nathan slobodkin said:

There are a lot of Mirecourt instruments from before WW2 which have necks set at 128 instead of the more usual modern measurement of 130. I assume that was in fact the standard measurement at that time.

I was told this is because the French measured the neck length from the rib under the top plate instead of from the edge of the top plate, so these necks were always a few mm short when measured properly.

Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, Jeff White said:

Nathan, when I'm setting up for my "stock", I make sure it's at the 130, dead nuts.  Reason being, a player can adapt to "their" instrument, but if they are trying one in my shop, I'm supposing they would be put off quite quickly by playing sharp in the 1st position and not knowing why.

Yes exactly. I don’t feel comfortable selling short necked instruments which means that I can either pass up a good percentage of the middle range student instruments available, add $2,500 to the price to pay for the time to do a neck graft or come up with some acceptable but less expensive solution.  If there are other problems such as high pitch, low apuis or a narrow fingerboard then I would certainly pass on the instrument unless it was worth doing the graft. I see decent student instruments fairly often however which are otherwise just fine but have the short neck. Since I also see many shops, even pretty well known ones, selling these without addressing the problem I expect I might have trouble explaining to customers why I am charging thousands more for the same type of instrument which has been modified. As I get older and no longer capable of banging out new instruments every month I am starting to do more retail activity and that means dealing with older instruments which are not exactly as I would have made them and which I must make functional at a cost which allows them to be sold competitively. As I said in my previous thread about when to change a bass bar working with older instruments often involves compromises or or at least accepting that the way I would make an instrument is not the only acceptable way.

Link to post
Share on other sites
On 3/28/2021 at 2:58 PM, nathan slobodkin said:

Some of these instruments can be made to sound pretty good but I am concerned that adapting to a short neck may give the students  problems later when they move on to a nicer instrument with more standard measurements. After all there is at least a chance they will really learn to play and I don't want to be responsible for any twitching violinists.

If their problem is 2mm neck length difference they should probably do something else with their time. 

Link to post
Share on other sites
19 hours ago, Carl Stross said:

If their problem is 2mm neck length difference they should probably do something else with their time. 

 

16 hours ago, Evan Smith said:

yes

Are either of you professional level violinists? What I am told by at least some professionals is that the problem is not mental but rather mechanical in that there is a second motion involved in shifting either by changing the shape of the hand or correcting the fingering position after the shift is made.

Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, nathan slobodkin said:

 

Are either of you professional level violinists? What I am told by at least some professionals is that the problem is not mental but rather mechanical in that there is a second motion involved in shifting either by changing the shape of the hand or correcting the fingering position after the shift is made.

There is a little bit of disconnect here. The type of instruments you are discussing are not usual type that professionals choose. And if a good player does happen to like an instrument in this price, they might be willing to invest in having a good neck installed since it would be a deal anyway compared to what many professionals pay.

My suggestion would be to set them up as you describe with the nut set back, and if a player likes one and happens to want a neck graft, work with them on it.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...
  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.