Hybrid Instruments and Bows


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I assume 'hybrid' is referring to laminate (veneered) and/or a mix of natural and synthetic materials.  I actually haven't noticed this term being used...until yesterday. Maybe I just wasn't looking.

I know there's a general negative association with laminates, although with guitars at least, they have a place.

So? Is this negativity valid? To what extent? Is this the wave of the future. Any worthwhile pros?

 

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52 minutes ago, Rue said:

I assume 'hybrid' is referring to laminate (veneered) and/or a mix of natural and synthetic materials.  I actually haven't noticed this term being used...until yesterday. Maybe I just wasn't looking.

I know there's a general negative association with laminates, although with guitars at least, they have a place.

So? Is this negativity valid? To what extent? Is this the wave of the future. Any worthwhile pros?

 

Stringed instruments are carved, so you can't use veneers. But you can give form to veneered plates with a press and heat.

Top notch guitars are made with solid wood, I think.

 

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Yes. The best guitars are solid wood, but because laminates are more durable and less prone to humidity (and less expensive) they have a place.

Maybe laminate and hybrid mean two different things? Hybrid uses both solid and laminates in their construction.

I found this:

https://www.cscproducts.com/products/cello-180.html

So the front is solid, the ribs and backs are laminate.

 

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1 minute ago, FiddleDoug said:

I thought that was when you do things like cross a cello with a violin to get a viola.

 

...well, there're those too! :lol:

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39 minutes ago, FiddleDoug said:

I thought that was when you do things like cross a cello with a violin to get a viola.

 

 

37 minutes ago, Rue said:

...well, there're those too! :lol:

And then there are hybrids which are warnings to us not to let things go too far......................  :lol:

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/a/a7/Arpeggione_Henning_Aschauer_1968.png

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/4/4a/Viol%C3%AD_de_botzina%2C_MDMB_1120%2C_Museu_de_la_M%C3%BAsica_de_Barcelona.JPG

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...and to think those were pre-pandemic projects!!! ^_^

I know there are plywood cellos. Plywood cellos are frowned upon...even though they apparently last forever.

So, plywood is made of thin sheets of wood, glued together under pressure, with the grain of each sheet of wood alternating.

Laminate is made of thin sheets of wood, glued together under pressure, with the grain of each sheet of wood running parallel.

Does that mean that laminate is more likely to reverbate while being played?

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1 hour ago, Televet said:

Mark, is that a Francois Chanot?

Probably.  It doesn’t have a label.  It’s part of a collection that the University of Michigan owns.   I was asked to make it playable a few weeks ago and one of the violin profs will apparently be doing some recording with it.

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Like you said, plywood is more dimensionally stable, so it doesn't crack when exposed to low RH. Also, cross grain stiffness is higher due to the perpendicular grain in the middle layer, which can make it a bit tougher and more impact resistant. And it is cheap of course.

On the downside, laminates have noticeably higher acoustic damping (lower Q factor), meaning the plate doesn't ring as long when you tap it. This is usually not considered desirable in the guitar world at least, and especially not in the top. High damping tends to make the instrument less responsive, especially in the higher frequencies. Also, long grain stiffness is lower in plywood.

Laminates like plywood are typically only used in cheap instruments, but some high end guitar builders laminate the sides. The sides don't contribute much to sound production anyway, so the damping isn't really an issue there. Some builders laminate tops with a honeycomb lattice in the middle to make the top as light as possible, but that isn't very common.

 

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The string shop where I used to work offered hybrid basses and cellos with laminated backs and carved tops among their student offerings. The advantage is lower price and better durability for a school or child's instrument than a fully carved instrument, and yet better acoustic performance that a fully laminated (plywood) cello or bass.

Bear in mind that old plywood Kay basses still bring a pretty good price among certain users, especially people who haul them around and gig a lot, mostly playing pizz.

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Some instrument suppliers offer low-end instruments that are made with laminated wood. The bottom level comes with a laminated back and top, then there’s a “hybrid” where the back and ribs are laminated but the top is carved, then there are “fully carved” instruments.

The hybrids are often marketed to shops that do business with school districts. By avoiding the cost of carved backs, the price point can be low enough for schools to agree to buy them for their orchestras.

There are “hybrid” bows as well. Those tend to be carbon fiber covered with a wood veneer to give the appearance of a more traditional bow. JonPaul from Salt Lake City makes one called the Fusion. 

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On 4/4/2021 at 7:25 AM, Rue said:

I assume 'hybrid' is referring to laminate (veneered) and/or a mix of natural and synthetic materials.  I actually haven't noticed this term being used...until yesterday. Maybe I just wasn't looking.

I know there's a general negative association with laminates, although with guitars at least, they have a place.

So? Is this negativity valid? To what extent? Is this the wave of the future. Any worthwhile pros?

 

The ‘negative’ stigma comes solely from mass produced instruments which have been rapidly and poorly made that way. If plywood is used, the usually procedure is to press an already glued panel into shape. This is the main reason why the arching does not keep its shape.
 

However, IMO there is certainly room for serious research on those materials. This means that more thought through approaches might actually bring better results when layers are glued directly in shape over a mound. This was discussed in some of the latest posts on my super light violin thread. There are technical difficulties for the top and the back. 

One thing I might try as an experiment is a partially laminated top in making a complete edge doubling. I was thinking about doing it with 1 mm plywood. Previewed are two benefits: a stiffer zone around the edge and secondly it would be easier to open the top. 
 

So far, I can say that laminated ribs seem to be a possible option and this idea actually dates back to Antonio Stradivari who reinforced the ribs of his cellos with linen. 

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I'm finding this quite interesting. 

I grew up with the mind set that veneers (in general) are bad, solid wood is good...unless it's dry and cracked...and so on.

Maybe a combination/hybrid is a better, more affordable way to go. Not for professionals necessarily, but for students and amateurs.

 

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One of my future projects is to make a laminate (plywood) guitar. I knew the cross ply added cross stiffness but I never really thought of the long grain stiffness, it would be reduced. I might have to pick stiffer pieces for the outer layers.

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I can see how if the work was done properly, a laminated instrument might be of interest for experimental analysis.

As it’s already been pointed out, the instruments that exist on the current market are very poor quality and they don’t tend to hold up very well. The layers de-laminate and the necks break out. I’ve seen brand new cellos with necks broken out even before they’re ever set up. Sometimes the upper layers will chip away, making repairs a nightmare.

The hybrid bows I’ve seen that had carbon fiber cores with wood veneer were student level bows, but I have seen more expensive carbon fiber bows that had color added to the resin to give an appearance somewhat like wood from a distance. 

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22 hours ago, Andreas Preuss said:

The ‘negative’ stigma comes solely from mass produced instruments which have been rapidly and poorly made that way. If plywood is used, the usually procedure is to press an already glued panel into shape. This is the main reason why the arching does not keep its shape.
 

However, IMO there is certainly room for serious research on those materials. This means that more thought through approaches might actually bring better results when layers are glued directly in shape over a mound. This was discussed in some of the latest posts on my super light violin thread. There are technical difficulties for the top and the back. 

One thing I might try as an experiment is a partially laminated top in making a complete edge doubling. I was thinking about doing it with 1 mm plywood. Previewed are two benefits: a stiffer zone around the edge and secondly it would be easier to open the top. 
 

So far, I can say that laminated ribs seem to be a possible option and this idea actually dates back to Antonio Stradivari who reinforced the ribs of his cellos with linen. 

I've made several violas and violins with 0.8mm thick 3 layer birch  plywood double edging on the top plate and it worked very well at protecting the plate during subsequent disassembly.  I permanently glued the plywood onto the top plate with Gorilla glue and then used regular hide glue for the joining the double edged plate to the ribs.  The plywood's cross grain direction prevents crack propagation and the plates always came off cleanly without any tear out of the plywood layer.

The thin plywood layer is hardly noticeable in the rounded edges.

All of my instruments are now made with 0.8mm  plywood ribs. I don't see any advantage of using solid flamed maple wood ribs other than they look nice.

I have also made top plates with laminated quarter sawn spruce wood. I used two layers of 1.3mm thick Sitka spruce veneer wood boded together with pheno-formaldehyde glue.  A vacuum bag & mold were used to form the arched plate shapes.

The two veneer layers had their grain directions a few degrees off parallel to a toughening crack branching effect to give better crack propagation resistance than if the two layers had parallel grain.  The glue layer also helps  reduce crack growth.

I believe the main limitation of sound output of traditional violins is the low cross grain strength of solid carved spruce wood.  Plates of solid spruce wood can't be made real thin and light because of their tendency to crack.

Another potential advantage of the laminated wood approach is the ability to change the material's damping by using different glue materials.  The glue layer can act as a restrained layer viscous damper. In my laminations the glue was very hard and stiff with low damping whereas other glues such rubbery contact cement would be soft and pliable with a lot of damping.

My currant thinking is that really good players might want short transients of their played notes to give crisp articulations of fast passages.  Every time I try to mathematically model this I conclude that the violin's plate should be very light and that it should have a lot of damping.  This is contrary to the opinion that tapping of the plates should produce a long ring which would be produced with low damping.  But I believe it was Joseph Curtin who observed that a Strad  violin top plate was very light and it had a dull thud when tapped.

In any case it would have been interesting to see how violins might have evolved differently if Stradivari had  vacuum pumps, vinyl bags, different glues, and spruce veneers had been available at the time.

 

 

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@Marty Kasprzyk

Marty, this comment made my day. Dang! Basically you confirm most of the points I came to conclude from my super light violin project. 

Plywood veneer edging. Decided.

A word to the double layered top. Yours is getting 2.6mm thick, unless you graduate it later. I am not hesitating to make a top as thin as 2.2mm provided I have good split wood. Now I am actually convinced that all you need is to press 2 split spruce sheets into form and join them together. (Without sandwiching)

I find your comment on the lacking cross stiffness of spruce most interesting. I figured on the super light violin that the lack of cross stiffness was the main factor for the dull sound. But actually I  managed to counterbalance the weak cross stiffness of the top with an ultra-solid lining structure on the top side by making a 3 layered lining. So I didn’t change anything on the top. Now I am only wondering what happens if the cross stiffness comes from the plate itself?

Well, dull tap tones as a parameter for good sound became the main reason for me to put all tap tone theories in the garbage bin. 
 

Violin evolution is not finished. I think it is high time to incorporate new wood working techniques which were not possible in Stradivaris time. The problem is that using new materials and techniques throws the classical concept of making violins out of balance resulting in disappointing results. But I am pretty sure that it is possible to work with new materials if we spend enough efforts to recalibrate the whole structure. That’s where I find my myself in 2021. 
 

 

Edited by Andreas Preuss
Small correction for better understanding.
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