Why do violin plates overhang the sides?


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I am having no luck finding the answer, a guitar builder asked the question and an hour ago I would have thought finding the answer would be easy. I am sure with the right string of words Professor Google would spit the answer out in 0.2 seconds along with the 1,200,000 wrong possibilities, I just seem to get the 1,200,000 wrong possibilities. I searched for historical pictures and it seems there were violins (or their fore-bearers) without the overhang. This is now bothering me and I do not want to take this unanswered question to my grave. Can anyone help on how the overhang came about?

 

 

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7 minutes ago, printer2 said:

I am having no luck finding the answer, a guitar builder asked the question and an hour ago I would have thought finding the answer would be easy. I am sure with the right string of words Professor Google would spit the answer out in 0.2 seconds along with the 1,200,000 wrong possibilities, I just seem to get the 1,200,000 wrong possibilities. I searched for historical pictures and it seems there were violins (or their fore-bearers) without the overhang. This is now bothering me and I do not want to take this unanswered question to my grave. Can anyone help on how the overhang came about?

 

 

There were disposable instruments, like Gamba, d’Amore etc. that had no “overhang”, but they are practically impossible to repair, because if you remove the belly, you can’t get it back together again, because there is always more bloody rib than edge

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12 minutes ago, jacobsaunders said:

There were disposable instruments, like Gamba, d’Amore etc. that had no “overhang”, but they are practically impossible to repair, because if you remove the belly, you can’t get it back together again, because there is always more bloody rib than edge

I had never thought of that! Makes sense. I would think that most string instruments don’t have overhangs?

DLB

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The first answer is that the tradition evolved that way.

There are likely many motivations behind that evolution, including Jacob's suggestion.

Also, a plate edge and ribs then join in a 'T' shape, giving an overall 'I' bar shape to the ribs.  This kind of shape gives increased stiffness to weight, particularly against motions out of the plane of the plates.  The curves and corners of the bout shape also do that.  So, out of plane stiffness in the sides seems to have been valued in the evolution of the design.

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37 minutes ago, David Beard said:

a plate edge and ribs then join in a 'T' shape, giving an overall 'I' bar shape to the ribs. 

I’m not sure how, since the outside of the ribs are flat, and the overhanging edge is not influencing the strength of the ribs in any way.

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9 minutes ago, Wood Butcher said:

I’m not sure how, since the outside of the ribs are flat, and the overhanging edge is not influencing the strength of the ribs in any way.

If you hit the side of the instrument against something it is more likely to hit the top or back than the 1.1mm ribs perhaps? It does form sort of an I-beam of sorts with the ribs and the lining.

DLB

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1 hour ago, jacobsaunders said:

There were disposable instruments, like Gamba, d’Amore etc. that had no “overhang”, but they are practically impossible to repair, because if you remove the belly, you can’t get it back together again, because there is always more bloody rib than edge

Guitar and mandolin restorers have to deal with that commonly. The ribs of mandolin are often 2.3-2.5mm thick Here's how Frank Ford does it.

http://frets.com/FretsPages/Luthier/Technique/Structural/CompressionTest/sidecomptest.html

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17 minutes ago, Wood Butcher said:

Still no.

Stubborn, huh.   Consider a cross section of rib and plate edges at right angles to the rib surface.  The plates sit across the top and bottom edges of the rib.  The overhang extends to one side, the flat of the plate to the other.  The plates make T shapes at both the top and bottom edges of the rib, with one side filled in with lining.

So, overall the rib + plates make an I bar cross section all along the sides.

This contributes to the huge difference in the very high pliancy of the sides to motion at 90° to the rib surface and 'in plane' relative to the plates versus a much lower pliancy to 'out of plane' motions.

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4 hours ago, jacobsaunders said:

There were disposable instruments, like Gamba, d’Amore etc. that had no “overhang”, but they are practically impossible to repair, because if you remove the belly, you can’t get it back together again, because there is always more bloody rib than edge

They were certainly not disposable, and there are people regularly work on them. 

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Because the first guy who made a violin fouled up and made the rib garland too small for the plates (though I'm sure his wife warned him about it), then refused to admit it was an error.  He probably wasn't good at asking directions, either.  :ph34r:  :lol:

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6 minutes ago, Violadamore said:

Because the first guy who made a violin fouled up and made the rib garland too small for the plates, then refused to admit it was an error.  He probably wasn't good at asking directions, either.  :ph34r:  :lol:

And then someone said, "That looks cool!" Then his buddy gets one built that way so the two of them can be a couple of bad asses. Then you know all the cool kids have violins with oversized plates (like pants falling off their behinds). Then another guy spices it up with purfling. And there starts another fad. Then somebody notices the cracks don't progress farther. And then after a while everyone is doing it.

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I would look first to the history and evolution as the main reason.

In paintings we see lots of various instruments were tried before we get violins.   At a fairly early stage, we have a highly varied family of plucked and bowed 'vielles' with many different body configurations, and many arrangements of soundholes, mostly of circle shaped and either open, covered, or partially covered. 

Most seem to have distinct back and front plates and sides. Many of these early vielle type instruments already show over hanging edges.  

After all, if your basic form has separate plates and sides, over hanging the edge is the easiest build. 

So, the more natural question might be why did some instrument familes settled on well fit edges that don't overhang?

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I would look on this from a pure aesthetically point of view. Assuming you make a violin with plates without overhang the corners would look pretty awkward. Additionally because you won’t be able to place the purfling in a structurally safe place approximately above the linings. 

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But if you figure that there has been many other instruments made at the time and they were built without an overhang, even bowed instruments, it is not a question of why other types of instruments didn't have an overhang but why this one does. I can't link to the picture because of the wrong format.

http://www.monoxyl.de/index.php?id=vielle

And "Informationen zu den Instrumenten"

gets a medieval drawing. Now does the picture show an instrument with an overhang or not? Can't tell by the picture.

 

 

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Just now, Andreas Preuss said:

I would look on this from a pure aesthetically point of view. Assuming you make a violin with plates without overhang the corners would look pretty awkward. Additionally because you won’t be able to place the purfling in a structurally safe place approximately above the linings. 

I think this is more practical then the current violin shape.

 

il_570xN.2196310050_edhk.jpg

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I am wondering if the overhang was in anyway connected to the large arch (sorry, don't know your terminology) of the top and back plates? All the historical instruments I looked at that do not have the overhang have more or less a flat top plate.

 

 

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7 minutes ago, printer2 said:

But if you figure that there has been many other instruments made at the time and they were built without an overhang, even bowed instruments, it is not a question of why other types of instruments didn't have an overhang but why this one does. I can't link to the picture because of the wrong format.

http://www.monoxyl.de/index.php?id=vielle

And "Informationen zu den Instrumenten"

gets a medieval drawing. Now does the picture show an instrument with an overhang or not? Can't tell by the picture.

 

 

This isn't really correct.  The iconography shows a rich mix of both approaches.  No overhanging wasn't predominate, just in the mix.

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5 hours ago, David Beard said:

The first answer is that the tradition evolved that way.

There are likely many motivations behind that evolution, including Jacob's suggestion.

Also, a plate edge and ribs then join in a 'T' shape, giving an overall 'I' bar shape to the ribs.  This kind of shape gives increased stiffness to weight, particularly against motions out of the plane of the plates.  The curves and corners of the bout shape also do that.  So, out of plane stiffness in the sides seems to have been valued in the evolution of the design.

Would be worth a test by cutting away the overhang (on a Strad:ph34r:) and see how the sound changes. 
 

I’d say that the curtate cycloid cross arching contributes more to the stiffness in that region than the overhang, because it creates a larger horizontal area around the rib contour. 
 

We could theorize if the overhang wasn’t ‘invented’ for more practical reasons than reinforcing the structure. If the instrument was closed, previewing any corrections which made it necessary to open it again, then having plates with overhang would make life much easier. However I think the strongest argument here is pure aesthetics.

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3 minutes ago, David Beard said:

This isn't really correct.  The iconography shows a rich mix of both approaches.  No overhanging wasn't predominate, just in the mix.

But then as you say, why not in other instruments?

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