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Wild Sound Post Setup


Shunyata
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My sister sent me photos of a fiddle my grandfather made in his teens, and he subsequently played it in dance halls as a young man.

One of the photos had a surprise... a dime centered under the soundpost!  I am betting there is some tradition or backstory here.  Anyone come across this before?

IMG_4300.jpg

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Ahhh....the ol' dime under the sound post trick.    No, sorry, I have never heard of it, and wonder whether it might have been a stopgap measure which was just left in place.    Assuming the coins used were current, that would at least be one way to date violins.

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1 minute ago, Brad H said:

Ahhh....the ol' dime under the sound post trick.    No, sorry, I have never heard of it, and wonder whether it might have been a stopgap measure which was just left in place.    Assuming the coins used were current, that would at least be one way to date violins.

Ah Hah ..... a dutzenarbeit with a 1737 Italian ducat under the soundpost would fetch a pretty penny at auction I'm sure:D

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I guess it could be a cheat.  Stand up the sound post on a dime before gluing up the body.  But you can still move the soundpost by sliding the dime around... without it falling over.

I can't believe he would do that, though.  I have the fiddle his father (my great grandfather) made, and that has a normal sound post that I have adjusted myself.  Surely he could have helped his son put in a soundpost properly.

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23 minutes ago, Shunyata said:

I guess it could be a cheat.  Stand up the sound post on a dime before gluing up the body.  But you can still move the soundpost by sliding the dime around... without it falling over.

Actually, it is a pretty clever hack for a fiddler. I have seen countless fiddles with a string around the sound post for re-standing it (still not easy); this avoids that problem. 

If this method kept the SP from falling down, and he liked the sound, it is all good. And better than gluing or nailing it to the back.

Remember that a lot of American fiddle players put rattle snake rattles inside their fiddles and did all kinds of crazy repairs, so a hack like this is not surprising at all.

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Violin is playable and sounds quite reasonable.

As you can see below, the fiddle is very "rustic", but a nice attempt for a 13 year old.  Amazingly almost all of the dimensions are spot on.  It is 1cm narrow in the hips and the neck length is 1cm short.  But other than that everything checks out, even the fingerboard projection.  

My sister has a scope camera and is going to get pictures of the inside.  Given how out-of-square most of the construction is, he clearly didn't use a mold.  So I am interested to see what the construction looks like.

IMG_4301.jpg

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A turn of the century silver dime won't be worth much, even in mint condition.  I found a bunch of coins from the late 1800s renovating an 1890s house on the East Coast.  Was sure I had struck it rich... but I hadn't.  :-)

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I was walking in a mall about 15 years ago with my wife and saw a wheat penny on the floor. When I picked it up it was not in good shape but it was a 1909 VDB S penny. What are the chances of that? Probably best to leave the penny or whatever in the violin.

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On 6/2/2021 at 8:19 PM, Shunyata said:

My sister sent me photos of a fiddle my grandfather made in his teens, and he subsequently played it in dance halls as a young man.

One of the photos had a surprise... a dime centered under the soundpost!  I am betting there is some tradition or backstory here.  Anyone come across this before?

IMG_4300.jpg

Looking at this reminds me of what we do in engineering to spread the loads. Does the violin exhibit cracks on the back plate? The dime could have been placed there to spread the load of the sound post. Just an idea but agree with others maybe the sound post was too short or over the years became wobbly hence the extra space of the dime but why not a small piece of wood.

Edited by PaganiniGuitar
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8 hours ago, PaganiniGuitar said:

Looking at this reminds me of what we do in engineering to spread the loads. Does the violin exhibit cracks on the back plate? The dime could have been placed there to spread the load of the sound post. Just an idea but agree with others maybe the sound post was too short or over the years became wobbly hence the extra space of the dime but why not a small piece of wood.

That does helpfully spread the load.  

If you wanted to further reduce the likelihood of sound post back cracking the back should be made concave rather than convex.  This would put the wood's cross grain direction of the back, which is weak in tension, into compression where it is much stronger.

While this might be a good structural concept the historically chosen solution is to simply make the back thicker and therefore stronger, stiffer and heavier in the sound post area.  This has some acoustic consequences -- the heavy and stiff back plate doesn't produce as much as the top which is helpful for violins.  

For violas the heavier back plate keeps it submerged downward in water while the lighter top plate is pointed up.  That way the open f holes don't cause the viola to sink.

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16 hours ago, Marty Kasprzyk said:

That does helpfully spread the load.  

If you wanted to further reduce the likelihood of sound post back cracking the back should be made concave rather than convex.  This would put the wood's cross grain direction of the back, which is weak in tension, into compression where it is much stronger.

While this might be a good structural concept the historically chosen solution is to simply make the back thicker and therefore stronger, stiffer and heavier in the sound post area.  This has some acoustic consequences -- the heavy and stiff back plate doesn't produce as much as the top which is helpful for violins.  

For violas the heavier back plate keeps it submerged downward in water while the lighter top plate is pointed up.  That way the open f holes don't cause the viola to sink.

Where do you recommend that the outboard motor be attached? And how high can one go in horsepower, before chinrest clamp attachment of the motor will fail? ;)

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1 hour ago, David Burgess said:

Where do you recommend that the outboard motor be attached? And how high can one go in horsepower, before chinrest clamp attachment of the motor will fail? ;)

Well putting an outboard on a violin might be challenge but it’s been done with a guitar... so yeah whatever works... https://mobile.abc.net.au/news/2009-01-23/josh-pykes-guitar-shaped-boat-made-waves-around/2590154?nw=0&pfmredir=sm

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6 hours ago, David Burgess said:

Where do you recommend that the outboard motor be attached? And how high can one go in horsepower, before chinrest clamp attachment of the motor will fail? ;)

Hide glue isn't so good for this.

 I wonder if the dime was chosen to go with the sound post because of its thickness or diameter or weight.

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