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Large size of old French violins


germain
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I have an early 19th century violin by Prosper Grandjon with LOB 365mm. Barely fits in a case. From what I understand this size was normal for his instruments. Was that a normal practice for other makers as well from that time period and what was the reason for it? Perhaps it had something to do with Stradivarius’ grand pattern?

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1 hour ago, germain said:

I have an early 19th century by Prosper Grandjon violin with LOB 365mm. Barely fits in a case. From what I understand this size was normal for his instruments. Was that a normal practice for other makers as well from that time and what was the reason for it? Perhaps it had something to do with Stradivarius’ grand pattern?

Very common at the time - maybe something deriving from Savart?

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I have a great big thing from Louis Moitessier and a F.Chanot style corner-less violin made by Noclas Florentin [see viaduct violins], both 1820s. Both long pattern. They were into big [I stand to be corrected] Maggini style? violins then, presumably for the mellow tone, though they are quite difficult to play in the upper registers for obvious reasons. Good second violin material. Wolf tone is more B and C. The Chanot model, set up for me recently by an expert luthier Andreas Hudelmayer sounds great, really powerful if a bit unsubtle. He had to angle the soundpost to make it work. The Moitessier, well, I haven't found its voice yet and thinking of selling it to another hopeful. Maybe give it some viola strings and see how it goes ;-)?Both are lovely to look at. The French Revolution had something to do with it, before the restoration of the monarchy they were much more experimental with violin shapes, in line with their equally radical political attitude.

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On 6/6/2021 at 11:51 AM, germain said:

I have an early 19th century violin by Prosper Grandjon with LOB 365mm. Barely fits in a case. From what I understand this size was normal for his instruments. Was that a normal practice for other makers as well from that time period and what was the reason for it? Perhaps it had something to do with Stradivarius’ grand pattern?

What's the string length?   

An easy way of making a louder instrument is to increase the string tension.  A longer string length requires higher tension to produce the same frequency.

About 200 years ago the original baroque violin necks were extended about 1cm to have a longer string length which would have made them louder.  The French or whoever may have also made the violin body longer to  maintain the same proportions.

I've projected these string length and body size increases trend to the present time so my violins now have have a body length of about 41cm with a string length of 38cm.  Modern string technology using steel or synthetic polymer has enabled this to be done.  

I suspect that the original violin size was limited by gut string's strength.

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On 6/9/2021 at 3:49 AM, Marty Kasprzyk said:

What's the string length?   

An easy way of making a louder instrument is to increase the string tension.  A longer string length requires higher tension to produce the same frequency.

About 200 years ago the original baroque violin necks were extended about 1cm to have a longer string length which would have made them louder.  The French or whoever may have also made the violin body longer to  maintain the same proportions.

I've projected these string length and body size increases trend to the present time so my violins now have have a body length of about 41cm with a string length of 38cm.  Modern string technology using steel or synthetic polymer has enabled this to be done.  

I suspect that the original violin size was limited by gut string's strength.

On this French violin , the body length is longer, up to 360mm, but the stop length is short, often 190mm.

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On 6/11/2021 at 2:51 AM, christian bayon said:

On this French violin , the body length is longer, up to 360mm, but the stop length is short, often 190mm.

Christian,

Is this a general trait for the large French violins of the period or are you speaking of specific instruments? Have you noticed the large sized French instruments of the early 20th century continuing this trend?

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I have been thinking about this and would also very much like an answer from someone knowledgeable in the history of the evolution of the modern violin. There seems to have come into fashion in the late 18 hundreds to play on larger instruments, and I think this is due to a development that began in France. 

The Hills, Stradivari his life and work, Dover edition p. 257, quote a letter from Rev. Thomas Twining, dated May 4th 1791, who complains about his Stainer when compared to his Strad, that it is "undersized, and on that account less valuable". 

I guess It may have been due to a new playing technique and/or sound preference. I also have a theory that goes deeper, that I may spare it for another occasion. 

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On 6/16/2021 at 11:13 AM, Torbjörn Zethelius said:

I have been thinking about this and would also very much like an answer from someone knowledgeable in the history of the evolution of the modern violin. 

I am not very knowledgeable with the history of the evolution but there is this. 

Using the design method of Bagatella/Otto if you divide 360 mm or 365 mm by 72 parts the measurement between parts on the horizontal/vertical main center line will be 5.0 mm for either length.

That would discount the circle/doilies method of violin design, imo.

 

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