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Baroque violin soundpost diameter


Andro
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20 hours ago, Andro said:

Do we know much about original baroque violin soundposts, in particular average diameter? Would they have been thinner than today's norm?

Do makers of contemporary baroque setup instruments use thinner soundposts?

Is the standard today about 6.2-6.4mm?

 

 

If you read the manoscritto di Antonio Marchi it is clear that the original baroque sound posts (as made by the makers themselves) didn’t follow precise measurements. From the top of my head Marchi wrote in his book that the F holes must be wide enough that the sound post can pass through. (This Implies to me that the soundpost also must be thin enough to pass through an f hole) otherwise measurements in fraction of an inch are sometimes given in comparison to coin thickness and other standardized objects and certainly varied from region to region. (Just as weight and length units) 
 

In any case, baroque makers were not fussy about 0.1mm difference because they didn’t have tools to measure it.

For making today a setup on a baroque instrument I would simply test what works best for the sound and forget about theories. 

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13 hours ago, Brad Dorsey said:

I always wonder how baroque sound posts were fit in in viols without end pin holes to look through to see the fit.

It’s not so difficult to gauge vertical orientation by assessing the distance from the post to the C bout rib top and bottom to find a starting point.  I’ve never worried much about absolute verticality though.

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On 11/30/2021 at 5:52 AM, Brad Dorsey said:

I always wonder how baroque sound posts were fit in in viols without end pin holes to look through to see the fit.

Unfortunately William Monical has passed, he knew all the tricks. But some of his ex shop workers are scattered around who could help you out. 

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I was going to reply to this thread by quoting the Marchi manuscript, but Andreas beat me to it. i.e. the sound post diameter is dictated by the sound hole width.

If I may be excused telling anecdotes; I recently bought a violin my father made for a leading player in 1954 from his daughter. The violin is recorded in his log book, which I have. The label notes that it is a “copy” of the gentleman's Petrus Guarneri. It doesn’t remind me of any Guarneri, although I expect he would have copied some measurements. As I got it, I was very pleased, and was thinking to myself what nice violins the old man made, and took the strings off to clean 70 years worth of spit and sweat off it. It had a bridge on it with somebody's name stamp that I didn't recognise and a sound post that certainly wasn’t my fathers. The violin, presumably because of the “model”, had rather narrow sound holes, and some primate had forced a sound post of standard diameter through the sound hole, and obviously given up, since it was in incredibly tight, apart from not fitting, to the point where it had made a colossal dent on the inside of the fiddle. Then I noticed that this had caused a sound post crack in the belly. I thought, “Oh bugger, I will have to take it to a violin maker”.

The moral of the story is that anyone who wants his violins to exist long term, should make the f holes AT LEAST 6mm wide, or have a son who will repair it with due care and respect 67 years later.

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I recently worked on a violin that had chalk on the belly where the soundpost fits.  I presume this means the person who installed it did a chalk fitting.  I'd never heard  of it before, but maybe I'm just naive.  Assuming chalk is a viable way to fit a soundpost, I imagine the presence or absence of an end button hole is inconsequential.  

On a similar note, I've noticed a slightly burnished look on the soundpost ends where it makes contact with the plates.  I primarily fit with mirrors, but I think I can use that to confirm I am indeed getting 100% fit.  Do experienced luthiers ever use that trick?  Is it just a red herring?  If it is a valid method, then I suppose chalk wouldn't be necessary at all.  

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1 hour ago, chiaroscuro_violins said:

I recently worked on a violin that had chalk on the belly where the soundpost fits.  I presume this means the person who installed it did a chalk fitting.  I'd never heard  of it before, but maybe I'm just naive.  Assuming chalk is a viable way to fit a soundpost, I imagine the presence or absence of an end button hole is inconsequential.  

On a similar note, I've noticed a slightly burnished look on the soundpost ends where it makes contact with the plates.  I primarily fit with mirrors, but I think I can use that to confirm I am indeed getting 100% fit.  Do experienced luthiers ever use that trick?  Is it just a red herring?  If it is a valid method, then I suppose chalk wouldn't be necessary at all.  

I would be tempted to believe that the presence of chalk is due to a possible remedy to hold a slippery soundpost in place, rather than used for fitting. But I don't know, it seems to me that the difference in brightness on its surface caused by the compression of the contact points is much more accurate than the coarser marks left by the chalk, but I could be proven wrong because I've never tried with chalk (and I don't think I will).

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3 hours ago, Davide Sora said:

I would be tempted to believe that the presence of chalk is due to a possible remedy to hold a slippery soundpost in place, rather than used for fitting.

Me too. If one desired to use chalk for fitting a soundpost, how could the soundpost be inserted and stood up in exactly the right place and the right angle every time, without dragging it around a bit to get it in exactly the right position, leaving erroneous chalk markings on both ends of the soundpost all through the process?

That's not to say that some amateur couldn't have tried it, and gotten what he and his Mom considered to be spectacular results. ;)

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6 hours ago, Mark Norfleet said:

Perhaps the same way many of us do now, by using a mirror.

I always fit a post by looking through the end pin hole, using a mirror to inspect the fit of the far side.  But many (most?  all?) viols do not have end pin holes.  My question is about fitting a post in a viol without an end pin hole.  Do you mean to say that it's possible to do it by looking into a mirror through the F holes?

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9 minutes ago, Brad Dorsey said:

I always fit a post by looking through the end pin hole, using a mirror to inspect the fit of the far side.  But many (most?  all?) viols do not have end pin holes.  My question is about fitting a post in a viol without an end pin hole.  Do you mean to say that it's possible to do it by looking into a mirror through the F holes?

It's possible to examine and refine the fit of a soundpost from every side using a mirror, although it's far from my favorite thing to do.

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16 hours ago, Brad Dorsey said:

Do you mean to say that it's possible to do it by looking into a mirror through the F holes?

Most of the viols I’ve worked on, and all that I’ve made, have “C” shaped sound holes.  Yes, the fit can be checked with a mirror all the way around, top and bottom.  It is certainly easier with “f” shaped sound holes and a convenient hole through the bottom of the instrument.

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