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Just starting this endeavor


RobP
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A decade ago or so I used to make custom cabinets and furniture but my back...  well you know the story and it ain't pretty.  However, at this point I've decided to make my first violin from scratch using some of the unused wood I have stored.  (I've got some spruce that's probably 50 years old stored in the rafters of my shop.)

 

The big question I have comes from the fact that most violins sound too bright to me.  To see what can be done about this, I've been reading about plate thicknesses and some of what I've read says that by changing the thickness in certain areas you can move the tone around a bit on the overall spectrum.  Or so I think.  What I believe I've come up with is that leaving the plate a little bit thicker in the center and reducing the thickness just a touch near the edge of the plate should, and I emphasize should, give a deeper voice to the instrument.

 

I'm wondering if the knowledge base here would agree or not with this concept.  The change wouldn't amount to much, maybe .1 to .5mm thinner and/or thicker depending on where the difference is located.

 

Thoughts?

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For you first violin, I wouldn’t get too tied up in tiny details like that. There are a lot of other details that would outweigh a small change in thickness. If your old spruce isn’t cut correctly, or is the wrong density, it will make a difference. Just concentrate on doing everything well, and see how it turns out. After you’re finished, you can make significant changes by doing things like changing types of strings, or cutting a thicker bridge.

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Not the voice of vast experience here, but I’ve noticed the wood density plays a big role in the finish tone of the work. Noticeable in guitars especially ,probably due to large surface area size and the wide variety of  materials commonly utilized in their making, generally all else being more or less equal ,soft wood produces a soft tone . I’d have a tendency to seek the softer end , lower specific gravity ,  of the spectrum available, also just a guess but possibly a lower flatter  arch height so the lower frequencies can be generated easier.  In This combination I would expect a thicker than normal top .... that said I am curious to see what others have to say on the subject. 

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Moving forward toward the goal.  I have the book "Violin Making" by Bruce Ossman and I used the templates in the book to make the form.  Currently the form is (mostly) shaped although I still have all the clamping holes to drill and cut the form for the corner blocks.  I have this nice chunk of soft maple about 6" x 8" square and 2 feet long which should make nice corner blocks unless someone says not to use it.

In my rafters is a very nice 8/4 board (2" thick) of well flamed red birch about 12 feet long by 11 inches wide.  I have another piece of it about 5 1/2 inches wide and 30 inches long that I'm going to use for the back and ribs.

 

Can't do pics because I'm too newb here, sorry.

 

The bad news is that it turns out the spruce I thought I had in the rafters is actually Douglas Fir.  For a first (and maybe second) violin I'll probably use it because it's available.  It's got fairly tight grain although not nearly as tight as the top plate on my current violin.

Edited by RobP
typo
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Bad news is, the violin has been specifically designed to produce the sound that I think you describe as not liking. Wood properties, arching and graduation work hand in hand to get to a sound that is both sweet and projecting, and I think you object to the projecting part, which is highly sought after by professional players. You can ofcourse attempt to make a bad violin. I'm sure some here will be able to give you great advise on that. (If you know how to make a good sounding violin, you also know how to make a bad sounding violin) But if you want a different sound, maybe make a different instrument? How about making a viola instead? Or see if you prefer Hardanger sound. Or think about making early music instruments like violas da gamba, rebecs and the like. Many options!

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13 hours ago, RobP said:

  I have the book "Violin Making" by Bruce Ossman and I used the templates in the book to make the form. 

Throughout the years I have noticed the novice maker having trouble making the c -bouts look right using the Ossman manual - there may be something wrong with the plan imo because I see a too small c-bout area trying to match the rest of the instrument build.

If i'm right about what I just wrote then maybe do a little bit more homework regarding c-bout design/shape.

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On 2/12/2022 at 6:51 PM, RobP said:

A decade ago or so I used to make custom cabinets and furniture but my back...  well you know the story and it ain't pretty.  However, at this point I've decided to make my first violin from scratch using some of the unused wood I have stored.  (I've got some spruce that's probably 50 years old stored in the rafters of my shop.)

 

The big question I have comes from the fact that most violins sound too bright to me.  To see what can be done about this, I've been reading about plate thicknesses and some of what I've read says that by changing the thickness in certain areas you can move the tone around a bit on the overall spectrum.  Or so I think.  What I believe I've come up with is that leaving the plate a little bit thicker in the center and reducing the thickness just a touch near the edge of the plate should, and I emphasize should, give a deeper voice to the instrument.

 

I'm wondering if the knowledge base here would agree or not with this concept.  The change wouldn't amount to much, maybe .1 to .5mm thinner and/or thicker depending on where the difference is located.

 

Thoughts?

If you play your overly bright sounding violin a lot it will gradually sound more and more mellow as you lose your high frequency hearing.

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9 hours ago, avandesande said:

The Ossman book is OK if you just want to make a violin, but not much in there transfers to actually learning how to make decent one in the future. I only bring this up since you mention working on your first violin.

I know that there are other (maybe better) books out there.  In fact, one of the luthier schools has their textbook available (pricey!), but this is the book I have and am working from.  Violin #2 will hopefully be better than the 1st one and I can always use a different pattern and information source for it.

The key here is to learn what's needed to put it together with well fitting corners, good shaping, gather luthier specific tools and learn to use them, etc. before moving on to better and better.

 

 

5 hours ago, Marty Kasprzyk said:

If you play your overly bright sounding violin a lot it will gradually sound more and more mellow as you lose your high frequency hearing.

Hey, there's a solution no one's mentioned yet.  :lol:

Edited by RobP
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31 minutes ago, RobP said:

I know that there are other (maybe better) books out there.  In fact, one of the luthier schools has their textbook available (pricey!), but this is the book I have and am working from.  Violin #2 will hopefully be better than the 1st one and I can always use a different pattern and information source for it.

The key here is to learn what's needed to put it together with well fitting corners, good shaping, gather luthier specific tools and learn to use them, etc. before moving on to better and better.

 

 

Hey, there's a solution no one's mentioned yet.  :lol:

If that Book is by Brian Derber it is probably one of the most concise books on the subject, a good foundation. Of course it’s not every way of doing things … We all learn new methods and things as the journey goes , I had the good fortune of studying under his tutelage for three months…and trust it forward and back , long as you don’t take things to seriously…. 

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13 hours ago, RobP said:

I know that there are other (maybe better) books out there.  In fact, one of the luthier schools has their textbook available (pricey!), but this is the book I have and am working from.  Violin #2 will hopefully be better than the 1st one and I can always use a different pattern and information source for it.

There is the MJ Kwan notes from violin making school with many useful drawings.

https://fixitwithshading.com/csvm-construction-log/

Also the http://www.makingtheviolin.com/ has lots of good information and drawings for beginner.

Triangle strings has many articles on repair and setup that can be useful.

Many good things here on MN. Of course there is plenty of bad or "misinformed" information out there that one must be aware of. Check your sources and think before you comit something to your wood.

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Something is seriously wrong with the Ossman pattern I used.  After carefully sanding to the line (remember, I used to build custom furniture and cabinetry so I know how to do this to a very high standard with machines specifically designed to do this sort of thing) and flipping the form over, it "looked" odd.  So I did some measuring and discovered that the pattern isn't symmetrical.  It's not even close and the result is that the form is "bent" out of symmetry with the centerline.

 

It can't be corrected so it's trash and I'm looking for another form.  The one at http://www.makingtheviolin.com/ looks like a viable candidate.  Off to find some legal size paper...

Edited by RobP
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I’d politely suggest scrapping the Ossnan work and starting over. By memory he suggests more of a “fiddle” approach where any softwood including cedar will work for the top, the odd laminated ribs, and other quirks. Brian Derber’s book is well worth the money, but if you can’t get that the Chris Johnson violin book will lead you in a better direction.

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54 minutes ago, Carl Johnson said:

I’d politely suggest scrapping the Ossnan work and starting over. By memory he suggests more of a “fiddle” approach where any softwood including cedar will work for the top, the odd laminated ribs, and other quirks. Brian Derber’s book is well worth the money, but if you can’t get that the Chris Johnson violin book will lead you in a better direction.

At this point I plan on it because I'm not really interested in making a violin shaped object.  I'll look at both Derber's and Johnson's books and see where that goes.  I'm also looking at this book, even though the cost is out of this world, because if it's good enough to teach out of it ought to be good enough to learn from by self study.

https://newworldschool.cc/the-manual-of-violin-making-book/

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14 hours ago, RobP said:

At this point I plan on it because I'm not really interested in making a violin shaped object.  I'll look at both Derber's and Johnson's books and see where that goes.  I'm also looking at this book, even though the cost is out of this world, because if it's good enough to teach out of it ought to be good enough to learn from by self study.

https://newworldschool.cc/the-manual-of-violin-making-book/

That's one I'd like to have but for now it's just on my wish list.   If you need a form for the ribs.  makingtheviolin.com has drawings.  And there are drawings by Addie available here somewhere and there are images of Strad's forms that will print out full size on the Sergei Muratov website. 

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1 minute ago, MikeC said:

That's one I'd like to have but for now it's just on my wish list.   If you need a form for the ribs.  makingtheviolin.com has drawings.  And there are drawings by Addie available here somewhere and there are images of Strad's forms that will print out full size on the Sergei Muratov website. 

 

P - form - Strad.jpg

553944782_PGformpage22-moule-ms-21.pdf

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Also if this is your first build I highly recommend watching all of Davide Sora'a videos.  It's like being tutored by a master.  I don't think my build would have turned out half as good as it is if I had not watched those videos.  

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15 hours ago, RobP said:

At this point I plan on it because I'm not really interested in making a violin shaped object.  I'll look at both Derber's and Johnson's books and see where that goes.  I'm also looking at this book, even though the cost is out of this world, because if it's good enough to teach out of it ought to be good enough to learn from by self study.

https://newworldschool.cc/the-manual-of-violin-making-book/

Before going further I’ll say I have no financial interest in the new world school …. No stocks or investment at all he is simply a teacher I have been fortunate to have in my life ….Brian Derber is the new world school … and talk about a life’s work , he Graduated with a degree in ? In Science …? And went to Chicago school of violin making where he eventually became an instructor, many people here know him … after many years 20? he relocated up  near where I live an hour and a half away, this meant that I could attend a semester learning the craft …. He is a consummate craftsman and has been refining  his idea of best practice for years , his curriculum is Designed for  people with no wood working experience , although to say this is a beginner level book would be entirely mis labeled,…. I’m very thankful to have spent time with him , finances to continue in person study being the only reason I couldn’t complete the two / three yr program….. as for the cost of the book , I am sure as with most good tools that whatever cost it may be , it will pay for itself during its time with you and could easily be sold afterwards if taken care of for a small sort of rental fee …. Does the book encompass every  method ever known to man and woman on how to make the best violin the world has ever seen ,…. ? No …. Will it provide a rock solid foundation to act a jumping off point to learn more ? Absolutely… and in a world full of non absolutes …. That’s a plus . All the best , 

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I finally got the Stradivari Messiah template from makingtheviolin to print to size.  (Well, almost.  The pattern is 353mm instead of the proper 350mm but I can't get it any closer because of printer limitations.)  I'll be working on the template over the weekend and building the form once the template is ready.

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On 2/18/2022 at 5:31 AM, MikeC said:

Also if this is your first build I highly recommend watching all of Davide Sora'a videos.  It's like being tutored by a master.  I don't think my build would have turned out half as good as it is if I had not watched those videos.  

I swear I've watched every luthier video on Youtube in existence multiple times already.  Even the crackpot ones.

 

Didn't get to work on the template today.  Probably not going to make it into the shop tomorrow either.  Maybe on Monday but there's no rush on my end.

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On 2/18/2022 at 4:24 PM, RobP said:

I finally got the Stradivari Messiah template from makingtheviolin to print to size.  (Well, almost.  The pattern is 353mm instead of the proper 350mm but I can't get it any closer because of printer limitations.)  I'll be working on the template over the weekend and building the form once the template is ready.

That extra 3mm is a huge amount,, they tend to get larger anyway.

Shrink it.

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Finally managed to get out into the shop for 1/2 an hour to cut the plywood stock for the template and get the pattern glued onto it.  Once it dries we'll move on with cutting and shaping.

 

Wondering if I should start a thread in the maker's forum...

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Did you check the dimensions both of length and width? Laser printers are usually pretty precise in the direction across the laser element but shrink/stretch in the other dimension. Check twice before you cut your form too narrow. If you cut to inside of the line your c -bouts may become way too wide (corner to corner).

If you know how your printer (mis)behaves, let me know and I can prepare file(s) for you that will print correctly....

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