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RobP
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I have a mid-quality violin on which you cannot play any closer than about 1/4" to the bridge without having to use a lot of bow pressure to avoid the whistle and no tone.  By a lot I mean breaking bow hair level of pressure even on a freshly rosined bow.

 

The string lemgth to the bridge is 238mm from inside the nut to the face of the bridge.  The rear edge of the bridge feet are on the line between the nicks and it is vertical and centered.  The soundpost however is further toward the centerline than the bass bar by about 1/8" and is about 3/8" behind the bridge feet.

I'm wondering if moving the soundpost out and forward would eliminate the problem of not being able to olay all the way to the bridge.

 

Your thoughts?

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46 minutes ago, RobP said:

I have a mid-quality violin on which you cannot play any closer than about 1/4" to the bridge without having to use a lot of bow pressure to avoid the whistle and no tone.  By a lot I mean breaking bow hair level of pressure even on a freshly rosined bow.

 

The string lemgth to the bridge is 238mm from inside the nut to the face of the bridge.  The rear edge of the bridge feet are on the line between the nicks and it is vertical and centered.  The soundpost however is further toward the centerline than the bass bar by about 1/8" and is about 3/8" behind the bridge feet.

I'm wondering if moving the soundpost out and forward would eliminate the problem of not being able to olay all the way to the bridge.

 

Your thoughts?

With a string length of 238mm, I guess we are talking 1/8 size, or 1/4 size violins (sorry, but I do not know the exact string length for such small instruments).
Small instruments are never made with much care, or attention to detail, so you probably have reached the limits of what can be expected. When your child grows a bit, and you need the next size up, it might be a bit better, but even if it is, won’t be by much. Once you get to 3/4 size things will be a bit more promising.

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1 hour ago, RobP said:

I have a mid-quality violin on which you cannot play any closer than about 1/4" to the bridge without having to use a lot of bow pressure to avoid the whistle and no tone.  By a lot I mean breaking bow hair level of pressure even on a freshly rosined bow.

 

The string lemgth to the bridge is 238mm from inside the nut to the face of the bridge.  The rear edge of the bridge feet are on the line between the nicks and it is vertical and centered.  The soundpost however is further toward the centerline than the bass bar by about 1/8" and is about 3/8" behind the bridge feet.

I'm wondering if moving the soundpost out and forward would eliminate the problem of not being able to olay all the way to the bridge.

 

Your thoughts?

328 or 238mm?

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I am assuming we are talking about a full size instrument.

You absolutely DO play that close to the bridge when you are playing in high positions.  On the E string you may sometimes play within a few millimeters of the bridge.  Inability to make the instrument sound at that contact point is a problem.

I would also be interested in how sound post position affects this.

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2 hours ago, Marty Kasprzyk said:

328 or 238mm?

Yeah, sorry, 328mm.  Full sized.  My blasted fingers never seem to do what they're told anymore.   Old eyes don't catch it like they used to either.

In addition to the hard to play issue, it also doesnt sound very sweet when played.  Which, again, seems to be a soundpost issue (maybe strings too).  I just get the impression it should be performing better than it does because even in  1st position it sounds dull.  Good ringing notes, just dull.  No life.

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45 minutes ago, RobP said:

Yeah, sorry, 328mm.  Full sized.  My blasted fingers never seem to do what they're told anymore.   Old eyes don't catch it like they used to either.

In addition to the hard to play issue, it also doesnt sound very sweet when played.  Which, again, seems to be a soundpost issue (maybe strings too).  I just get the impression it should be performing better than it does because even in  1st position it sounds dull.  Good ringing notes, just dull.  No life.

Is there enough rosin on the bow?

 

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If you mean the north side of the SP is 3/8" south of the southern edge of the bridge foot, that's like 9mm? 

There're many many postings about SP position on Maestronet. I've spent hours fiddling with that on my 3 fiddles (plus other people's); and at least on mine, one seems to want a distance of 1.5mm, one wants a tad more than 2, and the third is somewhere in between. I felt these distances were suspiciously small, but the Olympians who post here told me that these distances weren't that weird. 

Best of luck if you want to mess with it yourself! 

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44 minutes ago, Al Cramer said:

If you mean the north side of the SP is 3/8" south of the southern edge of the bridge foot, that's like 9mm? 

There're many many postings about SP position on Maestronet. I've spent hours fiddling with that on my 3 fiddles (plus other people's); and at least on mine, one seems to want a distance of 1.5mm, one wants a tad more than 2, and the third is somewhere in between. I felt these distances were suspiciously small, but the Olympians who post here told me that these distances weren't that weird. 

Best of luck if you want to mess with it yourself! 

I estimate it's more like 7-8mm.  Its hard to be exact but the distance is definitely more than the top thickness.

Fore/aft movements seem to be volume/tone.. More aft = better tone but it gets unstable the further back you go.  Then it crashes and begins all over again.  Think sine wave on a linear scale effect with a sharp cut off rather than sloped backside.

Lateral seems to affect the balance between base and treble.  Off to one side increases that side's power while reducing the other.  Kind of like the balance knob on the stereo but with bass/treble changes.  I'm way too far inside.  At least 4mm toward the basebar when I should be 1.5mm.

 

I do have the tools to do this, just not sure if its worth it for a mid-level violin.

I might record before and after to verify there's been a change and how much.  Im just not sure if there'll be a noticeable change.

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RobP, your understanding of nominal positions is pretty much in line with mine. The only thing I can add is: that rule-of-thumb about distance between north-edge of SP and south-edge of treble bridge foot should be equal to table thickness is maybe a little wrong? On my fiddles, I always wind up a mm or so north of that.

Re lateral adjustment: I always seem to wind up with the center of the SP directly behind the center of the treble foot. 

It sounds to me like your SP is really wrong. If you've got the tools, why not make some new ones and fit them? You can order stock from Stewmac. Fit is really hard, but if you slack the strings and pull out the end pin, you can peer in there and get some idea of what's going on.

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Addendum to previous post --

Should have mentioned: there was a note string some time back where people were talking about SP setters, and Michael Richwine posted a photo of the S-tool he uses, where he's re-ground the tip so it's more like a spear. I bought an additional S-tool and reshaped it like he did, and it's really cool: you can use it to slightly rotate the post around its vertical axis after you've placed it, which can really help with the fit.

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11 hours ago, RobP said:

I estimate it's more like 7-8mm.  Its hard to be exact but the distance is definitely more than the top thickness.

Fore/aft movements seem to be volume/tone.. More aft = better tone but it gets unstable the further back you go.  Then it crashes and begins all over again.  Think sine wave on a linear scale effect with a sharp cut off rather than sloped backside.

Lateral seems to affect the balance between base and treble.  Off to one side increases that side's power while reducing the other.  Kind of like the balance knob on the stereo but with bass/treble changes.  I'm way too far inside.  At least 4mm toward the basebar when I should be 1.5mm.

 

I do have the tools to do this, just not sure if its worth it for a mid-level violin.

I might record before and after to verify there's been a change and how much.  Im just not sure if there'll be a noticeable change.

Take good notes (pun) because after a few changes everything can become a confusing blur.

 A large north-south, east-west map with the sound post positions drawn on it and numbered in sequence helps.

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20 hours ago, RobP said:

I have a mid-quality violin on which you cannot play any closer than about 1/4" to the bridge without having to use a lot of bow pressure to avoid the whistle and no tone.  By a lot I mean breaking bow hair level of pressure even on a freshly rosined bow.

 

The string lemgth to the bridge is 238mm from inside the nut to the face of the bridge.  The rear edge of the bridge feet are on the line between the nicks and it is vertical and centered.  The soundpost however is further toward the centerline than the bass bar by about 1/8" and is about 3/8" behind the bridge feet.

I'm wondering if moving the soundpost out and forward would eliminate the problem of not being able to olay all the way to the bridge.

 

Your thoughts?

May I suggest that you make it fit properly and move it closer to the bridge and outward as you said. That should make for a good improvement. 

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Did some adjusting.  The N side of the SP Is 3mm behind the S edge of the foot now and I moved it outward a bit.  I don't remember how much but not very much because I only want to make small changes laterally and evaluate what I did.

I did manage to be able to play closer to the bridge, by about  3/4 of the prior unplayable distance to the bridge, before it got wispy again but the overall tonal mprovement is HUGE.  It used to resonate like a cruiseship horn - BRRRRRRAAAH! Now the tone is, for lack of a better term, "smoother" even on the G string.  A bit more volume too.

I'll mess with it some more as time goes by but at this point I think it needs bbrighter strings  More contralto and less alto. 

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GET somebody to fit your post right, and I don't mean a music store! I mean a proper violin shop, if you have one nearby. Fitting a sound post seems to be the last basic skill that people get right, and the one skill that most amateurs never get right, and it has the most leverage in how a fiddle sounds. If the post doesn't fit, it doesn't much matter where you put it. Plus, I run into a lot of tops damaged by people mucking around with posts.

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About 2/3 of the posts I pull out of violins that I acquire show clear evidence of making contact on only about 10% of the surface area on at least one end, if not both.  Same happens a lot on instruments that are brought in for service for the first time. Two tiny slices with a sharp blade, and I'm a hero! Tight spots cause all sorts of problems, starting with squeaks and poor bow response, and less than optimal sound.

The other mistake that people make, IMO: I've concluded that you just can't tell whether a post fits, just by looking. I used to think that it was enough to not have any shadow line, but then I also found that you can have a really good fit and still have a little shadow. I eventually adopted the same method that Davide Sora demonstrates so well in his YouTube videos on the subject. I dampen the ends of a post to swell or soften the grain a bit, and pull it into place and leave it long enough to tune the strings and listen ( I use setup strings so as not put unnecessary wear on a new set). Then I lower the tension, pull the post, and look for any tight spots, dampen the ends again, trim away the tight spot(s) with a single bevel blade, (just a whisper), check everything for flush and smooth, and replace. I know I don't get 100% perfect fit, but when violins I've sold or serviced, come back to me, I generally find pretty uniform signs of pressure or wear and no tight spots, and that's the best I can do so far, and that's the best I find when well maintained violins come in to me..

Other issues like tonal balance and bow response, and probably stuff I can't think to mention right now can be dealt with by changing location and length of the post, but if the ends don't fit right to begin with, the other stuff doesn't matter much at all IME.

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Messed around with the SP position a bit.  Sound quality vanished immediately no matter if I moved toward or away from the bridge so I put it back.

It plays nicely, lots of volume and good tone, but I think it still needs different strings.

 

Thinking about starting a thread on trimming the bottom arch of the bridge to see what kind of changes that would make.  Its stil a bit gravelly in tone and I'd like to see if it would change if the bridge was shaped a little differently on the underside.

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On 7/21/2022 at 10:01 AM, RobP said:

I have a mid-quality violin on which you cannot play any closer than about 1/4" to the bridge without having to use a lot of bow pressure to avoid the whistle and no tone.  By a lot I mean breaking bow hair level of pressure even on a freshly rosined bow.

 

The string lemgth to the bridge is 238mm from inside the nut to the face of the bridge.  The rear edge of the bridge feet are on the line between the nicks and it is vertical and centered.  The soundpost however is further toward the centerline than the bass bar by about 1/8" and is about 3/8" behind the bridge feet.

I'm wondering if moving the soundpost out and forward would eliminate the problem of not being able to olay all the way to the bridge.

 

Your thoughts?

Get a pro involved.

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46 minutes ago, David Beard said:

Get a pro involved.

Consider if I were alone on a desert island.  Would your advice be "helpful"?

Consider next if your possible follow up question of: are you actually alone on a desert island? is any more helpful than your first advice.

 

Professional luthiers aren't available everywhere.  Additionally, pro luthiers were amateurs once upon a time who learned by doing instead of "letting a pro do it for them" before just paying the bill.

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