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Strads not symmetrical


Crimson0087
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1 hour ago, Crimson0087 said:

In copying templates from Stradivarius and del gesu I see that they are clearly not symmetrical in shape or in arching patterns....do most people attempt to replicate this asymmetry or do most use their dimensions yet strive for symmetry? Would they have not been trying to make a symmetrical shape?

This is the loaded question of loaded questions.  Neither thing is true to Strad.

Grama's favorite recipe for chocolate chip cookies doesn't control where the chips land in an individual cookie, nor do they land symmetrically.

No process that either puts the chips in a symmetric layout, or that copies their exact location in a particular cookie is true to Grama's recipe.

The only way to make cookies 'just like Grama's' is to let go of such anal desires for control.   Use Grama's ingredients, recipe, and methods.  Then let the chips fall where they may.

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I've read in books alot about how asymmetrical these old violins are but when I traced outlines of some I was surprised how little asymmetry there is. It's all in our tolerances. From old wooden object I expected several mm of asymmetry in shape based upon the texts I read but in reality they are generally much less (except exact shape of corners). Usually backs are pretty symmetric and tops deviate a bit probably as a result of their methods.

The arching can be very asymmetric, but considering the forces and soundpost pressure on such thin walls one cannot expect the shape remain as it started.

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12 hours ago, Crimson0087 said:

In copying templates from Stradivarius and del gesu I see that they are clearly not symmetrical in shape or in arching patterns....do most people attempt to replicate this asymmetry or do most use their dimensions yet strive for symmetry? Would they have not been trying to make a symmetrical shape?

Regarding the outlines (and ignoring everything else) it isn’t “Strad” that isn’t symmetrical, but antique violins that were built with nailed on necks. If you nail a neck onto a rib cage, the chances of nailing it on dead straight are minimal, and should one twist it, after the fact, to one side or the other, the c bouts of one side go North and the opposite side South (try it). I had big arguments about this years ago, with Roger Hargrave, who eventually gave in, and published a long article in the Strad about this, after I had just moved to Vienna (end of 1985, beginning of 1986. If you want a symmetrical violin outline, you should go for one with a through neck.

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17 hours ago, Crimson0087 said:

In copying templates from Stradivarius and del gesu I see that they are clearly not symmetrical in shape or in arching patterns....do most people attempt to replicate this asymmetry or do most use their dimensions yet strive for symmetry? Would they have not been trying to make a symmetrical shape?

I see Jacob got to the heart of it - but read Hargrave's del Gesu book on his site. Violins necks were nailed to the rib garland before the body outline was made. To take the body outline, the rib garland was attached to the back through the locating pins. This allows the neck to pivot to match the centre line of the back before the outline is scribed. Whether the locating pins were used or not, it is the pivot or twist that Jacob mentions above that causes the asymmetry - you can see this in every Strad poster - one bout will be higher than the other.  

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5 hours ago, jacobsaunders said:

Regarding the outlines (and ignoring everything else) it isn’t “Strad” that isn’t symmetrical, but antique violins that were built with nailed on necks. If you nail a neck onto a rib cage, the chances of nailing it on dead straight are minimal, and should one twist it, after the fact, to one side or the other, the c bouts of one side go North and the opposite side South (try it). I had big arguments about this years ago, with Roger Hargrave, who eventually gave in, and published a long article in the Strad about this, after I had just moved to Vienna (end of 1985, beginning of 1986. If you want a symmetrical violin outline, you should go for one with a through neck.

Exactly.  The asymmetries arise from the working methods.  The nailed on neck and twist align routine being a big part of that.

And it isn't just Strad, but the whole old Cremona tradition.

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15 hours ago, David Beard said:

This is the loaded question of loaded questions.  Neither thing is true to Strad.

Grama's favorite recipe for chocolate chip cookies doesn't control where the chips land in an individual cookie, nor do they land symmetrically.

No process that either puts the chips in a symmetric layout, or that copies their exact location in a particular cookie is true to Grama's recipe.

The only way to make cookies 'just like Grama's' is to let go of such anal desires for control.   Use Grama's ingredients, recipe, and methods.  Then let the chips fall where they may.

Amen.

5 hours ago, jacobsaunders said:

Regarding the outlines (and ignoring everything else) it isn’t “Strad” that isn’t symmetrical, but antique violins that were built with nailed on necks. If you nail a neck onto a rib cage, the chances of nailing it on dead straight are minimal, and should one twist it, after the fact, to one side or the other, the c bouts of one side go North and the opposite side South (try it). I had big arguments about this years ago, with Roger Hargrave, who eventually gave in, and published a long article in the Strad about this, after I had just moved to Vienna (end of 1985, beginning of 1986. If you want a symmetrical violin outline, you should go for one with a through neck.

Absolutely.

Making instruments in the proposed baroque style, minor modification to the technique can make it easier to get the neck dead center or very close to it, limiting the need for pivoting on the pins to a minimum.

1) flatten and square the neck heel, which you're doing anyway

2) gently clamp the rib garland with the form still in it into a front vise. With a very finely set block plane, flatten the area of the ribs that will receive the neck and assure the surface is square to the centerline - it takes only a couple of passes.

3) using a line of taut thread or a straight edge, place the neck on the planed surface and check that the center line scribed on the form is contiguous with that on the neck from the nut line to the bottom block. 

4) prepare a strong fresh batch of hide glue or, my preference, casein glue (I have shared a recipe on this forum)

5) apply the glue and rub the neck joint surface onto the rib joint surface, using focus to ensure the former sits exactly where it should on the latter. 

6) walk away and allow to dry. Clamping isn't necessary. 

Once dry, if you did your work well the neck is on dead center or very close to it. Get it the rest of the way with the pins after the form is out as discussed in Hargrave. Don't forget to put in a nail or screw, but even if you do the neck may hold for a couple hundred years, like at least one Thomas Perry I've heard about 

 

 

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17 hours ago, David Beard said:

This is the loaded question of loaded questions. ( ... )

Maestro Beard, would it be possible to leave out: "Neither thing is true to Strad."

Your comments Maestro Saunders' and those are the trunk of this thread...

The comments when read were shockingly true. I have spent hundreds of hours ( not at once ) staring at posters and books and sat mesmerized with the 3D dvd. But it appears to me, that having looked at many instruments over the years, the asymmetry, on the page, is there. Accurate images are also very important and there can be possible distortions in the past, but with the "stitching" of images, we are capturing what is far more closer to the 2D representation. Please let us not consider the quality of the wood or wgat might have been compensated for, by the maker at the time.

Let me also suggest that most of "greater" distortion observed was in the upper half of the instrument. 

For the sake of this response, I have not spent or put into spreadsheets measurements from Maestro Thoene photos. This is hearsay. But even going through Doring's books, the distortions is what I noted. And considering age of a one shot photo...  Maestro Saunders' post is helpful. But there might ( must also ) be other factors.

Please allow me to drift a bit to other 99 percent of instruments from the era...

Aside from bad fitting of necks, there are also distortions/ misplacement/ misfitting/ perhaps from bad neck resets or rebuilds? High tension e- strings? Early on, tracings were made from posters or drawing as close to 1:1 and wanted to make a steel or aluminum "half" ( to save time during the construction ) when folding the vellum ( tracing drafting paper ) that it was difficult to locate a point of symmetry.

The outer dimensions of the top ( or back ) are certainly not the same as the form... there are wear points like the upper bout of the player side of the top. But the differences visually, were surprising. Of course, none of the recorded instruments were on the bench.  

In a broader sense, centuries later ( and perhaps during ) some construction, distortion was reasonable? hould go back to my notes on the Messiah... 

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Depends what you define as ‘symmetric’. 

Makers if the past certainly had the intention to build symmetrical instruments but the baroque construction method limits a perfect control. (Technically speaking)

Artistically speaking it forces the builder to create each time anew the impression of symmetry by eye. 

We might well ask ourselves how much symmetry is needed to produce ‘violin sound’? Or, couldn’t it be that absolute perfect symmetry rather prevents to achieve very particular sound characteristics?

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Well I guess what I am getting at is this. When I start making a form based on something like I am doing currently the Kreisler. If I print the pdf and use that as  model it is asymmetrical from the start. For the violin I am making I cut the form in half and used the left half on both sides thus at least starting symmetrically. Obviously I will not be able to make PERFECT corners or even get the ribs PERFECT but this way it at least starts  symmetrical from the mold. Is this a decent plan? Or should I have used the mold as is starting in asymmetry.

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3 minutes ago, Crimson0087 said:

Well I guess what I am getting at is this. When I start making a form based on something like I am doing currently the Kreisler. If I print the pdf and use that as  model it is asymmetrical from the start. For the violin I am making I cut the form in half and used the left half on both sides thus at least starting symmetrically. Obviously I will not be able to make PERFECT corners or even get the ribs PERFECT but this way it at least starts  symmetrical from the mold. Is this a decent plan? Or should I have used the mold as is starting in asymmetry.

I think this is a very good way to do it!

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After reading this I'm more than ever convinced that glueing the back on while the form is still attached is the right way to go.

But I don't see some outline asymmetry as a major problem. However having the centreline of the neck directly in line with the centre line of the instrument is surely very important.

And having the arching profile of the top plate at the  bridge position symmetrical must be important.

It is all achievable using the right approach.

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38 minutes ago, Dennis J said:

After reading this I'm more than ever convinced that glueing the back on while the form is still attached is the right way to go.

But I don't see some outline asymmetry as a major problem. However having the centreline of the neck directly in line with the centre line of the instrument is surely very important.

And having the arching profile of the top plate at the  bridge position symmetrical must be important.

It is all achievable using the right approach.

Perfectly valid way to do it, many do! Certainly not the only way to do it, and far from necessary. But absolutely valid, and if you want to do it, you absolutely should. 

Having the neck on right is really awfully nice, and we should all endeavor to do it (as we have generally for the last 400 years). But one finds nice old fiddles with ever so slightly cocked necks rather often, and they still work. So it's no guarantee of success nor an instant stroke of death. 

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10 hours ago, Crimson0087 said:

Well I guess what I am getting at is this. When I start making a form based on something like I am doing currently the Kreisler. If I print the pdf and use that as  model it is asymmetrical from the start. For the violin I am making I cut the form in half and used the left half on both sides thus at least starting symmetrically. Obviously I will not be able to make PERFECT corners or even get the ribs PERFECT but this way it at least starts  symmetrical from the mold. Is this a decent plan? Or should I have used the mold as is starting in asymmetry.

For perfect symmetry the Markneukirchen method building from the back is better. Needs some training however.

 

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