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Milo Stamm Royal bridge - Why longer medullary rays matter?


ViolinAnanda

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I've heard that it matters a lot in a bridge when the medullary rays are as continuous as possible. I'm gonna order soon Milo Stamm Royal or Premium bridge and I was wandering if I should ask the shop dealer in internet to send me pictures of available examples of their stock and pick one with the longest medullary rays or maybe don't bother.

If the medullary rays are longest would that mean the wood quality is stiffer, more durable or transfers sound vibrations even better? What are the reasons behind it

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1 hour ago, ViolinAnanda said:

I've heard that it matters a lot in a bridge when the medullary rays are as continuous as possible. I'm gonna order soon Milo Stamm Royal or Premium bridge and I was wandering if I should ask the shop dealer in internet to send me pictures of available examples of their stock and pick one with the longest medullary rays or maybe don't bother.

If the medullary rays are longest would that mean the wood quality is stiffer, more durable or transfers sound vibrations even better? What are the reasons behind it

It means that the bridge (or at least one face of it) is cut perfectly on the quarter. 

How visible and continuous the medullary rays are would seem a bit insignificant compared to the density of the wood and how you cut the bridge.

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1 hour ago, ViolinAnanda said:

I've heard that it matters a lot in a bridge when the medullary rays are as continuous as possible. I'm gonna order soon Milo Stamm Royal or Premium bridge and I was wandering if I should ask the shop dealer in internet to send me pictures of available examples of their stock and pick one with the longest medullary rays or maybe don't bother.

If the medullary rays are longest would that mean the wood quality is stiffer, more durable or transfers sound vibrations even better? What are the reasons behind it

The rays must be as continuous as possible when observing the bridge from its side (in section), not from its faces. No magic, they are a simple indication that the cut and therefore the orientation of the grain is correct

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If you look at the bridges of any great shops of yesteryear, none of them exhibited the type of maple, which bridges seem to be made of today. Those bridges had tight grain, and medullary rays which were quite fine, and light in colour. They were there, but not the most prominent feature.

Now bridge wood seems to be selected based on just how dark, wide, and prominent the rays are. The colour of them looks like a totally different type of maple. They do not seem stronger than the old bridges, if anything weaker and more prone to bending.

And whilst I may be wrong, it seems to me, that there has been a change, to make the wood visually more impressive, rather than its performance more impressive. This goes hand in hand, with hideous large manufacturers brands filling up one side of the bridge. It's all about how it looks...

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5 minutes ago, Dr. Mark said:

So a fad, nothing more...?

 

Far from it.

If the medullary rays are not continuous it means that the grain is crooked, and the mechanical characteristics of the bridge drop dramatically. It will bend more easily and the vibrational efficiency will be lower.

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I have heard it promoted that the rays should be on the back, to add support straight down to the top, and on the front, to avoid collapse in that direction. I have not been able to discern a difference beyond theoretical and cut my bridges so that the cuts are square to the back side, ignoring the rays, which prevents having to turn all the cuts around to square them to the bottoms of the feet, unavoidably enlarging them and weakening places I want to remain full stiffness.

I don't find that being a little off quarter one way of the other impedes what I'm looking for tonally, and haven't generally had my bridges fold up from that approach, either. That direction of stiffness doesn't relate much to my model of how the bridge functions, anyway.

In the 80s when the Aubert sons took over and then, I think, sold the company, someone got the idea that if violin people wanted to see stripes they'd give them beech (or a similar wood) that's all stripes, and long ones, charging premium prices. That went over like a lead balloon. Do they still make those?

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1 hour ago, Davide Sora said:

Far from it.

If the medullary rays are not continuous it means that the grain is crooked, and the mechanical characteristics of the bridge drop dramatically. It will bend more easily and the vibrational efficiency will be lower.

The medullary rays go out radially from the center of the tree.  If you are especially persnickety you can cut your bridges from wood from one unique distance from the center of the tree such that both the front face and the back face of the bridge are exactly matching the angular direction of the the rays which then show up as long lines when the top of the bridge and feet of the bridge are cut with their correct thicknesses.

Less persnickety perfectionists can have the bridge cut (still expensive) from many different distances from the center of the tree such that only one bridge face can show the long medullary lines and people can argue whether that should be on the front or back face.  The other bridge face has short medullary lines. 

Even less persnickety bridge cutting (cheap bridges) have neither bridge surface matching the exact angle of the medullary lines so they appear only as short lines.  Maybe they are inferior but I've never seen any carefully done listening tests or durability tests that show this.

Personally I like short lines at my grocery store's check out, but on the other hand, if a restaraunt has long lines it must be good.

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6 hours ago, Michael Darnton said:

I have heard it promoted that the rays should be on the back, to add support straight down to the top, and on the front, to avoid collapse in that direction. I have not been able to discern a difference beyond theoretical and cut my bridges so that the cuts are square to the back side, ignoring the rays, which prevents having to turn all the cuts around to square them to the bottoms of the feet, unavoidably enlarging them and weakening places I want to remain full stiffness.

I don't find that being a little off quarter one way of the other impedes what I'm looking for tonally, and haven't generally had my bridges fold up from that approach, either. That direction of stiffness doesn't relate much to my model of how the bridge functions, anyway.

In the 80s when the Aubert sons took over and then, I think, sold the company, someone got the idea that if violin people wanted to see stripes they'd give them beech (or a similar wood) that's all stripes, and long ones, charging premium prices. That went over like a lead balloon. Do they still make those?

I think they were what the English call "plane" trees, a species similar to American sycamore. I may be wrong too... yeah, that didn't take on, and they still look funny, zebra bridges!

Anyone know that species?

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1 hour ago, M Alpert said:

I think they were what the English call "plane" trees, a species similar to American sycamore. I may be wrong too... yeah, that didn't take on, and they still look funny, zebra bridges!

Anyone know that species?

Platanus Acerifolia is London plane, a cross between American plane P Occidentalis and oriental plane P. Orientalis. American plane is what Americans call Sycamore. Sycamore otoh is what English call Acer Pseudoplatanus which is a maple. London plane is sometimes called lacewood because the rays are so fine and prolific. 

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9 hours ago, Marty Kasprzyk said:

The medullary rays go out radially from the center of the tree.  If you are especially persnickety you can cut your bridges from wood from one unique distance from the center of the tree such that both the front face and the back face of the bridge are exactly matching the angular direction of the the rays which then show up as long lines when the top of the bridge and feet of the bridge are cut with their correct thicknesses.

Less persnickety perfectionists can have the bridge cut (still expensive) from many different distances from the center of the tree such that only one bridge face can show the long medullary lines and people can argue whether that should be on the front or back face.  The other bridge face has short medullary lines. 

Even less persnickety bridge cutting (cheap bridges) have neither bridge surface matching the exact angle of the medullary lines so they appear only as short lines.  Maybe they are inferior but I've never seen any carefully done listening tests or durability tests that show this.

Personally I like short lines at my grocery store's check out, but on the other hand, if a restaraunt has long lines it must be good.

Many consider me a bit persnickety, but I have never gotten to the point of asking the manufacturer of the bridges where on the trunk they were cut, I think he would make fun of me for my excessive fussiness...:lol:

They already look at me perplexed when I buy bridges because I ask to see only the highest quality ones available, and I choose them one by one, wasting a lot of time to take out a dozen bridges from a box containing at least a hundred. Maybe they also don't like the building up of a line of customers waiting for me to finish selecting those that for them are already all top-quality bridges:D

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3 hours ago, LCF said:

Platanus Acerifolia is London plane, a cross between American plane P Occidentalis and oriental plane P. Orientalis. American plane is what Americans call Sycamore. Sycamore otoh is what English call Acer Pseudoplatanus which is a maple. London plane is sometimes called lacewood because the rays are so fine and prolific. 

Thanks, that was thorough!

Do you know the bridges we were talking about, were those from London plane?

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1 minute ago, M Alpert said:

Thanks, that was thorough!

Do you know the bridges we were talking about, were those from London plane?

Not seen those specific ones but I have seen it used on others.  Coincidentally I have an antique one string buskers fiddle which is made from plane tree/lacewood. 

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7 minutes ago, LCF said:

Not seen those specific ones but I have seen it used on others.  Coincidentally I have an antique one string buskers fiddle which is made from plane tree/lacewood. 

Btw to close the loop I make my own bridges out of wood from an English Sycamore  which grew locally. Some of the nicer pieces of wood came from branches rather than main trunk. One wood I would like to try for bridges is Cornus Florida, dogwood. It looks like a maple but with finer rays.

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15 hours ago, Davide Sora said:

The rays must be as continuous as possible when observing the bridge from its side (in section), not from its faces. No magic, they are a simple indication that the cut and therefore the orientation of the grain is correct

Not sure if I understand it right.

Observing it like in this picture

On sides I dont see much rays, usually the most visible rays when looking at front and back faces.20240222_133935.thumb.jpg.d63b8ea6fdd2c64cc018b96be50d7b85.jpg

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Seen edge-on the rays are those very thin parallel vertical lines, slightly darker and slightly curved in your pic. If you follow one to where it might arrive at the front or back surfaces of the bridge you will see it appearing on that surface as a fleck.   You can also see the grain rings in your photo as dark lines which are nearly horizontal. The rays are like little ribbons that go across the grain and in this view you are seeing the edge of them. 

 

Assuming it's smooth and I'm not just seeing saw cuts!

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15 hours ago, Michael Darnton said:

I have heard it promoted that the rays should be on the back, to add support straight down to the top, and on the front, to avoid collapse in that direction. I have not been able to discern a difference beyond theoretical and cut my bridges so that the cuts are square to the back side, ignoring the rays, which prevents having to turn all the cuts around to square them to the bottoms of the feet, unavoidably enlarging them and weakening places I want to remain full stiffness.

I don't find that being a little off quarter one way of the other impedes what I'm looking for tonally, and haven't generally had my bridges fold up from that approach, either. That direction of stiffness doesn't relate much to my model of how the bridge functions, anyway.

In the 80s when the Aubert sons took over and then, I think, sold the company, someone got the idea that if violin people wanted to see stripes they'd give them beech (or a similar wood) that's all stripes, and long ones, charging premium prices. That went over like a lead balloon. Do they still make those?

Aubert is till in the commode as far as QC and reputation go. Their bridges are almost all garbage anymore. I find that it doesn't matter which way you orient the medullaries, with these aubert blanks. They still bend like boiled pasta. 

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2 hours ago, LCF said:

Seen edge-on the rays are those very thin parallel vertical lines, slightly darker and slightly curved in your pic. If you follow one to where it might arrive at the front or back surfaces of the bridge you will see it appearing on that surface as a fleck.   You can also see the grain rings in your photo as dark lines which are nearly horizontal. The rays are like little ribbons that go across the grain and in this view you are seeing the edge of them. 

 

1 hour ago, Davide Sora said:

I see many, see LCF's post

In reality using physical eyes and right light settings the vertical lines are nearly invisible fod me, it's because my phone used auto-contrast in the picture they became visible. Its easier to notice horizontal lines on the sides without effort though.

The pictures below show uncarved $10 Milo Stamm Standard and carved $40 Milo Stamm Royal. Interesting that the horizontal grain lines seem to be of the same consistency in both, yet the Royal version is much stiffer. The vertical lines on one side are more visible than on the other side in second picture. If they had no signatures I would have hard times telling that they are different through visuals. The only difference is that on front face the Royal version has thicker flecks.

20240222_165652.jpg

20240222_165828.jpg

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58 minutes ago, ViolinAnanda said:

 

In reality using physical eyes and right light settings the vertical lines are nearly invisible fod me, it's because my phone used auto-contrast in the picture they became visible. Its easier to notice horizontal lines on the sides without effort though.

The pictures below show uncarved $10 Milo Stamm Standard and carved $40 Milo Stamm Royal. Interesting that the horizontal grain lines seem to be of the same consistency in both, yet the Royal version is much stiffer. The vertical lines on one side are more visible than on the other side in second picture. If they had no signatures I would have hard times telling that they are different through visuals. The only difference is that on front face the Royal version has thicker flecks.

 

Yep, medullary rays are only part of the picture, then there are the more or less wide and regular grains, the density of the material, and all the other properties that make a manufacturer decide which rough block of wood is suitable for high-quality bridge and which ones for the cheapest ones. Then, wood properties are not homogeneous throughout the raw block, so you can find good bridges even in the cheap qualities (rarer) and not good ones in the high-quality ones. This is why I don't blindly trust the brand, but I choose them one by one.

The brand doesn't mean much to me, in fact I always remove it from my bridges.

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On 2/22/2024 at 1:19 PM, Ted skreko said:

Aubert made sycamore bridges 20+ years ago called Super Luxe I did know a handful of people that seemed to really like them. 

Ted, are you sure about that? Many years ago, I sent one of the older and fairly dense Aubert bridges to the forestry department at Michigan State University to find out what it was. They said that it was sycamore.
I suspect that the SuperLuxe bridges might have been something else.

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3 hours ago, Ted skreko said:

Aubert made sycamore bridges 20+ years ago called Super Luxe I did know a handful of people that seemed to really like them. 

See photo below. I bought a number of these (violin, viola, cello) when they first became available (30+ years ago???) but only ever used a few. I have a very vague recollection of the wood being referred to as plane wood versus the standard type of maple that Aubert generally used.

P1080214.jpg

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