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Milo Stamm Royal bridge - Why longer medullary rays matter?


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33 minutes ago, John Harte said:

I have a very vague recollection of the wood being referred to as plane wood

referring perhaps to the plane tree, genus Platanus, which is sycamore.  Ooops - reading back I see that's been noted already.

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36 minutes ago, John Harte said:

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

There it is! 
I would be willing to bet that the Super Luxe isn’t maple at all. 

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My experience from observing old bridges that have really lasted decades is that hard maple with incredibly close growth lines is best. Often these do not show spectacular medullary rays.

I like the rays to be running down straight from the top of the bridge viewed from the side to the centre of the foot. Most modern bridge manufacturers focus too much on spectacular medullary rays when grading for quality. I often find it more cost effective to buy their lower graded bridges, pick out 10 that I actually can work with and burn the other 90

 

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1 hour ago, Melvin Goldsmith said:

My experience from observing old bridges that have really lasted decades is that hard maple with incredibly close growth lines is best. Often these do not show spectacular medullary rays.

I like the rays to be running down straight from the top of the bridge viewed from the side to the centre of the foot. Most modern bridge manufacturers focus too much on spectacular medullary rays when grading for quality. I often find it more cost effective to buy their lower graded bridges, pick out 10 that I actually can work with and burn the other 90

 

I've noticed that the old bridges cut 50 years ago that are still standing straight tend to have a rather modest ray display. The rays are very light and close in color to the rest of the wood. Also the wood itself has a really creamy look to it. 

It seems like while.the grain count does have some kind of correlation to the longevity, the stiffness is most important. And sometimes those don't really reconcile. I've had very stiff bridges that had counts in millimeters per grain, and vice versa. 

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17 hours ago, Nick Allen said:

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. 

(Y)

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12 hours ago, John Harte said:

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.

P1080214.jpg

I only used a few as well, because they didn't seem to hold up very well. The gap between the kidney and the leg on the treble side would reduce in a short time, and the string grooves didn't wear well.
I do live in an area which is very humid in the summer though, so that may have had something to do with the distortion.

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1 hour ago, M Alpert said:

That's the stuff! Must be London plane then. Yes, the string grooves always seem to be terribly worn on these.

Anyone tried american sugar maple for bridges? Might be too dense and heavy, but stiff yes.

Is sugar maple the same as rock maple? I cut up some plain r.m. ready for making bridges but it seems a bit tough and chewy, and heavy. 

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I need a 46mm wide bridge for a viola. I have a chunk of maple. It is squared up to the medularies. So I cut the bottom to line up with the grain, and square with the face. Then cut it into a slab on an angle, Then fit the square edge to the viola. Then cut the side and roughed the top out. Drill a few holes. Put an awl point in the wrong spot; now I need to patch it with a toothpick so it doesn't stand out. 

I still need the cutting around the outside ankles, but it doesn't look much different than the 50mm Stamm bridge. 

I don't know about medularies and grain. The wood seems stiff. Mine is a little heavier at 6.5g compared to 5.9g. But it is thicker at the feet, the top is the same. The Stamm "clinks" on the table at D, mine at D#

IMG_1652.thumb.jpg.0b06fe9fe9212d784f0001de004978ca.jpg

 

IMG_1653.thumb.jpg.897762067f241822eb021ae47a42b562.jpg

 

IMG_1654.thumb.jpg.64873256e7f1b929e53913d3f739efa4.jpg

 

IMG_1655.thumb.jpg.ec8e610dfa765a4777b93337707460ac.jpg

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On 2/22/2024 at 11:13 AM, Michael Darnton said:

I've seen a rash of deluxe Aubert bridges where the space above the leg on the E side has collapsed and closed up. I don't think their "treatment" helps anything except maybe replacement sales 

Me too.  Dislike that treatment. Wood feels funny under the knife too.

23 hours ago, John Harte said:

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

When speaking to the Aubert people about these particular bridges in the early '90s (at the Frankfurt Music Messe), They were using the terms Plane Wood and Sycamore almost interchangeably. Sycamore is a member of the Plane family... the American branch apparently (excuse the weak pun), so I wrote it off to semantics.

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@Jeffrey Holmes The wood I like now is crunchy and crisp to cut. Treated Auberts remind me of toast soaked in Parmesan cheese. Or something . . . Mushy AND crumbly, both. My best blanks are hard, crisp, and light. Lots of stiffness without extra weight. I don't rely on the wood structure itself, the rays, consistency, or precise quarter, because the wood is so good.

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3 minutes ago, Michael Darnton said:

@Jeffrey Holmes The wood I like now is crunchy and crisp to cut. Treated Auberts remind me of toast soaked in Parmesan cheese. Or something . . . Mushy AND crumbly, both. My best blanks are hard, crisp, and light. Lots of stiffness without extra weight.

Yup.  Got so tired of treated Aubert bridges that I had bridge blanks made out of selected wood... Life is much better.

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13 hours ago, M Alpert said:

That's the stuff! Must be London plane then. Yes, the string grooves always seem to be terribly worn on these.

Anyone tried american sugar maple for bridges? Might be too dense and heavy, but stiff yes.

I read somewhere that Oriental plane is more widespread in continental Europe so it may be that type but this is only a minor point. 

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3 hours ago, Jeffrey Holmes said:

Me too.  Dislike that treatment. Wood feels funny under the knife too.

When speaking to the Aubert people about these particular bridges in the early '90s (at the Frankfurt Music Messe), They were using the terms Plane Wood and Sycamore almost interchangeably. Sycamore is a member of the Plane family... the American branch apparently (excuse the weak pun), so I wrote it off to semantics.

You could sort of imagine that someone in their wood buying department got mixed up about Sycamore (Plane) versus Sycamore (Maple) and ordered a truckload of the wrong one, and they machined it up before anyone noticed so they made up a fancy new name and stamp for these bridges, to flog them off. 

The Sycamore ( maple) that I use for bridges looks like typical bridge wood and it is light and stiff and crispy. 

Do you know which species of maple it was that you had bridges made from?

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1 hour ago, LCF said:

You could sort of imagine that someone in their wood buying department got mixed up about Sycamore (Plane) versus Sycamore (Maple) and ordered a truckload of the wrong one, and they machined it up before anyone noticed so they made up a fancy new name and stamp for these bridges, to flog them off. 

I am no botanist, but was first curious about all this due to mention of sycamore and/or plane in certification documents of antique instruments by some well respected European experts when I had the instruments in hand.

Based on what information I was able to find, I believe sycamore maple (Acer pseudoplatanus) and American sycamore (Platanus occidentalis) are different trees from different genuses  London plane is apparently a hybrid (Platanus x acerifolia) of Platanus occidentalis and Platanus orientalis (oriental plane)... In Europe what is referred to as sycamore is Acer pseudoplatanus (same genus as sycamore maple)... so hence, I assume, this fostered the semantics difficulties when I talked with Aubert.

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22 minutes ago, Jeffrey Holmes said:

I am no botanist, but was first curious about all this due to mention of sycamore and/or plane in certification documents of antique instruments by some well respected European experts when I had the instruments in hand.

Based on what information I was able to find, I believe sycamore maple (Acer pseudoplatanus) and American sycamore (Platanus occidentalis) are different trees from different genuses  London plane is apparently a hybrid (Platanus x acerifolia) of Platanus occidentalis and Platanus orientalis (oriental plane)... In Europe what is referred to as sycamore is Acer pseudoplatanus (same genus as sycamore maple)... so hence, I assume, this fostered the semantics difficulties when I talked with Aubert.

We should banish the word 'Sycamore' from common use due to the confusion potential.  Looking up the etymology of this name it seems to simply describe a large shady tree and in biblical usage it probably means some kind of mulberry.  I do not know how many angels can sit on the top of a sycamore. 

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46 minutes ago, Marty Kasprzyk said:

I lost track, what's the difference between a good bridge and a bad one?

You might expect the blanks to have maximum stiffness to weight in the vertical ( bridgewise) direction. But they are oriented with the radial wood direction vertical ie the cross grain under any string due to higher (circumferential) shear strength which minmises the strings biting  and stops the bridge splitting. A laminated blank might perform better.

Strong is what you want, elastic and not too heavy. Orientation of the rays helps you position the wood for best effect. Qed

 

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There is at least one other way that a piece of wood could be oriented for a bridge which would be resistant to being split by the strings pushing down. Like this: look at the side of a normal bridge with rays vertical and grain rings horizontal and imagine rotating it 90' so that rays are horizontal and grain rings are vertical. The conventional grain direction is then across the bridge.  I've never seen one made like that but it would be interesting to try. 

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I agree with the first reply.  

On 2/21/2024 at 9:58 PM, martin swan said:

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.


If you look on the bridge from the side, you can spot quite easily  if the wood grain is straight or warped and if the cut is perfectly perpendicular or it is cut at the angle. If the wood is warped and/or cut not perfectly you have quite a chance that your bridge will warp over time. As for as sound qualities, better wood and cut allows you make your bridge lighter, stronger and more durable then inferior material and uneven cut.

What is the most interesting for me, you can found maple bridges on USD 5mil instruments WITHOUT any rays or flames....
image.thumb.png.784fad55c61408e385a5c887f7421e0d.png
image.thumb.png.b5f79015d0456493870209c1510c0eef.png

 

 

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Plane trees grow to enormous size very quickly, at least in UK so I would expect the wood to be much softer than maple. I had some wood which looked beautiful and made a few baroque cello bridges but they were too soft and very prone to bending in all directions.

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