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Making G and D more responsive less fuzzy


HoGo

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Hello folks,

some time ago restored my old German "Buchstetter" fiddle, cleaned and reglued top centerjoint and some old badly glued cracks and restored ends of corners that my son knocked, planed fingerboard, new nut, tailpiece and setup with Dominant mittels.

Now the A and E strings sound very nice but towards the G the tone is still a bit fuzzy and slower responding than I'd like. I'm mostly after bluegrass fiddle playing and the G doesn't fit the style. Last few weeks I tried soundpost adjustments with three different lengths of post but while it changed the tone (and I settled for a sweet spot not far from generic position), the general response of the G was always the same. I think this may be problem with strings not suited for this style so I'm going to order Helicores (medium) but I also considered bass bar or top graduations change - bass bar is fairly standard shape and size (about 12.5mm high, 15.5 with top), top is slightly heavy abround 78 g complete with bass bar and has slightly flat spot under bridge where it lost the arch. I think I could thin the top slightly for beter response (don't frown on me, the top was likely reworked few times before and has complete new edges -doubled all around with upper half of edges also new- so has no significant historic value) I may consider pressing the arch in center as well if that may be necessary.

It's just player fiddle and I may have some spare time while waiting for glue to heat or dry on my mandolins.

I'm learning fiddle and I certainly use a bit heavy bow hand which could add to the problem.

What would be your suggestions? I know there are few folks with experience with fiddle setup and adjustment (as opposed to classical violins).

Thanks!

Here is the fiddle before the work was done:

 

 

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So as nobody has anwered, I would say that it is easy to give more "bass boost" by scrapping away some wood, but you might as easy run into other issues by doing that, maybe wolf tones and the like. A 78 gr weight for a varnished belly with bassbar and possibly dense wood doesn't sound "too heavy" for me either.

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1 hour ago, Blank face said:

A 78 gr weight for a varnished belly with bassbar and possibly dense wood doesn't sound "too heavy" for me either.

Sounds 10g too heavy to me, assuming not-great dense wood.  15g too heavy for good wood.  But I'm a lightweight.

For bluegrass, low-frequency output is important, and thinner is better for that.  I have heard some bluegrass fiddles that sounded way overdone and tubby, but that's my personal biased judgement.  If that's the sound you want, I'd think you would want to go much lighter/thinner.  The back is another consideration.

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3 hours ago, jacobsaunders said:

I would start by not calling it Buchstetter

That's why I called it a "Buchstetter". Of course it is a usual with a fahrkarte. :)

I know fiddlers prefer thin fiddles and I have one of those too, a badly refinished Schoenbach violin with both plates sanded quite thin. But that one has also bass bar that is a bit weak (11mm or so) so it sounds a bit too tubby.

The OP violin has quite standard back thicknesses - about 2.5mm at bouts and 4.5mm at center (measured by my homebrew hacklipsticker gauge so may be  abit off), the top is hair below 3 mm in bouts and 3.2-3.3 in central parts. I wouldn't tinker with that unless better choice of strings doesn't work. Actually I don't want to shift towards bass as it is quite balanced as is, just the bass notes don't have that immediate crunch for faster passages.

3 hours ago, Aston4 said:

 Prelude G medium tension.  $7 shipped.  Dadarrio Kaplan dark rosin $8 shipped.  Done.  Thank me later. 

I will have a look at those strings too. Fiddle players seem to prefer Helicores or Prims.

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1 minute ago, HoGo said:

That's why I called it a "Buchstetter". Of course it is a usual with a fahrkarte. :)

I know fiddlers prefer thin fiddles and I have one of those too, a badly refinished Schoenbach violin with both plates sanded quite thin. But that one has also bass bar that is a bit weak (11mm or so) so it sounds a bit too tubby.

The OP violin has quite standard back thicknesses - about 2.5mm at bouts and 4.5mm at center (measured by my homebrew hacklipsticker gauge so may be  abit off), the top is hair below 3 mm in bouts and 3.2-3.3 in central parts. I wouldn't tinker with that unless better choice of strings doesn't work. Actually I don't want to shift towards bass as it is quite balanced as is, just the bass notes don't have that immediate crunch for faster passages.

I will have a look at those strings too. Fiddle players seem to prefer Helicores or Prims.

Prelude is brighter and quicker.  This will show you the max your fiddle can do.  If you want to take the brightness and response down 20% each, then you can pay twice as much for the Helicore to do that.

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3 hours ago, Don Noon said:

Sounds 10g too heavy to me, assuming not-great dense wood.  15g too heavy for good wood.  But I'm a lightweight.

For bluegrass, low-frequency output is important, and thinner is better for that.  I have heard some bluegrass fiddles that sounded way overdone and tubby, but that's my personal biased judgement.  If that's the sound you want, I'd think you would want to go much lighter/thinner.  The back is another consideration.

Considering that these kind of fiddles weren’t constructed by rocket scientists but within a strictly limited timeframe I never found at them a complete belly of such low weight, which wasn’t reworked, and if so not being multi-cracked, heavily warped and so on. It doesn’t work to turn one kind of violin into another by planing.

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I think I would try and making a new bridge and remove more wood under the G and D strings than the A and E. I don’t think that it works this way exactly but you get the idea. There is a thread on here about bridge carving that gives the details. 

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2 hours ago, Blank face said:

It doesn’t work to turn one kind of violin into another by planing.

If the goal is to make a violin into a bluegrass fiddle with strong low end, IMO superficial adjustments won't get there.  

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6 hours ago, Don Noon said:

If the goal is to make a violin into a bluegrass fiddle with strong low end, IMO superficial adjustments won't get there.  

That is probably right. The resulting problems I addressed in my first post.

It might be more promising to look for a fiddle which has the desired qualities from the start than to tinker with unknown outcomes.:)

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The bridge is nicely carved and of very nice quality (visually very tight grain and very prominent long medullary rays on side facing tailpiece).

The posts above lead to new question... is there any special property that makes violin a good candidate for a fiddle? Like some special shape of arch etc... or it is purely accidental match of desired tone/response? I was thinking that even classical violin should have pretty quick response on bass strings so possible solutions how to get that (while building or by adjustments) are known.

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4 hours ago, HoGo said:

... is there any special property that makes violin a good candidate for a fiddle? Like some special shape of arch etc... or it is purely accidental match of desired tone/response?

I have regraduated quite a few violins of varying quality (mostly inexpensive ones as an education exercise), and there are two things I can generalize:

1) Thinning will shift power and frequencies toward the lower end of the spectrum, primarily for the signature modes... which are the lower frequencies to start with.

2)  Quite a lot of the tonal character of the instrument remains.  The higher modes don't seem to be affected as much, or as predictably as the lower ones.

So if you want a fiddle you like, look for a violin that has the basic tone you like, with the idea that the bottom end can be strengthened and deepened by thinning.  I have not experienced anything in the way of structural problems with thinning, even going down to ~65g and below 2mm on presumably higher density junkers.  

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