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Resonance on open A string


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A violin I'm considering has a pronounced resonance on the open A string - not a wolf resonance, but the whole instrument seems to vibrate sympathetically on that note.  In my somewhat limited experience with different violins, I've never experience this.  I like the instrument's sound overall, but not so much the over-resonance on A, although it is a delicious sound (not a harsh sound). Would this be something that could potentially be tamed down by sound post position? Or would some plate work be needed? (The sound post is currently in the "standard" spot as best I can tell.) It's a nicer, early 20th Century factory instrument, presumably French, with no cracks or visible problems, and it has been set up professionally by the luthier. LOB 359 mm.

I'll be asking about it next week at the shop, but in the meantime I thought I'd query the collective mind of Maestronet. Thanks!

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That would most likely be the B1- body resonace, unless the graduations are extremely thin to where the B1+ has gotten that low (very unlikely).

In either case, the resonance involves movements of large areas of the body, and moving the soundpost would have minimal influence (unless you move the soundpost over to the bass bar, which would have other, fatal problems).

Maybe the plates could be regraduated to move the resonance down to G# where it might be less objectionable.  And maybe that would do other things that ARE objectionable.  I would say decide if you want to have the instrument as-is, including the resonance, and assume that's just the way it's going to be.

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Maybe you can try shifting the B1- with a side chinrest, or a heavier chinrest. Or a stiffer bassbar, if you're willing to do so. But as usual, it is not certain that it will work in a decisive way, and what effects it could have on the tone, so be prepared to restore the initial condition, which is not very convenient in the case of the bassbar. Measuring the B1- would be the first thing to do to get some clues.

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Wow, you guys are amazing!

I fired up Audacity and was able to confirm a major resonance peak at 440.5 Hz (average of 3 measurements) when tapping the center back with strings damped.

When I moved the chinrest to the side (temporarily, since I don't have an actual side mount chin rest to hand), the primary peak dropped to 418 Hz and the over-resonance I detected earlier was absent on the A string.

I'll need to take the instrument through its paces with the new rest position and see how I like the sound, but at least that issue is sorted.

I'm now curious to know if this is a common problem in older (or new) violins, or did I stumble on something unusual, or is it more common in longer bodies (this one, almost 360 mm)?

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The scroll _is_ a little bit petite, measuring about 100 mm in length vs 105-108mm for my other instruments. The neck/fingerboarrd likewise a bit on the dainty side but not a lot.

Interestingly, adding a shoulder rest to the original configuration drops the resonant peak down to 425 Hz. The fact that I normally play without a shoulder rest is apparently part of the problem!

 

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37 minutes ago, Bow and Scrape said:

The scroll _is_ a little bit petite, measuring about 100 mm in length vs 105-108mm for my other instruments. The neck/fingerboarrd likewise a bit on the dainty side but not a lot.

Interestingly, adding a shoulder rest to the original configuration drops the resonant peak down to 425 Hz. The fact that I normally play without a shoulder rest is apparently part of the problem!

 

418Hz is a little close to G#, did you have any problems in keys with that note? 425 is more safely placed.  A couple of other things to test, what are the same pitches like on the G and D strings for the various peaks you're finding?

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2 hours ago, christian bayon said:

Many violas and cello has that on open A string , it’s the resonance of the scroll. Is the neck and fingerboard thinner than normal?

For a viola, the larger size drops the B1+ resonance (relative to violin) down around the open A.  I don't know what's going on with a cello, but it's probably something else... or the same thing, an octave down.

For my 15 3/4" viola model, I usually end up with the B1+ resonance somewhere above the open A, which I think is a good thing.  I dislike strong resonances on open strings.  Likewise, on violins, I prefer to have the B1- resonance below the open A, although it's not a big deal, and hard to make that happen on all body lengths.  Heavy sidemount chinrests help, and also seems to make the CBR output a bit stronger.

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@LCF: " what are the same pitches like on the G and D strings for the various peaks you're finding?" I'm not sure I understand what is asked for here.  There is nothing that jumps out at  293 or 196 Hz when tapping the back. 

The B1+ resonance is at 514 Hz.

This is all very interesting to an amateur fiddler trying to discern what makes an instrument sound good.  I may have to dive into the topic a bit more, starting with Hutchins I suppose. I'll venture to ask what more recent reference sources I might also benefit from as well?

 

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1 hour ago, Bow and Scrape said:

 I may have to dive into the topic a bit more, starting with Hutchins I suppose.

I'm not seeing any advantages, and some disadvantages to starting with Hutchins. While she and Saunders were early in the modal analysis game, my opinion is that her objectivity was overcome by self-promotional ambitions. Yup, I even attended one of her lectures where she claimed that her instruments projected so well, that listeners accused her of having hidden an electric amplifying system inside! :lol:

I considered the instrument of hers I owned for a short time to be rather sub-par (as I did with every other instrument of hers I played), but having it around for customers to try and compare directly with other instruments did a great job of selling other instruments, including my own. That may have been her greatest contribution to my career. :)

A lot of water has passed under the bridge since her heyday, which I will estimate at being around 40 years ago.

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3 hours ago, Bow and Scrape said:

............I may have to dive into the topic a bit more, starting with Hutchins I suppose. I'll venture to ask what more recent reference sources I might also benefit from as well?

 

You might begin by mining this one:  https://euphonics.org/homepage/  , it's rationally organized, and clearly written.  One could do far worse.  :)

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3 hours ago, Bow and Scrape said:

@LCF: " what are the same pitches like on the G and D strings for the various peaks you're finding?" I'm not sure I understand what is asked for here.

 

I mean what is it like when you bow the same note in various positions. Say you have that peak as you found it  at A pitch on the A string. Check how the D string behaves when you bow the same A on that, then test how the G string behaves when you play the same A again on that one. 

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5 hours ago, Bow and Scrape said:

@LCF Yes the A-440 (A4) note causes extra body resonance no matter which string it's played on. That's maybe not surprising given the B1- spectrum.

 

Yes, naturally. But my question is more directed to how stable the note is under the bow in these different incarnations/incantantions. How hard can you push them?

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Ah yes. Bowing an A on the D string does bend over into 'wolf' territory if I push it. A on the G string -- well, I'm a fiddler so 'fat chance'! :-D But it isn't as noticeable up there.

I'm also experimenting with small weights under the fingerboard (thanks @uguntde) which do push the B1- frequency down a bit. But I think a side mounted chin rest will be the best solution.

We'll see what the shop has to say tomorrow.

Thanks for all the advice everybody!

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