Experimental Violin Part Two

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Barry Guest
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Experimental Violin Part Two

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This one refines the acoustic principles of John McLennan in that it demonstrates his recommendation for the "slits" to be parallel to the centreline and the change from a round sound hole to elliptical. This change accommodates a standard position for the bass bar.

Excerpt of an email from John in our collaboration:
"............ This frees up the centre region of the top (the slits). For a 2 litre volume in the violin which is about right, for the air resonance at 280 Hz the sound hole would have an area of 1375 mm squared. I hope this adds something useful to the other paper."

The sound hole area of this violin is 1375 mm squared + or - a few mm. The instrument responds to a Helmholtz resonance of 280 Hz, and blowing across the sound hole excites the D string sympathetically and in isolation from the other strings. It weighs 420 grams (chin rest included)

In a week, it will be in the hands of an exceptional player who has a PHD in Music performance. She will test it against a Derazey in a youtube video. I'll post that when it's available.
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Barry Guest
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Re: Experimental Violin Part Two

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Beate Ritzert
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Re: Experimental Violin Part Two

Post by Beate Ritzert »

Very interesting.

BTW - is there any objective against using a flat bottom as well, maybe with somer guitar like bracing?

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Barry Guest
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Re: Experimental Violin Part Two

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Hi Beate,

I think there would be two impediments to a flat back with a guitar style bracing. The volume of the instrument, at around two litres, is the correct volume according to the research. So with a flat back, the sides would need to be deeper to compensate for the loss in volume. My instrument is 38 mm on the sides (as opposed to a traditional violin at 31 mm). I haven't done the calculation, but logically, the sides would increase by around 7 mm with both plates flat, making the instrument 45 mm in depth. That probably takes the instrument out of the comfort zone of most players and would take a bit of getting used to I suppose. However, that is not the only problem I can think of.

In fact, flat plates vibrate more readily than arched plates. The trade-off there is that flat plates need bracing to eliminate the possibility of collapse under tension, and there lies the second impediment. However, the belly of a violin, whether arched or flat, requires a bass bar and a sound post. The extra bracing in the belly of this instrument is inconsequential to the free plate vibrating area around the bridge.

The back of the violin is a different matter. The arch in the back adds support to the sound post. A flat back with guitar-style bracing changes the dynamic considerably.

Of course, the great advantage with flat plates is the time taken to build an instrument. However, I don't think I'll be taking on a flat back anytime soon.
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Nathan Dodd
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Re: Experimental Violin Part Two

Post by Nathan Dodd »

Very interesting indeed, I'm greatly looking forward to the youtube video!

Jason Rodgers
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Re: Experimental Violin Part Two

Post by Jason Rodgers »

I REALLY like the look of this one. Can't wait for the video!

Fir top again, and walnut on the b/s? Or something Oz?
-Ruining perfectly good wood, one day at a time.

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Barry Guest
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Re: Experimental Violin Part Two

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Something Oz Jason.......tasmanian blackwood again, so not to muddy the waters in the comparison between the first one and this one.
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Barry Guest
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Re: Experimental Violin Part Two

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I've given it a name and a blog. Called it the Violare, after an Italian word meaning: To break, to violate, to infringe, to profane. Here is the link for those who have been kind enough to follow this thread http://violinstocellos.wordpress.com/2013/04/11/3/

The prototype made its way North from here to be tested by a Phd in Musical Performance (violin) and to be videoed for Youtube. Well, that hasn't happened yet, but she has played it and made these comments:

"The violin arrived yesterday and I took it along to a rehearsal. The top end is great! Here is where it shines, especially given its 'newness'. It can even handle Romantic Classical repertoire re projection, intensity and clarity but it also has a sweetness about the tone 'way up there'. I can't get the same out of the lower two strings, primarily (I think) due to the very low action - I was 'fretting it out' with the pressure of my bow, producing a rattle. However, played gently, it has a warm, airy tone down there - very suitable for Baroque style (18th century/pre-Romantic era) Folk or Classical. A couple of my colleagues think it would sound great with gut strings - the real deal ones - so I might experiment with this, I have a Justin White Baroque violin to compare it to as well.

Interestingly, I found the Baroque style of playing suited your other violin too, perhaps it is in the timbers? My group were also unanimous in hearing a brilliant violin, when played as one, and are now very curious about your mandolins! My colleagues are both world class guitarists (you can find them on YouTube - spryce1 channel - as 'EphenStephen'), who really know their stuff with all things guitar and acoustic sound in general, having also performed Vivaldi's double mandolin concerto with the local Symphony orchestra.

But I digress, a few other observations...I think you'll find shortening the string length will help with the machine heads (which I will do) - like other instruments that use these (guitars/mandolins etc.), too much string wound around the heads means you can be rotating them up to 3, 4, or even 5 times before you get any pitch movement, then 'click', there it goes (often beyond the pitch you're after). Another option for a geared tuning system would be 'planetary pegs' - check them out, though I think they're pretty expensive. The whole geared tuning thing is a great idea, especially for student model violins, it makes tuning a lot easier once string wind is right.

So, where I'm at with the violin now...as no doubt you're aware, newly made violins take time to 'settle in' with playing and opening up of timbers, so we could have a very different violin 2 years down the track, especially regarding the bottom end. That aside, I might have a go at recording some comparisons/different styles first, to show you all these things I'm talking about, then we can decide what might be best for YouTube..."
I hope the youtube clip will be done soon.
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Jason Rodgers
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Re: Experimental Violin Part Two

Post by Jason Rodgers »

Well, that must have put some skip in your step! How great to have someone with such depth of knowledge and experience give your instruments a go.
-Ruining perfectly good wood, one day at a time.

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Barry Guest
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Re: Experimental Violin Part Two

Post by Barry Guest »

Thanks Jason. Yes, I am very lucky.
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Bob Francis
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Re: Experimental Violin Part Two

Post by Bob Francis »

Barry
These are great threads! Thanks

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Barry Guest
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Re: Experimental Violin Part Two

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No worries Bob, thanks for your comment.
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Beate Ritzert
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Re: Experimental Violin Part Two

Post by Beate Ritzert »

This sounds almost like a re-invention of the violin...
Please let me simply thank You for sharing this.
And, of course, big applause for this success.
(from the perspective of a violin player at beginner's level)

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Barry Guest
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Re: Experimental Violin Part Two

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Thank you so much Beate. It is not too far away that everyone will be able to hear it as well. However, I don't like to think of it as a re-invention as much as an alternative.

My primary motive for this work was to make a violin (handmade) that is affordable to students and players alike, but still has the playing attributes that we are all familiar with, and a sound that is at least comparable. It turns out that someone (my Phd mentor) thinks that it is better than "comparable".

This instrument takes a little less than half the time it takes to make the traditional form. As a relatively obscure identity in the world of the violin, I can make this instrument cheaply without compromising materials and the qualities we find so endearing in the sounds of the traditional form.

By the way, the traditional form Is no doubt beautiful, enduring and revered. I am just a minnow, probably viewed as an upstart, but nevertheless passionate about what I do.
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Michael Lewis
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Re: Experimental Violin Part Two

Post by Michael Lewis »

Cheering you on, Barry.

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Barry Guest
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Re: Experimental Violin Part Two

Post by Barry Guest »

Michael Lewis wrote:Cheering you on, Barry.
Thanks Michael, I just finished stringing Prototypes #3 and #4.....and WOW! I'm so surprised at their power. However, #3 is noticeably more powerful and I think it may be the wood I used in the top of #4. Huon pine has many detractors as a tonewood, although I'm not one of them. It has a density of 520 (the Aussie way of expressing density) and is a very oily timber. Spruce and others I use are all around 450. The dilema is that I feel #4 is aesthetically more pleasing than #3, so another is on the bench with a fir top, but as the design for #4.

What does everybody think about the four designs?
Prototype #3
Prototype #3
Prototype #4
Prototype #4
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Jason Rodgers
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Re: Experimental Violin Part Two

Post by Jason Rodgers »

Maybe I'm just a sucker for a curvy waist, but the visual aesthetic of these instruments really appeal to me.

And now you gotta explain the "sound hole" notches/perforations on these two. The right angle on #3 looks like it would create a crack-prone point. Looks cool as all get-out, though!
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Beate Ritzert
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Re: Experimental Violin Part Two

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From a mere esthetic point of view i like #3 most. The brown color of the wood reminds me to the color the old masters might have liked to achieved...
I like the esthetics of the curved slots in #4 better - these would be great in the dark top as well, wouldn't they?
IMO, this instrument demands for a blonde fingerboard. Or a black one... (Yes, i am aware of the difficulties keeping it clean).

BTW: which players do You want to address with these instruments? Collectors? Musicians? Where and in which musical role do You think these violins might actually be used? In an orchestra (doubtful - uniformity might be a must, won't it), in traditional chamber music, recent music, rock, jazz, where else?

I think it might become hard to address students as the main customer group. First of all they would have to overcome any prejudices of their teachers, mentors, then the social forces to be conformant with tradition that puts almost any progress in violin making into niche products. Moreover, with such an unconventional and eye-catchuing instruments the expectations on the skill of the player are a lot larger than usual (imagine an occasional hobby bicyclist riding a high tech bike dedicated to time trials...). I know what i am talking about in this respect - my first bass was a fretless, my second very eye catching - fretless, 5 string, flying V, wooden bridge - it is hard to find a possibility to actually play it.

Back to Your violins: You should target clients who will actually have both use and (social) possibility to play such unconventional instruments.

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Barry Guest
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Re: Experimental Violin Part Two

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Jason Rodgers wrote:Maybe I'm just a sucker for a curvy waist, but the visual aesthetic of these instruments really appeal to me.

And now you gotta explain the "sound hole" notches/perforations on these two. The right angle on #3 looks like it would create a crack-prone point. Looks cool as all get-out, though!

Jason, thanks for the curvy waist comment. I think it is quite elegant, but I don't know about sexy!! :D

The notches are just guides for the bridge position. #3 has four small holes while #4 has two MOP dots.
I won't be going with #3. That right angle was a pain to construct and I tend to agree with you on the potential for a crack developing. I'm leaning to #4 as the final design, but with a spruce, fir, cedar or sitka top. My goal is obviously to retain the power that this one has, but to minimize the visual impact of the "slits". The power it has is quite scary when you draw a bow across it.

Now I'm wondering whether "slits" would benefit other stringed instruments. However, I'll stay on this page and let others experiment with that.
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Barry Guest
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Re: Experimental Violin Part Two

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Beate Ritzert wrote:From a mere esthetic point of view i like #3 most. The brown color of the wood reminds me to the color the old masters might have liked to achieved...
I like the esthetics of the curved slots in #4 better - these would be great in the dark top as well, wouldn't they?
IMO, this instrument demands for a blonde fingerboard. Or a black one... (Yes, i am aware of the difficulties keeping it clean).

BTW: which players do You want to address with these instruments? Collectors? Musicians? Where and in which musical role do You think these violins might actually be used? In an orchestra (doubtful - uniformity might be a must, won't it), in traditional chamber music, recent music, rock, jazz, where else?

I think it might become hard to address students as the main customer group. First of all they would have to overcome any prejudices of their teachers, mentors, then the social forces to be conformant with tradition that puts almost any progress in violin making into niche products. Moreover, with such an unconventional and eye-catchuing instruments the expectations on the skill of the player are a lot larger than usual (imagine an occasional hobby bicyclist riding a high tech bike dedicated to time trials...). I know what i am talking about in this respect - my first bass was a fretless, my second very eye catching - fretless, 5 string, flying V, wooden bridge - it is hard to find a possibility to actually play it.

Back to Your violins: You should target clients who will actually have both use and (social) possibility to play such unconventional instruments.
Thanks Beate, I really appreciate your opinions.
I have mentioned students before only because this instrument is quick to build, therefore cheaper. I think you are spot on with comments regarding the establishment. This instrument will, if it gets its chance, be a folk fiddle or find its way into jazz or fusion music. I would be kidding myself if I thought that I could break into the orchestral scene. BTW, love your bicycle analogy.
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