William "Jack" Fry

October 10, 2017, 8:32 PM · I just found out about the work of William "Jack" Fry in trying to understand scientifically the sound of great violins. I compared it to what I've previously read and came to the conclusion that only Fry has an actually mechanical theory of violin sound production. Other work in the field seems to take the approach of "measure everything that can be measured and make every correlation that can be made". Do the violin makers here find Fry especially useful in their work?

Replies (8)

October 10, 2017, 10:43 PM · I'm not a violin maker, just a mere 'garage luthier' as some have called it (which seems to be an upgrade to 'kitchen table luthier'), but I have actually been studying and using Fry's models on the violin(s) I'm working on, because I think he got it right!
It's still a work in progress so I'll report back on it once it's all done. ;)
October 10, 2017, 11:10 PM · Start at 20:15 on the video to see Fry. I'll be interested in reading your report, Fox!
October 10, 2017, 11:34 PM · I made the mistake of starting from the beginning - that violin sounds terrible! I'll try to hear "Jack" out, but I wasn't encouraged by his particle physics background. Does he know anything of psycho-acoustics? I'll persevere with the video and try not to prejudge
October 11, 2017, 12:18 AM · I watched the video most of the way through. I'm asking myself, and you too, if you'd hand your own violin over to him so he could adjust it with those "scrapers." There's not a snowball in Hell's chance that I would. I guess that'll tell you what I think about his theories.
Edited: October 11, 2017, 3:29 AM · Jeffrey, Mr. Fry's concepts have not been embraced much by professional makers. One issue is that the thickness concepts which he thought to be typical of Stradivari violins, are not.

I guess that's understandable. He probably didn't have had a chance to examine very many.

Edited: October 11, 2017, 4:05 AM · Is that it - few seconds with a scraper? I notice he instructed his demonstrator (and the audience) in what way the scraping was supposed to alter the sound, but I wouldn't dream of suggesting that had any effect on the way she played.

I notice this question has been aired at great length on maestronet


where the contributors are much more likely to have practical experience to back up their opinions so I'll shut up.

October 11, 2017, 8:02 AM · Thanks, David. I'm curious--When making a new violin, 1) Do you symmetrically graduate your plates or do you put in asymmetric troughs such as the "tongue" and the "Stradivari Holes" that Fry describes? 2) Once the violin is assembled, do you adjust plate thickness in certain areas to improve the sound? 3) How often do you have to take a newly-assembled violin apart to make adjustments that affect the sound?
October 11, 2017, 1:03 PM · His improvements on a mediochre fiddle are perfectly audible on my sound-card.

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