response and the soundpost

Edited: November 25, 2017, 6:15 AM · I looked thru the archives and can't find an answer to my question. Will the fit of the soundpost affect the response of the violin?

Replies (21)

November 24, 2017, 6:36 PM · yes
November 24, 2017, 6:42 PM · Absolutely
Edited: November 24, 2017, 6:47 PM · it also has a great effect on the likelyhood of a soundpost crack developing, a poor fit is much more likely to cause a crack than a good fit. A well fitting soundpost is very important, and judging from the instruments I buy 90+% of them have improperly fitting soundposts.
November 24, 2017, 7:45 PM · The sound post is soooo important, however quite labour intensive to really optimize, hence perhaps why a vast majority aren't properly fitted. Many instrument's profit margin don't justify spending several hours in fitting the sound post. Who's willing to pay $300 to fit a sound post on a $500 instrument?
Edited: November 24, 2017, 7:51 PM · Fitting a soundpost takes about 20min to an hour, rarely more, I charge $40 to fit a new soundpost, only $20 if I can tweak the existing soundpost to an accurate fit.(like when the soundpost is not a good fit but is longer than it needs to be, it can be made to fit and end up in the proper position)
November 24, 2017, 10:30 PM · Yes, a lot. When I bought my violin it sounded 'tight' but the maker changed the sound post (at my teacher's request) and it probably added thousands to the price value, it's that much better.
November 25, 2017, 6:11 AM · Thank you everybody. When I bought my French violin a little over a year ago, I had a violin shop look it over. The luthier kept remarking on how loose the soundpost was, but it has a really nice sound. As he put it, "It sounds better than it should". It's just that lately I've thinking that the response could be a little better.

The luthier does not like French instruments, saying that they have a nasal sound. This one doesn't and I worry that a new soundpost would bring that out.

Edited: November 25, 2017, 1:41 PM · My violin isFrench, and certainly not nasal; but it still sounds best with a not-tight soundpost (and not-tense strings.)
November 25, 2017, 8:12 AM · @Leon, I would worry about going to a luthier who expressed a dislike for the nationality of my instrument just as I would avoid a doctor prejudiced against my own nationality.
November 25, 2017, 5:26 PM · Thank you again everybody.

Marjory, I think I will take your advice. I went to a very well known shop in Chicago, and the proprietor of the shop was very nice and down to earth. But he definitely had his own opinions and ways of doing things.

I always wondered what a persons thought process was like when, after working on a Guarneri de Jesu, they next pick up a fiddle like mine. It has to be a little less exciting. (Just a little.)

Edited: November 26, 2017, 8:49 PM · Leon,

Probably relief. If they drop your fiddle their insurance and or pocket isn't going to suffer horribly.

Edit: I've knocked my sound-post down before and set it back up with a pointy coat hanger. It was the same sound post, but I put it in a slightly different spot and it sounded a bit better. I think I'd like to have it looked at by a luither one day, but that requires travel.

November 27, 2017, 12:01 AM · Lol I don’t know why, but that title sounds really poetic. Reminds me of ‘Death and the Maiden’!
November 27, 2017, 2:26 AM · French?

My JTL viola, made in Mirecourt, but sold in the London branch, has an English or French "vowel" sound depending on whether I use the bridge set up in London (Guivier & Sons), or the one from my present Parisian luthier (Bernard Sabatier), which has more cut-away "heart" and "kidneys", and skinnier legs.

My new viola, from Mr. Sabatier's workshoi is definitely not nasal, but has an unusual shape (2-cornered symmetrical, not his assymmetric 3-cornered one)

November 27, 2017, 8:00 AM · I'll bet if you took a violin to 100 shops, 99% of them would tell you your post is leaning or crooked or otherwise not fitting correctly.
December 13, 2017, 2:27 AM · Leon , don't fix what isn't broken . Heron Allen says in his book Violin Making as it was an is (that has many pages on the sound post including accounts of historic experiments ) writes that the number one reason why a fiddle that is correctly made doesn't sound properly is that the sound post is too long . He also warns that there are only so many times that this important component can be adjusted . This is because of the risk of damage the the inside of the instrument where the sound post is located . He also mentions that microscopic movements can have a big effect .
When a sound post has been adjusted there is an immediate brightening of the tone . This disappears after a few days and it is only then that the success of the proceedure can be accessed .
December 13, 2017, 5:59 AM · Ken,
What you say Heron Allen wrote-big effect of microscopic movements, immediate change of tone that seems to disappear in a few days - my own personal experience exactly!
December 13, 2017, 6:46 AM · I wonder whether this fading effect is objectively confirmed on audio recordings. At least, my audio memory is probably not capable of noting subtle changes in tone color over several days. When comparing loudspeakers, I know that the change in sound color can be dramatic from one speaker to the next, but I get used to the brighter/duller sound within a few minutes and stop noticing it.
Edited: December 13, 2017, 6:03 PM · Han, I think you have a good point. But I don;t know what quality of recording and playback systems would be required to really detect the changes. My own sound post adjustments were certainly detectable since it was only seconds between before and after. For long-term change I would judge it this way: If I did not want to fool around with the soundpost days after I had moved it I had probably achieved the result I sought.

As for the two violins that I last had professionally adjusted I have not had any desire to fool with their soundposts in the 15 years since. At that time, when I picked up my two violins I also spent some time in the back room with the shop owner and played my just adjusted instruments and a Stradivarius and an Andrea Guarneri and then drove home with more satisfaction than envy.

I have heard/read that violin virtuoso Mischa Elman was known to visit the premier luthier in "every" city he concertized to have his soundpost adjusted. Wonder if his hearing was fading (or did his vehicle need new shocks?).

Edited: December 13, 2017, 9:31 AM · Andrew yes ! This is why sound post adjustment is so difficult . Reading between the lines one of a luthier's many important skills is to select the perfect piece of wood and pop the sound post in the sweet spot right off . A good deal of experience and dead reckoning is required . I believe that the wood should be very slightly softer than the belly to avoid bruising . There are so many ways to affect the tone of a violin mucking around with the s/p would be the last one I would choose .
December 13, 2017, 11:09 AM · Yes
December 13, 2017, 3:04 PM · "But I don't know what quality of recording and playback systems would be required to really detect the changes."

Given the phrasing: "an immediate brightening is detected" and the claim that one will notice the brightening disappear over days, based on aural memory, I'd expect that the fading effect - if it exists - is so pronounced that a smartphone would be sufficient, as long as the recordings are made at the same location (room, positions of player and microphone). Smartphone mikes are noisy but they do have a decent frequency redponse.


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