response and the soundpost
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?
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.
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?
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)
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.
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.
My violin isFrench, and certainly not nasal; but it still sounds best with a not-tight soundpost (and not-tense strings.)
@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.
Thank you again everybody.
Lol I don’t know why, but that title sounds really poetic. Reminds me of ‘Death and the Maiden’!
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.
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 .
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.
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.
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 .
"But I don't know what quality of recording and playback systems would be required to really detect the changes."
I don't know whether a smart phone would do the recording job or not. Haven't tried it. Certainly, something better than the internal speaker would be needed for playback.
David - your account closely reflects my own recent experiences. While auditioning violins at dealers and auction houses I use a Zoom H1 digital recorder (with a much higher quality mike than a smart phone's) as an aide-memoire, playing back the recordings through an elderly but good-quality sound system. Some differences that I thought would be very obvious turned out to be scarcely perceptible. That and the equivocal results of double-blind trials lead me to conclude that the only really consistent and reliable way of evaluating a violin's tone is by close personal contact. One reason could be that in addition to vibrations conducted through the air, bone-conduction makes a significant contribution. What the audience hears is of secondary importance - it's the player's perception that matters the most!
Steve, I use a fancier setup (basically one of the simpler versions of a computer-based recording studio), but a number of my clients have had impressive results with one of the Zoom recorders. I have been pretty impressed when I downloaded their files and played them back.
This is a fascinating idea . I hadn't even thought of using recording to log changes .I assumed the results would not compare with the feel of the instrument when being played !
A high quality cassette deck would have better sound quality than an MP3 recorder, what matters most is not the recording format(unless its very low quality) but rather the quality of microphones used and the quality of the speakers used for playback.
The Zoom is not just an MP3 recorder. Even the $100 one will also record and playback at a significantly higher rate than CD quality.
Yeah but it doesn't have a $300 microphone, does it!!
It has inputs for external mics if one wishes to use them.
I think the reason small changes in the soundpost "wear off" after a few days is because the sound may be different without being better. So you just get used to it. I think most people would be happy with their adjustments if the luthier moved their soundpost randomly.
I think the cause for the changes is "settling." The wood interfaces gradually increase their contact areas. I've noticed the same thing when moving a bridge - same reason.
Ken, I think even the greatest expert in the world getting the soundpost in the sweet spot first shot is "dumb luck." I've watched Haide Lin at Ifshin erect my fallen soundpost and reset it. Even though he is the man who set it in the first place 10 years earlier (before I bought that cello) he still gave it 5 shots before he returned it to my hands - of course that only took him about 5 minutes total.
I've never witnessed a soundpost adjustment. Can it be done without loosening the strings? Or are they just really fast in tuning a violin? Surely I wouldn't able to retune four loose strings in just 40 seconds...
Paul, there's probably some truth in what you have said. In the fiddle trade, we often joke about "psychological sound adjustments". Most people in our trade fully realize that this is not only possible, but easy to pull off. The very best in our business don't rely on doing that.
I spent some time a while ago moving the sound posts around on a couple of my violins. I came to the conclusion that yes, you can achieve dramatic effects, but the fundamental instrument is always there in the background. i.e. you can't improve the instrument just kind of change its colour.
A luthier once told me that setting a soundpost is the one thing that can be guaranteed to reduce a grown man to tears on occasion.
Trevor , When you say slightly oversized exactly how long is the back ?
Ken, 360mm (not including the neck button, of course). The back length of my Jay Haide, by comparison, is 355mm.
Thanks Trevor , I know the Bristol violin shop . What happened to Richard Bristow on the other side of Park St. and I hear that John Stagg has retired as well .
Ken, as far as I know, Cremona House (under the direction of Richard Bristow) is still in business, although their website is under reconstruction. It was Cremona House (under various names) that looked after my cello for half a century, did the initial restorative work on my old violin, and from whom I bought the Jay Haide in 2003. I don't think Bristol Violin Shop was around at that time, certainly not near the centre of the city. Most of my business now is with Bristol Violin Shop.
333mm is definitely on the long side. Going from 328 to 333 would bother me, especially with the 4th finger placement in first position.
Carmen, as you say, I have no problems adapting to the 333mm. Whatever the luthier did has certainly improved the violin. Having been a lifelong cellist has blessed me with a decent left hand reach so I can if necessary do a minor 6th in the 1st position on the G without any trouble. Incidentally, that particular stretch saved me a lot of bow flapping in a symphony the other week where I had to play on the G string a near-tremolo sequence of rapid A-F's in 16ths for a couple of bars. The 1st violins don't seem to get that sort of interesting stuff we get in the 2nds ;)
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