String after-length

June 18, 2009 at 09:06 PM ·

Can adjustment to correct after-length have a detrimental effect on sound?  At what point should after-length an after-thought? 

Replies (53)

June 18, 2009 at 11:04 PM ·

If you move the tailpiece South, the sound will get more agressive, if you move it North the sound will get more sweet, but can loose some power under the ear.  It makes a huge difference, in my opinion. Different players will ask for different set ups. And yes, it may be dtrimental to the sound.

www.manfio.com

June 19, 2009 at 12:12 AM ·

Something to consider:  the pitch of the after-length will almost surely change (higher or lower) if you switch to another brand of string.  Evidently the thickness of the string comes into play.

June 19, 2009 at 12:29 AM ·

Eric John-Félix Livingston wrote:

"Can adjustment to correct after-length have a detrimental effect on sound?  At what point should after-length an after-thought? "

______________

Afterlength can make very large changes to the sound, to a critical listener. Also to playability. Without knowing what dimension you consider "correct", and without knowing your taste in sound, it's difficult to comment further, except that most violins are set up with 54.4 to 55 mm. This happens to be a "sweet spot" which works well with many violins, and is considered a standard.

June 19, 2009 at 06:58 AM ·

I read somewhere about the theory of the correct string afterlenght. It should be 1/6 of the vibrating lenght of the string so the tone of the string between the bridge and the tailpiece should be one octave and a fifth over the string tone. Correct me,masters Luis and David, if I am wrong.

That string lenght should be the neck lenght plus the stop lenght, a well crafted normal instrument must have a string lenght of 327-330 mm. For a standard 330 mm the optimal string afterlenght is 55 mm, and for 327 mm 54.5.

I have been experinenting (sorry, but I am a scientist before a musician) with the string afterlenght of one of my violins, and it is true that changes are very noticeable.

June 19, 2009 at 08:46 AM ·

Nicolas, you are correct that the "standard" is 1/6 the length of the playing portion of the string. This would give a pitch two octaves + a fifth above the open string, if one is using pure gut strings. On conventional strings, some additional wrapping in that area throws the pitch off (the pitch will be lower).

This 1/6 ratio isn't sacrosanct though. Other values can work. These other values are seen more often on violas and cellos than on violins.

June 19, 2009 at 09:05 AM ·

 David, thank you. Yes it is TWO octaves,not one. Sorry for the mistake.

The main problem is that is quite difficult to measure 0.5mm without proper tools. I got a digital caliper and I can measure it accurately. But also you can find it hard to measure from the top of the bridge to the correct point of the tailpiece ridge. Many talipieces have many different ridges. So after all I believe it is a question of  "this sounds right" once moving around the sweet spot around those 54.5-55 mm.

On my hellier copy, which is of the larger form of Stradivari, I have found that there are more and full harmonics near 56mm. It also might be influenced by the tailpiece material, I guess.

I am finding this site of enormous interest, and also helps me to improve my English!!

June 19, 2009 at 05:20 PM ·

I simply bow the afterlength of the G string and tweek the bridge until I get a D (2 octaves and a fifth).  My violin seems to open up better at this point.

June 19, 2009 at 06:45 PM ·

I have found that tuning the afterlength of one of the lower strings to 2 Octaves + 1/5 makes more of a difference with some instruments than with others - pretty much just as very fine adjustments of the sound post seems to affect some instruments more than others

A factor acting against th 1/6 length ratio is that the windings one each string have differing effects. This is one of the reasons why even if you have a "matched" set of a single brand, you will likely be able to tune only one of the strings. On many cellos (with wolf tones) we try to tune the afterlength of that string that does not have a wolf eliminator - we also would try to place the eliminator on a string that is not going to hold the (orchestra musicians) mute.

Andy

June 20, 2009 at 09:31 AM ·

Nicolas wrote:

"So after all I believe it is a question of  "this sounds right" once moving around the sweet spot around those 54.5-55 mm."

_____________________

Yes, "trail and error" in that vicinity is necessary to find the point of maximum benefit. As you've noticed, it's almost impossible to measure precisely. The right spot will also vary somewhat depending on the alignment of everything between the upper nut and the endbutton.... whether the applied forces are in a straight line. And also on the position of the E string fine tuner in its travel.

Congratulations. You're discovering things that even many professional luthiers don't know.

If you want to drive yourself crazy :-)  you can find multiple spots all the way up to a ratio of 1/5  which will work on some instruments.

June 20, 2009 at 12:25 PM ·

The Heiftz "Ex David"  Del Gesù has a big  string afterlength, more than 60, if I'm not wrong, as seen in the photos on Biddulph's book.  

June 20, 2009 at 12:47 PM ·

This is an interesting topic. Looking at other instruments (viols, arched guitars, mandolins) I see a huge variety of solutions to afterlength. Some guitars taper the afterlength so that the bass strings have more than the treble. On a mandolin, you can really hear the shimmer of the afterlength--it is part of the tone of the instrument.

June 22, 2009 at 07:57 AM ·

David wrote:

Congratulations. You're discovering things that even many professional luthiers don't know.

If you want to drive yourself crazy :-)  you can find multiple spots all the way up to a ratio of 1/5  which will work on some instruments.

_____________________

Thank you David. I have four violins to experiment that this summer.

Day after day I am becoming more interested in the instrument itself rather than in playing. Sadly it is late for me, but I believe I could have been a good maker. But at 43 I think it is late.

June 22, 2009 at 02:38 PM ·

Nicolas - definitely NOT TOO LATE.

I have a friend who was in his 40s when he started to make violins, feeling that he might do better at that than with the violin lessons he had recently started. He gave the first violin he made (in the late 1980s) as a gift to his teenage violin teacher. I bought his violin No. 11, made in 1990, his viola No. 6, made in 1996, and his violin No. 54, made in 2000. By now he has made and sold nearly 100 instruments,  including 3 cellos and 8 to -10 violas. He has gotten some awards, too. His name is Charles Woods.

Andy

June 23, 2009 at 03:39 PM ·

 Bill Rose wrote:

I simply bow the afterlength of the G string and tweek the bridge until I get a D (2 octaves and a fifth).  My violin seems to open up better at this point.

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Be careful with that, moving the bridge and keeping the sound post in the same place could lead you to some other sound changes. If you move the bridge then you should move the sound post. And think that you are also changing the vibrating lenght of the strings, which should be the lenght of the neck plus the lenght of the stop. 

It is easier to play with the tailgut lenght.

 

 

June 24, 2009 at 01:47 PM ·

Nicolas

Understood - the tailgut length was adjusted long ago to get the alfterlength close.  The bridge tweeking I do is only the most miniscule movement at the top of the bridge (feet are not moved) to get it to the right pitch.  Frequently if a peg slips the retuning messes this up and it must be redone.  The bridge is perpendicular to the top surface of the violin or tilted slightly toward the tailpiece.

September 27, 2014 at 06:13 PM · I thought I'd revive this rather than start a new thread.

Except for one of my fiddles (where the maker prefers different), I've been able to get an after-length pitch pretty close to 2 octaves + fifth. The problem is that I can reach it exactly on one or maybe two strings. I was told that perfection on the D string (pitch = A) is the one to aim for, with the rest being gravy if they happen to work out. As it happens, if I were to get A and G to reach the same situation simultaneously, I'd have to twist the bridge until it was not safe to play.

So here's the question-- has anyone experimented with adding or subtracting colored thread wrapping from the after-bit in order to make the pitch closer to where it ought to be? Any rules or hints?

September 28, 2014 at 03:21 PM · OK-- that was a deafening silence.

Anyway, this morning I did a bit of experimentation. The afterlength of the A string produced a pretty OK "D" when plucked, but I was aiming for an "E." As the length or the tension weren't going to change, I opted to lighten the string's gauge by removing some of the colored wrapping. Whereupon I discovered one good hint: nail clippers, no matter how sharp and steadily held, are lousy for this task.

After changing the string, I was able to take the small, sharp knife blade that is on a lot of corkscrews, and remove about a quarter-inch of wrapping. That took a minute or more of filing away, much as one might shave with a straight razor. I'm pretty sure that I just took thread off without hitting the metal underneath. Anyway, I got lucky and wound up with a very good "E." Interestingly enough, when the ring of thread was detached but not off the string, it didn't affect pitch as long as it was floating toward the bridge. When it got back to the rest of the wrapped part, it made its presence known and lowered the pitch.

There can't be any firm judgment on this, as new PIs already ring enthusiastically with open strings. But-- the new string seems to have awakened the fiddle even more than usual.

The best follow-up test, apart from not damaging a played-in A string, will be to get a needle and thread to wrap around the G string's end in order to increase its mass and diameter. That is pretty non-invasive, so I can use the existing string and do a comparison. (Right now it gives a very sharp "D" when plucked-- the bridge would have to be twisted quite massively to get the correct lower pitch.) I hope to do that tomorrow.

September 28, 2014 at 04:43 PM ·

September 28, 2014 at 05:25 PM · Not really. The length is the main thing-- the tension won't change if you're putting the string back to correct pitch. If for some reason the plucked pitch is a bit off, I just straighten the bridge to adjust the length.

If you're still having trouble, perhaps you need to lubricate the bridge with graphite or have someone look at the size of the groove, so you're not ratcheting the thing up too tight every time you tune?

October 3, 2014 at 09:04 PM · Today I was able to make an adjustment to the G string, which was producing a very sour E-flat on the afterlength. In contrast to the A string, where I shaved off a 1/4-inch of thread to raise the pitch, I added thread to the G to lower the pitch. For this I was able to use a sewing kit provided by the hotel where I'm staying.

Initially I tried to use a technique that sailors use to stop the fraying of rope, called "whipping the line." It's less exciting than it sounds. Sadly, the thread was so light in weight that I couldn't make it work. So instead, I did a long series of half-hitches.

I'm not sure if there was any result from adding thread to the metal-wrapped portion. Results didn't seem to come until I had covered the threaded part with more thread. I was able to get the pitch down to a D.

So far, the results seem very substantial. Not sure if that means good yet, but the violin is even more alive than before. This is on 3-month-old PIs (except for the replacement A). The overtones are so much more obvious that I've had to become much more careful in tuning the instrument. Getting the 5ths right is an obvious first step, but also checking that the after-length pitch matches correctly is also important, so that there isn't a hint of sourness in the overall sound. In addition, now that there is a new choir of tones being flung about, I am finding that my livelier-sounding, more-expensive bow is more difficult to use. Whether this means changing the preferred bow under certain circumstances or re-working my technique, I couldn't say.

Of course, this is all under the ear in a hotel room. I'll be reading some sonatas with piano in a medium-sized hall tomorrow. That may make a few things more obvious. In the meantime, I'd say that this is worth further experimentation.

October 4, 2014 at 09:04 AM · Of course all the time spent messing with all this stuff could have benn more profitably spent practising the damned thing!

Just give it to an expert to set up.

October 4, 2014 at 06:28 PM · I recently made lots of tests with "tunable" tailpieces. I tested 2 different made ones.

The one in the photos is a more recent model i have in my new violin:

pic 1

pic 2

The difference, with the afterlenght tuned (it's a matter of seconds, with this tailpiece) to the elusive 1/6th lenght (and i was skeptical, before) is apparent when playing and listening someone else playing the instrument .... :)

October 28, 2014 at 09:58 AM · Hi Folks, I'm not as technical as you with fiths and the like but I seem to remember reading an articale about this where the best position is havin the after-length at the same distance as the the length between the bridge and the end of the fingerboard. From my experiance this seem fine but some strings suffer especially the G in comparison to the E. I tried the compensating tailpieces which alters the after length of the 4 strings differently. The E is the shortest and then they get longer as we progress to the G. Seems to work well and the G & D respond better especially the G string. Like I said I'm no expert.

February 4, 2016 at 02:48 AM · Hello.

I am not trying to be a jerk here. I am just ignorant, and skeptical, regarding afterlength tuning. I would love it if some truly expert players would conduct a simple five-minute test.

Here is the test. It requires your good ear and two friends, one of whom can bow your violin.

You sit in a good listening position with your eyes closed.

Bower friend closes eyes (notice that this is truly a double-blind test) and plays various notes on one string.

Third friend intermittently dampens the afterlength of each string by VERY GENTLY touching the afterlength (other friend must not press so hard as to dampen the bridge).

If afterlength is important, you should be able to tell consistently, reliably, and repeatedly when your other friend is touching the various afterlengths.

Again, I would love to hear from real experts if they really could tell the difference.

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I am skeptical of the experimentation I have read about primarily because, days, or at least hours, have passed between the testing of condition one and condition two.

I am skeptical of afterlength tuning in general for the following reasons:

1. Do you really want some notes ringing longer than others (specifically D, A, and E)?

2. Do you really want afterlengths droning D, A, and E regardless of the notes you are intentionally playing? Wouldn't this lessen any sonorous effects you might have been seeking?

3. What makes those three notes special?

Again, I appreciate your patience with me.

February 4, 2016 at 01:41 PM · Scott, really good points in your post. In particular, the vibration frequency of the afterlength of a metal E is so high that it is right at, or beyond, the top playing range of the instrument. Further, and this is an important point, the tension of the metal E is so high that it will not be able to vibrate audibly in response to the harmonics of the lower strings, which in any case would be so weak that they wouldn't be able to get the afterlength of the E to react.

Secondly, the very presence of an E tuner will alter the "theoretical" afterlength. At the high tension of an E changes of fractions of a millimeter in the afterlength will be critical.

A further point: no real string is the theoretical perfect string of the physics text book. A short length either side of a groove or other fixing point the string is unable to vibrate properly because of its thickness relative to that short length - you can test this easily by trying to get a decent tone by bowing less than a quarter of an inch from the bridge. The consequence of this is that the afterlength one carefully measures between the bridge and the tail piece is never the actual vibrating length of that portion of the string. So how is one to measure accurately the real vibrating length? Forget measuring and let the ear be your guide when making afterlength adjustments.

Another important factor is the winding on the afterlength. This alters unpredictably the weight of the string over part of its length and therefore its vibrating frequency.

I suspect that the only potentially valid argument for afterlength tuning lies with a set of low tension plain gut strings in a baroque setup, with the strings knotted underneath the tailpiece and the G divested of its tailend covering - I do this with a copper-wound gut G on one of my violins.

Of far more practical consequence in addressing the tone of a violin are the height, weight and position of the bridge, the design and installation of the sound post, and the weight of the tailpiece. Fussing too much over the minutiae of afterlength to my mind starts to move into the world of smoke and mirrors and the emperor's new clothes.

February 4, 2016 at 01:43 PM · double post

February 4, 2016 at 04:37 PM · Scott Rauch,

I agree that skepticism is warranted. Piano makers also can't agree--some brands use adjustable afterlength (called an aliquot) and some don't. Like the violin, afterlength is just one factor in the overall sound of that instrument. One would think that if it made a huge difference, all of the piano makers would have followed suit. But...it's universally agreed that pianos with long bass strings sound better than those with short ones.

And thus the violin.

I'm not a luthier. But I do know that the violin's G string is too short. Were it to be proportional, I'm guessing it would be like 3 feet long. In fact, each string down from the E would have to be 50% longer if they were plain steel. They're not, so that complicates matters a little. But regardless, the lower the string, the shorter it is relative to its ideal length. So it follows that the lower and shorter the string is,the less fundamental is heard. And the less depth and quality of sound.

A very few violins exhibit a powerful and deep G and D. Why? Because the entire premise of the violin is flawed (its strings are too short for its low strings). It takes almost a genius to coax depth out of that design. Which is why most violins are terrible, and those that aren't are obscenely expensive.

Some instrument may have a powerful (pseudo) fundamental sound,such as Heifetz's violin mentioned above. But those are zillion dollar outliers. So the less apparent fundamental, maybe the more that tweaking the afterlength will help. The effect is subtle, and I think it's more for the players benefit than the audience. I can notice a very tiny increase in depth on my instrument. I doubt anyone else can, but is still want it there. However, I also achieved more depth simply by having a new post made and installing new strings.

So for me, this is all really about the G first,then the D, and little to do with the A and E.

February 5, 2016 at 05:21 PM · I noticed when I plucked the G after length that I get the right pitch, which I believe is the first D on the E string (3rd position fourth finger). I didn't expect this, so I guess I should be pleased about that. But the pitches for the A and D strings are way off. I'm not sure why they should be so different because the ratio ought to be about the same, but they are. Maybe that has to do with the silk.

February 5, 2016 at 05:58 PM · Paul, I'm fairly certain the silk winding is the culprit. Try the experiment with a set of plain gut strings, first removing the after-length winding from the G. Alternatively, cut the wound end from the G and tie a knot to secure the remainder in the tailpiece (the G should be long enough for this). I do this with a double-length Savarez copper wire wound gut G which has to be cut anyway, and it seems to improve the tone of the string. Smoke 'n' mirrors/emperor's new clothes effect? - perhaps.

However, a common method of removing a G-string wolf (usually F/F#) on a cello is to screw a brass weight on the after-length at about the same position on the after-length as the wolf is on the nut-bridge part of the string. This fixes the wolf but slightly damps the sound of the string as a consequence. This leads me to believe that the weight of the after-length winding will have some effect on the tone and the pitch frequency of the after-length.

February 5, 2016 at 06:52 PM · Something to be aware of is that whatever the afterlength is tuned to is a frequency that will be absorbed rather than reinforced.

So if you tune your afterlengths to two octaves and a fifth, you will be reducing the presence of D (1175 Hz) A (1760 Hz) E (2640 Hz)and B(3960 Hz)in the overall sound of the instrument.

February 5, 2016 at 07:08 PM · I appreciate the suggestion but I'm not going to gut strings any time soon. I can live with my afterlengths the way they are.

February 5, 2016 at 07:19 PM · just to muddy the waters,

this discussion thread seems relevant here:

about curved / angled tailpieces, with other design details, which have significant impact on relative string afterlengths and tuning, distribution of forces and relative mobility of vibrating bridge around different strings, &c.

:-)

http://www.violinist.com/discussion/response.cfm?id=23485

February 6, 2016 at 02:15 PM · Thank you all for your input. I see you have put a lot into this issue.

Has anybody tried the experiment I outlined above? Without any experts actually doing a quick instantaneous A/B comparison test, I am inclined to agree with Trevor's "emperor's new clothes" metaphor. (Maybe it is more like fine wine. In double-blind tests experts seem to prefer cheap wine. BUT, people really do enjoy expensive wine. Likewise, if I spend hours tuning my afterlengths, my violin will sound better to me; I will enjoy it more, I will play it more artfully, and it will sound better to others, too. Everybody wins!)

I confess I could not reliably discern a difference between the sound with free afterlengths and when I was not only just lightly touching, but actually PINCHING the afterlength between my thumb and finger (not near the bridge, though) such that it did not vibrate AT ALL. However, I was doing this alone, so I could not test other notes on the same string, nor could I do a double-blind experiment. (I have truly wonderful sounding instrument with Dominant strings and no fine tuners at all.)

It seems to me we should either ignore totally the afterlengths, or, if someone can really hear the difference, we should DAMPEN them, but in NO case tune them to a note we might like to hear.

I SUSPECT violin afterlengths sing their pitch not just sympathetically, i.e., when an appropriate harmonious note is being played, but whenever the bridge is vibrating. We KNOW this happens with the working section of the strings. Pluck any string, and then instantly dampen it, and you will hear the other three strings still singing. Although the effect is greatest with those strings that can sing sympathetically, all the other three string sing at least a little, having been excited by the bridge. It seems reasonable to believe afterlengths behave similarly. And since your hand is never there to dampen the afterlengths, this would seem to blur your sound. HOWEVER, even with the working section of strings, the NON-sympathetic ringing is quite small. Afterlength ringing would be considerably less, thus making afterlength concerns more imagined than real.

So, has anyone done an instantaneous double-blind comparison?

@Graham: So, if afterlengths make any difference at all, we should tune them to something OTHER than a normal note. Does this means the Frirsz tailpiece totally misses the point?

@Scott Cole: Interesting point regarding pianos with intentional afterlengths. As I understand it, for some piano afterlength designs, they vibrate sympathetically and therefore only when an appropriate note is sounding (although there will be ringing). The violin has only three viable afterlength notes, which I would think we would want to sound only when playing the open strings.

Also interesting regarding the insufficient length of the G string in particular!

Adjusting your violin to benefit you, the player, not the audience, is absolutely valid. The feedback YOU get from the instrument, and how YOU FEEL about its sound, is important. Not only is the violin absurdly complicated from an engineering point of view, but so are we. Our relationship – it's complicated.

@Gabriel: Now all that other stuff you mentioned are surely factors. I just suspect we should be either ignoring afterlength tuning, or damping the afterlengths.

February 6, 2016 at 03:24 PM · >>@Graham: So, if afterlengths make any difference at all, we should tune them to something OTHER than a normal note. Does this means the Frirsz tailpiece totally misses the point?

I suspect the difference is not great, especially as most strings have a dampening silk winding. Still - sympathetic string attenuate, rather than boost, the frequencies they are tunes to. They take energy away from the playing string.

If you play bottom A on the G string, then damp the open A, there is a noticeable increase in volume.

Here is an image I took using Audacity:-

https://scontent-lhr3-1.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-xfa1/v/t1.0-9/217656_10151179634859414_997013878_n.jpg?oh=cc64e718312b29336a1e4718bddd168e&oe=576DC5C3

You can see when I damped the A-string at 9.25 seconds.

So, I would say we use afterlengths to reduce nasty frequencies rather than boost ones we want.

February 6, 2016 at 03:31 PM · As for the Frirsz tailpiece, it may well make a difference - they say, "The Frirsz tailpiece balances the instrument by adding clarity and strength to the bass tones and creating a clear tonal path for the entire range of the instrument."

This may be a result of reducing the effect of conflicting higher partials rather than boosting bass. They claim great results with Wolf tones, and it seems they are created by conflicting resonances, so maybe that is what it's all about, not the Hokey Cokey after all.

February 6, 2016 at 04:10 PM · My fiddle has a prominent C# wolf. In support of Graham's comment, I find if I tune my G after length to D, the wolf is so strong that even C#, 1st position on A-string cracks. If I tune away from D (a little higher than Eb currently) the wolf is gone.

February 8, 2016 at 02:59 AM · Graham, you da MAN! Do you have a similar plots of,

1. Playing open G and damp its afterlength

2. Playing open G and damp the A string

3. Play B on the G and damp its afterlength

I am still skeptical that the afterlength would make any measurable difference.

How did you damp the A string?

February 14, 2016 at 10:45 PM · Jeewon Kim,

1. I wonder if it make sense in light of Graham's comments, to tune your afterlength to C# to rid yourself of a C# wolf. The idea being that this will attenuate C#. Then again, a wolf is surely WAY more complex than my simple thought here, as is EVERYTHING about the violin!

2. Have you tried damping the afterlengths with felt?

February 15, 2016 at 12:05 AM · Hi Scott, a few years back I tried fiddling with various aspects of the tailpiece: tailgut length, after length, various types of tailpieces, various tuners, etc. I ended up shortening the tailgut, it's pretty much as short as I can get it, so I can't lengthen the afterlength with the current tailpiece. At some point I might try adjusting it again with a shorter tailpiece. I haven't tried felt, but I've experimented with elastic bands, wire ties, wolf eliminators, etc. Right now I've cut a piece of plastic tie and put it under the string where it meets the tailpiece fret. It works pretty well. Of course the afterlength pitch changes with different brand strings. If anyone invents a tailpiece where you can adjust tailgut length, afterlength, string tension, all independently of one another, I'll be first to order one.

February 15, 2016 at 12:21 AM · Didn't Wittner have a tailpiece the could be adjusted by screw driver without say more than taking a bit of tension off the strings?

February 15, 2016 at 01:27 PM · @ Scott

>> Graham, you da MAN! Do you have a similar plots of,

>>1. Playing open G and damp its afterlength

>>2. Playing open G and damp the A string

>>3. Play B on the G and damp its afterlength

I did some other plots, and there were some other noticeable changes, but I can't remember exactly which ones I did. The one I posted was the most extreme.

>>I am still skeptical that the afterlength would make any measurable difference.

Subtle differences can count for a lot when setting up a fiddle.

>>How did you damp the A string?

I just stopped it from vibrating with a finger, I think. Might have been the flesh of my palm.

As for the C# wolf, because the main resonant frequency of the air cavity of the violin is usually around C#, I doubt that string afterlength would have much effect, but you never know....

I would expect more effect on high wolf tones, as the frequencies of the afterlengths are high.

My own little experiment was actually about the idea that open strings resonate and fill the sound out, when, in fact they have the opposite effect. I have used the damping effect to give a rhythmic pulse to a long note. Play the long note, and tap a relevant other string. Interesting effect

February 15, 2016 at 02:18 PM · It is common practice to get a "vibrato" on an open G (or at any rate to warm its sound) by vibrating its octave G on the D-string - witness the opening of the Bruch G minor for a well known example.

February 15, 2016 at 03:43 PM · I always thought the technique of vibrating the open G was unnecessary. Kind of silly, actually. In the case of Bruch, he probably wrote the open G for a reason. If he wanted to, he could have easily transposed the key for a stopped note.

February 15, 2016 at 10:05 PM · David:

"Didn't Wittner have a tailpiece that could be adjusted by screw driver without any more than taking a bit of tension off the strings?"

Still do. I have three of those, one without tuners and two with. However, they adjust ONLY afterlength. Tailgut length stays constant. And I always adjust string tension with the tuners, not the tailpiece (not your comment).

February 16, 2016 at 07:14 AM · I have tailpieces custom-made for me to have the desired string afterlength (54.5mm in my case) and a minimum free tailgut length. Work pretty well for me. It was from India. The cost is quite affordable and the workmanship is pretty good. PM me if you want the manufacturer's information.

February 18, 2016 at 03:21 PM · Er, changing the afterlength does not alter the string tension.

(Whatever our luthier's assitant may claim.)

February 18, 2016 at 04:37 PM · Woops. I think I caused some confusion. I meant that you might have to detune to unload the tension for ease in the length adjustment and retune normally afterward. Perhaps not necessary. Haven't tried one myself. Sorry.

March 4, 2016 at 05:53 PM · Still skeptical, here. Before and after test separated by hours or days and not done with double-blind evaluation do not remove the human subjective part of the listener or the player. THAT SAID, if we BELIEVE our violin now sounds better, we will play it better. (Placebos can be truly powerful medicine - really.)

Doing Graham Clark's test of bowing an open string then damping the other strings (that will be vibrating sympathetically) causes a NOTICEABLE increase in volume and balance in the overtones! Everyone can hear the difference! Doing the same thing with an afterlength does nothing. Try it yourself. See if you can tell a difference.

So, what does the sympathetic vibration of the other strings mean for equality/evenness of playing? Anything? I suppose we just have to live with it. Is this a different thread?

March 4, 2016 at 07:07 PM · Scott, I won't take issue with the power of belief. Still, an accumulation of trivial(hardly noticeable) differences can add up to major differences. I've spent countless hours trying to get a Strad to meet the expectations of the marketplace, whereas this couldn't have been afforded on less expensive instruments, because the cost of time involved to do so could easily exceed the market value of the instrument.

March 10, 2016 at 03:20 PM · I read through this thread 4 months ago, and since than, I have alligned all my string afterlengths to 2 octaves and a fifth above(within the accuracy of one or two hertz) by adding or removing gauge through string windings. Grahams resent input brings me to think: is it normal for the e string to show a bit of A(220hz) frequency on an electronic tuner? And for the rest of the strings to give a bit of the undertones from the string to its left? Does this quality make the sound *fingerscrossed* muddy/unfocused? If It isn't normal, can I remove this by tunning the afterlengths to the frequency 2 octaves and a 4th above the string to its left e.g.tune e string after length 2 octaves and a 4th to an A so that when I play e openstring I dont get a frequencies as the a afterlength will reduce the A's I hear on open string ? This is ofcoarse assuming the frequencies from other strings aren't a despirable trait.

March 10, 2016 at 03:56 PM · From my personal experience, proper after-length does improve the following sound attributes: volume (to some extent), resonance, responsiveness and clarity. The improvement of each attribute varies from instrument to instrument. The gain, no matter how small, is worth the effort, especially on student-level instruments where every "sound bit" counts.

As already mentioned, winding on modern strings is a challenge and the results are best audible with pure gut strings.

Having said that, proper after-length is not a silver bullet and will not improve the quality of your violin's timbre.

It is just one of a few factors in setup to pay attention to, but not to the point of obsession.

April 9, 2016 at 06:15 PM · Very interesting thread.

Im wondering about the afterlenght of the E string. There was mention of it earlier, but I wanted to ask a more specific and detailed question.

How important is it to use a fine tuner for the e-string that doesnt effect the afterlengh?

April 9, 2016 at 07:54 PM · Umar, that A220 you detected when you played the E is real, and audible if you know what you're listening for. It is the difference tone between the 660Hz of the E and the 440Hz of the A. 220 is half 440 so you correctly identify it as the A an octave below the A string. Even if you're not playing the open A along with the E you'll still be able to detect something because on a resonant violin the E will start the open A vibrating to a certain extent and this is enough to establish a difference tone of A220, probably not very strong but every little helps.

For centuries church pipe organ builders have been using the low octave difference tone effect produced by a perfect 5th to couple pipes a 5th apart to produce the effect of really low notes. Such notes could otherwise only be produced by expensive banks of 32-foot pipes.

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