Carbon Fiber Bodied Violin

July 24, 2009 at 08:54 PM ·

I have been playing around with the idea of making a Carbon fiber violin for about a year and finally felt like I had enough information to make a good first attempt at it.  I have read a lot of discussions about the Louis and Clark instruments and avoided copying their work.  I used a much more traditional approach to building the violin.  Instead of making the whole thing carbon fiber I have used ebony,maple and spruce to make the neck, fingerboard and end blocks.  I also kept the traditional violin shape.  The top and the back are both graduated to improve the sound quality.  The rib, top plate and bottom plate are all seperatly molded and then joined together with epoxy (Hide glue did not work).

Here is a link to some images of the violin and the process of making it:

http://www.photoworks.com/photo-sharing/shareSignin.jsp?shareCode=A1201F2C8B0&cp=ems_shr_alb_pml&cb=PW

I have had one decent player take it for a test drive and he found it easy to play.

 

Replies (94)

July 25, 2009 at 12:11 AM ·

It definitely looks cool.  Do you have any sound clips so we can hear it being played?

Personally, I think carbon fiber instruments are an interesting concept.  I actually have a carbon bow for my electric violin. 

My hesitation in investing in a whole violin/viola stems from the fact that it's an inorganic substance.  A huge facet of playing a wood instrument is that they do sound better with time and use (if they are made properly).  With carbon fiber, what you see is what you get.  It's sort of in a weird limbo between a wood violin and electric.

July 25, 2009 at 12:37 AM ·

But the great thing is it does not change with heat and humidity a big problem down here in the South.  Also if it sounds great now it will sound great 20 years from now even if it does not get played, with no loose seams or pest damage.  Outdoor concerts and people that sweat alot when they really get to playing don't have to worry about thier varnish.

Will add sound clips when I get some.  don't know how good they will be but I will do my best to get a good recording.

Is it the violin that gets better or the player adapts to the instrument?  I know the old violins have "matured" but is that playing or just the wood ageing?

July 25, 2009 at 01:17 AM ·

Most of the musician I know always have a back up instruments, and those who can afford this kind (L&C). If you can hone it some more, this could be great to those who wants something different, and so for those musician who do lots of gigs outdoors.

Don't give up!, Best of luck to you!

July 25, 2009 at 02:49 AM ·

I have come up with a way to create the flame effect from Maple in carbon fiber and will be attempting a back plate tommorow.  I am hoping it will create a silver ghost flame in the black of the carbon fiber.   Will let you know how it comes out. 

My target price for these is around $1500 to $2000 significantly less than the L&C ones.

July 25, 2009 at 08:15 AM ·

Very true about the weather thing.  I hadn't considered that.  I'm from San Diego so the only time we discuss the weather is when it rains for more than 15 minutes =s

Sound waves actually carve out and smooth the inside of a wood violin.  Thus, it becomes more acustically "perfect" over the years

July 25, 2009 at 11:24 AM ·

"Sound waves actually carve out and smooth the inside of a wood violin.  Thus, it becomes more acustically "perfect" over the years"

Yes, but it's always a mess to get the sawdust ot of the violin, and you don't have to play too much or it gets too thin.

August 17, 2009 at 01:57 AM ·

Well the first attempt was a bust!!   Due to my lack of information I made the top plate too thin and it deformed under string pressure.  It did sound pretty good but lasked something in the low end.  I have now finished a new one with a thicker top and more graduation to the top and bottom plates.  It sounds better and has no issues with the low end.  hope to have a decent player try it out soon and get thier impression.

http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=81798&id=749512825&l=91f21163c8

August 17, 2009 at 02:18 AM ·

 I'd be extremely interested in a 5-string Carbon Fiber instrument...let me know if your second experiment works out and whether you'd be interested in making something like that.

August 17, 2009 at 02:55 AM ·

Color me interested-I'm not in the market, but my curiosity is piqued.  Neat work, even if it is in the early stages-usually endeavors like these take a great deal of trial to get right.

FYI-Stuart, the downfall of the L&C violins is that there is no trial period that can be arranged, and you have to fork out the $5k for one of their outright.

I'd love to be on a list to try one, the catch being that I'm out in Nebraska, although my professor and I are on great terms with Metzler's shop in Glendale, CA-and he regularly ships instruments our way (not much help for you that Glendale is 500 some miles away tho').

August 17, 2009 at 12:21 PM ·

A 5 string is a definite possiblity.  It just requires a different neck setup and tail piece.

I will be interested to hear other people's opinion on the sound and am willing to ship it out on "loan" when I have the third one done.  I will try to work through music shops and you may have to pay return shipping.  Not too worried about damage since it is carbon fiber. :-) 

The third one will have a carbon fiber bass bar in it with metal weights to bring it up to the right mass.

August 18, 2009 at 07:14 PM ·

I own an L&C violin AND viola, and I will NEVER return to a wood instrument.

August 19, 2009 at 01:10 AM ·

Stuart,

I would be curious to try one of your fiddles...doesn't have to be a 5-string right away (although that's my primary interest) but I'd like to see what kind of results you're getting since you're open to the idea of making a 5-string. I'll be in Virginia at my mother-in-law's house in Sept and would be curious about having one shipped to and from there, since it's closer to you and less costly for both of us.

August 20, 2009 at 02:09 AM ·

 http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=81798&id=749512825&l=91f21163c8

Here are the pictures with the shine coat on and looking all glossy.

I did have a bit of a turn when I restrung it after putting the shine coat on it, the G string was Dead on everything but the open string.  Moved the sound post "that had fallen while finishing and been reset" and it came back to life.  Still need some tweaking but I am going to take it to a pro and have it checked out.

The local violin teacher did try it out while the G string was dead.  She did make some nice music come out of it even with my $25 bow.   Very much like an electric violin in sound and very easy too get the notes out of the violin was her comment.  She did not like my chin rest but that is a easily changed part.

Hope to pick up a better bow tommorow.

August 27, 2009 at 01:52 AM ·

 Funny story:

Took the CF violin to a professional Luthier to have it checked out and have a sound post put in.  You would have thought I had asked a Lotus mechanic to work on my 82 Ford!!!  He was busily telling me how it would never sound right when one of the highly regarded teachers walked by and stopped when he saw the CF violin.  He looked it over and thought it looked really cool and wanted to know how it sounded.  The Luthier started to list it's bad points and I handed the teacher a bow from my case.  This guy takes it up and down the block musically (Sounded wonderful to me)  then hands it back and mentions that is a bit weak on the low end but other than that a wonderful instrument.   The Luthier was a bit nicer after that. :-)

I do wish I had a recorder to get his playing.  I have purchased some recording equipment and will be recording some scales and such but since I don't know how to play it will be simple stuff until I can catch a real player to take a swing with it.

The low end is weak because I did not put a true bass bar in it but an integrated one.  I know better now and will have one in the next prototype with a thinner top to get more projection and to make use of the extra support of the bass bar.

 

August 27, 2009 at 02:09 AM ·

Stuart,

You used a standard sound post of wood, I presume?  

One thing that might be worth trying is a CF post. The problem with mixing wood and CF is with humidity, naturally.  I played in a quartet with a violist from Portugal and his local luthier was experimenting with CF sound posts (with wood ends)-and was getting good sound results, except for when humidity would change and alter the sound (quite a bit) due to the wood plates/ribs expanding/contracting and the post not.

August 28, 2009 at 03:53 AM ·

 It is a spruce sound post.  I have been thinking of how to make a CF sound post just not sure how I am going to do it yet.  I am also going to try a CF bridge too.  When I made the piece for my bass bar it was pretty close to the thickness of a bridge.  If I have a piece left over I am going to try shaping it and see what it sounds like.  Also going to try to make my own tailpiece out of CF.  

Since I have had 2 inquiries on 5 string violins I am going to attempt one of those next.  The graduation is going to be different and targeted at making the 5th string a true part of the instrument not something that was added on later.

To those that play 5 string violins a few questions:

Would you like the fingerboard wider so you have the same spacing between the strings as a 4 string or are you happy with the way it is now?

Should the neck be more slender if the fingerboard is wider or a bit more meaty?

I have added a very crappy playing of scales and slides to my profile from the CF violin.  My playing is horrid so ignore that. :-)

August 28, 2009 at 07:26 AM ·

 Well, I think you should make the fingerboard and neck wider in order to keep the distance between the strings as usual. There is no way to play properly with five strings in the space for four strings. You might need a viola bridge

If it might help take a look at these pics:

 

 

 

 

August 28, 2009 at 07:27 AM ·

 Sorry I have mesed up the whole layout of the thread.

September 1, 2009 at 01:18 AM ·

 Thanks for the pictures.  It is ok that the format got messed up. :-)  Here is a link to the MP3 clip I made.

http://www.violinist.com/audio/Scalesandslides.mp3

September 1, 2009 at 12:10 PM ·

 Sounds a bit garish to me, but maybe the recording, or my speakers...or my ears. What kind of strings are you using? Can I get a picture of the bridge, maybe you can fix by recutting the bridge.

Did you get my email with the measures?

Regards from the old Europe.

September 2, 2009 at 05:22 AM ·

 Keep up the work on cf violins. I would like to see more people developing violins with this material.

September 2, 2009 at 05:38 AM ·

Here's a couple things you may think about, although I'll probably get a lot of flack for some of them.

what about changing the overall layout of the bass bar? With wood, you have the grain in a direction, and the bass bar is limited by that. With CF, you could possibly have a X shape, or a modified shape Match the shape of the f holes, maybe?

The sound post needs to be a separate piece with wood; with CF, is there a realistic way to identify the proper location, then integrate it into the body? Make it attached solidly on both ends, or attached on the top and forked on the bottom?

As wood violins age, they get changes by the music; possibly try some striations based on the wavelength of the different strings, or based on whatever you think may pertain? I think inside the back, between the sound post and the neck, some variations to the inside may make some interesting changes.

Note these ideas will likely result in quite a number of attempts to be discarded or rebuilt, but I thought I would throw them out there. There is no reason a new medium couldn't be looked at as a new opportunity.

September 2, 2009 at 09:17 PM ·

 Nicolas: I did get you email and thanks for the measurments.  The Recording was done with my #2 try at a CF violin with Thomastic supersensitive strings.   Zylons (?SP) sounded much nicer.  I also have a set of infield visions and Helicores to try.

The bridge does need some work, had to move it back about 10 mm from where I conformed the feet to get the string length right.  I think I had done some other changes to the bridge and had not gone back and finished it after trying it on for string height above the finger board.  

The nut is too high and has to be trimmed down.  The Top plate on this one is graduated the wrong way, from thick in the middle of the arch to thin on the edges.  This was a way of trying to build in the bass bar.

The #2 violin has alot of issues that will be fixed in the #3 violin.  I have already made the new top plate with the graduation going the right way.  The bass bar is made but not installed and shaped.  Is there any weight ratio for the top plate to bass bar??   Since the CF is so light I am thinking of  adding a silver weight to the bass bar to give it more "throw".

I am working on a new mold for the ribs since the wood one died from the removal of the last set of ribs.  Hope to have it done this week and can get back to putting #3 together.

I was wondering about attaching the CF sound post to the top and back plates and what effect that would have.  Any opinions??

As for wild bass bars I may experiment later but for now I am just trying to get one right with regular features. :-)   Also considering changing the f holes maybe make them look like sea horses.  I will post pictures when I get the new mold worked out.  It will make the neck and ribs in one piece.

 

September 5, 2009 at 05:14 PM ·

 Surely you'll get better results with other strings--I think of Supersenitives as the cheapest and cheapest-sounding string on the market, but maybe there are some newer ones that I haven't heard yet...

September 14, 2009 at 01:26 PM ·

 Pulled the new violin body out of the mold yesterday.  This one is a one piece back neck and rib.  I have a top ready for it with a bass bar installed.  The Carbon fiber bridge is cut and I have made a CF stick to use as a sound post.  I am going to have Pegheads installed by the guy that invented them.  This one will be strung up with Infield Vision strings.  Will post pictures later.

September 18, 2009 at 07:42 PM ·

 Ok I got bored while waiting for some resin to cure and started playing around and made a Carbon fiber bridge.  Holy Crap it improved the sound of the #2 violin by a huge margin.  Will post pictures tonight.

September 19, 2009 at 01:39 PM ·

Can't wait for the pics!!

Makes me think what a carbon bridge would do on a "traditional" violin.

September 19, 2009 at 02:06 PM ·

CF bridge?  You would think that someone would have done that by now?  I think somene posted a thread about the concept of a CF sound post.

September 19, 2009 at 05:12 PM ·

 http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=81798&id=749512825&l=91f21163c8

Here is the link to the pictures.  The new ones are at the end.

I have made a CF sound post too.  It will go in this new violin, along with the other CF bridge I made.  I am hoping to have time to finish planing the fingerboard today so I can make a mold of it with the nut on it.  Then I will be able to make a CF fingerboard nut combo that will be perfect every time. :-)

September 19, 2009 at 05:42 PM ·

I think Version 3 has the most appealing pattern, visually at least.  No offense, but the other ones looked like you put a checkered wallpaper on them or something...

September 19, 2009 at 07:52 PM ·

 No offence taken. :-)  I bought that cloth because it was a heavier material and built up strength with few layers.  I may use it on the fingerboard so it is marked out for notes (MAYBE).  I like the finer grain pattern for the outside too.

September 20, 2009 at 09:36 AM ·

Thank you for the pictures. That bridge needs a little work!. IMHO feet are too thick ant there is too much material in the middle part. Kidneys should be reworked also.

Anyway it is promising!!

September 20, 2009 at 02:35 PM ·

I just read this thread and saw the pictures. This is SO cool.

I like the checkered design on the back - I feel it's more characteristic of carbon fiber and should be expressed rather than trying to imitate traditional wood-flaming (well, unless the carbon fiber flaming helps).

In any case, keep up the awesome work!

September 20, 2009 at 04:46 PM ·

I've seen other carbon fiber instruments and they sound pretty darn sweet. Me personally, I wouldn't mind owning CF instruments for a lot of the same reasons folks have listed already. I live out here in the deserts of Arizona, so heat and (lack of ) humidity are a constant issue. So, I would be counted among the very interested.

The counter-points to them are two-fold in my case. I'm very much a beginner in violin (but not to music playing) and I don't make a lot of money. So a CF violin would be an extremely un-necessary expense at this time. Maybe in a year or two when I get the basics down, I'll look at upgrading my Vinci VV10 to something better. 

But keep up the good work, I look forward to looking at your latest pictures.

September 20, 2009 at 05:19 PM ·

In the past few years there have been some great advances in carbon fiber string instruments; Rainsong guitars and MSA steel guitars come quickly to mind.  If I were a traveling professional musician I would give very serious consideration to one of these.  In January of 1972 I flew back to Denver from a week gig in Edmonton to find the headstock broken off the neck on a Martin D28.  Since I live in western Colorado with 10% to 20% normal humidity and ordinary temperature swings of 30 degrees in a day I already chose a Coda bow.  I travel internationally several times a year now (Europe, Latin America & Middle East) and it would be nice to have a violin that produced "reasonable" tone that I could confidently travel with. The solid body electrics such as Bridge, Jordan, Zeta, etc, don't cut it because I don't want the hassle of traveling with an amp.  I would love to have a sturdy and stable instrument that could compete with wood instruments on the same level that Coda competes with wood bows or that Rainsong competes with mid-grade Martin and Taylor guitars.  I doubt that you would sell many to the Anne-Sophie Mutters of the world, but there aren't many in her class.  For amateurs like me who travel, or for country and bluegrass fiddlers, I think they could be very competitive. 

September 21, 2009 at 01:00 AM ·

>>>>>>Well, I think you should make the fingerboard and neck wider in order to keep the distance between the strings as usual. There is no way to play properly with five strings in the space for four strings. You might need a viola bridge

If it might help take a look at these pics:<<<<<

If you use a wider bridge, it is necessary to move the F-holes and bass bar out as well so that the relationship between bass bar and bridge foot is correct. The combination of wide bridge on a standard body doesn't work very well.

I have one of those five-strings pictured, and it sounds quite a bit better with a 42mm violin bridge.  There's room enough for 5 strings with 11mm spacing on a 42mm radius, which plays OK. They do have a 25mm nut, which allows strings to be 5mm on center instead of 5.5 - a little tight.  The choice is between tight spacing and fat neck.  We offer both on the ones we make, and so far demand is about 50/50.

I'd like to see a CF violin at a reasonable price that had a sound to compete with wood violins in the same price neighborhood.  They would probably not take over the market, but they definitely would have a place.

 

 

September 24, 2009 at 04:48 PM ·

 I made some CF fingerboards the other day.  One is regular woven carbon fiber and the other is the unwoven carbon fiber threads, so it kind of looks like normal ebony but with a strong silver flame effect that doesn't really show up in the pictures.  Neither of these has the finish coat on them.  I did curve the ebony fingerboard top to get the proper "dish" to it before I molded it so the CF ones have it too.

www.facebook.com/album.php

September 26, 2009 at 05:19 AM ·

If your CF bridge and CF soundpost is a success,I will buy it for my Luis and Clark violin.

PS:What do you think will fit better with a CF violin,a CF bow or a wood bow or a Hybrid(wood bow with CF core)?

September 29, 2009 at 11:53 AM ·

 Kwyjibo,

The choice of bow is not simple.  Check out Smiley's post about his quest for the right bow.  For you it may be one bow for this violin but for someone else the may need a different bow to get good sound.  If you change violins you may need to change bows too.  Finding the right match of violin and bow can take some trial and error, try lots of bows of different types and woods.

The CF bridge was a success on my instrument.  Hope to have the pegs installed and the sound post in by this weekend.

October 1, 2009 at 01:47 AM ·

 John Herin installed his pegheds on my #3 violin today.  Such a great guy.  He actually custom made a set for me with some wild wood that matched the CF violin pattern.  After he was done he strung it up with my CF bridge and played on it a little.  The sound was incredible!!!  I quote John Herin. "It has the old Italian sound"  None of the high harmonics came blaring out.  It was just full, round and even through all the strings.  I was holding the #2 violin while he was playing and I could tell what string he was playing because the strings on the violin I was holding would vibrate in sympathy, very cool!!!.

October 1, 2009 at 06:17 AM ·

Sounds interesting! I do find carbon fiber instruments tend to produce higher overtones a little too clean and pronounced, even CF bows I tried are doing the same (except my Arcus which produce less higher overtones than my wooden bow does, maybe due to their different design).

Can't wait for a sound clip! Perhaps you want to ask professional violinist to give a test drive on it?

October 7, 2009 at 09:26 PM ·

 Link to Jon singleton playing my #3 violin.  The video is crappy since I shot it with my cell phone. :-)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YBzh3XA7Wc8

October 8, 2009 at 12:30 PM ·

 Sorry, but the audio is so bad quality that I cannot judge. Why don't you try and record with a digital video camera? That will give us some better clues.

Allt he best.

October 8, 2009 at 07:57 PM ·

Here is a slightly better recording.

 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BIx39DcpsYs

October 9, 2009 at 07:01 AM ·

 Too slightly better :-(

How does it play in the upper positions?

October 9, 2009 at 02:43 PM ·

 The people that played it compared it to the L and C carbon fiber violins.  It plays well across the full range.

October 15, 2009 at 11:18 PM ·

Hey Stuart,

I'm looking very forward to seeing what you come up with with your experiments.  I've greatly enjoyed looking through the progress pictures, seeing what you kept and what you abandoned.  Also, I'm glad to hear that unlike other cf violin companies, your priorities are value and forward thinking as well as tone and playability.  We'll be talking in great depth about that 7 string soon I hope.

Dale

October 16, 2009 at 03:51 AM ·

Stuart,

Could you make a recording that is only an MP3 or audio? most video recorders have pretty poor audio recording systems, as they are focused on the image. A fair microphone connected to a computer would probably provide much better sound.

October 16, 2009 at 05:33 PM ·

 I am working on getting my recording equipment  moved over to a laptop so I can take it with me.  Just a matter of time.

I have also sent #3 off to Marc Bettis at the University of Nebraska.  I went back and did some setup adjustments and got it to sound a lot better.  I am hoping that he will get a chance to record it in the concert hall there.

I did have Glen, Bob and Jon up at the Violin Shop in Charlotte try out #4 the other day.  Bob was able to adjust the bridge placement and fit and improve the sound output.  That is the biggest problem I am having right now is that only about half of the sound seems to be coming out of the violin.  I think a lot of this comes from me not knowing squat about setup. :-)

I will be getting my ballistic grade Zylon today, so I am going to make a pair of ultra thin plates and see how they sound.  Stay tuned for the next round.

October 17, 2009 at 07:54 AM ·

Thank you very much for the updates. I wish I was near you to try one of your violins.

October 21, 2009 at 01:21 AM ·

 Just an update.  The Zylon was back-ordered but shipped today.  Since I couldn't make the plates I wanted to, I started playing with how thin I could make the bridge.  I also played with a new design that left only direct paths for the vibration to the feet.   Right now it is down to 2 mm at the feet and 1 mm at the top under Dominant Heavy gauge strings and still holding.  Volume has increased as I thinned it down.  I will see if I can take it down another .5 mm this weekend and have it still hold.  I have not seemed to lose any tone or gain any weird harmonics yet.

Here is a link to the pictures.  They are at the end of the pictures of my #4 instrument.

www.facebook.com/album.php

October 21, 2009 at 03:19 AM ·

Keep the posts going! I am getting more and more impressed as it develops!

October 21, 2009 at 08:33 AM ·

 As I told you in the other forum, I don't think it is the best idea to thin the contact points so much. Not only because the bottleneck effect but because the pressure on the top could be dangerous for the top integrity.

October 21, 2009 at 11:29 AM ·

 I don't think I posted some of the "testing" that was done on the strength of these things.  I had one back/neck/rib piece that did not come out right because I had problems with the vacuum bag, so I let my son and his friends have it to try and destroy.  They used it as a baseball bat, jumped up and down on it and hit it with a regular baseball bat.  At the end of an hour it had a few scuffs on it.  To get it to fail I had to put it on concrete and swing full force with the baseball bat.  This cracked it.

That was only 2 layers thick and no post cure to harden the resin further.  I have stood on the uncompleted shell of #4 (before I put the top and fingerboard on it) and I weigh 200 pounds.  The back plate did not even distort under my weight.

The latest bridge I made would probably punch right through a wood top.  As for the contact area it doesn't seem to matter very much to the sound waves.  I do think I need to increase the contact area on the Bass side of the bridge but I will see if it helps this weekend when I get time to work on it again.

October 27, 2009 at 05:45 PM ·

 I am now attempting to make a series of 4 violins to determine what gives a better sound and response.  The four are going to be: #1 Top & bottom plates thin in the center. #2 Top & bottom plates thick in the center. #3 top plate thin center & bottom plate thick center. #4 top plate thick center & bottom plate thin center.

All of them will be 6 layers thick and the cut outs from the one set of plates will be used to make the other set.  Should be interesting!  Will post pictures as I move along.

October 30, 2009 at 12:30 AM ·

 Due to request I am adding a violin with a uniform thickness across the top and bottom plate.

December 14, 2009 at 09:00 AM ·

Thanks for posting Stuart.  I find your work extremely interesting.

Regarding the strenght of the instrument in orther to withstand the string tensions, I find very interesting the concept made by  "Epoch Strings" manufacturer in their instruments, i.e. to transmit the tension to the nut by means of a bar and to leave the sound box somehow floating. The string vibration is transmited to the box by means of two sound posts one for each plate. I have seen this concept in an ancient stringed instrument (dont remember the name now).

Keep posting! 

December 15, 2009 at 12:06 AM ·

I can't take the link.

December 15, 2009 at 09:52 PM ·

 Sorry to have been gone so long.  Had a big project from my day job take up my work space, built a new work table and threw my back out. :-)  My plate mold also had a catastrophic failure.  I have made a plate mold with top and bottom plates in one mold now.  

Pictures are here---->www.facebook.com/album.php

I have one about ready to assemble of the 6 I want to make in one series.  Will post pictures when done.

December 16, 2009 at 12:09 AM ·

Hi Stuart

Once you have got the bugs out of your violin, you might consider trying a cello: if you're thinking of this as a commercial venture, I suspect you might find a ready market.

Compared to a violin, cellos are:

  • Heavier
  • Much more difficult to transport safely - especially by air
  • Much more expensive, given the shortage of decent old instruments.

A CF instrument could address all of these issues. And I suspect the additional costs of making a CF cello vs a CF violin would be smaller than the differential between a wooden cello and violin?

As I'm sure you know, L & C built their business on their cello, but they are priced for the professional market - and they only do a full sized instrument. If you could produce decent student instruments at an affordable price-point I think you might be on to a winner...

Just a thought...

December 16, 2009 at 01:05 AM ·

 As my skills improve I will consider doing other instruments. :-)  A 5 string violin is first on the list then I may go for a Cello or Bass.  The 5 string will be fairly easy with just a different neck/fingerboard setup and another layer of CF to make the 5th string sound good.  Getting my hands on an instrument I can disassemble is the part that makes it tough.  Even a cheap Cello is a chunk of change.

I also want to make a Carbon fiber case with CF springs to support the instrument.  Should be interesting.  Don't know when I will get to the case since I am having a hard time finding time to work on the violins. :-)

December 16, 2009 at 01:26 AM ·

Stuart,

I am going to be in Virginia for the holidays and after...if you get a chance to finish a fiddle we could find a shop in that area for you to send it to...I'd love to try one out!

January 10, 2010 at 08:02 PM ·

 link to pictures og the 5 string in process.

www.facebook.com/album.php

January 11, 2010 at 04:18 AM ·

I have noticed that you have included the c ribs in all your cf violins, unless I missed newer ones.  Louis and Clark carbon fiber violins have done away with the c ribs because they are used in wooden violins for structural support.  I don't know if you wanted to keep the classic look to the violin by including these, but I do think yours looks better with the c ribs.   The Louis and Clark looks odd, but has good sound and durability.  Either way, like the look of your cf violin over the Louis and Clark model.

Was this a cosmetic or a structural choice?

Have you considered a cf cello?

January 11, 2010 at 05:31 PM ·

 It was a cosmetic choice to keep the classic violin shape.  I like the look of a violin. :-)  

I have considered doing a cello, but it will be a while before I attempt it.  

January 22, 2010 at 11:02 AM ·

have just found this page , was searching for carbon fiber violin makers as I'm making one my self , just been talking to Stuart through his face book page

still making the molds for the first violin so will be a while off producing my first

looking for people in Australia willing to trial my attempts ( sorry international post costs too much ) as i can only play violins badly , want people who are experienced violin players and would like them to be very critical about them , ( more base ), ( how did you get that screaming cat in there ) ,(the wolf howls  @ E#) type of reply

my face book page is http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?ref=name&id=100000509558961

it shows the beginning's of my first set of moulds , and will up date them as i progress

hope Stuart doesn't mind me hijacking his thread

January 22, 2010 at 03:41 PM ·

 Nope, I don't mind.  Happy to have more alternative makers showing up.

February 4, 2010 at 03:27 PM ·

just been reading up on how to vary the pitch of a violin , thought id post them for Stuart

the resonance depends on the volume of air , the area of the openings and the thickness of edge's around the openings

if volume of air is increased the frequency gos down , 10% reduces it by a semitone

if the f-hole area is made bigger the frequency go's up , 20% smaller reduces it by a semitone

thicker areas around the f-holes will lower the frequency

cutting the f-holes on an angle (larger on the inside ) will reduce the amplitude and shorten the duration of resonance

so it seams a thick area around the f-holes and making them anorexic might raise the bass a bit , will try on my first 2 , one standard one modified

just working on my rib jig and put a 2mm taper to the head end , what sort of taper does yours have ?

February 17, 2010 at 01:48 PM ·

 First to let everyone know I finished the 5 string fiddle and just have to make fine adjustments now.  It sounds great so far, hope I don't kill the sound adjusting it. :-)  I will post pictures soon, dead batteries in the camera.  

To reply to the question about the rib taper.  I don't aim for a taper either way but some times I end up with one.  When you see the pictures of the 5 string it has a large taper going the "wrong" way.  The end pin rib is less than 20mm and the neck end is 25-28mm.  Looks weird but sounds good.

March 6, 2010 at 04:05 PM ·

 

Clips of Carbon Fiber violin #3 being played by Marc Bettis.
First one is a mix of His $25,000 wood violin and mine
http://www.violinist.com/audio/Mixofcarbonandwood.mp3
Second is just the carbon fiber one
http://www.violinist.com/audio/Minelong.mp3

March 6, 2010 at 06:45 PM ·

great clips, and great sound! I need to cut that to a CD so I can listen on my sound system, not computer speakers!

March 12, 2010 at 12:26 AM ·

 Stuart,

 

Have you ever considered building a violin that is all CF, except for having a real spruce top?

Your clips sounds decent, but there's a lot of room reverb covering what seems to be a somewhat thin & one-dimensional sound. (OK, I'm being picky, but still...)  This is the great failing of the other existing CF violins as well.   A real top would probably add a lot of character, not to mention looks.

Yes, it would be more susceptible to humidity swings, but still MUCU more rugged & stable than a fully wooden violin.  I'd sure consider one, especially for playing with my band on tight stages.

Like Enion, I'd also probably be wanting a 5-string.  Wider FB spacing, for sure.

 

-And while we're at it, offer a special model for non-classical players that has a Realist (Steinberger) pickup mounted, with the bridge cut accordingly, ratchet tuners, and perhaps special voicing to compensate for any acoustic changes caused by the pickup.  (if needed, since it mounts under the bridge.)

 

Now yer talkin' ......

March 12, 2010 at 12:42 AM ·

 Regarding 5-stringers.

It is evidently quite a compromise to the violin's design to get substantial support for that low-C.

Perhaps you shouldn't worry about this:  Most 5-string players are going to play amplified (I would guess) and so, as long as the Low-C's fundamental is there, it should be possible to tweak it a bit with EQ.   Yes, that's another compromise, but perhaps better than messing with the sound of the other 4 strings at an acoustic level.

Obviously, this would require some experimentation.

 

With today's digital technology, it would even be possible to create an intelligent EQ that only affects the lowest 4 notes (by tracking the fundamental)  -  though of course most players may not have access to that processing power, especially live.  It would be possible to have a dedicated preamp made, with such a digital EQ built-in, but that may be a lot to deal with for a single builder.  Probably something best left to Yamaha.

March 12, 2010 at 01:39 AM ·

 For adding a spruce front I think it would be really difficult to match the wood front and a CF back.  I am horrible with wood.  I make great firewood but that is the limit of my wood working. :-)  I am still experimenting to get out of that one dimensional sound.  I am getting close and think the one I am working on now should be more robust and rich in tone.  I have added another material to the matrix to create a damping effect.

For my next 5 string i am planning to add another graduation step to the top and back plates and shorten the bass bar length and add extra mass under the bridge to increase the inertia to enhance the bass notes.  The one I just finished the C string was weak until about the first G and then it started to resonate the body properly.

The fingerboard on the 5 string is about 7mm wider at the nut on the 5 string.  I used a viola fingerboard and cut it to violin dimensions and curve and scoop done to violin specs (roughly).  Then I made a mold of that for the CF version.  The fingerboard is about 5mm thick so it can be shaved/ scooped another 3mm if needed with out loosing strength.

The pickup I have already considered and have found a guy that is developing a new smaller pickup that I can embed in the sound post or the top plate for that matter and take out through the lower corner block.  I just saw a wireless transmitter that can plug right in to the jack for cable free playing.  It had several adjustments built right in.

I also make CF bridges that I can mold the pickup into if needed.

LOTS of things to experiment with.  I really want to get the 4 string sounding good then make the changes to support the C string.  The request for a 7 string is going to be a serious challenge. :-)

March 12, 2010 at 06:01 AM ·

 Very interesting, indeed.

 

I guess if you an make a top with various thicknesses in different areas....

 

As for pickups, while I am not an e-violin expert by any means, I am VERY fond of the system in the new Yamaha SV-255.   I recently played a pre-sales model, and was really digging it.  One pickup in the body, and one in the bridge.  (Your sound-post pickup sounds promising as well) 

 

What's great about the Yammy is that you can blend-in more of the body pickup, for ballads and sweet stuff, or more of the bridge for nasty, twangy country & whatnot.  It works quite well.  Also the (thin) wooden body is actually hollow, so I guess there's a small bit of interaction there.

By comparison, the Yammy 205 is less versatile, and a little less "real" sounding. Same for the Barbetta bridge, Zeta, and a few others.

The only downside is I didn't think there were quite enough velocity-dependant harmonics even from the bridge, but it was pretty darned good.

March 12, 2010 at 08:26 AM ·

 One suggestion, Stuart. Apart from all you say you are going to implement in your next 5 string, think about rising the ribs as little as 2 mm. That should give more "body" to the C string.

All the best.

N

March 12, 2010 at 06:36 PM ·

 Nicolas,

I am thinking of some where around 30-32mm rib height is what you are suggesting?  I can understand that.  Will bring it closer to the viola air volume and lower the air resonance about 20Hz. (roughly)

From the last one I made that will be an even greater change since I over cut the ribs and ended up with a taper from neck (24mm) to the endpin(14mm) that reduced the air volume a lot.

The electric sounds fun so I may take it on later with a humbucker type pick up.

March 12, 2010 at 09:41 PM ·

 I was thinking of 32 mm at the neck and 34 at the endpin, with a constant taper. I should start with that numbers and rise the rib height if the sound doesn't satisfy you. I know of a chinese maker that has made a 5 strings violin size with the rib heights of a 16" viola. And claims the sound is good.

Please let us know your results.

April 5, 2010 at 12:52 AM ·

Wow.  I can't believe the sound is coming from a carbon fiber violin.

April 15, 2010 at 02:30 AM ·

 CF violin #6 is up and running.  This is the first of the series of graduation test.  This one started out with even thickness top and bottom plates, but had a horrid wolf on the open E string.  I went back and added 2 more shaped layers to the top and bottom plates and that fixed the big bad wolf.  I did use the Zylon on this one and it did filter out some of the high harmonics.  

www.facebook.com/album.php 

Plates are made for 7 and 8.  One rib neck set almost done.  So another will be finished soon.  May finish 8 before 7 and make it another 5 string.

link to pics of #7s plates

www.facebook.com/album.php

and #8

www.facebook.com/album.php

If you are on facebook you can find my violin site and become a fan here:

www.facebook.com/pages/Rochon-Violins/112495585429342

April 25, 2010 at 05:12 PM ·

 Fiddle #8 is coming close to completion.  It is going to be another 5 string.  Yes, it is still all carbon fiber, the wood look is just another layer of material that has a wood grain printed on it.

www.facebook.com/album.php

April 25, 2010 at 07:51 PM ·

I really want to try one.

gc

April 30, 2010 at 03:39 AM ·

Hi all I'm also making a carbon fiber violin and need some help from violin players ,

 I'm chasing recordings for a few different violins , just 4 notes played open strings ,, so i can run the sounds through some analyzing software to see the over tones to aim for

4 different open string notes sustained for 2 seconds with a 1 second space between would be fine , and a brief description of the violin ( made in china student violin , copy of a stat , etc )

my email address is kvanlaatum@yahoo.com

all details will be shared with Stuart  Rochon

 

thanks

April 30, 2010 at 07:13 AM ·

 Kenneth,

I have sent you an email. Would like to help you both. But if you want some uniform results you should specify the recording settings, i.e.:

- MP3 files at 320 Kbps or loosless FLAC format (second would do better). Or wav format (bigger files)

- Recordings wit the mic set 5 feet away from the violin.

- etc.

 

April 30, 2010 at 08:47 AM ·

If I get decent I'd be interested, because I'll be doing a lot of playing on the street and conditions can be rigorous.

April 30, 2010 at 09:35 AM ·

cheers for the email , big mono wav files are fine the higher the kbps the better ( beggars cant be demanding ) since wav files come standard with windows sound recorder , ( 8chip 2.5mhz 16gig ram here , wont over load my pc )

"But if you want some uniform results you should specify the recording settings, i.e.:" lol ( beggars cant be demanding ) ,

 how about 2 second sustained notes on each open string with only the weight of the bow and the mic (mono) 2 inches away  from center of bouts , 2 inches away from top curve ( ribs ) 2 inches away from lower curve ( ribs ) , 2 inches away from center of back and 2 inches away from the bottom of the  F hole ( i can edit out when the bow hits the mic ) , each file has 4 notes , 2 seconds per note with about 1 sec break in between and files named              shoulder.wav,         waist.wav,     hip.wav,      back.wav       & top.wav ,  once recording level is set please don't adjust between files ( I'm begging now )

don't mind if its out of tune but it will show ( spectrum analyzer picture , note reference around a 360 deg pic ) on the posts i make on my facebook page & stuarts page , will only use the description of the violin to identify each ( not names )  , so upsets wont be named ( could always post a different recording if you think its unfair (after an adjustment to your sound post , change of strings ))

thanks the quick post & attachment

KVL

April 30, 2010 at 11:07 AM ·

 OK, if my wife and doughter allow (you know it's  mother's day this weekend) I will try to do some recordings this Sunday.

As I think strings are also important to the sound I will also specify which strings are on each instrument.

 

May 1, 2010 at 04:42 AM ·

i just found out i have a 10MB file attachment limit on my yahoo email account , so don't try to send files bigger than 10MB as yahoo will refuse to accept it

May 3, 2010 at 01:48 AM ·

 Just in case anybody wanted a better quality version of the previously posted recording by Marc Bettis on my #3 fiddle, here is a link to the youtube version.

www.youtube.com/watch

May 3, 2010 at 04:19 AM ·

Is that really Play-doh on the workbench?

May 3, 2010 at 11:55 AM ·

 Why Yes, Yes it is.  It makes a great seam filler and hold down for the pieces when I am pouring the molds.  I use the pink Play-doh because my son won't play with it. :-D

May 5, 2010 at 07:54 AM ·

i would like to thank  the person who spent the time to record his violins(2) and email the recordings to me , have 2 different violins now , would like as many different violins as possible, on my wish list is a "Chinese made student violin " and any violin with a wolf tone , would like the recording to maximize the wolf on the recordings (extra file) , i will email you the results with a description of how to read the squiggles

thanks KVL

May 21, 2010 at 02:04 PM ·

 Pictures of my latest Carbon fiber fiddle. It is a 5 string.  So far the reviews have been good!

 

www.facebook.com/album.php

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