Peter Zaret's patented tonal enhancement bass bar?

July 12, 2014 at 03:24 AM · Has anyone had experience with Peter Zaret's violas with the patented bass bar for tonal enhancement? What do the other instrument makers think of this?

Replies (28)

July 12, 2014 at 04:13 AM · That's a very interesting question. One I always wanted to ask myself.

To my mind however it seems that for re-graduated instruments with a thin top it could make a positive difference because of the greater mass, but on a healthy instrument I have my doubts.

July 15, 2014 at 09:32 AM · The videos are hard to assess:

- We don't hear a before-&-after recording.

- Mr. Zaret is playing in a corner, which increase bass resonance.

- The recorded sound may not be at its best in these U-toob videos.

My personal impression is of a sluggish response at the low end, and a "clunky" one at the high end (which he rarely uses..)

It is worth getting feedback on this, and other forums: I should like to know how well the initial state is restored ("free of charge") in case of dissatisfaction, and if there is any resulting damage.

July 16, 2014 at 03:38 AM · I've played his instruments, but they all had the bass bar in them already lol. But I'm assuming it sounds better than before. Those were all like obscure german violas or tyrolean that he touched up. Idk if he does that to newer ones

July 16, 2014 at 08:18 PM · I re-listened to the viola demos. To my ears the sound is wooly at the bottom, and screechy the rest of the way up, plus a curious clunky attack. How much of this is the recording technique, and how much Mr.Zaret' bumpy bowing, I don't know.

There are some "before and after" 'cello demos: I definitely prefer the tone and respnse before modification!

July 16, 2014 at 09:50 PM · "Fitting a larger bassbar inside the violin will change the air resonance. "

My god. What has become of

July 17, 2014 at 05:17 AM · Save your money and buy a decent instrument sans the Zaret Bass bar.

Remember the Virzi Tone Enhancer? Didn't think so. The joke is that the Virzi Brother charged 25 bucks to put one in and Sacconi charged $250 to remove it!

July 19, 2014 at 02:24 AM · There is a reason that the ignorant are well advised to ask questions. Am I safe to say that if it sounds to good to be true; it's too good to be true?

July 19, 2014 at 05:33 AM · Usually.

There are no shortcuts. Good materials, good training, experience, some luck, thoughtfulness, and hard work.

Did I mention luck?

July 19, 2014 at 07:22 AM · As an (ex) violin maker, I am always astounded at the sheer number of variables in the construction of a violin.

First there is the rather intricate shape, cross-sections of the top and back which vary widely (in height and curvature)from end to end and side to side, and the relative thicknesses. Then there is the asymmetry of the strings, set up, and neck. Lastly there is the wood itself, hardly a homogenous material from end to end, and of which at least two types are used. Not to mention the varnish.

To optimize all these variables together to make a system that performs at a top level requires a great master maker with years of experience, inspiration, and the desire to obtain the highest result at any cost.

This is why I believe that to simply invent a new component to measureably improve sound, when the component (be it a bass bar, a tail piece, a special varnish, etc etc.) is just a cog in this wonderful mechanism doesn't convince me on principle.

July 20, 2014 at 01:48 PM · "As an (ex) violin maker, I am always astounded at the sheer number of variables in the construction of a violin." (etc.)


And I want to add: As a guitar player, I am always astounded at the extremly narrow range of variables in the construction of a violin.

Given the amount of variability in most other instruments, it's remarkable how all violins are in a very narrow range, or they simply won't work.

Changing one part to outside of that range disturbs the interaction of the other elements of these complex systems. Sometimes it's easy changeing one part on a bad instrument to improve it. But all decent violins are more or less optimized - all parts must be of high quality *and* the mix must fit.

July 21, 2014 at 08:20 AM · No. I have an aversion about unqualified statements.

July 21, 2014 at 08:45 AM · John,

with a larger bass bar the changes in stiffness, mass, contact area etc.pp. affect the sound much more than the negligible change in air resonance.

July 21, 2014 at 03:30 PM · I agree, Tobias, but have you actually experimented small changes in internal volume?I know John has, and so have I..

July 21, 2014 at 08:00 PM · "They used pieces of foam rubber just as I did ."

Sounds like nonsense to me. I am no violin maker (I have an education in brass instrument making and many years experience in guitar maintenance), but I am very experienced in the bull_sh_it department aka esoterism, pseudo science/medicine etc.

Maybe I'm wrong, but putting little foam pieces inside a maple/spruce resonator rings my bell.

I think there was a discussion with the very special John Schneider (the one with the hearing loss) where you were very active that was not up to today's standards.

Simple solutions for nonexisting or real, old problems are always suspect.

If I do you injustice, I apologize.

July 21, 2014 at 10:20 PM · "Sounds like nonsense to me"..

But Tobias, have you actually tried it?

A "scientific" approach includes hypothesis and experimentation, not unverified supposition.

Doesn't it?

July 21, 2014 at 11:18 PM · "Scientific" also means trying to control for enough of the variables to be able to make sense of the results.

When it comes to violin family instruments, the number of variables that one can control is far too few compared to the whole.

July 22, 2014 at 07:26 AM · I quite agree, Duane, there are so many variables that it is vital to modify one at a time: in this case, internal air volume. The main air resonance can be lowered by partially covering the f-holes, or raised by inserting foam. I tried rice (uncooked!)

The differences as one goes up a chromatic scale are subtle, but distinct.

I would have to try on other violins to hear to what extent changes in air resonance interact with wood resonances,(which are much less predictable).

At least I don't damage my fiddles!

All my limited discoveries were confirmed when I read the very thorough investigations of Carleen Hutchins and others.

July 22, 2014 at 07:48 PM · "What is interesting here also is the psychology of protesters such as yourself"

Yes, that's my experience with proponents of quack physics/medicine, too.

They simply can't understand why somebody intelligent would refuse to try out their magic cure.

I know exactly how easily self delusion is happening. So I keep strictly to controlled experiments, when it comes to it. Fiddling around with scissors, glue and a tweezer is not enough to convince me, because there are so many others factors you have to consider.

I'm ready to admit you're right when a number of approved violin makers support your simple solution.

In case of John Schneiders bridge I already offered an alternative solution why it may have sounded better in his ears (see search function), but that rational explanation was taken personally and rejected without even considering.

PS. I unfortunatly don't own a violin with a wolf, so I couldn't test your method even if I were not so close minded.

July 22, 2014 at 08:04 PM · Tobias, I admit that the audible effects of Mr.Zaret's bass-bar due to changed mass and stiffness are likely to outweigh those due the very small change in internal volume.

John and I only wish, with our our pitiful "scissors and glue", to isolate the audible effects of the volume change, in a clear, repeatable manner. Simple, healthy, "scientific" curiosity!

Personally, at 35 I knew everything, at 65, I'm still learning. No time for contempt...

July 22, 2014 at 08:53 PM · "Personally, at 35 I knew everything, at 65, I'm still learning. No time for contempt..."


With me, it's more like "at 35 I knew a little, moving towards 65 I gathered some insight", especially that you don't always have to start all over again.

No way the earth will be flat again, despite the fundamental fact that all knowledge is fallible.

July 22, 2014 at 10:06 PM ·

July 22, 2014 at 10:52 PM · John, why is the world such a bad place?

PS. I have no problem with invisible things. Music, love and awareness are the essentials of my life...

July 23, 2014 at 12:42 AM · John Cadd wrote:

"Why is the air singled out and left out in the cold ? Why is it ignored ?"

It hasn't been, by any means.

July 23, 2014 at 08:41 PM · Yes, John. At night it's colder than outside.

July 24, 2014 at 11:14 AM · There are indeed some photos showing considerable damage: the extra components had simply been ripped out, taking fradments of the belly with them. Also the photos of the new bass bar and blocks show the work of an amateur carpenter, not a luthier.

In his U-toob video, he maintains the main quality in a string instrument, even a Strad, is that is is louder than average....

July 29, 2014 at 11:38 PM · Among all the seasoned luthiers I know there is a clear consesus about this bar.... it is a bad thing and will devalue the instrument in the case of resale, since the bar will have to be removed and a new, orthodox one, fitted to the instrument.

July 30, 2014 at 05:49 AM · I would agree with Luis on the matter.

If I was buying an expensive violin I would want to evaluate the tonal qualities with a proper set-up, not with a largely untested bass-bar which might or might not have an adverse effect on the tone or the structural integrity of the violin.

For a start up violin it really does not matter,as these are worth very little.

July 30, 2014 at 10:07 AM · "No way the earth will be flat again, despite the fundamental fact that all knowledge is fallible."

The earth is flat again every morning until I've had my first dose of caffeine.

And even at 65, new students force this old dog to learn new tricks...

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