Breaking in new violins

February 25, 2005 at 06:20 AM · I have recently purchased a new violin and now in the process of breaking it in. Apart from playing the violin, is there a particular method in breaking the violin in. At the moment, I am playing Dvorak's 4 Romantic Pieces Op.75 which has a combination of long legato and fast staccato stuff. What should one play to break a violin in? Also I live in high density housing and practice with a metal practice mute, will this affect the sound of the violin if I am to break the violin in?

Replies (101)

February 26, 2005 at 02:33 AM · One popular method of breaking a violin in is to place it on a chair.

February 26, 2005 at 02:51 AM · Lots of:

Playing forte

Double stop scales

Chords

Three Octave scales

One String Scales

So really, basically what you do as part of your practice in the normal course of events anyway. The best way is just normal practice, but perhaps a bit more emphasis on the double stops and one string scales.

February 26, 2005 at 10:38 PM · I'm curious myself as to the question regarding practice with the mute. My fiddle is about four years old now, and I'm always using my heavy mute.

I can see, for the most part, that most "breaking in" occurs the first two years. Mine continues to do so, but not as dramatically as within that time period.

Eric

February 26, 2005 at 10:53 PM · It's common knowledge that the bridge is the specific piece that transfers the vibration of the strings to the body of the violin. This makes sense because the mute is fastened to the bridge in order to dampen the sound; it dampens the vibration. So if it's true that vibration through continuous playing is what breaks in a violin, I would also make sense that practicing with a heavy mute would lessen the vibrations necessary for breaking in the instrument and thus prolong the processes. If practicing with a heavy mute is necessary, you'll probably need to put in more hours of practice so that the joints and varnish of the violin get the doses of vibration needed.

February 27, 2005 at 01:39 AM · Start working on the Paganini 24 caprices and you will probably break it faster! I know I did!!

Regards,

PF

July 21, 2013 at 11:18 PM · I've found that using a leather mute, where weight is not really a factor, enhances break-in a great deal. This goes for waking up an unplayed violin, getting your current violin used to a new adjustment, or-- in an extreme recent case-- getting an uncooperative instrument to start behaving after conversion to gut strings.

I don't know if there's a physics reason, or if it has to do with persuading the player away from bad habits. It does seem to work, however.

As for sources, Paul Wiessmeyer in Boston has an excellent product at reasonable prices. There's another maker in Montreal who makes a full-strength practice mute in addition to the performance mutes, but his prices are much higher.

July 22, 2013 at 03:21 PM · I have studied and know a good deal about instrument resonation and getting a violin or viola to resonate better. In my way of looking at it, the parts of a string instrument at first are strangers to each other, and over time learn to vibrate together. Eventually they reach a point of optimal "agreement" - this is the breaking in process and at first can take a long time.

I have found that if you make a violin vibrate in a way the instrument will not normally be played (muted, in a vibration box, etc.), some degree of consonance will happen, but then when you play the instrument for real, the parts will ultimately "learn" to vibrate in the real way, creating yet another breaking-in process.

Also, changing a part on an instrument from something that dampens vibration to something that does not dampen vibration as much can make a significant difference in tone, such as a new tailpiece or a different chinrest (see www.ResonationChinrest.com for a good example of something that can upgrade your sound by not dampening vibration nearly as much as a regular chinrest).

Once the new way of vibrating happens, an initial improvement is noticeable, but then a new breaking-in process begins (probably shorter in duration than the original breaking-in), again allowing the individual parts to vibrate in alignment with each other but this time in the more resonant way, such that the initial improvement will only get better, again up to another optimal point.

However you wish to do it, the instrument will be played for real anyway, and that playing will be the real breaking-in process.

With all that being said, if you live in a situation where you can't play your violin out loud, you of course do what you can do.

Comments?

Thanks, Gary

July 22, 2013 at 07:13 PM · You should keep in mind that there is no such thing as breaking in a violin. This common myth isn't supported by research and science. It's only supported by tradition, no matter how cleary one thinks to experience it.

If you are open for new insight, check the search function.

July 22, 2013 at 07:54 PM · Anyone reading this thread now should be aware that, OP's brand new violin, playing in a normal way, should be well broken in after 8 years... ;-)

July 22, 2013 at 08:10 PM · "You should keep in mind that there is no such thing as breaking in a violin. This common myth isn't supported by research and science."

Absolute BS. If this were true, then old fiddles wouldn't sound any difference than new ones. One would have to pretty insensitive not to feel the stiffness in a new violin. And I've broken in 4.

But of course, people like to deny all sorts of things, like evolution, gravity, etc.

July 22, 2013 at 08:33 PM · But Scott, is that playing or time? Its not so difficult to imagine that the wood drying and varnish setting will change the violin - but does it have to be played?

Thus, if you made two nearly identical violins and played the heck out of one but left the other alone would they sound different? Assuming of course that the setups remained the same.

July 22, 2013 at 09:18 PM · Elise - the answer to your question is yes.

July 22, 2013 at 09:18 PM · Oh, my.... apart from the infamous "shoulder rest or restless", this is another discussion where we just have to agree that we disagree.

From my own experience with ONE new violin (far away from any scientific value), I can confirm that in the first 2 weeks quite dramatic changes do happen. Next 2 - 6 months the changes in sound slow down. If the sound post is replaced, as it should be, at and after 6-8 months, the changes in sound are less noticeable and happen over a LONG period of time. Most of the changes happen if the player is quite obsessive to find the best setup possible (including strings, bridge, sound post, chin-rest, rosin. ... etc) and a bow that will be a good match. I have not reached 5 years mark, but from an experienced violin player I heard that the depth of G and fine nuances (richness) in timbre should happen by that time.

After that, it is all about the player and regular maintenance.

Dealers and other sellers like to support the myth of "break-in". Why? Because, it is a convenient element of smokes and mirrors that one can easily pull out for a violin that does not sound "quite right" at the moment of sale.

It appears that, except for the process described above, the rest is really about the musician getting accustomed with the instrument. The musician is in fact "played-in-with-the violin", not the violin per se.

By the way, the argument that old violins sound better than new is really not an argument anymore. Great violins are great because they were made well, not solely because they aged. Also, great violins survived because they were great to start with. There was an element of "Darwinism" - the survival of the fittest.

p.s. I am currently "playing-in" a brand new viola made by John Newton. My sample will soon get to 2 !

July 22, 2013 at 10:10 PM · Gary wrote:

"I have studied and know a good deal about instrument resonation and getting a violin or viola to resonate better. In my way of looking at it, the parts of a string instrument at first are strangers to each other, and over time learn to vibrate together. Eventually they reach a point of optimal "agreement" - this is the breaking in process and at first can take a long time."

__________________

Can't strangers also start out agreeing, and then it goes downhill from there?

I'm not necessarily disagreeing with you, because I don't really know, but is there any kind of scientific study evidence that various pieces of wood learn to work together in some kind of harmony? And if they do learn to work together in some kind of harmony, would it necessarily be the kind of harmony which we describe as "good violin sound"? Why couldn't it just as easily work toward the sound of a marimba?

July 22, 2013 at 10:43 PM · Rocky wrote: "p.s. I am currently "playing-in" a brand new viola made by John Newton. My sample will soon get to 2 !"

Yay!! Another Newtonian!!

But wait a mo... a VIOLA! Did you fall off the Rockies? :P

July 22, 2013 at 11:16 PM · "By the way, the argument that old violins sound better than new is really not an argument anymore. Great violins are great because they were made well, not solely because they aged."

The argument is not about old vs new--it's about whether a violin changes from being played in. The obvious range of the violin that benefits is high on the G-string. On all the violins I've broken in, this area is always stiff and unresponsive, and will only start responding after much hard playing up there. The assertion that it's just me that adjusts is nonsensical.

One doesn't need to be a musical genius to sense whether the high positions on the G are muffled and unresponsive or clear and playable.

Continuing my analogy:

"The government is coming to take our guns!"

"I don't know what it was in the sky. It must therefore have been an alien being from another galaxy."

July 22, 2013 at 11:19 PM · Three great theories of science:

"Evolution" (Darwin and Wallace), "Gravitation" (Newton and Einstein) and...."violin playing in" (?)

"Can't strangers also start out agreeing, and then it goes downhill from there?"

I can see it now "You play por-TAY-to, I play por-TAH-to, let's call the whole thing off!"

July 22, 2013 at 11:47 PM · In accord with what Scott said, Pinchas Zukerman is known to test violins first by playing in the high register on the G string, to see how they react up there.

The age of the wood has little, if anything to do with the sound, in my opinion - the well known makers Christophe Landon and Boris Sverdlik have both made violins with 200+ year old wood (another violin maker down the street from them told me that they do this based on the philosophy that if it's old wood, then it's literally an old violin), but I feel that they are more or less the same thing as their instruments made of more "ordinary" wood; they still play like "new" violins.

July 23, 2013 at 12:15 AM · I am rather skeptical about "playing in". Players who already own an old instrument would never buy a new one that was not "played in", but it is not the case.

Good instruments will sound good from the very begining.

In many cases what happens is that the player learns how to use his instrument to its full potential with time.

If you are buying a new instrument, buy it for the what it sounds now, don't expect a playing in miracle.

But I may be wrong.

July 23, 2013 at 01:01 AM · "I don't know what it was in the sky. It must therefore have been an alien being from another galaxy."

________________

I don't know what changed my violin, but my impression was that it got better with playing. It must therefore have been improvement due to "playing in". ;-)

July 23, 2013 at 01:39 AM · Advertisement:

Violinist will play in a David Burgess or like - 3 hrs per day for 6 months.

Moderate fee/hr.

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July 23, 2013 at 02:05 AM · By the way, David - I very much enjoyed the violin of yours that was at the NYC Mondomusica in March. A violist friend who was with me (a student of George Taylor and Robert Vernon) tried the viola you brought, and he said it was his favorite one at the show.

July 23, 2013 at 03:38 AM · OMG - there is no such a thing as NOT breaking in. It's so obvious to any fine player including here on v.com interviews with Oliveira and Staryk. No scientific evidence? I suppose that there is no such a thing as love because science hasn't reduced it to an equation yet. I'm all for science, but all against scientism. The Hills, the Moenings, Francais, and our own David in an old brochure of his that I have, have all said the same thing, along with millions of violinists who can really play: a good, well-made violin will get better with time and good use. I hold these truths to be self-evident from decades of playing, collecting and making copious notes. This controversy is only a recent one and the burden of proof is on the nay-sayers. If you can't prove a negative, that's not my problem.

Certainly there are other factors as well: changes in temperature and humidity, our own listening moods etc. But if it's only that, a violin would never get established in an improved state; it would just keep going back and forth in a small range ad infinitum. Such qualities as a little more or less surface noise going back and forth, a little more focused or soggier, etc. are more temp/humidity related. But such aspects as consistently more response and opennes, a more varied palette of colors, etc. is more from use over time. The violin vibrates and this obviously has an effect. Ultrasound can pulverize kindey stones very quickly. Playing a violin will subtly change it over time And different players customize their violins.

Long bows in forte up each string in single and double stops are good for breaking in. As the Moenings advised - don't start off with Zigeunerweisen. And stay away from any mute as much as you can - esp. a heavy practice mute. You want the bridge vibrating freely.

July 23, 2013 at 04:32 AM · Raphael, Thank you. Very well said.

David,

"Can't strangers also start out agreeing, and then it goes downhill from there?

I'm not necessarily disagreeing with you, because I don't really know, but is there any kind of scientific study evidence that various pieces of wood learn to work together in some kind of harmony? And if they do learn to work together in some kind of harmony, would it necessarily be the kind of harmony which we describe as "good violin sound"? Why couldn't it just as easily work toward the sound of a marimba?"

About the strangers, I hope you're not talking about you and I. :) But I think violins and violas are smarter than we humans profess to be. People can move apart or move together, but unless damaged, a well-made instrument that is played with love will always get better and better.

Yes there is scientific evidence that various pieces of wood "learn" to work together in some kind of harmony. But please don't take the "learning" part too literally.

First of all, I read your bio David - very impressive, so I know that you know that there is a lot more to instruments than science. However... to address your comment...

First of all, even though I have a degree in science (computer science), that is the way I look at it. The violin is like a living thing, and feels that way to me. And so its parts are parts of a living thing, and in a way are living themselves.

And based on that understanding, for example, I designed and patented a violin and viola chinrest that allows the instrument to vibrate bigger and fuller. See my profile and web site to see what I mean. I have never had anyone say their instrument did not sound better with it, to some degree. But however you want to look at a thing, if it works, it works. I did not design using any scientific method, though I have also been a computer scientist for over 20 years. I design by intuition and knowledge of vibration, not by science strictly.

Since when does science need to be there for there to be art? Or music? Or love? Don't you love your violin, since it gives you so much joy? (I hope it does)

David, you might think of the parts of a violin as similar to cuckoo clocks, with their own built-in vibration. Here is a little science for you, with regard to separate objects "learning" to vibrate together: Take 12 identical cuckoo clocks and hang them on the same wall together, and start them up with all the pendulums not synchronized, and within a very short time they will be swinging exactly together, all of them. And that is true 100% of the time, measurable and repeatable per the scientific method. The parts of a violin, or viola, are basically like much slower-learning cockoo clocks.

Another example of science and vibration: if you put sand on a flat metal plate and make that plate vibrate with a specific frequency, the sand will form into some geometric, often complex, pattern. Vary the frequency and that shape will change into another complex pattern. I'm not sure of the exact frequencies needed to do this, but that has been proved by science. Vibration will naturally transform chaos (violin parts) into organized patterns (a whole instrument, more than the sum of the parts).

Have you EVER heard of a violin that is new, starting out sounding pretty good and then getting less and less open sounding, with poorer tone, as it is played of a long period of time? It just doesn't happen. Energy systems tend to move from organization to chaos, but string instruments, if made well, move from chaos into organization, all by themselves. That sounds pretty "smart" to me; a lot smarter than most humans.

About the marimba: To stretch a point to the bizarre, if a violin and a xylophone mated, perhaps they would give birth to a marimba. So thereya go, a violin theoretically can change into a marimba! LOL!

A mature musical vibration from an instrument is just part of the magic of string instruments. However, if you scientifically measured the vibrations of a green cheap violin vs. a Stradivari, they would look pretty much the same. One might be louder than the other, but that doesn't matter - it's the tonal quality that really matters, and that cannot be scientifically quantified or qualified. I don't think science has categorized that a "perfect tone" looks like, so that a computer could design a violin with an optimal sound. No, it took a real artist with love for the instrument to figure that one out. Thank you Stradivari!

It has never, ever been true that if science can't measure a thing, that it cannot exist. Think about it - anything that science has discovered, the year before certainly did exist, but not in the eyes of science, right?

So who knows? Maybe tomorrow some scientist will discover that the parts of a violin really are living things, struggling toward harmony. :)

Gary

July 23, 2013 at 06:01 AM · @Scott

"But of course, people like to deny all sorts of things, like evolution, gravity, etc. "

Bummer.

;-)

I'm of the kind who denies all sorts of things, like Santa claus, fairies, homoeopathic remedies, astrology...

I'm a sceptic (like James Randi, Carl Sagan etc), no foolish facts denier. See my next response.

July 23, 2013 at 06:13 AM · Tobias, your post was like the sunrise after a call from 12 synchronised cuckoo clocks. :-)

As far as I understand synchronisation is due to coupling, non-linearity and transience, not "learning" as in the sense of a permanent change.

July 23, 2013 at 06:22 AM · @Gary:

I don't know what a degree in "computer science" may be, but your understanding of "science" is clearly mistaken. You are talking about a kind of engineering, not science.

Your example with the synchronizing clocks shows your lack of understanding, because what happens there is simple resonance, enabled by the tolerance of the clockworks.

A (scientifical!) theory of the process of playing in is still missing completely. There are only unsupported opinions, claims and speculations.

On the other hand, for the idea that instruments get better over time alone, there are some really reasonable explanations.

Ye olde tale about the player improving the fiddle is clearly supported by personal experience. But this is also true for many superstitious beliefs like astrology, homoeopathy, prayer etc. We all are prone to deception and fallacies. That's why we have invented the scientifical method, because it says what and how, independend of individual opinion, lack of information, and misunderstandings.

July 23, 2013 at 06:35 AM · There was a controlled study published some time ago:

http://www.phys.unsw.edu.au/jw/powerhousetwins.html

July 23, 2013 at 09:30 AM · I don't know if violins do or don't break in, I admit to a certain scepticism I guess, but what do i really know, I'm a schmuck.

But if they do, then why do they 'forget' if they aren't played? I don't mean subjectively in terms of sound, but what is the theory of what is happening to the timber.

And what happens, as in the case of the older violin that i have just picked up, if i don't play it high up the G - it sounds fine everywhere else I play it, & I haven't got a need to go high up the G at present, so will it not 'play in' if I don't go there? Will the vibrations happening everywhere else affect that area? If so, then why the recommendation to do 1 string scales (and therein I have admitted to not practising my 1 string scales recently). And if not, why not?

My only other observation, is that the sound bite they chose for the scale on that link above, would definitely not have passed John Cadd's muster on the playing scales in tune thread. Good grief.

July 23, 2013 at 09:46 AM · What I don't need is tone deaf scientists telling me what I can and can't hear with my ears!!!!!

July 23, 2013 at 11:55 AM · And I don't need some psychiatrist telling me that the voices in my head aren't real. They are, and the voices even told me so, dangit!

Clearly, some forms of higher education cause hearing impairment. ;-)

July 23, 2013 at 12:50 PM · As a scientist I sit and read with some amusement.

Science is NOT about proving that which is right, its our only means of systematically ruling out options to identify that which we can reasonably believe. I say reasonably because a scientist has always to be open to the possibility that established ideas, even the most cherished notions (e.g. that we are alive) are open to disproof.

A scientist must be a sceptic else they cease to be such. Thus, provide me with objective data that shows that a played violin changes its properties in a way that an identical unplayed one, kept in identical conditions and handled in an identical way, does not (since there is no such thing as two identical violins: take a set of very similar ones and then divide them into two test groups randomly. Also, the people playing them must be a different group from the people assessing them AND all assessment has to be done blind (the violin is given a number and the assessor has no knowledge of which set it fits into). If you do that then I will take that as my hypothesis going forward.

What that means is my next job is to try the most devilish tests I can to disprove this hypothesis. If I can not then, and only then, will I accept the premise of 'playing in' as something I can reasonably believe.

Yes, science is an ass - but its still the only transportation that we humans have of separating that which we can believe from that we can not.

July 23, 2013 at 01:17 PM · Well if we were to do a survey of violinists and people in the business, it would appear a good majority of them hear differences from violins being played in, thats about as scientific as it gets.

July 23, 2013 at 01:35 PM · Lyndon, I am definitely not saying you are wrong and I would not hazard to question the collective experience and knowledge of such an august set of experts. If they really did agree (we have at least one dissenter right here) then this would set up a reasonable premise - but to establish this - that is to do so without reasonable doubt, we are obliged to resort to tedious, impartial, objective - and even boring scientific method.

I say 'boring' but that's the process - it would be un-boring indeed if the tests supported the premise.

July 23, 2013 at 01:36 PM · "Well if we were to do a survey of violinists and people in the business, it would appear a good majority of them hear differences from violins being played in, thats about as scientific as it gets."

______________

I thought that was called "determining reality by voting", rather than science.

On a more scientific level, we've had a former NASA scientist who posts here, fail to confirm that vibration changes the sound of violins, from his experiments so far.

I don’t know whether violins play in or not. I used to know, though. Funny how that’s happened with so many things I once knew about violins. LOL

July 23, 2013 at 02:07 PM · I don't know what, if anything, happens either. But I can confirm that I think I hear differences as I play in a brand new instrument - lol...but I also think I hear those differences when I play an old instrument that's been stored for a while.

I imagine that temperature, humidity, new strings and cosmic rays all play a role in what I think I hear.

If there is a "playing in" period - I suggest that it's anywhere from 15 minutes to a year. And a time-line of a year would accommodate seasonal changes that the player might correlate perceived sound variations to...

Regardless...real or not...it's fun to think I hear the changes...:D

July 23, 2013 at 02:11 PM · Well then I hope you have the integrity David to tell your customers, this is as good as the sound gets, its not going to get any better, no matter how much you play it!!

Me, I don't need a NASA scientist to tell me what sounds good, as I said in the other thread, everyones ears are different, some people just don't hear things the way other people do, what I do know is if I tell my customer this violin has sat unrepaired and unplayed for 50 or 100 years, its probably going to sound quite a bit better as you play it in over a few weeks, I don't seem to have any arguements.

If your violins don't improve the same way, David, I'm sorry!!!

July 23, 2013 at 02:18 PM · I believe David is referring to me as the "former NASA scientist". Well, engineer, actually. And I have been a believer in "playing in" in the past. However, in my many attempts over the years to document it, I have not been successful. I have tried quite diligently to do so.

I HAVE been successful in measuring changes over TIME; there are many physical reasons for this, and they are fairly well established.

As a player, I often "hear" great improvement in sound after playing for an hour or two... but my best assesment is that those "improvements" are all internal to me, and not a real, physical change in the vibrating wood.

It is not the burden of nay-sayers to prove the non-existence of play-in. How many failed attempts at proving its existence would be enough to prove it doesn't exist? If play-in is such a well-known fact, it should be provable by double-blind testing of played vs. unplayed instruments, or measurable changes due to playing (factoring out the time). As yet, there is no confirmation.

Personally, I can not rule out play-in as a factor, but from what I have seen thus far, time and human perceptions far overpower whatever effect there might be.

July 23, 2013 at 02:50 PM · It occurs to me that one could do a test not on the violin itself, but on the noise it makes. Record an instrument first thing in its day, play a bit more with a practice mute, and then re-record the first music. It usually sounds clearer and brighter to me under the ear-- but I'm so busy playing that I might not be the best judge of that.

July 23, 2013 at 03:01 PM · "Well then I hope you have the integrity David to tell your customers, this is as good as the sound gets, its not going to get any better, no matter how much you play it!!

..If your violins don't improve the same way, David, I'm sorry!!!"

__________________________

Lyndon, you're jumping to conclusions again, and failing to comprehend what you have read again. I don't claim that instruments don't change. I'm well on record claiming that they do. What I question is whether the change is due to vibration, versus other factors which may or may not be related to playing.

For instance, a violin can't be played in the normal way without some time elapsing, and without also undergoing some temperature and humidity cycling. Don mentioned that violins change with time alone, and I totally concur, particularly on new instruments or those which haven't been strung up for a while. Perhaps changes strictly due to the vibration aspect of playing will be isolated someday, but I haven't run across what I consider reasonable experimental evidence of this yet.

This doesn't mean that I think the anecdotes are wrong or worthless. But I tend to give anecdotes and beliefs greater credibility when there is some other type of corroboration. It's a jolly time when everything comes together like that.

July 23, 2013 at 03:10 PM · If you store your violin in a plexiglass pyramid it will sound better and better each day, even if you don't play it!

You guys probably won't believe me though....

July 23, 2013 at 04:19 PM · Its sad to hear respected makers claim they can't hear differences until science proves they are real, imagine what idiots all those classical composers were enjoying music they had no idea how it was produced!!

The Playing in naysayers would have us believe that the burden of proof lies not with them, but with the thousands upon thousands of players, dealers and afficianados that have experienced violins improving as they are played in.

I say just the opposite, the burden of proof lies witht he naysayers, they have to come up with rational reasons WHY playing the hell out of a violin several hours a day would not be likely to improve resonances, why wood would not be expected to vibrate easier the more it is vibrated, and how all these people can be deluded when the naysayers are "perfectly rational".

July 23, 2013 at 04:58 PM · Lyndon, I don’t know what you find so appealing about trying to be a spokesperson for me (I’m here after all, speaking for myself, and furnishing my opinions with much greater accuracy than you have), or trying to speak for others in the trade. Maybe you could take a break until your reading comprehension improves, at least?

Neither Don nor I have said anything about not hearing differences. In fact, we have said that we do. The question we have raised is what to attribute them to, if and when perceived changes occur. Is it from vibration alone? Based on our separate experiments so far, that's looking doubtful right now, but who knows what new information may emerge tomorrow or next year?

July 23, 2013 at 05:15 PM · A newly finished violin will receive changes like new soundpost, adjustments, so that alone it's difficult to judge how a new violin being played in with different adjustments and setup.

However, breaking in or playing in also happen when you fit a new soundpost, new bridge, new bass bar, on an old violin that's supposely being "played in", even without adjusting once they're fitted. I've just had one of my violin that I had for 10 years fitted a new soundpost, it feels "right" right from the start so I didn't touch the soundpost since it was fitted few weeks ago, and surely enough, the violin improve further since then - more resonating, quicker respond, more volume, richer sound. How great it'll be if we can get instantaneous result as soon as we jam that soundpost right inside the violin, that'll sure save a lot of time guessing and predicting!

July 23, 2013 at 05:38 PM · "Have you EVER heard of a violin that is new, starting out sounding pretty good and then getting less and less open sounding, with poorer tone, as it is played of a long period of time? It just doesn't happen."

Of course it happens. It happens all the time. It's happened to me. The end result of a new but thinly-made fiddle are well-known: They give out. And this is a good indication that fiddles do change with playing. If it were not the case, those thin but initially-great-sounding instruments would keep sounding great. But they don't.

And I don't need a NASA scientist telling otherwise. Of course, I don't give them suggestions on how to make rockets...

July 23, 2013 at 06:04 PM · Well, this is exactly why I think that 2 sides of this discussion simply have to agree to disagree.

Belief does not need scientific proof; one is entitled to believe what he/she wants. Many people believe in God, some also believe in the process of play-in.

On the other hand, science is not based on belief, but on a scientific methodology, measurable facts and experiments that can be repeated.

The trouble starts when a believer can't live and let live, but has to baptize or convert a non-believer. The problem is not in the intention, which is often positive, but in an attempt to "prove" something by anecdotal "evidence" and non-scientific "methods".

This is the point when some of us who have a strong background in science can really get upset, and that does not help at all.

Peace.

July 23, 2013 at 06:14 PM · Well put Rocky.

The real problem as I see it is when people try to apply scientific interpretations to an art. It really is like arguing how many angels can stand on a pin head.

Now if every claim above was prefixed with 'I think' there would be no dispute just a healthy discussion of points of view.

By the way, I think my violin (2010) is playing in and aging nicely :D

July 23, 2013 at 07:37 PM · There is one factor of the scientific method missing in most contributions.

It's the missing theory.

The cowboys (as I like to call the "violins cam be broken in"-yaysayers only claim to know how it is supposed to work. But their claims are inconsistent ith each other, inconsistent with physical facts, etc. And there is absolutely no useful theory, how vibration could change a complex system like a violin.

There's a big difference between:

"aged wood is lighter and more resonant"

and

"broken in wood sounds better because the vibrations change the consistence of the wood."

In the first example we can, for example, quantify the amount of liquids inside the cells, from water to sap to resin. Slow-drying components remain longer, this makes a measurable difference.

But what should be the result of vibrations? Tiny cracks? These would destabilize the wood.

How could the violin store information about the key (or intonation!) in which it was played in?

Anything else? Nada. And nothing that stands the test after centuries of "experience".

Unless there is no proof of the break in process, no testable theory, but a lot of alternative explanations that explain the undisputed fact that it changes over time, there's only a myth left.

PS: And Lyndon: Your understanding of scientific logic is only challenged by your way of discussing objectively.

July 23, 2013 at 08:14 PM · The theory isn't missing, it's just the objective detection that's missing. Vibration effects (if any) should produce a change in damping or stiffness, measurable as a change in response amplitude or frequency. I assembled a test rig with an electronically driven bridge in an attempt to find these changes. Initially I thought I found something, but it turned out to be due to the few degrees change in temperature that took place through the day. That was measurable, vibration effects were not.

July 23, 2013 at 08:45 PM · Don, I followed your experiment on maestronet (not completely)- very interesting.

It's fascinating how elusive many clear, evident and common known phenomena in violins are, be it the unquestionable superiority of old italian fiddles or the benefit of breaking in instruments.

But upon closer examination these phenomena tend to disappear like the ghosts in english castles, and at least the dimensions how subtle these effect must be considering the effort needed to simply show them, should make the believers think. If anything could be proven as yet, it's the fact that they are definitely not as evident as it is common belief.

But I have difficulties to grasp the theory of breaking in (what and how).

Could you clarify?

July 24, 2013 at 01:00 AM · "But I have difficulties to grasp the theory of breaking in (what and how).

Could you clarify?"

My theory about how break-in might work physically:

Vibration puts stress into the wood, much of which gets dissipated as heat.

Perhaps this energy would degrade the absorbing materials, and thus absorb less over time. This would be observable as lower damping and higher peaks in the frequency response plot, among other things.

Perhaps the vibration would break down the structure of the wood, making it locally less stiff. This would be observable as a shift in the body resonances to lower frequencies.

As yet, I have observed neither, and not for lack of trying. I HAVE observed such changes over time and temperature, but not to vibration alone.

July 24, 2013 at 01:53 AM · Just wondering, is there anyone else here who actually has a higher degree in physics?

How efficient are violins in converting the energy input into sound output?

You have to bear in mind that all objects already constantly absorb and radiate heat energy anyway, i.e exchange it with their environment.

The changes put forward anecdotally are stated as being "clearly audible" which suggests changes in the wood would likely be zero order (as suggested above) yet as far as I understand normal vibrations from playing are explained readily without recourse to any non-linearity, as verified experimentally in a paper I saw recently.

July 24, 2013 at 05:16 AM · From Wikipedia, re:- "Hypothesis".

"Scientists generally base scientific hypotheses on previous observations that cannot satisfactorily be explained with the available scientific theories."

Well, folks, it's been many a year since I studied sciences at school, but I do recall a teacher explaining that a hypothesis was a "hunch".

The "hunch" has to be subjected to rigorous examination before it can become a "theory". That process involves the precise definition of terminology, the scrupulous gathering and organisation of data, and experiments that can be precisely replicated.

As to the "playing in" of violins :-

(a) the words we use apropos violin sound are subjective and ill-defined,

(b) the apparatus the boffins use for acoustic evaluation doesn't seem to tally with the human ear too well, and ..

(c) having treated oneself to the experience of "playing in" a violin, one can't then take the same violin back to day one and repeat the experiment for verification.

So, IMHO, posters on this thread have been writing about "theories" when in actual fact they mean "hypotheses". The gulf between the deniers and the believers is almost as huge as that between the Evolutionists and the Creationists.

Having myself bought, kept, and played on, 4 new violins during the last 2 decades, I find myself in a greement with the received "wisdom" that whereas something of the individuality of the voice of a violin is discernible from day one, the perception by the player is that the response improves with time and use. Players will speak of "opening out", and learned tomes such as the Hill's book on Stradivari refer to "playing up" of an instrument to improve the efficiency. The fact that any physical changes to the fabric of the instrument remain a matter for speculation doesn't of necessity prove that a "playing in" process cannot occur.

Strong but unforced playing, double stops, and expeditions way up the "G" string work for me, folks.

Dr. Sheldon Cooper Beck.

July 24, 2013 at 05:40 AM · What does the NSA have to say about this?

Cheers,

Buri

July 24, 2013 at 06:12 AM · The hypothesis hear is that violins don't improve with playing, on the other hand it would appear that vibrating wood excessively allows it to vibrate slightly more than if it hadn't been vibrated very much at all. Until the scientists can prove (not hypothesize) that this process doesn't happen at all, they don't have a leg to stand on.

July 24, 2013 at 06:30 AM · "Scientists generally base scientific hypotheses on previous observations that cannot satisfactorily be explained with the available scientific theories."

Isn't the whole point that there are no clear "observations" as such, rather only anecdotes? Any hypothesis or theory is irrelevant until there are clear observations. The suggestions cited above are not so much theories as ideas based on some awareness (but not necessarily understanding) of supposedly related physics to back up anecdotes or subjective experiences.

"Quantum physics makes me so happy..... It's like looking at the universe naked."

July 24, 2013 at 10:24 AM · Lyndon: "The hypothesis hear is that violins don't improve with playing, on the other hand it would appear that vibrating wood excessively allows it to vibrate slightly more than if it hadn't been vibrated very much at all. Until the scientists can prove (not hypothesize) that this process doesn't happen at all, they don't have a leg to stand on."

Yes, of course, why didn't I get that?

Oh, and "pink flamingos are the source of babies not storks" If scientists can't prove that wrong then they don't have a birds leg to stand on either.

Oh, how about "garden gnomes protect against the plague"; "souls weigh 3.567 ounces"; "if you jump from a tall sequoia tree you can fly";

Hey, science hasn't proven any of them wrong either so they must be true!

Science can not prove anything untrue, it can only show that an alternative is more likely. While there are a finite number of potential truths in the universe, there are an infinite number of falsehoods - and I for one would rather work on the former.

July 24, 2013 at 11:05 AM · Well until violins come to be primarily appreciated by microphones hooked up to scientific test equipment, the ultimate test of any violin is the ears (as well as playabiltiy factors for the performer) No amount of scientific testing is going to make your violin sound better, so it all comes down to are you going to use your ears, or simply villify and belittle other people that have been using their ears for years, because you think scientific test results are more important than what your ears tell you.......

The ultimate test of any violin and player's sound is always going to be peoples ears, not test equipment, unless of course spectrume analysers start to outnumber real people at violin concerts!!!

July 24, 2013 at 12:05 PM · If some scientists are unable to detect any change in a violin's performance in real-life conditions over time it could be that either they simply haven't understood what players are getting at, or hit on the right method yet.

Players don't live to be 100 years old, either, so It's impossible to guess whether the great old Italian fiddles "improved" from new - and anyway the setups have been changed.

The accumulation of hearsay opinions from experienced performers that time and use will "improve" a well-made instrument is too large to be ignored, IMHO, even if inadmissible in Judge Judy's courtroom. Even the old lutanists thought that even if a new instrument was "good", in time it would be even better. I can't remember if it was Thomas Mace or Roger North who offered that nugget.

July 24, 2013 at 12:57 PM · Lyndon, your last post exhibits quite a bit of ignorance about how and why various types of test procedures are chosen.

Both listeners and test equipment have their place. Live listeners are the final arbiter of sound quality right now, but a well-studied deficiency is remembering sound accurately over time. For example, if two similar sounding instruments are played in quick succession, a listener may have no difficulty telling them apart, and easily identify which is which. But play one of the instruments an hour later, or the next day, or a month later, and the same listener may have no clue which of the two it is.

An evaluation of "playing in" will necessarily involve detailed memory of sound over a long time period, and it will be next-to-impossible to make live "before and after", back-to-back comparisons.

That's where the electronic measurements come in, and where they can be far superior to human listeners. Computers "remember" things more accurately than humans. This enables comparing "before and after" quite accurately, even when long periods of time have elapsed, if it's done right. The information can be either in the form of an audio file, or a graphic display on a spectrum analyzer.

So while the spectrum analyzer's forte (so far) isn't quality assessment, it's danged good at picking out differences and changes. So if "playing in" makes any change whatsoever, a spectrum analyzer can be a very good tool for highlighting the change. It allows superimposing the "before" and "after" spectrum, and looking for differences.

That's the first step... looking for differences. If differences are found, then one can move on to other steps, like trying to quantify the differences, figure out why they matter, how and why they occur, and whether the instrument got better or worse.

But in Don's test, for instance, no meaningful before and after differences emerged. Again, this isn't to claim that instrument don't change. I think everyone here has acknowledged that they do. What has come into question is whether vibration is the mechanism for the change.

By the way, I consider Don to be one of our more lucid, efficient, and unbiased researchers.

July 24, 2013 at 01:04 PM · For doubters of science, why not be proactive and test the notions rigourously? That's all science is anyway, objective testing of a notion.

Here is a simple experiment to test if "waking up" could be real. Take two violinists A and B. Violinist A is asked to choose (over perhaps a week) from a sample of violins, one that he/she believes exhibits this phenomenon.

Over several days this same violin is presented clean to A who is asked to play it for ten minutes or so. A is then removed for two hours and on return asked to play for another ten minutes. Each time A is asked to note down how the violin responds. What A does not know is that B has just stopped playing the violin before A returns, for anything from 0 to 2 hours. And B has also been asked to comment on violin response at the start and end of his/her session.

Is there any correlation between A's impressions and B's or between A's and the time B plays?

July 24, 2013 at 01:16 PM · Sounds good, Eric.

I hope you understand something which has become a regular pattern in the violin-testing world though:

If your test produces an outcome which is different from what people generally believe, it will be met with a chorus of protests that the testing procedure was flawed. That's just human nature, I guess. People don't always take it well if their beliefs are messed with.

July 24, 2013 at 01:58 PM · David said;"But in Don's test, for instance, no meaningful before and after differences emerged. Again, this isn't to claim that instrument don't change. I think everyone here has acknowledged that they do. What has come into question is whether vibration is the mechanism for the change."

All that proves is that Don's relatively primitive (by state of the art scientific standards) test equipment didn't show any differences, or maybe it was simply Don's faulty analysis of the data he was receiving. There are a whole lot of possibilities, not the least possible being that there where differences that he just didn't notice. Not saying that's the case, but what passes for science in the violin world wouldn't get you a job at a top research University IMO

July 24, 2013 at 02:08 PM · Lyndon, thanks for being such an excellent example of what I said above about beliefs, and human nature. LOL

If you take a look at the credentials of various people involved in violin acoustical research, some of them are quite impressive.

Yes, there are lots of possibilities, and no one has claimed that this one test is conclusive. It is not the only test though.

However, this specific area of inquiry (playing in) still hasn't had a lot of attention from the researchers, as far as I know, and I think it unlikely that a lot of money will be thrown at it. There seems to be more interest in finding out why Strads sound superior. And more recently, whether they actually do, in the perception of listeners who are not told what they're listening to.

July 24, 2013 at 02:27 PM · Lyndon,

I freely admit that my test equipment is nowhere near the standards of "real" research. I do what I can with zero funding, and it's primarily for my own curiosity and improvement as a maker, although I share my results and opinions for anyone who might be interested.

I do know for an absolute fact that violins change, and mostly improve, with age. My curiosity is to determine WHY it happens, among the many factors that might be possible.

It is of no benefit to anyone to repeat strongly held beliefs ad nauseum with no attempt to examine what is behind those beliefs. Insults and personal attacks on those who believe otherwise is similarly counterproductive.

July 24, 2013 at 02:57 PM · Once again there haven't been any personal insults or personal attacks on my part. If I attack the idea that science is needed to prove playing in occurs before we believe it happens, thats within my right as per forum rules.

Don, your study on "playing in" on maestronet was not a study that involved any playing I believe, rather using a vibrating device hooked up to the bridge?? through which you played music, I believe.

Most of the scientific testing that is being done on violins today, involves a single microphone in one position measuring the Frequency response output, or spectrum analysis of not a violin being bowed and played on all the notes(as that method is considered unreliable as the player does not play every note consistently) but rather involves strikeing the bridge with a small wooden?? hammer and recording the output.

No one has ever by analysing spectrum analysis outputs been able to consistently declare this is a good, or this is a bad violin from the frequency response data alone(they might be able to say this violin is brighter, or this one has more bass). Why, because spectrum analysis is only a measure of a violins volume at different frequencies with a given mike position, (when hit with a hammer, not played with a bow) in essence it measures the quantity of a violins reponsiveness at differing frequencies, but doesn't give you a clue about the quality of the violins sound at those differing frequencies.

To judge the quality of a violins tone there is still only one instrument capable of telling good from bad violins, and that is the human ear. And as we well know even human ears often find little to agree on.

July 24, 2013 at 04:45 PM · "Don, your study on "playing in" on maestronet was not a study that involved any playing I believe, rather using a vibrating device hooked up to the bridge?? through which you played music, I believe."

________________________

If I was trying to isolate the effects of vibration, separate from other factors like humidity and temperature, I'd probably use a non-human vibrating device too. A human player adds a lot of heat and moisture to the fiddle's environment.

__________________

"Most of the scientific testing that is being done on violins today, involves a single microphone in one position measuring the Frequency response output"

___________________

Testing has been much broader and more encompassing than that, using everything from human players, to mechanical bowing machines, to arrays of multiple microphones, to piezo sensors, to accelerometers, to optical vibration detection and laser scanning. Some of these are capable of detecting "in-plane" motion, as well as other types of motion which may not result directly in sound which can be picked up by a microphone. But even if they don't emit sound themselves, they may influence the behavior of other parts which DO produce sound directly. So violin acoustic research isn't as simplistic as you might like to believe, or make it seem.

One form of testing, which you may have been referring to, involves a calibrated "impact hammer" which strikes some part of the instrument (often the bridge)with a force which is simultaneously measured, and picks up the resulting vibration with various sensors, often a microphone or multiple microphone array. A lot of Boeing Aircraft's vibration analysis is done this way, so I don't think one would want to think of it as passe or primitive. Investigational methods have been borrowed from many other disciplines, and this is just one example.

The goal of testing with various forms of instrumentation has never been much about trying to determine whether an instrument is good or bad by measuring it electronically, so I don't know why you keep trying to toss that "red herring" into the research realm. The goal has been more to take known good instruments (based on human perceptual evaluation) and try to understand how and why they do what they do.

July 24, 2013 at 04:51 PM · I don't think its usually the ears that are the querulous factor, Lyndon, its that cursed blob between them ;) :D

July 24, 2013 at 04:55 PM · My test was not to show improvement in sound, but a more fundamental test. It was to see if there was any detectable change of any kind to a violin body due to vibration. I tried several kinds of input, from sine waves to square wave sweeps to recorded violin playing. The evaluation was in four parts: in-process response to a set of repeatable inputs (white noise, sine sweep, square wave scales), and before/after impact hammer response, spectrum of bowed scales, and evaluation by a player (me).

Just to repeat: as crude as the test was, I was able to see in-process shifts in response peak amplitudes and frequencies that corresponded to the few degrees variation in temperature from day to night. But no other changes. I was rather disappointed, as I was hoping that play-in would be more significant, and I could do something with it.

July 24, 2013 at 05:54 PM · If you can't tell by spectrum analysis if a violin sounds good or bad, how they hell are you going to be able to measure a violin sounding better after having been played in????

July 24, 2013 at 05:59 PM · Violinists themselves get "played in" as well.

I sound much better now than I did 9 months ago...

And I've heard violinists who have played for 20-30 years, and they sound REALLY good.

It is obviously the skeletal/muscular substructure in the arms , shoulders (if a proper shoulder rest was used...), jaw and neck having been subjected to years of vibration coming from the violin that have helped the sonority of their playing.

It's up to science to prove me wrong!

;^)

July 24, 2013 at 06:53 PM · "If you can't tell by spectrum analysis if a violin sounds good or bad, how they hell are you going to be able to measure a violin sounding better after having been played in????"

__________________________________

Lyndon, that question has already been answered multiple times in multiple ways in this thread, as have other questions and erroneous assertions of yours.

But I'll try again. When I performed a similar experiment, the spectral analysis was preliminarily for the purpose of detecting whether there was any change at all. It can be a great way of doing that. Later, it might have been useful for tracking down known areas and functions of the violin which are associated with producing certain frequencies, had a change been detected. Quality assessment of any changes would have been done by players and listeners.

Is there any chance that you would read the responses which have already been furnished, multiple times if that's what it takes, before asking them again? I don't see how your questions or assertions will take on any greater validity by way of tiresome repetition.

So what's really going on? Do you have a phobia about violin acoustical research? Did some researcher steal your girlfriend? ;-)

July 24, 2013 at 06:55 PM · Seraphim - you are brilliant. So all I need to do is to hold the violin to my shoulder and subject it to persistent vibrations - and I'll be a virtuoso in no time flat?

wow... who needs 10K hrs...

July 24, 2013 at 07:12 PM · I didn't say "No time flat"

The more you vibrate a violin on your shoulder, the better your tone will get though. These things take time.

Alot depends on the underlying structure of the violinist in question.

Usually, people with thicker craniums take longer to "open up", but everyone gets there eventually...

July 24, 2013 at 07:45 PM · Uh oh. Will people with unusually thin craniums "open up" more quickly, but eventually "play out"?

July 24, 2013 at 07:46 PM · Lots of monkeys flinging poop in here.

A couple of things. When I asked if anyone has ever heard of a violin going bad I should have asked if anyone has anyone ever heard of a well-made violin going bad. Yes, a poorly made instrument may not hold up over time. My apologies for that typo.

Tobias: Owch! I only meant to give an example of what I was talking about, not submit a scientific paper for peer review.

I'm a computer scientist, but I also have degrees in violin viola performance and pedagogy, and in education. But to answer your question, a computer scientist focuses on solving real problems and achieving real, usable, repeatable results. If anyone were to invent a device capable of analyzing the sound/tone of a given violin, determining if a sound is "good" or "bad", and designing a similar instrument that sounds better, a computer scientist would be the one figuring out how to get a computer to do that. While I may not be a "real scientist" according to some, does that really matter? It's the end result that counts, and human perception determines the success or failure of anything we like or don't like.

It seems like what is going on here is a different version of, "If you can't prove that God exists, then you shouldn't claim that God exists.". People who believe in God don't need proof, and aren't wrong for believing as they do. And if some people believe that the playing of a violin leads to better tone, then so be it.

Are there any accepted scientific studies about violin that define and measure what a "good" or a "bad" tone are? Or prove anything one way or the other about instruments improving in tone over time due to playing and vibration, or due to anything else? And I'm talking about "good" tone vs. "bad" tone, not just louder in vibration. That is the real issue.

My apologies if my previous comments stepped on any toes.

July 24, 2013 at 08:17 PM · In my book you are a scientist if you think and act like a scientist - which means objectivity and putting your own opinions and personal wishes to one side as much as you are able (theirin lies the challenge). I know a lot of people with science PhDs, University faculty appointments and even esteemed prizes - that I do not respect as scientists and likewise there are an equal (or more) number of untrained and even unread people who understand what it is to have a scientific perspective and work within a scientific method.

Religion is similar I guess: god(s) don't necessarily bless only priests...

July 24, 2013 at 08:21 PM · David, at least I have matured to the point of no longer having to resort to personal attacks to prop up my arguements, you on the other hand haven't changed and continue to flaunt the rules of forum ettiquette against personal attacks.

You're on very shaky ground scientifically, all your eggs are in one basket; frequency response analysis (spectrum analysis) all you're measuring are how loud the various frequencies are WHEN HIT BY A HAMMER, NOT PLAYED BY A BOW. You're not measuring the distortion, the transient response,the sustain, the colouration, the harmonic balance of the notes, perhaps that's why you're having so much problem telling if a violin sounds good or not by test data because you're only measuring one thing the tonal balance or frequency response.

As an audio engineer in my youth, designing audiophile loudspeakers for a now mega corporation, Frequency response is only one of many things that are tested for, you can not judge the quality of a loudspeaker by how flat the frequency response is, it has more to do with how undistorted and clean the sound is, besides if you design a speaker with virtually flat frequency response as I have done, the first thing the customer is going to do when they get it home is start messing with the tone controls, boost the treble, boost the bass, pretty soon that flat frequency response is completely out the window and you're left with what; the quality, not the formerly flat response quantity of the speakers sound.

As I said before, but you must not have read, spectrum analysis is a fundamentally flawed measure of the quantity of a violins sound, not its quality(which no one seems to be measuring), Its quite possible a violin may have the same quantity of sound, but a completely different quality of sound. Just as an example: If playing in a violin reduces distortion by 50%, thats not necessarily going to change the spectrum analysis, but it sure as hell is going to make a noticeable effect on the tone to the listeners ear.

Before you can ask us to submit violins to be tested to see if you can measure "playing in" on test equipment, you need to come up with some much more advanced scientific testing than simple spectrum analysis. When the science techniques finally catch up with what a good set of ears can hear already, then I'm sure there will be a lot more agreement.

July 24, 2013 at 08:30 PM · "Are there any accepted scientific studies about violin that define and measure what a "good" or a "bad" tone are? Or prove anything one way or the other about instruments improving in tone over time due to playing and vibration, or due to anything else? And I'm talking about "good" tone vs. "bad" tone, not just louder in vibration. That is the real issue. "

For me, the issue of playing in an instrument isn't really tone (which probably doesn't change all that much), but response. It doesn't take reams of data or a Phd to notice when notes respond quickly or when they don't. All of the violins I've broken in have changed in response. One did get brighter, and one did get darker (and lost it's projection), but all responded properly after at least 6 months.

July 24, 2013 at 09:00 PM · Here's a study that involved two violins made as similarly as they could for the purpose of testing this....

July 24, 2013 at 09:03 PM · oops...

http://www.phys.unsw.edu.au/jw/powerhousetwins.html

July 24, 2013 at 09:16 PM · Lyndon, blah blah blah, acoustiphobia. LOL

Buy some good modern spectral analysis software, learn how to use all its functions and capabilities, and then maybe you’ll have some idea what you’re talking about. Continuing to address your "broken record" arguments, and correcting your misinformation isn't worth the time it consumes.

July 24, 2013 at 09:29 PM · Sorry but I prefer to listen to my violins, not look at their output on a silly graph!!! I got out of electronics in the 80s and got into instrument making and repair and never looked back, found all that test equipment stuff a big waste of my time.

Actually since you're the one so into science, I suggest you have some serious talks to some real audio engineers about improving your test setup, maybe a distortion test analyser, a $3000 Bruel a Kjoer professional test microphone, an Oscilliscope for testing transient response and sustain, some sort of program to analyse the harmonic and fundamental content of any given note, etc. etc. etc You're really quite behind the cutting edge in sound testing equipment,David.

July 24, 2013 at 09:37 PM · Lyndon,

thanks for this one:

"You're on very shaky ground scientifically, all your eggs are in one basket; "

I'd like to add for you:

You're on very shaky ground scientifically, all your eggs are on the ground...

@all: I think if good arguments get ignored instead of being discussed or refuted it's a waste of time.

July 24, 2013 at 09:52 PM · 15 more posts, and this waste of time will be closed. Whew.

I only refer to the more recent cycle of things that have been stated previously.

July 24, 2013 at 10:01 PM · Don, Im telling you straight up what is lacking in your test equipment and you don't even care. You're not analysing distortion, sustain, transients, colouration, harmonic content, etc etc. As long as you have your frequency graph on your computer program with you're admittadly very cheap microphones, you think you're on the cutting edge of technology, damn they had frequency response testing well over 50 years ago, get with the times, INNOVATE, not the same old stuff........

July 24, 2013 at 10:32 PM · Score for the preceding post:

F for fail.

Saying more would just be wasting time and words.

July 24, 2013 at 11:04 PM · Just goes to show who really knows something about science and who doesn't, so you go for quantity of sound, not quality, any logical person would think you would be interested in testing the quality of your violins, not just the quantity of their sound output, but of course that will never happen because you're not really a scientist, are you??

July 24, 2013 at 11:07 PM · I read a conjectured scientific basis for the playing-in effect. Supposedly the glue slopped around the seams gradually gets broken back to the line of the join after a couple of decades, and this allows the plates to vibrate properly. It would seem rather serendipitous that the glue breaks to just the right place and no further. And odd that the luthiers never hit upon the idea of using masking tape, etc., so that their violins would command a higher price immediately. I'm afraid that I lump breaking in together with the notion that solid state amplifiers have a break-in period (there are passionate believers in that). Another one is that $10K speaker cables make a noticeable difference to the sound of a stereo system because of the different speeds that low and high frequency signals (bass and treble notes) move through a wire. Still, it would be a very boring world if everyone were sensible.

July 24, 2013 at 11:16 PM · "any logical person would think you would be interested in testing the quality of your violins, not just the quantity of their sound output, but of course that will never happen because you're not really a scientist.."

Oh grief!

July 24, 2013 at 11:19 PM · Have you ever played an unvarnished (recently finished, in the white) instrument by a good maker? It will sound marvelous (because varnish is evil for sound) in spite of being brand new, and not played in.

July 24, 2013 at 11:22 PM · Apropos of "playing in" people, I saw a brilliant "experiment" years ago on "Candid Camera".

Supposedly for a job or something a man was told to ring a number to speak to some "department" or other about a specific problem.

Every time on the other end he would get a recording that was specifically designed to sound like someone being evasive to his complaint (its hard to describe but was convincing). Gradually, with each attempt the caller's demeanour and words changed to reflect his growing frustration AND to fit into the recording so that by the end his angry responses fit perfectly with the recorded message!

Could be relevant ;-)

July 24, 2013 at 11:26 PM · Lyndon wrote:

"Just goes to show who really knows something about science and who doesn't, so you go for quantity of sound, not quality, any logical person would think you would be interested in testing the quality of your violins, not just the quantity of their sound output, but of course that will never happen because you're not really a scientist, are you??"

___________________________

Dude, you're "fencing at windmills", arguing things which you apparently imagine Don or I said, but which we never said.

If your imagination runs your reality that much, it might be more productive to go check for spooks under your bed. ;-)

July 24, 2013 at 11:35 PM · Michael, Sorry but that's not the kind of audiophile nonsense we were using at my company Speakercraft, to us we were focused on the affordable "audiophile market"(which in the early 80s mostly meant people that listened to classical music) which simply meant using the quality, lowest distortion, least colouration, and conincidentally flattest frequency response speakers, we could get our hands on. For most of my designs the drivers came from Audax in France, although their quality today is not what it used to be. Then we tried hard to make the cabinet non resonant(which some consider not important today), to give the cabinet rounded edges on the front to let the sound radiate and not bounce off the edges, and triangular, not square construction inside, so as not to emphasis one note more than another, and finally we had lucked into a steal price on a $50,000+ Bruel and Kjoer test set up for measuring frequency response, and a pulse generator for measuring transient response with an oscilloscope, We didn't actually have test equipment for measuring distortion, but all that was handled pretty effectively by the manufacturer of the speakers. The main place I came in was desigining the boxes, selecting the speakers, and designing the LC component values for the crossover that divided the frequencies between the tweeter, midrange/bass, and subwoofer.

For speaker wire we reccomended large gauge lamp cord(about 25c a foot) And while we had some good consumer amplifiers, I was the only one with a 60s tube amp, and the amp brands we were reccomending were Harmon Kardon and NAD, hardly high end audiophile stuff.

Anyway just trying to correct some assumptions people have been making when I mention audiophile, theres just plain quality stuff called audiophile, and theres all kinds of overpriced xxxxx associated with it, that really gives those of us who were just trying to make a quality audiophile product a bad name.

July 24, 2013 at 11:44 PM · Only 5 more posts to go!!

July 24, 2013 at 11:48 PM · Just 4 now Don!

July 24, 2013 at 11:48 PM · Don, do you think we feel any differently about your volumunous posts on maestronet, than you feel about my little contributions here.

July 24, 2013 at 11:56 PM · I know I should not do this again but I can't resist, have you ever made a violin Lyndon?

July 24, 2013 at 11:57 PM · Lyndon, four posts back, you furnished even more evidence that you are seriously not "up to speed". Nowadays, and for at least 10 years now, we have been able to build "compensation files" to adjust for speaker, microphone, and listening environment quirks and variations. Some of these procedures are quite simple.

Your accusation about Don using cheap microphones? It wouldn't matter anyway, since he was using the same microphones to look for differences, not quality assessment. But if it mattered, cheap microphones can be compensated quite effectively.

July 25, 2013 at 12:00 AM · David, Don's the one who said he uses and recommends cheap microphones on your maestronet forum.

Manfio, i'm a sponsor here on Violinist.com; just click on the link on the right side of this page;

Taylor's Fine Violins, Redlands So. Calif.

and you'll see detailed pictures of many instrument I have made and restored.

Now this is the last post and the discussion has already been archived at 100 posts, And I see posted under this post that the discussion has been archived and is not accepting any more posts, however I come back 1/2 hr later and the thread has been reopened just long enough for Mr Burgess to get in his last rather inflammatory comment, what gives???

July 25, 2013 at 12:07 AM · Lyndon wrote:

"Don, do you think we feel any differently about your volumunous posts on maestronet, than you feel about my little contributions here."

___________________

I'm not Don, but hell yeah, some of us feel differently! I make a point of reading everything Don has to offer, and try to avoid threads where you post, because my impression is that they can quickly degenerate into useless crap.

As I understand it, you've been permanently banned from Maestronet. Sorry, but I'm not at all unhappy about that. I feel loyalties to both Violinist.com, and Maestronet. They were both excellent sites before I ever came into the picture, and I feel some sense of duty to preserve the quality of both.

Edit, in response to some of Lyndon's continuing edits:

Lyndon, if you'd been paying attention, you would have noticed that some threads run over 100 posts. Here's another recent example:

http://www.violinist.com/discussion/response.cfm?ID=24481

It's the spooks under your bed which are causing this. Have you treated the area with Spookaway yet? ;-)

This discussion has been archived and is no longer accepting responses.

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