Cigar Box Violins

April 21, 2018, 2:49 PM · I was looking at more kinds of cigar box violins and 3D printed violins again and was listening to the sound quality to all, and I came up with a question for the luthiers.

What do you think the sound of a violin would be like if the top plates were made of plywood?

I'm in woodshop class right now and I'm going to attempt to build a cigar box violin with a plywood top. Just wanted to see the professional's opinion on that.

Replies (4)

Edited: April 21, 2018, 4:05 PM · Plywood violins, violas, and cellos have been common in shop orchestras for a century. The "laminated wood" does not resonate the way "solid wood" does. Plywood basses are still quite common. These plywood instruments are very rugged and used because they are "child-proof" and many basses get really rough treatment in transportation and are often used as tonal rhythm instruments.

The amount of work it takes to try to get the instrument types best characteristic sound from one of these instruments is incredible and the chances of success are small. (From one who once had to do that for solo orchestral parts in concert on a borrowed plywood cello. I bought myself a new cello the next month!)

To the best of my knowledge I have never played a plywood violin. However I did once purchase a $300 5-string violin (to play violin & viola parts) from Johnson strings and even after replacing the bridge it played about the way I would imagine a laminated violin might - maybe even a cigar box! I gave it away.

In a "cigar-box shape" it is bound to be even worse.

In this paper ( ) violin (viola & cello) maker Charles Wood discussed the proper ratio between longitudinal and transverse stiffness for a violin top - you can cannot get that ratio range with typical laminated wood sheets.

April 21, 2018, 4:02 PM · @Andrew Victor Wow those are some cool things in those pages
April 21, 2018, 6:52 PM · The standard Kay school-orchestra bass is a plywood instrument. I think even the ribs are plywood. It is prized among string-band bassists for its thumpy sound.
April 21, 2018, 11:18 PM · Constructed from plywood and a chair leg for stability. The recording is terrible but 9 years on I'm surprised at how well it sounds! Others may disagree

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