Titanium tailgut and end button
Does anybody here have experience with titanium-core tailgut and titanium end button? My luthier mentioned them recently. Stradpet makes two types of titanium buttons, solid and hollow -- the hollow being brighter sounding. THey are not expensive -- about $20-25.
Supposedly titanium has the property of being extremely good at carrying vibrations, so titanium end fittings can give a violin more volume and a little faster response. I don't especially need more sound at this point, but faster sonic response might really be helpful for passagework.
A standard violin end button is $1.58 at Shar.
On the other hand a titanium tightening screw on your bow may make a big difference in balance: one gram less at the frog or one gram more at the tip (with a simple internal lead weight) can make a big difference in off-string bow behavior.
Scott, have you actually tried a titanium end button to see if indeed makes a difference? Or are you making an assumption?
I am usually willing to try everything, but a titanium end button goes too far. At least, I always want to have an idea how the thing affects sound positively. This would have to be some very high order effect.
It's not just the $25 for the end button. You've got to have it put on by a luthier and that's going to be another $100. If you want to make something out of titanium because it's better at "carrying vibrations" I'd start with the bridge.
Put on by a luthier? Are they going to turn down the titanium end button like they do an ebony peg?
@Michael K—you bring up a good point about the end butting being enclosed (and therefore possibly dampening any sonic gains).
Some things I like them breakable and replaceable. They act like fuses. My end button cracked once... Almost like an explosion. Some tension went wrong or whatever, but I very much prefer that the end button was the one giving up, rather than the violin, no matter how massive the block.
Lots of interesting comments even if it is all theoretical.
I don't know about "working" the hole on a violin, but it is what had to be done to install any of the new endpin fittings into 19th century cellos. My old endpin fitting (and hole in my 1877 cello) was about 1 cm diameter and the new fittings were* closer to 2 cm. The only way to upgrade was to drill into the end block.
I saw some time ago an end button with a system that allowed to change the tailpiece afterlength without taking off the tailpiece or strings. That, I thought it's a good idea.
Thomas Boyer says "If we agree tailpiece and tailgut materials and weight are consequential for sound..". I'm willing to concede that all these factors plus a hundred others can influence the sounds in players' heads, but not a single one has ever been proven to make a difference to sounds heard by an audience
This may be true Steve, but one could also say the same thing about $2 million violins. It's not been demonstrated at all that the audience could hear a bit of difference. And yet people pay $2 million for violins.
Thomas wrote, "The problem is bridges need to be shaped and filed precisely and both those substances would be very difficult to shape." I went to the dentist yesterday and had a new gold crown fitted. It didn't pop right in. It took about half an hour of patient grinding, sanding, etc., for my dentist to achieve the right fit. Using computerized laser machining you could rough out a dozen bridges of varying thickness and then fit them to the top in a couple of hours. The main problem with a metal bridge is that it's not flexible -- unless it's very thin. So any movement of the top of the bridge will cause the feet to lift away.
It's only natural for "performance artisans" such as musicians and sportspeople to hope to give their performances a lift by extraneous (legal) mechanical means, but never a day goes by without some enterprising manufacturer inventing a new must-have gadget or making an established device out of new material. The one thing they all have in common is that none has ever been evaluated against "placebo". A placebo-controlled double-blind trial with the player's own opinion as outcome measure would be easy to devise for such an item as tailgut. Maybe we need all the placebo we can get, but my conviction is that once you've found a violin and bow you like, it's up to you to make the sound you want.
Paul, I agree, I don't see how a synthetic bridge could work. Maybe carbon fiber since it could be engineered to have some flexibility.
Regarding a titanium bridge and mountain bikes. One of the draws of using titanium for mountain bikes is its light weight, but also it’s flexibility, which makes for a more comfortable ride.
The next step along the titanium route for a bridge would of course be single crystal titanium - the bridge would be a single crystal of the metal. Such a bridge would be immensely strong (the material is used in aero jet engine fan blades) and I imagine it would have intriguing acoustic properties. Whether it would be in any sense affordable is quite another matter!
"...titanium frames are still quite popular in high end bikes, not to save weight but because titanium is more rigid and has different vibration characteristics from aluminum."
Trevor, there are titanium wound strings, Kaplan Amo A for viola is titanium wound.
Well Scott, you have a passionate point of view on this, but I'd be more persuaded by someone who actually tried this and couldn't hear a difference. One thing I've learned about violins is that small things can matter a lot. Sound production is the product of 100 details.
D'addario Helicores are titanium wound strings. Not bad, but not my favorites, the value of the titanium is that it resists corrosion from contact with fiddle players who sweat a lot. Vision Solo Titanium, despite the name, are not, they're aluminum wound.
Thanks everyone for that info about titanium strings - shows how relatively unadventurous I am when choosing strings!
From experience, I will tell you that more flexible tailpiece hanging on violins results in a difference in sound that usually is not considered desirable. It thins and brightens--which is solving a problem that violins usually do not have. This can be confused with more volume. Sources of this can be a more flexible tail gut, or too much space between the tailpiece and the saddle. On most violins I use a Sacconi-type nylon hanger, and use the longest tailpiece that will give me the afterlength I need. I replace a LOT of kevlar tailguts put on by shops that use them on everything without thinking, and the change is nearly always an upgrade in sound.
Just found this Ti accessories related STRAD magazine link in my unexamined older emails:
"Well Scott, you have a passionate point of view on this"
I'd also like to point out an essential problem: there's no logical way to determine if a titanium end button does or doesn't help the sound. For one thing, you can't do an A vs B comparison on a given violin because no two are the same. If you take the violin apart long enough to fit the button, it will almost ALWAYS sound more resonant and more responsive for a day or two just from having the tension take off. And you can't compare the sound between days--it's too subjective. And the smaller the effect, the more difficult it is to determine whether or not the button made the difference.
This is a good point, but actually I don't think a violin sounds better from being re-tensioned per se. When you replace a bridge or sound post and then re-tension the violin, what's happening (what SHOULD be happening) is that the top and back of the violin re-seat themselves and make better contact with the post.
But they're cool, right, like those fine tuners with the jewel on top? ;-)
"If human beings all dismissed innovations without trying stuff out, we wouldn't have violins and bows to begin with."
What's-it-called, the something-fish stuff, worked really well for me! :-)
Uh oh. How about if we call it "sea jelly" rather than "jellyfish"?
Why, are there "land jellies" that could confuse people?
Beats me. Wikipedia lists sea jelly as an alternate term for jellyfish.
I know that Ravel dedicated Tzigane to a Jelly.
Prevagen? Don't remember that one ;)
"Prevagen? Don't remember that one ;)"
But they're cool, right, like those fine tuners with the jewel on top? ;-)
Eric, not much. It's gotten so cliche. Chopped off my long hair too.
I was biting my tongue over the bike comments but now that we've degenerated to jelly fish: I have a bike-loving husband who rides in a club with a lot of cyclists, some of whom seem to have more money than they know what to do with. My comments here pertain to road bikes, but much of it also applies to mountain bikes. Here's what I understand: the "feel" of steel is some kind of gold standard and Ti gives that feel without the weight. Aluminum frames are actually stiffer than Ti frames, but it may have to do with how you have to engineer an aluminum frame, for all I know. Regarding "noone except for custom bike riders use Ti any more": there are companies out there that specialize in Ti frames. Ti is actually very hard to work with and there don't seem to be many custom bike makers who work in it. Carbon: light, comfortable ride, can be molded into almost any shape, and inexpensive (but, if violin bows are any measure, more expensive than they're worth). Also, more breakable than the metals. Some people go overboard with carbon this's and thats's to save weight, and they may be taking a big risk.