How much can adjusting the sound post effects ones violins tone color ?
A lot, indeed.
On some fiddles, a lot. On other fiddles, not much.
It's amazing how much a tiny adjustment can affect the tone as well as the volume on a violin. But it needs to be adjusted by an trained luthier because of all the potential problems if it is done wrong.
When I first bought my viola (£500 on eBay), I didn't realise that it had a massive crack in the back of it. So I sent it to a luthier one of my previous teachers swears by. Before it went, it sounded okay but a bit sort of dim. When I sent it, the luthier said that he had come across several other issues (including sound post). He fixed them all for me under his original quoted price. But when it came, it sounds amazing and is so LOUD. I don't know what he did, but I now love the sound of my viola
Fitting and tuning the sound post can do wonders, but I don't think it can turn a dark instrument into a bright one, vice versa if it is what you are asking.
Post adjustments are not like tone adjustments on a stereo. You can't turn an instrument into something it isn't; all you can do is to make it the best possible version of itself.
Michael and/or David, how do you guys determine the length of a new soundpost? I would be worried sick about cutting it too long and cracking the top or too short and it is ineffective.
Peter, post this " ammoon Viola & Violin Tool Sound Post Gauge Luthier Install Repair Tool Brass " on AMAZON.COM to see the kind of tool that can be used to measure the interior top-to-back distance.
I give my soundpost a good nudge when I feel the violin is not giving me everything it has. Often over time my G strings starts to close up, and moving the post makes a very noticeable difference.
Like a reboot?
Peter, the right length is the length that fits the right place at the right pressure. If it's too long, it won't come as far away from the center as you want, so you shorten it until it falls where you want. The center is the thickest part of the violin, the ribs the thinnest. As you cut it shorter and shorter it moves farther out from the center when it's at the same tension. Just cut until it's where you want it at the tension you want. You walk it out gradually as you cut and fit; it's not something you shoot for perfect on the first cut.
I've been fiddling (pun intended) with the sound post in my cheap violin after it fell over. I used this clip-like tool, rather than the traditional spike tool to set it. I do use the latter to adjust it though.
I've got a broken old violin and its soundpost and some tools. I'll be practising manipulation in case I ever need to re-erect an original soundpost, but no strings attached, so getting it into the optimum position will not be an immediate result.
Thank you Michael.How do you check soundpost tension? Do you tap on it or wiggle it? When do you start shaping the two ends of the post?
I try to fit the post as close to the center as I can, where the post ends will be parallel or nearly so. Then as it moves outwards as you begin to fit it, the ends become gradually more and more angled. Using the finest cuts you can take, considering how the fit changes as it moves over the changing interior contour, it will take a little while to get a perfect fit. Hopefully you haven't moved past where you want to be by then. If so, start over, if not, continue to refine until you are in the right spot. At each spot along the way the tension should be close to right, because tension changes fit by distorting the shape of the instrument. In the process of fitting the post you "learn" that violin in a way you couldn't if you could hit the spot and the fit on the first cut.
For those who are just starting I have two pieces of advice: first straighten your setter dead straight with a bend of about 45 degrees (you will understand the exact angle by trial) at each end, the bend on the sticker end about 15mm from the point. This way when you jab the post with the point 90 degrees to the post, and the stem of the setter comes out square to the f-hole, the post will be close to upright, no looking or guessing to at least come close. It's not perfect, but it gets you in the ballpark. Bend the hook end the same, a bit longer, so that it comes square out the f-hole when you are using it and you risk damaging the edges of the hole less.
Many thanks for that detailed explanation Michael!!
Hardness matters. I try to get material that's straight down the middle, and some soft. Hard doesn't work well for me.
Fantastic, Michael (and David). Very educational. I have no intention of ever letting anyone but a professional such as yourselves do this, even though, of course, it is trainable for me, but why should I?
You shouldn't. But if someone can't resist, they should try to do it right.
Thats my conclusion too.This is not a DIY project.Leave it to the pros...
My luthier said that a lot of the "adjustments" that he does are really more like seasonal maintenance rather than attempting to correct the sound. I've never really experienced much difference in the sound after an adjustment, but I'm pretty happy with the violin overall anyway.