Why aren't violins ''thicker'' (top to bottom plate) ?
A silly question perhaps but I am going to ask it anyway. Since many of us use a should rest or some such aid in order to hold the violin, why aren't violins made with wider ribs ? Wouldn't this increase the volume ? What would it do to the tone ?
Here is a silly answer: Because some of us would have a neck too short to hold one of these super violins.
I am only talking about increasing the width of the ribs by about 10mm. You would not need a longer neck !
And some of us have less prominent clavicles than others, so we'd still have to use a shoulder rest.
I think the answer is in 'resonant frequency'. But having spat in the pot I'm going to run until a luthier answers!
Not a silly question at all! There's actually considerable math and science behind the dimensions of violins (and pretty much every other instrument), luthierie is just as much a science as it is an art.
You see violists using shoulder rests, too, so that's not the issue.
The shoulder rest I use on my 15" viola is set shorter than my violin shoulder rest.
Hermann von Helmholtz was born many decades after the greatest 18th century violin makers did their work. They knew nothing about the math but they knew what worked.
1 cm is a lot. If a violin were 1 cm thicker, I would not be able to fit it between my jaw and collarbone at all, unless I go with no chinrest. It would be as thick as the largest violas in existence.
There are violins with taller ribs. They’re called 14” violas. Increasing the height of the ribs makes a violin change its character and enhances lower frequencies than the range of a typical violin. Just as longer violins tend to be more viola-like, violins with extra-tall ribs have that deeper resonance that comes with an increased air volume in the body.
The lowest strong resonances come from the contained air volume, via the f-holes, (C# to D on the G-string); and from the top plate, especially the zone near the chinrest (A to B on the A-string).
Helmholtz resonance frequencies : thank you very much for the explanations :)
I have an inherited 18th c violin that is slightly oversize at 14.25", with the . Its length is 14.25", the bouts and ribs being larger in proportion. It is a light instrument at 385gm, in comparison with a 450gm standard 14" Jay Haide that I used to play. The larger dimensions of my old violin show up in its excellent response and resonance from the lower strings. The downside, for me, is that the overall larger size makes anything beyond the 2nd octave tricky for my hand, so say the least, but ifortunately virtually none of my orchestral playing needs to go into the 3rd octave. On one occasion, when there were 5 or 6 measures to be played in that stratospheric region, the section leader took the excellent pragmatic decision that we play it an octave lower.
Somehow this conversation about thicker violin ribs reminded me of the collars worn by fabled hockey announcer Don Cherry.
I would call 450gm for a violin overly heavy, and question the quality of the construction
The simple answer is cause Strad did it that way.