Could bone be used in violin making?
Hi, another one for luthiers...
I know bone is used as a guitar nut... could it be used as a violin nut as well?
Why is it not used or even offered as a valid option?
The white-yellow color would break the violin aesthetics?
What if it improves the sound?
And how about a brass nut?
That would certainly change the sound dramatically, and in some violins could be a change that could improve the sound so much, I am guessing...
... and why guitars use bone nuts instead of ebony nuts, which sounds like a good idea as well?
The fretboard is made of ebony in many of them, they end up with lots of ebony cuts as well, so I don't understand why guitars stuck to bone instead of the already existing ebony nut from traditional instruments...
I don't mean it as "mandatory", but it's really weird that you just don't see guitar players even discuss about ebony, only bone, plastic, brass, tusq...
... and for that matter... what about the bridge?
Could you make a bone bridge? Brass, ebony?
Again a black bridge would break the aesthetics of the violin?
Have you ever played with different materials in your "spare" time (luthiers) to check what would happen?
I mean, not a "I am going to reinvent the violin" situation, but a fairly reasonable situation where you have ebony pieces around and think: what if I make a bridge out of it and see how it works?
And how about bone?
The physics of a plucked string (guitar) is quite different to that of a bowed string (violin). I think this might have something to do with the different materials being used and the resultant sound.
I have a violin that uses bone, I am pretty sure. Never asked the maker to confirm.
To those in the know, bone may look nothing like ivory but I doubt if officials at airports would know the difference. Keep your travels with the violin as simple as possible.
As far as I am aware of, the bone is from buffalo, although I am quite curious if buffalo bone is any different from, for example, chicken bone or cow bone. I was buying a raw piece of buffalo bone for my guitar in a music store, to make the nut myself, and I was wondering if I can go to my local butcher shop, ask for a piece of a nice cow bone or chicken bone and use it.
how ignorant is that, in most of Africa, elephants are endangered, anyone that proposes killing elephants for ivory or sport is scum of the earth, and doesn't deserve to be among us
It makes no difference to the sound. Bone has been used on violins historically and on "folk art" fiddles. I think it looks nice, but it seems the general public prefers ebony.
Elephants tusks are actually a form of teeth I believe, didn't Hitler kill Jews for their teeth, not a good thing to think about.
Somehow, I don't think he was motivated by the collection of ivory.
Lyndon, that was the era of gold fillings. And that wasn't the reason anyway.
Chicken bone would not work, it's much too soft. It would have to be a weight bearing bone from a large animal.
Is this a thread from April 1?
Cotton, how can you say that it makes no difference in sound?
Ok, my bad. If you're playing twinkle twinkle on open strings it makes a conceivable but nigh undetectable change in sound to 2 out of the 6 notes in the tune. Maybe if you played it like a guitar the extra sustain would be welcome.
I bought a few guitar and uke bridge blanks many years ago. I think they may be mammoth ivory (tens of thousands of mammoth have been dredged up from the North Sea). Or more likely they are cow bone. I didn't keep the receipts.
Paul N, on violin family instruments, ebony for upper nuts and lower saddles can be recycled from things like old fingerboards, tailpieces, and chinrests. On guitars, an ebony fretboard is typically too thin to form into parts like an upper nut, and usually isn't replaced very often anyway, since the frets take most of the wear, rather than the fingerboard itself.
Thank you David.
"tens of thousands of mammoths have been dredged up from the North sea"
I suspect that if you're talking about complete mammoths, you have to look toward Siberia.
A cow is a large animal. So a weight bearing bone from cattle would be worth an experiment. I'm as close to a bone expert here as you can get probably though that's not my field.
What is the nut material on Paganini's Cannone?
I've forgotten if I can post pics here. But here is a link to a maker who seems to like bone.
I said weight bearing bone. That means the densest bone. Paw bones are not weight bearing, long bones are weight bearing. It should be noted that ivory is not bone. It has a different composition. It has less hydroxyapatite and is softer than bone. Therefore bone is more brittle than ivory.
..."I've always thought elephants were fine, not endangered at all. If ivory becomes a really demanded material, they would farm elephants and supply the demand, right?"
In a precision frenzy, Erin forgot the tusks of course.
Paul, I've experimented with many materials. Ebony is rather heavy for a bridge, and overly-heavy bridges seem to kill the brilliance and loudness, a little in the direction of putting a mute on.
Well, knowing how much of an impact a different material must do to an acoustic instrument like violin, I was thinking it would be quite logical to offer different bridge materials, which is the easiest quickest way to change the way a violin sounds, same with the sound post (besides strings). I know bridges are modified, like thicker or thinner, but may be in some cases that's not enough or the violinist is still not satisfied. I don't know...
Paul, while there is a small market for unusual sounding or looking violins, it's tiny, in the grand scheme of things.
This viola d'amore has a rosette made of mammoth ivory:
Typically mammoth will be ivory. I've seen it from bow makers (especially baroque), and makers of piano keys.
I'm surprised that David found more than one or two bridge materials that didn't simply make them worse. One of Pat Naismith's students for his degree project made bridges of different woods plus on or two metal ones to investigate whether maple was really best for the purpose and got me to play with them. Only one of the woods was not noticeably worse than maple (I think it might have been boxwood), and it wasn't any better. The metal bridges were a complete disaster.