Wave patterns on violin back: the more the better? Help me choose one!

September 29, 2021, 7:31 AM · Hi. My question is about 'curvy maple' pattern (i think this is the name) on violin back plate. The more the better, right?
i'm going to buy a new violin, and have two options:

violin a

violin b

i think violin A have lesser patterns but it's very strong, violin B have more patterns, but tiny ones.

which one is better if i only consider this and nothing more about violin construction in general?
what are the chances i'm getting a better violin going for the "better pattern" one?
my personal choice is violin A because it's more beautiful to me. but what about actual sound? (again, ignore everything else, i just want to know wich pattern could be better for the sound of the violin in geneeral)
can you help me?

Replies (26)

September 29, 2021, 8:19 AM · Specimen A is more striking to the eye I think.
September 29, 2021, 8:46 AM · Should make no difference to the sound. Either one could be better on that front.
September 29, 2021, 10:01 AM · Can someone help with my speaker settings? I'm having trouble accessing the sound from these pictures.
Edited: September 29, 2021, 10:48 AM · The word is "flames". VERY cheap violins will almost certainly have none but the wood of the back has little or no influence on the sound. Neither does the fancy inlay.
September 29, 2021, 12:47 PM · @Christian

Hey, don't mock the OP! The flames will make his sound LIT AF.

September 29, 2021, 12:54 PM · I this a violin you are going to play or a violin you are going to hang on the wall (back side out)? ??
September 29, 2021, 1:06 PM · Mike, I'm fully prepared for the FLEEKNESS of this fiddle, are you? It's just Bill Gates did something sus to my Apple's sound processor, and the violin sound won't come out of my screen, NO CAP!
September 29, 2021, 1:07 PM · I need a moment to prepare my ears, for God has not updated my audio drivers.
September 30, 2021, 9:15 AM · This is completely dependent on your own taste!
I would make sure that the violin I buy also pleases my ear, and not only my eyes. This, too, seems a very personal matter, so make sure YOU like both the sound and the flaming!
September 30, 2021, 11:02 AM · How do you so perfectly encapsulate Gen Z speak?
September 30, 2021, 11:45 AM · I'm timeless. I have mastered all forms of legless dancing, sadboy aesthetics and watching people play video games for fun. FOR THE CULTURE!
September 30, 2021, 4:19 PM · @Diego, I believe you are referring to “curly maple” which is the naturally decorative flaming in the wood. This effect is enhanced with a quality varnishing which can bring a reflective and 3 dimensional look to the violin. This figurative wood is favored by makers and buyers alike. But, more important is the overall quality of craftsmanship. If this is to be tool used for music making, it is usually best to make a purchase decision based on playability and sound characteristics rather than aesthetics.
Edited: October 1, 2021, 2:55 AM · "which one is better if i only consider this and nothing more about violin construction in general?"

Neither is better. It's your personal choice, and you say you prefer a.
Perhaps most of us would if the sound were guaranteed to be the same as, or better than, b's.

"what are the chances i'm getting a better violin going for the 'better pattern' one?"

None. All bets are off.

New point: The two violins at least look as though they are by the same maker, but even that doesn't guarantee the same sound from each. Is it my imagination or does b look older than a? What does that signify? nothing.

Have you ever tasted cakes with your eyes?

Edited: October 1, 2021, 3:42 AM · I don't believe for one minute that the wood of the back plate "makes no difference" to the sound. A lot of sound comes off the back plate, paricularly the higher frequencies (stiffness). Just try playing 'cello fashion with the violin leaning towards, then away from, jour body.

However, I imagine the effects of flaming, knots (in "spotted maple), one or two piece backs etc, will be difficult to predict..

Edited: October 1, 2021, 5:38 AM · Surely you're also hearing the radiation pattern from the front at a different angle?

It's difficult to find any hard evidence about how the violin's back influences its sound - flamed vs unflamed, maple vs sycamore vs beech, one-piece vs two-piece. You see makers tapping promising wedges of wood but I don't know what they're hoping to hear. James Beament's excellent book "The Violin Explained" is completely silent on the point, in spite of the fact that his wife was a respected maker and teacher of violin-making. I guess the main problem is that nobody has done the experiment of making a switch.

Edited: October 1, 2021, 8:23 AM · Adrian, you write "makes no difference" in inverted commas as though you are quoting someone. Yet you are the only person to use the expression. I hope you are not misunderstanding and misquoting my logic.

I agree that the following might be ambiguous: -
"what are the chances i'm getting a better violin going for the 'better pattern' one?" None. I considered alternative responses at the time and decided to save time.

Edited: October 1, 2021, 8:36 AM · Steve, ok for the angle, but try bowing while resting the fiddle on the palm of your hand: the back certainly vibrates. A tight shoulder rest can reduce the depth of tone, and a slightly crooked (but well fitted) sound-post can reduce nasality a little.

Two apparently identical suspended maple boards will give different sounds e.g. bonk vs thud. Guess which one will be used in a more expensive violin..

Gordon, I was synthesising Stephen's and Steve's remarks.

October 1, 2021, 9:14 AM · Short answer: it is impossible to judge sound from the aesthetics of the wood.
Edited: October 1, 2021, 10:20 AM · Gordon Shumway said:
"Have you ever tasted cakes with your eyes?"

I have. That's because my eyes are bigger than my stomach.

October 1, 2021, 11:44 AM · Buy the violin with the better sound and playing characteristics, never mind the look of the back, which you only see when you put a shoulder rest on.
October 1, 2021, 12:17 PM · A cello belonging to a cellist friend of mine has on its back the royal coat of arms of Frederick II (The Great) of Prussia. That must trump any wave patterns!
Edited: October 1, 2021, 12:38 PM · A pattern with the insignia of Frederick IV of Prussia would be better. Wieniawski dedicated his first concerto to him!
Edited: October 10, 2021, 3:49 PM · For the ones who mocked me: go see the nature, it will do good for you.
For the ones who actually answered me: thanks! you really helped me.

The problem is: i'm buying online from Ebay, so i can't hear the sound of the violins (the seller never post it)
they're from the same maker, very good reviews from their violins.
I choose this one just for the "Hellier" design, but every violin from the maker is about the same too, with or without fancy drawings. I already own one, it's from my profile picture, i really love "The Hellier" and i wish to have a really well done copy of the original one day!
I asked about the patterns because i read on many places about "the more matured the tree, more patterns (because of nature's wrath inciding on the tree so their wood grow stronger) and this is good to violin sound (and make it pricier too)
the price of both are about the same.
so even with this information, at the end it doesn't matter, so i just choose the one i think it's more pleasing to my eyes.
I hope it sound at least the same as the one i have, i love it and everyone who listen to me playing loves it too!

October 10, 2021, 5:32 PM · @Diego. Congrats on your purchase. I hope your new violin is everything you hope it to be.
October 10, 2021, 7:10 PM · Great job team! Another case successfully closed by V.com!
October 10, 2021, 7:17 PM · Of course. And this case will always affectionately be known as ‘The Hindenburg Affair.’

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