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Measuring violin dimensions


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#1 Banzai

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Posted 14 March 2010 - 03:24 PM

It appears, in the research I've done, that there are no accepted standard practices for the measurement of a violin; I can find measurements for the same violin, in multiple reputable sources, with wildly divergent figures.

For instance, in measuring, when one says the body should be 14" long; is that from the neck/body stop? Or is that the overall lenght of the back or belly plate? Or does it matter, since the variance between the two methods will be about 4-5mm...which appears to be an "acceptable" range of lengths when one compares and contrasts, say, Stradivari's fiddles to Del Gesu's fiddles. The previous was a rhetorical question...obviously I believe it matters a great deal, or else I wouldn't be asking.

My own fiddle measures 14" plate length, with a measurement in mm close in range to what I've read for many of Del Gesu's instruments, which are often described as "short" or "small" compared to others.

Are widths and lengths over the arching with a flexible rule, or via a caliper?

The apparent lack of scientific methodology, and the lack of an established standard practice, greatly frustrates my well cultivated notions of empiricism. Especially as I prepare to attempt to make an inner mould.
Good night...and good luck.

#2 Anders Buen

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Posted 14 March 2010 - 03:33 PM

Wouldn't we expect the dimensions to change a little with changes in the moisture content in the wood?
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#3 Melvin Goldsmith

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Posted 14 March 2010 - 03:46 PM

All measurements these days should be by caliper. This has not always been the case and certainly can be a source of confusion and frustration.
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#4 Bruce Carlson

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Posted 14 March 2010 - 04:27 PM

It appears, in the research I've done, that there are no accepted standard practices for the measurement of a violin; I can find measurements for the same violin, in multiple reputable sources, with wildly divergent figures.

For instance, in measuring, when one says the body should be 14" long; is that from the neck/body stop? Or is that the overall lenght of the back or belly plate? Or does it matter, since the variance between the two methods will be about 4-5mm...which appears to be an "acceptable" range of lengths when one compares and contrasts, say, Stradivari's fiddles to Del Gesu's fiddles. The previous was a rhetorical question...obviously I believe it matters a great deal, or else I wouldn't be asking.

My own fiddle measures 14" plate length, with a measurement in mm close in range to what I've read for many of Del Gesu's instruments, which are often described as "short" or "small" compared to others.

Are widths and lengths over the arching with a flexible rule, or via a caliper?

The apparent lack of scientific methodology, and the lack of an established standard practice, greatly frustrates my well cultivated notions of empiricism. Especially as I prepare to attempt to make an inner mould.


Banzai,

A standard length for violin, in most older publications, is measured with a tape measure over the arching. Fortunately there has been a shift to calipers; more and more it is being specified which method has been used. In the 1987 Stradivari Exhibition catalogue we used calipers and it is stated thus.

14" (356 mm) over the arching would be OK as a so called "standard" but you didn't specify how you measured the plate length on your 14" violin. Over the arching measurements vs. calipers can add roughly 2-3mm to the plate length (depending upon the arching height and long arch shape). You'll have to subtract border overhang and rib thickness above and below (and of course side to side) to get down to your form measurements.

The neck/body stop would fall in at 130mm/195mm or 325mm which is significantly different than the plate length; a lot more than the 4-5mm you mention. The vibrating string length would be approximately 328mm being on the hypotenuse side of your triangulation; neck/body stop - arching height/bridge height - vibrating string length.

Del Gesù violins are usually slightly shorter than the above mentioned standard but only by very few millimeters. Also the body stop is often shorter.

Bruce

#5 Selim

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Posted 14 March 2010 - 04:40 PM

It appears, in the research I've done, that there are no accepted standard practices for the measurement of a violin; I can find measurements for the same violin, in multiple reputable sources, with wildly divergent figures.

For instance, in measuring, when one says the body should be 14" long; is that from the neck/body stop? Or is that the overall lenght of the back or belly plate? Or does it matter, since the variance between the two methods will be about 4-5mm...which appears to be an "acceptable" range of lengths when one compares and contrasts, say, Stradivari's fiddles to Del Gesu's fiddles. The previous was a rhetorical question...obviously I believe it matters a great deal, or else I wouldn't be asking.

My own fiddle measures 14" plate length, with a measurement in mm close in range to what I've read for many of Del Gesu's instruments, which are often described as "short" or "small" compared to others.

Are widths and lengths over the arching with a flexible rule, or via a caliper?

The apparent lack of scientific methodology, and the lack of an established standard practice, greatly frustrates my well cultivated notions of empiricism. Especially as I prepare to attempt to make an inner mould.


I think real size photos in the posters are more reliable (assuming they are real size).
I go through a similar process described in Bruce's post, calculations and the best of my judgement.
If you are working with thick designs;
I think there is good reason why Del Gesus are shorter. Not sure though, I am just an amateur.
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#6 Bruce Carlson

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Posted 14 March 2010 - 04:48 PM

I think real size photos in the posters are more reliable (assuming they are real size).
I go through a similar process described in Bruce's post, calculations and the best of my judgement.
If you are working with thick designs;
I think there is good reason why Del Gesus are shorter. Not sure though, I am just an amateur.

Interestingly enough there is quite a range of edge overhang on 'del Gesù' instruments which accounts for some of the variability in his dimensions where the actual form size or rib outline may be the same.

Bruce

#7 Banzai

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Posted 15 March 2010 - 08:47 PM

To clarify, my fiddle is 14", with calipers (or rather makeshift calipers, but same method), measured edge to edge of the plate.

I suppose my question is, "why?", since it seems many other measurements are taken from the neck root/stop.

When I was mentioning the neck/body stop lengths, I wasn't intending quite as you interpreted, Bruce. What I was getting at is that the difference in corpus length is about 4-ish mm if you measure from neck root to end, as opposed to end to end on the plate. And I was wondering if that may acccount for the seeming 4-5mm of variance I often see in the length measurements of some instruments.

I've actually draw a mould template, which measures 13 3/4" (approximately.) If measuring the corpus length from the neck root, it's a dead ringer match for all the other measurements of an instrument that I do not have access to photos of, only all-over-the-map measurements. If measuring plate edge to plate edge, it's a little bit long. Of course, I haven't been able to even discern if we're talking calipers, or over-the-arch.

So frustrating.

I guess if she's long, I can just claim that I was experimenting with a "long pattern" design.
Good night...and good luck.

#8 JimMurphy

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Posted 15 March 2010 - 11:49 PM

It appears, in the research I've done, that there are no accepted standard practices for the measurement of a violin; I can find measurements for the same violin, in multiple reputable sources, with wildly divergent figures.


If measuring plate edge to plate edge, it's a little bit long. Of course, I haven't been able to even discern if we're talking calipers, or over-the-arch.

Banzai,

You may come to question whether even Stradivari & Del Gesu were themselves into precise measurements given all
the Models each made.

That said, you seem to be focused on the long-arch. IF the Old Masters used a curtate cycloid for their long-arch, then both
linear [caliper] and over-the-arch measurements would actually mean something to the equations describing that curve.

But a curtate cycloid long-arch is debatable. Some makers use a large radius arc for their long-arch, where maybe
measuring to the plate edge is less important than to the Neck/Stop. Good luck with your design(s).

Jim
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