Jump to content


Member Since 15 Aug 2005
Offline Last Active Today, 03:39 PM

Topics I've Started

About Top Plates

Yesterday, 02:59 PM

I have posted two notes at the end of the "Secret Knowledge and violins" Thread.

I think that these ideas are worth addressing. Especially a note to two of the people who commented in that thread.

A very interesting fact is that if one carves an arch that is a TRUE buckling shape for a violin top, then further loads will increase the arching heights in proportion to what is there.

So the idea would be to find this shape. It likely will be close to a curtate cycloid in transverse arches, and more distantly related to a sinusoidal shape.

I suggest a practice which seems taylor-made to an ordinary craftsman, and it has never been mentioned. It involves the distribution of the loads from the bridge and trings. Seeing older iinstruments which had deformed would inform later makers of what to change in an arching.

Strad liked thin tops. It seems almost self-evident that he optimized an arch to distribute loads over a maximal area of the top.

Response, something new (to me)

29 July 2015 - 01:28 PM

If I made harpsichords in classical Italy,  I would seal the "soundboard" and varnish the case in a way that made the wood most beautiful.


Fillers/sealers that are good for a violin "soundboard" might make a maple's varnish less irredescent,  or there may be some other complaint.


So what is the role of the back?  I know of course that it partakes of the general vibration modes along with the entire body.   But could one have a little extra damping in the back to modulate what the top is doing? Perhaps it could widen resonances a bit without cutting their net strength too much.  I think the major effect would be like adding a damper to the soundpost.  At least that would be the first thing I would model in any FEA experiment.  (But I am out of the FEA game)


So I ask all of you if any of you have simply filled and sealed the top against end-grain absorption of varnish and treated the back without the filler,   or in some other way caused a little more varnish into the wood.  (Thinking Classially,  "make it look nicer")


So the question is,  should one treat a back differently from a top,  and will one perhaps mellow some of the response without cutting its strength very much?


I intend to do this with two new white violins I have.  They seem identical in the woods and I believe are part of a run of violins from the same stock of wood.  It will be interesting for me to try such an experiment.  Archings seem the same,  and likely are because I am sure they rough out shapes with a pantograph or CNC.

Tone, stiffness, and arching

06 July 2015 - 01:36 PM

Dr. James Woodhouse treated the musical saw in one of his papers.  This is S-shaped and has zero curvature at the inflection.  Woodhouse determined that there are localized modes of vibration in this area.


There is something interesting to observe if you have a Bass available in your shop.  In the upper bout ribs,  there is a reverse curve.  Try rapping at the inflection and compare that to the lower portion where the convex curve starts to increase again.


The curvature goes to zero at the inflection,  and you can hear that the pitch of a tap tone here is lower in pitch than one further down.  That is something you would expect,  but it is interesting to actually hear it.  I have several basses here for repair,  and they are all similar,  solid wood or plywood.  The tone is also louder, as this region is more flexible.


Now consider that the a violin plate is mostly convex in Both directions in the center.  Then it has a recurve where the curvature in Two directions goes to zero.  This would be a much more flexible region along a line around the plate.  This line more or less has a guitar shape. 


Now consider that it is rather difficult to see where this total curvature goes to zero.  It would take a good eye to place it along a nicely shaped guitar-contour.   Perhaps this is something one ought to consider when finalizing arching.  Using curtate cycloids for all transverse arches does this automatically.  How you treat the longitudinal arch will determine where at the plate ends the special line goes.  I know that many of you likely are sensitive to this inflection,  but little about it has been mentioned on the forum.  

Computer Models for violins

12 December 2014 - 04:04 PM

DGV asked the question:


I wonder if the 3D Strad people can build a computer model that changes the graduation virtually and see how the violin responds.  That will be cool.


I have done a bit of analysing with Finite element analysis,  and have found that a real model would be beyond the abilities of my 1000 node ABAQUS student edition.  My model is a little more detailed than Schelskie's stick and point model.  But his model is equivalent to a shell model.  (just consider the points as vertices of the shell triangel elements.) Nobody should be using it for anything other than rough idea of what the motion is for a given mode.  I should ask Scleskie if any account was taken of the orhotropic material constants..  Or perhaps someone can contact him. 


What I can do:


1:)  make a model with no damping and poor graduations.  The sales literature says that one can do anything that the large version does,  except that it is limited to 1000 points or nodes.  Unfortunately, I found that one thing does not carry over..... that is specifying a thickness at every node in a model using shell elements.  That right away screws things up.  One could make a single-layer solid model and map out the thicknesses at the corners of each element.  These will be prisms,  of course,  and the number of nodes will be doubled.  A decent model can be made with about 400 nodes (times 2 for the solid one with graduations)


2.)  That is only for a top.  But one can enter the various elastic constants for wood in an orthotropic orientation,  that takes nine constants.  These can be found in the US Agriculture release on wood properties.


3:  With this,  one can find the normal modes of a top.  I also made a shell model with constant thickness top and back with bassbar,  f-holes,  and position for soundpost.  This had strings and a rough bridge,  sides and linings which don't take many nodes. 


4:  But normal modes are not the whole story.  One would like damping constants.


5:)  To drive the system with a sawtooth type wave,  one needs to use a different section of the program which I have not learned.  The output is graphs of excitaion vs time.


6:)  The normal modes are given,  but one would need the time-dependent version to find the relative response of different modes to find the actual vibration (less damping).


7:)  There are many ways to represent damping.  A simple way requires two parameters and may be adequate for a first approximation.


8:)  I do not know if any "computer people) have done all of this.  It would be a major undertaking.

There may BE no one who has done it. 


9:)  However,  one can get good approximations for static loads.  This might be handy to decide on longitudingal archings or transverse archings.  (My model used curtate cycloid transverse archings,  and these had a special program to be calculated from the height of the central arch and the width of the arching at that point.  (I terminated these at the purfling.)



Anyone may add to this list or ask about anything.  Please feel free to comment.

Straining mesh

29 October 2014 - 11:56 AM

I hope that this cheap and effective tip will be helpful to some.  Using various cloths for screening,  including nylon underwear is a hassle.


One can look up <silk screen materials yourtown, yourstate>  I found two cloths of 200 and 300 threads oer inch.  A single layer works very well.  It was only about $5 a yard  (and 4 feet wide.)  I have used it in the past and it is great stuff. 


It is a polyester of some kind.  There is no fuzz between the lines,  and you need a very good pair of eyes to see the holes.  (Years ago,  it seemed like some I bought was nylon filiment.)