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Sound Post Story
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Oliver
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February 14, 2012 - 7:02 pm
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I had a violin that sounded bad after a few years and was advised to have the sound post adjusted.  However, I got the tools and moved the sound post myself.  It should have been 3 mm behind the bridge but I thought the violin sounded great with the sound post at 20 mm behind the bridge.  Well, I really had a lot of people yelling at me for "ruining" the violin.  I put the post back at 3 mm.

I did not need the violin because I was occupied with a new electric violin that I was just getting used to.  But now, here comes Easter and a possible musical "event" at church and I really don't want to drag any amps or equipment to church. 

Time to look at the old acoustic violin.  I moved the post back to 20 mm and again achieved the good sound AND a significant increase in volume which would help in playing with any other instruments.

I just had to try the violin on a video because I had only messed with the electric before and I'll have to work with that new setup.  I made the attached video as a test.  I think the violin sounds tolerable ( for at least 2 choruses of Amazing Grace!).  My recordings are short because I hate to wait for You Tube uploads.  Any notion of playing out of tune is an illusion because I develop an Eastern European accent with this music.

So the issue remains, can a sound post be in the right place and the wrong place at the same time ?

coffee2

When you come to a fork in the road, take it.

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suresh
Tuticorin, India
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February 14, 2012 - 8:58 pm
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Sounded like harmonica to me.  But I love it.  Thank you.  Now that you are famous and started practicing has become a man of constant sorrow!  I would like to see you in a video with your 'head gear'.

If music be the food of love, play on;
Give me excess of it ..(William Shakespeare in Twelfth Night)

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Fiddle4Fun
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February 14, 2012 - 9:21 pm
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Who's yelling at you for "ruining" the violin?  It's not like you're turning it into a static decoration here.

 

I'm not a luthier and have no experience at all in violin construction or design (so take my comments well salted).  That said, it seems to me that violins are not exactly standardized due to the number of variables involved in getting a nice sound.  It would make perfect sense to me that there would be instruments out there that perform better with a non-standard set-up due to individual differences in the wood, shape, etc.  If the violin sounds better with the sound post at 20 mm, and moving it doesn't cause any fatal structural weaknesses, then put it at 20 mm.

 

The aviation community likes to say of aircraft design, "if it looks right, it'll fly right."  Maybe we need to adapt that saying to our instruments, "if it sounds right, it is right."  After all, isn't the violin just a tool for making pretty sounds? (So long as I'm not playing, that is.)

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Gail
29 Palms, CA
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February 14, 2012 - 11:37 pm
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Oliver!  You left me wanting more!  Катюша!  I love it!

 

dancing

I've learned so much from my mistakes that I've decided to make some more.

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gordon_sc
South Carolina
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February 15, 2012 - 12:34 am
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Oliver, I have to say it sounds good to me.  Great job.  thumbs-up

I think that the sound post can be moved to where the individual instrument sounds best.  I am just a pore country boy who can barley read.

I recalled reading about the sound post and looked it up in the book, "Violin Playing and Violin Adjustment" written by James Winram and published by William Blackwood & Sons in Edinburgh and London, year of 1908 he had this to say on Page 105.
"After the sound-post is inside the violin it should be put behind the foot of the bridge, first string side; and if the instrument is a high-breasted one the post should be close up to the bridge, but never underneath it.  If the violin is flat-breasted the post should be away from the bridge a six-teenth to a quarter of an inch or more accordingly, so as to get the best results."

Now lets get some coffee1

 

Edited, Oliver I sent book info in a PM

It ain't gonna learn to play itself.

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Oliver
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February 15, 2012 - 8:25 am
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I appreciate all the replies and information.

I can not imagine that any sound post position is a risk unless that would be too close to an "f" hole and /or the sound post is too long (tight) for the new location.

What is scarey is the case where I might bring the violin to a luthier and his "fix" could be something much more complicated ($) because a radical move of the sound post is not an option (?)

Increased volume ....... the violin in the video has a mute.  Really loud without mute.  Will be useful against any brass "assault".

@suresh ...... the violin sounds slightly unusual because my video camera is an HD image model but not the greatest for audio.

Can anyone tell me how to deal with an MP4 video that might take forever to upload on You Tube?

When you come to a fork in the road, take it.

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Kevin M.
Nicholson, Pa
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February 15, 2012 - 9:53 am
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Oliver, the placement of the soundpost is only a reference point.  No two violins are the same.  This is why luthiers can spend so much time adjusting a sound post.  The slightest movement effects the sound.  When a top plate is being made it is either tap tuned or tuned by putting it over a large speaker and fine filings put on the wood. At different frequencies the filings make different patterns. If the soundpost was to get closer to one one those pattern lines it would interupt the vibration so even a slight movement effects it. The slight movement of the bride will also effect the sound.  Bridges are suppose to be set at the marks on the f hole but sometimes that mark is wrong. The string should be 325mm from the nut to the bridge for the proper wavelength. If it is longer or shorter it changes the wavelength so many very slight adjustments change the sound.  There is no set rule of where anything goes, only reference points.

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Fiddlestix
Michigan, USA
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February 15, 2012 - 10:18 am
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Oliver,,,, Kevin is right on sound post placement.... there are many variables. I have attached an article (quite lengthy) but it is a study on sound post placement, maybe there is some helpfull info. there.  I believe sound is kinda like cooking, the food that tastes good to one person may not suit the other person's taste, same with sound, what sounds good to me may not sound good to you.

 

I have been told by a certified Luthier that the sound post should be replaced after several years, because the tension from the strings puts down pressure on the sound post and mushroom's it out, so to speak. In reality it becomes fatter in the middle due to the pressure, after all, it's only wood and wood expands and contracts with temperature, humidity and constant pressure.

Maybe this article will give you some information, maybe it will confuse you more, I don't know, but good luck and happy fiddlin.http://www.phys.unsw.edu.au/mu.....review.pdf

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Oliver
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February 15, 2012 - 12:26 pm
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@kevin

You mentioned top plate for tap tones and speaker patterns.  Are bottom plates made/tested in the same way?

I have a Jakuc reproduction and the bottom plate seems to have tool marks when viewed through an "f" hole.  My more modern (student) violin is smooth on the bottom plate and I'm wondering if it may not be graduated at all (?)  (this more modern violin is the one I am talking about right now)

@Fiddlestyx

Good article.  The approach is in line with what I did.  The move really reduced the shrill sound of "A" and "E".  I thought I would lose volume by going further away from the bridge but it was just the opposite.

coffee2

When you come to a fork in the road, take it.

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Mad_Wed
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February 15, 2012 - 12:49 pm
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I don't know much about sound post and this is interesting. I wonder, how do you guys move it by yourselves...I'll search some photos or videos.... duncecapand i have no idea unfortunately about something like this:

You mentioned top plate for tap tones and speaker patterns.  Are bottom plates made/tested in the same way?

But i liked the video!! dancing

Thank You, Oliver!

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Oliver
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February 15, 2012 - 1:46 pm
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There is a tool called the Gemini Sound Post setter which allows one to tinker with sound posts all day long. 

It works.

It costs $70.  I have used up that cost many times over with my two instruments.

You MUST also know some basics about sound posts to do the work without making a mess but it is no big deal with many tutorials around the internet.  I would go to a luthier if:

My violin was in the $3K plus range AND

I could find the right luthier.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

The usual post setting tools are medieval looking and, I consider, dangerous smile

I will deny that I told you all this.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Find out about sound posts length, materials, tapers, etc.

 

coffee2

When you come to a fork in the road, take it.

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Kevin M.
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February 15, 2012 - 6:21 pm
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Yes Oliver the bottom plates are done the same way.

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Kevin M.
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February 15, 2012 - 7:37 pm
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http://www.youtube.com/watch?f.....uMZzVvnSiU

 

here's a video of a backplate being sound tested and the different patterns it makes

 

Right click on link and open in a new window

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Oliver
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February 15, 2012 - 8:09 pm
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Neat !

coffee2

When you come to a fork in the road, take it.

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Fiddle4Fun
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February 15, 2012 - 8:45 pm
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OK, that's just about the coolest thing ever.  Thanks for sharing that one!

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Fiddlerman
Fort Lauderdale
February 15, 2012 - 9:13 pm
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Great information and I like your video Oliver.

Naska their is a special tool for tapping the sound-post gently to move it but you need to be careful. Could easily fall if you do something wrong.

"The richest person is not the one who has the most,
but the one who needs the least."

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Mad_Wed
Russia, Tatarstan rep. Kazan city
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February 17, 2012 - 10:23 am
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Thanks, guys!

Now i know for shure that i'll never touch the sound post =) - i have all thumbs hands  (i hope i've used the right term XD) roflroflroflroflroflfish

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pky
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February 18, 2012 - 11:32 am
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I wish you have recorded without the mute, before and after you move the sound post so we could compare. However,  if you like the sound at 20mm, then it is the right place for you and your violin.

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Fiddlestix
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February 18, 2012 - 12:04 pm
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Sorry for submitting another post, but all this is very interesting to me.

I have found in the past few experiments with sound, that there are many variables to what you want your ears to hear. If I want one particular sound, I play in one room with a low ceiling. If I want a dynamic sound, I play in the bathroom, the acoustics are great there, another wide open sound I play in my living room with cathedral ceilings. I stand in my computer room and play, I get one sound, I  move closer to the wall and face the wall with the violin almost touching the wall, I get another sound. The sound waves bounce back at me.

What's the perfect sound ?,,, who knows, it's all in what sound sounds good.

serenade  <<< These animated emoticons, crack me up.  roflclap

 

Is this, "The Devil Went Down to Georgia"?      devil-violin

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Oliver
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February 18, 2012 - 12:10 pm
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I did not anticipate that I would achieve anything worth recording but  I will keep that in mind for my next experiment. 

I knew right away that something good had happened because of the definite increase in volume which if often associated to a "sweet spot".

However, I do have a mate to my corrected violin and it may be fair to compare the sound of the two.  If so, I'll make the recording.  They both had similar poor sound quality.

coffee2

When you come to a fork in the road, take it.

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