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Purfling Utility in Minimizing Crack Propitiation
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Irv
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January 21, 2019 - 11:42 am
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The original utility of Violin plate purfling was to stop the extension of cracks.  Since the plate extends below the purfling groove, it would seem to me ill suited for this purpose. It would make more sense to have a plastic material on the exterior of the plate, such as on a guitar or mandolin, to act as a shock cushion.  

I have seen plenty of violins with cracks that also had purfling.  Would there be a larger percentage of cracked with painted purfling?  Unless all cracks start at the perimeter of the plate, the few millimeters of additional crack “saved” by the purfling does not seem to be worth the effort of its initial installation.

Would anyone purposely avoid the purchase of an otherwise worthy Violin because of its lack of authentic purfling?

Research is what I’m doing when I don’t know what I’m doing.  —Werner von Braun

Without deviation from the norm, progress is not possible.         —Frank Zappa

Experience is a difficult teacher, it gives the test first and the lesson after.

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bocaholly
Boca Raton, Florida
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January 21, 2019 - 12:03 pm
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Irv said
The original utility of Violin plate purfling was to stop the extension of cracks.  Since the plate extends below the purfling groove, it would seem to me ill suited for this purpose. It would make more sense to have a plastic material on the exterior of the plate, such as on a guitar or mandolin, to act as a shock cushion.  

C'mon, Irv, you know that most violin makers and buyers are in love with tradition. I don't think the (plastic) binding used on other string instruments is going to make its appearance on violins any time soon.

Also, here's another tidbit about the function of purfling:
The channel cut for the inlay of purfling may increase the flexibility of the plates where they join the sides, affecting an instrument's pitch and sustain.

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steveduf
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January 21, 2019 - 12:26 pm
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A lot of times purfling has been one of the assessments of judging quality of an instrument.  Things like corner blocking, ebony parts, purfling, tightness of grain in top, flame in the back... to name a few

not sure how much it really helps splitting though...

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Mark
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January 21, 2019 - 2:54 pm
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I've, read where some very well respected makers that they have examples of there work where they painted the perfling in stead of inlayed perfling.

Mark

Master the Frog and you have mastered the bow.

Albert Sammons

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Fiddlerman
Fort Lauderdale
January 21, 2019 - 3:21 pm
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My guess would be that it does help. Kind of the same way that plywood helps. Who knows though. I would imagine that the makers who make the real perfling don't test without and vise versa, so who really knows?

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

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steveduf
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January 21, 2019 - 4:45 pm
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I have thought about purfling one of our non-purfled ones just for the heck of trying it.

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Irv
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January 21, 2019 - 9:41 pm
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I find it rather amazing that the purfling pattern remained so consistent down the centuries, particularly the “bee stings” at the corners of the c bouts.  I have searched for a violin that had purfling that just followed the perimeter hollow around the plate, which seems logical to me and should be easier to do, but I have not found one yet.

Research is what I’m doing when I don’t know what I’m doing.  —Werner von Braun

Without deviation from the norm, progress is not possible.         —Frank Zappa

Experience is a difficult teacher, it gives the test first and the lesson after.

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Irv
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January 22, 2019 - 10:24 pm
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I just found what I was looking for.  I think that this pattern would be easier to do and would be attractive for a student grade instrument.  7A8FF3B1-A559-46D7-AE66-3B55625BCDAB.jpegImage Enlarger

Research is what I’m doing when I don’t know what I’m doing.  —Werner von Braun

Without deviation from the norm, progress is not possible.         —Frank Zappa

Experience is a difficult teacher, it gives the test first and the lesson after.

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Mark
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January 22, 2019 - 10:29 pm
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Irv,

Well that is different, the F holes kind look

like a aliens eyeslumpy-2134.

A kid would love the look.

Mark

Master the Frog and you have mastered the bow.

Albert Sammons

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Irv
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January 23, 2019 - 4:23 pm
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Talking about unusual f holes.32E0096A-40EE-4E72-A31E-B18F21AB47C8.jpegImage Enlarger

Research is what I’m doing when I don’t know what I’m doing.  —Werner von Braun

Without deviation from the norm, progress is not possible.         —Frank Zappa

Experience is a difficult teacher, it gives the test first and the lesson after.

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AndrewH
Sacramento, California
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January 23, 2019 - 11:17 pm
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For something really unusual, take a look at a Rivinus asymmetrical viola. A violist in one of my orchestras plays one. Yes, there are two extra little holes.

http://stringsmagazine.com/lut.....struments/Pellegrina-viola.jpgImage Enlarger

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Gordon Shumway
London, England
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January 24, 2019 - 2:42 am
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One of purfling's functions is to stop further wood shrinkage by stopping the ends of the wood fibres (whence moisture evaporates), isn't it?

That is extremely badly expressed. I hope you know what I mean, because I do, lol!

Andrew

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Irv
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January 24, 2019 - 10:17 am
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Hi Gordon and others.  The interior surfaces of the violin corpus is left unvarnished, so obviously moisture can migrate there.  I believe that the only benefits of purfling is to prevent furthering a crack (much the same as positioning a hole in a cast iron surface to stop a crack), and aesthetics.  Since the plates are only channeled about 1/3rd of their depth for the purfling, I don’t see much of a mechanical argument for its merit as a crack stopper.

On my above examples of strange violins, you will see many sharp corners.  This, in my opinion, is bad design because corners induce stress and lead to cracks.  

Research is what I’m doing when I don’t know what I’m doing.  —Werner von Braun

Without deviation from the norm, progress is not possible.         —Frank Zappa

Experience is a difficult teacher, it gives the test first and the lesson after.

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steveduf
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January 24, 2019 - 8:20 pm
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More oddities F10DAFBA-F868-44F3-80E5-0A1E637C6919.jpegImage Enlarger

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Irv
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January 24, 2019 - 9:43 pm
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Good luck putting a sound post in that one.  And those sharp points at the ends of the f holes are just invitations to cracks.

Research is what I’m doing when I don’t know what I’m doing.  —Werner von Braun

Without deviation from the norm, progress is not possible.         —Frank Zappa

Experience is a difficult teacher, it gives the test first and the lesson after.

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Fiddlerman
Fort Lauderdale
January 25, 2019 - 2:36 pm
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Yes indeed, oddities to say the least.

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

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Irv
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January 27, 2019 - 11:02 pm
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Hi @AndrewH and others.  I just found a student viola similar to the one you posted.  It is called Sabatier and is made in France.  7AA146BF-6383-4E3A-B7E0-328D3DE9C04C.jpeg

Research is what I’m doing when I don’t know what I’m doing.  —Werner von Braun

Without deviation from the norm, progress is not possible.         —Frank Zappa

Experience is a difficult teacher, it gives the test first and the lesson after.

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bocaholly
Boca Raton, Florida
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January 28, 2019 - 7:36 am
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Now you've piqued my curiosity! These cut-away or slenderized violas seem like a terrific workaround for people seeking to maximize the size of a viola they can handle while facilitating ease of handling. Looks like the Sabatier violas are commercially available in the intermediate price range.

I also stumbled across this form originally designed by Otto Erdesz.
9pAAAA9kAAMBxbW1vZAAAAAAAAAYQAACgLgAAAADQ5e4AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA==

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Irv
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January 28, 2019 - 10:05 am
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Hi @bocaholly and others.  The Erdesz advantage is finger position in the upper positions.  The Rivinus and Sabatier have this also, but have a lot of air volume on the bass side of the corpus.  The Rivinus has a much smaller tailpiece than the Sabatier, so it has a longer after string length and can utilize a longer string (an advantage on the c string in the smaller sizes).

It looks like the Sabatier are now made in China and are shipped in the white to France for finishing.  There is an interesting video on YouTube interviewing Sabatier and his detractors on this instrument (fortunately, a version exists with English subtitles).

I am putting in a call to the Canadian distributor of the Sabatier violin to see if special string sets are required.  I bet they use tungsten wrapping and have a high tension.

Research is what I’m doing when I don’t know what I’m doing.  —Werner von Braun

Without deviation from the norm, progress is not possible.         —Frank Zappa

Experience is a difficult teacher, it gives the test first and the lesson after.

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Fiddlerman
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January 28, 2019 - 11:02 am
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Made in China and finished elsewhere is very common.
Personally I would have difficulty playing up in positions with any one of those because I'm use to having the edges as a guide.

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

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