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As a DIY type of guy (hence the badge), I gave a good ponder on what I would use for raw stock to create a +5 mm ebony violin nut. Obviously, one could be sanded out of a piece of dimensional ebony wood. I could not find such a nut already prepared from the normal luthier suppliers.
I do have an acoustic 4/4 cello. I measured the cello nut to be 11.3 mm long and 46.1 mm wide (your results may vary). I then measured a Cecilio 4/4 violin nut and found it to be 6.9 mm long and 23.5 mm wide (again, your results may vary). The fingerboard radius appears to be the same on both the cello and violin. So to fashion a 7/8 violin nut, I think that I would take a 4/4 cello nut, trim both sides to match the fingerboard angle of the violin (retaining the center), and mill down the back to obtain the correct thickness required for the violin. I would purchase a couple of the unfitted 4/4 cello nuts for practice (easily done since they are about $4 each).
The fingerboard of the "donor" 4/4 violin would have to be shortened 5 mm to accommodate the new augmented nut. A fret saw and a steady hand could be used to make this cut without removing the finger board from the violin. A little ebony dust mixed with super glue could be used to hide uneven joints, if necessary.
I have no immediate plans to try this since pinky reach is one of the few violin problems that I do not have. I would be interested to learn how others would tackle the problem.
Cranks make revolutions. JBS Haldane
Hi Metrics Fans,
I stumbled across this very cool and pretty detailed article on tailpieces and wanted to share it. It's way above my pay grade but my takeaway is that tailpieces and their positioning matter a lot 🙂
Above, I reported on how the string length was shortened by 5mm on my Sima Traian. That was great for my fingers but not so great for the sound, even with a sound post adjustment. But when Fiddlershop swopped the nice regular sized tailpiece for a smaller harp (thereby increasing the after length) the instrument's super sound was back.
So yeah, personal experience tells me that tailpieces are really important. I guess I'll just have to reread the article a few more times to understand why 🙂
Gee, bocaholly, just when I think that I have this tail piece thing under control, you go and confuse me with FACTS! I read the report you linked and came up with the following points.
All of the cello tail pieces used in the study had fine tuners, so the weight was biased on the front of the tail piece. I would be interested to learn about a tail piece without fine tuners. They did not try the use of a 3/4 tail piece on a 4/4 cello, which is a pity.
I think that you could duplicate their results by using a solid body electric cello--no need for special construction of a non-modal trial instrument.
I have seen a reference for an eccentric cam style of end peg so that you would be able to vary gut string length to the tail piece. I have always assumed that "shorter the gut string, the better" until the tail piece began to touch the violin. Perhaps I am wrong on this (the study makes it appear so). I would hesitate to keep adding adjustment features until we begin to rank with banjo players on instrument fiddling.
You advocate the use of a 3/4 tail piece on your fully sized violin. I have a very positive result on doing the same with a Mendini MV 500 violin. I just purchased a 12 inch Cecilio CVA 500 viola that I want to substitute a 1/2 sized violin tail piece and string with D'Addario Ascente 4/4 violin strings. If the results are favorable on "stubby," I am going to call this issue resolved to my satisfaction.
Cranks make revolutions. JBS Haldane
Look what you've gone and done now, Irv... it's 9:30pm and you've got me measuring after length on the Sima Traian. Ouch!
I'm not really sure if it's a 3/4 tailpiece. I actually think I got that notion from you 🙂
What I can tell you is the measurements for the before and after, after lengths:
|Original Tailpiece||New Harp Tailpiece|
|E after length||4.7||4.7|
|G after length||4.7||6.1*|
* Earlier in this thread, I wrote that the new G-string after length was 6.4
That was before I learned that the bridge, especially on the G-string side, tends to tilt towards the scroll when tuning. Lesson learned.
As for the length of the tail gut, Felix, Fiddlershop's master luthier, "fiddled" with it a few times until he felt it was just right. Finally, he set it to about as short as it goes. He didn't just jump into a default "shorter is better" though. So I guess the correct answer is, "it depends". The original (nice rosewood) tailpiece produced a well rounded, mellow sound with the original string length. After shortening the string length by 5mm, this particular harp just worked out better.
New chapter in the life of my Sima Traian adjustments:
The bad news is that, 5 months in to my violin adventure, my smallish left hand isn't growing, stretching or becoming more supple. The consequence: I was "lunging" to reach with my 4th finger and couldn't reach a sharp note with my 3rd while still holding my 2nd finger from the previous note in place.
The good news is that Fiddlershop was able to further shorten my string length by an additional 5mm. That's a lot. My left hand says thank you!
The first string length shortening was achieved by adding a thicker (wider) nut. This second effort involved:
1) Moving the bridge and sound post up 5mm towards the nut.
2) Cutting +/- 8mm off the bridge end of the fingerboard.
3) Replacing the 3/4 harp tailpiece with a standard 4/4.