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AUDIO FORUMS >> Analog Tape   >> The Ultimate Sound Amplifier
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Message started by Ed Pong on 07/29/21 at 00:54:05

Title: The Ultimate Sound Amplifier
Post by Ed Pong on 07/29/21 at 00:54:05

What was designed 300+ years ago, is totally analogue, uses no electricity and is the most efficient sound amplifier... a VIOLIN!

During Covid, 2020 I made a copy of a 1729 Stradivari violin with wood I was very used to using. I made a mistake cutting the f holes, which was not that noticeable, but bothered me, because I knew it was there... 1 f hole was 1.5mm lower than the other.

I made another belly, right away, thinking to swap the 2 tops. However, I noticed the wood was very heavy, dense and very hard to carve. I was sharpening the planes all the time! After gluing together the 1st violin, it sounded pretty good, so I decided to keep the asymmetric top on the 2020 violin & make a completely new violin for this newly made top with the dense wood. I picked a piece of very dense maple for the back thinking this would be a great test for the effects of dense vs lighter wood. The dense maple was even harder to carve but I finally put that violin together last Thursday...

I met Etsuko Kimura, Assistant concertmaster of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, at the violin shop & here is a clip of the 2021 violin's 1st sounds...

The differences shocked all of us, as this violin had more of everything! More focus, core, density & power than the lighter wood violin. Because the wood was dense, I could work the plates thinner for the same tap tones. Something fascinating is the weights of the fiddles.

If you look carefully at the grain lines in the center 40mm section on the front, you will see the soft wood almost non-existent between the hard grain lines. This tree had a very hard life in those years. This wood being very dense, was carved thinner, so the plate could respond quicker to the vibrations transmitted to it by the bridge...

The 1729 Stradivari: 386gms
2020 copy, light wood: 390gms
2021 copy dense wood: 393gms

Here is the 2021 violin & the clip of it's 1st sounds:

https://www.facebook.com/photo?fbid=2976611389286405&set=pcb.2976611482619729
https://www.facebook.com/100008127183370/videos/pcb.2976611482619729/998491414230596
Enjoy

Ed

Title: Re: The Ultimate Sound Amplifier
Post by Steve Deckert on 07/30/21 at 03:56:55


I think I can hear it. †It is similar to what happens to the midrange on our ZF15 open baffles. †There is better acceleration and braking power.

I think we need to break it in a bit and then hear it again compared to the 8 violins on the wall behind the wonderful girl playing in the video ; )

Steve


Title: Re: The Ultimate Sound Amplifier
Post by Brian on 07/30/21 at 05:05:52

That is a beautiful tone in the high register!
I love it.

Brian

Title: Re: The Ultimate Sound Amplifier
Post by Ed Pong on 07/30/21 at 12:11:05

Brian,
Thank you! Such is a high frequency created by vibrations of wood!
This 2nd belly came about because of a mistake in cutting the f holes on the previous violin - mistakes often are what leads to discovery!

I emailed my wood supplier, in Slovenia, right away asking him to look for dense wood with this very tight grain structure in the center. I picked 6 tops & 6 backs from what he found. They are arriving next Wednesday by FEDEX! More violins & fun!

If I mentally think whatís happening to create this effect... this very tight grain, being very hard & dense, could be carved thinner resulting in a plate that could react quicker, stronger and freer to the vibrations transmitted by the bridge. The 2 bridge feet sit literally on this section.

I since looked at the grain structure, in detailed photos, of many Stradivari violins & indeed the overall grain pattern tends to be narrow. In one Strad I saw exactly the same grain pattern as on mine! Coincidence? Not sure.
Will test this with the next few violins!

Next for this one will be to varnish & test the effects on the sound. Generally, varnish smooths over the harsh edges & should create a sweeter sound.... stay tuned!

I know this is not audio, but hope it's of some interest to you all. This is like changing interconnects or tubes!

Ed

Title: Re: The Ultimate Sound Amplifier
Post by Brian on 07/31/21 at 03:49:31

"I know this is not audio, but hope it's of some interest to you all." - Ed

Very interesting to me. Thank you for telling.
Brian

P.S.  Viola is an instrument I would like to try.

Title: Re: The Ultimate Sound Amplifier
Post by Ed Pong on 07/31/21 at 21:53:56

Brian,

I would encourage you to try playing viola, if youíre thinking about it.
Iíve learned, do it when you have the chance, our time here, is not in our control!
I made my 1st violin 15+ yrs ago, knew nothing about whatís inside. Bought a book, some wood & tried... then I heard some ďrealĒ violins and my curiosity was really aroused. I made a few more in my spare time (very little in those days) Everything is a journey of discovery - the earlier you start, the more it will speak to you in a deep way...
I made a viola 10 yrs ago, a copy of a gorgeous Amati. Itís on loan to violinist Alena Baeva, for fun as she wanted to play some viola.
I can post some pictures if youíre interested.

Ed

Title: Re: The Ultimate Sound Amplifier
Post by Edsonic on 08/03/21 at 16:44:10

Brian,

Many years ago I was just learning to read music (Introduction to Music Theory at the community college) and took a semester of String Ensemble next. There were a couple of cello players (which read from C clef) but nobody wanted to play viola (only violin) because they weren't familiar with the C clef and didn't want to learn it. At first I didn't want that complication either, as I was playing whatever viol instrument for the first time. (Complete beginners were allowed if they could read music). Then I thought- "you only learned the treble and bass clef just three months ago." Incomprehensible at first, then easy enough to sight read simple music only some weeks later.

Unlike then, I now knew that reading music was just tracking the intervals, after finding the first note to start. "So what's the big deal about C clef, then?" I asked myself. I 'fiddled around' with the C clef for just a minute or two and was off and running. Easy enough that I could just focus on locating position and bow technique.

I was a hero with that teacher, as the little ensemble now had one viola player!

Title: Re: The Ultimate Sound Amplifier
Post by Lon on 08/03/21 at 19:49:49

Speaking of violas, I found this a very interesting instrument posted on the Facebook page of the oh so lovely and talented Ms Rhiannon Giddens. . . .

". . . made by Tim Phillips, that is my octave viola! same range as a cello but a fraction of the size. tim is a genius"


Title: Re: The Ultimate Sound Amplifier
Post by Brian on 08/07/21 at 04:57:55

Edsonic, I love that story. it is so encouraging. My Priest has talked four of us into becoming the start of a choir to sing Sunday night Vespers. Make a fellow gag through his ears. Do we sound terrible! But what you say about it being no more than tracking the intervals reminds me of what Father says. He says the singing is nearly all the same from one week to the next, once we get it, it will not require any new learning. I am choosing to be optimistic. I only wish we could get some more practice time.  

Brian

Title: Re: The Ultimate Sound Amplifier
Post by Brian on 08/07/21 at 05:00:33

Hello, Ed
Yes, I would very much like to see pictures of your Amati copy viola.

I think it is wonderful that you can make these things.

Brian

Title: Re: The Ultimate Sound Amplifier
Post by Ed Pong on 08/07/21 at 13:43:17

Hello Brian,
I will, but have to figure out how to get pictures on the forum without them being too big... Steve can you suggest the best way.
In fact I have a few interesting audio clips with Teng Li, TSO principal viola, at the time, playing a gorgeous piece on the Amati, my unvarnished viola & the varnished viola. Will be a good test, as the people at the violin shop actually picked my viola as the Amati! (Another way to put it is, the limitations of the recording process!) Teng is currently principal of the LA Philharmonic!

Ed

Title: Re: The Ultimate Sound Amplifier
Post by Brian on 08/09/21 at 05:21:02

Ed,
That sounds like quite an accomplishment.  Congratulations!

Brian

Title: Re: The Ultimate Sound Amplifier
Post by Geno on 08/09/21 at 15:16:49

Lon,

Because of the style of music Rhiannon plays, that instrument would be called a "fiddle" † [smiley=lolk.gif]

Title: Re: The Ultimate Sound Amplifier
Post by Lon on 08/09/21 at 15:23:49

I disagree. A viola is a viola is a viola. And this is a custom viola. Not a fiddle, sorry. In another's hand another style of music might be played.


Title: Re: The Ultimate Sound Amplifier
Post by Geno on 08/09/21 at 16:49:11

Well then, how about a Viddle? 8-)

Title: Re: The Ultimate Sound Amplifier
Post by lazb on 08/09/21 at 17:18:51

this may not be pertinent to this discussion but I always heard, "If you can play it, it is a violin; if you can't, it is a fiddle."

Title: Re: The Ultimate Sound Amplifier
Post by Lon on 08/09/21 at 21:39:01


Geno wrote on 08/09/21 at 16:49:11:
Well then, how about a Viddle? 8-)

Nope.

Title: Re: The Ultimate Sound Amplifier
Post by Ed Pong on 08/10/21 at 00:04:41

Here are a few pics of my Amati copy.
The enlarged back shows the crackelure in the varnish as it ages...
This viola is 11 yrs old

Ed

Title: Re: The Ultimate Sound Amplifier
Post by Ed Pong on 08/10/21 at 00:06:31

More pics
Ed

Title: Re: The Ultimate Sound Amplifier
Post by Ed Pong on 08/10/21 at 00:08:09

sorry for all the posts, don't know how to get all the pics in 1 post... even after resizing.

This is a very interesting varnish, I made it with only Venetian turpentine, linseed oil and pure turpentine to dilute. No pigments of colours are added. This color is totally due to the dichroic nature of this resin. The defraction of the light thru a thicker varnish layer turns it red... When the varnish is thin, it's yellowish, †and turns reddish as the varnish layer thickens. That's why as the varnish "wears", the colour becomes more yellow.

Colour is also determined by how long & hot it is cooked. Reddish colours happen when the temperature does not exceed 100 degrees C. Temperatures around 140-150 degrees C gives a much darker varnish tending to more browns.

Itís easy to control the temp today. In Stradís day, much harder. Low temperatures were likely a water bath double boiler. Directly on the charcoal fires would result in varnishes much more brown....

Ed

Title: Re: The Ultimate Sound Amplifier
Post by Brian on 08/13/21 at 05:00:11

Thank you, Ed. I enjoyed seeing those.  

You are a splendid artist.

Brian

Title: Re: The Ultimate Sound Amplifier
Post by Ed Pong on 08/13/21 at 12:54:33

Thank you Brian,

It's interesting to hear the sound being created by the vibrations of wood in a real instrument vs. recorded sound.

What is it about "live sound", that reproduced sound doesn't have?? Because all us can tell them apart without trying.
I guess this shows just how sensitive our ears & brains are, vs any kind of measurements.

Ed

Title: Re: The Ultimate Sound Amplifier
Post by Ed Pong on 08/21/21 at 01:47:15

I know this is not about tape.... but yesterday I heard this incredible live stream concert from Alena & Vadym from Warsaw Poland...

Lots of avantegarde music but please have a listen to the very 1st piece by Beethoven... I've never heard it before, but please use a good pair of headphones.
You will not hear a more beautiful violin sound than this...
The playing is just gorgeous - "out of this world beautiful"
I texted them right after & told them we need to record this the next time they are at my place. 3 thumbs up by Vadym!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6kBJ2ofTbRQ

Enjoy

Ed

Title: Re: The Ultimate Sound Amplifier
Post by Brian on 08/29/21 at 01:08:23

A raven croaked outside my window when the violin started!
A very nice piece of music.
It is always interesting to me to hear something by Beethoven which does not have what I think of as the typical Beethoven sound.  

Thank you, Ed

Brian

Title: Re: The Ultimate Sound Amplifier
Post by SteveB on 09/06/21 at 16:30:27

I know what the difference is between a violin and a fiddle....no one cares if you spill beer on a fiddle.

Than you for sharing your observations.  What something is made from can have profound and subtle differences.

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