November 13, 2017 at 2:45 PM #55479
A few months back my bridge fell and then the soundpost. I took it to the only luthier in-state within 100 miles of home. He did a good repair but the fiddle definitely sounds different and I can’t get used to it. It used to have a good warm tone across all strings. Now, the A and E strings, but especially the A, sounds very loud and “brash”. I can balance it out with a full mute when practicing, but when playing with others, the loudness, especially of the open A string, really annoys me. I can take it back to the luther, but will have to leave it for 2 or 3 weeks. By leaving it there, I’m not sure that is going to help me find the sound I want. I have, with limited experience, checked the bridge and soundpost positions against some published standards; they look to be properly placed. I’ve also replaced strings.
Does anyone have ideas to slightly mute only one string?
The upside is that it is forcing me to rely on getting a good fourth finger A on the D string.
JoeNovember 13, 2017 at 3:00 PM #55480
I’m no expert but I think the symptom you describe sounds like these soundpost needs to be set slightly different than where it is.November 13, 2017 at 4:44 PM #55488
Just moving the sound post 1mm in any direction will effect the sound this video explains somewhat about darker or brighter sound . I have taken the ink filler out of a pen and marked a half circle around my sound post so if it ever falls I can put it back where it was .Even moving the Bridge a little will change the sound
November 13, 2017 at 7:10 PM #55494
- This reply was modified 1 week ago by Steve Srader.
That’s terrible service…I make an appointment and my luthier doesn’t want me to leave until I’m happy with the sound and playability of the instrument…works on it while I’m there and then has me try it out and give opinion…then makes a couple small adjustments…and so on.
Last time I was there he did what I figured was at least $100 worth of work time…cost $45
November 13, 2017 at 7:29 PM #55496
- This reply was modified 1 week ago by fiddlewood.
Fiddlewood Your lucky to have such a good luthier . I have spent months studying and I do my own luthier work its time consuming and takes patience .November 13, 2017 at 9:01 PM #55498
Unless you get up in the high price range, even most new fiddles come with a poor set up. There’s so much fine tuning involving the bridge, soundpost, and even accessories can be messed up. Joe, if it takes weeks to get any adjustments done for you, I’d think about learning how to do some of the simple things myself. Even the tiniest movement possible on the soundpost can affect the sound, and with a good fiddle usually someone takes time to move it around a little just to search for the sweet spot. If my memory is working, closer to the bridge will accent the E & A string, make it brighter and louder, and farther back from the bridge will liven up the G & D and give a darker tone. In order to move it the other way, to or away from the side more than a very small amount it has to be trimmed a bit. Might have to loosen the strings some to move it at all if it fits real tight. When trimming a post to fit, the best way is to take out the endpin and sight through the hole. Use a real tiny pin light inside through the top and look for any crack of light shinning through the seating ends of the post & trim accordingly. Each end of the post will angle to fit the slope of the top & bottom plates.November 13, 2017 at 11:45 PM #55507
So sorry to hear about the bright A string, Joe. There is some good advice here.
Without moving the sound post, you might try putting a piece of “parchment” (animal skin) on the bridge under the string, or even one of those little plastic tubes.
You could also try darkening the tone by swapping your A string with a Pro Arte A string, or even an Obligato if you have money to burn.November 14, 2017 at 8:17 AM #55513
Moving a soundpost is scary, but I wish I knew how to do it. Mike always says he could do it for me, but since I’m scared of it I haven’t let him try with any of mine. The one time I went to a rare violin luthier around here…expensive, I was totally unhappy, and when Mike saw his work he thought he could’ve easily done that. I don’t even know what a soundpost is supposed to be made with…looks like an ol cheap dowel rod you could buy at Lowe’s…but do they have to be a certain wood? I think every serious fiddler oughta learn this stuff, but I sure don’t know enough about it to feel at all comfortable enough to try.November 14, 2017 at 12:44 PM #55518
Small adjustments to the soundpost are done by gently tapping the end with a setting tool through the hole in the top. The strings might have to be loosened to do this. A 4/4 violin uses a 6.2/6.25 mm (1/4 inch) piece of spruce dowel. Tight, straight grain, soft spruce is the traditional material & is easy to work with. Soft spruce would be less likely to score the soft spruce top plate, & spruce is the traditional material for the bass bar also. Willow is an alternative for the linings, & some cheap fiddles don’t even have linings.
The length of the bar will determine how tight it fits for any given location, and this tightness will affect the sound. Too tight is bad and can also damage the fiddle. How tight it is will also affect your bow response. There is a relationship with how tight the post is to how well your particular bow will respond to your fiddle. (all this can drive you crazy) The sound will change with the tightness. The ends of the post have to be precisely shaped to make full contact with the plate.
The soundpost is called the ‘soul’ of the violin, and there is so much mystic associated with it that most luthiers avoid getting too involved because it can drive them crazy and take all their time with a client.
It is said, & makes sense, that squeezing the sides of the plate with your hand will minutely loosen the post enough to help in moving it. Obviously common sense should regulate how hard this is done.November 14, 2017 at 1:26 PM #55520
Yes…that’s why I am terrified!November 14, 2017 at 2:51 PM #55521
That means you’d do a good job Cricket. If you’re a flight instructor, your best students are the one who have a fear of flying. That means they feel things others don’t, and they have a respect for it. No fear is a bad sign.
But…if it an’t broke don’t bother to fix it…November 14, 2017 at 7:28 PM #55524
I appreciate the ideas. At this point, I’m too chicken (or smart?) to mess with the soundpost. I did move the bridge slightly (about 1 mm) towards the fingerboard. I also put a very small piece of moleskin under the A string on the bridge. It has helped some and has also brightened the sound of the D string. I’ll let things settle and see how it goes. At least these are changes I can easily undo.
JoeNovember 14, 2017 at 9:12 PM #55528
Thanks for bringing up the discussion Joe. The more we talk about any issue the more we all learn. I ran into a good read on this @
His third point leads me to think you may have a post with a very tight fit. (That is if the post is causing your issue) Sounds like that would have an effect like you described. The post on my fiddle is tighter than I’m comfortable with. The A string is shrill & so focused that certain notes are impossible & also difficult for double stops.November 15, 2017 at 8:16 AM #55531
That’s scary too…talks about tuning…I tune any kinda crazy way I can think of…I hope I’m not putting too much stress on my fiddle’s heart! Or my viola too!November 15, 2017 at 8:19 AM #55532
I’d be more than happy if somebody make an affordable plastic fiddle…lol…cheap and that holds together and sounds ok. I know they have graphite instruments…I first heard about guitars that were made out West several years ago…and I’ve seen on the net graphite violins, cellos, etc. But those are really expensive instruments. The delicate nature of instruments always scares me…I’ve never felt like I could give them delicate care.November 15, 2017 at 1:30 PM #55537
At least part of his point on various tunings was to say that the different pressure on the post that different tunings present will cause a different adjustment, so if you optimize the adjustment of the post for one tuning then change the tuning, ideally you’d have to adjust the post for that, and that will drive anyone crazy…just play like Mr. Kershaw & you won’t have to worry about how the fiddle sounds…November 15, 2017 at 2:09 PM #55538
Interesting link, Rodger. I played awhile again today and my minor adjustments definitely made some improvement. At some point I will need to find someone skilled enough to adjust the soundpost with me present.
With the small adjustments I made, I readily noticed that the fiddle is easier and more enjoyable to play again. This may be entirely mental or the ‘placebo’ effect. I think that for the last few months I have been fighting the instrument, trying to get a decent sound from it. It makes me realize the value of a good setup – now I just need to find someone to do it.
JoeNovember 15, 2017 at 3:56 PM #55539
Joe there’s a lot written about that placebo effect. The folks who work with this every day and have paying customers are like doctors that have patients who come just to talk and go home cured. Of course you & I would never ‘imagine’ something in the sound but evidently a lot of people feel a lot of people do.
Having said that…a violins peculiar sounds & tones are very real & can easily change from day to with nothing more than a change in the humidity. Trying to be honest with myself, for years I couldn’t really hardly tell any difference between the rosins I used. But I’ve acquired ability to hear a lot of things that are very real. One special good thing is that, since all fiddles have weak points & the cheaper ones many weak points…there are ways to develop skills to overcome, to some point, by developing technique to make those weak sounds better. Sensitivity in playing closer or farther from the bridge with just the right bow pressure for certain sounds, slurs, bow positions at tip & frog, higher position changes. A lot comes with maturing skills in developing a good sound. People who learn on a cheap/challenging fiddle and learn to make it sound good, may develop better than those who start out with a wonderful sounding fiddle and don’t have to develop those skills.November 15, 2017 at 4:38 PM #55541
Woops!!! I thought I could just move it back. Big mistake, can’t find the spot! Well I moved it because it didn’t sound good in the first place. It still doesn’t sound good so I’ll keep moving it around till it does, or find a luither!November 15, 2017 at 7:05 PM #55543
I saw a guy one time use some forceps clamps that had a 90 degree bend in them. He just reached in and grabbed the sound post with them and could move and twist it any way you wanted.November 15, 2017 at 9:02 PM #55547
Well, the post is tapered on the bearing surfaces, and if it was fit real tight and you twisted it like that, you could crack the plate or break the tapered edge off the post…maybe..theoretically..November 15, 2017 at 9:03 PM #55548
Terrifying😱😱😱😱😱!November 16, 2017 at 10:06 AM #55552
I’ve moved that sound post all over and can’t make it sound good. I think I’ll take a break from it, come back with fresh ears!November 16, 2017 at 10:44 AM #55554November 16, 2017 at 11:00 AM #55555
Here’s a second video from fiddle-man . I bought a complete kit that finds the angle of the bottom and top of the inside of violin and the setter and it works great this is not hard .November 16, 2017 at 11:07 AM #55556
Thanks Steve! That is a much better tool than my old dental tools. I can see where that would be faster and easier! It is time consuming, loosen strings, tune and play. Then do it again, I got to take a break from it for now. My grandfather kept a thread tied to his. I looked at his fiddle not long ago and the thread is still on it. My brother has my grandfather’s fiddle and it never gets played, what a shame!November 16, 2017 at 11:26 AM #55557
Steve we were posting at the same time. I watched the the fiddle man’s video. That is what I’m doing but he has better tools than I do! I hate to buy new tools because when I get the sound post right I don’t expect to ever move it again. It is a lot better if you have the tools tho.November 16, 2017 at 11:34 AM #55558
Maybe you should ask him to let you care for it as Grandpa would not like it to go unused . I have My dads old violin and it was in pieces as in time the glue let go so I did a few months of research and got the right glue and tools and put it all back together again and the sound post tool is so nice I bought a bigger kit that does every thing like finding the right angles for the top and bottom of the sound post, you don’t wont to install a sound post with out the proper angels . the fiddle man video shows more detail as to where to set it for the different sounds its really a small area smaller than a dime . You want the sound post to fit when the strings are loose but not to fit to tight it should go into place and stay in place but you should have to tighten the strings before taking the tool off , if you can remove the tool with the strings loose then its probably to tight
November 16, 2017 at 11:39 AM #55559
- This reply was modified 5 days ago by Steve Srader.
Ha ! Rock I am like Tim the tool man , I don’t know what it is , or what it does but I wont it , Its a tool Ha,Ha,November 16, 2017 at 12:27 PM #55561
I know what you mean about tools! I have been a woodworker for most of my life. I had a big woodshop before I moved out here in my parents house. I had to either build a building out here or sell my shop. I decided to sell, I wished I still had a shop, I miss it.
I used to spend the summers with my grandparents here in Tn. They were really good musicians. They had fiddles, mandolins, cello, bass fiddle, guitars etc. They gave me one of their mandolins (taterbug). The glue was gone from the top plate and I bought some hide glue cleaned the edges to glue the top back on, I put the top on my bed and a friend came over and sat on it. It split the top right down the middle with the grain. I glued the top together and then glued the top back on. I was fourteen, it wasn’t perfect but it played good. When I got out of the Marine Corps and came home my little brother had taken the taterbug and had it professionally restored. I learned my dad gave it to him because he paid a lot to have it restored. Anyway that was a rub, I didn’t understand at the time and still today. So I would never ask my little brother for my grandfather’s fiddle. We get along great but we don’t talk about fiddles or taterbugs. HaHa!November 16, 2017 at 1:08 PM #55563
Same here Rock been in wood all my life . Maybe You could get him to play some a little brother rivalry at least have the old violin playing some get a challenge going or ask him to show you how he plays some particular tune and maybe re-spark his need to start playing again . I asked my brother Mike to teach me how he played under the double eagle once when he got where he didn’t play any more and after I convinced him to show me he was rekindled .November 16, 2017 at 1:56 PM #55564
Wow…would be so cool to inherit family heirloom instruments…all I got was family heirloom guns ( yawn) and a cast iron bull dog doorstop…lol. I’d rather have vintage fiddles, mandos, Gibsons…etc.November 16, 2017 at 2:31 PM #55566
Ha! My brother doesn’t play the fiddle or mandolin. It is just a keepsake for him. It’s all good we get along really well. I never understood him getting the taterbug but I respected the decision.
Cricket the taterbug was was cool I enjoyed it while I had it! 🙂November 16, 2017 at 5:19 PM #55569
I was surprised in that one video how Fiddlerman was setting the fiddle on the workbench without any kind of protection on the hard surface. I don’t believe in being paranoid and babying our fiddles, driving ourself crazy worrying about a scratch…but, if we have a decent fiddle that we aren’t going to use for firewood when we’re done with it, it only makes sense to protect the varnish from obvious abuse. Hard surfaces will dull the varnish, and it gets enough wear just from our hands, clothes, cases, etc. If we have a habit of setting it on a soft surface we can keep that varnish nice for a long time. I got a nice fiddle with a flamed back, and I never thought too much about where I set it and just in the first year it got some wear & tear just from carefully setting it down wherever. A good solid fiddle will last for hundreds of years and just normal handling adds up over time, so if we guard against the most obvious daily threats it will pay big time.November 16, 2017 at 5:54 PM #55570
Well your right Rodger fiddle Man handling of violin a little crude and rough but educational on where to place the sound post .November 16, 2017 at 9:57 PM #55573
You guys are scaring me – I’m starting to think I might be able to reset my own soundpost. It reminds me of when I was little and my older brothers would try to convince me to do something reckless, promising it wouldn’t hurt. I was a slow learner!November 16, 2017 at 11:29 PM #55574
Oh come on Joe it wont hurt You can do it , I’ll catch You , come on jump , trust me !!!!!! LOLNovember 16, 2017 at 11:36 PM #55575
Joe, the one video of Fiddlerman doing this that Steve posted somewhere up above, is good and shows how easy it can be done. When you loosen the strings, if the post is near the right length, it can be tapped with the post tool and easily moved just a little. Worse that can happen is for the post to fall over, then it’s just a matter of patience to get it back in place. Don’t force it to go where it shouldn’t, and be gentle with it and it will be fine.
(This isn’t like Charlie Brown trusting Lucy to hold the football while he kicks it)November 17, 2017 at 10:17 AM #55580
I think I may have found a spot! Going to leave the sound post here for awhile, it sounds good right now.
Joe, give it a try. You can mark where your sound post is now and after moving it you can put it back, easy! cough coughNovember 17, 2017 at 10:30 AM #55581
Good for you Rock , I have my sound post marked using a ink pen filler a half circle around the bottom of sound post .
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