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 ARCHIVED TOPIC: Help setting up a fiddle over the internet


Please note this is an archived topic, so it is locked and unable to be replied to. You may, however, start a new topic and refer to this topic with a link: http://www.fiddlehangout.com/archive/56441

Lemon Banjo and Supply - Posted - 03/13/2022:  12:15:15


I have two fiddles I love more than any of the other fiddles I have. Both are great in their own ways, but one is noticeably clearer than the other. If I emailed one of you sound bites of each of them, as well as photos of the bridges and sound posts in both, would you be able to tell me how to adjust the latter of the two to sound clearer?

Brian Wood - Posted - 03/13/2022:  12:55:03


That would be unlikely, in my opinion. Better take them to a luthier, or at least an experienced player. But one thing to look at is the sound posts on each. A clearer harder sound might com from the post being closer to being directly under the bridge foot. That's not always desirable, but it depends on the fiddle. And further away, toward the tailpiece, might soften the tone, sometimes a good thing, or give less focus. I'm just wildly guessing, and I doubt a sound file would help.

UsuallyPickin - Posted - 03/13/2022:  13:47:49


I have to agree with Brian.

The Violin Beautiful - Posted - 03/13/2022:  14:58:12


You can’t really get the sense of the instrument properly without having the instrument in person. Also, adjustment is not that simple—there are dozens of things that affect the sound. The tools and knowledge needed to adjust a violin are extremely specialized. A violin needs to be adjusted to suit a variety of standards, some for the player, some for the audience. 



However, I'm sure someone will be happy to take your money if you're eager to give it away. I know of someone who does "psychic sound post adjustments" over the phone. 


Edited by - The Violin Beautiful on 03/13/2022 15:10:26

Lemon Banjo and Supply - Posted - 03/13/2022:  16:33:18


This is all what I assumed, I just figured I'd ask anyway.

I usually do all of my setup work on banjos - both ones I build and buy - as well as bridge swapping on my fiddles. I've set sound posts before too, but I can't at all guarantee they're set correctly. To my untrained eyes, the sound post on the less-clear fiddle is set very similarly to the sound post in the more-clear fiddle.

TPJ54 - Posted - 03/13/2022:  18:04:30


Strings?

Lemon Banjo and Supply - Posted - 03/13/2022:  18:30:49


quote:

Originally posted by TPJ54

Strings?






D'Addario Helicore Heavy Gauge on both of them.

wilford - Posted - 03/13/2022:  20:06:53


I've learned that having the end of the tailpiece even with the inside edge of the saddle improves tone remarkably. Also a very thin bridge (able to handle the string pressure, though) and the center of the bridge at between 12 7/8 and 13 inches from the nut (on a standard 4/4 violin) also contributes to a better sounding instrument. The Helicore strings are great although the A can be a problem once in a while, requiring a change out. None of these suggestions may work on your fiddles but they work pretty reliably on mine. :) Best wishes.

ChickenMan - Posted - 03/13/2022:  20:52:57


No two fiddles are alike?



Same strings aren't always ideal for two different fiddles...


Edited by - ChickenMan on 03/13/2022 20:53:39

Lemon Banjo and Supply - Posted - 03/14/2022:  07:29:51


quote:

Originally posted by wilford

I've learned that having the end of the tailpiece even with the inside edge of the saddle improves tone remarkably. Also a very thin bridge (able to handle the string pressure, though) and the center of the bridge at between 12 7/8 and 13 inches from the nut (on a standard 4/4 violin) also contributes to a better sounding instrument. The Helicore strings are great although the A can be a problem once in a while, requiring a change out. None of these suggestions may work on your fiddles but they work pretty reliably on mine. :) Best wishes.






This fiddle was home-built by a friend of mine, and although I'm not completely sure, I don't think it's exactly 4/4. It's definitely not 3/4. The body looks to be 13-7/8" long, if that's of any help. 4/4 is 14", right?



Currently the bridge is at about 12-3/4 from the nut and the tailpiece is about 1/4" from the saddle. I can't pull the bridge back because the winding on the strings will be in the way. Should I shorten the tailgut (it's an adjustable one) to bring in closer to the saddle, then pull the bridge back slightly? 


Edited by - Lemon Banjo and Supply on 03/14/2022 07:32:26

Lemon Banjo and Supply - Posted - 03/14/2022:  08:12:17


Update: I shortened the tailgut, pulled the bridge back, and now...I gotta move the soundpost because it's now directly under the foot of the bridge. And last time I set it, I know it was a little snug, so I'm gonna have to shorten it slightly to get it to fit where it needs to go.

wilford - Posted - 03/14/2022:  09:28:44


I remember one time I was playing banjo with Bobby Hicks in North Carolina and just for kicks I brought two of my fiddles that just weren't sounding like I thought they should. Before we all began performing, I asked Bobby what he thought of one of the fiddles and handed him one and handed the other to Roger Howell (another gifted fiddler along with Bobby).

Within less than five minutes the two of those guys had those sound posts at the sweetest spot there was on each fiddle. One thing I remember them checking at each sound post setting was the balance across any two adjacent strings.,i.e. the E and A would sound at the same volume when bowed together and so would the A and D and the D and G. When they were comfortable with that balance, they were convinced the post was in the right place.

The Violin Beautiful - Posted - 03/14/2022:  10:31:21


Getting the tailpiece close to the saddle is good, but only if it’s the correct length. It should not touch, as that will impede the instrument’s overtones. Afterlength is something that makes a difference, so getting it right is important.

14” is a common size, but anything from 352-360mm is considered full size. From 348-352 would be a 7/8. Standard vibrating string length is 328-330mm, but you have to have to get the other measurements right as well. Violins aren’t cookie-cutter products, so each one needs to be considered carefully to accomplish a good setup.

Lemon Banjo and Supply - Posted - 03/14/2022:  10:46:24


Adjusting the soundpost is something I really need to work on. Right now, it seems I can't adjust one without knocking it over multiple times and resetting it first. Maybe it's too tight or too loose?

KCFiddles - Posted - 03/14/2022:  12:52:25


Always, always, always: fit is first! If the post is hard to set, that's probably because it isn't cut right. When a post is cut right, it fairly "snicks" into place like a luxury car door closing. it "wants" to go right into the right place, and stands straight up without much urging. If you haven't done a few hundred posts, it's gonna be hard to get it right. You'll need a sound post gauge and a VERY sharp wide chisel. Also, a proper sound post setter, properly set up. IME those pliers types are worthless. On a new setup, I generally start out fitting the post ends with the post a bit too far inboard, and gradually shave the ends, improving the fit and taking a little material off, and adjusting the position and tension over a period of days until I have the sound I'm after. With an existing fiddle, I can replace a post with one based on the existing one, or maybe just adjust the fit of the existing one if there's enough material left, but at any rate, if it doesn't fit right, not much else matters.



For example, I have several new (to me ) fiddles that will eventually sell for a fair amount of money each, so they have to sound good. None of them came in  with anything like an acceptable post,  so i have to start from scratch. It takes about half an hour to put in an initial post, then I'll string the fiddle up and let it settle in for a day. Next day I'll play it, listen to the sound, pull the post, look at the pressure signs on the ends, then make some tiny adjustments to the shape of the ends, to improve the fit, maybe move the post a hair, put it back in , let it settle, and try it the next day. This may go on for a while. Doesn't take a whole lot of time, but takes place over a period of days, and I usually do it with cheap strings until I feel like I'm sure I'm real close, then I put good strings on. Of course, one can do adjustments quickly, but it works a lot better with instruments one owns (stock) or one regularly maintains.


Edited by - KCFiddles on 03/14/2022 13:14:56

Lemon Banjo and Supply - Posted - 03/14/2022:  15:16:19


Please, this is just a quick and dirty diagram, but it's accurate as to where my current sound post position is relative to the foot of the bridge. I'm assuming it should not be angled that heavily?



 

wilford - Posted - 03/14/2022:  15:35:06


imho, the sound post should be placed back about 3/8 " from the center of the bridge foot to the center of the post and in about 1/4 " from the edge of the bridge boot to about even with the center of the E string. The bottom and top of the post should be carved to the exact contours of the back and top of the violin and positioned straight up and down with a minimum of any leaning. The more area of the top and bottom of the sound post that are touching the top and back of the fiddle, the more transfer of vibration occurs.
Another way of saying this is: locate the post 3/8" behind the bridge and 1 1/8" from the center of the F hole. This is a good starting place for most fiddles.
Lots of luthiers loosen the strings and remove the end pin and eye their work through the end pin hole to assure they are fitting the sound post to the proper contours.

Lemon Banjo and Supply - Posted - 03/14/2022:  15:40:29


I wanted y'all to see about where the sound post is located on the fiddle that does not need adjustment. The one I posted earlier is the one that needs adjustment badly.



 

Lemon Banjo and Supply - Posted - 03/14/2022:  15:41:30


quote:

Originally posted by wilford

imho, the sound post should be placed back about 3/8 " from the center of the bridge foot to the center of the post and in about 1/4 " from the edge of the bridge boot to about even with the center of the E string. The bottom and top of the post should be carved to the exact contours of the back and top of the violin and positioned straight up and down with a minimum of any leaning. The more area of the top and bottom of the sound post that are touching the top and back of the fiddle, the more transfer of vibration occurs.

Another way of saying this is: locate the post 3/8" behind the bridge and 1 1/8" from the center of the F hole. This is a good starting place for most fiddles.

Lots of luthiers loosen the strings and remove the end pin and eye their work through the end pin hole to assure they are fitting the sound post to the proper contours.






I'd say those dimensions are pretty close to where the sound post is on my fiddle that doesn't need adjustment. I'll remember those!

KCFiddles - Posted - 03/14/2022:  16:36:04


quote:

Originally posted by Lemon Banjos

I wanted y'all to see about where the sound post is located on the fiddle that does not need adjustment. The one I posted earlier is the one that needs adjustment badly.






There's a real good reason that one sounds better! The location shown is pretty close to what usually works as a pretty good starting place. I usually start with the post 1 to 1.5 mm inside the treble bridge foot, although some tubby sounding fiddles work better with the post farther in. Having the post much farther out doesn't often yield much.  Regarding North-South position a good rule of thumb is to leave the thickness of the top behind the bridge to allow the top to flex. I usually end up with a little more, say 3 to 4 mm behind the back of the bridge and the edge of the post. You can move the post North-South without too much consequence, but for any movement more than 1 mm in or out (east-west), I usually change the length of the post. That's why I approach fitting a post to an unfamiliar fiddle from the center out, shortening as I go. If I go too far, I have to make a new post. Fit is always the key, and when a post fits, it's like flipping a switch, the sound changes so distinctly.

Lemon Banjo and Supply - Posted - 03/14/2022:  18:36:28


quote:

Originally posted by KCFiddles

quote:

Originally posted by Lemon Banjos

I wanted y'all to see about where the sound post is located on the fiddle that does not need adjustment. The one I posted earlier is the one that needs adjustment badly.






There's a real good reason that one sounds better! The location shown is pretty close to what usually works as a pretty good starting place. I usually start with the post 1 to 1.5 mm inside the treble bridge foot, although some tubby sounding fiddles work better with the post farther in. Having the post much farther out doesn't often yield much.  Regarding North-South position a good rule of thumb is to leave the thickness of the top behind the bridge to allow the top to flex. I usually end up with a little more, say 3 to 4 mm behind the back of the bridge and the edge of the post. You can move the post North-South without too much consequence, but for any movement more than 1 mm in or out (east-west), I usually change the length of the post. That's why I approach fitting a post to an unfamiliar fiddle from the center out, shortening as I go. If I go too far, I have to make a new post. Fit is always the key, and when a post fits, it's like flipping a switch, the sound changes so distinctly.






I'm going to purchase a set of sound post gauges, as well as the "clip type" setting tool soon. I have the "S-shaped" tool. It may take a few weeks to finally order them from Amazon or wherever, and maybe another week and a half to get the soundpost where I want it, but I'll report back when I get it there.



It'll also pay to sharpen my 3/4" chisel before then too!

KCFiddles - Posted - 03/14/2022:  19:11:40


You don't need sound post gauges, just a 6" steel rule and a business card with a slit in it.  The cheap, skinny s-type gauges give the best control and most flexibility, IME, and the clip type are as worthless as the plier type. Spend some time with a file and get the point of the S tool down to only about 1/10 of an inch or 2.5mm high with a long, slim point. Pre-stab your post with an xacto knife, and when you stick the setter in there, you should be able to pick the post up with the setter in it, shake the post, and the setter shouldn't fall out. It should be hard to pull out unless you wiggle it first.



AS for chisel, 1 1/4 or 1 1/2 " wide works best, sharp enough to POP hairs when you check it, or to carve a curl off a hair. Sharp is the best investment you can make when working on fiddles/ violins. I hold the post in the curl of my left index finger , then rest the back of the chisel on my finger and use that as a support and guide to control the chisel as I SLICE across the end of the post, trying to cut uniform wafers with each stroke, toward the last. Wetting the end of the post helps, as does LOTS of practice. I've only been doing a few a week since 2006, and I've still got a lot to learn about setup.


Edited by - KCFiddles on 03/14/2022 19:17:55



 

Lemon Banjo and Supply - Posted - 03/14/2022:  19:55:27


quote:

Originally posted by KCFiddles

You don't need sound post gauges, just a 6" steel rule and a business card with a slit in it.  The cheap, skinny s-type gauges give the best control and most flexibility, IME, and the clip type are as worthless as the plier type. Spend some time with a file and get the point of the S tool down to only about 1/10 of an inch or 2.5mm high with a long, slim point. Pre-stab your post with an xacto knife, and when you stick the setter in there, you should be able to pick the post up with the setter in it, shake the post, and the setter shouldn't fall out. It should be hard to pull out unless you wiggle it first.



AS for chisel, 1 1/4 or 1 1/2 " wide works best, sharp enough to POP hairs when you check it, or to carve a curl off a hair. Sharp is the best investment you can make when working on fiddles/ violins. I hold the post in the curl of my left index finger , then rest the back of the chisel on my finger and use that as a support and guide to control the chisel as I SLICE across the end of the post, trying to cut uniform wafers with each stroke, toward the last. Wetting the end of the post helps, as does LOTS of practice. I've only been doing a few a week since 2006, and I've still got a lot to learn about setup.






Glad to know that I don't need to buy gauges or another setter!



Here's a picture of the tip on my current setter. So if I'm understanding you right, I need to make the "length of the blade" (like the length of a knife blade) 1/10" or 2.5mm long, then file the edges to make the point more pointy and less triangle shaped?

Lemon Banjo and Supply - Posted - 03/14/2022:  19:58:23


sorry, forgot to attach the photo



 

KCFiddles - Posted - 03/14/2022:  21:24:48


Here's what mine lookslike. It takes some work to make a setter that functions well, IME. The tip is pretty worn; gets filed a lot and I don't worry too much about the shape as long as it's skinny and sharp. The steel in the setter is soft and bends easy, also gets dropped a lot.


Edited by - KCFiddles on 03/14/2022 21:27:22


The Violin Beautiful - Posted - 03/15/2022:  16:31:03


quote:

Originally posted by Lemon Banjos

Please, this is just a quick and dirty diagram, but it's accurate as to where my current sound post position is relative to the foot of the bridge. I'm assuming it should not be angled that heavily?






If that diagram is accurate, the sound post is in a dangerous position. Unless the post was actually fitted at that angle, the ends won't be be in proper contact with the plates. If it's under too much tension, there's potential for a soundpost crack. 

FiddleDoug - Posted - 03/18/2022:  09:47:25


quote:

Originally posted by Lemon Banjos

Please, this is just a quick and dirty diagram, but it's accurate as to where my current sound post position is relative to the foot of the bridge. I'm assuming it should not be angled that heavily?






As others have said, this soundpost position is wrong. I generally start out directly behind the bridge foot, about 3mm behind it. The post needs to be vertical, and the ends of the post need to cut at an angle to fit the plates exactly.

RB-1 - Posted - 03/19/2022:  13:49:01


quote:

Originally posted by wilford

The Helicore strings are great although the A can be a problem once in a while, requiring a change out.






Can you elaborate on that?



I'm using what I assume to be the European counterpart, Thomastik Spirocore.



And indeed,  the A behaves a bit weird, in a way.



When being past the d (1st pos., 3rd finger) it feels as if the bow is losing grip when playing at which is the sweet spot for the other strings. The tone is wonderful at that sweet spot, but when plying the A and going up further makes the 'presence' drop out.



When bowing  only 1/4" closer to the bridge, the response returns.



Also giving more bow pressure than the other strings sometimes restores the tone.



I've changed bridges, bows, to no avail....

Brian Wood - Posted - 03/19/2022:  14:26:34


As often reported Helicore A strings just don't last very long because they're wrapped in aluminum.

wilford - Posted - 03/19/2022:  15:53:51


RB-1, as Brian says, the A is wrapped in aluminum. It must be the aluminum is a poor product for wrapping what I would call the "busiest" string on the fiddle.

I wore out so many A strings that I finally complained directly to the company and they wrote me back and asked if I had saved my sales receipts and if so would I send them. I had and so I did and they replaced every one I bought with new ones. They needed the receipts to trace back where the strings were made and look for the problem in manufacture. The strings they replaced seemed much better lasting.

I like Helicore mediums but most of my professional fiddling buddies use the Helicore Heavy.

As far as the change in tone up the neck, I had my fingerboard worked on a while back and having it planed and evened out sure made a difference in tone up the neck. I was present when the luthier checked my fingerboard with a straight edge and I couldn't believe all the scallops that were on it.

KCFiddles - Posted - 03/19/2022:  16:46:22


quote:

Originally posted by wilford

RB-1, as Brian says, the A is wrapped in aluminum. It must be the aluminum is a poor product for wrapping what I would call the "busiest" string on the fiddle.



I wore out so many A strings that I finally complained directly to the company and they wrote me back and asked if I had saved my sales receipts and if so would I send them. I had and so I did and they replaced every one I bought with new ones. They needed the receipts to trace back where the strings were made and look for the problem in manufacture. The strings they replaced seemed much better lasting.



I like Helicore mediums but most of my professional fiddling buddies use the Helicore Heavy.



As far as the change in tone up the neck, I had my fingerboard worked on a while back and having it planed and evened out sure made a difference in tone up the neck. I was present when the luthier checked my fingerboard with a straight edge and I couldn't believe all the scallops that were on it.






Bear in mind that Helicore offers a titanium wound A sting that should outwear the aluminum wound A by a long shot. Left hand technique has a lot of effect on string longevity, too. Mandolin players tent to kill aluminum wound strings, where some people play them until they just won't hold pitch any more. If you haven't tried heavy gauge, you might do well to do so. They are pretty close to a lot of people's medium in feel, at least. Pretty much standard in the country/ bluegrass business.


Edited by - KCFiddles on 03/19/2022 16:48:52

The Violin Beautiful - Posted - 03/19/2022:  16:48:34


quote:

Originally posted by RB-1

quote:

Originally posted by wilford

The Helicore strings are great although the A can be a problem once in a while, requiring a change out.






Can you elaborate on that?



I'm using what I assume to be the European counterpart, Thomastik Spirocore.



And indeed,  the A behaves a bit weird, in a way.



When being past the d (1st pos., 3rd finger) it feels as if the bow is losing grip when playing at which is the sweet spot for the other strings. The tone is wonderful at that sweet spot, but when plying the A and going up further makes the 'presence' drop out.



When bowing  only 1/4" closer to the bridge, the response returns.



Also giving more bow pressure than the other strings sometimes restores the tone.



I've changed bridges, bows, to no avail....






RB-1,



I think your violin is likely out of adjustment. Uneven response can be a result of a soundpost that's out of position. 

KCFiddles - Posted - 03/19/2022:  17:00:02


quote:

Originally posted by RB-1

quote:

Originally posted by wilford

The Helicore strings are great although the A can be a problem once in a while, requiring a change out.






Can you elaborate on that?



I'm using what I assume to be the European counterpart, Thomastik Spirocore.



And indeed,  the A behaves a bit weird, in a way.



When being past the d (1st pos., 3rd finger) it feels as if the bow is losing grip when playing at which is the sweet spot for the other strings. The tone is wonderful at that sweet spot, but when plying the A and going up further makes the 'presence' drop out.



When bowing  only 1/4" closer to the bridge, the response returns.



Also giving more bow pressure than the other strings sometimes restores the tone.



I've changed bridges, bows, to no avail....






Sprocore and Superflexible are both rope core strings from Thomastik, with a wide choice of windings, from aluminum, to chrome, to nickel to perhaps others. At any rate, none of my customers who have tried  them find either of them an equivalent to Helicore, although I know some Irish style players who very much like one of them. The problem you describe sounds unrelated to string construction, to me. I'd first look at contamination, second at adjustment, as already suggested.

RB-1 - Posted - 03/20/2022:  09:09:37


Thank you all who responded! yes



I'm feeling a bit like hijacking Hunter's topic, something I don't want to.



So here's what I've found and if something else comes up, I'll open a topic myself.



Indeed, the fingerboard has bit of a curl up at the end (last 1 "or so) giving some 2 mm ( 3/32"?) space up to the straight edge in the middle, no dents or uneven spots . This is the same for all strings yet G, D and E are giving no problems.



This set of strings is virtually new and the A had this strange behaviour from the start.



What I just did, I put the old string back ( looks like alu wound too, just a bit thinner gauge) and the even response on the A is back. No problems whatsoever anymore, I can play anywhere on the neck, just a little bit sharper tone. But very playable for the time being.



Now I'd love to find a string that has the round tone of the Spirocore, but the response and playability of the old one (of which I can't remember the brand, it went on 25+ years ago, I only resumed playing Sept. 2020).



I'll sign off for now, leaving Hunter's topic, but still curious reading about your further ideas.



 

Brian Wood - Posted - 03/20/2022:  09:29:31


quote:

Originally posted by RB-1

Thank you all who responded! yes



I'm feeling a bit like hijacking Hunter's topic, something I don't want to.



So here's what I've found and if something else comes up, I'll open a topic myself.



Indeed, the fingerboard has bit of a curl up at the end (last 1 "or so) giving some 2 mm ( 3/32"?) space up to the straight edge in the middle, no dents or uneven spots . This is the same for all strings yet G, D and E are giving no problems.



This set of strings is virtually new and the A had this strange behaviour from the start.



What I just did, I put the old string back ( looks like alu wound too, just a bit thinner gauge) and the even response on the A is back. No problems whatsoever anymore, I can play anywhere on the neck, just a little bit sharper tone. But very playable for the time being.



Now I'd love to find a string that has the round tone of the Spirocore, but the response and playability of the old one (of which I can't remember the brand, it went on 25+ years ago, I only resumed playing Sept. 2020).



I'll sign off for now, leaving Hunter's topic, but still curious reading about your further ideas.



 






It doesn't sound like an ideal scoop on the fingerboard. But that aside, if you are able to get a good response with one A string and not another, it might simply be your bridge is slightly too low on the treble side. If so, if might be able to be built up. If that works you can get a new bridge cut later if you want.

FiddleDoug - Posted - 03/21/2022:  12:50:16


quote:

Originally posted by RB-1

Thank you all who responded! yes



I'm feeling a bit like hijacking Hunter's topic, something I don't want to.



So here's what I've found and if something else comes up, I'll open a topic myself.



Indeed, the fingerboard has bit of a curl up at the end (last 1 "or so) giving some 2 mm ( 3/32"?) space up to the straight edge in the middle, no dents or uneven spots . This is the same for all strings yet G, D and E are giving no problems.



This set of strings is virtually new and the A had this strange behaviour from the start.



What I just did, I put the old string back ( looks like alu wound too, just a bit thinner gauge) and the even response on the A is back. No problems whatsoever anymore, I can play anywhere on the neck, just a little bit sharper tone. But very playable for the time being.



Now I'd love to find a string that has the round tone of the Spirocore, but the response and playability of the old one (of which I can't remember the brand, it went on 25+ years ago, I only resumed playing Sept. 2020).



I'll sign off for now, leaving Hunter's topic, but still curious reading about your further ideas.



 






We can't fix it from here. Take it to a good luthier.

Lemon Banjo and Supply - Posted - 06/23/2022:  18:45:16


quote:

Originally posted by KCFiddles

You don't need sound post gauges, just a 6" steel rule and a business card with a slit in it.  The cheap, skinny s-type gauges give the best control and most flexibility, IME, and the clip type are as worthless as the plier type. Spend some time with a file and get the point of the S tool down to only about 1/10 of an inch or 2.5mm high with a long, slim point. Pre-stab your post with an xacto knife, and when you stick the setter in there, you should be able to pick the post up with the setter in it, shake the post, and the setter shouldn't fall out. It should be hard to pull out unless you wiggle it first.



AS for chisel, 1 1/4 or 1 1/2 " wide works best, sharp enough to POP hairs when you check it, or to carve a curl off a hair. Sharp is the best investment you can make when working on fiddles/ violins. I hold the post in the curl of my left index finger , then rest the back of the chisel on my finger and use that as a support and guide to control the chisel as I SLICE across the end of the post, trying to cut uniform wafers with each stroke, toward the last. Wetting the end of the post helps, as does LOTS of practice. I've only been doing a few a week since 2006, and I've still got a lot to learn about setup.






So after about 3 months of tinkering here and there on this fiddle, I have FINALLY gotten the sound post set in what appears to be a good location. There's about 2.1mm between the back of the bridge and front of the sound post, and the sound post is close to the center of the foot of the bridge measured from the other direction. 



I'm still trying to get a little more power and clarity though. Is there anything else I can do? When the sound post was closer toward the tailpiece, there was a hint - and i mean a HINT, barely noticeable - more clarity, but significantly less power. It was also leaning more toward the bass side of the bridge foot. I moved it till it was more centered, and also closer to the bridge till it was 2.1mm.



If not the sound post, would an angled tailpiece help matters any? My other main fiddle has a curly maple tailpiece that's angled, making the afterlength increase from short at the E to long at the G.

KCFiddles - Posted - 06/23/2022:  19:35:52


The fact that you're not commenting on how good a fit you got tells me that you still missed the main point which is getting the fit as perfect as possible on both ends of the post. If the post doesn't fit really well, nothing else really matters much. This video by Davide Sora demonstrates how to slightly  dampen the ends of a post to see where it is making contact, and then to trim away the contact points with a sharp knife. Whe you have visible compression all across both ends of a post, it will be like flipping a switch.



Keep the post vertical for now, and a little farther back (3-4 mm for starters) for a little more open A and E. Also, a good starting position is with the outside edge of the post 0.5 mm inside the edge of the E bridge foot. Centered on the bridge leg will give you a soft G, where most fiddlers like a dark/ light sound with a strong G and a bright A, E.



You want a nice long afterlength, more than 55mm, so harp tailpieces won't help you any. I've done comparison experiments, and with fiddles, the longer the better, up to a point.

Lemon Banjo and Supply - Posted - 06/23/2022:  20:12:28


Yeah I'm sorry, I forgot to mention the fit. When looking inside from the endpin hole and shining a light inside, there was no light at all coming from the ends of the post. Next time I take it back out I'll do the dampen and trim.

My afterlength is about 28-30 mm. My tailpiece has fine tuners, and the tail gut is tightened as far as the saddle will allow me, without making the tailpiece actually touch the saddle. The bridge is also about 13" from the nut.

I do have to say though, this fiddle currently has a very powerful and dark G string, much more powerful and darker than my other fiddle. The D is nearly equal, but it kinda falls off on the A and E, whereas my other fiddle is mostly balanced. Strange thing is that the 1st position notes on the E are a little weak, but they get stronger as you move up to 3rd or even 4th position.

KCFiddles - Posted - 06/23/2022:  21:01:48


Get a Wittner tailpiece with built-in fine tuners and keep your afterlength as long as practical, @ 58mm + or thereabouts. Those add-on fine tuners kill the sound. I've done comparisons with pro players, and Wittner tailpieces sound pretty good. You really can't judge the fit of a post by looking; the best way is by listening, actually, and looking at the ends is the best way to get there. Move your post "south" to 3-4 mm and the a and E will open up some, but only after the post fits right. If the G is good, then you still may want the post in "Home" position, 1/2 mm in. If you want to soften the G, move the post West a bit, but then you'll probably want a longer post.

I open an awful lot of old fiddles, and rarely find one with a well-fitted post. Old pro-quality violins that I pay a few thousand for at auction are usually set up pretty well, but old fiddles, never! Check all your dimensions, nut height, fingerboard scoop, string height, etc. Little humps on the FB or problems with scoop can kill your sound.

There's probably more that you can do. Check the fit of the bridge feet, and the cut of the bridge.

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