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Fiddle Lovers Online

Aug 20, 2021 - 2:46:41 PM
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3126 posts since 6/21/2007

It pays to be a semi-fiddler with a scientific bent:

(from today's ScienceAlert email)


Edited by - BanjoBrad on 08/20/2021 14:47:43

Aug 21, 2021 - 5:03:24 AM



728 posts since 6/8/2013

I think this is the 3rd time in the lasts 20 years I have seen this breakthrough , poeple are making insturments that sound as good now , in blind tests they could not tell the difference.

Aug 21, 2021 - 9:25:02 AM
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546 posts since 8/6/2013

I doubt if most of us could get the best sound performance out of instruments in our price range. So what we REALLY need is that secret chemical mix to make the fiddler play better.

Edited by - RichJ on 08/21/2021 09:25:51

Aug 21, 2021 - 2:47:41 PM

981 posts since 6/26/2007

Nothing new there. Nagyvary is definitely the pro at recycling his "discoveries."

Aug 21, 2021 - 7:12:53 PM

530 posts since 3/1/2020


We had a “genius” like Nagyvary in my hometown when I was growing up. He actually did have a scientific background and had a career as an engineer and computer programmer. He claimed he could take any violin and make it sound not only like a Strad or Guarneri, but like any specific violin you wanted. He asked me to pick a violin, so I think I picked Oistrakh’s Strad. He claimed that by placing beeswax in certain spots he could control the character of the sound. Once he’d placed all the globs of beeswax and recreated the desired sound, he’d replace the beeswax with UV-curing resin. Lo and behold, on the day he came to visit with the Chinese violin he’d adjusted for me, he showed up without anything. He made some excuses about having lent out all the violins he’d been using and needing to get a better one to use as a starting point. He spent some time looking at my instruments and spent a good deal of time talking about how successful his process had been previously (to this day, I’ve never met anyone who’s even seen one of his violins). He asked for another example to use so he could show two different sounds at our next meeting. I picked out a violin, played it, and asked him to reproduce its sound. I never heard from him again.

Aug 21, 2021 - 8:44:55 PM

1873 posts since 12/11/2008

Violin Beautiful -- Wow. What a story...

Aug 22, 2021 - 5:03:48 AM



728 posts since 6/8/2013

what was his name?

Aug 22, 2021 - 5:17:34 AM

2419 posts since 10/22/2007

It's not easy. Read all about it:

The Violin Maker : Finding a Centuries-Old Tradition in a Brooklyn Workshop

by John Marchese

(the luthier is Sam "Z")

Aug 22, 2021 - 11:05:43 AM

530 posts since 3/1/2020

Originally posted by farmerjones

It's not easy. Read all about it:

The Violin Maker : Finding a Centuries-Old Tradition in a Brooklyn Workshop

by John Marchese

(the luthier is Sam "Z")

That book is a good read that sheds some light on the process, particularly for a maker at the top of the field. I would recommend getting the second edition, though, because it contains a follow up to the original chapters. The outcome is quite different from that of the first edition, and it raises some major questions about the idea of customizing the process of making for each player. 

Aug 23, 2021 - 12:39:52 PM

868 posts since 1/25/2008

Not this same old recycled Nagavary BS again!
This is from 19 years ago, and I haven't heard any significant updates since then.

Aug 25, 2021 - 8:30:15 AM
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47 posts since 3/16/2021

I read the article mentioned and right away saw logical problems with it. The author assumes (and asks us to assume) that the sound is the result of the wood having been "treated" with a cocktail of chemicals.

1.) There are violins of recent manufacture that are equal to or preferred in blind competition to the S. and G. instruments.

2.) There is no empirical data to support the assumption. No tests were done on wood treated and untreated with the mentioned chemicals.

3.) Having been a chemistry major, I was immediately suspicious of the origin of the chemicals. Renaissance Europe did not at the time have a chemical industrial base to support production of chemicals such as copper sulfate and there is no recorded history of Italian chemists experimenting with synthesis of them.

4.) Each of the chemicals can be found in seawater. Strad was reputed to have bought used oars to carve his tops. Carpathian spruce would have been an ideal wood for such oars, straight, clear of knots, strong and lightweight, much as spruce was later used for airplane wing spars. Years of being dipped in sea water and dried would have infused the wood with many metallic salts. (Yes, common salt is a metallic salt)

So once again someone has surfaced a "secret" used by the Cremona makers to make exceptional sounding violins. First it was a secret varnish, unknown and unobtainable in today's world, a legend that has died a hard death. Then it was a variety of spruce no longer in existence. Then it was special graduation formulas. Now it's a "secret" concoction of chemicals. What next?

Experienced makers will tell you that the secret is the best workmanship and materials available at the time. The rest is largely chance. Not all Strads and Guarneris are remarkable instruments. Most are rather ordinary, and the very best get all the hype.

What the author really said was that by chemical analysis he found a collection of soluble chemicals that he was surprised to find. He should have left it at that. The the assumptions in the article would have caused it to receive a failing grade as a college paper.

Edited by - 46davis on 08/25/2021 08:40:48

Aug 25, 2021 - 8:34:54 AM
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316 posts since 1/5/2009

This almost makes as much sense as the theory of log transport by water to different harbors. Back then the shipping harbors were cess pits. Still makes no difference to great craftsmanship.

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