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The sound of science

Tom Croen reports on a 2019 experiment to discover how much variation in sound can be gained from fingerboard ‘tuning’ – and how alternative materials fare against traditional ebony

Lutherie

Points of interest to violin and bow makers

Fingerboards made by Sonowood (left) and of ebony

The space between what we know and what we think we know is a treacherous place. When we make choices as violin makers, we usually build on past experience to guide us, but we are sometimes confounded by unexpected outcomes.

At the 2019 Oberlin Acoustics Workshop I participated in a project designed to learn more about how the neck and fingerboard assembly influence an instrument’s sound. The workshop had a brilliant team making precise analytical measurements with very sensitive equipment. We sampled fingerboards made from both ebony and alternative materials in the hope of discovering something meaningful.

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About The Strad

In a French-themed issue, the Ébène Quartet discuss their huge Beethoven project and we examine the early violins of J.B. Vuillaume. There’s a look at Michel Colichon and Nicolas Lupot, and Jean-Luc Ponty gives his Sentimental Work. Plus a Masterclass on Schubert’s Arpeggione Sonata.