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sequoia
12-09-2018, 11:23 AM
Came across an interesting website on lutherie by Liutaio Mattola. He has a section on luthiery myths and science. He had some interesting ideas on older instruments and sound. His articles are very dense and wordy and not for the feint of heart, but there is good stuff in there for the serious luthier.

One of his ideas is that old instruments sound good because it is like a Darwinian selection process of survival of the fittest: A lot of old instruments sound good because they always sounded good and the bad sounding instruments didn't survive to be old but went by the wayside. Interesting stuff.

https://www.liutaiomottola.com/myth.htm

Michael N.
12-09-2018, 11:55 AM
True but only to a certain extent. Old instruments also sound good because people have been told 'the older the fiddle the sweeter the tune'. We expect them to sound good, after all they are old.

ukantor
12-09-2018, 12:05 PM
Blind testing of older "name" instruments versus modern, yields some surprising results - as does blind tasting of wines and single malt whisky.

John Colter.

Michael N.
12-09-2018, 12:28 PM
I'll take the single malt.

Spicysteve
12-09-2018, 04:57 PM
What a great read. Many thanks sequoia.

kerneltime
12-09-2018, 06:20 PM
Excellent read. Yes not all Vintage Martins sound good or alike..

anthonyg
12-09-2018, 09:22 PM
Martin infamously incorrectly placed the saddle on 25% of its guitars for a time so yes, there are some poor sounding Martins out there.

Accurate construction and therefore accurate intonation is very important for a great sounding instrument.

ukantor
12-09-2018, 10:14 PM
It is a fundamental requirement.

John Colter.

jcalkin
12-10-2018, 04:12 AM
R. M. Mottola is a friend of mine and another long-time contributor to American Lutherie magazine. I wish I understood the engineering and math side of lutherie at his level. As little as 15 years ago very few believed that the old claims were wrong. The "mythology" was all taken at face value, and the few of us who insisted it was wrong were heavily dissed in social media. I'm glad to have survived long enough to see the general acceptance of what we were saying "way back when". Look up R.M.'s articles in the Big Red Books if you have them. He's a deep thinker.

jhnmdahl
12-10-2018, 05:57 AM
You can buy a new violin today that sounds every bit as good as the masters from Cremona four hundred years ago (this guy, for examle: http://www.alfstudios.com/), but much as with paintings, age and scarcity play into the value of violins as much as objective quality. That's the biggest reason Gregg's violins are $30k while a comparable Guarneri del Jesu is seven figures.

Timbuck
12-10-2018, 06:03 AM
For Sale a Ken Timms soprano ...Dated 1785 offers around 15,000 considered :rolleyes:

Beau Hannam Ukuleles
12-10-2018, 06:31 AM
Ive not read the article yet but i'm not sure about the logic of better sounding instruments surviving longer. The thing is, better sounding instruments get played more.

I would certainly say that a lot of fancy instruments survived because fancy instruments get bought and never played (by kings, queens etc).

EDW
12-10-2018, 06:57 AM
There are so many ideas that are often repeated as fact. The more they are repeated, the more people assume that they are of course true, because everyone says it. It is best to judge each instrument on its own merits and with your own ears.

He brings up the theory that "A variation on this theme has it that the tone improves even more if the instrument is played well" I recall years ago a very well known and highly regarded musician told me "If you are buying an instrument that is used, make sure if is from someone who is a good player and sounds really good" When I asked why he followed up with "If the player is a bad player the molecules in the instrument get all f*** up"

Timbuck
12-10-2018, 07:51 AM
Think about it..if you have a few ukes and you don't play one of them much most likely you don't feel comfy with it ..so you give it to one of the kids thinking he will become interested in music...he thinks it's a small guitar and when you are not around..he try's to emulate pop stars..and ends up knocking hell out of it and over tuning it until the bridge pops he repairs it himself with contact adhesive and a couple of wood screws and eventually as he grows up it ends up in the skip with the rest of his toys...( I was one of those kids and that's what happened to my first uke that my mother bought me):)

Beau Hannam Ukuleles
12-10-2018, 09:08 AM
He brings up the theory that "A variation on this theme has it that the tone improves even more if the instrument is played well" I recall years ago a very well known and highly regarded musician told me "If you are buying an instrument that is used, make sure if is from someone who is a good player and sounds really good" When I asked why he followed up with "If the player is a bad player the molecules in the instrument get all f*** up"

That had to be a joke.

It is true that an instrument sounds better if played.

I suppose it's possible that an instrument box responds better to a particular scale/note, but not to good or bad playing (unless you define quick note as bad- Long drawn out notes are better to open up an instrument- a non stop drone note is best). So with a violin, 1000 quick short notes would not be as beneficial as say 100 long drawn out bowing notes.

Also i've read that if a good sounding violin isn't played, it loses that good sound, until it is played for a while again (I think I read this in relation to Paganini's violin) . I'm not saying playing adds anything mysticly to an instrument, it just opens it up to what is already there.

I think of it as like stretching (playing in) before you do a 100 meter sprint. You are not adding anything to what is already there, but acquiring it's already fully possessed potential.

jhnmdahl
12-10-2018, 11:31 AM
Also i've read that if a good sounding violin isn't played, it loses that good sound, until it is played for a while again (I think I read this in relation to Paganini's violin) . I'm not saying playing adds anything mysticly to an instrument, it just opens it up to what is already there.
[/I]

Paganini's "Cannon," a Guarneri del Jesu, is probably the most valuable violin in the world today, but is now "retired" from regular use. Some comments on playing it can be found at https://tarisio.com/cozio-archive/cozio-carteggio/the-paganini-cannon-violin/ I wonder how much of it taking a couple playings to open up is in the hands of the player rather than in some change in the instrument itself.

John

EDW
12-10-2018, 12:07 PM
That had to be a joke.


I wish. When I laughed, he gave me a dirty looks and admonished me "I am serious!"

Joe King
12-11-2018, 04:37 AM
Someone once offered me this "wisdom":

"Beware of chasing Dogma, it has a tendency to bite one in the a**."


That advice seems appropriate here in this thread. :)

Rllink
12-11-2018, 04:41 AM
My daughter has an electric piano, and I don't know the difference between and electric piano and a keyboard, but there is. It has three settings to replicate the sound of a Steinway, a Baldwin, or a Yamaha. Who would have thought a Yamaha? My daughter tells me that Yamaha pianos are really really good. I guess those are the top three.

EDW
12-11-2018, 04:47 AM
My daughter has an electric piano, and I don't know the difference between and electric piano and a keyboard, but there is. It has three settings to replicate the sound of a Steinway, a Baldwin, or a Yamaha. Who would have thought a Yamaha? My daughter tells me that Yamaha pianos are really really good. I guess those are the top three.

Over the years Yamaha has really worked hard on their products. Many of their instruments are among the best out there, played by performers all over the globe. Usually the intonation, build, design and playability are all impeccable.

Pete Howlett
12-16-2018, 10:21 AM
Naomi Wu - look her up on YT said in a recent product review, "Remember China was once a place where the highest craftsmanship could be had." It is an economy where if you want good and are prepared to pay for it, you can get it. It's about time 'we', meaning the ukulele community, stopped being sniffy about who 'owns' the ukulele. Anyone with a mind to do it can make a good ukulele. I have students who prove this every time they complete a course with me. And to be on topic - there is far too much snake oil being used in this industry to 'varnish' the biographies of some instruments and builders.

merlin666
12-16-2018, 12:54 PM
Ive not read the article yet but i'm not sure about the logic of better sounding instruments surviving longer. The thing is, better sounding instruments get played more.

I would certainly say that a lot of fancy instruments survived because fancy instruments get bought and never played (by kings, queens etc).

Yes indeed, the good ones get played a lot and get worn out quickly. The ones that survive are the ones that go under the bed or into a closet and sit their for decades until a grandchild decides to sell off the old stuff.

Michael N.
12-17-2018, 10:18 AM
My daughter has an electric piano, and I don't know the difference between and electric piano and a keyboard, but there is. It has three settings to replicate the sound of a Steinway, a Baldwin, or a Yamaha. Who would have thought a Yamaha? My daughter tells me that Yamaha pianos are really really good. I guess those are the top three.

Kawai, Bechstein, Fazoli, Bosendorfer. I'm sure there are others.
The term keyboard can mean anything. Sometimes it refers to a specific type of electronic keyboard, of course it can also refer to an organ or an harpsichord because they all fall under the general term of keyboard instruments.
The electric piano has now morphed into the digital piano.

ukantor
12-17-2018, 10:31 AM
Aren't all pianos played digitally?

John Colter.