The Fair Organ Preservation Society Discussion Forum

How to make violins
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Author:  kevyn [ Sun May 22, 2011 8:18 pm ]
Post subject:  How to make violins

I have started a separate thread for this as I dont want the two to get mixed up. In my new project I will start shortly I want to include violins but havent made any before. I have made stopped and open flutes quite succesfully and can voice them quite well but my attempt at a violin doesnt seem to have worked well. Any tips on how to voice these? or what I should aim for. Thanks Kev.

Author:  Rob Barker [ Mon May 23, 2011 6:55 am ]
Post subject:  Re: How to make violins

Hello Kevyn,

Could you be more specific about the problems you are having so we can help you?


Author:  kevyn [ Mon May 23, 2011 3:23 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: How to make violins

Hi again Rob,

Well its more to do with what a violin should sound like on its own. I havent been able to get hold of a single one out of a chest so havent been able to blow one as a comparison. I can see they are open at the top, have a square cross section and have the freign in place with a much smaller cut up than a flute but when I blow the one I have made it just doesnt sound like a nice note? To be fair it doesnt sound like anything much so a bit stumped at this point.

Cheers Kev.

Author:  Greg Middleton [ Thu May 26, 2011 5:47 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: How to make violins

Hi Kev,
violins and their bigger brothers cello pipes can be a real pain, and need a lot of fiddling with to get right. Theoretically the're intended to mimic stringed instruments but of course they can't, I've read claims that the old masters could make them very close but if that's true then the art has been lost as I've never heard one remotely close!.
In reality they give you more harmonics than a normal open flue pipe but rather less than reed pipe. To my ears they sound best when in multiple ranks as in some of the largest organs, a single rank tends to sound rather harsh.

They are an open pipe because that produces more harmonics than stopped, have a narrow and square section because that does too, but the real trick is that they are voiced without the frein fitted so they over-blow by reducing the cut-up well below that for a normal pipe. The frein is then positioned to stop this over-blowing and return you to roughly the pitch of a normal open pipe, hence it's French name "frein harmonique" or harmonic brake because it stops the pipe producing the harmonic.

The problem is, adjusting the frein can be very difficult, all too easily the pipe can start warbling or producing other horrible sounds. The classic mounting is by two screws through a pair of slots in the brass to allow vertical adjustment, with the bottom screw tight and the top used to make horizontal adjustment of the bent brass strip, unfortunately this ignores the angle of the blade which is also significant so you still end up taking a pair of pliers to them!.

Even if you were to get hold of a violin pipe it wouldn't sound as intended purely because it has been handled, they really are that temperamental, so what you need to do is experiment until you find a sound that you like, if you ever do as they're not to everyone's taste.

It's no accident that they're largely confined to fair organs where the overriding design goal was usually to make a lot of volume to get the punters attention. They're uncommon in classical organ building, which prefer the much more subtle and stable roller bridge.


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