More on the Violin Bass Bar (Comments on Last Month’s Article by Dennis Braun)
From B. H. Huckaby, Frankfort, KY
First I want to thank Dennis Braun for his very thoughtful and pertinent article on this subject in last months journal. I was especially pleased with the way he ended his write up with a call for comments, ideas, etc. Although I have very little to add I just couldn’t resist responding to this need for discussion. Admitting that this subject has always been a chancy thing with me since I avoid routine in favor of the feel and thump sound of the wood. The following is how I do it now:
Starting with a suitable piece of stock cut to the common dimensions of 10 ½ by 3/16 inches with ample depth, I fit the piece to the plate using Bill Slaby’s description of Don Nielson’s ingenious procedure as described in VMAAI Vol. 39, No. 2. Here I go for as perfect a fit as possible. I don‘t subscribe to even a slight springing fit of the bar since it can deform the plate when over done and you are faced with the decision of how much is too much. Furthermore, I purposely try to avoid tension wherever possible in every joint of the assembly. I believe part of the reason why old instruments sound so much better than freshly assembled violins is that most of the unavoidable wood tensions have weakened over the years.
Next, the profile of the bar is cut so that the height is a tad over ½” under the bridge area. This height is extended just beyond the upper eyes and below the bridge it falls gradually in proportion to the spreading F-
Before gluing, the bar is tapered to remove unnecessary mass. Once assembled, the profile is reduced by filing and sanding to restore the plates’ ring.
The jury is still out for me on the question of installing the bar on 90 degrees to the edges of the plate or the crown of the instrument. It’s simpler to go with the edges and it makes a little more sense to me since we’re trying to tune the whole plate and not just the C bout area.
After reading Braun’s article I’m definitely going to respond to his “TOO BIG” comment in the future.