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Chuck Traeger: Setup and Repair of the Double Bass for Optimum Sound

Discussion in 'Setup & Repair [DB]' started by Brent Nussey, Aug 15, 2005.


  1. Brent Nussey

    Brent Nussey

    Jun 27, 2001
    Tokyo, Japan
    I got Charles “Chuck” Traeger’s new book on bass luthierie a few months ago. The book is controversial, but some of the controversy seems to center around his ideas, and some of it around his personality. So I thought I’d write a little review of the book, just the book, itself. I’m not a luthier, but I’ve been interested in basses and their repair, maintenance and history as a sort of hobby for many years now. Having read the book, I think there are some things in it that are really good, well accepted advice on bass repair, some things that are a little different, some things that are maybe outdated, and some ideas that are a little “out there.” The difficulty if you’re a beginner, or an interested player, is to know which is which. Sometimes you can tell, because CT includes chapters by his editors (David Brownell and Bill Merchant) describing the more common way of doing things. But often, his unique ideas and solutions are just mixed in with more commonly accepted methods and techniques. So, to help anyone who might not be able to tell which are which, I hope to bring up some of these techniques, and ask our Talkbass luthiers to comment, and suggest alternative techniques which might be more common, or in their opinions, better. I want to try to be careful not to reprint CT’s book (how would you feel if you wrote a book and someone reprinted it for everyone to read free on the internet?), so I’ll focus more on what solutions he offers, and the alternatives, rather than the “how” of doing them, unless it’s really needed. I hope the moderator (that fella who looks like a cat) will help out in being an objective ear on that one. I think I can keep away from that danger zone by framing the questions well. Also, I’ll obviously focus on the less accepted stuff, mostly leaving out what I think is OK. If anyone with the book thinks I’ve left out something they want to know about, please bring it up.

    So first a brief overall review. Reading the book, I think it's written as a history, a document of CT’s work, ideas, and solutions in luthierie. While it’s being marketed as a guide, even as a “bible” or whatever, I think he wrote it out of a desire to have his work and ideas documented more than anything else. It seems he really found his own path in luthierie, and he’s proud of it. The first-person narrative style of the book is really that of some old guy recounting stories. He’s telling stories of the challenges he faced as a luthier, and the solutions he came up with. He talks a lot about things in terms of problem-solving. At least once he clearly states that “I no longer use this repair method, but it worked well for that time.” (I couldn’t find the exact quote, but I’m pretty sure that’s very close) Why include something like that in a repair manual? It makes no sense. But in a history of your work, it makes perfect sense.

    There’s also evidence of this in the structure of the book. At the end of the book, there are several chapters by David Brownell and Bill Merchant. They describe “alternatives” to CT’s way of doing things. To me, they seem to be the more commonly accepted ways. But putting them in the same place as his solutions would interrupt his narrative, so he puts them at the end, even though it’s more confusing. On the other hand, in some chapters Brownell and Merchant’s methods are interspersed with his own. I believe that’s because in these spots he thinks one method is as good as another, and doesn’t have any particular pride or strong opinion associated with his own way over the others.

    The first-person writing style can be a bit confusing at times, but it also makes you feel closer to the author, as if you were in the room with him. I think that since the intent seems to be to create a personal history and to get you to understand his motives/thinking, instead of just lay out a bunch of repair techniques, the first-person thing is all-in-all a good choice.

    Another little problem seems to be CT’s tendency to make sweeping generalizations, without qualifying them. One obvious one is “violin corners make for a darker bass” (I paraphrase). Is that really true? I don’t know. The only people who might know this are those who have dealt with lots of basses, and among those, it seems that many haven’t noticed this. It really seems like this is a matter of opinion, but it’s stated as if it’s accepted fact. Once you read the whole book, you kind of realize that many of his statements just leave out the “My experience has been that…” part, since the whole book is really about what he’s noticed over the years. As some on Talkbass have pointed out, a little rewording would make the book more effective and helpful. I used to have a college professor who did the same thing. He would make these sweeping statements, sometimes even crazy ones, but in the context we could understand what his point was, and that he was showing his convictions. And in fact we loved him for it. But I think writing a book that will be read by people who don’t know you might call for something a little different.

    These complaints aside, I think the book offers a vast an interesting collection of knowledge and ideas about the double bass. I hope that in this discussion, we can try to put that knowledge into a context of what some of our (and other) luthiers are doing, so that the folks buying the book will be able to get the most out of it.

    The book is divided in to 5 sections, 1 – a general introduction, 2- a chapter on his ideas about setup, 3 – general outside repairs, neck and scroll, repairs to the open body of the bass, 4 – alternative repairs (Brownell and Merchant) 5 – misc (varnish, bows, appraisals)

    I think I’ll try to address each of those separately.


    Section 1 – Philosophy

    Much of what’s in this section is uncontroversial. There’s a chapter (by Brownell, but echoed in CT’s comments) which gives a list of 6 reasons why hide glue is uniquely the glue to use for string instrument repair, what the definitions of preservation and restoration are, and statements like “Do no harm! That is, do not alter the original maker’s work unless it is necessary to do so.” It states that you should already know about glues, woods and tools before starting anything in the book, gives a list of other books that you’ll need, including the Weisshaar book, etc.

    This section is also where Traeger introduces his thesis of “optimum sound” which he defines as “the greatest volume of string vibration amplification for the least amount of energy put into making it.” He offers several anecdotes from his playing career which led him to pursue this as the sort of holy grail of the bass. He clearly separates the idea of “tone” from “sound,” the first being a subjective matter, and the second a more objective measure of volume and projection. For me (and I’m a mic guy…), I feel that these days, tone is maybe the more important consideration. I play acoustically an awful lot, but if I find myself in a situation where acoustically I can’t keep up, I just plop the mic in front of the bass, and make it louder. So a bass that isn’t quite as loud, but has the tone I want, is really better for me. For our luthiers, I wonder, what’s more important to your clients, volume/projection or pure tone (especially if you have to get one at the expense of the other)? I wonder if this is different for the classical player in a section, and a jazz player who has the option of mics/pickups. Anyway, this concept of “optimum sound” informs his whole concept of bass setup. He makes some initial mentions of what this means, but goes in to more detail in subsequent chapters, and so will I….

    Also, he mentions A0-B0 matching for the first time in this chapter. I have, in my box-o-bass-stuff, an old article by CT on bass setup. Published in 1996, it includes much of the stuff on setup that’s in his book. But there’s nothing on A0-B0. So he seems to be a fairly recent convert to A0-B0 matching. I’ve not yet tried this stuff, so I can’t comment. I understand there’s a thread discussing it here, so I’d be happy if someone would post the link to that discussion.

    My next post will go into the meat and potatoes of section 2, Setup For the Optimum Sound. I guess the real question in this opening post for our luthiers is, how important is this concept of “optimum sound,” as CT defines it, to you and your clients? Do you often sacrifice projection and volume for the more subjective “tone”? Is it different depending on what kind of music the client will play? Or the situation they’ll play in (section vs combo etc)? How do you deal with your client’s requests for both a great tone and as much volume/projection as possible (if these are competing needs – are they?) Is it more important for some basses and not for others? Do you recommend to your clients that they do certain things to their setup to enhance the instrument’s sound, even if they don’t bring it up? Or do you even think this is such a big deal at all, is it really your responsibility to adjust each bass this way?

    Brent

    PS – that gets us to page 18……. :)
     
  2. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    If this thread is really to be about the ideas in Traeger's book, I would like to request that all ideas from the book under discussion are quoted with more contextual reference that just a single statement or sentence. Since Brent started this thread, and since there are a few other members here who own copies of the book, I would ask you folks to help the rest of the participants understand the context for the ideas put forth for discussion. In other words, let's keep it about the book and setup issues, and not let it get personal about the author. Anything that looks to me like bashing the author rather than a disagreement about one or more of his concepts is likely to be deleted.

    Other than that, I will watch this thread with great interest and hope for the best. :)
     
  3. Tbeers

    Tbeers

    Mar 27, 2005
    Chicago, IL
    Has anyone contacted CT and asked him how he feels about such an in-depth look at his book? How much is too much to quote? We shouldn't overdo it.
     
  4. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY

    I thought I was speaking English. :eyebrow:

    Brent, how about this - if you wish to discuss these matters in an open forum with our luthiers, please post a specific question or statement (or multiples thereof) in as much context as you feel are appropriate in Traeger's own words, then list the page number of reference - this way, those who own the book and wish to participate can find their way to the section in question and help us keep things in context. Those who respond, please quote Brent's specific question, statement, or phrase that you are responding to to avoid confusion. I think this could be a useful and informative topic, and this is the best way I can think of to do it.

    While I have no wish to act like some kind of internet dictator, what I will NOT allow to happen here is any sweeping trash-talking about the author. If this thread is to be of use, it should be about the IDEAS put forth in the book, and there is no reason in the world that these can't be discussed rationally and without getting catty.

    That said, the ball is now in Brent's court, or in that of anyone else who owns the book and wishes to provide an idea with some kind of context.
     
  5. Brent Nussey

    Brent Nussey

    Jun 27, 2001
    Tokyo, Japan
    Yes, I'm very concerned about this. In fact to answer Ken's question, that's one of the reasons I started a new thread. It's my understanding that if something goes really wrong, deleting my first post can, in fact, delete the entire thread. But I've watched so much "unpleasantness" go on in the other threads, that I hope we can have a discussion that will note what the controversial aspects of the book are, and without "just giving it all away." I'm working on the next part right now, trying to follow Chris' advice (thank you), but I'll admit it's difficult. Some of the luthiers whose advise I would like to ask have only seen the book briefly. I can't ask them to go on a limb without giving them enough information either. I certainly would welcome any input from CT, but the main thing is I just would really like to see a discussion of substance about this book, because for better or worse, it will influence many luthiers and would-be luthiers.

    I understand this thread might be problematic. Maybe it's best for now just to stick to the setup issues, which are of concern to all bassists. If someone else, even at a later time, wants to ask questions about something they've read in the book, maybe this could be the thread to do it in. What do you think?

    Brent
     
  6. Adrian Cho

    Adrian Cho Supporting Member

    Sep 17, 2001
    Ottawa, Canada
    I think a new thread is a good idea. Quite frankly the other thread is a little bit embarrassing. The whole point as Chris has tried to make is that the other thread is not entirely about the book.
     
  7. Brent Nussey

    Brent Nussey

    Jun 27, 2001
    Tokyo, Japan
    Yes, that's the other reason. My thought was that in the future, if someone buys the book and decides to search for commentary on Talkbass, they'll find this thread without having to go through 130-odd posts first.

    I hope our luthiers will be getting out of bed to respond soon. I promise better questions are coming!

    Brent
     
  8. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    Excellent. I look forward to your next installment. Since I don't own the book, I won't be of much help, but I think that if we operate under the proposed guidelines, we should have an informative and invaluable reference thread.

    Re: Traeger - A concerned TBer has made it possible for me to contact CT if needed, but I think it would be best if he were not bothered unless absolutely necessary. I agree with your reasons for starting this thread, and given that a thread starter could decide to nix a thread, I would not be surprised to see the other one vanish if it gets "unpleasant" again. Just a hunch on my part. :)
     
  9. Martin Sheridan

    Martin Sheridan

    Jan 4, 2001
    Fort Madison, Iowa
    Bass Maker
    Much about bass repair is about "problem solving" and that's one of the things that makes it interesting. And now that I rarely do repair anymore, I'll sign off this thread.
     
  10. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    Oy. :meh:

    Well, now that we've got that out of our systems, we can proceed with the thread, which WILL consist of someone who has read the book providing a specific statement or topic from it in context so that others can then quote the statement in question and comment on its merit or lack thereof.

    'Kay?
     
  11. I'd be willing to bet Mr. Traeger would welcome any reasoned, thoughtful discussion of his book. Bass repair has obviously been a passion for the man all his life. He writes things like "...you may find that an entirely different approach works better for you. Use it.", and "I want to get people to think differently about...(numerous topics)". That suggests to me that he wants others to continue on where he left off. As long as it's done with respect :eyebrow: , I don't think we'll quote the book too heavily.
     
  12. 1st Bass

    1st Bass

    May 26, 2005
    Forest Grove, OR
    Well-- perhaps I am not experienced enough to have anything of value to add, but...I have at least found Mr. Traeger's book an interesting read. And on several occasions I have found a way to repair something that was better than what I knew, OR, confirmed what I knew, and gave me confidence to go ahead. (One example was his comment on a way to fix a soundpost crack in a cheap plywood bass without taking off the top. I really needed that information, as right then I had a customer with that specific problem.) I live in an economically depressed area, and it is highly unlikely that I will ever work on a very expensive instrument...especially a bass. But I still try to treat each one as if it were expensive and irreplaceable, since, to the owner, it may very well be just that.

    I'm not completely new to lutherie, just fairly new to basses, so when Mr. Traeger says something that raises my eyebrows, so to speak, I don't act on it, but move past the strange bit, on to something sound.

    I have access to Weisshaar's book, too. And I have Doerr's book, and all of Strobel's, the Courtnall and Johnson book, etc. I have found something valuable from all of them. I doubt anyone agrees with everything in any of them. (Probably not even the authors...once something is in print, it's tough to take it back, and say, "no, that's not right..."

    Cumpiano's book (Guitar Making Tradition and Technology) has a number of glitches, and he maintains a website, just to say so-- there are things he advocated in his book that he no longer considers good practice, and he re-teaches those subjects on his website.

    If there were a host of other, better books on bass repair and set-up, I would buy them, and perhaps eventually set Mr. Traeger's work aside...but for now, it is about all I can find, apart from H.S. Wake and Peter Chandler, and it has been quite useful and encouraging. I'm really glad he took the trouble to write it. I wish that other luthiers would take his example-- especially some of the experts here on TB.
     
    travshorts likes this.
  13. Jeff Bollbach

    Jeff Bollbach Jeff Bollbach Luthier, Inc.

    Dec 12, 2001
    freeport, ny
    Brent, First of all the timing of this thread for me is a little difficult due to an impending vacation and the rush to make some deadlines before it. Arnold is away till the 17th I believe so hopefully someone else will be responding until then.
    This first point seems hard to respond to, but I personally wouldn't feel that I would be trading off tone vs. projection on any of the final set-up procedures.These are bigger picture differences- like what top wood to use, how big a cavity, the proportion of wood below the bridge vs. above, etc. There's a lot I'd like to express about set-up but it could get a little rambling. Is there anyway we could get more specific?
     
  14. Brent Nussey

    Brent Nussey

    Jun 27, 2001
    Tokyo, Japan
    Ok, after reading all the comments and looking over some of the other threads and what’s been covered already, I think I’m gonna just ask the questions that I, personally, have about the book. I hope it’s clear enough, I’ll try to clarify if I need to.

    1) The book starts with the literary device of “4 Genies” (cpts 7-10). He lists a number of small adjustments you can make to the bass that, taken together, will make for a better sound. But there are 4 that he says are the most important. Number one is the endpin. He advocates using a wood endpin, and says he discovered this “by accident.” Now, I’ve been interested in using a wood endpin since before I ever heard of Traeger. An older bassist I know uses one. He says it sounds better, but mostly it works better. Just jam it in and play. Same height every time, no hunting for the 6th notch on a dark stage, no rattling etc.

    Is there anyone here old enough to remember the days when everyone used wood pins? Why did they fall out of use? Was it one of those things where it was the new thing, or easier to make basses playable for everyone in the shop, or was it similar to the advent of metal strings when guys who’d been struggling to deal with gut for years went “Ahh!!”? For anyone who might have switched from a wood pin over to a metal one (or vice-versa), did you notice any difference in the sound? Are there any potential problems to using a wood pin that someone considering one should know about?

    2) The next Genie is the nut. Most of this chapter is uncontroversial. He describes how to make a proper nut, of ebony, notches not too wide or deep, etc. The issue for me here is the spacing he recommends. 3/8”, center to center. He says he doesn’t really know why this spacing works, he kind of discovered it by accident, and since then it’s always yielded a better sound. I checked my basses, and they are all spaced wider than this. When making a new bridge and fingerboard, my luthiers have all talked to me about string spacing and arch of the bridge, but never so much the nut, I think.

    What is the standard string spacing for a nut? Or how do you decide what string spacing to use? Have any of our luthiers noticed a difference in sound when changing the cut of a nut? I actually will have a new board put on my road bass in about 2 weeks, so this information could be useful and timely for me.

    3) Well, the stuff about the soundpost is going to be controversial. It starts off pretty traditionally, with CT recommending a pretty traditional sound post position to start, and then making adjustments for sound. His up/down and bass/treble adjustment advice is exactly the same thing I’ve heard and experienced many times over the years, though he includes an explanation of the why’s, which is nice. He also advocates summer and winter posts in the northeast climate, at least. I know not everyone agrees with this, but I think it’s valid. My cheap bass doesn’t move much, but my Italian, I can really see, feel and hear a difference. Actually, not so much here in Japan, where the humidity is pretty consisistent(ly high) year round, but in Boston and NY I sure did. Anyway, the first thing that I wonder about is this: He warns a smaller diameter post can be dangerous, for example 5/8” posts can damage tops. However, a dark bass can be brightened by putting just such a small diameter post in. CT says that if you do this, and you’ve done everything else he suggests to make the bass brighter and it’s not enough, “advise him [the client] to sell the bass and buy another.”

    Can a smaller diameter post damage a bass top (assuming it’s fit right)? Do you guys ever use different diameter posts in different basses (if so, why)? If you do, what would be the maximum and minimum size?

    4) Then CT tells a little anecdote about working on George Mraz’s bass. The upshot is that he learned from his experience that the soundpost doesn’t so much “transfer the energy to the back” (the ribs do that), but rather the post undergoes a twisting motion, regulating the motion of the top and back, and whatever you can do to less impede this twisting motion, the better. He figures there are 3 ways to do this: a) use a smaller diameter post. Of course, we know he’s already warned us that these can be dangerous. b) Use an hourglass-shaped post. This has the same top-back contact, but is less resistive to twisting. c) After fitting the post the normal way, round off the ends of the post. Not a dome shape, just round off the ends, leaving at least 5/8” in full contact with the top and back.

    I’ve just never heard of anything like this, ever before. Have any of our luthiers tried these kinds of posts? Even as an experiment? Or even just seen it? Does anyone think it might be dangerous to try these things?

    5) The 4th Genie, BTW, is mode matching. A0-B0. I’ve never tried it, so I don’t know if it works or not. Really, I can barely understand it. But it’s been discussed pretty well in another thread already.

    I have some questions about making bridges and a few other things, I just wanted to get these up, and hopefully get some thoughts.

    Thanks,
    Brent
     
  15. uptonbass

    uptonbass Proprietor, Upton Bass String Instrument Co.

    Oct 8, 2002
    Mystic CT
    Founder UptonBass.com
    Yeah Brent maybe if we were to focus on one point at a time? I think it's also fair to hold the discussion until Jeff and Arnold are around as both are vocal contributers here on TB for much longer than myself. Can we make a rule of: Only respond if you have true experience pertaining to the question at hand? :meh: Also, like I posted in the other thread:

    When we have time at the shop I/we will gladly run some of Mr. Treagers ideas on some select instruments. Not ones going to clients, those will keep the exclusive Upton touches.

    These tests will obviously be within reason, choice elements, that we can truly say we have never tried. Open to any you would like to throw at us....again within reason and as time allows!

    No guarantee on turn around :D

    SO, drumsticks/endpins...what size and wood type do I want again for a 10mm endpin, I don't like the Teller endpin described in the book, that little brass button thing in there is just too much of a pain. Looks like a Timbale stick will work with its 3/8 dia. on our standard endpin assembly. I will purchase a few boxes 3/8 Hickory, this way I can send them out in the field with local players. Jeff, Arnold, Nick you guys want a few?
     
  16. Brent Nussey

    Brent Nussey

    Jun 27, 2001
    Tokyo, Japan
    Sounds good to me.


    This sounds good too, more than I expected, really.


    Yeah, this is one of the weak points of the idea. The wood pin that my friend uses, and basically all the ones I've seen until now, use a friction-fit tapered dowel into a socket that's been reamed out to accept it. That's what I meant by just jam it in, and you're good to go. I'm just guessing, but I think he suggests this endpin setup because he doesn't think that a lot of people will go to the trouble to have the old-style pin made, especially since you lose adjustability. But this business of the little metal disc maybe falling out of the plug (pg 27, 5th para) is really no good. Not for me, anyway. I appreciate the experiment, but I wonder though, if a 3/8 inch dowel would be strong enough to support the bass...

    Brent
     
  17. If you look at furniture (beds, chairs) and clothing from the early 20th century, it's generally much smaller than what we're accustomed to now. Looking at old pictures of bassists from the '30's on, in most cases the bass has virually no end pin and the nut is at eyebrow level or higher on the player. Leads me to believe that people were, on average, shorter in stature than they are now. It follows that very few bassists would need a long, adjustable metal end pin. They are probably a pretty recent development. Somewhere in my musical junque I have an old wooden tail plug and turned spindle with a taper that fits into the plug. If I can find it I'll post a picture. I've had it for a long time, I can't remember now what bass it came off.

    I've been playing my Czech bass for approaching 30 years now, I'm well acquainted with its sound. It has a Teller end pin. I will try an A-B comparison between the original tubular steel pin and the 5/8" diameter 2B drumstick that Mr. Traeger reccommends. One small problem, the pin has a rivet at the top end inside the bass which prevents its removal from the plug. I'll have to unstring the bass and remove the whole assembly to get the rivet out before I can swap pins. I have an unusually heavy (for me) playing schedule for the next couple weeks and don't want to be messing with my only functional bass, so my experiment won't happen till September. I'll post my observations here.
     
  18. Jeff Bollbach

    Jeff Bollbach Jeff Bollbach Luthier, Inc.

    Dec 12, 2001
    freeport, ny
    I haven't experimented with wood in the endpin but the few times I tried using a graphite one I believe I could perceive an improvement in tone. They are just so damn expensive though. Wood endpins might be very interesting but there are a few hitches in finding out. I don't think you can just jam a percussion stick in an assembly and get a positive usable result. Lots of difficulty in fit and wearability there. You'd really need a nice wide assembly with an accurate female taper [Mmmnn....accurate female taper] and the equally accurate male counterpart. Not so easy to do. An enterprising young person like Mike Pecanic might do well to develop such an accoutrement. You know mebbe a five inch maple shaft for some occasions and a nine inch ebony one for others. That said, I believe that the vast majority of basses could benefit from other obvious improvements before one might want to experiment with the pin.
    I've always used 3/8 in. on the nut. It's pretty much standard around these parts. There's no way that the sound will change noticeably unless the spacing pinched the strings excessively and this would lead to other problems. You'd really have to be far off either way from 3/8 to do this.
    A small diameter post can dent a top for sure just as a poorly fit one can. It's just a PSI surface area dealio. As far as alternative post ideas [hourglass, hollow, etc] I personally am not interested. Some will see me as close minded but I think that the post isn’t quite the make or break magic stick that many profess it is and the system that has developed over these few centuries works pretty damn well. In this industry there have always been those who have discovered the “secret”, or come up with a “new mousetrap” when the old one worked just fine. No disrespect intended, but players tend to err on the gullible side and often are easy prey for those who claim to understand the secret of tone. I’d often see the situation where a player would want a darker or a brighter tone. They’d be told a softer post would yield a darker tone and a harder one gives brightness and projection. The luthier selects a softer post by counting the grains, jams the ends into a 2hp grinder, puts it in the bass and hands it over to the guy. He adopts a learned pose as the player tries it out. “Oh yes, much darker!” says the player. I personally don’t hear any difference. They leave to sort the money out and I look in the bass and see that the post has a 2mm gap in its fit. Hmmmn.. mebbe it’s the poor fit that made it darker or mebbe it’s not “darker” at all and some BSusiness as usual just went down. Not all may agree with this statement but I personally find post fitting ounce per ounce as difficult as scroll grafting. I think that in general luthiers do not concentrate enough on the chops to do this task [and others] correctly. IMO the community could be better served by methods on how to accurately fit a post than by offering different concepts.

    A0/B0, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. I think its bubbameiser. Can I prove it? No. Should I say this without proof? Probably not, so if Bob wants maybe he can sue me. It just smells a certain way to me and I know of many high level violinmakers who don’t subscribe to it. In fact, Robbie MacIntosh just told me the other day of two well known major protégés of Carleen who informed him that even they don’t really know if it works. John Schaeffer once said to me, “Ahh, a bass is what it is”. His way of saying you can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear. The idea that you can transform an instrument by shaving some grams off somewhere because of what a machine said doesn’t sit well with me. Again an example of where a luthier might be better served by concentrating on his basic skills. There are no magic bullets.
     
  19. Eric Rene Roy

    Eric Rene Roy Supporting Member

    Mar 19, 2002
    Mystic, CT
    Vice President: Upton Bass String Instrument Co.
    +1! Complete agreement here.

    Perhaps it is a product of my teaching. NONE of my teachers, and there were a half dozen or so I studied with, subscribe to this. What they DID say is that it is a way of quantifying what you should be able to feel and hear. Pay attention to specs, fit, material choice etc. and you will find that you are there anyway.

    I think it is interesting stuff in regards to understanding how the whole instrument works, but I don't think it is a tool to help you get there along the way. For those who really want to start to wrap your brain around it all, I suggest you look over some material of Martin Schleske as he is, IMHO the cats pajama's of this subject.

    This topic is a landmine though within the luthier world...good friends will kill each other over it ;)...so perhaps best to move on?
     
  20. arnoldschnitzer

    arnoldschnitzer AES Fine Instruments

    Feb 16, 2002
    Brewster, NY, USA