Acoustical – Engineering
The making process of string instruments has been established and without innovation – apart from a few exceptions (such as attaching the neck) – for more than 300 years now. Violin makers nowadays have the freedom of defining themselves through the individual design of a model and its visual as well as stylistic appearance. In terms of acoustics, however, there are a lot of questions left unanswered; particularly in mass-production but also regarding small-scale violin making. Violin makers carry on striving for a predictable acoustic performance. This can ultimately be seen in the fact that time and time again somewhere in this world “the secret of Stradivarius” seems to be discovered. Unfortunately, this has been without any resounding success so far. In any case, it has been without reproducibility. Some people consider this secret to be an “acoustical coincidence”.
Merely the field of strings is progressing quickly. Due to high-tech materials and modern production practices, there has been a dramatic improvement of the acoustical performance of string instruments. The material we use is wood. Every piece is different and has its own individual qualities in terms of both appearance and acoustics. That is why there is no way of standardising the construction of string instruments or designing them according to set rules, which is possible when working with metal or plastic, for example.
Violin makers therefore try to do justice to the individual qualities of the material, especially when it comes to its thickness or the shaping of the instrument’s arch. My theory is that even with a lot of experience and a good feel for the craft, many aspects are always left to chance. Otherwise the ominous “secret of Stradivarius” wouldn’t exist anymore! The acoustical quality of a string instrument never depends on simply one factor. It is the result of many qualities that have to be in harmony when coming together in the end. Without harmony there is no balance!
I have been working with the acoustics of string instruments for approximately 15 years and the making process of my cellos is accompanied by scientific measurement methods. More than ever, I am convinced that plenty of experience and a good feel for the craft alone are not enough to do justice to the many complex factors necessary for making not only beautiful but also well-performing instruments.
Don’t worry, I am no different from anybody else! All these aspects are not finalised here in my workshop. But I have come a lot closer to reaching my goal of getting the best results from the given construction and the available materials.
Once an instrument is finished, the customer or rather the musician decides if we in the workshop have done a good job. Fortunately, our success proves us right! Many musicians in Germany and abroad play our cellos with a lot of joy and passion. There is no better compliment than that!
On the following pages I would like to briefly introduce my work and give you an insight into my world of violin making.