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Violin Plate Tuning

Violin Plate tuning has traditionally been performed by tapping
the violin plate in order to determine the note produced from the
resonating plate. This in conjunction with the flexing of the plate
during the thicknessing process allows the violin maker to determine
important  physical properties exhibited by the plate under specific
The test of time has proven that this system of construction works
extremely well and ensures the maker becomes very aware of the
violin material variations and properties.
For a number of  today’s makers it is helpful to quantify these
proven method’s in order to assist in a more controlled construction
  and thus an improved acoustic performance .

plate Arching 02

Why do we need to tune violin plates?

To answer this question we have to examine,
(a) The Process of making the plate and
 (b) It’s Function when assembled as a violin Body.

(a)     The process of violin plate construction
 begins as a quarter sawn or split, triangular
wedge which is cut from the tree. The growth
rings radiating out from the “Tree Heart” toward
the Bark . The orientation of these growth rings
will effect the mechanical strength of the violin
arching and a knock on effect will be the plates
finished thickness. So aligning the Growth rings
at right angles to the plate arch in cross
section, strengthens the arch.

quarter sawn 01
wood orientation for quarter sawn

Another important consideration here is the woods reflective properties, and
this is effected by the angle at which the wood is cut through the grain.
By cutting the wood at right angles to the Grain we reveal the beautiful “Figure”  structure , which has become one of the violins most recognised aesthetic features.

Viola ref # 505c

The wedge is carefully sawn to align with the End Grain Direction and
Sawn again to allow 2 wedges of similar dimension and orientation to be made.

These 2 wedges are now squared and flattened in order to glue both wedges
together to form the Violin Plate “Center joint”.

quarter sawn 02
quarter sawn 03
quarter sawn 04
Plates 02

The Violin Outline will be aligned centrally along this Glue joint.

Plates 03
Plates 05
Plates 06
Plates 08

In cross section the violin plates display the grain direction which helps to
strengthen the Arching. The violin outside Arching is carved using gouges,
 thumb planes and cabinet scrapers. The arch design on the instrument will be
 strongly influenced by the model of violin chosen to be made.
 The Arch profile will determine the character of the instruments sound

plate Arching 03

Once the outside arch is formed the inside of the violin plate is hollowed out,
using gouge, thumb plane and scraper. The use of a thicknessing calipers is
one method which enables the maker to monitor the thickness of the violin
plate as the plate tuning process progresses. Other methods are used which
punch guide holes in the plate to enable the maker to control the wood removal
process. But for the purposes of this article the calipers, allows thicknessing
maps of the plate to be carried out easily.

Plates hollowing 0102
Plates hollowing 02
Plates hollowing 03

This page is still under construction.

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