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Violin Wood types

      The types of wood used in the making of violins has traditionally been
confined to:-

      The following article will describe the Properties, and Applications
of each wood type, also Where & Why each wood type is used.

Full size violin  Ref # 504k
Viola ref # 505c02

1.  Maple :-
               Maple of the family “Aceraceae” is traditionally used in the
construction of the Violin  Back, Neck/Scroll, Ribs and Bridge.

European or Bosnian Maple “
Acer Platenoids “, is the most common type
used to construct these elements.
The Maple wood used for violin making has a certain amount of “ Figure “
or “Flame” , an optical effect caused by light reflection disturbed by the
wavy pattern in the wood structure, the “
Tracheids” , this orientation in
the wood structure causes this “Flame” effect . The presence of this flame effect does not appear to have an adverse effect on the sound of an
instrument, through figured wood is weaker than plain wood and more difficult to work.

Density of European, Bosnian MapleAcer Platenoids “ is in the
region of 660
kg/m3, at 12% moisture content.

Maple has very good
mechanical properties which allow the maker to
create a low weight instrument while retaining excellent acoustic
properties, resulting in a very responsive arched instrument.

Maple in regards to the “Ribs” should be cut on the quarter as for the
 “Back” . This is so the growth rings run in the same direction as the
 “Front”. If the “Ribs” were not cut on the Quarter it is difficult, near to
impossible to bend the “Ribs” accurately with out them twisting and
The Scroll has been traditionally made from Maple because of its
excellent mechanical properties which allow the “Pegbox” wall to be hollowed out to accommodate the String tuning by the Pegs.
The orientation of the grain in the  Scrolls “Pegbox” is critical to its functioning and crack prevention.

effe hole 02
Full size violin  Ref # 504m

2. Spruce:-
             Spruce of the family “Pinaceae” is traditionally used in the construction of the Violin Front, Bass-Bar, Sound-Post, Corner/Top/ Bottom Blocks, & Linings.

European Spruce “
Picea Abies” and Sitka Spruce “Picea Stichensis” are commonly used to make the violin Front, Bass-Bar, and Sound-Post .

The Density which is ideal for the construction of the Front from
European Spruce “
Picea Abies” is around 470 kg/m3 at 15% moisture

Sitka Spruce “Picea Stichensis” is around 430
kg/m3 at 15% moisture

The wood for the Front is quarter sawn for maximum strength. The use of
Spruce as the Violin Front enables the best acoustic properties to be
realized when converting the string
vibrations into the violin Body


Additional Web links on Humidity, Wood Structure and Properties:-

Humidity Cycling by Alan Beavitt
(In Violin Making and Playing.)

This is a comprehensive Website detailing the Macroscopic structure of wood , by the  Society of Wood Science technology ---Unit No. 1

Basic Wood properties:- Wood & Water, Wood Density, &

Mechanical Properties of wood Chapter 4 by David W. Green, Jerrold E. Winandy, David E. Kretschmann.

Dendrochronology studies by John Topham
Tree Ring Science

Dendrochronology and the Violin

Dendrochronology -  The Tree Ring Circus

The anatomy of Wood by K,Wilson & D.J.B. White
  ISBN 0-85442-034-7

The Encyclopedia of wood by Aidan Walker.
  ISBN 0-8160-2159-7

The woodworkers Handbook by Andrew Duncan
  ISBN 0-7207-1553-9

Timbers for violin making- Nomenclature and properties by
D, Rodwell BA, FIWSc


This page is still under construction and is being updated on a regular basis

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