Hey folks,

I was watching a cracking program on telly last night called "Scrapheap Orchestra" in which a group of skilled instrument makers were set the task of of making orchestral instruments entirely out of scrap. An orchestra then played Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture at the Proms.

(For those of you able to, watch it here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b017zn47/Scrapheap_Orchestra/)

Obviously, the making of the string section was the most interesting in terms of guitar construction. They showed the violins being built with a "Sound Post", a wooden strut that makes contact with the soundboard and the instruments back. The vibrations from the bridge are directed from the instrument's top through the sound post to the back. This apparently creates a larger sound.

I'm sure that this isn't news for many of you expert builders out there, but it's
a new concept for me. The question I have is, has anyone added a sound post to their guitars, and has it had the desired effect of making a louder guitar?

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It's really only applicable for bowed instruments..with a bowed instrument you've got a continuous energy input in the form of the bow constantly causing the string to vibrate, and the soundpost makes it possible to couple the top and back together  to get them to work as a system.  A guitar doesn't have that constant energy input..the string is plucked and it naturally decays...coupling the top to the back in an acoustic guitar will tend to  dampen the sound and cause the sustain and tone to suffer.  Archtop jazz guitars don't use soundposts, despite them sharing the same sort of carved top construction as the violin family. Double basses have a soundpost, despite often being used as a plucked instrument, but I suspect this is down to being beneficial structurally, a certain amount of tradition, and the fact that there's a lot of energy in a plucked bass string that can start the top and back to work together.

yep was watching too! and that post has got me thinking louds good right .and such a simple thing. just read chicken bones comment ,squibb offically dampened! great explaination though thanks and the programme still worth a watch.

yep i watched it too - if only they had used a Cigar Box for the violins they would have been onto a winner from the start - i thought the guy that made the violins was PANTS to say hes a master Violin maker and teacher his design  sucked IMO :(

but it was a good watch indeed - and all the instruments sounded well together in the end performance - we need more stuff like this on TV :)

Cheers John, I had thought a sound post would dampen the sound, but thanks for the informative answer.

It is more than just getting the top and back to work together. The sound post is essentially the violin's (viola, cello, bass) EQ. If you think of a violin as a speaker cabinet, the top (made from spruce) is the woofer while the back (made from maple) is the tweeter. If you notice, the sound post is positioned under the treble foot of the violin bridge so as to direct the treble energy directly to the maple. This is also one of the functions of the bass bar. It transfers energy from the bass foot along the entire spruce top. The EQ can be tweaked by how directly the sound post is positioned under the treble bridge foot. If you know any violinists, they can get OBSESSIVE about the placement. Just for further information, when setting a sound post, the grain should run perpendicular to the grain of the violin top. 

I was amazed that he didn't go straight to a cigar box fiddle...or was that just too easy? As a professional violin maker he ought to know about such things, but it makes you wonder about his knowledge. I reckon with a good solid Spanish Cedar box he could have got the tone and volume pretty much straight off. The fiddle maker was weird, it was if he didn't understand the basic principles of making an instrument...I reckon he was stuck in an orthodox traditional way of making things for too long without using any imagination or real creativity..maybe a bit of tinkering here and there, but nothing too radical, after all, it's all a very conservative scene. He really seemed to struggle to start with, but his design did eventually work. Shame about getting the percussion guy to alter the teddy bear beaters...he should have told the BBC producers to stop being so f***ing PC and get real.

JUJU AKA SOUNDSSOGOOD said:

yep i watched it too - if only they had used a Cigar Box for the violins they would have been onto a winner from the start - i thought the guy that made the violins was PANTS to say hes a master Violin maker and teacher his design  sucked IMO :(

but it was a good watch indeed - and all the instruments sounded well together in the end performance - we need more stuff like this on TV :)

hehe yep you got that spot on mate the house of Commons is full of sewer Rats - it should be renamed the house of Conmen :)

Silent Jim said:

 When reconnecting 19th century sewer pipes use hot lead as a seal...sorry for interrupting but I needed to get that off my chest...We can't get that BBC link here in the U.S. so I'll assume that 'Scrapheap Orchestra' refers to your House of Commons...

er-chickenbone, it was a JUNK orchestra, when were Cigar boxes junk?  ;)

he'd been trained to build a 200 year old design,i applaud his resolution to stick to the remit

junk orchestra

try it and see, they're not that precious , are they?

The Crwth is a fairly early example of this type of bridge/soundpost combination ...

This is my prototype BAZZUKA (#1)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8W9Hopp1O1I&feature=youtube_gdat...


Since the video I have adjusted the intonation and action by adjusting the nut and bridge, I also fitted a ' sound post' inside bracing the front soundboard to the rear board, this makes it louder, also stops the boards bowing under tension of the strings, it was something I saw on tv over Xmas here in the UK there was a program about a scrapyard orchestra .. A guy was building a violin.. As mentioned by the original posting.

I think because I've used through the body stringing the energy of the strings and the tension really needed the sound post . It's now a lot louder, stays in tune and has loads of natural sustain......

It tunes EADG as a standard bass.
Oh .its standard cheap Metal Harke bass strings cut down to fit.

I have a 'job lot' of chinese ukes to use as doners for further project.
Also a set of Pahoehoe rubber string ( like on a Kala UBASS) and will try them on my next project..maybe

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