Posted on

Area Tuning the Violin

Area Tuning the Violin

by Keith Hill

Originally published as Guild of American Luthiers Data Sheet #283, 1984 and Big Red Book of American Lutherie Volume One, 2000

See also,
Hints for Area Tuning the Violin by Keith Hill

Announcements of “discoveries” of the “secrets” of Stradivarius usually are not worth the ink used to print them. When they appear, everyone reads them with the customary curiosity. Then away they are filed along with the hundreds of other such claims. They get dredged up again when someone writes yet another book on the violin. Mindful of this possible fate, I would like to offer an explanation of a discovery that I have made. It is not of the “secrets” of Stradivarius; rather it is, I believe, the acoustical system utilized by the ancient Italian violin makers.

The system is simplicity itself. It is possible for anyone who understands it and has normal hearing to use it. Moreover, it requires no measuring equipment save the ears and possibly a monochord. Furthermore, the thicknesses and their inexplicable variants, which so annoy our modern sense of decency when we observe them in the finest violins by Stradivari and Guarneri, occur naturally as a result of this system. Because it is so simple, it is, of course, the last place one would think to look for the answer. I expect that once you are equipped with the following information, you will go to your nearest antique Italian fiddle and look to see if what I am saying is actually there.

Become A Member to Continue Reading This Article

This article is part of our premium web content offered to Guild members. To view this and other web articles, join the Guild of American Luthiers. Members also receive 4 annual issues of American Lutherie and get discounts on products. For details, visit the membership page.

If you are already a member, login for access or contact us to setup your account.