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An Experimental Tenor Violin

An Experimental Tenor Violin

by Frederick C. Lyman, Jr.

Originally published in American Lutherie #18, 1989

Building a musical instrument always involves making decisions. Even if the instrument is a familiar model that has been built many times before, the actual pieces of wood are unique, and require unique treatment. Obtaining predictable results, even such as might appear to be instances of mere routine uniformity, usually requires a surprising degree of conscious, intelligent control. In respect to quality of sound, the more an instrument is produced by an invariable automated process, the more variable and inconsistent may be the result. That is because we are dealing with subtle differences which add up. The more intelligence that can be applied to the many decisions that have to be made, the better the cumulative result can be.

Of course, wrong decisions can also be made. This can happen easily when the project being undertaken is one-of-a-kind, where the lessons of past mistakes cannot be applied to the problems.

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