Posted on

Geometric Design of the Stradivari Model G Violin, Part Two: f-Holes

Geometric Design of the Stradivari Model G Violin, Part Two: f-Holes

with Robert J. Spear

Originally published in American Lutherie #94, 2008

see also,
Geometric Design of the Stradivari Model G Violin, Part One: Mold and Template by Robert J. Spear
Geometric Design of the Stradivari Model G Violin, Part Three: The Scroll by Robert J. Spear

The Cremonese design for the f-holes of a violin, at first glance, would appear to be based on the same design philosophy as the body and to make extensive use of the golden section. A. Thomas King, in his article “The Cremonese System for Positioning the f-Holes” in The Strad, shows rather convincingly that golden-section divisions based on the distance between the pins on the body was employed to fix the location of the f-hole eyes, which further reinforces this idea. However, when it comes to f-holes, I would like to suggest that there are a couple of additional jokers in the deck. First, the late Cremonese f-hole is derived from an earlier system of design, and some of the important parts of the predecessor system remain in use; second, an entirely different modulus is used for the f-holes than for the body; and, third, little is based on the golden section.

The Forma G violin, upon which my model is based, is not quite the longest violin Stradivari ever made, but it is the widest. The most notable increase in width is in the center bout, which has another direct impact on the design of the f-hole and its placement. King notes that there is a general method for most Cremonese violins and a specialized adaptation for Stradivari violins. King explained the rather unintuitive step of taking the golden section of the distance between the locating pins in the top as the modulus for positioning the f-holes. I have used his approach here because it has many good points of correlation, and because I found an additional correlation that has convinced me even further that his hypothesis is correct.

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.