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Thread: Mandolins "Opening Up"

  1. #76
    Registered User sblock's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandolins "Opening Up"

    Quote Originally Posted by Teak View Post
    The opening up topic has been studied scientifically. Three Japanese published Effects of aging on the vibrational properties of wood with the following abstract.

    Vibrational properties of aged wood (121∼296 years old) were compared with those of recently cut “new” wood (8 years old). The aged wood showed higher sound velocity (VL) and lower mechanical loss tangent (tanδL) than the new wood. The ratio of Young's modulus and shear modulus (EL/GL) remained unchanged or increased slightly during the aging period. These results coincide with musicians’ empirical observations that the acoustic quality of wooden soundboards is improved by aging. In addition, the reduced tanδL of the aged wood indicates the qualitative difference between the naturally aged and heat-treated wood. The experimental results were explained by using a cell wall model when we assumed the following: increase in the volume fraction of cellulosic microfibrils; reduction in the shear modulus of amorphous matrix substances, and; reduction in the loss tangent of the matrix. These assumptions appear reasonable when we consider the crystallization of cellulose, depolymerization of hemicelluloses, and cross-linking in the lignin complex during aging.

    https://www.researchgate.net/publica...erties_of_wood
    The fact that tonewood ages is not under dispute here. It has never been in dispute! In fact, if you wait long enough, all wood will deteriorate, and eventually turn to dust! In fact, you can easily choose to build a new mandolin today from old wood -- VERY old wood, in fact, if you so desire. So: does such an instrument never manage to "open up," I ask, because it is already somehow "open" and aged in the first place? Most people who support the idea of mandolins "opening up" do NOT think it has much to do with the wood aging, per se. If I were you, I would look elsewhere for a viable explanation of this phenomenon!

    As for the vast folkloric nonsense about Stradivari, it is simply NOT TRUE that the superb tone produced by his violins has never been replicated or surpassed. There is an extensive literature on this topic, much of which has already been discussed on the MC (you should look it up). In particular, a number of peer-reviewed papers have been published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA (P.N.A.S.) over the past 10 years, derived from some well-controlled, scientific studies conducted by folks like Joseph Curtin (one of the greatest luthiers alive), Claudia Fritz, and their colleagues. These studies (there were three of them published) showed clearly that even expert violinists (world-class soloists!) and other musical experts (e.g., high-end violin sellers), and even musician-audience members, could not tell Stradivarius and other great violins from the Cremona "Golden Age" from the very best modern violins at anything better than chance levels! Well, that busted the myth of the Strad for good, in the eyes of many knowledgeable musicians. Yes, Strads are clearly among the very best violins of all time! But it's not correct to say that their tone has never been replicated. And it's also not correct to say that you need 100-200 year-old wood to do it. Or a special secret varnish made from the blood of a dead lover, and so on.

    Also, there have been literally hundreds of pseudo-scientific studies published, all claiming to find key differences between the materials used to make Stradivari's violins and the materials used for modern violins. Yes, these differences almost certainly do exist, but NONE of them has been shown to be associated in any causal way with the extraordinary tone of Stradivarius violins! These include such things as (1) the varnish age and composition, (2) unusual fungi that lived in the wood when it was alive, (3) microcrystals of various wood precipitates (lignin, hemicellulose, etc), (4) microcrystals of salts from brackish waters the wood was stored for years after harvesting, before drying, (5) the tight wood grain structure imposed by climate extremes in the Little Ice Age, (6) the time of year the wood was harvested, after a full moon (true!), (7) The particular forest in Italy where the wood originated, and on and on. Much of this is horse manure.

    This is all part of a mythology, and it is getting harder and harder to justify it in our modern age.

    As others have correctly pointed out, much can be done to modify the properties of tonewoods, including the wood type (species), where it was grown (location, microclimate, altitude), how old the wood was when harvested, how it was sawn, the drying and ageing process, torrefaction, and more.

    This has little to do with the "opening up" process, IMO, and even less to do with the "waking up" process.

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  3. #77
    Registered User j. condino's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandolins "Opening Up"

    My favorite thread topic! Another bunch of half deaf old geezers arguing about the sound of their instrument!

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  5. #78
    Registered User Nick Gellie's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandolins "Opening Up"

    We can go and argue about mandolins opening up forever. The best violins and mandolins can be replicated and that is the art and science of a luthier catering for the taste of his or her market in this day and age. For me an instrument speaks to me when I first play it. I don't wait for it to wake up. Yes the change in ambient conditions, the space, and the player also contribute to the tone of the instrument. As a part-time luthier I try and excel in making a good instrument that won't need waking up by whatever method. I like to find that intrinsic tone which I like. There is only so much one can get out of a small sound chamber in a mandolin. Beyond that it is in the playing of the instrument. And that is where the joy comes in especially when something really comes together.
    Nic Gellie

    Breedlove Quartz KO Mandolin
    Breedlove Quartz FF Mandolin

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  7. #79

    Default Re: Mandolins "Opening Up"

    Quote Originally Posted by sblock View Post
    The fact that tonewood ages is not under dispute here. If I were you, I would look elsewhere for a viable explanation of this phenomenon!
    Wow, not sure why you are yelling at me. I don't usually follow the "opening up" topics since most posts are anecdotal, not scientific. I saw those articles and thought they might be interesting reading for those who are interested in the topic.

    Don't worry; I will stay away from these threads from now on.
    "Those who know don't have the words to tell, and the ones with the words don't know so well." - Bruce Cockburn

  8. #80
    Registered User sblock's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandolins "Opening Up"

    Quote Originally Posted by Teak View Post
    Wow, not sure why you are yelling at me. I don't usually follow the "opening up" topics since most posts are anecdotal, not scientific. I saw those articles and thought they might be interesting reading for those who are interested in the topic.

    Don't worry; I will stay away from these threads from now on.
    Please rest assured, no one was yelling at you. The is a perennially contentious topic. Peace to all.

  9. #81
    but that's just me Bertram Henze's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandolins "Opening Up"

    Quote Originally Posted by sblock View Post
    Peace to all.
    That's what popcorn was made for
    the world is better off without bad ideas, good ideas are better off without the world

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