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Thread: Will the next Loar be carbon fiber?

  1. #1

    Default Will the next Loar be carbon fiber?

    "Playing a Luis and Clark carbon fiber cello, Rumanian cellist Mihai Marica won the 33rd International Music Competition in Viña del Mar in Chile, regarded as one of the most prestigious music competitions in the world. Marica, a protégée of Aldo Parisot, competed against cellists from a dozen different countries to win this celebrated prize."

    Apparently this material has some potential.

    http://www.luisandclark.com/mihai-ma...c-competition/
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  2. #2

    Default Re: Will the next Loar be carbon fiber?

    Carbon fiber is cool, but time will tell how durable they really are. Structural carbon fiber members on bikes, cars, and machines will fail catastrophically with no warning, and once they do fail, they are very difficult to repair. Almost impossible, due to the nature of the material.
    Wood is an excellent material, and it always will be. Cheap, not as carcinogenic as a lot of other materials, intrinsically alluring, doesn't require a lot of capital to start working with it, durable over the centuries, and repairable.
    Sadly, I don't think you will be able to find a McLaren in a barn 100 years from now and actually restore it... you'll have to rebuild it.

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    Resonate globally Pete Jenner's Avatar
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    Default Re: Will the next Loar be carbon fiber?

    If I start now, I wonder if I could carve a Ferrari with finger planes before I die?
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    Registered User Keith Newell's Avatar
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    Default Re: Will the next Loar be carbon fiber?

    I take issue. When carbon fiber has failed it not has been from age but from extreme shock, torque, pressure and frankly abuse. I think there will be carbon fiber bodied McLaren's with running gear rotted away in a century. The same mandolin of wood exposed to the same enviroment probably will have the tuners and bridge screws plus a shell of a tailpiece left after the rust. The CF will need strings. and maybe a tailpiece unless it's one of my stainless steel ones. (plug)
    Remember the CF is really not exposed to the elements just as the wood is because they are both coated with a lacquer or varnish. That finish does still allow a tiny bit of exposure to humidity etc. So what material under the finish is the most sensitive to that?
    Keith
    Last edited by Keith Newell; Jun-15-2013 at 1:43am.

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    Default Re: Will the next Loar be carbon fiber?

    This is the second time I have seen a carbon fiber cello played by a high level performer. The other was the cellist in "Ethel"--she had hers plugged into a PA.

    Is it reasonable to say that CF instruments can sound great?
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    Default Re: Will the next Loar be carbon fiber?

    Quote Originally Posted by Keith Newell View Post
    I take issue. When carbon fiber has failed it not has been from age but from extreme shock, torque, pressure and frankly abuse. I think there will be carbon fiber bodied McLaren's with running gear rotted away in a century.
    You maybe right.
    But when I see instruments which have been played by the average serious musician, abuse is what they get. I've seen carbon fiber parts explode during normal use without any visible damage to the surface.

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    Luthier Tom Haywood's Avatar
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    Default Re: Will the next Loar be carbon fiber?

    It is reasonable to say they can sound great. A buddy of mine is a super acoustic guitar player in several styles. In bluegrass, he prefers his Rainsong over other good traditional guitars. My ear agrees. But like wood, how will this stuff age over, say, 50 years? Will it become brittle? Will it age very slowly? Will it be worth more money? There's no benchmark.

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    Americanadian Andrew B. Carlson's Avatar
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    Default Re: Will the next Loar be carbon fiber?

    I wonder if the fungus in the stradivari wood would attach itself to CF to promote better tone?
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    Default Re: Will the next Loar be carbon fiber?

    I would think that some builder would try and expose CF to the elements and abuse to see if it would hold up...I know they do with certain woods so why not CF?

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    Registered User Kieran's Avatar
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    Default Re: Will the next Loar be carbon fiber?

    Will the next Loar be carbon fiber?

    It might even get to the stage carbon fibre instruments could be made using software and a 3-D printer

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    Constantly In Search Of.. Michael Bridges's Avatar
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    Default Re: Will the next Loar be carbon fiber?

    When that happens, I'm hacking into Marty's network!
    Quote Originally Posted by Kieran View Post
    Will the next Loar be carbon fiber?

    It might even get to the stage carbon fibre instruments could be made using software and a 3-D printer
    Music speaks to us all. And to each of us, she speaks with a different voice.

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    Registered User Keith Newell's Avatar
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    Default Re: Will the next Loar be carbon fiber?

    Someone send me a CF mandolin and I promise to paddle my canoe up and down the Willamette river for the summer with it and then we can talk...
    Keith

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    Registered User Rob Grant's Avatar
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    Default Re: Will the next Loar be carbon fiber?

    JonZ wrote: "Is it reasonable to say that CF instruments can sound great?"

    I think we might be ignoring the most important aspect here... a good, competent musician can make anything sound great.<g>
    Rob Grant
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    Registered User Keith Newell's Avatar
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    Default Re: Will the next Loar be carbon fiber?

    Quote Originally Posted by Marty Jacobson View Post
    You maybe right.
    But when I see instruments which have been played by the average serious musician, abuse is what they get. I've seen carbon fiber parts explode during normal use without any visible damage to the surface.
    I would actually pay good money $$$$ to anyone that had evidence of a CF instrument no matter what type that "exploded" or silentley faild during a performance. You may be talking about what I am very familiar with is the car market and the CF pieces ar thin and not really vacuum formed like the stuff we are talking about.
    Keith

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    Middle-Aged Old-Timer Tobin's Avatar
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    Default Re: Will the next Loar be carbon fiber?

    Even if carbon fiber proves to be a wonderful material for mandolins in every way, I still don't see it overcoming the strong sense of tradition that pervades this particular subset of musicians. We don't deal with cutting edge technology like they do in racing or performance aircraft. So I see carbon fiber being an oddity or curiosity at best, with perhaps some small level of celebrity following. But the next Loar? Not a chance. Handmade traditional instruments will still rule for the next several generations.

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    Default Re: Will the next Loar be carbon fiber?

    I remember when all rifle stocks were wood. Composites came in and within a few years, took over that market. Lighter, stronger, more durable, more consistent, less affected by weather - what's not to like? Similarly, bamboo was once the stuff of fine flyrods. Now, only a very few people use them, usually the same types of folks who drive classic or restored automobiles because they are old and interesting, but not because they are better. Graphite rods are just better. They are more consistent, more durable, less expensive to make and their performance is far beyond bamboo. Even the cheapest graphite outperforms bamboo.

    I know nearly nothing about mandolins (one of the reasons I enjoy this board), but I do know that materials technology often allows synthetics to mimic desired structural properties of natural materials while engineering out some of the undesirable properties.

    Carbon fiber is a high tensile strength thread or woven cloth matrix that holds epoxy. It works just like fiberglass except stronger and lighter. Linear strength comes from carbon fiber, but other properties come from the epoxy. The epoxy is what dictates the life of a graphite component, and there are some amazing epoxies made now.

    I love the look and feel of wood in instruments and tools, but given the production costs of tailoring every piece of wood to the particular instrument, I can easily see a synthetic coming in an taking over the market in a few years.

  21. #17
    Registered User Tavy's Avatar
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    Default Re: Will the next Loar be carbon fiber?

    Quote Originally Posted by HappyLife View Post
    I love the look and feel of wood in instruments and tools, but given the production costs of tailoring every piece of wood to the particular instrument, I can easily see a synthetic coming in an taking over the market in a few years.
    I tend to agree - once someone makes cheap mass production of synthetic instruments possible, everyone will do it.

    The stumbling block for instruments as I see it is the expense of the design process - for wood it's easy to change the bracing or thicknesses a little until you get the response you want. For synthetics you need to design the thing up front, make the molds etc, and then if it doesn't sound right start over again. That's very expensive. The thing that could really change that is 3D printing - currently I don't think it'll print materials that are usable for instruments, but carbon nano-fibers in resin might do it if that become readily available.

    Of course Maccaferri tried plastic guitars and look how well that turned out

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    Registered User Vincent Capostagno's Avatar
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    Default Re: Will the next Loar be carbon fiber?

    The very virtues of an automated synthetic manufacturing process: strength, durability and most important, consistentcy, will result in some very boring, uninvolving products. Where's the allowance for individual taste and preferences. Reduced to a choice of strings and picks. The care and nurturing of our instruments. Protecting its very vulnerability (like our children and pets). Instead of choosing between light or dark stains, flame vs. quilted patterns, etc. we get to choose between red, blue or green. Sort of like picking out socks. Someday, you'll go to a concours and in between the Triumphs, MGs, and Morgans a friend will coume up to you and say:" There's a neat old Silver Angel on Aisle 4 and a Brentrup on Aisle 6. Then you'll know what you lost.

  23. #19

    Default Re: Will the next Loar be carbon fiber?

    I understand the attraction to traditional materials and methods. However, it is nice to think that technology could get pro level instruments into more people's hands.

    (Not so much for the luthiers.)
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    Registered User Tavy's Avatar
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    Default Re: Will the next Loar be carbon fiber?

    Quote Originally Posted by Vincent Capostagno View Post
    The very virtues of an automated synthetic manufacturing process: strength, durability and most important, consistentcy, will result in some very boring, uninvolving products. Where's the allowance for individual taste and preferences. Reduced to a choice of strings and picks. The care and nurturing of our instruments. Protecting its very vulnerability (like our children and pets). Instead of choosing between light or dark stains, flame vs. quilted patterns, etc. we get to choose between red, blue or green. Sort of like picking out socks. Someday, you'll go to a concours and in between the Triumphs, MGs, and Morgans a friend will coume up to you and say:" There's a neat old Silver Angel on Aisle 4 and a Brentrup on Aisle 6. Then you'll know what you lost.
    Look at it from the consumers point of view, if every execution of model X sounds exactly the same, then consumers will know exactly what they're getting up front. Once you've heard one, you've heard them all. No more traveling round from store to store trying to find the particular execution of model X that has "the sound". There'll still be plenty of variability between models to add variety.

  25. #21

    Default Re: Will the next Loar be carbon fiber?

    i see two points of note, at least.

    A world class cello player utilized a superb, synthetic material instrument and won. This speaks to functionality and musicality. If i can make music and play comfortably on an instrument i am way more that fifty percent happy.

    I am, i think , in the minority, as i tend to like high tech for instruments when it improves function in some manner. I am not a tech lover for tech's sake. I also think that most musicians, with the notable exception of bassists, are very traditional.

    Bear in mind that Mozart's own violin was an older design, much quieter than current orchestral types. The tech improved. Doesnt make one better or worse, just different, and it's that choice, as to what sound I like, what reflects my music, that I love.

    The other point, is aesthetics. To me, entirely subjective. Carbon fiber is immediately recognizable, and as such, is a unique material with its own aesthetic points. Otoh, wood, is another, traditional, and natural variations make it unique as well. Sunburst are the thing of choice for most mando players. I happen to love blue and purple on instruments.

    I like designs by Mix and Rigel. I love the Brentrup stealth and his v 6 and v8's. It would seem that CF would lend itself to some very creative and functional designs.

    But, just as Ovation has always been a step child with so many, as it is non-traditional, from early CF backs to the multi holes in the upper bout replacing a traditional sound hole or F hole, I think the biggest limitation with CF is acceptance. My old mid seventies Glenn Campbell attracted me because the neck was identical in feel to my D-28, it mic'd better, and i could sit on wet grass or in rougher conditions, without as much worry about laying it down on its back. Did tend to roll away on my leg at times too. Sounded good accoustically too, just different from my D, closer to a 000. However, it was neither the guitar of legends, cowboys, rock stars, Woody or Blind Blake.

    FWIW, i recently bought a rigel A deluxe plus, as a 'combat' mando-to take where i didnt want my expensive F's. I looked very long and hard at the Mix mandos, and it was only price that prevented my purchase.


    I never considered that a Mix CF might be a good deal louder, which would have changed my purchase decision in a heartbeat.
    Last edited by stevedenver; Jun-16-2013 at 11:30am.

  26. #22

    Default Re: Will the next Loar be carbon fiber?

    Another traditional instrument where technology has made surprising inroads is accordions. I noticed a guy playing a Korg model and talked to him about it. It was loaded with digital emulations of all types of accordions, and non-accordions too. He was a pro and said he had a $12,000 reed instrument, but it was too touchy to be a reliable road instrument. He said that accordions were now one of Korg's biggest sellers.

    I'm no accordion expert, but the Korg sounded great to me.
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    Registered User Kerry Krishna's Avatar
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    Default Re: Will the next Loar be carbon fiber?

    Marty, I know you didn't mean to make me laugh, but you did! The CF mandolins/cellos/fiddles are amazing axes for what they are, and in some crowds getting rave reviews. They are not only as tough as nails, but you could probably drive a nail into a 2X4 with a fiddle or mandolin.
    The only way that these axes are not going to be around in 100 years, is if someone puts one under the wheels of a bus, and even then, I bet it might survive a few 'back and forths'.

    As far as sound, there have been a number of orchestras all over the world that the Conductor has said 'No CF Cellos' because they are so loud and different sounding from all the other Cellos. That is Certainly not a trait that would be wanted in that setting.

  28. #24

    Default Re: Will the next Loar be carbon fiber?

    [QUOTE=stevedenver;1174329]
    oops

  29. #25
    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Will the next Loar be carbon fiber?

    Carbon fiber stringed instrument bows are already making large inroads into use for players, tho I am not sure how many upper-level players are preferring them over the wooden ones. However the prices for these bows are much less than corresponding wooden ones. We got a batch of four bows to test out when my wife was looking for one. These were in the $400-600 range and compared rather favorably to the bows I play with which are in the $1200-1500 range.

    I think the current crop of CF instruments -- esp fretted ones -- are in the same price ranges as equivalent wooden ones. I have played a few of the guitars and they are quite nice laying and sounding instruments. I think the process of working with CF is different from working with wood but until it becomes more efficient (read "less expensive) it will not be an overwhelmingly preferred choice. OTOH i also highly doubt that it is going away as an instrument-making material.
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