Violin/Stainer Sound post


QUESTION: David, Do you have any information on the soundpost placement/position for a Stainer violin.  Should I use Strad positioning, or is there a different placement.  I am also planning to try a Baroque style bridge on this instrument.  This is a personal instrument, not for sale.  It is a very nice violin.  But the sound post is way out of place and I am not even certain why.  I have owned the instrument for twenty plus years and play it a lot.  But recently it has lost volume and does not have the tone it used to have.  I repair violins and bows so I am not a rookie at this but I have been unable to find any information on sound post placement.  This violin has a modern neck, not a Baroque one.  W.Nelson Louderback

bridge position
bridge position  
ANSWER: Hi and Happy Holidays

There is no such thing as a "Strad" or any other makers positioning of a sound post. There is only a basic starting position that is adjusted until you get the sound that you want. I have seen Strads with very differing sound post positions, all were appropriate. The same rule applies to both real and copies of Stainer violins, there is no exact placement, just the one that is best for that instrument based on the users needs and likes. Basically the sound post is positioned (to start with) about the thickness of the bridge behind the bridge and centered on the treble foot.  It is then adjusted up or back for sound.  If it is found that it needs to be closer of further from the bass side, a shorter or longer post may be needed as you can only make very subtle changes in those directions without damage to the inside of the instrument. Sometimes several posts are needed to be cut before the sound can be optimized. Often times the density of the sound post wood will need to be changed to alter the tonal characteristics. In addition, adjustments to the bridge may need to be done to alter the tone. The sound post can easily move on its own during changes in temperature or humidity as the top rises and falls or if the tension is removed from the top if all the strings are changed at once. I have attached a diagram of the basic starting sound post position.

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QUESTION: Thanks Dave,  Strad position is just my term for the standard starting position shown in all the Reference books.  I was not certain if it applied to Stainer's or not.  I have never touched the Sound post in this violin until recently, when I changed tailpieces to a Pusch fine tuner tailpiece.  Not sure I like them.  But moving the sound post has improved the tone and volume.  Usually a purest, but my hands are getting older and they do not work the pegs as well.  Plus I record a lot and need accurate tuning.  Trade offs.  If you know of a better fine tuner tail piece I would appreciate the info.  I hate buying some thing and then finding out it does not work.  I have at least a half dozen shoulder rests in that category.  Do not want any of the metal tailpieces,  they are fine for electric playing.  Worthless for acoustic.  WNL

The Pusch model is probably the best of the tailpieces but it is also has the finest tuner adjustment, too fine for some people and because it is wood it might end up being a little heavier than some other 4 tuner tailpieces.  The relatively new Wittner composite 4 tuner tailpiece is probably the lightest and looks very much like wood. The threads on the tuners are not as fine as the Pusch model making it not as fine an adjustment. It really depends on your needs, but you may find that doing some bridge adjustments or even some tailgut length trials may also be of some use.  I assume you have set the after length of the tailpiece 54-57 mm, a 1:6 ratio, (tuning the after length of the D string to an A - 2 1/2 octaves higher).  A kevlar tailgut is also great for opening up the sound.  Keep in mind that too light of a tailpiece can also have a detrimental effect on some instruments.  It is often just a matter of trial and error, I know that is not what you wanted to hear.

Depending on the instruments arching, you may need the post to be positioned closer or further away in general. A high arched instrument that tends to be softer and darker might need the post to be set closer to the bridge in general. I know of one maker that starts his post fitting 1mm inside the outer edge of
the bridge foot and 2.5mm behind the bridge. Here is a link to some good information on set up -  


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David Lashof


I can answer questions on violin, viola, cello and bass making, repair and maintenance as well as supply general violin value ranges and information on instrument makers’ assuming the instrument's as labeled. I don't give values for modern makers as many of these modern makers are yet unknown to me. I can only give you feedback based on what information you give me, and no authority on the instrument can know every maker's work that ever lived. I have access to many books on makers and auction prices on over 25,000 makers, as well as having 36 years of experience with selling and appraising violins. Without having the instrument in hand, any estimate over the internet is just a guess as the label inside an instrument is more often wrong than right, so just having that information is not very useful. Pictures can sometimes be helpful but only so much, as the "feel" of the instrument along with small clues in workmanship and varnish cannot be seen in pictures. Any pictures should be high quality close-ups of the top and back. Additional photos of the front and treble side of the neck are also useful. It is always best to have an instrument seen in person at a violin shop that does appraisals. I can also provide advice on bows, rosin, strings and other string instrument accessories. As I am now retired, I have no bias towards selling anything; I only wish to share my knowledge and experience by providing information for those that may be getting confused by misinformation, misdirection or conflicting statements. (While I have seen many thousands of instruments and have performed numerous appraisals; if I have not evaluated an instrument in person, any information I set forth in an opinion is just that, an opinion based solely on what you have provided. Thusly, no financial decision should be based on that opinion, but rather, further investigation should be performed by having the instrument examined in person.)


I am a retired violin maker and repairman with 35 years experience having worked in Chicago and Maryland at 5 different violin shops and music stores including the first violin repairman at William Harris Lee in Chicago, the head repairman at Weavers Violins in Maryland, and in my own shop of 25 years. I have made 160 instruments and have restored countless professional level and student grade instruments. I am an accomplished violinist having performed with semi-professional as well as amateur groups although I haven't played for years and mostly stay away from questions about playing. I have taught violin making and restoration to about 20 students; three of which have gone on professionally and now have their own shops. I know violins from playing, selling, repairing, making and teaching.

Violin Society of America (VSA). American String Teachers Association (ASTA)

I graduated from the prestigious 4 year Chicago School of Violin Making in 1981 under Master Violin Maker Tschu Ho Lee. I also studied with violin maker Willis M. Gault in Washington DC from 1973-75, who was the former owner of the oldest known example of an instrument from the modern violin family, an Andreas Amati Viola.

Awards and Honors
2008 Chester Petranek Award for service to the music community. ASTA award for service. Top All Expert in Violin for 2014 and 2015.

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I have worked with many professional musicians from DC area Symphonies as well as players from all over the US. Here are just a few, Leonard Slatkin - Former conductor of the National Symphony Orchestra. Doris Gazda - Nationally renowned string specialist and composer. Bernard Greenhouse, Tanya Anisimova - Internationally renowned Solo Cellists. Jody Gatwood, Mark Pfannschmidt, Lori Barnet, Doug Dubé, Judy Silverman - National Philharmonic Orchestra. Robert Blatt, David Hardy, Glen Garlick - National Symphony Orchestra. Eddie Stubbs, Brendan Mulvahill, Nate Leath - Professional Fiddle Players. David Basche, Pat Braunlich, John Knudson, Romano Solano, Ed Ferris, Fred Lieder - freelance musicians.

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