Violin/violin plate


Mr. Lashof,  Let's say a violin plate in it's unfinished condition is tuned to F (349 hz), then f-holes cut and finished causing the plate tone to be lower and then bass bar glued and shaped to raise the tone back up.  Question is can the bass bar be shaped to bring the tone back up to a lower note/frequency instead of the starting tone before f-hole cutting?  Example-  Start with 346hz (f) and finish with (e) 329 hz after shaping bass bar with no more thinning of the plate.  Also, do you have any tips for champfering/thinning the underside f-hole area.  Like how much wood to remove.  I read an article from Hutchins that f-hole trimming and thinning after bass bar installation raises the frequency instead of lowering it.  That has me confused some.


If you decide that is what you want to do, possibly so that the top will match the pitch of the back, it's best to start the process before the bar is glued in. A softer wood with fewer grains can help. When trimming it down, leave it higher in the center and trim more at the ends, making very small adjustments as you go. When finishing it, do your rounding over as part of the tuning process, so start early and do more rounding on the ends than in the middle. Wider opening in the length of the "f" holes can also lower the pitch. Also make sure that the plates edges are rounded over as far as the tuning process goes. With all of these things, the adjustment is probably only in the 5% range, about what in your example is possible.  

I am not a fan of trimming the underside of the f's, this can weaken the top and make cracks from the f's even easier to form than usual. This is one of the things that Hutchins did that really wasn't very good in the long run and as far as I know, no serious maker does it anymore.  So other than widening the opening a little, I would leave them alone.

Keep in mind that a lower Htz tuning will make for a softer sound, more of an orchestra or chamber music instrument.


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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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