Why do we use spruce for the top of our violins?
Hello and welcome back!
Today we will talk about why we use spruce for the top of our instruments!
As usual, if you want to know more I suggest you to look at the video down below and subscribe to my channel:
I am focusing on building violins from pieces of wood like this:
And I also offer to buy this kind of bundle (contact me here)
And out of this 4kg wood pile you will have a finished violin of a half a kilo!
You can choose out of a different pieces of wood, and the type of wood used is always an interesting aspect!
All our instruments are made with a pretty traditional type of wood, which means:
Ribs, back and neck out of maple. Sometimes the scroll can also be out of different woods such as poplar
You can even use nut, wood from fruit plants like pear, apple, mahogany or even plane tree!
Here you can see the difference between a plane tree wood and an apple tree wood:
Note that certainly everything influences the sound, poplar is softer in sound!
But when it comes to the top we always use spruce
The reason is quite simple:
An instrument is a mechanical object that by stroking the chords is putting into vibration the bridge. The bridge is the major part of the engine, which at the very ends putting into vibration the entire top!
The top is connected with the bass-bar and also the sound-post, which connects the top to the back.
The sound-post kind of blocks the the top on one side and the other side is vibrating more freely.
Spruce has been used over the years on a lot of instruments (pianos, guitars..). In all these cases the top, which is responsible for good sound vibrations, is always out of spruce
There are certain woods that are similar to spruce (cedar for guitars and so on) but on a violin we have such a limited area with a lot of measurements and little room to change something: a cedar wood on top means that you cannot compare it with other violins.
Another detail is that, for me, all the best sounding spruce comes from the Val di Fiemme (Italy).
There is a valley there where the wood grows with a very constant wind speed for the entire year so that the dark grain is very this and the material is very homogeneous all year around!
So, in short, the answer is: the best vibrating material is spruce and that is why we use it in violinmaking!
I am also working on a 48.000 years wood for a violin and the top is a very particular wood with strange designs inside and this is actually called "maschiato", the best choice for spruce in violinmaking!
This type of wood is very elastic: the elasticity is very good and the speed of the frequency is very quick!
Naturally, the bigger the instrument the "less" important is the type of material used: in Latin America I have seen or heard about doublebasses where the top was made from the same material of the back, probably mahogany, and was sounding extremely good. You cannot do the same thing with a violin because of the limited space and high precision required!
Thank you for reading this blog post!
Greetings from Cremona,