Thursday, May 26, 2011

Violin Backs: Two Piece or One Piece

One of the great debates of violin making is whether a one piece or a two piece back is better. The quick answer is neither. It will be a much better choice to buy the violin whose sound and looks you love.
There are just too many other factors that go into the making of a violin to isolate whether a one piece or two piece back is better.

To understand this more, I decided
to do a little studying of  Stradivarius. I dug out the old
Meister Italienischer Geigenbaukunst book by Walter Hamma and started to count. (This is just a representation of the nicer violins made by Stradivarius, not the total number of violins
he made.)

One Piece Stradivarius Violins: 20
Two Piece Stradivarius Violins: 30
 
So Stradivarius, our go to guy for all things violin, could not decide either.

And for all you cellists (and violists) out there, it is simply harder to find a big enough piece of wood for a one piece back.

Yes, the seam on the back is one more place on the instrument that could come unglued, but, with proper care, this is less likely to happen. There are certainly many older instruments out there that have two piece backs and are in great condition!

It is hard to compare different pieces of wood until they are made into instruments. Every piece is unique.


Here is an example of a two piece back by Jerome Thibouville Lamy. You can see the glue joint running as a vertical line from the top to bottom of the instrument:

 

   
Jerome Thibouville Lamy- 2 piece back example





Here are beautiful examples of  Andrew Fein/Rigidio Riva violins with a one piece backs. The flame running from one side of the instrument to the other give  a very powerful and beautiful persona:



R. Riva Violin- 1 piece back example

R. Riva Violin- 1 piece back example


The true answer to the one piece or two piece back debate is whichever violin (or viola, or cello) sounds and looks best to you, that's the right one for you!

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