Making Matters: Set the records straight


Acoustic testing can generate a huge amount of data on a single instrument. Rainer Beilharz shows how to record it in a meaningful way for visually oriented people

It has become commonplace for violin makers to collect at least the basic acoustical data of the instruments they make. In some cases, new data is taken from one step to the next – a process that can create a daunting amount of numbers, especially when they are on a computer spreadsheet. These may be wonderful for analytics, but I have found them impractical in a workshop situation. It’s easy to lose your place when reading numbers along a line, especially when you are leaning across a workbench to scroll across a large spreadsheet. Numbers on a line can also seem very abstract and hard to put into context with each other.

My preference is to write down acoustical data and other notes by hand, for a number of reasons. Handwritten notes are more practical on a workbench; they’re easier to be spontaneously added to; and they are more memorable, which is useful if you wish to keep a number in mind for reference as you work.

Some years ago I decided to try to collect data in a more visually oriented way, and a very simple sheet has evolved into a three-sheet system covering the making of the instrument and some sound assessment at the end. In writing this, I am assuming the reader has a basic understanding of violin acoustic terms, as an explanation of modes and reference numbers is beyond the scope of this article…

Already subscribed? Please sign in

Subscribe to continue reading…

We’re delighted that you are enjoying our website. For a limited period, you can try an online subscription to The Strad completely free of charge.

  • Free 7-day trial

    Not sure about subscribing? Sign up now to read this article in full and you’ll also receive unlimited access to premium online content, including the digital edition and online archive for 7 days.

    No strings attached – we won’t ask for your card details

  • Subscribe 

    No more paywalls. To enjoy the best in-depth features and analysis from The Strad’s latest and past issues, upgrade to a subscription now. You’ll also enjoy regular issues and special supplements* and access to an online archive of issues back to 2010.


* Issues and supplements are available as both print and digital editions. Online subscribers will only receive access to the digital versions.