Making Matters: Thinking outside the soundbox


What effect do elements such as the bass-bar and neck heel have on an instrument’s sound quality? Jan Špidlen made an experimental violin, with a number of adjustable features, to find out

I have always been interested in pushing the boundaries of violin design and discovering how the traditional instrument form could be modified to suit the needs of the player. When working on classical models, there is not much space for fantasy or thinking outside the box. In 2005, for instance, I made an instrument with shortened corners, enlarged f-holes and a lead weight inlaid in the scroll. I also coloured it blue. It attracted the attention of the Czech soloist Pavel Šporcl, who has owned it since 2005 and now uses it as his principal performing instrument. A couple of years ago, however, I made another experimental violin in order to test the functionality of some of its most important parts – the bass-bar and the neck heel – and the impact they can have on the instrument’s sound. I also made some changes to the design of the body, f-holes and scroll…

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