Trade Secrets: Asymmetric neck shaping
A method that allows for deviation from the standard neck outline, for the comfort of the individual player
When you hold an instrument for the first time, you get a feeling for it before playing a single note. It’s not just down to its visual appearance: consciously or unconsciously, just the act of touching it gives you a first impression. Players can sometimes find the way the neck is carved uncomfortable – but what determines whether it will feel comfortable or not?
As so often in violin making, a lot of interacting factors are responsible. A slim, smooth neck is never preferable, and some players like their necks to be quite thick. Bearing in mind that we all have different anatomies and playing techniques, there is no point in conforming rigidly to a single outline. For me, the most important variable is the manner of shaping the neck.
In my days at Mittenwald I was taught to make necks with a perfect, fully rounded profile (a), but nowadays, for the above reasons, I never use this method. If you are lucky enough to be making instruments to commission, it can be useful to …