Making Matters: Set the records straight

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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…

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