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Sound Post Placement

Fiddle theology often mentions moving the sound post as a way to improve tone. This is true, but complicated. Imagine the topography of the inside of the fiddle. The greatest distance from the back to the top is somewhere near the center. The distance diminishes along a curving line as you move toward the ribs. Everything varies with graduation and shape. A properly fit sound post is exactly the right height, and with the exact bevel on both ends, to fit perfectly in one location inside the violin. If you move it to another location it will be either too short or too long or the top and bottom bevel will be wrong. I think that the most common reason for a sound post not being in the traditional position is that a post cut too short will still stand up if you move it closer to the edge. A post that is too long won't stand up. One that is too short, for whatever reason, shrinkage of the post, swelling of the violin, or one luthiers knife slice too many, will still stand, but out of place.  It is probably true that some violin will sound better with a perfectly fit sound post a few mm farther back or closer to the center etc. If you look for this sweet spot by moving one sound post around you are doing a flawed experiment. I fit a new sound post, perfectly, in the traditional position. I then move on to the bridge.
Steve Mason

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