This is a fascinating post by Christopher Martyn, an instrument maker who built a very unconventional violin then recorded it being played:
“I’m not claiming for a moment that the sound made by this Savart violin is the equal of a fine traditional instrument, although I’ve heard many ‘proper’ violins that sound far worse. Nor am I saying that violin makers are wasting their time by paying so much attention to plate thicknessing, plate tuning and arching, although the fact that a flat-topped box-fiddle produces such a violin-like sound does make one wonder whether these things are as important as generally thought. What I am suggesting is that, before offering the opinion that old is better than new or that violins made by Stradivari or Guarneri sound better than those made today, it might be a good idea to ask ourselves if there’s any evidence to justify this view or whether we’re simply repeating a hoary old myth.”
I once attempted to build a violin but ran into difficulty with the fingerboard radius. I left it in frustration (and now have no idea what I did with the thing) but hope to try again some day. Right now I’m working on a little four-string ukulele made from scrap wood and a big old steel mug. The body and neck are done. Now it needs the soundboard sanded thinner, plus the hardware added. I haven’t decided if I’m going to make my own frets from an old clothes hanger or buy proper fretwire and have it shipped in. Work on these things is slow as I have to set up on the porch and the rain stops my work, as does the noise and mess. We rent where multiple other people live and I don’t have the luxury of stepping into a workshop and getting things done when I like. I miss my barn.
Go read the post – I thought the comments on the perceived quality and sound of violins were quite interesting.
*Image at top belongs to Christopher Martyn and pictures the violin mentioned in this post. See his site and other instruments here.