SDC Handmade Blades

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Here's something you don't see everyday, a 10 ply Limba blade with a Limba handle! Tested this one briefly and it's very solid, biggest sweetspot I've seen on a all-wood blade despite the relatively small thickness.

Composition: 10 Ply Limba
Weight: 99.5g
Thickness: ~5.45mm
Freq.: 1100 Hz
Balance: 2.6cm (low)

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That looks amazing!

Out of interest, how would you rate the speed compared to any well-known all-wood blade? I know frequency readings don't tell the whole story, so I'd be interested to how how this compares to something like a Tibhar Samsonov Force Pro Black, or a Korbel SK7, or any other 'benchmark' all-wood blade.
 
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That looks amazing!

Out of interest, how would you rate the speed compared to any well-known all-wood blade? I know frequency readings don't tell the whole story, so I'd be interested to how how this compares to something like a Tibhar Samsonov Force Pro Black, or a Korbel SK7, or any other 'benchmark' all-wood blade.

It's certainly not as fast as those examples, simply because the thickness difference is too big. I made this some time ago but if my memory serves me well I think is somewhere in the upper range of All+ or lower range Off-. It shares some traits with the Nittaku Goriki and I see this being used by an offensive chopper or simply by an all-round player that wants a bigger sweetspot or more solid feel than a typical 5 ply blade offers.
 
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Another asymmetric blade for a pips out player, this one is a beast!

Composition: Koto / Ayous / Aramid-Carbon (S) / Ayous / Aramid-Carbon / Spruce / Ash
Weight: 95.2g
Thickness: ~5.7mm
Freq.: 1313/1356 Hz
Balance: 2.5cm (Low)

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Here's something you don't see everyday, a 10 ply Limba blade with a Limba handle! Tested this one briefly and it's very solid, biggest sweetspot I've seen on a all-wood blade despite the relatively small thickness.

Composition: 10 Ply Limba
Weight: 99.5g
Thickness: ~5.45mm
Freq.: 1100 Hz
Balance: 2.6cm (low)

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I'm looking at the weight. Did you make this for Der_Echte? :) hahahahaha.

On second thought, that may be a little too light for him. :)
 
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There is a lot of talk about hide glue and the great feeling it provides. I’m always skeptical of this kind of claims so I decided to test this myself by building two exact blades, with the only variable being the glue used. First I will give a brief description of these two glues:
Hide Glue: This is an animal protein based glue, which is water soluble. Because of this it is vastly used in instrument building and repair. The ease of reversibility allows luthiers to perform repairs without damaging the instrument by simply injecting moisture into the joint. The glue doesn’t penetrate the wood, instead it forms a layer over the material and bonds to it. This glue is hard to work with because it has to be applied while still hot. Because of this it has a very short open time, and if the layers aren’t clamped within this time frame a poor bond can be formed.
PU Glue: Polyurethane glue is a polymer based adhesive with great strength. It is waterproof once cured and it penetrates the pores of the wood forming a great bond. It is easier to work with because it has a relatively high open time.
Building procedure:
I decided to perform this test with a 5 ply composition similar to the perhaps most famous hide glue blade out there, the Nittaku Acoustic. But instead of using a Limba medial ply, I chose to use a harder but thinner Sycamore Maple layer. So, the composition is Limba / Sycamore / Kiri / Sycamore / Limba.
All the plies were carefully selected so that the weight before the glue was applied was the same. The method for applying the glue was the same on both blades, a layer of glue on both sides to be glued, and the blades were clamped at the same time, using the same pressure. The weight difference after the plies were glued and the shape was 0.6g, with the PU blade being the heavier. It wasn’t possible to keep the handles with the same exact weight but the difference was very small. The final weight of the blades was 89.5g for both.

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Results:
These were my findings after testing both blades. The first difference I noticed was on the pitch while bouncing a ball on the bare blades. The Hide glue blade possessed a lower pitch, which was corroborated by the measured peak frequency. The Hide glue blade measured 1205 Hz while the PU measured 1227 Hz, a small but noticeable difference. This immediately told me the PU blade would be a little harder and stiffer. These were also the impressions I got during play. The Hide glue blade provides a slightly softer feeling, while the PU feels just a little harder and faster.
Conclusion:So, is there a difference? Short answer: Yes! But is one better than the other? Not necessarily…I have a preference for softer blades so in this case my vote goes for the Hide glue blade, but I’m sure that a lot of people would prefer the more solid and direct feeling of the PU blade. This decision is very subjective and would depend on the player. Keep in mind that these differences were very small, and in a blind test some might not even notice the difference. There is also the matter of the amount of glue used. With hide glue a layer on each side is needed to have a perfect bond, but with PU glue I normally just need one layer to have a strong bond. So in the case of this test I used more glue than needed, which exacerbated the feeling. In retrospect, I should’ve built a third blade using this method...

Some time has passed and both blades have been played for a few weeks, but have been stored for most of the time. Measuring their current weights, the PU blade lost 0.3g while the hide glue one lost 0.8g. This is in line with what I was expecting, but the most interesting part is that the peak frequency is 1227 Hz for both. So, there was an increase of approximately 22 Hz in the hide glue blade, meaning it became a bit stiffer, while the other one remained stable.


I will test both blades again to see if the changes in the numbers represent any real difference in the playing properties.
 
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Someone once gave me an idea to build a Viscaria type blade with the JO Shape. I never got to do it but shortly after I got a request to make exactly that!

Composition: Koto / A-C / Ayous / Kiri/ Ayous / A-C / Koto
Weight: 88.2 and 88.3g
Thickness: 5.8mm
Freq.: 1460Hz
Balance: 2.3cm (Low)

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Someone once gave me an idea to build a Viscaria type blade with the JO Shape. I never got to do it but shortly after I got a request to make exactly that!

Composition: Koto / A-C / Ayous / Kiri/ Ayous / A-C / Koto
Weight: 88.2 and 88.3g
Thickness: 5.8mm
Freq.: 1460Hz
Balance: 2.3cm (Low)

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They look really nice.

There is one thing I think I am seeing that I am wondering about: It looks like the core of both blades is two pieces of wood joined and the join is right about the center of the handle, and looks like it would likely run right through the center of the blade face.

Was that a conscious choice? It looks too perfectly centered in both blades not to have been. But, if it was, is there a functional reason for this? Can you explain possible reasons for designing the core in that way?

Thanks in advance.
 
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They look really nice.

There is one thing I think I am seeing that I am wondering about: It looks like the core of both blades is two pieces of wood joined and the join is right about the center of the handle, and looks like it would likely run right through the center of the blade face.

Was that a conscious choice? It looks too perfectly centered in both blades not to have been. But, if it was, is there a functional reason for this? Can you explain possible reasons for designing the core in that way?

Thanks in advance.

Until recently I was using just one species of kiri (Paulownia Elongata), but I could only get boards 10cm wide, so it was impossible for me to do one piece cores. This was never a problem for me because I never saw a difference in performance. Some people will argue that it does, but the truth is that you can see multi piece cores, often more than 2, on expensive blades from Butterfly, Nittaku, Xiom, etc... Recently I found another supplier with a different species (Paulownia Tomentosa), this tree grows bigger so now I can make one piece cores. I will still use the other one from time to time because it's a bit lighter, so they can serve different purposes.
 
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Until recently I was using just one species of kiri (Paulownia Elongata), but I could only get boards 10cm wide, so it was impossible for me to do one piece cores. This was never a problem for me because I never saw a difference in performance. Some people will argue that it does, but the truth is that you can see multi piece cores, often more than 2, on expensive blades from Butterfly, Nittaku, Xiom, etc... Recently I found another supplier with a different species (Paulownia Tomentosa), this tree grows bigger so now I can make one piece cores. I will still use the other one from time to time because it's a bit lighter, so they can serve different purposes.

Okay. So the issue was the width of the wood you had available. I personally think it is fine. I was just wondering if there was a technical reason.

It is true some major brands have this with mass produced blades. Also, not sure how much it would affect playing characteristics. A single sheet could also have some inconsistencies just two joined pieces may or may not have.

So, I was just checking if there was a deeper reasoning behind it.
 
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Okay. So the issue was the width of the wood you had available. I personally think it is fine. I was just wondering if there was a technical reason.

It is true some major brands have this with mass produced blades. Also, not sure how much it would affect playing characteristics. A single sheet could also have some inconsistencies just two joined pieces may or may not have.

So, I was just checking if there was a deeper reasoning behind it.

That is exactly one of my arguments. Somebody that has seen these raw boards knows that the wood has some inconsistencies, knots, etc that can affect performance more than a joint that is stronger than the surrounding wood. With a jointed core I can work around the inconsistencies and keep the symmetry. These new boards are actually relatively clean, but I did have to put some aside because they had defects I could not avoid.
 
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Im using it the same way, two pieces of core wood glued together. You can see it on my videos. They can be bought usually in 1mx10cm. So i cut them and join together so there's no density inconsistencies .And all brands do it like this, sometimes even more . Everione is saving many andand they are joining wood from different trees or part of tree . This is sawing money for them in mass production.
 
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A commissioned "Violin" with a bigger head size. Does this mean it's a Viola? :)

Composition: Ash / Ash / Kiri / Ash / Ash
Weight: 83.1
Thickness: ~5.35mm
Head size: 158x152mm
Freq.: 1185 Hz
Balance: 3.4 cm (Med)

Ah finally! Have been playing a couple of weeks now with this blade and only have positive things to say. Will post a more detailed write up / comparison to my Violin soon. Oh and you should probably trademark that name before Nittaku steals it, can’t think of a more suitable name for this blade.
 
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Ah finally! Have been playing a couple of weeks now with this blade and only have positive things to say. Will post a more detailed write up / comparison to my Violin soon. Oh and you should probably trademark that name before Nittaku steals it, can’t think of a more suitable name for this blade.

Looking forward to your review. If you could post it in the other review/impressions thread it would be great. The name actually makes sense because it's bigger than the Violin but not as big as the Violoncello.
 
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Making clone blades is really hard. Composition is not the only thing that matters in a blade, there are many other variables that play a part in the performance. That's why you can see so many commercial blades that, despite having the same composition, will play and feel different. By playing with these variables in the construction phase I can achieve different results. For example, if you want a Viscaria type blade but harder and faster, here it is.

Composition: Koto / A-C / Ayous / Kiri / Ayous / A-C / Koto
Weight: 88.0g
Thickness: 5.75mm
Freq.: 1550 Hz
Balance: 2.1cm (Very Low)

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Made this one a while ago just because I wanted to make a 7ply with a kiri core and also test a 7 ply composition with a big core and thinner outer layer. Feels a bit more elastic than the typical 7ply blade with thick medial layers and not so hard. Speed is probably in the upper Off- range.

Composition: Etimoe / Limba / Black Walnut / Kiri / Black Walnut / Limba / Etimoe
Weight: 86.1g
Thickness: 6.2mm
Freq.: 1250Hz
Balance: 3.2cm (Med)

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Unfortunately I don't have Hinoki thick enough to make 1 ply blades but I have a really nice Cypress for 3 ply blades. So I made this one with Kiso Hinoki outer and Cypress core. Nice soft feeling with good control, high throw blade, speed is probably in the All+/Off- range.

Composition: Kiso Hinoki / Glass-fiber / Cypress / Glass-fiber / Kiso Hinoki
Weight: 90g
Thickness: 6.4mm
Freq.: 1120 Hz
Balance: 3.0cm (Med)

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