The contour

Technique for measuring the contour with an example of a model comparison: Montagnana and Stradivari.

As was the case when recording the arching, the MARTIN SCHLESKE MASTER STUDIO FOR VIOLINMAKING determines the contour of the instrument by measuring a "cloud" of Cartesian points (in this case, XY coordinates) with a coordinate test setup. A computer is then used to present the numerical data as a contour line graph. This technique has the following benefits:

  • Easy printout of a true-to-scale contour (1:1) on millimeter paper. This is very useful when making an instrument based on the design of an existing instrument.
  • Comparison of different data sets (instruments) by displaying the contours in different line colors on the same diagram. This is a good way to make a simple (quantitative) comparison of the designs of different instruments.

The following figure shows a comparison of the contour data sets for two classic old Italian violins:

Contour comparison for two violins.
Red: Domenico Montagnana (1729). Black: Antonio Stradivari (1712).
Similarities and characteristic differences in the design are immediately apparent. Montagnana used a shorter model with a C-bout width and upper width that are larger than the more slender Stradivarius contour.