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Workshop of acoustics for luthiers

Acoustics is a fundamental tool for contemporary luthiers: it empowers our skills, allowing us to make correct choices and design instruments that satisfy our requirements

Understanding acoustics however can be very difficult, especially when the link between theory and practice is not so easy to establish.

The workshop aims at filling the gap between science and practical experience by keeping the theory at minimum and pointing towards application. In this way, luthiers can learn useful tools to choose materials, understand how instruments work and how to design them. 

Besides the scientific approach, the workshop is based on experience: the participants will perform some simple experiements and will be guided in the characterization of materials and musical instruments.

Who is it for?

This workshop is useful for both professional and amateur luthiers that aim at:

  • Selecting tonewood and other materials (such as composite materials) on a scientific base;
  • Understanding the features that characterize an instrument that has a particularly inspiring (or non inspiring) sound and being capable of measuring and reproducing them.
  • Designing and building instruments with a reproducible sound;
  • Giving instruments with a sound that they are looking for;
  • Solve intonation problems (wolf notes, dull notes) of an existing instrument;

Some of the covered topics are:

  • Physics fo non-experts: introduction to sound waves, vibrations and harmonic oscillators;
  • How string vibrate and how they exert forces at the bridge;
  • Wood properties, soundboard and soundbox vibration ;
  • Bracing: how they work (and how they do not work), how to design bracing in efficient instruments;
  • Acoustic analysis for dummies: how to characterize musical instruments and what information can we get from this analysis.
 

How does it take place?

The workshop takes place over three days. It includes several prectical experiences where the theory is applied. Participants are welcome to bring an instrument to characterize.

Prerequisites

Basic high school maths, basic experience of instruments building.

Required material

Computer (with a spreadsheet application such as Microsoft Excel, Numbers, Calc or similar), microphone and audio board. For those interested, it is possible to buy a microphone with a mini USB board to connect it to the computer. 

Where and when

The workshop will be advertised on the homepage and on this page. It is also possible to organize a workshop with a minimum of 4 interested people by contacting me directly.

          Martino Quintavalla

Martino graduated in Materials Engineering at Politecnico di Milano, where he subsequently got his PhD studying the applications of materials in several fields. After more than 10 years building intruments for himself, he becomes luthier by refining his skills with Master Luthier Federico Gabrielli in Milan and by applying his knowledge to the design and construction of musical instruments. From 2020 to 2023 he has been teacher of acoustics at the Civica Scuola di Liuteria di Milano and now he is a post-doc researcher at the university of Bergamo where he deals with the characterization of wood and musical instruments with acoustical techniques and X-ray tomography.

Upcoming workshops

16-17 Dicembre 2023 e 27-28 gennaio 2024 Milano

Workshop di 3 giorni dedicato a liutai di strumenti ad arco e a pizzico presso il Laboratorio di Liuteria, Via Pellegrino Rossi n° 5, 20161, Milano (MI)

16-17 Dicembre: Acustica degli strumenti a corda e proprietà del legno
27 Gennaio: modulo di approfondimento su strumenti a pizzico
28 Gennaio: modulo di approfondimento su strumenti ad arco

13-14 Ottobre 2023 Trento

c/o Associazione Amici della Liuteria – l’Istituto professionale “S. Pertini”,  Viale Verona 141, 38123 Trento

22-24 Settembre 2023 Cremona

Masterclass di liuteria per chitarra acustica classica e moderna di Cremona Mondomusica 2023

Are you interested in the workshop? Contact me to organize a workshop in your area.

Are you interested? Would you like to organize a workshop where you live?

Just find 6 participants and a suitable place!

They say about the workshop

This is an absolutely excellent course for any acoustic stringed instrument builder. Martino explains, in a very clear way, the physical basics of sound production, how to measure different characteristics of tonewood, bracing and completed instruments, the simple tools you need for these measurements and how to adapt and optimize instrument design based on measurement results. He is a wonderful communicator and educator, and translates technical concepts into easily understandable principles, then links these together in a logical progression, meaning that anyone with even basic maths skills can follow with no difficulty. I highly recommend the course - take it if you ever have the opportunity!
El curso de acústica que ofrece Martino es tremendamente util e interesante para cualquier tipo de luthier. Martino además de tener un gran conocimiento en el campo de la lutheria y de la acústica es un gran comunicador y sabe trasladar de una manera clara todos los conceptos. Una vez realizado el curso mis conocimientos en el funcionamiento acústico de las guitarras ha aumentado y estoy seguro de que podré poner en práctica todo lo aprendido para así poder crear mejores instrumentos. Un curso totalmente recomendable.
Ho sempre cercato di capire qualcosa in più sugli aspetti più scientifici della liuteria: grazie al corso ho aumentato notevolmente le mie conoscenze e mi ha fornito dei nuovi "strumenti" per poter lavorare!! Un corso che ogni liutaio dovrebbe fare, per poi poter fare delle scelte nel suo lavoro!
Corso molto interessante e ben strutturato, dà un'ottima base di partenza per poter approfondire l'acustica degli strumenti musicali senza perdersi nella tonnellata di pubblicazioni sul tema, con ottimi consigli per iniziare a prendere qualche misura sugli strumenti in laboratorio e per pianificare la costruzione. Consigliato sia per chi ha pochissime basi scientifiche che per chi parte già conoscendo un po' la materia!
Un corso densissimo di concetti interessanti e spesso illuminanti! Martino è stato molto chiaro, facendoci capire anche quei passaggi tecnici che altrimenti sarebbero risultati difficili per chi, come me, è a digiuno di fisica e matematica da qualche anno.
Asistí a la masterclass de Martino en Cremona y fue enormemente enriquecedora. Tiene un talento especial para explicar cómo se comportan los instrumentos musicales y a qué se debe su sonido. Desde la explicación de los conceptos más básicos y de cómo hacer mediciones acústicas hasta cómo corregir el sonido una vez terminado el instrumento, el curso ofrece conocimientos y herramientas para poner en práctica en el taller. Quien tenga la oportunidad que no dude en asistir!
Questo corso è decisamente molto interessante e utile per chi pratica il mestiere del liutaio ed è molto ben strutturato. Martino ha la capacità non comune di guidare i partecipanti nella comprensione di concetti complessi, fornendo le basi per affrontare la costruzione di uno strumento in modo scientifico.