AS01/ 32 Antique French 3/8th violin. Circa 1900-1920
AS01/ 32 Antique 3/8th French Violin. Circa 1900-1920. Labelled “LE PARISIEN J.T.L’.
The majority of violins are made with two-piece backs because they can be cut from a tree only slightly wider than the instrument that will be made from it. As there are more small trees than big trees, there is a greater selection of small cuts from which to choose the right piece of wood.
To make a two-piece back, the wood is first cut out of the log in a wedge. This wedge is then cut again down the centre. The two pieces are ‘book-matched’ so that the grain, flames, and consistency of the wood are fairly symmetrical on each side.
A one-piece back is rarer because it is cut from a single wedge wide enough for the entire back. This back has the same vertical grain as a two-piece back, but needs to come from a tree that is more than twice as wide as the instrument that will be made from it.
A one-piece back tends to produce a deeper, rounder, less edgy sound. However, slab backs are not as stable as quartered backs, and over time usually exhibit more arching deformation, though they continue to function quite well.
However, what is more important is than whether it is not whether the back is made of one or two pieces, but rather that the wood is good.