System Noebe

There was a time in the late 19th and early 20th centuries when all manner of inventions to improve the tone of violins were tried. Musicians, physicists and makers were all in on the act.

Many of these supposed revolutionary ideas had a good following at the time, but quickly fell from favour in the following years. Understandably, soundposts, bridges and bassbars were often the victim of such theories, along with methods for tuning the plates. One person who subscribed to many of these procedures was Louis Noebe.
Noebe was born in 1844 and became an accomplished musician. Around 1865 he set up a violin making workshop at Bad Homburg, near Frankfurt. I believe that instruments were made by workmen in his employment, rather than by himself. Although Noebe tried many modifications to improve the sound, his only lasting one was a modified bassbar which was termed System Noebe.

The bassbar had a series of cut outs to help the belly vibrate freely, and curiously a short extra section of bassbar on the lower bout. A standard bassbar is fully fitted along it’s entire length with no gaps.
I have seen a similar type of bar on French instruments made in Mirecourt, around 1920. They have much larger cut out sections, but are without the extra piece used by Noebe. In the past I had a French violin by Drouin with just such a bar.

The Noebe violin is well made, the workmanship is very neat and the varnish is good. When I get it restored, I’m sure that it will sound great, but I won’t be putting that down to the bar.
While I don’t think this type of bar makes an instrument sound better, I don’t think it will sound any worse for it.

For those not familiar with what a standard bassbar looks like, the last picture shows one that I have just done on a viola.

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Categories: Restoration

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