A website for the serious amateur violin maker, restorer and tinkerer. A violin's front and back can be tuned using tap-tones. Measure the tap tones and plate weights and adjust them to get the best sound, the kind of sound you want, or make an instrument that is easy to bow.

This site can help if you are making a violin or you want to improve  a low cost violin or viola.

By tuning and weighing the top & back plates be confident that you will get a really good instrument that responds well and can sound like a $1500 instrument.

Like the best coffee ...  LATTE!

tapping belly 2 sml

Light-weight plates, &

  A is for Arching,

   TT is for Tap-tones, &

      E  is for Edge-work.

post-25136-1224022475 Strad back graduation V1.1 smll1
Violin plate Modes and Weights 1.1 smll

email: webmaster @platetuning.org

 Last updated:

1st.. Jan. 2021

Copyright  (C)



Who are we?

    My name’s Jonathan Rowe, and I’ve been playing violin as an amateur for some 53 years now, and rebuilding basket-case violins and violas for more than 10 years. Over the last 5 or 6 years the odd violin or two for rebuilding has become the 40 or more - when I discovered eBay. Not one single violin among them was a Stradivarius: the labels in them were telling fibs!

    I got a general Engineering Degree from Cambridge in the early 1970’s and then trained as a teacher and taught secondary Science, Maths and Physics for several years. Ever since then I’ve been working in the electronics industry, mostly in telecoms and in sales.  I’m at home with most technology.

I retired at the beginning of 2009.   Here’s a picture of me and my family. I am very proud of them! Rowe family Nov09 smll

               Here I am as Gnorris the Gnome in last year’s Pantomime. I sometimes get hair (a wig) for one week of the year: for the last 10 Gnorrisyears it has been yellow hair, as I played the Dame.

  One year (2012) I tried to frighten small children as the Pantomime villain - but the best I could do is get a laugh, a blank stare, or a boo.









       Here’s a picture of my daughter SuzSuzys Graduationy when she got her BSc at Bangor in July ‘08.  That’s me and my wife Katie being very proud of her.

  So now we’ve 3 children with 3 degrees, all degrees that are better than mine. I’m not really jealous.

   Years ago I bought a very good, and very expensive Richard Weichold violin bow off Dave Swarbrick (Swarb) as a retirement present to myself. Sadly, he died last year (2016).

   Here’s a picture of the Swarb himself with said bow. I’m hoping that some of his ability passes to me by osmosis from the bow: it is working a little, as I can now play nearly half of part of the Bach Partita No. 3 .......  so there's only another 10,000 hours of practice to go.

   I couldn't resist putting a pSwarb & RW bowicture of me with Dave Swarbrick, ‘The Swarb’ with the Weichold bow: ability by inference rather than evidence.

   So what is the basis for claiming that setting up tap-tones in front and back plates works?

    Of the 50+ low-cost violins (and violas) I have and had, so far I’ve modified 40 or more.

 These are of all sorts, and links to some of those in detail with pictures and data can be found on the “Violin & viola examples” page.

  I have documented some of them (see Example Violins) to show how the tone and playability was improved. It includes some sound files too to give you some idea of the tone. I show what is good, and what is not so good about them. There is still a lot of work still to do.

 About this site

      I first created this site  www.platetuning.org  10 years ago in November 2007.  I had no idea how many people would visit it.

    In 2010 it’s interesting to reflect on who visits the site, and where visitors come from.  34% of visitors, not surprisingly, were from the USA. Then comes 12% from the UK, then 6% from Canada, and 3% now from Germany.
Site usage to April 2017

 The statistics to mid April 2017 are shown above. The site gets an average of 440 visits a day.   I guess that's pretty surprising for such a specialist subject.

 Many want the violin plans and articles, and also one ‘popular’ page is the “Books links and Articles” page: hardly surprising I suppose.

  Google translation does make this (and any other site) readable in pretty much any language. The greek translation is popular, then the Italian (obviously from Cremona), and then French.

      What has surprised me is how few people contact me or visit the blog.  I’d hoped that I’d learn more of other people’s experiences as they tell their stories of violins they’ve known, made or modified, but I have had a few great contacts over the last 10 months.

So mail me! and tell me what you’re doing breaking open a violin!


 I have some spare space here

                      ..... so here is something totally inappropriate....womens-computer-ironing-board-PC-wo1

        I got my son a iPhone for his birthday the other week, and my Daughter a iPod for hers. I was dead chuffed when the family clubbed together and bought me an iPad for father's day.  

     So I got my wife an iRon for her Birthday, and that is how the fight started...... she doesn't realise!  The iRon can be integrated into the iWash, iCook and iClean.


The top 10 funniest jokes of the Fringe 2015, with thanks to the BBC

  • "I just deleted all the German names off my phone. It's Hans free" - Darren Walsh
  • "Kim Kardashian is saddled with a huge arse ... but enough about Kanye West" - Stewart Francis
  • "Surely every car is a people carrier?" - Adam Hess
  • "What's the difference between a 'hippo' and a 'Zippo'? One is really heavy, the other is a little lighter" - Masai Graham
  • "If I could take just one thing to a desert island I probably wouldn't go" - Dave Green
  • "Jesus fed 5,000 people with two fishes and a loaf of bread. That's not a miracle. That's tapas" - Mark Nelson
  • "Red sky at night. Shepherd's delight. Blue sky at night. Day" - Tom Parry
  • "The first time I met my wife, I knew she was a keeper. She was wearing massive gloves" - Alun Cochrane
  • "Clowns divorce. Custardy battle" - Simon Munnery
  • "They're always telling me to live my dreams. But I don't want to be naked in an exam I haven't revised for..." - Grace The Child

and .....

  • “I went to a zoo and all they had a was one dog, one lousy dog. It was a Shih Tzu.”

   The funniest joke was chosen from a shortlist compiled by a panel of judges, who saw an average of 60 shows each at this year's Edinburgh Fringe. The shortlisted gags were then put to 2,000 people, with no reference to the comedians who told them, who then voted for the jokes they found the funniest.

The judges also released a list of jokes which just missed out on the shortlist.

  • "I never lie on my CV…because it creases it." - Jenny Collier
  • "If you don't know what introspection is you need to take a long, hard look at yourself" - Ian Smith
  • "I usually meet my girlfriend at 12:59 because I like that one-to-one time" - Tom Ward
  • "Whenever I get to Edinburgh, I'm reminded of the definition of a gentleman. It's someone who knows how to play the bagpipes, but doesn't" - Gyles Brandreth
  • "Let me tell you a little about myself. It's a reflexive pronoun that means 'me'" - Ally Houston
  • "Earlier this year I saw "The Theory of Everything" - loved it. Should have been called "Look Who's Hawking", that's my only criticism" - James Acaster.