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Violin, Le Gruyère,
by Carleen Hutchins, Montclair, New Jersey, 1982

NMM 10116.  Violin by Carleen Hutchins, Montclair, New Jersey, 1982 Side view of Hutchins violin Back view of Hutchins violin

NMM 10116. Violin, Le Gruyère, by Carleen Hutchins, Montclair, New Jersey, December 1982, in consultation with Edgar A. G. Shaw and Arthur H. Benade.  Stradivari pattern. Sixty-five holes cut into the ribs were alternately plugged and unplugged with corks and pieces of foam in experiments conducted between 1982-2000, to test the interior cavity resonances of violins. Hutchins' instrument was nicknamed Le Gruyère and the Swiss cheese violin at the 11th International Congress on Acoustics, Paris, 1983, where the maker presented the results of her research. Hutchins later told Paul Laird, University of Kansas musicologist, that "Jürgen Meyer, a physicist at the Physikalisch-Technische Bundesanstalt and a fine violinist, was persuaded to play the instrument as [she] progressively removed corks. Disbelief became amazement as the sound changed." Subsequently, several more acoustical studies utilizing the Swiss Cheese violin were conducted by a variety of research scientists (see bibliography below). Gift of Carleen Maley Hutchins, Montclair, 2002.


Soundholes of Hutchins violin

According to Laird, the Swiss Cheese violin "has now been demonstrated to many different audiences and has provided much insight on the relationship between the function of the air modes inside the violin cavity and the wood modes of a finished instrument. When the corks plug every hole, the violin has a good sound, but with even a few holes open, the tone is thin and scratchy, particularly on the two lowest strings."



Front of pegbox on Hutchins violin Side of pegbox on Hutchins violin Back of pegbox on Hutchins violin

Three views of the Swiss Cheese violin's pegbox and scroll.


For additional information about this violin, see:

Hutchins, Carleen M., "The Future of Violin Research," Catgut Acoustical Society Journal, Vol. 2, No. 1 (Series II), p. 3 (May 1992).

Hutchins, Carleen M. and Virginia Benade, eds. Research Papers in Violin Acoustics: 1975-1993 (Woodbury, New York: Acoustical Society of America, 1997).

Hutchins, Carleen M., "A Study of the Cavity Resonances of a Violin and Their Effects On Its Tone and Playing Qualities," Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, Vol. 87, No. 1 (January 1990), pp. 392-397.

Hutchins, Carleen M., "A Violin With 65 Holes In Its Ribs, Phase II," Paper K3-5, Proceedings, 12th International Congress Acoustics, Toronto, 1986.

Laird, Paul, "Carleen Maley Hutchins: Other Research and Collaborations," Ars Musica Denver, Vol. 6, No. 1 (Fall 1993).

Rodgers, Oliver, "Another Look At the Swiss Cheese Violin," Catgut Acoustical Society Journal, Vol. 3, No. 4 (Series II) (1997), pp. 17-23.

Shaw, Edgar A. G., "Cavity Resonance In the Violin: Network Representation and the Effect of Damped and Undamped Rib Holes," Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, Vol. 87, No. 1 (January 1990), pp. 398-410.

Weinreich, Gabriel, Colin Holmes, and Maureen Mellody, "Air-Wood Coupling and the Swiss-Cheese Violin," Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, Vol. 108, No. 5 (November 2000).

Margaret Downie Banks, "Graphite, Gruyère and a Pig Named Susie: Carleen Hutchins Instruments and Archives Donated to the Museum," National Music Museum Newsletter 30, No. 1 (February 2003), pp. 4-5.

Alan Carruth, "The 'Corker' Guitar: A Sideport Experiment," American Lutherie, 94 (Summer 2008), pp. 56-62.


Go to description of The Carleen Hutchins Collection and Archive at the National Music Museum.

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