Another sound post question

August 14, 2011 at 06:51 PM ·

I am trying to decide what the sound post location has to do with the overall sound of the violin. I am a pretty new 'fiddler'...I hope you violinist won't chastise me for this!( I am als0 trying to play some classical pieces!) I am a guitarist mainly and mandolin, but love the violin and have been working on it very hard. I have 2 Maggini copy violins that I mostly play. Both are very old. My question is one of them has the most beautiful full kind of dusky sound. I can feel the whole instrument vibrate when I play. The sound post on it is right behind ( maybe 3-6 MM) on the right side of the bridge) The grain appears to be opposite of the grain in the sound box. This violin has Supersensitive med strings. The other has the sound post about 10mm behind the bridge. The same strings, and the grain is the same, however, this violin has a more bright sound. I have moved the sound post around without much change, I like the dark dusky sound more..probably because I am not very just doesn't sound as 'tinny' to me. Any suggestions?



Replies (12)

August 14, 2011 at 11:14 PM ·

Sound adjustments are very important but in many times they can't change the nature of the instrument.

Supersenstive are very brigh sounding strings, try Dominants with a Jargar E.

August 15, 2011 at 03:01 AM ·

 I second that motion. I could easily be misinformed, but my understanding of the sound post is that is is part of the mechanism that aids the vibration of the instrument. It must be placed in a specific location in conjunction with the bridge to produce optimum sound. Meaning, if the sound post is out of ideal position it can affect the overall projection and vibration ability of the instrument. I do not think it actually affects the tone.

Different violins have different characteristics due to variances in their dimensions, varnish, age, ect.  so if (provided the bridge and sound post are already correctly aligned) experimenting with different strings to find out what brings out the best in your instrument does not produce the desired result, you may need to find one capable of producing the tone you're looking for. 

August 15, 2011 at 03:54 AM ·

The best you can do with any violin is to have it set up to maximize its particular characteristics. If you have a bright fiddle, all you will do by positioning the soundpost (and bridge) to make it darker is eliminate some its major tonal characteristics - and probably make it much less playable. I've been doing this (myself) to my own instruments (with the exception of one of my cellos) for about 50 years, so I think I have a pretty good idea of what doesn't work.

Using strings that match your instrument can help bring out its inherent characteristics - but it can be a costly search. Personally, I have found Thomastik Peter Infeld (with the platinum E string) to match more fiddle types than any other string brand (but at a price, over $100/set). Another choice is a good set of gut-core strings, but they go out of tune with slight humidity changes.


August 15, 2011 at 12:49 PM ·

Thanks you guys! I have tried one set of D'Addario Dominant...They were extemely difficult to least for me. I don't know what it is about them other than it sounds like I don't have enough rosin on the just 'squeaks' unless I use alot of pressure. I put SS ""Old Fiddler Line" on yesterday, and it is a little better. You are probably is the difference in the violin structure between the two. I have used SS befoe and didn't like them, but on my one they have a great sound and easy to play.

I will keep looking for that perfect sound....I guess we all do!


August 15, 2011 at 02:01 PM ·

 Charlie, D'Addario and Dominant are two different things:  D'Addario makes Zyex and Heliocore.  Thomastik makes Dominants and a whole bunch of other strings.

Dominants can be hard to break in.  So can Zyex.  

Might be worth exploring which kind of core (synthetic, metal, gut) works best for you.  Most sites provide that information with the strings' promo material, or any decent luthier can give you a rundown.

August 15, 2011 at 02:22 PM ·

Charlie-- A violin is what it is. You can nudge it a bit tonally in one direction or another by adjusting the post and trying different strings, but you can't really change its basic character. Strings with steel cores tend to be bright and cut through the clutter, but they can also be tinny or shrill. For a darker sound, go with a string that has a synthetic core. They will have greater damping and should be easier to play. The thickness of the bridge also plays a part in determining which frequencies are more pronounced. My sixth sense is hinting that it's not that you like the dark, dusky sound, but that you don't like the bright, edgy sound. Am I close? :-)

August 15, 2011 at 08:33 PM ·

Yeah, Robert I guess that is it! Since I am a novice, I get alot of squeaks anyway, and the darker sound from my one violin kind of hides that I think!

On the string thing,,I was wrong the ones fro mD'Addario are helicore  not dominant. I dont think I am a good enough player for them yet! :)


August 16, 2011 at 12:03 AM ·

 Not sure "good enough" is an issue with strings, really.  Some violins don't like some strings.  Some strings don't like some players.  It takes experimentation.  I used to adore Dominants on my viola.  Then I liked obbligatos, now I use a mish-mash, because my viola is young, growing up, and keeps changing (of course I don't change at all, lol).

Take notes of how each string set sounds after you've played them in (takes about 12-15 hours, for most people).  That way you don't have to remember from January what you did (not) like in August.

August 16, 2011 at 01:15 PM ·

Well, maybe I did not give the Helicores enough time to sound better. I just immediately didn't like the way the played or sounded. However, the guy that encouraged me to buy the 'Old Fiddler Line' strings, said they would take a few hours of continuous playig to 'break them in' and get the best sound. Maybe I should have tried that with the D'Addarios. They just sounded so bad when I first pulled the bow across! I might put them back on and give them another try...trying to find that perfect sound!

August 16, 2011 at 02:46 PM ·

 Charlie, MOST strings sound bad at first--or, at least, they don't sound like themselves.  They need to stretch out, settle into the instrument, and then the instrument adjusts to them, as well.  It's a funny thing, that although instruments are 'inert' objects, they act very much like living beings in regard to their reactions to things (maybe that sounds like romanticizing, but it's an observation based on my decades of association with a number of violins and violas).

August 16, 2011 at 03:00 PM ·

Marjory, I agree...although I am new to the violin, my guitars have their own personality, and each sounds different. I keep my accoustic instruments in a room with music playing..just so the wood can absorb the sounds! Talk about ramanticising! haha

John, I have matched everything between the two Maggini's...but I can not get the same sound..they are copies, so different makers...a little more or less carving and a sound change...guess it can;t be helped! Both are late1800's models I believe. SO I guess I will live with it. Maybe it's like my kids..each one is different, and I love them all!


August 22, 2011 at 09:37 PM ·

I'm glad I came across this, I just posted (at least I hope they still will) a question about experiences with Maggini copies and strings.  I am looking to try new strings on my copy, and I love the deep, dark, strong sound, - my music of choice is gypsy, tango, etc.


Another interesting thing about my violin, it looks as if it were originally set up for a left handed player, I say this only because the varnish on the violin is "sun bleached" so to speak on the right side as if the chin rest used to be there.  I will try and take pictures and post at some time when I'm more familiar with this site.



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