I'm a relatively new teacher, who had taught under five students for about 8 years, and now has steadily moved up to a studio of around 20. In my area, there are 6 strong in-school orchestras within a 15-mile radius. Orchestra teachers support private lessons (either they don't offer lessons at all, or encourage motivated players to go beyond the 10 minute school lesson).
It's a marvelous teaching environment, but the majority of these students are playing on rentals from several sources (some, of course, better than others). In particular, last year, one of those sources clearly bought a stash of cheap violins, unlabeled, and they seem to be poorly set up. They reek of varnish, the finish is sloppy.
My biggest beef is string clearance. The bridge heights on several of my student's violins looks VERY high. I would say the bridge was not fitted at all, just stuck in. Perhaps the nut is also too high. They look higher than my own instrument (but does that mean anything??).
My wordy question: What tools do I need to basically measure string clearance? I feel uncomfortable putting the burden on a student or their parent to complain about this, so I would appreciate have some concrete information to provide the instrument owners directly.
Also, are there other warning signs I should be ready to spot? These are a strong step above the VSO from eBay, but I again don't trust the consistency between them. Any basic tools or tips for helping me access and diagnose?
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