From Rae-ann Heinrich
Posted June 28, 2012 at 04:44 PM
Thanks in advance for any guidance.
Nothing wrong with using 4/4 strings on a 3/4. That is my standard practice.
Both of my violins are 3/4 size -- I use a 4/4 E string because the brand of E that I use (Pirastro) doesn't make a 3/4. It works fine. The other 3 strings (Dominant) do come in 3/4, so that's what I use for the G, D and A. But Lyle seems to have had success using all 4/4's on a 3/4 instrument, so heck -- go for it.
I watched my luthier fit a set of pegs once -- not something I'd want to attempt myself. You do need special tools and expertise.
It seems to me that using a 4/4 bridge on a 3/4 instrument could put the strings in sort of strange alignment with the rest of the instrument. This is just supposition on my part, though -- someone with experience on this want to weigh in? But just shponking on any old 3/4 bridge straight from the mailbox isn't going to be the answer either -- bridges should be fit (cut and ground thinner) to the individual requirements of the instrument they'll be used on.
If your grandson is considering studying the violin, it'll help him SO much if the instrument is set up to it's full potential. As long as there aren't any structural problems (crooked neck, fingerboard flaws, major cracks, etc.), and since the violin was given to you, it would probably be OK to sink a little money into it to get him off to a good start.
Lyndon, just because Chinese labor is cheap doesn't mean they are working under inhumane conditions. It's true that the average Chinese worker's standard of living is lower than the West, but if you have ever been to China, you will find that most people (at least in the cities and towns I have visited) are living quite decently. The disparity in prices between Chinese goods and the West is largely due to low cost of living, and that the Chinese government keeps the value of the RMB artificially low..
The average Chinese works 40-hour week, as regulated by the government. Factory workers and other non-professional jobs receive overtime pays if exceeding that limit, just like in the West.
(This is coming from someone who grew up in Taiwan, so you can hardly call me pro-China.)
I think the short version of the answer is already provided. You will probably not do an adequate job of setting it up.
There is a better answer, which is also true.
Use this violin as a practice ground! You received the violin for free, so if you can do so without offending the giver, practice on this one.
You may see what a luthier suggests as the biggest problems, and go from there. If there are no defects that need repair, then the sound post, the nut, the bridge, the tailgut, the pegs, and the strings are probably the things you may consider working on. If it has fine tuners, you may consider changing them, or if you get the pegs working smoothly, removing all but the E string tuner.
I would approach the question differently, and ask your luthier:
Using this as a practice violin, not to play, what changes can I make that could improve the sound? Working with the luthier, and purchasing any materials from them would probably be the best way to go.
If you do this, even if the instrument is unplayable when you are done, at least you know a lot more about what the process entails!
I'm not defending Lyndon, but there are many place that's still under condition like that in China, Taiwan is relatively far off the true China, which is someplace you not only have to visit but also have to speak the languages and willingly sleep on an infested cot to understand to. China isn't a pretty place.
I AM NOT DEFENDING LYNDON, JUST GIVING FACT THAT I SAW AND EXPERIENCES THROUGH JOURNALISM INTERN.
oh and Joyce, is there by any chance the town and city you visited are a part of your tour? Because if it is, then you're far from the truth.
I've been visiting China since 1994 (and most recently in 2010). I can tell you that their standard of living has improved tremendously since the 1990s, and most people in the cities live a middle-class life style. However, I'm aware of social issues such as rural-urban divide and income inequality - these are nothing new in the West, just not as magnified...
I didn't travel with tour groups. Since I speak the language and can pass as a local (not always successfully), I took public transportation whenever possible... And I have worked with locals (granted these are not low-pay laborers), and been invited to their homes, so I have a fairly good idea what average people live like, at least in cities like Shanghai, Beijing, and other more developed areas.
Most of Chinese violins are made in a village near Beijing and towns in southern China (Jiangsu and Guangdong provinces - the richest parts of China), so it's pretty safe to say that your Chinese violins are not made by starving slave labor. According to this report:
"A competent Chinese craftsman or woman in this factory earns perhaps $800 a month – a good middle-class salary here, especially since many of these violin-makers are former farmers."
Also, it seems that you either have trouble understanding my posts, or you need to look up the map and see where Taiwan is. I only brought up my Taiwanese heritage to make the point that I would be the last person on this forum to speak in favor of the Chinese government and fall for their propaganda (Read about modern Chinese history if you don't know what I'm talking about)... I try to present unbiased personal accounts and the information that I believe to be factual (judging from my experience, of course). It's very rude of you to attack my credibility before you are able to read and comprehend my posts and the information I put forth!
It's funny that you call cities "STAGED PLACE FOR FOREIGNER" - are you still living in the China of the 1970s-80s? Have you ever been to China lately? True, I have never visited poor remote villages, and I'm aware of the many social issues that China faces, including poverty in the rural (and to a lesser extent, urban) areas. I never said China is perfect, did I? It still has a long way to go, but it has come a long way since the '90s, as I'm a witness...
All I was trying to say was that Chinese violins, which, by the way, are made in the "developed" (more precisely - developing) regions, are not made by slave labor. Prove me wrong if you can, but save the personal attacks and the tone!
Anyway, I'll excuse myself from this topic now. In prevention of my mouth flying off again.
While it is true that there are some really junky Chinese violins, the ones in the $1000-$3000 price range are very compelling. I have played Chinese violins under $2000 that sound and play very nicely. I would even say that if you have less than $3000 to spend on a violin, and you want the best bang for your buck, you should focus your search on Chinese instruments.
I have a little guy I spend a lot of time with (9 year old grandson with Aspergers). Since we are so close, I got him a 1/4 violin a couple years ago, in the white. Spent a bit of time sanding, smoothing (I no nothing about graduating, so I didn't try), and spent about as much time or more on the finish. Sides and back were stained with about 8 or 10 layers of my own mix (mineral spirit and linseed oil, with varying colors and saturations of oil-based pigments). The front was his favorite color; red. That was the tough part; getting a good red stain without using Cadmium-based stain.
Overall, it looks nice, but has about 30 minutes of playing after about 80 hours of work. With decent strings, it is still just a nice looking VSO, but it is a VSO with some meaning behind it.
Would I do it again? In a heartbeat! It was fun, and he enjoyed getting it.
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