Violin fittings?

September 6, 2016 at 09:43 AM · So, I've realized that more expensive violins come with wooden hill style tailpieces with matching fittings. Does this have to do anything with the violin quality?? Or is it just an optional thing the luthier does? I'm not talking about the tailpiece, but the fittings in general. Does having higher quality fittings necessarily mean that the violin is better? Also, when buying a violin, can I just bring my fittings that I bought from shar and tell him to replace the ones on the violin with mine??

Sorry if this is confusing...

Replies (9)

September 6, 2016 at 10:03 AM · Even the virtually unused "Messiah" from Stradivari has more recent fittings.

September 6, 2016 at 10:46 AM · Not necessarily David - I recently played some really nice handbuilt violas around the 5000 GBP mark, and all had Wittner composite tailpieces.

My local luthier is in princniple willing to fit equipment I have bought, for a fee, but it has always turned out to be cheaper to purchase the equipment through them.

And of course supports a local business!

September 6, 2016 at 10:58 AM · Michael Tree used a humble Wittner composite tailpiece on his Busan viola.

September 6, 2016 at 11:48 AM · There is no necessary connection between the quality and value of an instrument with that of its fittings. In my collection I have a modest Chinese violin that I had a better bridge put on, together with a few other adjustments. Since it is very nice-looking, while I was at it I replaced the very plain ebony fittings with nice boxwood ones. This was just for my own taste and satisfaction. You should be able to have a luthier do the same for you unless maybe if the shafts of the new pegs are too thin. Milstein kept fairly plain ebony fittings on his Strad.

There is a saying in the real estate biz that if you replace your regular faucets with gold ones it still won't change the value of your house much.

September 6, 2016 at 12:29 PM · Expensive or at least decent grade pegs can make a big difference, cheap pegs are not likely to turn perfectly round, chips can gouge out etc and the pegs don't work as well. Cheap fingerboards can be next to impossible to surface when needed as the grain is so wonky there's no right direction to plane.

And actually a Wittner tailpiece is quite a bit more expensive that a standard ebony Hill one, at least from my supplier.

September 6, 2016 at 01:56 PM · You can put a $200 tailpiece on a $100 fiddle, but it will still be a $100 fiddle.

And if you spend $50 to rehair a $50 bow, it is still a $50 bow.

But that said, better (tailored to the instrument) tailpiece, bridge, and soundpost can improve an instrument and better hair can improve a bow's performance.

September 6, 2016 at 04:35 PM · Good fittings probably make a difference, but perhaps not one the audience (or some time the violinist) can detect. I would invest in them if you love your instrument and want a certain aesthetic for it.

Worth to note that many of the Boxwood fittings on the "student" models isn't boxwood at all, and that a "professional" violin doesn't need fancy ones-especially if the current oes are in perfect working order. Many great violins do well with their current, "plain" ebony fittings.

My ebony pegs were "fine", but my Rosewood replacements are indeed much better. Does the violin sound better? "Yes" to me but I CAN'T PROVE IT scientifically, because of the far too many variables involved (it was a set, and the tailpiece was also changed.) Tuning is most certainly a much more gratifying and effortless experience, and they have rarely slipped (and never under a performance situation.) Ilike the change, and I just felt the violin would have "loved" the change were it an living entity. To this day, I can't find any fault with the appearance, practicality, and tonal change of its new, high quality Rosewood fittings.

There can be too much emphasis on changing fittings to get a certain sound, though, and I still believe that, since the effect is unpredictable, one should bot necessarily make these changes if you are otherwise happy with the way they are working and your violin's tone-no need to fix what isn't broken.

With all that said, I LOVE my violin's fittings, and is a choice I will never regret and keep enjoying the benefits to this day (mine were Tempel.)

I am certain that changing a loved violin's "plain" ebony fittings that are a bit old or failing for high quality "plain" ebony ones is also a good choice-just make sure to get good ones.


September 6, 2016 at 05:03 PM · On a related note, I'm curious, how are the fittings marketed and valued? From what I've read, I've read that there are different quality and grain of wood used for fittings, which initially determines the price of the fittings. I also have seen a tail piece ranging from $10~$300, with/without finetuners built in.

Furthermore, whence they are on violin, how do you identify them? My violin has an ebony tailpiece which only has a marking 108 under it, and it is ebony.

I can understand that some can improve tone, but it probably won't always be the case. I had a boxwood tailpiece put on my violin for a few days. Definitely louder, and more vibrant, and thicker piece, but it also exaggerated wolf, and violin in fact became too loud for playing in my small bachelor apartment.

September 6, 2016 at 06:41 PM · If pegs are working well it is mostly about the style and aesthetic. Search "Hansell violin fittings". These are truly fabulous understated English quality. Not particularly cheap but on a nice violin, set it off really well. I have these on three of my fiddles. Other sets I have had fitted are by "Bogaro and Clemente" elegant Italian style.

Cheers Carlo

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