Welcome to Violinist.com! Log in, or join the community!
Violinist.com
Facebook Twitter Google+ Email Newsletter

Decorating your violin

Instruments: I would like to know how one can personnalize his violin by decorating it!

From Guillemette Villemin
Posted August 23, 2005 at 02:29 AM

I would like to 'decorate' my violin like the makers did when they made a fabulous instrument. I would like to maybe to put ivory or ebony, or gold somewhere in the tail piece, and put my initials in the scroll. I would just like to see a website that shows decorated violins or something. THANX!!

From Brian Sura
Posted on August 23, 2005 at 03:08 AM
Well who you really to ask about this is the discussion form at www.woodcarving.com You could carve a snake, cow, face, or even your initials on the scroll.
From Joseph Galamba
Posted on August 23, 2005 at 05:25 AM
be careful...
From Ben Clapton
Posted on August 23, 2005 at 09:47 AM
I wouldn't recommend doing this unless doing it to a cheap cheap violin - in which case it wouldn't be worth it. Personalising the violin will dramatically decrease the value of the violin (I assume - check with a luthier).
I'd suggest checking with a luthier - he would probably be best able to do it. Or you could find a luthier and ask them to build you a violin, and have your name put on the label.
From Stephen Perry
Posted on August 23, 2005 at 11:46 AM
Label is certainly the most easily reversible!

Engraved fittings are the only route I suggest. Magic marker drawings, decoupage, and whittling all seem frowned on by subsequent owners.

From sharon lee
Posted on August 23, 2005 at 12:07 PM
what type of instrument do you have?
if you have a nicer instrument, then understand that you'd be fiddling around with a finished product.. that would be like adding glitter to a work by monet. luthiers care about the instruments they make, you know.

if you have a factory-made instrument that no one put their blood sweat and tears into, then by all means, go crazy and make it your own. but if you have something that someone's already put a little piece of their heart into, leave it alone.

From Alan Wittert
Posted on August 24, 2005 at 12:11 AM
Srategically punch small holes around your violin, then put a 15-watt blightbulb inside so your auditors could enjoy a gentle light show with their concert.
This should radically increase the value of your violin as well, although not quite as much as if you installed solar panels to power the bulb.
You could also consider selling advertising space on the back to display during those annoying tuttis.
From sharon lee
Posted on August 24, 2005 at 02:06 AM
lol alan~
that's brilliant!
i particularly like the 'selling advertising space' part of it!
From Danielle Gauthier
Posted on August 24, 2005 at 02:14 AM
you could take a peice of twine and tie it around the scroll, where the box ends and the actual (not sure about technical term-age here) twirly-part starts.
it should just hang and shouldn't get in the way when tuning.
From Pieter Viljoen
Posted on August 24, 2005 at 02:21 AM
Well you can't really do much to your violin... I like to have a fine silk pocket square on my chin rest to minimize the violin rash on my neck.

Right now I alternate between pockets squares by Hermes and Zegna, which add a personal touch as well as being functional.

From Sarah Benedict
Posted on August 24, 2005 at 08:49 AM
You could go to a violin shop and ask to have special pegs and a tailpiece made for you with inlaid designs if you want. I wouldn't recommend doing anything to the body of the violin unless you plan to use it as a piece of art rather than a functioning violin.
I have seen a photo of a violin before where the scroll was actually a carving of a face or something and it was freaky looking, but obviously done from the origional block of wood rather than an afterthought to an already carved scroll. I have also seen violins where the back was covered in carvings...but again, I think these were not playing instruments but rather art works.
So, that leaves just the pegs and tailpiece and possibly chinrest that you could do anything to.
I have had some students tie ribbon to their scrolls.... :)
From Gennady Filimonov
Posted on August 25, 2005 at 06:44 PM
I suggest a set of beautiful fittings by Les Bois de Harmonie that are carved ala Vuillaume style or in many other styles.
http://www.harmonie.net/
From Christian Vachon
Posted on August 25, 2005 at 10:39 PM
Alan,

That's a great one!

Cheers!

From Joseph Galamba
Posted on August 26, 2005 at 07:01 AM
One of my father's friends is a woodworker, and he was making a custom built scroll for a violin (there was a luthier across the country making the actual violin, but this man was a master sculpter) perhaps if you really wanted a flowery violin you could buy a custom job. T'wood be very expensive though ^_^
From Danielle Goatley
Posted on August 26, 2005 at 10:45 AM
does anyone know where you can order ebony pegs with gold accents?
From Ed Barreto
Posted on August 27, 2005 at 05:18 AM
This one always wins over the judges:
Take off the strings and bridge. Then take one bottle of Elmer's School Glue, and using a wavy pattern, cover the top of the violin with the glue.
After you have covered most of the top of the violin with the glue, you can then proceed to use various decorations that can add a definite sparkle to your already effervescent playing ability.

Good ideas for decorations are:

Macaroni: If it is not already done, it is a good idea to cover your dry pasta with various colored inks so that the original stock tint is replaced with a colorful hue.

Glitter/confetti: This form of decoration is often overused. Use sparingly, and usually only to accompany pasta.

Wood Chips: Some claim that this puts a few extra dollars on your fiddle in terms of antiquity. Has not yet been confirmed infront of an official judge as of yet.

Sawdust: See "woodchips" above.

Bottle Caps: One heavy-metal guitarist used bottlecaps to cover his guitar. It is advisable that the discerning violinist use such an expedient tastefully, if at all.

Pipe Cleaners: Those that choose to utilize pipe cleaners show quite a marvelous flair for decoration. One example had alternating brown and black pipe cleaners sticking out straight from the ribs of the violin.

Above all, be creative and remember that you can help save the planet by placing objects that need recycling on to your violin.

From Emily Grossman
Posted on August 27, 2005 at 07:15 AM
Wow. I've suddenly just been inspired.
From Jenna Potts
Posted on August 27, 2005 at 06:15 PM
How about this, find some ribbon in two or three complementary colors and tie them to your scroll? Maybe not exactly what you had in mind, but I've seen some middle school/high schoolers who like to do this. Or you could decorate your case with pictures etc.
From Ionas Livieratos
Posted on September 5, 2005 at 04:25 PM
NEVER DECORATE OR PAINT YOUR VIOLIN!!!!OK???
From Julia S
Posted on September 5, 2005 at 05:04 PM
If you want a decorated violin, get a luthier to make a custom one for you. But if you are thinking about, lets say carving on a $5,000 violin, don't, you won't be able to change it back.
From Joseph Galamba
Posted on September 6, 2005 at 06:14 AM
I just had the horrific vision of a violin with gouges scratched all over it *shudders*
From Peter Kent
Posted on September 6, 2005 at 07:36 AM
How 'bout a "Harley-Davidson" label to mask the original ? Could be "your" secret !!
From John Lanceley
Posted on September 6, 2005 at 09:35 PM
May be mistaken here but didnt nigel kennedy get his spare signed by his favourite football team?
From Lewis Wickenden
Posted on July 20, 2009 at 03:13 AM

 Well I'll be blunt, everyone above me is a bit petulant with their responses.

To decorate your violin, you'll need to look at non permanent solutions. For instance, you can put tassels and sashes etc on the scroll, the frog of your bow etc. They help decorate it. And make a awesum show when you're playing an allegro piece and you can take them off if you need and they won't affect the sound.  

Another way of decorating it is by having it varnished! You can have it died to a darker colour, you can mix and match with different sides of the violin with different colours etc. Varnishes have a whole range of possibilities and dyes/taints. Just make sure that when you send it in - you replace your strings with crappy old ones so the solution they use won't ruin anything decent. 

Lastly, if it's artistic stuff you want, you need to get a sheet of the thicker kind laminex/plastic sheets used on the old types of projectors. Make an outline of your violin including where the sound holes are (this seems difficult but when done right is really easy) Keep this trace, then make a copy on another laminex sheet (same thickness) and cut it out. Now draw away.    You can attach this to your violin by loosening part of the chin rest and slipping the sheet just under so it matches with the outline then fastening it. The STATIC ELECTRICITY on the plastic should attach it so it shouldn't come off unless you peel it off. But you have to be sure there are no air pockets. this will not damage the sound unless you cover up the air holes or leave air pockets.

If you want to do paper artwork - simply complete using the outline template you first made and have it laminated very well, once again - making sure there are no air pockets what so ever.


GOOD LUCK!

From David Fowler
Posted on July 20, 2009 at 04:09 AM

It' s "your" violin at present. In the future, it could be someone else' s violin, unless you plan to have it buried or cremated with you. (A friend of mine said his ambition as a writer was to have a book gain in value if it included his signature on the flyleaf. ) Someday, maybe "your" violin will be known as the "Ex-Villemin," and your personal touches will add to its value.

Meanwhile, think in terms of modern technology. Implant a tiny chip that broadcasts your passion for this instrument.

What I did, was to decorate myself, with a tattoo of my violin on my left shoulder. Another approach, I guess.

From David Fowler
Posted on July 20, 2009 at 04:13 AM

Lewis,

Just can't surpass that Aussie humor!

From Roland Garrison
Posted on July 20, 2009 at 05:36 AM

You can also make it more portable.

Mine has two sets of hinges; one near the top of the middle bouts, and one on the neck (slightly above 5th position). This allows me to fold it when not in use, and store it in my laptop case. The strings tend to get wound around my power supply cord, however this is a small inconvenience for the portability.

From Roland Garrison
Posted on July 20, 2009 at 05:43 AM

Other ideas.

Decorate your case with travel stickers
Decorate your bow; batteries and LEDs are getting small enough, a small multicolor light on the tip of the bow would be something wild.
Get an electric, where the overall body is no as much of the sound; recarve it, decorate it, and have fun.

Try a holigram decal on the neck.... something that dances. I think  it would be interesting. They can be done with a two-layer finish, so it would not be a real heavy build.

From Mara Gerety
Posted on July 21, 2009 at 04:41 AM

My suggestion: buy an ultra-cheapo factory-made violin-shaped-object and paint it. Get it out of your system and have a nifty piece of art to hang on your wall. Leave your actual violin alone. Firstly, there's always the possibility that you could accidentally damage it, secondly it would almost certainly wreck the resale value of the instrument if you ever want to trade it in for an upgrade (or sell it for pocket change in the coming economic Mad Max apocalypse.)

From Roland Garrison
Posted on July 21, 2009 at 06:28 AM

I would like to clear up my previous post.
When i mentioned getting a hologram decal for the neck, I was NOT talking about the violin; I have two on my neck, one on the left side, and the other just below the hairline in back. They are such conversation starters; no one will believe they are real.

From Anne-Marie Proulx
Posted on July 21, 2009 at 12:17 PM

One thing that does not break the violin or any instrument is to put a Christmas bow or ornament tied on it on Christmas gigs... When all the orchestra does it, it is relly cool. Don't know if our violins would like us to put them handsome for Christmas but if it makes the owners happy... : ) can't break them with this!

Anne-Marie

From Jonathan Frohnen
Posted on July 21, 2009 at 04:15 PM

I vote for spray glue and glitter and maybe some nice tassels coming from of the scroll.  Or if you dare...go to your local pet store and get it a nice dress!  J

From Ian Burkard
Posted on July 21, 2009 at 04:32 PM

I thought about decorating a violin about three years ago, it was one of my first posts here.  Do you know where that violin is today?  It's still sitting in my shop with the pearl inlays cut out. 

Decorations are a nerve wracking business.  I usually have extra time to work on the violin, but I avoid it, and do hard repair work over the decorations, because it's precise meticulous work (beyond that of normal violin work - which is quite difficult).  It's easy to desire to jazz up your violin, but to actually expertly do the job will take quite a long time, and should not be done by the average joe.  Also, decorations will increase the maintenance that the instrument requires, especially in the realm of fingerboards with inlay work.


There are very few nicely decorated violins - most are quite heavy handed and gaudy.

 

From Christopher Burndrett
Posted on July 22, 2009 at 02:25 PM

I know the OP asked an innocent question, but I find it similar to the kid in the backyard pulling the legs off a cricket to see what happens.. 

Then again, the Rogeri cello poster in the latest "The Strad" magazine dons "NP" on the button.  Apparently Paganinni decided to leave his mark.

From Alayna Faulkenberg
Posted on July 22, 2009 at 05:09 PM

my violin has costumes he wears, harry potter for halloween and HP releases, luau shirt for my uncles hawaiian wedding this weekend, tuxedo for 'black tie' afftairs, i've decided to work out a santa suit for holiday pops this year...

From Carol Cook
Posted on July 22, 2009 at 07:09 PM

Stringkini bottoms and pasties on the upper bouts; less muffling than a whole suit...Barbie wigs fit the scroll...dangle earrings on the pegs..and use a pair of needle toe 4 inch stilettos for a stand...for the slutty look....

 

or just a tiny bow tie over the nut ...for formal.

From Mara Gerety
Posted on July 22, 2009 at 10:29 PM
Ok, i think this just convinced me to tie a doll's Santa hat to my scroll next time i get suckered into playing some lousy holiday gig.
From Ann Marie Cordial
Posted on July 23, 2009 at 12:19 PM

Since my ivolin is jet black, I have a stretchy "pirate" bracelet that I put on the scroll that has skull and crossbones on it.  I can remove it at any time, and it does not affect the sound at all.

---Ann Marie

From SAJID MEERANI
Posted on July 23, 2009 at 06:30 PM

Yes I agree with IAN BARKARD.  to think about decorating violin and to do in real two different things.

And If you dont know, What you are doing then there is massive chance to ruin your violin.  so get some cheap violins and start trying and If you really become an  expert after few years, may be then you can do that on your own valuable violin.

From james holmes
Posted on May 25, 2012 at 02:40 PM
Ok,
So I get it is frowned upon to embellish your violin. But I am still keen on inlaying a small cut amber on my tailpiece. I am more of a detemined player than a skilled violinist. And my violin is only appraised at 1,500. I mean I could just have a luthier put back the old one if I was going to sell it.
Perhaps I should look into inlaying the amber in the eye of the frog instead?
Opinions?
From N.A. Mohr
Posted on May 25, 2012 at 05:09 PM
Changing a tailpiece isn't a big deal because it's reversible...if you want to fancy one up, go right ahead. Keep the original around though...in case you ever want to change back.

Again, if you want to change up your bow...go ahead, just make sure it's not a valuable one - that's really not reversible in the same way a change of tailpiece is.

From Roland Garrison
Posted on May 25, 2012 at 06:00 PM
If you want, I can build you a mount for the pegbox that will hold about 5 pounds of fireworks. It will include a piezo igniter you can trigger with your left thumb
From james holmes
Posted on May 26, 2012 at 09:29 AM
Thanks! @ Roland-Maybe I will take you up on your offer when the 4th of July comes near. That would be dramatic for sure-lol
From John Cadd
Posted on May 26, 2012 at 01:37 PM
Gold leaf on the belly to keep off the sweat dripping in the Albert Hall .
From Trevor Jennings
Posted on May 26, 2012 at 04:13 PM
The best way to decorate a violin is to remove shoulder-rest, chin-rest and fine adjusters. Then the violin will be as it left its maker's bench. What better way to see, or play, a violin!
From Marsha Weaver
Posted on May 26, 2012 at 04:36 PM
My violin's "decorations" are all temporary and very low-tech. I simply tie a ribbon of appropriate color (red for the Christmas concert, black for a more formal concert, green if I'm doing Celtic music, etc.) around the scroll -- in a bow. Quick, easy and inexpensive! I know, I know -- not what you had in mind.

Actually, someone here on V.com ordered a tailpiece with BEAUTIFUL mother-of-pearl inlays. Can't remember where she got them. The Philippines, maybe?

From Trevor Jennings
Posted on May 26, 2012 at 11:46 PM
I've just installed a very plain ebony baroque tailpiece on one of my violins, for use with an all-gut setup. It has a noticeable positive effect on the tone and response, due, in part, to the thick tailgut, which is real gut.
Not exactly as it left the luthier's bench, because it is a modern violin, but the simplicity of the new tailpiece certainly complements the improved tone.

The Violinist.com Interviews, Vol. 1

The Violinist.com Interviews, Vol. 1

Hear more from the world's top violinists in The Violinist.com Interviews: Volume 1, which includes our exclusive conversations with Joshua Bell, Sarah Chang, and David Garrett, and others, as well as a foreword by Hilary Hahn.

Get it now! For Kindle | For iBooks | In Paperback

The 2014 Violinist.com Holiday Gift Guide

The 2014 Violinist.com Holiday Gift Guide

We've compiled a list of some of the year's best new offerings from violinists for you to consider.