Don't put violin near the heater to open it up?
I have this very interesting question. Is it advisable to put your violin near high/varying temperature to open it up / or break it in?
Due to recent cold weather in my area Sydney, last month I turned on my portable heater when I am sleeping. Due to limited space, my heater happened to sit near my violin (a Gliga Gama). The f-holes of the violin directly faced the heater. This proximity makes the temperature around the violin around 30 degrees - for 6 hours during my sleep. Being close to the heater also probably mean drier (less humid) exposure. In the morning I turn off the heater, and the temperature goes back to daytime normal of 10-12 degrees. So the violin was exposed to a range of temperature 10-30 degrees, and some bigger-than-normal changes in humidity within 24 hours.
I notice that after 3 days or so, the violin seemed to be more responsive, and has slightly warmer tone. This change was very noticeable. Also, probably due to wood reaction to varying temperature (probably mainly in the peg and bridge areas), I had to tune my violin more often. Sometimes in the morning after a full night of being close to the heater, the strings nearly get off the bridge.
After these three days, I put the violin far away from the heater so that the f holes stop receiving direct heat, and to my surprise, the sound nearly went back to normal around 3 days after.
Curious enough, I put the violin near the heater again, and this warmth of sound and responsiveness again, happened.
I have heard of stories of people playing their violins outdoors to open them up - would similar temperature/humidity factors be at work here?
Should I continue doing so for my violin to reach full potential? Do you have any experience on this?
P/S Sydney where I live has low humidity.
Won't there be a huge risk of the plates splitting, or with luck, coming unglued? I saw a new, hand-made vioin with two top-to-bottom millimetre-wide cracks in th belly after a winter of dry heat. I don't know how well-seasoned is the wood used by Gigla.
Will, what you have probably managed to do is temporarily lower the water content of the wood in your violin. Since you describe the area where you live as having low humidity to begin with, I'd say this is very risky. Wood undergoes significant dimensional changes as moisture levels change. Adding to this risk is the speed of the humidity cycling you have induced. Given a slow enough change, violins can often acclimate to different levels of moisture, but If I were to do this to try to acclimate a violin to a semi-permanent change in environment, I'd want to do this over a much longer time frame than three days.
Putting a fragile string instrument near a heater is a very bad idea.
Your violin will split if you continue doing this. If you prefer the sound of a tighter fiddle, get the sound post moved closer to the bridge.
I'm going to echo everyone else, reading this I instantly started worrying about cracks and seams opening.
Are you being serious, or are you just pulling our collective leg? If you are being serious, then you should know that temperature and moisture variations are TERRIBLE for string instruments. If you are joking, then HA HA.
OMG - NO!!!!!!!!
Raphael can the speakers be playing Coltrane? Or does it have to be Mozart?
Years ago I read of cycling the humidity to break in a violin more quickly. Still, I refused to take my violins into the bathroom with me when I shower.
Yes, putting a violin near a heater to open it up will very likely open up a seam or two or a split, probably even causing one. So don't do it.
I understood that Strad used to hang his fiddles in the sun to dry the varnish - but then what did he know about fiddle making?!
Mozart, Beethoven, Brahms, Mahler. If that doesn't work, a little Elvis. If all else fails, practice on it!
I'm lucky, I guess, that I bought my violin from an excellent pro who was using it to teach with. It's had all kinds of wild stuff played on it. Not that I personally believe that does any good...
Raphael, Elvis works OK, but nothing works as well as placing the violin next to a speaker, while playing Porky Pig's version of "Blue Christmas" through the speaker.
OMG do not do this.
Just to update my post and avoid someone copying this idea when it could be dangerous to their violin (especially if done carelessly you can cause a fire!), I have modified the title from 'Putting your violin near high temperature' into 'Don't put your violin near...' This is according to Mary's suggestion. However I hope I could still continue this discussion with you with my new reply above. I put a question mark in the title to signify this.
Thanks for the original post edit. :-)
Don't put a violin anywhere you wouldn't put an infant. But the converse is not true. You would never bathe your violin, but alas, infants need to be baptized now and again.
Mary, most people who play outdoors have a cheap 'picnic fiddle' is true, but I doubt whether this applies to famous violinists. If you have watched youtube videos of Midori Goto, Janine Jansen, Renaud Caoucon and many other famous violinists playing outdoor noon or night - the violin they play in these occasions could well be their best one (though this is debatable) but cannot be even close to intermediate ones either (since these televised events affect their reputation).
Not to belabor the obvious but in your linked video, Janine Jensen and the entire orchestra are under a tent. I can't imagine any scenario in which a soloist and orchestra would NOT be under a tent for an outdoor concert--it isn't just the soloist's instrument that would be at risk. Even at that, there's a good chance the soloist at a lawn concert is playing on their 2nd or 3rd instrument, not their Del Gesu. And nobody is going to let their instrument be exposed to even the slightest drizzle of rain, no matter what. I once played a concert under a leaky roof with a heavy rain, and while it wasn't dripping where I was sitting, unbeknownst to me it was doing so behind me. At the bows, I looked behind me to see my entire section had scattered on stage to get away from the drips. First and last time I have ever seen a violin section seated in the shape of the letter O.
Hi Mary thank you for sharing your view further :-)
That "tent" is actually a permanent canopy; it's the Waldbühne in Berlin. You seem to be thinking of it as a sort of tarp when actually it's more like a building with one side open to the outside.
Will, while violins on the world-traveling concert circuit may be exposed to harsh conditions from time to time, that's quite different from doing it deliberately. You'd be amazed at the amount of repair work many of these instruments have had. It's no coincidence that the best-preserved examples of the work of Stradivari and Gaurneri are kept in carefully-controlled museum-like environments, and are not exposed to the risks and rigors of regular concert duty.
It is an intriguing question whether Janine Jansen (and other top soloists whose Strads are fetishized in the programs and interviews) is using a replica violin that looks 99% like her supervaluable Strad. Not just in that Berlin open air concert, but there's also that Delft chamber music she used to curate, which I don't go to any more because it just gets too freaking hot under the glass ceiling - where she is playing with other musicians on highly valuable 18th C instruments..
"Standby" instruments, or instruments to use in place of ones expensive old Italian are part of the market for copies. With a good quality bench copy, the audience is unlikely to know or suspect the difference.
I am with Mary Ellen, I think their ought to be a warning for a post like this. This has got to be one of the most outrageously ignorant thread questions I have ever seen here. I would definitely assume that the OP is a beginner. I hope no one is inspired by his idea.
I know it's mean to add salt to the wound even more. But.... XD. As someone who reads a lot on violin making and maintenance and who talks kd to a lot of luthiers. (even though you don't need that much experience to say this). NOOOOOOOOOOO. you got lucky you didn't break it literally separating the pieces of wood because of the glue heating up and the wood expanding.
I recently witnessed a folk player throw his upright bass in the bed of a pickup truck--without a case. That's folk musicians for you. The feeling that gripped my heart when I saw that was similar to the feeling that gripped my heart when I just now read about the idea of using a heater to "open" a violin. There's no need to forcibly "open up" a string instrument. Just play it and that will do the job admirably.
Hi all, thank you for your advices/opinion.
Will, you have gotten responses from several very experienced violinists, several more dedicated amateurs, and one extremely well respected luthier. And in a rare show of V.com unanimity, we are in 100% agreement that your experiment is a bad idea. I do not understand why you continue to hold onto and argue for this idea of yours. At the beginning, it was a reasonable question from someone who is not very experienced, but now you are just being argumentative.
I'm just baffled that someone would try to argue that placing delicate wood with a delicate finish with glue that unbinds when exposed to heat while the entire construction is under tension intentionally in front of a heat source that it doesn't need to be in front of is a good idea. (intentional run on sentence)
Not a good idea - I live in Sydney too and someone I know did something similar - it resulted in small cracks in his violin which then lead to VERY loud and noticeable buzzing every time he played a single note. It cost $2000 (AUS) to get it fixed.
Mary, I tried to be convinced, but to no avail. It seems the consensus is that not only a change in temperature, but also a sustained 30 degree environment would wreck havoc to the violin, which means people in tropical countries and most other parts of the world shouldn't play the violin at all. I come from a country in Asia, and during summer, it is pretty normal for the temperature to stay above 35 degrees for weeks. Yet as far as I know, violin studies are alive and well there, people don't rush to luthiers fixing them after an extremely hot summer. I know in Europe are are times when the weather get to 40 degrees, but if that means a good enough number of violins and other string instruments become broken, much would have been written about this. I'm not argumentative in all honesty. I'm at work now so sorry for this brief reply. Sorry if any of my posts give an air of obstination or overheated argumentation. Will,
I'd love to know where u get your light bulbs....
I work nights, they're so very rarely used... ;)
If i may add. I was born and raised in the hottest country on the planet.
Ack Ahmed! I've been in a greenhouse that was 54.3C before. It was hell. I barely lasted long enough to finish pressure washing it.
17 years 17 years xD. It's an odd place it deserves a visit just to see another planet.
Yes, of course you *can* play a violin outside in 35-40 C weather. If you live in such a climate and don't have air conditioning, then that is obviously your only option. That doesn't mean it's good for the violin. It isn't. What you are proposing is to purposely expose the instrument to those conditions for absolutely no valid reason when you could just as easily not do that. It's your violin and your money to burn, I suppose, but any community of violinists will rightly be horrified.
Just received a link to this in an email from Kolstein this morning: http://kolstein.com/on-the-question-of-humidification/
This discussion has been archived and is no longer accepting responses.