Would you go to a more experienced non-playing luthier or a less experienced playing one?
My Topa was made in 2016. I understand that within a year or so, I should get its sound post (possibly the bridge as well) checked/replaced. I was also told by a professional string player that, in order to optimize the sound, I should go to a good playing luthier since a good player has better ear to the sound of a violin than a non-player. That, I suspect may not be correct. But I'd like to hear what you guys think about this.
I would say you don't want to go to a less experienced anyone to work on your soundpost, can't you find an experienced luthier that also plays???
Very few luthiers I've ever dealt with were accomplished players. And very few bow makers either.
My ear is not your ear. What I hear in the adjustment of your violin is irrelevant. I try my best to elicit descriptions from the players rather than telling them what I hear and what should be done. The exception to that is an inexperienced player and an instrument that is very poorly set-up/adjusted. Then I suggest that we need to bring things to a state of "normal" or acceptable before we can proceed with adjustment. Also consider that some people are hightly suggestable and that we violin makers can tell them what they are hearing and, at least for a period of time, they will believe and agree.
I would expect a professional luthier of calibre, if a violinist himself, to discount his own personal preferences, to treat issues objectively, to understand what his client wants, and to advise the client accordingly. If the luthier uses his own subjective experience (of which his personal preferences would be a part) in his advice to the client, then the client should be made clearly aware of this. This is how a professional in any field should behave when dealing with a client.
Lyndon, yes, the quite experienced luthiers I have in mind do play a little but not anywhere near professional level.
I did a repair for a friend who is a concertmaster in a US orchestra (a legit, paid gig, full-time job). She was concerned about adjustments since she is a plane flight away. I gave her a name of a local who she could trust if she needed him. I asked her if she had found him in her city and she said that she found him in the first violins! He is a grad of the school in SLC and plays professionally, so they are out there.
From my experience, it is more important that the luthier listens to you and does not force her/his preference of sound. He / she is also experienced in violin setup, which is a totally different skills-set than violin building.
It's no use going to a luthier who plays violin if they aren't going to have the skills to adjust YOUR violin the way you want.
I would definitely pick the more adept one, though "experience" doesn't equate to doing the best set-ups. A luthier doesn't need to be able to play in order to do excellent set-ups, but they do need to have a good ear and an excellent understanding of what adjustments to make in order to get the sound the way you want. Great violin-makers aren't necessarily great at set-up, by the way; a luthier gets good at doing set-ups by doing a lot of them, which busy makers don't necessarily have much experience with.
Even if a maker or repair person plays very poorly (even horribly), they can still become very adept at listening, and at using their own playing to evaluate the properties of an instrument. I've run into this many times.
My luthier doesn't play but he does good adjustments.
David i love your violins in the low registers.
By all means go to a highly skilled and very experienced luthier, whether they play well or not. You don't want someone with less than pretty top-notch skills making soundpost adjustments or anything else. If your car needs adjustment you want to take it to a professional mechanic. If they happen to be good drivers or not is almost beside the point. Unless it's an emergency, you wouldn't want to bring your car to a friend who is a very good driver and does some of his own 'puttering around." If they play well, that's fine for them - a kind of icing on the cake. But ultimately YOU have to like the sound of your violin, after adjustment. Sometimes, btw, a violin may need some playing-in after the adjustment. Also, some very experienced luthiers, whether they play or not, have a very good ear and perspective on sound.
I have no idea how well my luthier plays, or if he plays much at all. I first started going to him based on several glowing recommendations from fellow orchestra members. It also didn't hurt that I looked him up and found that he's a member of the American Federation of Violin and Bow Makers. He's done quite a bit of work on my violin to date and I've always been very happy with the results.
I guess that most luthiers can at least play a scale, and that could be enough from their part. It's your violin, your sound preferences and your prefered setup, according to your playing style
Wow, the consensus is pretty clear. Now a further question, what would be a
Honestly i feel the same sometimes. But even more so in France because the customer service is just pure garbage no joke.
Yes, as Sung said, it would be good to make an appointment and let the luthier know in advance what you had in mind.
I've found that 30 minutes to an hour is typical for adjustments, at least for my tastes. I've had some that have taken longer, and that have turned into "let me make a new soundpost" or "let me make a new bridge".
I have met several luthiers. All of them knew how to produce notes and tune the instrument, but none were professional players.
When I am asked how long it takes for a sound adjustment, I usually reply, "That depend on you!"
Bruno's luthier summed it up really nice.
Though I fully understand the arguments put forth so far, supposing both luthiers are equally adept at setting up instruments, being not an advanced player myself with the experience and skills necessary to provide highly critical observations of my own instrument's performance, especially when pushed to its extremes, which I honestly can't do... yet, I'd tend to think that the professional player luthiers could put an instrument to test in what would be a "real world situation" beyond anything I or a non-playing luthier can, no? I.e. the non-playing luthier relies on my feedback, which I have limited ability to provide, hence that would make the playing luthier perhaps a more logical option?
I've heard that some violin making schools in China are in music conservatories, and that makers must play the instruments they are learning to make.
Paul, a good set-up is something that works for
Lydia, excellent point especially about the physical approach part. The problem is, while I can tell exactly how I want my violin to sound under my ears, but I'm not quite experienced as a soloist in hearing how my violin will sound in 10ft or more.
What's your priority in adjustment, though?
I am performing about twice a month in a hall with a recital group. Then there are chamber music workshops I go from time to time but I don't get to play solo with orchestra yet. So I guess I need to have the sound loud enough as a chamber player. Although I'll make the call, I still need someone to let me know how it sound in distance though.
Yixi, when I want to hear live my violin playing more as others would hear it I put an ear plug into my left ear. That cuts out a lot of the sound coming directly up from the violin and what I'm now hearing in my right ear is a less direct sound which is a little more like what an audience would hear.
Maybe you could take someone with you whose ears you trust?
More projection maybe xdd lol.
Being a player is good but not essential for a maker. The maker must be able to understand what the musician wants and convert that information in sound adjustments or in the sound of the instruments he is making, this may be more important than playing.
I've played in folk bands and sessions where some of the most excellent players cannot read music. I don't think it's that unusual outside the classical music world.
I would say, Yixi, that you're not likely to really get significantly variable projection through small tweaks. You do want a properly-carved bridge and properly-fit soundpost, but as long as the placement is good, projection should be roughly similar.
Lydia, what you said makes a lot of sense. And as Raphael suggested, I'll take someone with me when I go to the luthier.
(sorry Yixi, not wanting to hijack the thread but since its on this topic i have a concern).As a rebeginner, I personally feel too shy going to a luthier for a sound adjustment, even though I feel the G is not as clear as the other strings. I wont be able to play decently...so how would I know what to ask of her or him and when to have reached a desirable end...
Tammuz wrote, "I personally feel too shy going to a luthier for a sound adjustment, even though I feel the G is not as clear as the other strings."
Note that the issue with the G might also be an issue with the nature of the violin itself. A soundpost adjustment might help strengthen the G, but it might also compromise the sound of the other strings to some degree.
perhaps Lydia. its not so much the strength as the fullbodiedness (if such a word exists)- ie although tension looks right, it feels flabbier to bow than the others- and clarity (for instance, when tuning, the G is not as clear to tune as the others).
The G string is the most problematic in the violin. Zukerman starts test driving violins playing in fortissimo in the 7th position of the G string. The same on the viola C string.
Luis, why is that so? Is it that the string is fatter and seems to have less tension in it so less likely to be as focused?
Tammuz if you think your G string is flabby, you might want to get a qualified luthier to tighten your soundpost a bit, it will slightly lower the volume of the G, but it will be a tighter sound, which I think is what you are looking for, it may also make the e string a little louder.
Thank you Lyndon. I will keep that in mind. Im also going to wait until I start with my teacher to get their opinion.
Tammuz, the G string is thick, and when it is played in high positions the vibrating part of the string is short, I think that is this that causes the problem.
the first step of my "standard test" of instruments (violins, violas, and cellos) and strings is to play a two-octave scale on the instrument's lowest string. Cellos are pretty much always the worst - in my experience - the exceptions are very hard to find in the price range of new automobiles = except perhaps Teslas.
I know of three luthiers in my area in England who have violin playing skills. One plays in a good amateur orchestra, and the other two are good folk violinists.
Victor's post reminds me of a puzzling question concerning wolf notes, particularly those on the violin G. Was the wolf note phenomenon known in instruments made in the Baroque era, and into the late 18th century? If not, are there grounds for supposing that its prevalence today could be due to the change in the construction of the violin post-Baroque - longer bass bar, change in neck angle, higher bridge, and, more recently, higher tension synthetic core strings, for example?
I would go the experienced luthier. Playing ability is not as important as a good set of ears, steady hands, and a good brain.
The luthiers Yixi is talking about (easy to guess if you know Victoria) are both experienced, it just happens that one is "more" experienced than the other. #2 is far from being a rooky so it isn't a matter of experienced vs inexperienced, hence the dilemma.
Roger, thanks for the additional clarification. You are absolutely right that we are not talking about experienced vs. rooky. There are more than two for me to choose from though.