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jennifer steinfeldt  warren

Muddy Slop on G and C

November 9, 2006 at 12:26 AM

I'm so frustrated. I started playing my viola again. I'd taken a few weeks off on account of the tendonitis, using every minute I could to get the Mahler in shape. Now the concert is done and I want to play viola again. I've been playing it daily to record, but the parts for some reason did not elicit the frustration of yesterday and today. My viola is in dire shape. Maybe because I had massive headphones over my ears and the sound I was hearing was filtered through electronics to some degre...

There are several factors. bow is in despirate need of rehairing. But I can't afford any repairs right now...even rehairing. The humidity is fierce, so the pegs keep getting stuck, as a result, I have had to do a lot of stretching in and back to tune, which has, I think, damaged the nearly new strings to some degree. I switched the stringing of the lower two strings during my practice session crisis today, which made much more ring on the upper strings, but didn't help the lower two much.

Another factor is that I noticed that my bridge is like, a mile too high. That answers a lot of questions I've been having about proportion and why my viola is so incredibly hard to play. I am so tempted to take the strings off, remove the bridge, and shave it down myself. Does anyone know if this is something that can be responsibly done at home? If so, how to avoid the crashing of the soundpost with all the strings and bridge removed? I've never had all four strings off the instrument before (or my violin..i'm too scared of the soundpost falling). I think luxurious thoughts about playing my viola with the strings in closer approximation to the fingerboard...and less tension.

The other thing is that I cleaned my instruments and bows two days ago. I didn't polish them because my violin has been mysteriously sticky for a few months and I wanted to see if it was the polish. I think it was rosin dust buildup (not from contact, second-hand rosin from the cloud that sometimes happens). I also am clumbsy when I get too excited while playing and have been known to accidentally bow my violin...sides. Maybe the cleaning polish stripped some of the finish off? It doesn't look like it, but who knows?

Anyway. The problem is that the lower two strings are sounding so thick, muddy, fuzzy...The bow doesn't do what it is supposed to, it doesn't grab the string. I'm trying more and more pressure, different bow grips, all sorts of things, but nothing seems to work. The strings vibrate just fine when I'm playing a sympathetic tone, but not when I bow them. It is impossible to play the Bach suite 3 like this, because not only can I not hear the intonation clearly, but the effort I'm using to get the viola to play is destroying the delicacy I want with the piece. I've tried tightening my bow more, but that just makes it bounce like a basketball.

I played violin to soothe myself into a better state.

Any ideas?


From Stephen Brivati
Posted on November 9, 2006 at 1:17 AM
if the bow hair is old rather than in short supply then you can renew it by cleaning it with alcohol (?) you proabbly read about that on this site a yera ago or so. Steve Peryr often talks about it,
From jennifer steinfeldt warren
Posted on November 9, 2006 at 1:23 AM
I've got that bow cleaning kit that Shar (or Southwest, can't remember now) sells. I have used it on this bow before, without much good effect. I will try it again. I think it is just an alcohol solution, a comb, and another liquid in a bottle. WHy don't they put ingredients on violin cleaning products? Is it some sort of secret, or do they just pour alcohol in a bottle and slap a label on????


From jennifer steinfeldt warren
Posted on November 9, 2006 at 7:46 AM
I used my "bow rejuvination" kit and it helped. Not leaps and bounds, but enough to be obvious and give me another hour of much more decent work on the Bach. I mentioned the bridge thing to my husband and he quite immediately and repetitavely advised me to not touch the bridge. I tend to agree, though it was tempting. I tend to distroy things when I get to "working" on them. So I've never tried tinkering with my instruments themselves. Destroyed many-a-accesory, though. I managed to break a Comford rest and tear apart a violin case (my violin wouldn't fit). I tried using a bike repair kit to uninstall and re-install the bow holders, and when that wasn't enough adjustment, I started hollowing out the styrofoam and then....

My teacher wasn't surprised, though. I get intense and much too creative for my own good when I want something done.

So I am NOT going to touch my viola bridge, no matter the temptation. I can wait for the time to take it in to the shop.

Thanks for the re-direction to the bow. I'd searched the thread for bridge issues and ended up spening lots of time reading very interesting and intense debates on just about everything except bow care, which I forgot about....
The rejuvination kit works fairly well. IT has a cleaner, a fuzzy cloth, a fine comb, and "rejuvination" solution, whatever that is. It is fun to do, at least.


From Pauline Lerner
Posted on November 10, 2006 at 7:07 AM
Don't touch the viola bridge!
From Jim W. Miller
Posted on November 10, 2006 at 8:08 AM
If you cleaned the bow hair, then the problem is no rosin. You'd be amazed how much you have to rosin fresh bow hair. When you get a rehair, the guy usually puts powdered rosin or spray on it so it won't need so much rosining. Just rosin the bow for 15 minutes and it'll be ok.
From bilbo Pratt
Posted on November 10, 2006 at 9:02 PM
I touch my viola bridge daily.
From bilbo Pratt
Posted on November 10, 2006 at 9:03 PM
My son tried a new bow t'other day. It came without rosin. He picked it up and tried and .... nothing.

I mean *nothing*. Amazing how it just slid over the strings with not even a whisper. Not even like playing an electric guitar unplugged. Absolutely nothing.

It was a cool eye-opener for us all.

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