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The Weekend Vote weekend vote: Does your fiddle 'act up' in cold or wet weather?

January 23, 2010 at 6:53 PM

This week the rain fell in torrents, all week long in southern California, and everything acted up or fell down: mud slid down mountains, fiddles went flat, the phone line went dead, my ankle complained about a long-ago injury...

What happens to your fiddle when the weather gets cold, rainy or changeable? Mine has been through several hundred years, undoubtedly many of those in an environment without any kind of sophisticated humidity or heating systems. Sometimes a peg just lets go, but things don't usually get too crazy.

As for my students, how very out-of-tune their fiddles were this week! I'm guessing this was due to a number of factors, but mainly two: first, having the violin close to a heating vent, where the air changes pretty radically; and second, taking the violin in and out of cold cars, back into warm buildings, etc. I believe that change affects the violin most (and luthiers, feel free to correct or refine this idea!

Many of you are in very cold, wintry environments, and others are actually in a different hemisphere then I am, but please answer the poll, then share with us your stories about the weather and its effect on your violin, viola, cello, etc.


From Anne Horvath
Posted on January 23, 2010 at 7:41 PM

Guido, my violin, likes warm and humid.  Guido does not like warm or cold dry.

If my hair gets frizzy, the violin will sound good and behave.  (Smile)

From Roland Bailey
Posted on January 23, 2010 at 8:47 PM

The weather was recently very cold for a couple of weeks (below freezing the whole time) and we have gas heat, so that was terrible for the pegs on my violin.  It was good, though, in that I got lots of practice tuning the violin using the pegs in addition to the fine tuners.

My teacher also showed me the method of tuning the A string with the Korg and then tuning the others by just playing the strings together, eg. A and D, D and G, A and E.  It seems that I have a pretty good ear and can tell when they are in tune.  Of course, I usually double check with the Korg after I am through; they are usually right on the money.

Laurie, I was thinking about you and your family as I watched the news this week, especially when they started evacuating people.  I remember when you posted about seeing the smoke from the fires last year, and I see that those areas are sliding pretty badly.  Hope you all are doing well!

From Anne-Marie Proulx
Posted on January 23, 2010 at 9:01 PM

That is why makers are there too... a little visit to adjust the soundpost can help a lot to cure little depressive mood that can occur when the violin isn't nice... lol  


From Becky Jenkinson
Posted on January 24, 2010 at 1:31 AM

When my violin gets any degree of cold, the peg or pegs will slip....very annoying.  Sometimes my violin has a sort of buzz, but it is only at certain times, and most of the time there isn't that sound.  I don't know what causes it.  There doesn't seem to be any crack or other reason for a buzz.   I don't like it when I hear it though.    Any advice, other violinists??

From William Gibson III
Posted on January 24, 2010 at 3:15 AM

I should have know better , just after Thanksgiven, I left my violin out and in the stand over night . I was on vacation for the next 2 weeks and was hoping to play/practice and get more into the habit of such more and felt if it was out where I could see it that gold would be easier.

  Well my attic room is not heated so to help what little heat that comes up from the stairs I run a small electric heater on cold  New England nights or during the day if I am homeand up there. 

 The first night of such folley I have the pleasure of waking up at 5:00AM  or so to the sounds of slipping pegs .... or twang as the A string went floppy loose as did the others to more or lesser degree...

   As a student and still learning how to play and tune this lead to two things a paniced call to my luthier and a good 45 minutes to a strong hour puttting things back to tight and in tune of all 4 strings ... it was a good lesson to learn and luckly no damage done ...




From Francesca Rizzardi
Posted on January 24, 2010 at 5:16 AM

Living in Northern California, I can't complain much, but my violin went out of tune any time the weather changed drastically when I kept it in an uninsulated closet that backed up to an outside wall.  In its case in my room, even at 50 degrees, there is no problem.  But when my hands are cold, my violin sounds awful, probably because I don't press the strings firmly.  It took me quite awhile to figure that one out.  Now I use a space heater while practicing when it gets below about 55.

From Anna Meyer
Posted on January 24, 2010 at 12:48 PM

There has been a lot of rain here lately and last time I played my violin it sounded sort of shrill and the tone was thick and unpleasant. Also the peg on the D string got stuck so now it´s very difficult to tune.

From sarah salmi
Posted on January 24, 2010 at 11:43 PM

 I voted no, not because my violin never has problems, (it's a violin after all) but because it is much more stable than any other violin i have had,

for example i took my main violin (made in 07) and my second violin (old French) in the Car in cold weather and drove to a City one and a half hour away, the pegs on my French violin had slipped and the strings where all over the place, and my main violin was not even out of tune.

Maybe older instruments usually are more sensitive... It would be interesting to know if they that voted no have new instruments.

From Corwin Slack
Posted on January 25, 2010 at 12:59 AM

 We don't get much cold here in Houston but such as it is cold is good for the sound of my instrument. 

From Louise Pallet
Posted on January 25, 2010 at 12:00 PM

In the humidity of our climate the violins behave funny specially those that live in places with air conditioning. The more I leave my violin out of my case ,the less trouble I have. It has to be tuned more frequently but that is all. This is Natal in South Africa humidity about 90 %.

From Charlie Piccione
Posted on January 25, 2010 at 1:08 PM

For that annoying occasional buzz, it may be a slightly open seam or a part of the lining inside the fiddle. It could also happen if you chin rest is a bit loose, or the bridge is not properly fitted.

I would suggest a visit to the luthier.

Good luck.


From Michael Flamang
Posted on January 25, 2010 at 1:13 PM

Beware of old churches!  I was all tuned up and ready to play a little recital in my church.   I set the violin down top of the covered harpsichord, under the organ pipes.  A few minutes later, when I picked it up, it felt like it was in the refridgerator.  The pipe space was uninsulated and a frigid draft was pouring down.  The fiddle tried to recover but my nerves didn't.  Very shaky!

From Ann Marie Cordial
Posted on January 25, 2010 at 2:57 PM

Weather is not a problem for me.  I own carbon-fiber instruments, which are immune to temperature changes.  I've taken my violin down to New Orleans during the hottest season (whereas the varnish would melt on a wooden instrument during the day- the heat was so oppressive), and my viola has  recently withstood the freezing temperatures that accompanied the blizzard that hit New York City this past December.  My strings never slipped in either temperature.

---Ann Marie

From Carrie Buddington
Posted on January 26, 2010 at 10:46 PM

I have a Kurt Gutter violin, 1928, and it stays in tune remarkably well. Which is good because I am a beginner and am still training my ears to be in tune.

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