V.com weekend vote: modern or old violins?

June 26, 2015, 9:45 AM ·

VSA violins

Attitudes are evolving, when it comes to modern vs. old violins, and this week's article by Barton Samuel Rotberg gives us more food for thought. How important is it that a violin be loud; is volume more important than quality? And so what if the sound "under our ears" is not quite the same as what the audience hears -- it's still a very important element that matters a great deal.

And of course, all violins are different, and we each have our own experiences with the quality of instruments that we come across. What is your current thinking on this issue? Do you prefer old violins (100 years or older) or moderns? Or can you honestly say that you feel equally about the two? And tell us why, and if your mind has changed about the issue.

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Replies

June 26, 2015 at 03:17 PM · I voted modern..but i dont had before a good old violin..so i dont have a good comparaison..

June 26, 2015 at 06:36 PM · I'm a very late starter and though I hope to at least become competent, I do not see myself every achieving a level beyond fiddling or amateur chamber musician (or church musician, did that with wooden flutes, guitars, mandolin and voice).

That being the case I do not want to deal with the care and feeding of a mature concert instrument. Plus it would be wasted on me.

June 26, 2015 at 09:07 PM · I voted OLD, based on firsthand experience with instruments I own and some I don't.

Two of my fiddles are from the 1800s. The third is from 1921. My penchant for older instruments undoubtedly goes back to the first lesson with my first teacher. Hers was a 150-year-old hand-made Czech instrument that had belonged to her uncle, an accomplished player. I loved the dark look and sound of it and sought out these characteristics some years later in the 4/4-size instruments I tried out.

Still, one instrument alone won't give me all I'm looking for, so I divide my time among the three I have. The 1921 fiddle has what I'd call a warm-bright sound that I prefer for more modern repertoire, but some older fiddles have this sound, too. So, old or modern, I'm happy to play on whatever best helps me get the sound I aim for at the time.

June 27, 2015 at 07:02 AM · I can prefer either old or new. It depends on the qualities of the specific violin. There can be really good violins and duds in both categories.

June 27, 2015 at 09:02 AM · I prefer great violins, old or new.

June 27, 2015 at 11:14 AM · I'm with Kevin; I love violins with personality, voice, and beauty. Some are new. Some are old. Age is just a fact of a violin's existence, not an indication--or promise--of its quality.

June 29, 2015 at 12:14 PM · I said I liked new violins because they're more affordable in general, and because I like the idea that the tradition of violin making can continue with our modern makers.

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