Anyone try the TONERITE device?

July 25, 2008 at 04:30 PM · Has anyone tried using TONERITE? It's a device that you attach to the bridge. Apparently, the device sends vibrations to the bridge and simulates 6 months of playing overnight thereby shortening the time it takes for the tone of a violin to mature. The device has gotten accolades from Jan H van Rooyen of Gainsville violins. Joshua Bell reportedly owns two of these devices. I'm wondering if anyone on this board has tried them. Here are some links to show the device.


Replies (101)

July 26, 2008 at 02:44 AM · hmm, looks interesting, will order and give it a try. will post results.

July 26, 2008 at 02:46 AM · FYI-Easy check: MOST of the bizzare wacky ideas for "improving the violin" over they years have been a Google Patent search-and you'll see what I mean ;>)

July 26, 2008 at 03:12 AM · Wood is so beautiful and interesting.

I once saw that they used this "type" of mechanical or vibrational manipulation of a wooden musical instrument (guitar). A professional guitarist (Jackson Browne)and others could tell that the sound "opened" up - as if the newer guitar had been played "in". Guitarist say things like "the top opened" up - meaning the sound board, so to speak, is looser and the sound coming off the instrument sounds more "open" and has a "wider" tonal range. (so to speak)

Theory is that the increased vibrational flexibility of the wood allows the top to vibrate more freely thereby increasing volume and tone.

Hard to argue with that. The differences seemed somewhat substantial to a trained ear. It all kinda makes sense.

However, I think that after a time of not using the instrument (and or the device) - the wood cells went back to a degree of stiffness and the machine or good old fashioned playing had to used to "re-open" the sound.

I also heard the explanation being that wood has "cells" that it is comprised of. With use , the wood cells (so to speak) gain flexibility and therefore the volume and tone increase. I do not know exactly the science of it, but I have heard violins and guitars that people say have "opened" up with playing - if you put then in the case for years - you have to play them a bit so that sounds opens up yet again.

Wish I knew the science of why that is - you doubters would ask - shouldn't an "opened" top remain open sounding - but go figure. It is probably something cellular about wood.

Geez I love wood! and musical instruments.

So playing the instrument a lot would probably have the same effect.

July 26, 2008 at 03:34 AM · Yes Joe,

I'm a doubter and a cynic. I'm proud of it.

Mainly because I'm aware of the VAST field of Snake-Oil marketers in the US (specifically) that throughout history have been pushing all manner of gadgets to "improve the violin". There is also such a thing as placebo effect--and judging changes in tone is a VERY difficult thing to do-even for renowned artists.

Such changes in tone, are to my knowledge-unexplained (to a satisfactory degree) by science. I've never seen anyone able to explain why an instrument can go from being fantastic to sounding terrible, and then go back later (there are some famous examples of this happening).

I make no claim of being a Zen-Master of violin lore, but when prices are excessive for a device that looks like someone's science fair project--I raise my eyebrows.....there have been MANY such devices over the years. As I said, go to Google Patent Search and type "Violin" and you'll see all manner of widgets clever and wacky, that people patented over the years hoping to make a quick buck off of people....some were well thought out-but that number is a small minority.

EDIT: I'll tell you what Joe, I'll take back all my nay-saying if some of our pro luthiers around here will vouch for this little widget. How does that sound?

July 26, 2008 at 04:32 AM · Nay saying is your right - no problemo - not my theory so your doubting is not my concern. yet, I, and hopefully you, know that a wood instrument "sounds" better the more you play it - especially a new instrument. So whether a Luthier or a Maestro agrees or not - that is a known fact about wood instruments. And there is not much science to be proven to say that vibrating a top or wood instrument is "like" playing since strings vibrate the whole instrument and playing opens up an instrument as a given.

So the device can't help but help in that regards, but who know if it is damaging it or if the cost/benefit ratio is a benefit to the instrument or purchaser (or seller for that matter). But that is a different subject.

ps - I wasn't vouching for whatever device I didn't even check out the site - I had just heard and read about this type of device years ago re: Jackson Browne

Cheers and doubt on, dude.

I doubt a few things myself - go figure

July 26, 2008 at 04:39 AM · Well joe what is "like playing" and how close is "close enough"?

Why not just put the instrument in a room with a stereo blaring Mozart's Greatest Hits at Volume 11 (like the Spinal Tap reference?) instead?

A violin responds to the manner in which I play it-my bow, bowing technique etc etc. Every violin is different, every bow is different, every persons technique is different. In all honesty-I prefer playing in an instrument myself anyday, you learn much more about the instrument that way (presuming this widget actually works, of course)-and you get in extra practice time. Win-win..

How close is close enough?

The best knowledge we have, now, is that a young instrument earns it's tone---as the seperate pieces of wood, all 70 some odd of them, learn to work together and resonate as a violin--not as seperate pieces of wood. Beyond this, science has little more to say (within my knowledge)? I'm highly doubtful that an oscillator hooked up to a driver and a power supply on top of the bridge, can replicate actual playing. Highly doubtful. There is really no substitute for it.

I can build that widget, myself, in an hour with parts from Ace Hardware down the street (for the most part) for about the cost of a McD's Value Meal, and tools in my shop---and they want $200 for it!

The maker of this widget already claims that it only works on instruments that are already good to begin with. Most people wanting a device such as this are not in that catagory, in my experience.....the inference from the ebay site is that it is not the player that needs "warmed up" but the instrument.

The only cost of practice is time---you learn more about the fiddle, you become a better violinist, and you can use you $200 for that Dr. Beat you're wanting. This widget-to me-is in the same category as all those "Get in shape in JUST 10 MINUTES a DAY" kind of gadgets you see on TV infomercials, adverted by bodybuilders and athletes.


Naysayer who says "Nay", who is open to repenting of said.

July 26, 2008 at 05:30 AM · marc, I agree wit ya.

I did not advocate buying or using one, in fact I think that I implied that playing the instrument would do the same thing. Probably as I stated better - given possible damage etc or who knows what. Yet just like you say, playing is the key. It can't hurt sans fallen sound post etc, etc.

Color me an advocate for playing the instrument, if you must color.


July 26, 2008 at 06:32 AM ·

There's a book, a theory, the whole nine yards.

July 26, 2008 at 07:05 AM · There's a make I came across - William Townsend - who use similar method - put a violin inside a cabinet where there's also a set of speakers.

So there'll be music ranging from classical to heavy metal playing for hours and let the violin "learn" the sound.

Player seems to be satisfied with his works. Good thing is, you don't need to spend that $200 and he did it all for you before it'll leave his hands.

July 26, 2008 at 09:59 AM · Somewhere, sometime, I read an article about the theory of sun rays (UV) being able to age the violin. Seems the results were measurable and appreciable.

July 26, 2008 at 01:17 PM · wow, I found the link. UV can improve sound, apparently.

July 27, 2008 at 12:32 AM · I'm calling a tentative BS on the UV thing. Lots of violin makers use UV radiation to color the wood or to dry varnish, and I've never heard of frequency (pitch) changes in tap tones like those reported on the linked site.

Always open minded though, I've got a sample in the UV chamber to see if I get results anywhere near what he claims. :-)

July 27, 2008 at 12:51 AM · Funny you mention William Townsend, I am meeting with him tomorrow, sunday, to take a look at a couple violins he finished. I will take that oppurtunity to ask his input on that as well as what he does to help mature/dampen the wood?!?! I have several violins now and can not play all as much as I would like, funny I just started playing violin with my 2 kids and have already collected 11!!!!

July 27, 2008 at 03:39 AM · gotta agree with David. the idea needs proper vetting. still,,, I do know that UV is used to cure many finishes and adhesives, so perhaps UV will find an application somehow in violin making. I imagine the oil varnish on a violin would darken with exposure to UV, and perhaps this may affect tone in some way. an interesting hypothesis.

July 27, 2008 at 05:17 AM · Mr. Burgess, what is your opinion about this idea of letting vibrations form records (I guess you would have the great players paying through it) play the violin in a bit, though a device mounted on the bridge? Sounds whacky to me?

July 27, 2008 at 06:08 AM · Ron, UV is already extensively used in violin making to tan wood and dry varnish. It also tends to reduce color in some pigments, so when that effect is strong the pigment is not considered a good one for varnish purposes.

July 27, 2008 at 08:18 PM · Hmmmmm, met with William Townsend, had a really nice violin. He uses a "sound box" on his new violins sticks them in there for about 100 hours or so with LOUD variety of music. He was not sure about the Tonerite or vibration device. If anyone out there has tried let me know. Might build my own sound box and try it out. Can not always play the violins i have and would like to keep them as opened up as possible, so willing to try anything!!!

July 27, 2008 at 10:10 PM · Norman Armenti wrote:

"Mr. Burgess, what is your opinion about this idea of letting vibrations form records (I guess you would have the great players paying through it) play the violin in a bit, though a device mounted on the bridge? Sounds whacky to me?"


I don't know. In our business, it's so easy to confuse real results with wishful thinking, that I don't even trust the results of my own experiments. I start to take notice when I've gotten the same results many times, on a variety of instruments, and confirmed by other listeners who didn't know what was done, or even if there was any change made.

My own experiments MAY have shown improvement, but nothing I could call remarkable.

One challenge in doing this may be the way the instrument is supported. Violins will vibrate very differently when held in playing position, versus being hung by the scroll or held in some fixture.

David Burgess

July 27, 2008 at 11:06 PM · I bought one just over two months ago. what a great invention,I'm using it on a regular basis. I bought a Klotz violin dated 1765 which needed a front sound post patch repair,new bridge,soundpost,some old cracks checking out and re-cleating.When I got the violin back from my Luthier it had a rather strident and fresh sound.The violin was tested by some friends of mine, both professional players before using Tonerite.I used the tone improver for a whole week, the results were stunning! So all you doubters,get one,it really does work.

July 30, 2008 at 09:24 PM · Hi, I'm getting back to you'all on the experiment with ultra-violet radiation.

At ,the guy claimed a dramatic increase in the tapping frequency of wood with exposure to UV, and I called a tentative BS.

So far, my wood sample strip has DROPPED in frequency, not risen.

In 3 days, I've had a drop from 532 to 527 hz.

This is quite the opposite of his increase of 1/2 octave during 16 days of exposure.

Since his chart shows a steady rate of increase, I might have expected a 32 hz increase, or a little more than 1/2 step, adjusted for the shorter time of my test. Instead, the sample has gone the other direction.

I don't know how to account for his results....whether it's experimental error, or just wishful thinking on his part.

One more "secret to good tone" bites the dust. ;)

July 30, 2008 at 09:41 PM · I wonder if he accounted for moisture loss.

July 31, 2008 at 12:58 AM · David:

Thanks for letting us know! Knowing what does not work is as important as knowing what does.

July 31, 2008 at 01:42 AM · Andres Sender wrote:

"I wonder if he accounted for moisture loss."


I don't know. It seems like if the pitch increase was due to moisture loss, the "pitch increase curve" on his graph would have started to level out after a few days.

July 31, 2008 at 02:15 AM · There may be a couple other things going on aside from the UV.

His notes mention that there is water to protect against drying in the 100+ degree temp; for a better understanding, information on the humidity and barometer could account for some differences. If the UV is directly applied, with a level of humidity higher or lower than the moisture content of the wood, there would be an exchange on the wood surface.

In the long run, once the wood stabilized, this would equalize and result in a minimal long-term effect.

Another thought:

Think about kiln-dried wood vs aged wood; if there is any quick process, how stable is it over the long run?

July 31, 2008 at 10:35 AM · I agree. Had he weighed the wood sample before and after, he'd have a better idea whether the change was due to a temporary change in the moisture content of the wood.

I didn't post all the details of my experiment, but moisture content of the wood was kept the same to eliminate that as a variable.

July 31, 2008 at 04:33 PM · I don't know the science, but it seems to me that it would be wise NOT to subject one's instrument to the stress of "six months of playing overnight."

July 31, 2008 at 05:08 PM · Kinda reminds me of cookings, you just can't rush the process.

September 8, 2008 at 04:53 PM · david's experiment is interesting because, contrary to the other guy's claim, the freq dropped reportedly. in other words, UV HAS an effect on the wood instead of having no effect at all.

that is an interesting starting point to check out why. andre's point about controlling humidity is a great one. since the freq change observed by david is reletively little, how tightly must one control the humidity (of the wood, of the UV chamber, etc) to avoid it being a confounding factor...

ps, every time the pork chop is left in the oven a little longer, i can taste the difference! :)

September 8, 2008 at 11:32 PM · I dont like this idea! Mechanical vibrations can be very damaging to violins and that's why the best makers use no power tools at all in the making of their violins.

But the violins sound and tone will change with playing and age anyway. All though, I am interested to see the results of this.

September 8, 2008 at 11:30 PM · I don't know if this is true but it's quite interesting:

September 8, 2008 at 11:36 PM · I've got one too. I've used it on all my violins. I think it helped the ones that were a bit "tight" at the time. Some years ago thought I got a similar effect applying a Sonicare electric toothbrush to the bridge (basic 60 Hz frequency). The principle of the Toneright is the same, except that there seems (to me to be some periodic fluctuation in amplitude and frequency. And it's not nearly as noisy as the electric toothbrush, and you can keep it going for days.

Since I really have no idea what really "breaks in a fiddle." I don't know how this device is doing it. But I think it could make the bridge fit a bit better, loosen up varnish that is choking the sound, and it could overcome glue that might be holding things a little tight in some places.

My instruments tend to run from 40 - 170 years old, so I don't think the vibrations do any "aging" of the wood.


September 9, 2008 at 05:52 AM · I am a bit wary of such devices, but through experimentation have discovered that if you deposit a relativly new violin into a bass amp cabinet, and allow the bassist to just play as they normally would(particularly low frequency notes), for at least 5 nights for about 4-6 hours, after about 4-6 weeks, strange as it may seem, there is a considerable and measurable improvement in both tone and volume production. I realize that this luxury is not available to all, and the conditions of the experiment, noisy...It is the excitation of the molecules that produce subtle changes in the wood, thus producing the same effect as if it been played (aggressivly) for an unspecified period of time. Since the time it takes to "break in" a violin is unknown and prone to a number of factors, I cannot claim to have found the magic solution to the problem. Only my individual experiments can speak for themselves and I've done this experiment with several instruments, of varing quality, all with the same results. I am not a physicist, but would wonder that this could not be done, somehow, in a more controlled lab enviroment and so I leave that to the scientists.

September 9, 2008 at 09:50 AM · Here's a link to a study of "playing in" which has so far concluded that there isn't much change.


Al, moisture content of my samples was determined by weighing, which is thought to be quite accurate with seasoned, stable wood. While I also controlled humidity in the UV cabinet, monitoring this accurately has some problems because of differences in the way a meter and a wood sample might react to radiant heat. In other words, if the temperature of the wood sample and the meter are different, the meter won't be accurate.

Ultra violet radiation is known to degrade or weaken wood. This would happen most on the surface, and the frequency test would be most sensitive to changes near the surface.

September 9, 2008 at 10:08 AM · Right between the eyes. Good shootin'.

September 10, 2008 at 02:30 AM · Mr Burgess:

Thanks for your posts. They confirm my own suspicions.

I bought a modern violin from an unknown maker, who used excellent spruce and maple from Canada. The overall sound at first play was powerful with deep low register. But I noticed the setup was, well, unusual - the neck was slightly skewed and low, the bridge low, and some other things. I played this for one year, and had no appreciable improvement in sound quality. The violin was lacking in those special overtones that only the best can produce.

My prof took up my cause, and suggested I permit a local luthier to un-skew the neck, and tinker with the setup. What was done is long story, but to summarize: nearly all setup aspects were altered - fingerboard height and position, bridge, soundpost placement, tailpiece, etc. Thankfully, the violin was not opened. The result is: more of the shimmering overtones associated with the best violins; with the power and projection preserved; and much easier to play overall. After 6 months, the sound is now improving in overtones. ( my prof keeps it with him for his SO performance, and has yet to return my violin to me! )

So, I was lucky. But it proves to me that ageing alone does not improve sound. If the violin is lacking from day one, it will continue. The skill of the maker is paramount for sound.

September 10, 2008 at 09:49 PM · I have tried it and it did make a change in my violin, a new instrument made about 4 months ago, 13K. It gave the sound more quality and better response aftter 9 or 10 hours.

Sorry to disagree with some expert opinions but that is my experience, it may be different with other violins or may not work at all with non new instruments. Who knows...

September 12, 2008 at 09:19 AM · I set a violin's scroll on top of an electric air purifier/fan. The vibrations cause the violin to "sing" a bit, and a good fiddle can open up re depth, color, etc, quite a bit.

November 26, 2009 at 06:12 PM ·

I have now tried Tonerite on several new cellos.  It was excellent at playing them in and openeing them up.  I do think however there is no substitute for playing an instrument well to developth eright kind of response and tonal colour.

November 26, 2009 at 11:29 PM ·

I remember reading some years back about a violin that had belonged to one of the great players and unfortunately I can't remember who! Anyway, the new owner found that if he played in tune the violin realy sang, but miss a note by a fraction and it sounded dead. The wood had obviously got used to resonating at the in-tune frequencies. Not that it's ever going to affect it with my intonation, but do we really want all the frequencies opened up?

November 27, 2009 at 03:23 AM ·

I believe centuries old instruments will have all frequencies opened up. They were never tuned the same tuning during their entire life, as 440hz only being standardize in recent decades.

November 27, 2009 at 03:29 AM ·

Between vibrato and pythagorean intonation in a variety of keys, don't we end up using all of the frequencies anyway?

November 27, 2009 at 03:43 AM ·


November 28, 2009 at 04:44 PM ·

Sorry Stephen, this time your typo cost us a really good pun.


January 26, 2010 at 06:23 PM ·

 Check out my review of the ToneRite at

April 5, 2010 at 09:22 AM ·

Very fair and good review on above link.

The fact that this device only seems to vibrate at a single steady frequency 

may point to the ToneRite’s substantial shortcomings.

The conclusion echoes my thoughts entirely. How can the device emulate the same effects of playing in when there is only one frequency?


April 6, 2010 at 04:59 AM ·

Actually, if the theory behind the tonerite is sound (pun intended), then I have a better idea that I can implement without purchasing the device.

I have an excellent Yahama receiver, with match CD and even a good quality turntable (Who remembers LPs?). I also have some excellent Definitive Technologies speakers that have amazing clarity and depth to their sound.
I can place a violin on each speaker (the speakers are large enough), and I can select which violin music I wish to impart on the instruments! Crank it up to 100 watts if I want (or if I want the neighbors to still like me), select a more reasonable volume. I think this has possibilities.....

April 6, 2010 at 11:06 AM ·


Once I tried something like that with a brand new violin.

I used a Harman Kardon amp and Polk Audio Speakers. After one week playing Bach's Sonatas and Partitas at a decent volume (not enough for neighbours to kill me) that violin sounded to my ears nearly the same as when I first took it out of the case.

Since that day my wife hates Bach.

November 25, 2011 at 08:04 AM · Ihave just got one and I think it is working. I am happy with the idea behind it. going to leave it now for a week. Low frequensy.

November 25, 2011 at 03:42 PM · I tested one on a new violin for several days, with no change that I hear or measure in a frequency response. From a technical perspective, I can't see how such low-force, low-frequency jiggling can do anything whatsoever.

November 25, 2011 at 05:55 PM · ToneRite is apparently trying to speed up a natural process, something not unknown in today's frantic society. Where I suggest it falls down (if it indeed does what it says on the tin, and the jury here appears to be out on that one) is that the player does not have the long-term benefit of developing and interacting with the violin; in other words, learning to develop the tone and responding to the tone as it develops. This is important not only for the advanced player but for those at the beginning of the journey.

November 25, 2011 at 06:33 PM · It's funny reading old posts. Between then and now I have spent several months playing on a fabulous but difficult old violin. And the thing is, I didn't just change it, it changed me...

November 25, 2011 at 06:46 PM · I have it on very good authority that if you tie a condom to the bridge and get a young blonde lady who looks just like Maryln Monroe to hold the fiddle for two hours, the sound is vastly improved.

November 25, 2011 at 07:37 PM · Trevor, you expressed my thoughts better than I could have! I'm lucky to have plenty of time with no outside demands for rapid improvement/instant gratification. My teacher is the very definition of patience, and my orchestra director always says, "Your best is good enough!" (It's a mostly senior citizen/relative-beginner group.) I've had my violin for nearly two years now, and I wouldn't trade the growth we've made together for anything in the world! I've discovered how my technique can improve my violin's tone, and which little "tricks" influence it (a change of rosin and strings, different bow, etc.). And just the process of my violin's aging allows improvement to be heard and appreciated. I'm enjoying the "journey", and have no desire to speed it up.

November 26, 2011 at 06:33 AM · I don't have an opinion on the device, but it does make me wonder about one aspect: when playing the violin, the contact point of the bow has a huge impact on exactly which overtones are produces. Closer to the bridge, and higher ones are produced. We all know that for a loud, focused and penetrating sound in the upper positions, we must be closer to the bridge, with a margin of error of a millimeter or less. My experience show me that a violin will be made to speak and open up in the upper registers by playing forcefully but clearly in the upper positions, and of course close to the bridge.

So my question is what relationship the device or exposure to speakers have with the contact point or left hand position? Presumably, simply feeding a tone into the bridge will not make it move in the same way or encourage the violin to produce the same overtones as hammering out Tzigane, double-stops, or the like.

November 26, 2011 at 07:26 AM · I think there is no need to explain sth. that doesn't work and is only a placebo.

I know such a lot of methods or devices, explanations etc. that are all nonsense or at least inconsistent. On the other side, I have not yet heared about a method and it's explanation/theory that is consistent with the facts of acoustics and physics. Or, that is simply and obviously working. Compare that to the application of boiling H2O to spaghetti.

March 14, 2013 at 06:22 PM · My local string shop just got one to test out. They are trying it first on a violin that just sounds dead. Next week they will be actually recording a violin before and after and comparing the two so they can hear the difference and see the sound wave. I will let everyone know what the result is.

March 15, 2013 at 01:51 PM ·

"Step right up, step right up folks, not only will this tonic grow your hair back, it will make your violin sound like a Starderwhozicus, and you will be playing it like Pavoratti in no time flat!"

That's right, no need to push...why there's a young man in the audience who has tried our product, step right up and tell us your story.

(a young man steps up to the podium and whips out a rousing rendition of Saint-Saens Havanaise on his violin and his sautille technique is perfect).

"Well, now that was fantastic! What was it that used to afflict you?" Inquires the snake oil charlatan.

"'s like this...." The young man murmured, digging his toe bashfully in the ground....

"You see, before I started taking Dr. TonEase's magic elixer, I used to...well, I used to play the VIOLA!"

*A gasp escapes from every man woman and child in the audience*

"Not only that.." continued the young man, "I also used to play using a shoulder rest!"

"It's a miracle!"

*a young woman of delicate constitution is overcome and swoons near the back of the crowd, and general pandemonium erupts


"I'll take two bottles!"

"Me first!"

"Will it cure the need for fingertapes for beginners?"

"Get the tar and feathers!"

March 15, 2013 at 02:04 PM · Hear, hear.

March 16, 2013 at 08:56 AM · Hello Folks. I did some research on this recently. I have acquired an instrument that has been unplayed for some 80years. It's a bit dry. Have worked it a bit over the past few weeks which has helped a little. So this will be my test subject. I have heard of loud music being an influence on the timber and there are some guitar makers in the states that lock up their brand new instruments in a sound box and bombard it for a week with loud and varied music and they claim that this improved the tone of their instrument. YES I KNOW MATE (SNAKE OIL) So...always willing to give something a try, I have set up my own SOUND BOX using an old window seat and the extention speakers from a laptop sound system. Have played ACDC, David Gilmore, Vivaldi (he's not loud enough) and the Corrs acoustic concert. I have to admit that after two days there was a noticible difference and I have to say the Girls from the Corrs seem to have the best effect.

So I have one of these TONERIGHT devices on order and it should arive within the next week. I'll do some pre-Toneright sound recording first and set it up for a trial so I can asses it later. They recommend that the first use should be for 144 hours. That's 6 days. Each day equates to 6 months of regular use. I'm not sold but will give it a good run. If its bogus...I'll be honest and let you all know. Cheers.

March 16, 2013 at 02:43 PM · Interesting subject. I am sure we agree that a sample population of people, some given a true medication and some given a placebo, will have interesting results. Something as subjective as ..does my violin sound more mature after X days of the treatment also lends a bit doubt regarding conclusions.

March 16, 2013 at 03:56 PM · "If its bogus...I'll be honest and let you all know"

The question is, how will you know? Even if you were to use some type of sensitive test equipment like a decibel meter, how can you guarantee a uniform pressure or contact point or even string contribution?

Put on new strings, and the sound changes dramatically. Change one string and the balance of the instrument can change.

There is simply no way to test the device objectively.

March 17, 2013 at 01:45 PM · There is no way to objectively prove that "playing in" is a complete delusion, due to the inability to counter the argument, "Oh, it's something you can't measure, but I can hear it". Similar to the inability to prove that Bigfoot doesn't exist.

I'm not saying that play-in doesn't exist. I'm putting a fair bit of effort into an attempt to prove (objectively) that it DOES... or, if that fails, I will convince myself that it doesn't.

I have measured consistent tonal changes over time, which may be confused with play-in; the harder part is filtering out what is due to time alone, and what is due to play-in.

March 17, 2013 at 01:52 PM · If you want to experiment with dedamping there is no need to purchase a tonerite. It is very easy to create a device that will do the same thing:


Get a small loudspeaker - I got this out of a broken portable CD-player/radio - and hotglue a wooden mute to the membrane. Now you can connect the violin to your stereo and play anything throug it. I have done this with a couple of chinese instruments - violins, violas and a cello - and found in most cases that the treatment improved the response of the instruments. I tried at first to use solo music for the particular instrument thinking that that would most closely resemble actual playing on the instrument. By mistake a violin was subjected to Bach Cello Suites for some days and that really made a difference.

The money you save buy building this device instead of purchasing a tonerite can buy you a chinese violin to experiment on.....

March 17, 2013 at 02:50 PM · Bo, that's a refreshingly simple approach. I see from the photo that you are using at least three gut strings. Would the lower tension of these affect, one way or the other, the effectiveness of the device than if you used high tension strings such as all steel?

March 17, 2013 at 03:54 PM · This was just the violin that happened to be first at hand when I wanted to take a picture for the post. I have not (yet) subjected this violin to the treatment.

March 18, 2013 at 02:07 AM · $250?!


I'd rather fritter that money away on the endless quest for new strings!

March 18, 2013 at 03:05 AM · I know a guy who uses it on the mediocre instruments he has made for his shop. I've had experience playing those instruments after they were "tone-rited", after having been left without it for a few days, and after I had "played-in" a violin for several days (I was checking one out for a student) - and I would say that while the ToneRite improved the sound in the short term from the baseline level, it was not as remarkable a difference as when I had played the instrument for several days, with full tone.

March 19, 2013 at 01:44 AM · I tried it out.

After 48 hours I gave the violin a try. "Hmm, pretty good..." I looked inside, the label in the violin said "made in China".

Back to the Tonerite for another 48 hours.

Definite improvement.

Peeked inside the violin: "made in Romania"

Odd, but who am I to argue with the mysteries of Science?

Another 48 hours of ToneRitization.

Now the violin was really starting to roar! Hot diggity!

The label now read "made in Germany"

Hoo boy! Well, I was feeling pretty frisky by now....I put the ToeRite on full blast, and didn't come back until another full 96 hours had elapsed. Risky I know, but the Wright brothers didn't get airborne by sitting around twiddling their thumbs you know...

Goodness gracious! I was playing like a man on fire now! My humble living room transformed into a symphony hall.

The label inside now read "made in Cremona, from your friend Antonio"

March 19, 2013 at 11:46 AM · Seraphim, another couple of hours and the bass bar will fall off and the fingerboard rattle loose. Don't risk it.

March 19, 2013 at 12:23 PM · You Guys crack me up!!! But common chaps we have to have a little trust in each other's opinions after all we aren't trying to sell these things are we? Sure It would be nice if it changed the label but then we;d have an argument about which label sounded better. Let's see of the dam thing really works and if it don't ... well GO TELL IT FROM THE MOUNTAIN ...

March 19, 2013 at 05:55 PM · I went too far.

In my zeal for that vintage sound I left it on all week long.

My violin doesn't sound the same now at all....

I think I baroque it!


March 21, 2013 at 03:05 AM · The first basic test is done. The instrument it was tested on did sound louder, and more resonant. This was the response from multiple people. Now it is not an extremely scientific experiment, and we are testing it with more equipment next, but so far results are positive.

I could see this not being useful for a regular musician, but it is quite useful a music store that has many instruments which sometimes go years without rigorous playing. Keeping them from going stiff is much more beneficial for customers.

The next test will be on a different setting that should supposedly effect the tone quality. The vibrations are very low. The tonerite seems more like a massager, and not a speaker.

March 21, 2013 at 01:56 PM · For the sugar-in-a-bowl analogy to work, you need something to break up the sugar. Jiggling the bowl back and forth ain't gonna do it, and maybe that's how the Tonerite works... or doesn't.

March 21, 2013 at 02:09 PM · And maybe wood is not the same as a bowl of sugar?

Fiber vs. granules, etc.


I had another look at your analogy. I see what you're getting at now. Hmmm....

March 21, 2013 at 03:38 PM · For those of you who are thinking that you can just keep stirring the sugar to keep it from sticking I can assure you that leaving my homemade "tone-right" on all the time is not compatible with living in a family ;-) It was veto'ed by SWMBO after a week.

Even Mozarts quartets can apparently get annoying on endless repeat.....

March 21, 2013 at 04:05 PM · Aha, Bo you simply made a tactical error.

At first you should have had your home made device playing constant scales, Sevcik exercises and the like.

After a few days of that, when the wife/kids/neighbors started complaining, then you could have switched over to 24/7 classical music and the change would have been such a welcome relief there would have been no further complaints.

Strategy, married life is all about strategy...

March 21, 2013 at 08:56 PM · John,

How do the acoustic properties of your sugar change?

I guess it's hard to understand the Sound of (violin) Music....

"How do we solve a problem like the violin?

How do we catch a cloud and pull it down?

How do solve a problem like the violin?

A will o' the wisp, a flibbertigibbet, a clown?"

March 22, 2013 at 04:19 PM · "These planet exploration scientists have to think round corners to guess how you would exist with all the wrong chemicals and no water . They could tell us whether to buy one "


Science knows about a number of mysterious things in the universe:



-dark matter

I think if a rigorous investigation was conducted into the effects of the numerous bridge vibrational devices and schemes they would discover another:

-it doesn't matter

March 22, 2013 at 06:34 PM · I think that the main argument against this type of excitation is that the strings really impart a side to side motion to the bridge and not a bombardment of compression waves either through the bridge or the air.

To properly excite the violin we really need an inverse Hurdy Gurdy mechanism.

To build on the wonderful studies done by one of own using the sawzall, we could use a a rosined belt.

What you would have is a wheel rocked back and forth by the sawsall. This is set below a mount that holds the violin. Two wheels are slightly below the violin and set one on each side of the violin to guide a rosined belt so it engages all four strings at once, or one, two or three at a time, depending on the sophistication of the wheel mounts.

The sawzall rocks the lower wheel. This forces the rosined belt to oscillate back and forth over the strings of the violin. Variable tension setting would be a must.

You might even increase the effect by using a 10hp variable speed reversible electric motor to spin the drive wheel at various speeds both clockwise and anti-clockwise. Let me know if you want to build this and I will talk to my wife or my brother-in-law to see if they would build a control until so you can program the bowing pattern.


Pat T.

March 22, 2013 at 06:55 PM · "Vibrations are vibrations"

That's only partially true. For example, playing an E on the D string will produce one set of overtones. However, playing the same pitch high on the G will produce a different set. That's why new instruments (and often older instruments played by students who don't play up there) are often stiff and unresponsive until someone does play up there a lot.

March 23, 2013 at 02:31 AM · "These planet exploration scientists ... could tell us whether to buy one."

I can only report that I gave one of these things a pretty good test, and nothing happened. And, according to the physics and acoustics I understand at the moment, I wouldn't expect anything to happen.

Whether you buy one or not is up to you.

March 23, 2013 at 12:58 PM · We just finished the initial tests on a violin that has sat around, and always sounded extremely harsh. We put it on a different level that is suppose to give it a "sweeter" sound. I didn't know what to expect, and did not expect much, but the violin does sound more balanced, and less shrill. It didn't change the entire tone quality of the instrument, but there was a noticeable difference without question from many people.

Again I will say that this does not make sense for a regular performer to have one, but every test we have done has had positive results and it seems to have been a good investment for a string shop with many instruments.

May 13, 2013 at 11:15 AM · Hi Folks,

Sorry I didn't get back to you sooner. I got a ToneRite and set up my old Maggini. I put graduation marks on the dial as it doesn't come with one that give you full or half which I think is cheap. Okay had it on may for about 2 days and there was a little improvement. Have graduated this down and varied it. After about 5 days I started to notice some difference. I had to leave home for stints of 2 and 3 days at a time for a week so I let it run only varying the frequncy when I got back. OKAY ITS NOT equil of the Grate masters such as Da Salo or Maggini or Stradivari, but this old Maggini that has been sitting in a box for 80 years just went from rough and ready to sweet, even toned across all strings, it was already powerful but that power is warmer. I love it!!!! I have no fear in recommending this to anyone. But if you start with a dud instrument you will get limited improvement, if you start with an instrument that has potential and needs to open or reactivate if it hasn't been played for a long time then you've struck GOLD!!!

May 13, 2013 at 06:07 PM · John, it's normal for a violin to go through spontaneous changes in sound after it is first set up, or after it hasn't been set up for a while, so I don't know if you've isolated changes due to vibration from changes which would have occurred anyway.

I finally broke down and bought one too, because they had a sale where they were dirt-cheap to people in the trade. Tried it for a couple of weeks on two different fiddles, and didn't notice any change as a player or listener (I didn't set up instrumentation to attempt to measure change).

Obviously, these two tests aren't conclusive, but what I can say is that I am not yet a believer, and will sell it cheap to anyone who wants one.

May 13, 2013 at 06:33 PM · I'm with David, I don't buy it.

There's a good reason why this thread had been sleeping for five years without a response. :)

I have a Maggini too that needed to be 're-awakened'.

I didn't buy any mechanical contraption to achieve this however.

I simply changed the strings and the bridge, et voila, new tone overnight! :)

May 13, 2013 at 11:49 PM · I'm always suspicious of any glowingly positive posts, especially if they are long and have lots of exclamation points.

More recently, I attempted to find acoustic changes in a violin (well, 4 of them, actually, including a borrowed Chinese factory fiddle) using a high-powered voice-coil type driver. I had to construct a heavy sound deadening enclosure to avoid annoying the neighbors with the wide variety of sounds pumped into the instrument. While I could easily measure changes in tone due to temperature fluctuations during the day, anything related to the actual vibration was not clear. There might have been some small, seemingly random changes. Before and after playing tests didn't seem any different.

May 14, 2013 at 12:42 AM · The store I work at got one a few months ago, and every violin we have used it one has improved (either by projecting more, or creating a more even palette). It might be that we have gotten lucky, but I will say that the ToneRite is not some "snake oil" scam.

EDIT: The music shop does not sell the tonerite. We were all skeptical of it, but decided to try it because we found one cheap. Everyone was as surprised as I was that there was a noticeable difference on each instrument we tried it on. I wouldn't recommend this for a musician with one instrument, but for a shop that has many instruments sitting around waiting for a customer the Tonerite seems to help keep them from sounding completely dead. I'm not trying to make a debate out of this, but instead explain the results of my findings, and note that we do not sell the Tonerite, and are not affiliated with them in any way.

May 14, 2013 at 01:23 AM · From Shawn Boucke

"The store I work at got one a few months ago, and every violin we have used it one has improved (either by projecting more, or creating a more even palette)."

Would you recommend using one on a genuine Strad, just to give it a bit more uumph and color? :)

May 14, 2013 at 05:34 AM · "The store I work at got one a few months ago, and every violin we have used it one has improved (either by projecting more, or creating a more even palette)."


1. Does your store sell the device?

May 14, 2013 at 03:33 PM · When I finish a new violin, it improves markedly by leaving it on the dining room table for a few days.

May 14, 2013 at 04:24 PM · I can't do that, because I have cats.

Are there other options, or is the dining room table the only place that works?

March 7, 2016 at 05:55 AM · So I recently got a brand new violin and was intrigued by Bo Pontoppidan's post and the device he made, and because I'm surprised with the results, I decided to post about it here!

I was very skeptical about this doing much anything, but after leaving the new violin playing-in for over two days on my home-made device, I'm a believer!

Right when I got the violin, it had that distinct 'new violin' sound (and smell). I was actually not sure I liked it. I left it playing-in, and now the tone is transformed! It's open, it's resonant, it's very loud! ...still not sure I like it, it's kind of brash, I'm used to very sweet and mellow violins, but the transformation was much, much more than anything I expected.

The device I made was pretty much as described by Bo Pontoppidan, just I used a rubber practice mute hotglued to the dust cap of a speaker I extracted from a little boombox I had lying around.

...and some rubber bands to make sure everything was gently held in place.

And because this can get noisy, I set it all up in a spare room, and put one of those big storage bins on top of everything to contain the sound. And then put a thick blanket over it because just the box and the closed door weren't enough. That did it.

First I tried playing some violin solos, I figured I'd just leave Paganini's caprices playing, but that did so little vibrating on the violin, I wasn't happy with that. So I tried something much stronger: Iron Maiden! That felt a lot more like the way the violin vibrates when played.

Interestingly, I left one of my already very well played violins playing-in for comparison, and nope, nothing at all changed about it. So my personal conclusion here is that play-in devices may work on brand-new violins, and they can be made out of a stereo you don't care about and a practice mute. :)

March 7, 2016 at 12:16 PM · Ingenious what you have done.

I have used the tonerite on an old newly restored violin and it did make a difference, but I didn't use it on an already played in one.

March 7, 2016 at 02:12 PM · so much for instruments not being "played in"?

Then again, they'll want a scientific approach, anyone wish to make a formal proposal for a scientific research? I would totally love to do it, if I had time time and funding.

March 7, 2016 at 05:27 PM · If you're going to use the Tonerite, or similar, to improve the tone of your violin then I think the CR (and SR) should be removed first. In particular, the CR will interfere to a greater or lesser extent with the vibration of the top plate, and this interference, a damping of volume and frequency response, is actually audible. The level of interference depends on the CR, how and where on the violin it is fitted, and the violin itself. The SR doesn't have quite an effect as the CR, but the effect will still be there because any weight clamped to the body of a violin will affect its vibration (that's physics).

Not quite on topic, but it may be mentioned that some violinists are sufficiently convinced by this argument to encourage them dispense with the CR and SR and to learn to play fluently without those add-ons - as all violinists did 200+ years ago.

March 7, 2016 at 08:59 PM · Steven, I'd love for there to be official scientific research on this. How do we go about it?

(I seem to remember some Germans publicized some papers on their findings on the matter before)

Trevor, interesting that you pointed that out. When I left the violin there listening to heavy metal for 2 days, it was WITHOUT the chinrest and shoulder rest (the lower edge was propped up on a sponge just under the lower block area). It has those things on the photos because I put them back on to give it a proper run through its paces, and then staged it for the pictures without taking them off. ;)

March 7, 2016 at 09:05 PM · Fox, one convinces a professor near-by to do the research, and he/she will likely assign some students to work on it.

Another way is that you convince a student to work on it, and formally request the research to be done, and the student can bring it to a potential supervisor, who will try to get funded if/when published.

I mean, my physics department at least, would very unlikely propose such research even at an undergraduate level, because we focus in particle and medical. Your best bet will be is to approach acoustic/musical-engineering, or smaller, less connected physics department.

March 8, 2016 at 09:00 AM · There's this existing research on "playing in", if anyone's interested. It involves two new violins constructed at the same time, judged to be very similar initially by both players and listeners. One was played regularly for three years, the other remained unplayed.

In the "conclusions" section of the paper, it states the following:

"Three years after they were finished, with one

instrument having been played and the other having been kept

in museum conditions, the results still showed no statistically

significant differences."

Here's another study:

It states that

"A preliminary analysis of the data does not reveal any significant changes in the acoustic response of the plates."


March 8, 2016 at 10:36 AM · That's very interesting, David.

I wish I could find the link to the study I read where they concluded that playing-in was beneficial; I'll post the link if I find it.

So I'm curious as to why there seems to be diverging opinions. Could it be that /some/ woods benefit from it and others don't and it's really just luck of the draw? Maybe different varnishes are affected by it in different ways?

Also what am I experiencing? I could swear the sound is different. Could it be just placebo effect? I wasn't expecting there to be any change but hey the mind can play some tricks on us!

Could it be that the forced playing-in has a more pronounced effect than normal playing?

Perhaps it's something unrelated to the playing-in, like... the wood acclimated to the humidity/temperature of my house, or maybe the strings settled in, and since that happened while the violin was left alone for a couple of days playing-in, the play-in device is getting the credit?

It sure is an interesting phenomena!

March 9, 2016 at 11:28 AM · Interesting. Since some of the vibrating was done in an enclosed cabinet with heat sources, I wonder if the moisture levels in the wood remained the same, or if the wood dehydrated during the treatment?

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