Interesting shaped violins

September 22, 2009 at 04:53 AM ·

I've noticed some interesting shaped violins from some ebay sellers; I wonder how they play?

Has anyone tried one? Would you buy one again?
Has anyone made one?

Replies (32)

September 22, 2009 at 07:10 AM ·

 Looks like a Song Tie violin (maker from Heibei). The only one I have tried had a decent sound, full and open, good for a student. But was the traditional shape.

Personally I dislike it, ad so many crannys and nooks might be a potential source for buzzes as soon as its ribs get a little unglued. 

And that colour......I would not play on stage with this.

September 22, 2009 at 02:42 PM ·

All I can think of is making 24 purfling miter joints instead of eight. I also notice five strings. Is this a violin or a viola? As to how it sounds, I must say that unusual shapes do not necessarily translate into strange sounds, so it might be a useful instrument. The color does nothing for me, but that might be because I returned last night from an exhibit of painted violins and have not yet stabilized.

September 22, 2009 at 02:47 PM ·

I think it's pretty!  Would love to play it!

September 22, 2009 at 04:01 PM ·


This one is currently on ebay with 5 days to go, and I'm the only bid at $0.99; if you want to battle for it (I warn you, I'll go all the way to $50.00!!!!), search for "song ancient baroque'

September 22, 2009 at 05:17 PM ·

Hahahaha!  I would love to try this out, heck even own it.  But as it is.... I have to pay the Wellness Center next month plus my Physicians Assistant, and it's hunting season next week....... Best wishes if you get it.  Let us know how it turns out!

September 23, 2009 at 03:25 AM ·

Hunting season? Don't you see the obvious advantage?
While you are sitting under a tree playing this strange shaped thing, the deer will come close to see what the heck is making all that racket. Then the bear will come to find out what kind of wounded critter makes a sound like that. Then you can decide what you are going to take home for dinner!

September 23, 2009 at 10:19 AM ·

Dang! Why didn't I think of that!

Here's one; Since aspen turn to the same colors as Blaze Orange Vests obviously defeating the purpose of making me visable to other hunters, I was thinking of wearing Hot Pink!!! 

September 23, 2009 at 01:35 PM ·

In a time in which instruments had many ornaments and embelishments (as we can see in old viols, harpsichords, etc) the violin was created as a "clean looking" object, it's beauty comes more from it's pure forms. 

So, in general, decorated or "different" violins, even if may look beautifull, will have their value devaluated. 

There is a Francesco Bissolotti violin on Tarisio now that is a "Fantasy" violin and I imagine that it's final price will be very bellow the price that an "orthodox" Bissolotti would fetch, just because it's a "different" instrument, here:

September 23, 2009 at 02:48 PM ·

I wondered what would happen / would have happened if violinists like Heifetz, Menuin, Repin, Oistrahk, Hahn, etc., played such violins?  Would more people play these?

September 24, 2009 at 04:14 AM ·

What a neat violin!  I haven't seen as many strange shaped violines, other than the ones that look like a 'peanut' (no corners).  I never thought I'd play on a strangely shaped string instrument, either, but came across a wonderful viola with sloping shoulders, and gigantic lower bouts (like the violin Manfio listed, with the lower bouts normally shaped) ( .  It's a great instrument, the sound is great, and higher positions aren't as painful as they were with my old viola.  I guess one of the advantages would be ease of playing, i.e. less strain on the left hand, etc. 

September 24, 2009 at 04:30 PM ·

These are very interesting shapes for the reason of playability also. They really are well made great sounding instruments though:


September 24, 2009 at 04:52 PM ·

The well-known violist Rivka Golani plays on an instrument with only one shoulder.  I'm not sure if that's the right way to describe it -- you can see pictures here and here. (Ah - found a better one here.)  This looks like it could be a useful design for violinists if the instrument sounds decent...

September 24, 2009 at 05:33 PM ·

@ Bruce- Geez-Louise! That sucker looks big enough to be a viola!  Noticed she is using Dominants too.

September 24, 2009 at 05:46 PM ·

@ Royce - you're joking, right?  Because it *IS* a viola.   :-P

September 24, 2009 at 07:35 PM ·

Sorry- I misread what you wrote! Ooops hehehehe........ oh boy.

September 24, 2009 at 09:39 PM ·

That should look ok on my wall though.

Royce, I am dying to see you on the " hot pink" cammo when you hunt.

Please dont shoot Bambi! Kidding!

Be safe!

September 28, 2009 at 03:57 AM ·

Well, I finally got one! When I get the chance to see how it really plays, I'll let you know.

Royce; Hot Pink may not be good enough; how about throwing in some cubic shapes, adding mirrors and other reflective do-dads.

Luis Cladio Manfio,

The shape devalues this violin? That better not happen! I expect this thing to hold it's value of $148.00 (the price I paid, including shipping).
Seriously, I recognize that it will not have the value of a traditional violin, but I am not looking for one that will hold it's value; I'm only looking at something interesting, and my only criteria is that it sound reasonable.
Well, that and that it shows up in one piece...

September 28, 2009 at 08:28 AM ·

 Roland, probably you'll be surprised with thwe sound of this violin. First thing you must do is change the strings: the ones that come fitted are only to hold the bridge in its place.  After that you can check the string afterlenght and probably have a new bridge cut.

Have a good time with your new toy!.

September 28, 2009 at 10:19 AM ·

I want to hear about how it sounds and plays also.  And no mirrors need.  The critters died laughing!  Hey, I save money on bullets..... if I could only find any with all the people going nuts buying them!

Elinor- Bambi? NEVER!  Celulloid is too chewy.  I prefer real veneson.

September 29, 2009 at 03:42 AM ·

I may even forgo my exclusive use of the Unistring (see my posts on regarding Unistring) and get something else. Now, I have to decide for the low C string; I guess I get something that would fit a 14" viola? Oh well, I'll figure it out.

This should be fun; I'll let everyone know how it works out.



September 29, 2009 at 06:52 AM ·

 You can try a set of D'Addario Helicore for 5 strings violins. Not too pricey and sure it works fine with this violin.

I am willing for your comments once you get it.

September 29, 2009 at 12:44 PM ·

A comment on a similar violin from a catalog circa 1900: "Good for window display and curiosity seekers." IMO, a good example of truth in advertising.

September 29, 2009 at 01:03 PM ·

Years ago there was a famous IIT engineering professor named Marvin Camras. He invented the original technology for wire recording that led to the tape recording revolution. But he was also an amateur violin maker (he made maybe one or two a year). Years ago he led a seminar at the University on the sounds of different violins, and I demonstrated on the fiddles for him. But he brought one one viola he had made, which had the right corner quadrant (where your left arm goes around) concave instead of convex. This enables the player not to have to lift and stretch the left arm around the instrument when playing in higher positions. No matter where you are on the instrument, your right arm is like it is in first position.  It was an interesting experiment, but the instrument didn't have a good sound.

September 29, 2009 at 05:46 PM ·

Michael: I guess Roland doesn´t expect an expectacular sound for a hundred dollars or so.

October 3, 2009 at 03:57 AM ·

Oh, MY! Thanks for the links!

I think Anna Cole does gorgeous work! It makes my heart race to look at some of those!

October 7, 2009 at 05:03 AM ·


It arrived today' I'm impressed by the delivery speed. You are right; the strings are just so much steel wire. At first I was miffed that it sounded like junk, then I dug out some spare strings I had on hand (D & E were all I had, unfortunately); those two made a big difference, even though they were just plain steel. From the sound, I think some perlon would sound good on it, so now I have to decide which way I want to go.

October 7, 2009 at 07:09 AM ·

 Great! I am willing to hear it. You may try Tonicas instead of Dominants. They are nearly the same but Tonica E is a zillion times better than Dominant e. I think there is no need to spend more money.

October 14, 2009 at 04:13 AM ·

Haven't changed the strings yet, but have decided they will be Tonicas (Thanks, Nicolas!).

Now my next question:
When I take it for a setup, should I break it in a bit, or take it in new? What is easier for the luthier to work with?

This will need a setup from a luthier; I like the sound, but I find some strange playability issues; possibly a nut or bridge problem.
The worst is the G string; the open string plays easily, but when I play anywhere toward the end of the neck, I can't miss either the C or the D. Too far from the neck, I suppose.


October 14, 2009 at 06:54 AM ·

 Probably the bridge is a little bit high and/or the fingerboard a little low. Try to measure the distance from the string to the fingerboard at the very end. G string should be 5.5 mm and E string 3.5 mm.

Unless it is unplayable I would leave it as it is until it breaks up. Then you should have it checked by a pro. Probably it needs post relocation, string afterlenght checked and maybe a new bridge. Chinese violins usually don't come with good bridges.

Tonicas are a good choice. Cheers.

October 14, 2009 at 09:22 AM ·

 Sorry I forgot yours is a 5 strings violin!! Check 5,5-6 mm in the C string, not the G.

Talking about interesting shape violins, here is one of mine:

It is a 1821 Francois Chanot Copy with a nice and powerful sound. The most remarkable feature, apart from the cornerless shape and the f holes, is the reverse scroll. 



October 14, 2009 at 10:23 AM ·


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