I want to compare my violin sound to others

July 30, 2012 at 03:04 AM · Hello,

Whenever I hear my recordings of my violin it sounds so completely god awful. I can go as slow and bring out as much as the sound as I possibly can and it will still sound awful. I want to compare my sounds to other people just to get an idea of what it should sound like.

Here is my D Major scale: http://vocaroo.com/i/s0C5qDUci66w

You can record yourself by going to www.vocaroo.com Then you can record yourself and save it to a URL that you can post.

I have Dominant strings and my violin costs about 200 dollars, so it is possible that my instrument is just low-quality.

Replies (27)

July 30, 2012 at 06:26 AM · Have you been playing for long? It takes a while to bring out a decent sound. I wouldn't worry about it if you just started.

July 30, 2012 at 08:24 AM · Its a neat idea - but all of us learn that the sound is a product of many things, and most of all the player.

The best way to compare, if you really need to, is to meet with other violinists and try playing each other's violins - that gets rid of the 'violin factor'. But, as the previous poster said, if you are starting out (and I think we all feel a bit as if we are!) then be patient. The crucial thing for me was to think of dragging the bow accross the strings and not pushing into them. You should NOT have to push down with your index finger to get sound....

July 30, 2012 at 03:11 PM · I've been playing for a year. Unfortunately, I don't know any violinists in my area, so I can't have them play on my violin.

July 30, 2012 at 05:01 PM · Daniel, buy the book "Basics" by Simon Fischer. It has a great chapter on tone production which explains how to make sound on a violin, and the different kinds of sound that can be made. Most importantly it explains about the soundpoints and the relationship between soundpoint, bowing speed, bowing pressure, and the tone you can produce on your violin. As a nice bonus the book also has almost everything else you would ever want to know about the technique of violin playing.

As an immediate comment on your recorded scale, I would say first that your intonation is perfect, and second, that it sounds a bit stale (like you say yourself) because you probably don't use enough bow. First, try to play it slower and as loud and clear as possible, using a full bow stroke for every note. Then gradually speed up the tempo but keep on using a full bow stroke for every note. In experimenting and trying that out you will learn to make sound on your violin. You will also learn that it is darn hard to bow full strokes at a reasonable tempo without your bow skidding all over the place! Practicing on that will have tremendous improving effect on your sound! You can also make good sound with slower bow strokes, but then you have to bow closer to the bridge with much pressure on the bow. But, please, I cannot reproduce here the entire chapter of the book, please get it! I got it myself much too late and found it confirmed many things I had in the meantime figured out by myself, but only over the course of way too much time of trial and error.

July 31, 2012 at 12:06 AM · Ill see where I can buy it. It's out of print so I hope shipping wont destroy me.

July 31, 2012 at 12:12 AM · Anyway...I recorded myself. I've studied with a teacher for 5 years, stopped for 5 years and just started again about a year and half or two ago. I currently play on a violin that's worth no more than $700 Cdn and the bow is worth probably $50 or less? Hopefully it helps! Oh yea..I accidentally hit my table in the middle. haha

let me know if the audio isn't working correctly

http://vocaroo.com/i/s0Ozhlj9BXsO

July 31, 2012 at 12:12 AM ·

July 31, 2012 at 01:30 AM · It's a great idea! Sometimes I wonder how good player plays this simple one octave D major scale without vibrato and with open string close up to the mic :p

I recorded on 2 different violin. One costs $4000 and another one costs $50. (Yes, it's a fifty dollar VSO)... You can try to guess which is which :p

http://vocaroo.com/i/s0v7LyP9OAiY

I learned 1.5 years of violin, totally stopped for 5~6 years, and back to learn again for 2.5 years, and play another 2 years. So in total I got about 6 years of playing, or about 4 years of learning...

July 31, 2012 at 09:39 AM · Daniel: the book is not out of print, it is actually on sale at Shar Music with free shipping:

Simon Fischer Basics at Shar Music

Steven: you sound great!

Shen-Han: your scales sound fine, but I must confess I wouldn't immediately know which one is the good violin... which confirms what Elise wrote above: until a certain (very high) level, it's mostly the player who makes the difference!

July 31, 2012 at 10:33 AM · violins do make a difference also at beginners state. I try to ensure, that my young students get always good instrument. They are very sensitive to sound and if something doesn't sound good, they will practice less and the other way around. So a good instrument can be a huge motivator!

Still this comparing here is difficult, because we should take also into account: The bow, The Microphone and last but not least, the room, where you play in. But people with more than one violin, could record and compare them. I have three playable violins, but I would use a zoom for recording and have no idea where to upload the files then. Other than my own webspace...maybe

July 31, 2012 at 10:56 AM · Bellafontana

my old violin (german, maybe 150 years old)

a potentially fake Annarumma wich looks and sounds quite solid

I play d major up without vibrato down I add a little vibrato.

July 31, 2012 at 12:53 PM · I don't quite see how this would be helpful to you, recording equipment and settings being a huge part of how a recording ends up sounding. If you don't like your recorded sound and you really need to know if that's how you really sound, perhaps go somewhere and have a high-grade recording made.

July 31, 2012 at 01:37 PM · Shen-Han,

Both violins sound a bit metallic to me. The first had bigger sound, better projection, but a bit harsh. It would probably do well in a large hall, but probably not very pleasant under ear.

The second was also a bit metallic, but slightly more rounded than the first, not as harsh. But it sounds a little muted, like the sound is not coming out of the instrument -- a sound post adjustment might do wonders.

July 31, 2012 at 01:42 PM · Daniel,

Your violin doesn't sound awful at all. Your intonation is spot on. It is very difficult to tell with just a sound clip. Recording conditions and equipment can make a huge difference in the sound.

If you don't like the sound of your violin, you should go to a shop and try out a bunch of others. Sound varies dramatically from one instrument to the next. I have played $2000 violins that sound lovely, and I've also played $150,000 violins that sound like tin cans. I have never played a $200 violin, so can't give a comparison there.

July 31, 2012 at 08:18 PM · Smiley:

Thanks for the input... But what's metallic sound? The video below is recorded with one of the violin... Does it still sound metallic? (Sorry for a lot of errors but I happened to learn this piece on the second day when I recorded it :p So it's not even memorized and the fast passage play like an Andante :p)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VDHo7DrXRFM

July 31, 2012 at 11:23 PM · No comments on my three violins? I am dissapointed :) Although I have to admit they sound pretty similar in the d major scale.

August 1, 2012 at 12:29 AM · Hi Shen-Han,

It does not sound as metallic in the youtube clip. Probably because in the audio recording, you were too close to the mic and maybe the mic was maxing out? Not sure. Just goes to show, the environment and recording device can make a huge difference. If I had to guess, I would say you are playing violin #2 in the youtube clip. The sound is nice, but not completely open.

Keep working on the Pag. You'll get it.

August 1, 2012 at 01:25 AM · A metallic sound is when it sounds like you are playing your violin inside a Hills Brothers coffee can.

August 1, 2012 at 01:25 AM · A metallic sound is when it sounds like you are playing your violin inside a Hills Brothers coffee can.

August 1, 2012 at 01:32 AM · Hi Simon,

This is what I hear. The Bellafontana has a pure sound with a bit of raspiness -- a little edgy. The old German has a smoother, fuller sound, a little richer with lower harmonics. The Annarumma is in between the other two -- a bit of fullness and bit of edge. All three sound really nice. My preference would be the old German, but depending on the venue and the repertoire, the other two could be really good choices.

August 1, 2012 at 08:17 AM · @jean dubuisson

Thanks! my luthier did some work on my violin and it's been with me for like 10 years. I try to bring out the best sound possible although it's a piece of junk to shops and certain people.

I think this would be more helpful if we all recorded under the same circumstances so we are able to establish some kind of standard. Otherwise, it's pretty pointless.

Also, I think eight notes is too little to compare sound. And it's just my personal opinion. I don't think the sound changes with the instrument but with the person. Obviously, there will be differences in projection, clarity, and purity of the tone but I think your personal sound will always be the same regardless of your instrument So keep practicing hard even if there are people screaming at you!

August 1, 2012 at 08:46 AM · thx smiley for your ears. In the recording I think the same too. But actually the belalfontana sounds very deep and not that metallic live. But you are right, it has a good edge, wich makes recordings with closeup mic situation somehow too edgy. The old german is my violin wich I became as a present from an old lady as a first full size violin. It developed a very charming sound and sounds very rich, that is true. Unfortunately it is very bad repaired and a good restauration is very expensive and who knows how it will sound afterwards. I had a difficulty to find a "better" violin up to the pricerange of 15k Euros, finally I fell in love with the Bellafontana, wich were just 7k.

The Annarumma has a very new setup and isn't played very much. It sounds actually quite high, not as deep as the Bellafontana. But good... for 500 Euros ;)

btw. the old german is around 1500 worth because of the bad repaired cracks. Soundwise its a very nice instrument for orchestra and smaller rooms. In halls it lacks power in the middle.

The bellafontana, while having very strong and deep g and d has also very clear E string. The A stringisn't the most comfortable, but ok!

August 1, 2012 at 12:26 PM · Hi Simon,

Congratulations on your three very nice fiddles. What I've found is that Strad patterns tend to produce a more pure sound, sometimes with a little sweetness and a little edge like your Bellafontona. Del Gesu patterns tend to have fuller, richer sounds, but lack the edge, so may not project as well in larger venues. My main fiddle is the latter, so I matched it with a bow that really draws out the sound and also gives a bit of edge to help the projection.

BTW, I listened to the recordings on your profile -- very nice job. It is great to hear other genres on violin.

August 1, 2012 at 12:41 PM · Also, I think eight notes is too little to compare sound. And it's just my personal opinion.

Actually, 8 notes might be too much if comparing violins against one another. Our memory for hearing is quite limited. If I compare two instruments for sound, I would prefer to hear one string at a time. Some violins sound great in first position, but sound horrible in higher positions. So a real side-by-side comparison would involve low notes, middle notes and high notes on each string. Since there are 4 strings, that would mean 12 different sound comparisons. If you did it all in one recording, there is no way our minds would be able to remember all the sounds to form a comparison.

August 1, 2012 at 01:19 PM · thx man! glad you like my bands! with my tango ensemble we just had a premiere, it was very nice. 2 people engaged us immediately. :)

I do not know so much about strads and guarneris, but guarneris to me tend to be more on the dark side with looots of colours availible, strads are more on the shining side with a very special colour to the tone. It would be interesting to compare my violins to a really good strad or guarneri, maybe sometimes in feature ;)

August 2, 2012 at 05:09 AM · Smiley:

The environment is very important as you mentioned. For the D major scale I played about 15cm away from my old MacBook Pro... So it's really what I heard... Violin 1 is using D/A pure gut string (That's why when you said metallic I was like huh? lol), and Violin 2 is using Titanium Solo. Under my ear, just like the recording, it sounds very similar to me...

But when it's further away, Violin 2 just doesn't sound good. It's heavily muted and there's no way I can push and harder to get a more projected sound out of that VSO. It maybe the sound point problem but I don't want to spend $75 on sound point adjustment on a $50 violin. LOL

As for Violin 1... it is what I use to record Pag, but it is lack of power as well... But I love the sound of this violin, and most friends like how I sound on this violin as well. In additional I'm not good enough to solo or become concertmaster, so I think I should be fine with this violin. At least I was fine until I was playing Tchaikovsky Trio with friends earlier this year... I cannot hear myself at the end of Coda... And that piano is not even a 9 feet grand! My luthier suggest me to get rid of pure gut string, but I absolutely love the edge sound from the pure gut so I didn't change it.

August 2, 2012 at 12:10 PM · Shen Han,

I think the main thing is that you like the sound and it inspires you to play. At 15 cm from the mic, I'm pretty sure the mic was clipping the sound, so that explains the metallic timbre. I did not hear that in the Pag recording at all.

I played on gut strings for a couple of years, but ultimately, I returned to good ole Dominants. For most fiddles, they work really well. Passiones are great gut strings, but no gut string will be as pitch stable as a synthetic string. Gut strings tend to go sharp when cold, then they go flat after they are warmed up -- very annoying.

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