On the other thread, Paul was asking for opinions on what goes into a player's tone--is it the instrument? the bow? the player?
There's no easy answer. I've heard Pinchas Zukerman refer to his bow arm as his "bank account," meaning that it is his bow arm that produces the wonderful sound that commands high fees. And it's true, a violinist's ability to use/control the bow arm has a lot to do with sound production.
I've had the experience of listening to a student complain about his violin and how he needed a better instrument, after which I handed him my good bow and suddenly his "inadequate" violin sounded quite nice indeed. A quality bow is as important as a quality violin--a bad bow can make even a fine instrument sound muffled, and a good bow can bring the very best out of a violin of modest quality.
In my opinion, the most important variable in a good sound is the violinist, particularly the violinist's ability to control the bow. A great violinist can make even a student outfit sound good. But the better the instrument and bow, the better the violinist can sound. There is a reason why the great soloists and concertmasters play on great instruments. On the other hand, it's counterproductive for a beginner to try to learn how to produce an acceptable sound on a garbage instrument. Beginners need an instrument that is at the very least well set up and playable, preferably one which rewards correct technique with an acceptable sound.
So which is the most important: the violinist, the violin, or the bow? My answer is: Yes.
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