2 questions

December 3, 2015 at 06:40 AM · i recently traded up to a much better and for me, much more expensive violin (€2500-3000) and was surprised to find that in comparison, my old violin doesn't sound as bad now as i thought it did.

- has anyone had a similar experience?

the new instrument is exactly 1cm. shorter than the older one and weighs slightly less (measured at the back, the body is 35cm as opposed to 36cm.).

- is my new instrument a 7/8 sized violin or does it qualify as a 4/4?

thank you.

Replies (23)

December 3, 2015 at 12:55 PM · I'm sure an expert on these forums can give you a more accurate reply, but its my understanding that the actual body length of a violin varies. These days with "mass-production" violins the instruments are probably almost identical in size, but older violins aren't nessicarily the same size. The playing length of the instrument is what is important.

my 7/8 violin has a playing length (base of the nut to the bridge) of 31.7cm and the body measures (base of top button to bottom button) 35cm.

December 3, 2015 at 03:55 PM · Yes, it happens all the time; Mr. Perlman also said that sometimes he is quite surprised how well the Strad sounds after Guarneri...

It is called "figure-ground" phenomenon in Gestalt psychology. The context (ground) in which the violin is played has a huge impact on our perception of violin sound (figure). By context, I mean not only the immediate surrounding, but also the order of violins presented and played.

One more thing to keep in mind when buying at the dealership!

December 3, 2015 at 07:43 PM · I find the same thing - I'll try someone else's (often cheaper) instrument and wonder if I made a mistake spending so much on mine. But then when I return to it I get the same experience (except of course the anxiety). Perhaps, to use Rocky's text (which I do not really understand) the instruments are alternating as 'ground' and 'figure', depending which one you are now familiar with.

And yes, so important at the dealership for bows too. Perhaps we notice the good qualities first and only after they have settled do we really open up to the limitations. With bows I find myself hating them all after a bit!

December 4, 2015 at 12:59 AM · for first question, I think that's one of the biggest thing that gave me a cold feet when I was making an upgrade a few months ago.

December 4, 2015 at 01:21 AM · This week I tried out an $800 Chinese violin from my local luthier (a Moon River Instruments violin, I'd never heard of them and they seem to have no web presence whatsoever) and was shocked by just how much I liked it. My MJZ 905 sounded almost dull by comparison; the MRI used Dominant strings which seemed to *sing* in comparison to mine with Obligatos (which of course now makes me want to see if Dominants would be better on my violin). It also seemed to have more rumble down low on the G string, and really came alive with my Codabow Joule much more than the less expensive carbon fiber bow. Unfortunately I don't have the funds for two violins and need one for Christmas, so it went back to the luthier today, but if I'd had this option to compare when I went looking for my MJZ, the Moon River violin would have won hands down no matter the price. It just, for me at least, sounded that much better.

This thread is really apropos to me today - it really kind of surprised me just how much more I liked the supposedly "cheaper" violin. Granted, the MJZ was one I bought online and it hasn't done me any wrong, but like Elise said lol now I'm wondering if I made a mistake. ;)

December 4, 2015 at 01:46 AM · It's easy to like something that sounds loud. But is there any complexity? Any subtlety? Can you realize a broad palette of colors?

December 4, 2015 at 03:05 AM · Also: When was the last time you changed those Obligatos? If it's been more than three months, you'll probably get a lot more zing with new strings.

December 4, 2015 at 06:48 AM · The Obligatos are only two weeks old (as in, on the violin itself, no idea when they were made) so I don't think that's the problem. No idea how long the Dominants had been on the other violin. And yes, I could feel a distinct texture in the other violin like I'd never felt before. I'm not sure how to describe it, except it liked my "good" bow (Codabow Joule) more than the cheaper CF bow and the strings sang like bells in comparison. It was just strange and more than a bit confusing to this relative beginning violin shopper (previous to this week it had always been online).

The point I was trying to make is that, at the $2k level and under, it seems the quality can fluctuate wildly depending on the instrument, and I know I'll never buy one again without trying it out first. I'm sure the same (and more!) is true with violins in the higher price echelons. One of these days I'd love to try an expensive, well set up violin to see what all the hype's about. ;)

December 5, 2015 at 12:15 AM · Sara, it can have something to do with set up. Where the sound post is, what bridge, where the bridge is ...

December 5, 2015 at 12:43 AM · John, that's what I'm thinking. On my violin I've noticed the A string has grown dull for some reason. It's why I switched from Xyex to the Obligatos (I've had them sitting in my case for a while, wanted to try and darken my violin a bit), but I'm still feeling it. My instinct is to take it to my local luthier and see if he can fix things, but that'll have to be after Christmas since I need it for family music. The bottom of the sound post hasn't moved any, it came with that location pencilled in so I can see it's still the same. The bridge is between the two inside F-hole notches so I don't think that's what the issue is.

Either way, it still plays more than well enough for my current level. I'm actually shopping around for a new bow; have some coming from Shar next week, all wood, to try out for a while. I'm not sure if that'll really help things, but I've been wanting to do this for a while. :)

Small side note: put a Dominant A string on this afternoon (to see if a different string would help), and, whew, I'd forgotten how brassy those strings are! Lol, I actually went back to my Obligato only an hour later because I could take it. ;)

December 5, 2015 at 02:07 AM · "The bridge is between the two inside F-hole notches so I don't think that's what the issue is."

The ff notches are a very crude guide to where the bridge should be, and often can be way off.

December 5, 2015 at 02:43 AM · Theres's only 500 euros difference..? You may prefer the sound of the cheaper fiddle....? I went to the luthier's shop to purchase a fiddle, I tried a few fiddles between $1000 and $3000, I chose the $1000 fiddle because it sounded better than the $3000...? It was from the luthier's shop so they must have been all set up well...?

December 5, 2015 at 03:07 AM · Sara, I should mention that the bow contributes to the brightness and darkness and so do rosins. I learned that from experimenting with cheaper bows and 6 cakes of rosin. Two references: Bernardel = neutral-bright, Vienna's best= neutral-dark with almost the same properties overall. I am currently addicted to Andrea Solo, but if you're seeking for darkness, the cheapest alternative to violin/bow upgrade, I think would be trying different rosins.

Also, I agree with Jenny to some degree. I am surprise nowdays sometimes how much similar I sound on different violins on display at a local music shop. I don't however sound similar at all(on a $100 cheap violin) with some violins.

December 5, 2015 at 10:28 PM · *sigh* Well, I've kind of made up my mind to take the violin to the luthier to see what if anything he can do with it. Lately it's been sounding so dull, and I'm not quite sure why. I've moved the bridge around somewhat to see if that'd fix things (don't have the tools or know-how to do anything with the soundpost, lol I'd probably screw something up anyway), changed strings (Xyex -> Obligatos -> Dominants, back to Obligatos), but nothing really is helping. The open A string is strong, but the notes are incredibly muted where before they were almost piercingly loud. Also, the difference in tone I once noticed with my Codabow is gone; I can't tell the difference anymore between it and my cheap CF bow.

My hope is that the luthier (Stephen Bridgham out of Harvard House in Fresno) can pencil me in before the holidays, but I'm not holding my breath. I really need somebody who knows what they're doing to take a look because the other violin really made me realize the apparent shortcomings of my own violin that I hadn't noticed before. Now just hopefully it won't be prohibitively expensive to fix...

Also, I use a dark rosin (Kaplan) on my bow. When I picked out the Moon River violin, I'd already tried several others in the shop, none of which I really enjoyed. The MRI was the best of the bunch and part of me is kicking myself that I couldn't get it, but I'm honestly hoping that I can get my current violin back up to speed. It's never been to a luthier before (wait, no that's wrong, I did have a broken peg replaced) for any set up or diagnostics. Fingers crossed it's an easy "fix"...

December 5, 2015 at 10:54 PM · Not sure how far you are from LA but I've heard nothing but wonderful things about that Nazareth Gevorkian. It all depends how much you're prepared to spend, though. The great luthiers know their value, and rightly so. Dullness could be a lot of things. One thing you can do is just play something simple and repetitive on your A and E strings while someone else gently pinches your violin all the way around the bouts. That might tell you whether you've opened a seam.

December 5, 2015 at 11:38 PM · That new violin might be a 7/8.

December 6, 2015 at 04:10 AM · I've looked everywhere on the violin and don't see any seam cracks or warping, so I don't think it's that. There's no buzzing or wolf notes, it just seems...dull. I'm not sure how else to describe it. This thing used to be a powerhouse (and to an extent, it still is), but certain notes are barely audible in comparison to before and I'm not sure why that is. It doesn't take long for Obligatos to break in, does it? (But then, it was like this even before I put the Obligatos on...)

Anyway, on Monday I'll call my luthier and see what he has to say.

December 6, 2015 at 05:16 AM · Very strange. I have never heard of that happening before. I'm afraid a luthier is the only person who can fix this.

December 6, 2015 at 03:56 PM · This sounds like a problem with the setup for me. I had a similar problem earlier this year and the luthier fixed it in a minute with moving the soundpost, wich was slightly out of position he said. But regarding the strings, I find Obligatos difficult strings, as far as I know they have more tension than evah pirazzis, while trying to sound very dark. Maybe they are good on some instruments, but once I tried them on my old violin they didn't work at all. And remember, that old zyex strings are not a comparison to a new set of strings. So I would say go to the violin doctor and see what he can do, sometimes a solution is found very quickly. But if a luthier can't solve this major issue, definetily try a other set of strings, maybe go with Evah pirazzi one time, they are good reference strings. Good luck

December 7, 2015 at 02:58 AM · Yeah, perhaps.

December 8, 2015 at 04:09 AM · No, Obligatos are significantly lower tension than Evah Pirazzis.

Moving the bridge might well have screwed up the sound -- a lot of instruments are very sensitive to bridge placement and tilt. Proper adjustment by a luthier should fix that.

December 8, 2015 at 06:56 AM · Hmm, I've never noticed that but that may very well be right.

December 8, 2015 at 09:15 PM · Lydia you are right. EP have more tension.

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