'Opening up' sound on older instrument?

April 28, 2016 at 05:53 PM · Okay, I searched on several different forums and had found some posts on this topic, but not many of them actually answered my question, so here goes:

I recently purchased a new violin from the early-mid 20th century made by Carl August Berger. I have read several things about his violins and have looked up auctions of his instruments with price ranges varying from $1,500 to $20,000. The violin I purchased looks quite similar to those of his I've seen online.

However, since I bought it and have been playing it, I have noticed that there isn't a lot of "color" or "soul" to it, and sound feels "closed in" or "covered." It has a very clean and precise sound, but it strikes me as somewhat tinny. It had dominants on it when I brought it home, and I immediately changed the strings to Evah Pirazzi Silvers (which is what I have on my other, extremely open sounding early 20th century fiddle), which has helped. But I have been wondering: people talk about the need to "play in" a new violin or a violin that has been sitting for a while (I don't know that this one was played much in the shop), but is there anything I could do in terms of set up to "open up" the tone or give it the richer sound I'm used to? This is an instrument that my family purchased for me to take to college, and while it is quite comfortable in terms of playability, at the moment it sounds more like a viola than a violin. (Don't misunderstand me--I love my viola as well. But I prefer for my violin to sound like one.)

Replies (77)

April 28, 2016 at 06:05 PM · Have you tried different bows? it might be a great change.

Best regards

April 28, 2016 at 06:10 PM ·

April 28, 2016 at 06:30 PM · If you want a richer more complex tone that is not so tinny I would recommend Obligatos over Evahs, although I've heard Obligato's don't last very long, but then they say the same thing about Evah's. Obigatos are good to add more character to a dry violin, if your violin had a lot of character to start with then Obligatos might be overkill, Obligatos are good for instruments that area a bit plain and you want more harmonics or richness IMHO

As to opening up the violin, I would first look into how well set up your bridge and soundpost are, Visit a respected luthier and get their opinion on the set up,then I would recommend lots of playing, I've heard violins of this era totally open up and get louder with just a week of heavy playing, other "experts" claim no such thing happens and its all in your head. Believe who you want to believe, or better yet make up your own mind.

One thing, every violin has its limits after its professionally and properly set up, it can only be so good, and nothing you can do is going to make it better than what it actually is. Are you sure your violin is genuine, and are you sure it is not one of his cheaper models, Most of these German production shops made some high end models and a lot of cheaper and even cheaper models, at the bottom end they weren't even made by the shop but probably imported from Markneukirchen and the label set in.

in other words I'm hoping you didn't buy this violin on ebay????

April 28, 2016 at 06:35 PM · Have you had the soundpost checked to make sure it's where it's supposed to be?

April 28, 2016 at 06:46 PM · I looked up Carl August Berger in my reference book and there is no mention of him, are you sure these auction results you are getting are for Carl August and not one of the many other Bergers which are in my book.

April 28, 2016 at 06:58 PM · Perhaps the problem is that Berger is a Swiss maker, and I'm using a German maker reference book. From what they are saying about how good the quality of genuine Berger's are, it doesn't sound like what you are saying about the tone of your's, fakes are dime a dozen, and anyone can throw any label into anything, you need to show it to an expert and see what you can find out.

April 29, 2016 at 01:01 AM · apparently some violins have Carl spelled as Karl on the label (see Christies' auctions). Which spelling is yours?

April 29, 2016 at 04:59 AM · Hi, As others have mentioned, setup can enhance the tone, but it is perfectly normal for any unused-for-awhile violin to sound a little closed in at first but eventually open up. I call these "inactive symptoms."

April 29, 2016 at 05:17 AM · My experience is instruments can go from good to better, but not from "so so" to great. As a violin shop owner that does not play violin, I have a lot of unused violins sitting on the shelf just waiting to be played and "open up". If a violin sounds deficient (and what violin is deficient for one player is not necessarily deficient for all players) I never BS the customer and say, "Oh its just been sitting for a long time, play it in and it will get much better". Rather I let the customer pick a violin they are happy with the sound of and like, and then I add "this violin hasn't been played in a long time, it should get somewhat better as you play it more". That way the customer is happy with the violin from the get go, not waiting around on some empty promise of "Oh it will get much better" which quite likely may not happen.

April 29, 2016 at 07:15 AM · MY "Universal Dictionary of Violin and Bow Makers" (William Henley) lists a Karl August Berger. b 1893. After studies with Postiglione in Naples and work for Silvestre and Maucotel and then in Mittenwald he was established in New York from 1926.

Quote from my dictionary article :- "Violins well paraded by the best symphony orchestra players in the United States". So the chances are that your fiddle might turn out well.

It could be that your instrument is a Guarneri model. Such fiddles can often have a "dark" tone. Obligato strings can make such a violin seem like playing in a coal cellar with the light off - one of my fiddles is like that ! It likes a quite heavy bow, 65gms.

Problem is that so many of the words used when describing violin sound are ambiguous. Yet a 20th century violin might indeed benefit from being "opened out" or "woken up". They do say that even ancient violins such as Stradivaris go "dormant" if unplayed for a long time.

I have found IN TUNE double stops to be of benefit - the "difference tones" elicit tonal responses below the actual instrument's normal range. What good the "beats" resulting from out-of-tune chords will achieve is beyond me - this tale seems almost as daft as did the one about the person on another violinist.com thread who blew cigarette smoke into a violin.

April 29, 2016 at 07:48 AM · As to your comment about the violin sounding too viola like, there is a possible simple solution for that. By viola like I assume you are meaning it has a deep bass tone(lots of fundamental) on the G and D strings, possibly overpowering the E and A??? If that is the case, an expert luthier can tighten the soundpost by moving it ever so slightly to the right(away from the bassbar side) this will temper the bass boominess of the lower strings and slightly boost the volume of the A and the E, if that sounds good to you, then I would recommend it.

In short you need to go to a luthier, have him or her check the fit of the soundpost with a dental mirror to make sure it doesn't need replacing, and while you are listening to the results adjust the soundpost to try and get more of the type of sound you are desiring, and less of the qualities you don't like. There is only so much this will do, but still quite a bit can be done adjusting it to where you get the best sound for your preference. make sure to clearly express what you want and what you do not want in the tone to the luthier.

Its also important that your bridge is properly carved for the best tone, you're luthier should be able to help you here and let you know whether your violin could benefit from a new better quality bridge professionally fit and carved, for instance.

April 29, 2016 at 06:01 PM · Ask any luthier if your violin can be improved by custom carving a new bridge...you will invariably get a yes response

April 29, 2016 at 06:46 PM · Dexter,

Depends upon what is on the instrument. Some bridges are so crude that yes, I'll say that a new bridge will improve the sound. If it already has a well cut bridge, I may say that a new bridge could accomplish something different, but not "better".

It also depends on when the light bill is due. just kidding...

Regarding the Berger: His instruments seem to be the most consistent at auction, bringing the best prices. I've sold a number of them. Later in life, he labeled French and German violins that he varnished. Look for his brand under the tailpiece, in front of the neck mortice (both on the outside-into the varnish), also in the center of the inside back. If it came from a climate that is quite different from where you live, a visit to the luthier would be in order. If it hasn't been played on for a while, and the adjustment is good, just play it hard and it will come with time.

April 29, 2016 at 09:13 PM · While not discounting the possibility that adjustments or a new bridge might make improvements, I would keep in mind that not all violins are created equal, and you likely have limitations on what kind of sound you can get out of what you have.

I'd certainly look into the bridge and soundpost adjustments, but if I had it tuned up and played for a few weeks, I woudn't expect any vast "playing-in" improvement after that. If it was just made, maybe there would be some other "aging-in" effects, but not for something near 100 years old.

April 29, 2016 at 10:19 PM · As others have stated, a proper setup, soundpost adjustment or replacement, and a new bridge can do quite a bit to improve the sound of a fiddle. I also like Obligato strings on my violin, a "bright" sounding instrument. Evah's are too bright and too high-tension in my opinion, but are of course great on the right violin and with the right player.

April 30, 2016 at 01:24 AM · I don't understand how a violin can sound both "clean and precise" and "somewhat tinny" yet more like a viola. Whatever the case, the instrument is what it is and is unlikely to significantly change.

I'm wondering how much you paid, and if you bought it from a shop. Did you compare it to anything, or just buy it? Did you play it in your home, or just in a place with great resonance that fooled you? What initially made you buy it?

If you bought it from a shop and have buyer's regret, then take it back and look for something else.

April 30, 2016 at 06:11 AM · "I don't understand how a violin can sound both "clean and precise" and "somewhat tinny" yet more like a viola. "

Me, neither !! Has it had enough time to settle down after being set up in the shop ??

April 30, 2016 at 02:24 PM · Many instruments sound worse when they "settle down." It is very common for instruments to be kept at low tension in the shop. Tune them up, and they sound resonant and wonderful for a few days. Then they gradually lose that extra resonance and reveal what they really are. Like dating.

April 30, 2016 at 02:57 PM · ?????????????????????????????????????????

April 30, 2016 at 03:53 PM · Sorry but its not very common for instruments to be kept at low tension in a shop, how could you show them to customers, when you tune up a slack instrument it takes about a day for the instrument to hold pitch, and slack instruments have soundposts that fall over or move, so no, it is not common practice to leave instruments at low tension in a shop, maybe a collector that has a lot of instruments does that but not a shop.

April 30, 2016 at 04:01 PM · Always buy an instrument based in how it is sounding now...

April 30, 2016 at 05:03 PM · Here are my two cents: i recently bought a 19 century fiddle. I had the luthier lower a bit tge strings for me, and he shaved off the bridge to do so.

When i arrived home, the violin sounded dull and thin, non ressonant at all.

After about 12h of play (about a week and half for me) the sound suddenly changed. Now it sounds much more ressonant and joyful.

So I think it is possible that the sound will change, specially if the wood has moved lately (mine had just had a top off crack repair)

April 30, 2016 at 05:20 PM · Any change to a violin might take some time to stabilize. Major changes, like crack repair where the top has to be taken off, almost certainly will need a couple of weeks to recover. Even tuning up an instrument that has not been at pitch for a while may need time.

I personally have never come across an instrument that sounded worse over time... but that might be a personal thing. I have always found them to get brighter and more open (if there are any changes at all), which I like. Perhaps if it is a new instrument, and the varnish hardens, the instrument could become more stiff.

May 1, 2016 at 03:46 AM · "Like dating" - love it! The important thing for me is to date a woman with a certificate of authenticity! Then down the line, if she needs a sound post adjustment....

OK, I've been officially spending way too much time in the practice room!

May 2, 2016 at 02:40 AM · "Sorry but its not very common for instruments to be kept at low tension in a shop, how could you show them to customers, when you tune up a slack instrument it takes about a day for the instrument to hold pitch, and slack instruments have soundposts that fall over or move, so no, it is not common practice to leave instruments at low tension in a shop, maybe a collector that has a lot of instruments does that but not a shop. "

Maybe not in your shop, but I've seen it quite often, and in nationally-known shops. I doesn't have to be totally de-tuned. It's also true when violins are shipped for trial. And violins that have major work done and are strung up to tension will sound fantastic...for a few days. Then that initial resonance and great response will calm down. Maybe you just have experience with your shop. I also recall you saying just recently that you weren't actually a violinist either: " As a violin shop owner that does not play violin..."

My experiences with violins has me convinced that the phenomena is real. Perhaps one has to actually BE a violinist to appreciate how a violin can change in different circumstances.

May 2, 2016 at 07:07 AM · I agree with Scott Cole.

Many years ago I would become disenchanted with my "nearly new" English-made violin. Then, when I put new strings one, WOW !! A few days later it would go back to being "tight".

Trouble was I didn't persevere with this violin long enough to know how it would have panned out with continued playing. In later life I have owned several violins from new and would confirm the "in-tune-double-stop" treatment seems to have benefitted them; but patience, as ever, is a virtue.

It has been rumoured that if a dodgy dealer knows you are to visit and try a certain fiddle he/she will de-tune if for a while in advance, then bring it back to pitch immediately before your arrival ....!

May 2, 2016 at 08:28 AM · "It has been rumoured". Glad you have some solid evidence for your theories!!

May 2, 2016 at 09:52 AM · It seems what you are talking about is instruments at a dealer that have gone SLIGHTLY flat from sitting a long time. Tuning these up to pitch is hardly a deceptive marketing ploy, except in that customers generally want their instruments in tune with A 440.

May 2, 2016 at 05:10 PM · Wow! Thank you for all of the responses! I have read through most of them and very much appreciate your opinions and advice. Thank you, all! :)

To give a little bit more background, I purchased this violin from the same shop as restored my other 20th century fiddle (it hadn't been played since around 1920 and they did wonders for it). They are a very reputable establishment and have always done me well. I tried multiple instruments and this one was initially outside of the price range we had set, but it was the best sounding of the options on the table. The luthier wasn't there when I purchased this instrument, so I couldn't get his take on set-up or anything of that sort. However, I already had an appointment to take it down to him later this month to get it checked for any adjustments and I can get him to take a look at the sound post and ask about string choice, etc.

As I still favor my other fiddle, I haven't been giving this one the attention it needs. I am slowly transitioning over (still using my other fiddle for orchestral rep), so perhaps once I am playing it full-time I will see a difference. I have been trying to play a variety of rep on it, from classical to folk/bluegrass to technical work, so that I can compare the two fiddles against the full scope of what I do on a regular basis and make technical adjustments as necessary.

May 2, 2016 at 05:17 PM · Of course, if the violin you acquired from a dealership DOES begin to disappoint by sounding differently from your impression gained when trying it at the shop, it doesn't NECESSARILY mean that the vendor has tricked you by, for example, letting down the strings for an hour or so before your arrival !! NO !!

There are other things to consider - the shop probably has a resonant acoustic, the fiddle still needs time to settle down, maybe it's dormant after laying unused some years, and especially in the USA there can HUGE variations in temperature and humidity which can and will affect the response. (The latter isn't much of a problem here in the UK).

Best advice is to be sure of an adequate approval period and then get the trial violin played to you by someone else, preferably a GOOD performer, in, say, a concert hall, to see if it "delivers" before committing yourself to buying.

A Lucci violin I had on trial "convinced" me when played indoors by my then wife, a professional player, and the sound penetrated through double-glazing and could be heard, sweet and clear, at the bottom of our garden. It "carried".

May 2, 2016 at 06:39 PM · If a violin sounds best right after the strings are pulled up to tension, and then sounds worse later... I don't see how anyone can tell if the difference is due to the strings or the violin.

Personally, I'd suspect the strings are changing.

May 3, 2016 at 10:37 AM · What could help,in my opinion:

1)Playing double stops and try to make/hear Tartini's "Terzo suoni" -the "Ghost tones"

2)Play Mozart - very slowly, deeply resonant in tune, with no vibrato, and than in tempo,with vibrato and all the dinamics and colors - a lot of Mozart

His "simply" harmonies, I've noticed, are like a "medicine" for the violin's sound

3)Like Carl Flesh is saying in his "Kunst des Violinspiels", sometimes is so good to take an "intonation bath" - 2,3 "black days"...but the sun will rise again

4)Maybe(also a Flesh recipe) a cleaning with rice

5)And of course,a lot of playing, especially pieces that you know very well

Take time and good luck!

May 3, 2016 at 02:03 PM · "4)Maybe(also a Flesh recipe) a cleaning with rice".

I heard of someone who tried this with COOKED rice; soggy, rice pudding. Aaargh !!!! No ! I think that should be fresh uncooked grains only - as they rattle around in the violin they pick up dirt.

Oh, and playing those double-stops, to elicit those "Tartini" difference tones (the frequency of these is the difference in cycles/second between the upper and the lower note), you need to aim fro a big sound but don't just press too hard and crush the tone. Aim for a strong tone, yes, but one that will continue to resonate after the bow is taken from the strings.

May 10, 2016 at 08:56 PM · Philip, wood is pretty much deceased by the time it becomes a violin. Which is a good thing, I would think, because most of us don't want our violins sprouting buds, branches, dropping fruit, leaking sap, or increasing in size over the years to become violas. ;-)

May 11, 2016 at 11:10 AM · Philip, it sounds like you and I are using different definitions of being "alive".

However, if a tree which has ceased conventional biological function for many years is still alive, why not Elvis? ;-)

TED lectures introduce some interesting thought paradigms though, such as rather than humans having learned to manipulate corn to serve human purposes, it is actually corn which has developed the power to manipulate humans, to enhance and serve its proliferation and reproductive goals. I guess the same could be said for sugar cane and cotton having the ability to cleverly impose their will and their strategy on humans, turning them into caretakers. Interesting and thought-provoking stuff. It would imply, though, that corn doesn't mind being eaten, or brewed into booze as part of its power strategy, so at least I feel good about that part. :-)

Philip wrote:

"Regardless of what definition of alive each of us subscribe to, I know for a fact that violins have memories, and it is the wood mostly."

Yes, I suppose violins could be described as having memory, in some sense. For example, we can bend wood, and depending on the bending method used, it might either retain the bent shape, or spring back to its former shape. Either outcome could be described as "memory", I reckon. And the genes of the wood could be described as a form of memory. When it comes to the more spiritual properties of wood which has become a violin though, we're still struggling with questions like,

"Does wood mind being made into a violin? Is it pissed off if it is made into a poor-sounding violin? Is it happier if it is used as firewood (which could be essential to a humans basic survival in some situations), than if it is made into something less essential and more frivolous, like a violin, or an ornamental picture frame? How does it feel about being made into cigarette rolling papers?"

May 11, 2016 at 11:37 AM · Gimme a break!


May 11, 2016 at 05:40 PM · I enjoy observing how much people will bend a premise to fit a fanciful conclusion. Never let Reality stand in the way of an entertaining Fiction. Especially when Reality is too much of a burden to understand.

And speaking fanciful fiction, I noticed my cheapo violin has really "opened up" over the past few months. The wood has come alive with the daily scale etudes recommended by Pinchas Zuckerman. Certainly the cellulose has learned how to vibrate in-tune and is remembering how to do it day-by-day. Simply cannot be me improving my bow motion and finger placement.

What is confusing me is my viola. I play it maybe once a week but it has really "opened up" as well. I do keep it next to my violin. Do you think listening to a violin vibrate also improves the memory of a viola?

May 11, 2016 at 07:32 PM · Quote:

"There is a new understanding, not theory, out there that our behavior are not purely from internal causes, like if you teach a rabbit to eat meat, then out of the sudden, some rabbits all around the world that never in history ate meat start to eat meat, and thus this snow balls." (end quote)

Chimpanzees were once thought to be purely vegetarian. Now, we know that they hunt and kill.

Did their behavior change, or is it more likely that more careful scrutiny has allowed the acquisition of information which was missed before?

The meat eating rabbit argument could be compared with the flat earth argument, to see if anything interesting emerges. The world was once considered to be flat, but is now considered to be a sphere. Should we conclude that the earth changed shape, from flat to a sphere, or might there be other more viable explanations?

May 11, 2016 at 08:30 PM · When a player plays an instrument using scary force and pressure, and also spends time playing it very softly, a natural consequence is that they will have spent time practicing expansion of their dynamic and tonal range, and will have increased their experience with the capabilities and limits of the instrument.

There are all kinds of solid studies showing how human capabilities change and adapt with training, practice and experience. Much less is known about how instruments change with playing, most of the evidence being anecdotal.

With that in mind, which do you think is more likely? That the instrument learned and changed, or that the player learned and changed? Or could it be a little of both?

May 11, 2016 at 08:53 PM · well......... Burgess, to be honest, I dont't know.

May 16, 2016 at 08:42 AM · I don't talk to trees, (although since reading Lord of the Rings I see them differently). But I do find that both my own, and my students' instruments sound noticeably worse when the weather turns cold and damp, and noticeably better in drier weather. Wood, not to mention horsehair and rosin, absorbs moisture.

So do electronic components. When I come home from a break, my sound equipment sounds distorted for the first 24 hours.

Many substances have memories of humidity, temperature, stresses and strains, vibrations, not just the "living" wood..

And the Earth is flat, until my first mug of coffee!

June 26, 2016 at 07:20 AM · Back to the original posters question...

Eight months ago, I was fortunate to be able to purchase a 1610 brothers Amati. It hadn't been properly played for years. The previous owner had been an amateur, may he rest in peace, who mostly preferred to play on another of his fiddles.

Smaller than I was used to with a back of 35.2cm, it sounded ok, but not great. The sound was not robust but had clarity. I had a really strong feeling it could give more and that it was a violin I could work with. I had a good setup done, experimented with strings, and set about teaching it to play.

Initially, it didn't like being played next to the bridge at all and fought me. I taught it to accept strong playing and I taught it double stops, which it didn't seem to know either. I had to wake up the higher positions on the lower strings too.

Eight months of training. Clarity to the top of each string, no wolves, powerful projection, but most of all colours! I can colour notes and phrases in ways I couldn't even imagine on my previous Italian fiddle. I believe it has even more to give, time will tell.

Now, I accept part of it was, and still is, a learning curve for me. However the sound of the violin has also changed significantly as it has been woken from its slumber.

Cheers Carlo

June 26, 2016 at 01:33 PM · On Maestronet a couple of months ago a new player posted pictures of his violin and said that he didn't like the way it sounded and I replied to practice a lot and to practice a lot in the higher positions and it would sound better in time. One woman who posts there daily then told him that this was not true and if his violin did not sound good now it never would. I am not one bent on arguing and your post says it all Carlo.

When I was looking for a better instrument I had tried out a lot of them and some would play easily in the higher positions and some woukd not. I felt that some of the high quality violins that didn't sound so good were just not played very much and played much in the higher positions. When I play some of my friends violins who seldom or never come out of first position I notice a lack of response as move out of first position. I found it was interesting to read the post on your new Amati and such a subjective subject as how a violin sound can change after a lot of playing in.

June 26, 2016 at 02:47 PM · Until there is more scientific evidence on this claim, the whole issue of "opening up" is anecdotal and borders on mythology and belief.

This belief, in turn, is supported as a great marketing tool by dealers, who pull it at the time when a buyer is not quite sure about the purchase.

On the other hand, after spending a few thousands of dollars, the buyer is prone to justify purchase and will embrace even a minuscule change in perception of sound improvement.

It is very empowering to believe in our personal contribution to violin's sound; we feel that it is up to us and that there is a hope for a dull or non responsive instrument.

Those who studied the field of psycho-physics, know how challenging and prone to error is measurement in our sensory perception, even for a very elementary stimulus. The perception of violin sound is way more complex and has to be measured with objective means to avoid any errors in judgement.

2 cases from my personal experience:

1st: 5 years old violin; despite daily (from day one) drills of all double stops, scales on one string, playing in high position, etc.... the only dramatic change in sound improvement happened after most recent sound post and bridge replacement.

2nd: an antique violin which slept 40 years in its case. As soon as I drew bow across its rusty Dominant strings, she sang in her full glory!

If there is indeed any change, it happens on the side of the observer, who also happens to be the player. We "open up" to our instruments. We learn how to bring the best out of them. Our perception changes along the way as we master the nuances of a new (or old) instrument.

Go ahead, believe in Santa Claus of sound opening, but do not try to convince others in this, especially if you have conflict of interest.

June 26, 2016 at 03:05 PM · @Rocky. No Santa Claus, no Easter Bunny, no homeopathy, and no crystal healing. As a fully paid-up member of the Sceptic's Society, I doubt, until I have enough proof for myself. BTW, a sample of two is not a large enough sample to be statistically relevant ;-)

Personally, I am sure many violins do change with playing. How much will depend on each individual violin and how it is played. Time also plays a part, especially with new instruments. Playing won't however, "make a bad one good, or a wrong one right".

Normally, I would agree with those who advise others to only buy a violin on how it sounds at the moment of sale. With my fiddle, I was happy to take the chance.

Cheers Carlo

June 26, 2016 at 03:46 PM · Carlo described teaching his Amati violin to accept strong playing. Or did his violin teach him?

June 26, 2016 at 04:14 PM · @Paul. The answer, I think, is both.

Cheers Carlo

June 26, 2016 at 07:03 PM · Rocky, just an FYI, I am logging data from my violin's vibrations hooked up to an oscilloscope. It will take about a decade for me to collect negligible amount of data to publish.

June 26, 2016 at 07:29 PM · You have to really play a violin to get it to respond and eventually sound great. Many players just tickle it to death ...

June 27, 2016 at 12:26 AM · "I am logging data from my violin's vibrations hooked up to an oscilloscope"

Steven, how are you doing that? I'm still dwelling on the idea that devices like the Tonerite and my own home-made version do or do not induce changes on the instrument, but I haven't figured out any practical and unbiased way to measure the results.

June 27, 2016 at 02:44 AM · Fox, I loop sensor for electric sonometer(to be hooked up to an oscilloscope) to the endpin of my violin.

I then play the same scales with the same bow, and same rosin. I then save the frequency vs amplitude data for each note. If you ask me if this is unbiased, I will be lying if I said yes.

The idea is to collect the amplitude of oscillation for long enough period of time. As environmental, strings, violin, and my condition from each time I play, as far as I can log the age of the strings, brand/type, and how I felt before and after scale each day would provide me after a year or so an insight to how much my violin vibrates under certain condition.

Whence I can identify confidently the above conditions, I can rule out proposed biases, and re-normalize the amplitude accordingly. If I can still say that there is more than 10% in increase in amplitude of the violin 10 years from now, It will be low-biased experiment that I can publish about.

The problem is, that I won't be in the same country, using the same apparatus for 10 years.

Also the fun part is that now, I work in a semi-clean room with fixed humidity and temperature. This will change in September.

June 27, 2016 at 07:01 AM · If instead, you did intelligent practice work, you will find the violin may well improve, and you will also become a better player over a period of time. In any case, the world may have ended in ten years time, so who will want to see the research then?

June 27, 2016 at 07:56 AM · I've repaired a few long-unplayed guitars over the years, and one thing I've consistently done get the wood accustomed to vibrating musically again to improve the sound is to lean the instrument up against my guitar amp in the recording studio booth and blast it with appropriate music for a week or so. Some guitars respond better than others, but the solid top ones tend to improve more noticeably than ply ones.

At the moment our family heirloom violin is getting the treatment, (a range of violin and orchestral music from Beethoven to Martin Hayes) having just arrived in my hands after lying dormant in a case for 5 decades or more, so I'm interested in whether its sound opens up or not.

It's a Stradivarius (copy?) handed down 4 to 5 generations, and I'd love to know when and where it was made. The bridge has AUBERT A MIRECOURT burned into it, and when I saw the fingerboard glue had come unstuck I noticed a 2 letter signature or something similar written in pencil on the neck underneath.

June 27, 2016 at 11:41 AM · @Rick. I see on your profile you are looking for information on your violin. Post a picture of your violin on this site or Maestronet. There are plenty of talented people, such as Lyndon Taylor who deals in this type of violin, who will be able to let you know what it is and when it was made. Based on your avatar, it looks to me like a trade instrument made in Markneukirchen, circa 1890-1910.

Cheers Carlo

June 27, 2016 at 11:45 AM · Get real!

June 27, 2016 at 11:52 AM · @Peter, was that aimed at me? and if so, which part of my post made you choke on your breakfast cereal?

Cheers Carlo

June 27, 2016 at 12:40 PM · Carlo, while I appreciate the referral, and I do specialize in affordable instruments, I specifically try to avoid (in most cases)production Strad, Stainer, Guarneri, Amati etc labeled violins. I also try not to appraise violins from pictures, if I can help it, also.

I can say one thing about the OPs violin in his avatar, the varnish with the fake wear pattern is consistent with German production violins made between WWI and WWII and even after, you don't see that sort of slick varnish finish much before WWI IMHO

June 27, 2016 at 12:42 PM · Email swap with Pirastro research chief.

"How long does it take for your strings to settle down? "

"Not as long as your violin."

June 27, 2016 at 03:21 PM · Setting your violin in front of speakers and blasting it with Beethoven violin concerto four hours a day accomplishes absolutely nothing aside from driving your cat insane.

Steven, are you doing Fourier analysis on your sound samples?

June 27, 2016 at 03:36 PM · What possible harm could it do, evidence of most violinists is that vibrating violins a lot (playing them) makes them sound better, if your stereo is loud enough, and your Beethoven good enough, it might actually do something good.

June 27, 2016 at 03:51 PM · Darlene,

I do not know it Pirastro's response is an example of fine German humor, or the fact that your violin has to get used to higher tension... It will be interesting to see how many violins became depressed after 10-20 years of love affair with EP!

Re-arching may become a very lucrative business.

June 27, 2016 at 04:41 PM · Paul, I am using native data.

June 27, 2016 at 07:38 PM · Carlo - it was not really aimed at you - but it is best I do not comment further ...

June 27, 2016 at 08:22 PM · The Pirastro Chief remarks were in the context that there are many confusing variables to deal with but the violin is at least as guilty to blame as are strings.

Personally, I happen to know everything important regarding violins except the answers but this doesn't bother me. ( Just kidding ! )

June 27, 2016 at 08:23 PM ·

June 28, 2016 at 07:06 PM · Back to the OP's original topic: I believe a lot of it *does* have to do with the violin itself being "trained". I have 4 personal data points: two new instruments, each quite different, which opened up amazingly after I owned and played them for a year (one a $300 Chinese instrument, the other a very decent instrument). One old instrument which I've played for many years and still lacks the overtones/undertones of my two new instruments. One well-played instrument that I rented from a shop: already full of overtones/undertones when I started the rental.

June 28, 2016 at 07:12 PM · This is all an exaggeration. A violin will open up - but a lot of total rubbish is being conveyed about how much. Any reasonably good violin will open up a bit in a few weeks.

But come on, get real, the difference is going to be relatively small.

June 28, 2016 at 07:53 PM · I think the quality of the sound can improve by up to 50%, is that what you consider a small difference?? But then my experience is often with instruments that have sat unplayed for many years.

June 29, 2016 at 07:36 AM · Thanks for the comments Carlo, Lyndon, Krisztian. How do I upload photos to this forum? I'm a bit new to this site.

June 29, 2016 at 07:52 AM · Best uplink to photobucket.com and then post the link here to your photobucket account

Much easier than trying to post pictures here, you need html.

June 29, 2016 at 12:54 PM · Raphael - "The important thing for me is to date a woman with a certificate of authenticity! Then down the line, if she needs a sound post adjustment...."

I've often looked, but never been able to find this sound post. But I will keep trying as it's rather fun ...

June 29, 2016 at 11:00 PM · @Peter. The sound post is found just inside the f-hole, and needs a specific tool...

Cheers Carlo

June 30, 2016 at 12:42 AM · FYI, On the viola porn site there are lots of videos of different style soundpost setters and how to use them.

June 30, 2016 at 06:33 AM · Naughty!!

June 30, 2016 at 08:40 AM · Enough misogyny for one thread!!

June 30, 2016 at 10:08 AM · Love it!

I've been missing the ogyny for years!

July 1, 2016 at 02:06 AM · photobuckett.com, wow. Loads of stuff there too :)

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