Violin death

April 15, 2017 at 08:41 PM · My teacher told me my violin died, and I should get a new one. I had gotten so many compliments over the years that the sound was awesome for a student violin. Is it possible that it did die?

Replies (44)

April 15, 2017 at 08:42 PM · Only if someone drove over it with a truck, and even then, most can be resurrected. What exactly did she mean?

April 15, 2017 at 09:00 PM · A violin can "die" when the synthetic core strings cease to vibrate as they did when new - a common occurrence after a few months of playing; also "death" can occur if the bridge or soundpost gets misplaced, or if there's no rosin on the bow, or perhaps the pupil's bow control is getting out of kilter. All of which problems can be readily cured.

April 15, 2017 at 09:01 PM · How old are your strings?

April 15, 2017 at 09:16 PM · That sounds really strange! If he/she was reffering to the violin, are there any major cracks?

April 15, 2017 at 09:32 PM · Cracks, or ungluing?

April 15, 2017 at 09:36 PM · I agree. Unless it's suffered irreparable physical damage (or too much damage to be worth repairing given its value), violins do not "die". Bring it to a luthier. Have the strings changed if they're more than a few months old. Have the bridge and soundpost checked.

April 15, 2017 at 09:48 PM · ...and do not buy a violin from your teacher; did he offer to sell you a new one? Sigh. May I quote Lydia: Violins do not die. All of the knowledgeable contributors above have mentioned possible problems with an instrument, but if your teacher says your violin died, start to look for another teacher! The teacher's statement is totally absurd, if there was no further explanation.

April 15, 2017 at 09:48 PM ·

April 15, 2017 at 09:53 PM · I have to agree that, short of the total destruction of the instrument, they can be repaired.

I have to raise the question: Does your teacher just happen to have an instrument for sale or recommend a particular shop (maybe your lessons are in a music shop)? Does the teacher also have a plan to "take your violin off your hands for more than it is worth?" I'd be very cautious

I would like to believe that all music teachers are honest, upright, beyond reproach people. Unfortunately, there are more than a few who are more like used car salesmen that will say anything to make a sale.

If you are getting honest appraisals of the sound of your instrument's sound I would find another teacher, preferably not associated with a music store or with an inventory of instruments for sale.

April 15, 2017 at 10:58 PM · Even if the teacher isn't trying to sell another violin to the OP, I have to question the competence of a teacher who diagnoses a violin as "dead" without major damage to the instrument such as having been handled by United Airlines.

April 16, 2017 at 10:04 AM · Are you sure the teacher didn't say that you were murdering it? ;-)

April 16, 2017 at 10:11 AM · David, it looks to me like you've cracked the conundrum!

April 16, 2017 at 11:09 AM · Did your teacher perhaps say or mean to say that it was 'dead'? That could mean that it's not very resonant, which would not be unusual in a student instrument. A simple bridge adjustment might help if it's shifted over time.

April 16, 2017 at 03:15 PM · M E you had me *dying* with that United ploy.

April 16, 2017 at 03:46 PM · Old violins never die, they just fade away.

April 16, 2017 at 05:03 PM · My old student violin was run over by a car and came back to life after a nice repair. I would look at that teacher sideways haha

Go to a professional and have them declare it dead before making a decision.

April 16, 2017 at 06:01 PM · There simply is no dead if not physically destroyed.

April 16, 2017 at 09:47 PM · Some really cheap factory violins are dead on arrival!!

April 16, 2017 at 11:14 PM · Wait three days and see what happens!

April 16, 2017 at 11:21 PM · It's probably your bow. Your bow is an important contributor of the sound of the violin, after all...

Seriously, take your violin to a good luthier and have it checked over an adjusted.

April 17, 2017 at 01:38 AM · Sandra, have YOU noticed any big change in the sound of your violin?

April 17, 2017 at 04:36 PM · Thanks for your comments. I appreciate them all.

I don't think my teacher ever really liked my violin and I've been with him on and off for over 20 years.

I don't think it sounds different.

It's due for new strings and a bridge/sound post adjustment-it's been at least 9 months since the last one, including new strings.

He's not pushing something else on me, but he did suggest I look at Shar for a new violin.

He did tell me that sometimes violins just die. And that some violins hold students back for progressing.

April 17, 2017 at 05:20 PM · "Sometimes violins just die." No they do not. They go out of adjustment, strings go false, they develop openings or cracks, but all of these are fixable.

"Some violins hold students back for progressing." True.

If your teacher thinks you have outgrown your violin and would benefit from an upgrade, that's a valid point of view, but why wouldn't he say it like that? The idea that "violins just die" is nonsense.

April 17, 2017 at 05:21 PM · We believe your teacher told you that your violin died; we just do not believe your violin IS DEAD! If you are going to shop for an upgrade, the last thing to do is shop ONLINE at SHAR etc. You will need to try a few dozen violins in person, and get tuned in to their different sounds and playability. If you tell us where you live, someone here may recommend a dealer of integrity. I am curious as to whether you have asked any other professionals about the so-called death of your violin; what do they say?

April 17, 2017 at 05:30 PM · She probably meant that your technique has outgrown the instrument.

April 17, 2017 at 05:51 PM · Merissa, She --the teacher--is a He. Which fact brings up another kettle of fish which I should probably not explore.../. .\

I do sense that there has been an ongoing unstated friction between this student and teacher. I am relieved to see the OP's skepticism about her teacher's appraisal. I have had eleven teachers over the years (three cities, three instruments) and never has a teacher expressed disapproval of my instrument of the moment.

April 17, 2017 at 07:20 PM · Shar does home trials, so that may not be the worst thing to do. Although I would rather go to a store than pay $20 per violin at an online shop.

April 17, 2017 at 08:30 PM · In the late 60's and in the 70's Sergio Peresson was one of the hot violin makers. However, some reputed that his instruments sounded great for a few years and then deteriorated in sound. It was rumored that he made the top of the instruments too thin. Is there any truth to this, or was this just an urban myth fomented by other makers?

April 17, 2017 at 08:38 PM · I just did a couple in-home trials. It was something like 45 bucks for 3 violins.

April 17, 2017 at 09:24 PM · Peressons are now rather expensive. Nice violins, though. I liked the two I've tried (one owned by a friend, another on consignment by a shop). Powerful and nuanced.

April 17, 2017 at 09:28 PM · Sandra,

Your latest post added a lot to the discussion. You've been with your teacher for 20 years, he never liked your instrument, and then tells you that your instrument died. Hmmmm.

This sounds like a whole new dynamic has entered the relationship. Has your playing plateaued? I will hazard a guess that he is using your instrument as a stand-in to avoid telling you that he isn't happy with your progress.

I say this as one who had the same teacher for almost 30 years and we had our ups-and-downs and he even got me to buy a "much better" instrument even though I still wasn't getting as much out of my instrument as he, or some of my professional friends were capable of producing. Later, after I got frustrated with the "better" instrument and returned to the original instrument it came out that he was frustrated with my hitting a plateau and getting stuck and rather than share that frustration he blamed the instrument. The reality was, and still is, that I'm progressing slowly and I don't have any lofty aspirations. We had a long discussion and changed the direction of our sessions. While I still worked on skill development we added music theory and history instead of pursuing music that was not in my area of interest. We worked together till shortly before his death. Since then I'm an autodidact.

I think you and your long-standing teacher need to have an honest and open discussion about where each of you see the student-teacher partnership going. I cannot say where that will lead but I think the criticism of the instrument is a stand-in.

April 17, 2017 at 09:41 PM · Just because another player can get more out of your instrument than you can, doesn't mean that the instrument isn't hindering your progress.

I'm curious, was your frustration with the "better" instrument the result of not liking its sound, or having difficulties with its more precise response?

April 17, 2017 at 10:00 PM · Lydia,

You nailed my problem - I could get a better sound out of my old family instrument that I could out of the Reinhold Schnabel. Perhaps my instrument was holding me back, but back from what? I'm more than satisfied with what I do and what I have accomplished.

I'm one of those adult starters who plateaued at the intermediate level, was content playing in the second section of the community orchestra as well as the occasional solo in church. (Pretty typical of many adult late-starters.) I also had a rather demanding career that was quite satisfying.

As I noted in my edit (after your response) my teacher and I changed the direction of my lessons to less about skill development and more about music theory and history.

I was, before I retired, one of the top people in Operations and Supply Chain Management and that dominated my life. Music, and my violin are just for my satisfaction. And yes, I do teach some local kids the basics, set a solid foundation and then pass them along to much better teachers who are happy to get them and move them along and they don't have any bad-habits to correct.

April 17, 2017 at 11:28 PM · George, good for you. It appears that you have the ability to explore resources beyond some of the usual BS.

No shortage of really good responses in this thread so far, so that's not in any way what I was labeling as BS.

April 18, 2017 at 01:14 AM · Peresson seems to attract all kinds of gossip.

I had a teacher in Philly (ground zero for the Peresson fan club) who told me that she'd seen one of his instruments crack up because of a thin top. It wasn't even a question with her-- I was essentially warned off looking at his stuff.

I have also heard of makers who measured thicknesses on his instruments carefully and found no evidence of this problem. Snopes debunking!

The only one of his violins I have tried was very good, although the current owner did have it looked at carefully just to avoid that problem.

Another owner I overheard some years ago said he was careful to have bought (commissioned?) one that was going to a market Peresson wanted to please, so it wouldn't be one of the cruddy ones.

April 18, 2017 at 06:17 AM · The violin I tried was not to thin and still very good!

This rumour is comming up for a lot of luthiers, I was looking at a Greiner and have been warned there too...

April 18, 2017 at 06:17 AM · The violin I tried was not to thin and still very good!

This rumour is comming up for a lot of luthiers, I was looking at a Greiner and have been warned there too...

April 18, 2017 at 06:24 AM · The violin I tried was not to thin and still very good!

This rumour is comming up for a lot of luthiers, I was looking at a Greiner and have been warned there too...

April 18, 2017 at 06:25 AM · The violin I tried was not to thin and still very good!

This rumour is comming up for a lot of luthiers, I was looking at a Greiner and have been warned there too...

April 18, 2017 at 10:09 AM · Seriously, you just need to add one line of code to the website to prevent this kind of stuff.

Literally one line, it is not even an expression.

April 18, 2017 at 12:26 PM · Thats right, I did not even click more than once but the samsung android browser does some kind of reload if it does not get succes causing these multiposts.

Also the db queue seems to get a lot of timeouts, I guess there is no cache at all but a whole sql queue for every click on this website. This causes a lot of workload on the server and in this case bad availability.

Dont get me wrong, i am thankfull for this site

April 18, 2017 at 04:41 PM · I was wondering why some of my posts are doubled and that is a very good explanation of why.

April 18, 2017 at 06:30 PM · David,

Thanks for the compliment. Perhaps it is age or just a different perspective on life. I'm actually pretty close to getting all out of my instrument as it is capable of producing (finally after 40 years). It's been decades since the debacle with the Schnabel and I have worked on improving my bowing and intonation.

It was only recently that I stopped test-driving violins at my local violin shop. I'm capable of getting really good sound out of the instruments she has in stock, particularly those in the $10K range. I could upgrade but, at 70+, why bother? That's why I ended the occasional test drive sessions. I'm not in the market for a better instrument as I simply don't need one at this point in my life.

Personally I'm glad that I worked on my bowing and intonation all these years rather than purchasing a better instrument. I never had lofty goals of performing big solo pieces for a large audience. The occasional solo from the back of the church is all I ever do.

I will admit that for some, a lesser instrument may well hold somebody's progress back due to frustration. Those people need to get better instruments. However, those of us who are satisfied with their instruments and willing to work on their bowing and intonation skills can probably defer the upgrade purchase. Everyone is different, there is no single solution.

April 18, 2017 at 10:01 PM · Your instrument is dead. Long live your instrument.

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