Violin has diminished tone

August 23, 2018, 10:30 AM · The question probably falls into the newb category. I bought a new violin about 4 months ago. I loved the way it sounded then.
Within the last three weeks I have noticed a change in the sound. The sound post seems to be positioned ok. I cleaned the extra rosin off of the strings. I considered that maybe I put too much rosin on the bow. No cracks in the body. Bridge has not been moved.

I'll try to describe the change. The tone isn't as projecting. I don't hear the bow digging into the strings the way it once did.Not quite like a bow that needs rosin but close. The violin seems dead compared to before.

Could my strings be worn out already?

Replies (71)

August 23, 2018, 10:39 AM · have you checked if the bridge is tipping forward??
Edited: August 23, 2018, 11:37 AM · If you're doing a lot of playing it is normal for synthetic core strings to start losing tone after 4 months. Strangely, the better sounding and more expensive a synthetic string the greater the likelihood that it will lose its tone even sooner! There is a good technical reason for this, but I won't go into it now.

However, as well as the strings wearing out, it is good policy to have this new violin checked over by a luthier, because there are inevitably small changes in the instrument in its first few months of playing as things settle in; a bit like a new car having its first 1000 mile service, I suppose.

Edited: August 23, 2018, 1:35 PM · Needs new strings, needs a slightly longer post, needs post adjustment due to seasonal weather changes, loose edge, as Lyndon said, bridge not where it should be, bow needs rehaired...I could go on.

A good luthier will sort through this list quickly and make suggestions.

August 23, 2018, 11:57 AM · Also think player inconsistency should be considered. My husband was complaining that the AC has started to rattle every. single. time. it came on. It kept him up at night. Drove him crazy. Guess what? It had rattled since the day we moved in 15 years ago. But once he noticed it, he couldn't not notice.
August 23, 2018, 12:15 PM · @Lyndon, The bridge looks fine so far as I can tell.

@Trevor I've been playing 1 to 2 hours a day. It's mostly about an hour though.Sometimes it's two hours.I am over due to have the violin checked.

The strings all have blue wrapping around the base. I would need to double check. I think these are some version of Pirastro.

@ duane lasley, It has been very humid here with lots of rain. My studio is constantly air conditioned with a central system. My humidity gauge reads 60% most of the time. I bought the bow with the violin so it's brand new. I hope I didn't wear it out already. FWIW I tried my other bows and there isn't really an improvement.

@Julie O'Connor, lol... Well either my ears changed or the violin changed. The difference is pretty radical. So much so that I hesitate to play it out this weekend. If it sounds like that to others, then that's not good.

I was leaning toward the strings but had a hard time believing they would be going dead after 4 months, especially Pirastros.I digress though. I'm only almost into three years playing and I have a lot to learn.

August 23, 2018, 12:21 PM · I just got back from my luthier 10 minutes ago. I was feeling like my violin, which is normally a resonant cannon, was underwhelming. My soundpost was not in the optimal spot (my fault for messing with the tailpiece with no strings on it), and once he set it in place the violin was booming again--in a good way. It was like a whole new instrument.

Take it in and have it looked over. I find, playing at you rate per day, that my strings really die out in six months, and probably sooner than that. You can see what strings you have on several handy string identification websites.

I haven't changed my strings yet, so the soundpost change was really the instrument itself coming back into its own. I have a set of Warchal Timbres in my string tube that I'm dying to install, but I want to keep playing these 5-month-old tonicas with the new violin setup for a while...I'm so happy with the adjustment I want to enjoy it as a reminder not to muck about with my instrument anymore.

Edited: August 23, 2018, 6:12 PM · Timothy, 1-2 hours a day playing the violin over 4 months will take you suspiciously close to the 160 hours I've seen quoted for the life of a synthetic string, the 160 hours when its tone goes south.

As an aside, this is an important reason why I haven't used synthetics for several years - it's either plain gut or good honest steel (depending on which violin I'm using and what I'm playing), both long-lasting types of string except for the gut E. I think I said somewhere that I'm a tight-fisted old geezer ;)

Edited: August 23, 2018, 12:49 PM · Pretty much any rosin on the strings can be considered "excess." I clean mine every time I put my violin away, simply by scraping the rosin off with a cloth backed up by a fingernail. No solvents should be used.

Having said that, how's your hearing? An excessive buildup of earwax can cause the symptoms you're describing. Have you been swimming recently, which could move the earwax around in an unproductive way?

August 23, 2018, 3:39 PM · Evah Pirazzi strings are notorious for going very dead very quickly.

Is this a new new violin or an old violin that is new to you?

Edited: August 23, 2018, 3:47 PM · "Having said that, how's your hearing? An excessive buildup of earwax can cause the symptoms you're describing. Have you been swimming recently, which could move the earwax around in an unproductive way?"

Mark that sounds a little kinky, but also highly relevant.

I had an experience where I had stuffed wet toilet paper into my ears, to reduce high noise levels. I thought I had removed all of the toilet paper shortly thereafter, but it turned out that I hadn't. LOL

August 23, 2018, 5:42 PM · Humid with lots of rain = humid = deader sound.
Edited: August 23, 2018, 6:22 PM · Vision solo (both normal and titanium), Obligato, Evah, Dominant - they all didn't last longer than an estimated playing time of around 150 hours without loosing a bit. Usually still "okay", but significantly different. One of several reasons why I'm in the gut fraction meanwhiles. (And, for sure, because Eudoxa sounded best yet and are a joy to play... Only the A needs a bit of time to break in.)

Usually we are our own worst critics. But yeah, let it check, and if everything's all right go for a new set of strings.

August 23, 2018, 10:24 PM · After 3 to 6 months "in a new home" (Or for any new instrument, regardless), the setup should be reset.
August 23, 2018, 11:09 PM · No, David, it's icky. Kinky is something else entirely. And I hope you learned something from your icky experience.
August 24, 2018, 4:58 AM · You're right, my mistake. Kinky and icky are different things. :-)
August 24, 2018, 6:06 AM · "The bridge looks fine so far as I can tell"

You could try tilting it back in any case to hear what difference it makes. Or take it into a good shop, where they could do a more thorough examination (and also routinely fix the bridge angle if that's the issue).

August 24, 2018, 7:07 AM · The first thing to do is change the strings.

Assuming that the bridge is standing properly, adjusting the violin won't help if the strings are bad, and could easily make things worse.

August 24, 2018, 7:11 AM · If you're changing the strings, you're also adjusting the bridge, or at least should be checking it, as changing the strings can tilt the bridge.
August 24, 2018, 4:03 PM · If you can see a gap, however small, between the bridge feet and the top plate fore or aft of the bridge then that is a sure sign that the bridge is leaning. If the gap is still there no matter how you try to correct the lean that is equally a sure sign that the bridge has not been carved for a correct fit in that particular region of the top plate, which means you won't get the best tone. So, a visit to the luthier is indicated.
Edited: August 24, 2018, 4:12 PM · Soundpost adjustment or even a new soundpost can change the tone of an instrument.

In the past week I had the the soundposts of two violins adjusted and the soundpost of one replaced. It had been at least 15 years since a pro had touched those soundposts. The one that was replaced was probably the one the maker installed 67 years ago (if I remember correctly - I'm the original owner). All were improved by these adjustments. I could tell because I had kept one of my violins back at home (the one that has been sounding best) so I could compare the modified violins with it before and after. NO ONE is going to touch the soundpost on that one until it no longer sounds the best.

A visual check of the soundpost can only tell if it is in the "conventional" position, not if it is in the sweet spot for a specific instrument.

August 27, 2018, 8:55 AM · Thank you so much for all of these suggestions. In addition to potentially dead strings I may have had another problem.

The way I would gauge the need for rosin is I would play until the tone became thin. The luthier who built my violin made a point of telling me that I should rub the rosin exactly six passes each time I rosin. I'm beginning to wonder if I heard the strings beginning to go dead and thought I needed rosin instead compounding the problem. I addition, times of higher humidity seems to make the rosin more "clumpy" on the strings..although 60% humidity would not seem to be out of line.

I might have exacerbated one problem in making another. After I realized what might be happening I stopped rosining the bow for awhile.Every time I played there would be a large collection of rosin on the strings which I would wipe away using string cleaner. Things seemed to be getting better. Yet my violin wasn't back to 100% of the sound it once had. From what Trevor and others have said it seems the issue is likely strings. I guess I didn't know how dead strings sounded until now. At least I think maybe this is the issue. I haven't ruled out the bridge post yet. I looked inside the violin and seen the luthier glued a very small piece of wood to one side of the post. I'm guessing he did this as a way to make sure the post is in the right place? Might have made installation easier too.
It's a new violin and I'm sure things inside are changing slowly. The post certainly could have shifted Andrew.

Edited: August 27, 2018, 1:30 PM · According to the book "The Violin Explained" by James Beament, the rosin on the bow hairs transfers "immediately" to the strings so that the needed friction between hair and strings is due to the rosin-rosin attraction thus created.

If there is too much rosin on the bow hair too much rosin will transfer to the strings and this can change the strings' vibrations because the strings will no longer be uniform along their vibrating length.

It is possible to have too little rosin on the hair to fully activate string vibration. This happens if insufficient rosin is applied or if one plays too much between re-rosining
It is not possible to have too much rosin on the hair to fully activate the strings, but it is possible to have too much rosin on the hair to get good sound for a reasonable length of playing time.

OF COURSE, THERE ARE ROSINS THAT ARE TOO SOFT FOR PARTICULAR APPLICATIONS AND MAY "GUM UP" THE STRINGS. HIGH TEMPERATURE SOFTENS ROSIN SO A ROSIN THAT MAY WORK WHEN TEMPERATURE IS IN THE 60s°F MAY BE TOO SOFT AND GRABBY IN THE HIGH 70s AND HIGHER. (Some people say rosin ages, and well it may - since rosin has an odor some of its "juices"/solvents must be evaporating. Perhaps this is why my 75 year old cello rosin worked well on my granddaughter's violin?)

The strings should be wiped cleaned every time the instrument is put away after playing. The surface of the instrument should be wiped clean of accumulated rosin dust whenever you notice it. "Music Nomad**" provides a gentle (if unnecessary) way to do both these things - (I keep one in the "bin" on my music stand):


If there is too much rosin on the bow hair it can be wiped off with a cotton or microfiber cloth.

These are some of the instrument rules I live by.

Oh yes! Check the verticality of your bridge at least once a week - and after any seriously large re-tuning with the pegs.

August 27, 2018, 10:33 AM · Thank you Andrew.

I think I had a bit too much rosin on my strings. I had to use my fingernail to scrape it off.
I imagine the extra rosin on my strings was severely impeding performance.Though the strings are still probably shot.The total sound still hasn't come back. I might look at those Eudoxa strings.Given my experience with strings overall. I might as well throw a dart blindfolded to the one I want.

I didn't know it was ok to use a cloth to remove excess rosin.

August 27, 2018, 11:09 AM · You shouldn't use any solvent to remove rosin from the strings because the dissolved rosin will soak into the strings windings and dampen the tone.
August 27, 2018, 11:24 AM · After about 3 months I typically want to change my strings with 1-2hrs of practice a day. I managed to eek out 6 months recently, but only because I had some weeks of less than average practice and waited until the strings were totally dead before changing them.

I'd bring the violin in for a tune-up and ask the luthier to put a set on for me. Since the violin is fairly new to you, might as well bring it in for a checkup.

August 27, 2018, 12:07 PM · You realize the cost of the violin might be less than the cost of the luthier check up??????
Edited: August 27, 2018, 1:29 PM · I have used alcohol to clean my strings for more than half a century. I do it very rarely and only when I don't think the dry cleaning with a cloth has gotten my instrument back to the sound I want and know it has.

Even so I have always had the same concern as Lyndon and always do it one string at a time with an absorbent cotton cloth in hand to IMMEDIATELY wipe away the alcohol (I mean in less than one second). For the past 30 of those years I have only used alcohol pads (from a drug store) because they do not drip - AND I ALWAYS HOLD THE INSTRUMENT VERTICALLY SO IF ALCOHOL DID DRIP IT WOULD NOT LAND ON THE INSTRUMENT SURFACE A WRECK THE VARNISH.

I would not use alcohol to clean bare-gut strings (although Vitalis was an alcohol-containing hair tonic for men back in the day - I have no idea if it ruined their hair or not. But my alcoholic cello teacher carried his vodka in a small Vitalis bottle -- and he was going bald). By the way I have also used alcohol to clean bow hair and not noticed any ill effects - this could be because my bow hair was not that great in the first place, or because my hearing is not that great anymore -- OR because there are no ill effects as long as you do not ruin the bow itself. I always figured if it would ruin the hair - I needed a rehair anyway - which is what I did 50 years ago when my bows acted like that and I had fewer bows and even less money.

TIMOTHY: The community symphony I played in most recently for 16 years had a violin coach who had been principal 2nd violinist with the San Francisco Symphony for 20 years and was Concertmaster Emeritus of the Marin Symphony (a regional orchestra) after 50 years with them. He taught us to scrape our strings with our thumbnails (among many other good things) but it doesn't get all the "bad" rosin off!

Edited: August 27, 2018, 1:50 PM · Mr. Warchal strongly recommends against using alcohol and shows why on his website, where he actually takes the winding off after colour dyed alcohol treatment and shows how it has penetrated right through the string.
August 27, 2018, 1:57 PM · I have no idea what Timothy paid for his violin, and I thought I was quite clear as to what *I* would do if I were in a similar situation with a violin new to me - and I know I said "you might as well", but really.

Timothy could very well call his local luthier and ask what a seasonal check-up costs and decide for himself if he wants to spend the money on it or not - if it comes to that.

I, personally, do not play around with anything on my violin - I change the strings, check the bridge, keep the strings and violin clean, and that's about it. If doing those things do not address my problem, off to the luthier I go.

It's not that big of a deal - there are plenty of other valid suggestions here in this thread to get him started anyway.

Edited: August 27, 2018, 6:36 PM · Lyndon, my violin was hand built by the same luthier who sold it to me. He recommended I take it back for him to look over after some time. I couldn't decide if it was a business tactic or if I really needed to do this.

After having had it and investing in it I can see the wisdom in having him look it over for me, at least maybe the first time and then maybe periodically thereafter during longer intervals. Sure I can change strings. I think he can spot things I might miss though.

I believe I need a set of strings until I can get the violin to him. The lack of tone is driving me crazy.

Here's the cleaner I was using. It seems to be made to clean metal strings.


August 27, 2018, 6:35 PM ·
Edited: August 27, 2018, 7:24 PM · Bohdan Warchal called our attention to a report of a research project they did about cleaning strings. Bottom line- don't use solvents or cleaners. They carry the dirt and rosin into the strings windings and ruin the strings. That stuff your using is for guitar strings. Just wipe and gently scrape the rosin off. No solvents!
Edited: August 27, 2018, 9:42 PM · If the violin in question is brand new, your luthier's invitation to come back for checkup is not to be ignored. The very first sound post is intentionally made shorter to allow for plates to settle down and it has to be replaced with a permanent one, typically after 6-8 months. The symptoms are consistent with timing.
August 28, 2018, 12:11 AM · Dude, you used string cleaner which is intended for steel guitar/bass strings. This is not correct.

But the most concerning part is the "& conditioner" part on the bottle.

If you used a string *conditioner* to clean the part of the strings where your bow needs to contact the strings, you have just put a fine layer of what is basically wax between the outside of the string itself and the bow hair.

You have effectively "waxed" your violin strings, which means that instead of the bow hair catching and grabbing the strings as it should, it is now slipping over the top of the now-lubricated surface.

Short term solution: use rubbing alcohol to remove the waxy coating on your strings (especially on the area where your bow needs to contact the strings). Make sure that the rubbing alcohol doesn't drip on your violin, please.

Long-term solution: if you insist on cleaning your strings with a solvent, use rubbing alcohol. But only do this with steel core strings. If they're synthetic core, just rub the rosin off with a microfiber cloth.

Edited: August 28, 2018, 8:38 AM · If that's your violin in the photo, it looks to me like the tailgut nuts have slipped, and the tailpiece is sitting much too close to the bridge. The free-ringing length of the strings between the bridge and the tailpiece should be around 55mm or so, and I'm seeing much less in the photo. If that's really the case, that alone would kill the sound. Also, it looks like the bridge is tipping towards the fingerboard.

You need to go get that checkup.

Also, if those are fine tuners I see there, get them off. If you put them on, yourself that'w probably when your violin died. You can't just throw a lot of weight on right behind the bridge and expect nothing to change! If you need fine tuness, get a tailpiece with them built in.

August 28, 2018, 8:38 AM · Live and learn. Thanks for this info guys. No wonder the sound isn't very good. I've been accidentally waxing my strings.FWIW the bottle says to wipe once and wipe off the residue. The "conditioner" probably stays there though. Ugh.
Rocky thanks for the heads up in a new soundpost. Something else I didn't know. I will try to get the violin out to my luthier ASAP.

@Michael. I believe the angle you see is probably the bend of the camera lens. I have included pics of the violin directly from the side also a pic of my integral tuners.



August 28, 2018, 9:08 AM · Those are not integral tuners, and your tailpiece is too far forward.
Edited: August 28, 2018, 11:00 AM · Pardon my lack of knowledge here. The tuners looked integral.On your advice I will look for a mm ruler and get this to the luthier. This is the setup I had with this violin when I bought it. Admittedly the tail piece could have stretched or shifted.
I like the ablity to use the fine tuners. If it takes away from the sound though I'll ditch them.
August 28, 2018, 11:33 AM · The tuners can be taken off. Michael is referring to a system like the Wittner tailpieces (or others) that have integrated tuners that are close to the tailpiece fret (instead of the levers you have).

Even without those lever tuners, your tailpiece is a too close to the bridge. 55 mm is the standard, mine is actually 52.5 and sounds best for my violin, but all the "correct" after length distances are in the 54-60 mm ballpark, depending on the instrument.

August 28, 2018, 5:07 PM · quite a thick bridge, in my opinion.
Edited: August 28, 2018, 7:20 PM · Eh, I'm sure the fine tuners play a role in the sound, but I'd bet money that the wax layer is 95% of your problem.

Have you used rubbing alcohol to try to vigorously clean the strings near the bridge? If you try and it works, please let me know.

August 29, 2018, 2:38 AM · Are you sure that bridge isn't backwards? From the pics, looks so...
August 29, 2018, 3:16 AM · As long as the bridge was cut down on the E-string side I don't think it matters which way the writing faces. But that violin sure needs setting up! Fine tuners are practically universal so I see no problem there (and why should the sound change after a few months?). I'm quite sure Timothy's loss of tone is due to Dunlop's miracle cleaner, which seems to be for plucked rather than bowed strings - big difference!
Edited: August 29, 2018, 10:42 AM · It seems I have come to the right place! I really appreciate all of the helpful advice from everyone.

It seems I have several problems with my violin.As Andrew Victor mentioned
occasional alcohol on the strings shouldn't hurt them. At this point I have nothing to loose by trying it to see if it clears up one of the problems. I have those eyeglass wipes that are basically alcohol dipped pads. They would probably work ok. Eric I will report back on how that worked.

I have a lesson today so I am in a kind of emergency to have a playable instrument. As luck would have it my teacher works part time at a music store and is bringing me a set of Tonica strings today. I wanted to try Eudoxa wound gut, with my ball end setup I guess I can't do that right now.It's good to know I can buy a tailpiece with a better integration of
the tuners. This is definitely something I will look into.

My luthier is quite a distance from where I live. It will be a day off of work to get it to him since none of his locations are anywhere near where I live or work. This all means it might not be right away so I need a stop gap fix in the interim.

I believe @Nichole asked a few questions.Thanks for offering to help. My violin was built by this man-

He may or may not have used prefab parts to build mine.He is capable to build them from scratch with 25 years experience in building violins.My violin was probably priced at the low end of his builds and so this was an assumption I made that he could have used prefab parts. This may or may not be true. Another reason might be the finish is not even which I like. He called the violin "coffee"maybe because of the finish( my guess). I rather liked the finish.He makes his own varnish.I think he made the bridge too but that could be all wrong. He didn't have tuners on all of his violins. For some reason they were on mine. Is that bad or good?

Edited: August 29, 2018, 10:32 AM · 4 fine tuners is more common for beginners, they do not help the tone, try tuning the G, d and a with the pegs, how hard is it for you, if you can do it OK ask your teacher to show you how to remove the bottom three fine tuners and it won't cost you a cent. And the tone will be somewhat improved.
August 29, 2018, 1:21 PM · Thank you Lyndon. I'm all for anything that improves the tone.
August 29, 2018, 3:25 PM · Tonicas are decent synthetics, and have a great performance-to-cost ratio. I prefer them over Dominants, another standard string. Restringing may bring out quite a change because new strings tend to be livelier anyway. Enjoy the string change.

To clean your strings, just wipe them each time. Warchal has a nice article on cleaning beyond that (don't use cork, for example).

August 29, 2018, 4:17 PM · I don't mean to insult your luthier in any way, but that bridge does not appear to be professionally made. Just my personal opinion.

Generally a violin with fine tuners on all 4 strings is intended to be a student instrument.

Also, a violin strung with Preludes is generally intended as a student violin.

August 29, 2018, 5:32 PM · I don't think anybody's mentioned but that wax, if you've used a lot of it, could have gotten into your bow hairs as well and that might prevent rosin from adhering to the bow. You might look into cleaning your bow hair (and again, rubbing alcohol is the solvent) and re-rosining. This is somewhat risky as rubbing alcohol could damage the finish on your bow so be cautious. Maybe just get your bow rehaired.

Depending on where you live, maybe there is another violin shop closer than a whole day's travel? If so, get to know your local luthier. It won't be expensive, and if our luthier's a nice person, you will learn a few useful things every time you go.

Basically people here have come up with at least half a dozen good reasons why this violin might not be sounding its best -- from soundpost adjustments to strings to wax to tailpiece/tailgut.

If it's a relatively new instrument you really should have it looked at. Lots of things happen to a violin in its first few years. The tailgut might stretch, altering the geometry of the strings in significant way. The top and back can change shape in ways that might be invisible to you but can cause gaps that mean your soundpost is no longer a good fit.

Even if the soundpost has a hairline gap along one side, that can cost you a significant amount of volume for a violin. It takes 15 minutes for a luthier to check this can can usually be fixed quickly. Even if it needs a new soundpost it's a small inexpensive job. (Your bridge looks OK by the way).

You could also have seams open -- not a serious thing, a common occurrence, easily and inexpensively fixed. It is not something you would even necessarily see but an open seam can totally undermine a violin's sound (and also affect tuning stability for reasons unknown to me).

August 30, 2018, 12:29 PM ·
@Dimitri Pappas This was my first experience with Tonicas. I wasn't overly fond of Dominants on another violin.Since Dominants are sometimes described as similar to Tonica I didn't know if I would like them. I never had Dominants on this violin so it's tough to make a direct comparison. I like these strings though. Very nice, especially considering what I paid for them. My teacher and I removed the fine tuners on all but the E string.The new strings along with the removal of the tuners made a HUGE positive difference. It isn't that much more difficult to tune using the neck tuners. Until I can get to a Luthier, this violin is once again very playable even if the tail piece is slightly off. I plan to get that corrected.

@Eric- FWIW I usually associated fine tuners with beginners too.I'm not sure why that idea took hold since I see professionals playing with them occasionally. Removing them helped. The luthier put his name on both sides of the bridge. Could be he simply bought a bunch and burned his mark on them. He did a nice job shaping on it.I'm sorry i forgot to try alcohol on the old strings I was so eager to put the new ones on.

@Thomas Boyer- Yes there have been many helpful suggestions here. The reason I keep coming back :) I looked close for open seams and didn't see any. I considered maybe the small piece of wood glued close to the soundpost was some kind of a stop for it. My teacher thinks it might be a patch. I want to have him take a look if I can get there. The bow,yes, could be slightly dirty from the gunk I used.I will look deeper into this. I can at least play now *whew*. It's nice to sound nice. Before when I played G on the D string it was dead. Now it rings.

I consider this only a temporary fix until I can get to my luthier.
Here's coffee with tuners removed and new Tonicas.


August 30, 2018, 1:37 PM · I'm glad the string change (and therefore wax removal) helped. Enjoy the new sound.
August 30, 2018, 3:53 PM · I might as well add that your tailgut appears to be too long (didn't bother to read back and see if anyone else mentioned this).
September 2, 2018, 10:26 AM · It's been mentioned already, but, I'll chime in anyway. That bridge does not look like it's been thinned down at all.
September 2, 2018, 10:50 AM · The bridge has been thinned down correctly at the base, but is a little thick at the top IMHO
September 2, 2018, 11:17 AM · I wouldn’t be able to tell by looking at the bottom. The top looks very thick.
Edited: September 2, 2018, 11:33 AM · the top is about 30% thicker than normal, its also not rounded off on the edges like it should be, and the body is not carved like it should be, the luthier obviously doesn't know what he's doing!
September 2, 2018, 11:15 PM · And here I was expecting a discussion of augmented semitones.
Edited: September 4, 2018, 10:29 AM · I'm almost at a loss now as to the best things to do when shopping for a violin.. Most advice from regular professional players is go to to a dealer who understands violins. Someone who actually builds violins to buy one as opposed to an online dealer. According to his website he has 25 years experience and he is a 3rd generation luthier. He had a write up in our local newspaper.I still have that article. My expectation was that if anyone in my local area knows violins this person does.I'm sure he knows much more about these things than I do and I'm willing to give him the benefit of the doubt here.

If there ever was a do-it-yourselfer I am him. Most things I can do myself. I hesitated to go to a shop for this very reason. There is just so much I don't know in this case though, so I went the more expensive route and trusted a luthier. I'm still not sorry for my choice.The violin sounds nice.

My guess is the tailpiece gut stretched some. No matter how the violin looks it sounds nice again after the new strings.I noticed the bridge was a bit thicker than on some of my other violins. To me though, the sound and tone were nice so I didn't question it.

@David@Lydon, I have a violin made so thin I almost can't tell I'm holding it. It projects well, but the tone is unpleasant to me. I guess it isn't always about the thickness? Playing devils advocate here, I have previously had bridges so thin the strings wanted to slice through. Too thin?

Since I need to work on my tailpeice regardless. I ordered one of those harp tail pieces. Go ahead, someone please tell me I made a mistake again :)

September 4, 2018, 9:41 AM · I'm proud to be DIM ("did it myself") too. Haynes Violin Manual sounds like a joke publication but I found it pretty helpful
September 4, 2018, 11:22 AM · Timothy, if you just purchased this instrument, why don't you go back and discuss your concerns with the luthier? I'm sure he would like another chance to correct the gut issue and may have an explanation for the bridge.

If you do decide to take it on yourself, make sure you have an escape route like another luthier willing to straighten anything out that goes wrong. You're approaching sound post placement issues with that kind of work so be ready for that task.

I am also from the Lancaster, PA area if you need any local recommendations etc, let me know.

Edited: September 4, 2018, 11:38 AM · Don't mess with anything except a string change until the luthier/seller sees it.

Don't change the tailpiece yourself, and send the harp tailpiece back. Use the regular tailpiece without the A,D,G fine tuners.

Replacing a tailpiece and tailgut and getting everything adjusted properly is probably more difficult than you think it is. Plus, you run the risk of the soundpost dropping.

September 4, 2018, 1:44 PM · Ha another Timothy! Nice to meet you @ Timothy Jayne!
I plan to get back to the luthier ASAP. My schedule is just nuts. This luthier has a shop in Salunga and one in Wyomissing. I live in the vicinity of the Strasburg area about 1/2 hour from Lancaster. He only works by appointment and I work all week with long commutes going the other direction, so it pretty much takes a day off for me to make it work. Anyways thanks for offering to give other recommendations!

@ George Huhn, Thanks for the confirmation I did the wrong thing once again :) What's wrong with a harp tailpiece?

September 4, 2018, 2:01 PM · I am a DIY guy. I built my own guitar, guitar amp, effects pedals, etc. I've built high-end instruments in grad school and I feel comfortable around instrument work.

I don't mess with my violin anymore. The nuances of the violin require a skilled hand, and an excellent luthier can make an instrument sing. The time you spend mucking about can be used to practice, which will be a better improvement in tone that a tailpiece swap.

September 4, 2018, 2:01 PM · I am a DIY guy. I built my own guitar, guitar amp, effects pedals, etc. I've built high-end instruments in grad school and I feel comfortable around instrument work.

I don't mess with my violin anymore. The nuances of the violin require a skilled hand, and an excellent luthier can make an instrument sing. The time you spend mucking about can be used to practice, which will be a better improvement in tone that a tailpiece swap.

Edited: September 4, 2018, 4:16 PM · Nothing is inherently "wrong" with a Harp Tailpiece, but you liked the sound of your violin with the normal tailpiece, so why change it? What do you hope the Harp Tailpiece is going to do?

You would be adding another variable to the set-up when you're trying to identify what changed from the original set-up that caused the dead tone. You have a lot of variables to change now, so get those to where they sound the best first. If you then want to try a Harp Tailpiece, talk to the luthier about installing it. But I think you are going to be happy with a conventional tailpiece installed correctly and fresh strings.

September 4, 2018, 4:25 PM · Judging from how poorly set up the violin is I wouldn't go back to the same luthier that messed it up in the first place, I would look into a quality repair person that specializes in repairs, not making, makers often are not that good at set up because they do it a lot less often.
September 5, 2018, 5:39 AM · Timothy, I don't understand your approach. You are trying to do everything and anything yourself when you have the privilege of being close to the seller and even the luthier.
Most makers and shops, violin or other things, would take responsability and take care of their products within a reasonable time (4 months, is very well within reason), especially for minor things like thinnin the bridge, adjusting the tailgut and resetting the soundpost.
If you lived in another continent or with no violin professionals anywhere around, it would be understandable to step in the DIY fixes, but in your case, go to the shop, seller or luthier, explain the problem and suggest the aforementioned fixes.
September 5, 2018, 6:54 AM · my guess is the luthier will say there is nothing wrong with it since he doesn't know what he's doing in the first place??
September 5, 2018, 8:55 AM · I'll reply here to this and then I had better get to working on the solution.

Thank you for the suggestions! @Lyndon, I don't want to attack anyone here.
I will say that if I were a luthier I would be very careful about what I let go out of my shop since you never know who will hear the instrument and what exposure it will get. Every instrument has your reputation on it. I think most Luthiers probably go above and beyond.I think one needs to have a special attention to detail to consider going into that profession. There are usually exceptions to every rule and I don't think it is wise to jump to any conclusions until we know all of the facts. As many have said, setup is crucial to the proper operation of a violin.Setup is easy to accidentally change if you aren't careful.

As I see this, the main consideration with respect to building a violin in comparison to , lets say, miniature ship replicas is primarily acoustics. No matter how capable you are to build something, if you don't have this all important variable down pat, you might as well forget it.One needs to know the science of acoustic behavior and how it relates to the design of a violin. Since my purchase wasn't one of his most expensive violins I'm willing to concede that he might not have put as much time into it. He did get it right acoustically though. Even with a stretched tail piece gut and maybe a thicker bridge it sounds nice. I can't imagine how it will sound after some changes are made to it. I'm still very happy with my purchase.

@Carlos D'Agullerio- I guess my logic does seem a bit odd and counter productive and maybe it is. My thoughts were something like, the tail piece has to come off eventually no matter what. If the new tail piece helps to make up for the scale of the low strings might as well do that too.If it does nothing to improve it no loss either way other than the money I spent which wasn't a lot. I also reasoned that the tail piece must not have been a very good one to stretch like that.
I also like to try new things. I overload myself with information on the thing I have an interest in and sometimes don't sort it all like I should.To be fair. The right thing would be to try the old tail piece first, but then how will I ever know what the harp one sounded like? :)

September 5, 2018, 9:04 AM · Tailpieces never stretch anywhere near that much, unless its a defective Chinese tailgut that the thread is stripping on, by all appearances the tail gut was misadjusted from the get go.

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