Advice for the most weather-tolerant violin?
Does anyone have advice for the most weather-resistant option for a violin (preferably either a super cheap violin shaped object or a type of rain protection)? I just started playing with this student folk group in Norway and we will be playing outside quite a bit. While I of course won't be playing in rainstorms, the weather here is freezing and unpredictable so I'm looking for something that can handle a few snowflakes and cold temperatures. While my current violin is still a 'student' level violin, it nonetheless is worth more than my car and it means the world to me. I can't see it suffer in bad weather. Does anyone have any thoughts or ideas?
Thank you so much!!
You may have second thoughts about playing outside in freezing weather once you have actually tried doing so. It's very difficult to play when you cannot feel your fingers and they are too stiff to move. I have played for a wedding or two where it was in the fifties (Fahrenheit) and it was a completely miserable experience.
I've never tried one myself, but a Glasser AEX carbon composite violin might be worth considering for your circumstances. It couldn't hurt to try one.
Buy a set of fingerless knit Thinsulate gloves and practice playing in them. As Mary Ellen said, playing with cold hands is a miserable experience, but fingerless gloves really can help a lot when temperature is in the 50's.
I think the most weather-tolerant violin should be a new one.
Get a good new violin made by an experienced luthier who works in your area and fully understands the climate you and the violin inhabit. But for playing out of doors in snow and rain -- if you must -- get yourself a cheap second instrument, or as Mary Ellen suggests, a carbon fibre violin.
Also consider a no-wood bow with synthetic hair.
I use a less expensive, contemporary (2015) violin for outdoor playing for greater tuning stability and reduced emotional/financial risk. To echo what others have said though, playing in the cold is no fun at all, and personally, I would not have even my outdoor instrument out of its case if any water (frozen or otherwise) were coming down from the sky. The likelihood of damage is too great.
Check out YouTube for several comparisons of the Glasser Carbon Fiber violin (there's two models, acoustic, and acoustic/electric), knowing that videos don't always convey the sound very well. To me, they have a hollow, cavernous sound (and not in a good way), but not completely dreadful. But, I've never played one or heard one live.
Andrew alludes to another issue with playing outside -- horse hair. Horse hair is so directly reactive to humidity that a coil of it powers many hygrometers. Not that those are accurate, but that is another discussion...
CF/composite violin with steel strings, and a CF bow with synthetic hair.
My point in mentioning my experience with temperature in the 50s was to imply that anything below that would be intolerable since the OP had mentioned snow. Apologies if that was not clear.
"CF/composite violin with steel strings"
Thank you all so much for your great advice! I really appreciate your help. Based on your advice, I'll definitely rethink participating in the outdoor events in the colder months. For the months where the temperatures are more bearable, I might just try with a carbon fiber bow and a cheap 'beater' instrument. It might not give the best sound, but since it's a non-professional/student orchestra, I figure I'll sacrifice sound quality for my peace of mind in case the weather takes a turn and it gets exposed to the rain. The composite violin sounds like it could be a great option but is unfortunately outside of my budget. Thank you so much for your help!
I hate my beautiful wood-looking plastic electric violin, but it is impervious to temperature and humidity and physically very robust, which is why I never worry taking it to construction sites where I work so I can practice during lunch.
I second those suggesting the CF fiddle. I have a Glasser CF violin (cost about $500), which I got for travel.