Got my mezzo forte last week. In these days I have been getting familiar with it, and I have also used it for a wedding and with a band in a pub. It is exactly what I needed and a lot more of what I was hoping for.
I will list some notes.
- The new Mezzo-Forte is a line called "Design". It has a couple of notches on the sides that allow to fit any shoulder rest. However, the notches are not along the whole violin, so the shoulder rest can only be put in the most common place. You can't play around with its position.
- The chinrest is screwed in the violin. You will not be able to fit your own chinrest. It's plastic, so it gets slippery. I am cutting a piece of thin leather to fit there. I would recommend Mezzo Forte to provide something for chin comfort if not switching to a wooden chinrest (as they provide a wooden fingerboard)
- Both chinrest and shoulder rest restrictions leave limited possibilities in posture. Some might find it uncomfortable or take long to adapt.
- The fingerboard is wooden and the neck is very comfortable, easy to shift and very easy in the left hand.
- Although many people talk about how "light" carbon fiber is, it is actually heavier than some wooden violins. The mezzo forte is 470g. My Fernando Solar is 415g. One big difference it's that the Mezzo Forte has all that weight in the body and the left hand doesn't need to hold any weight (it doesnt' have a scroll).
- It comes with Wittner geared pegs.
- I ordered it with Milo Stamm Bridge. It was well cut.
- It comes with Evah Pirazzi strings. This can bring some confussion to those who try it for short time (in a fair or shop). The first days of playing the sound of the violin was disappointing: Tinny. However I experienced that the reason was not the Mezzo Forte, but the new strings. Now the metallic sound has gone almost completely.
- It comes with a Wittner tailpiece (plastic composite). I didn't like it, but when I replaced it with an ebony tailpiece, the resonance increased too much. As I will tell later, this violin needs more of taming than boosting, and the Wittner tailpiece holds the reverberance down.
- The soundpost it's in the regular position, which I am not sure it makes sense in carbon fiber stiffness. I have read users of the Lewis & Clark reporting that the best position of the soundpost in their violins was actually directly under the bridge or even north of it. I have not tried that yet and maybe I won't try it. Where it is now, gives very good qualities.
- From the lowest G to the end of the fingerboard in the E string, all notes come strong and clear. I have more problems with strangled notes in high positions with wooden violins. One of the "funs" I have been doing with the MF is playing whole pieces in only one string. It feels as easy in the end of the fingerboard as in the first position.
- Very sensitive, more than usual, to bowing and intonation. Unfortunately, its not difficult to squeak or strangle the note if you don't bow right or if you missplace a note. The right note rings like a bell, the wrong one quaks.
- Difficult to play P, almost impossible to play PP. All can be learned, but to get to lower the volume, I need to bow really on top of the fingerboard. I will need to experient with other strings because I think that Evahs on this violin are overwhelming.
- Different from the wooden instruments (to be expected). The best definition I can give it's that it sounds more synthetic, less natural than the wooden violins. Actually my wife asked me if I was playing plugged to the speaker, as sounds comes like it has gone through an Amp.
- Although "synthetic", the sound doesn't ring "cheap" at all. It is nice, with plenty of good resonances. It brings the kind of sound that you get from an acoustically active room.
-That Echo is actually what you have to be careful to tame, because it can get on the way of producing a good sound. In this sense, the "plastic" tailpiece came out as better that other tailpieces more resonant.
- The bow becomes more important than ever. My Arcus, which gives me a rainbow of colors in the wooden Violin, was too bright and resonant, and an Arcos Brasil that sounds in the Fernando Solar violin more contained and very bright, rings a beautiful, balanced and warm sound in the Mezzo Forte. No idea how or why that bright bow becomes warm, and the Arcus becomes too bright.
- In situations that I would normally need to plug an amp (wedding restaurant with everyone chatting), the Mezzo Forte, unplugged, shut everybody up, including the tables far away. With the band, the unplugged MF could stand its ground with the plugged guitars. From my practice room at home (a library covered in books, roof to ceiling), the MF got to mess with my wife's piano practice in a far away room. Until now, when I practice in the library, the wooden violin didn't bother her, and I would not hear her piano.
Because of the characteristic "megaphone" voice of the Mezzo, one guy in the band thought that there was a pickup integrated in the violin, and I was wirelessly plugged.
- Yes, this is important. It is a carbon fiber instrument. I have been carrying it everywhere around, for the first time ever didn't mind to ride under the rain to get to play. When I meet my friends for a beer, I just take it out in a terrace and play a bit. Leave it on the table and pick it up again later.
This quality it's what I was looking for and what this violin, more than anything else, will bring to the young (me, at heart): the capacity to bring it everywhere and play anything, instead of restricted to controlled environments. For this, you can buy a "camping violin", a cheap chinese from ebay, or you can get a carbon fiber one. In my particular case and circumstances my bet went to the Carbon Fiber option and, luckily, my bet has paid off.
And that's all. I hope this is useful for those looking for info about some of the particulars mentioned above.
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