DIY travel violin?
I'm a 5-month adult beginner and now that summer holiday is around the corner, I'm looking for a way to practice while travelling. There are travel violins on the market (link wiplstix
), but I find them a bit too expensive for my needs, not to mention that they are sold in the US, which is a bit of a hassle for a European.
What I want: put it in my check-in luggage and practice left-hand technique and intonation. I don't care about sound quality, as long as I can hear the pitch. Even better if a clip-on tuner can recognize the pitch - I know that mine has difficulty with the G string while the practice mute is on. (*) I'm thinking of buying a €100 VSO kit with steel strings from an internet seller who claims that they are set up and have working pegs. Then, take it apart and replace the body/belly by a stick of construction wood and figure out a way to protect the bridge while tucked between my clothes.
Would this work? My regular rental violin has d'Addario pro-arté nylon strings. I wonder wether steel strings require different technique so that I've to spend another €40 on strings.
P.S. My workmanship skills and tools are limited, think saw, drill, screwdriver, file, and plyer.
(*)I don't want to start a debate on whether intonation training with a tuner is the "true" way of achieving intonation skills. I have read the various opinions in past threads.
Take your rental. Make it a listed item on your travel insurance. Cheers Carlo
Hmm, it's not so much the fear of damage, but rather that I don't want the hassle of dealing with extra baggage items, negotiating oversized carry-on or take 30% risk(*) of it ending up with a broken violin if I treat it as check-in luggage (not to mention fees for checking in an extra item)...
Han, may I suggest becoming a member of the folk music forum www.thesession.org (based in the UK), which is a very quick, easy and free process, and ask about travel violins available in Europe and the UK. I have a distant memory that this question was discussed on that forum some years ago.
You could get an electric violin. I used one when I did a lot of traveling in my previous job. Just take the bridge off when you pack it in the suitcase. And bring a carbon fiber bow.
Another way to make a silent violin is to get a cheap VSO and fill it up with expanding polyurethane foam.
Or use a new bow with zero rosin.
Thanks for your replies. But it's not the silentness that I want (I can still use a practice mute if necessary); it's the bulk and fragility. Although I suppose that a PU-foam-filled VSO and an electric are much less fragile than a normal violin, I'd rather not have to take the bridge off every time. I was thinking of a stick violin that I can cover with a half pvc pipe for protection of strings and bridge.
Trevor, maybe you were referring to this thread? https://thesession.org/discussions/15286
I have occasionally put my Yamaha silent violin and a 3/4 ( because it is shorter) carbon fiber bow in the suitcase with my clothes. Never had a problem with the bridge.
Han, yes, that is the TheSession thread I remember from about 9 years ago!
Follow-up: I thought I'd give it a try. I ordered a VSO kit (100 euro including bow, shoulder rest, case, and basic set-up work) plus a cheap 1/2-size bow. Work in progress:
I have a Cecilio we used for kids. It was okay out of the box. I will say that living in a high humidity place eventually the pegs swelled and were very, very tight. For a fractional violin, it's not a big deal if you can get it close to in tune and adjust with the tuners, but I can see why people (especially teachers) don't like them. The Cecilio I think even came with decent strings.
You could replace the body of the violin with a 2x2 piece of maple, but I can't really see how you'll do that with pliers and a file. And then where will your CR and SR will go.
You could make it stiffer by gluing some flat sides on it. That might be easier than replacing the body with a solid piece of wood.
It took a while, but I'm ready to go on holiday.
I'm curious to know how it holds up in your luggage when you check it. Keep us posted. Nice job on the modification BTW!
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