After playing the same modern instrument for 11 years and feeling frustrated by its inability to produce a powerful tone, I decided it was time for an upgrade. I am a professional performer who teaches a bit as well, so acquiring a really good instrument that is easy to play is something I probably should have looked into a long time ago. At any rate, I began my search late last year and rather quickly found an antique violin that I really, really loved. However, it had a repaired soundpost crack that had drastically depreciated its value (making it affordable for me, of course) and it had no official ID papers or anything, so even though the dealers showing it to me had theories about who made it, no one could confirm it. These were little red flags for me, so I decided to continue my search and ended up making a better financial investment, purchasing an antique instrument with fewer repairs and official documents. While I didn't connect with the sound of it quite as readily or completely as the other violin I'd been considering, it was a significant improvement for me with the added bonus of being a sound financial decision.
Flash forward to a few weeks later, though; it was like a Jekyll and Hyde transformation. The violin I purchased, which had seemed very responsive and easy to play, was suddenly crackly and brittle-sounding. Playing loudly is less difficult; usually when I'm really giving it all I've got it makes a pretty nice, big sound; however, playing quietly is almost impossible. Changing strings abated the problem a little bit; I've tried Pro Artes, Evah Pirazzis, and Dominants. However, my problems always resurface after a few days. I'm getting to the point now that I cannot even remember what drew me to it in the first place. I've played for most of my life, so I must have seen something wonderful in this instrument while I was getting to know it--I definitely wouldn't have purchased it otherwise--but even so, the doubts are creeping in.
I'm wondering whether it's a soundpost issue; the violin was shipped to me from another place in the country and it was probably quite an adjustment for it. However, after 11 years of saying, "Oh, let's try another set up, maybe that will help! Let's try out new bows, maybe that will help! Let's try different strings, maybe that will help!" with my last violin, I'm feeling pretty cynical and hopeless, especially since I know from experience that that road can be both fruitless and expensive.
So, here are my questions for all of you:
1) Does this sound like it is could be a setup issue?
2) Have any of you ever been in this position?
3) What did you do to resolve it?
I cannot decide if I should try to re-audition the first violin I connected with again (if it's even still available), even though it was a riskier financial investment, or whether I should tinker with what I've got and continue my search on the side until I find something that complements my playing and is a sound financial investment...if such a thing exists.
I am rather upset because I've just gotten out of a long-term relationship with an instrument that was holding me back for many, many years and I'm afraid I'm getting into another one. Knowing that there are violins out there that can make me feel like I'm a good player who is worth my salt only makes me feel worse.
Thanks for your time and input, everyone! It's greatly appreciated by both me and my husband, who isn't a violinist but who has nevertheless had to listen to me prattle on and on and on about these issues for so long! :)
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