Dead 4th Finger E?

April 20, 2019, 10:18 AM · Hey guys,

I'm trying out a brand new Viviano Vitale (priced at $999) violin from ViolinShack (long story, but I basically emailed the guy during a contest to win one of these, and asked him where the wood is sourced from, how it plays, etc. because I'm a teacher looking for options for students blah blah blah... He answered and emailed again a few days later saying he'll ship it to me for free if I want to try it. Duh yeah I do! So here we are)

Anyway, I actually love it as a teaching violin, but I noticed the fourth finger E and Eb are sort of dead. Brand new instrument, brand new Dominant (yuck) strings that sound pretty decent, despite my distaste for them. Not sure what the E string is, but it's super responsive and warm.

Could this dead sounding fourth finger E/Eb be a soundpost issue? I was thinking of taking it to my luthier and having him check it out.


Replies (17)

April 20, 2019, 10:34 AM · At least 2 of my new made luthiery violins were a little less responsive in that exact area, when new.
Now, after years, they respond perfectly in that spot.

In the one i use more, sometimes when weather changes, the E with the 4th finger tends to resonate and interfere with the open E and has a bit less harmonics. In my case, it's enough to retune the movable little wood piece i have in my tunable tailpiece (i can set afterlenght at will in single strings), and it solves completely the problem.

In your case, you can see if you can modify the afterlenght in the A strings. Maybe tilting lightly the brigde, especially if it's not vertical, as a verify of this.

April 20, 2019, 11:04 AM · Just the Es? How do the f,g,a and b sing?

Have you contacted Mike about his violins?

April 20, 2019, 12:06 PM · It was the sound post, just like I thought! It must have gotten jostled a bit during shipment.

The instrument is absolutely gorgeous, I really love it! It's got Dominants and a WonderTone Gold (the tin plated) E and I LOVE it. It's very warm (despite the Dominants) and resonates beautifully, especially after I got it adjusted.

April 20, 2019, 2:20 PM · Marco,

Tuneable tailpiece? Can you share a photograph?

April 20, 2019, 4:10 PM · I already put photo of it at least other two times here..... why not a third one? ....... :)

pic 1

April 20, 2019, 4:19 PM · This is a pic i took right now with phone:

pic 2

April 20, 2019, 4:40 PM · What a funny idea...
April 20, 2019, 8:22 PM · That looks like a very simple idea. The little piece of wood that rides in the slot, can you provide a description (a hand drawing would be great). Great for those of us who do not require any fine tuners.
Edited: April 20, 2019, 10:19 PM · It was invented by my luthier (amatorial) together with another luthier who tried to patent it, but for some reason he didn't succeed. I don't believe it's already patented, or at least i did not found any.

Tomorrow i'll try to draw how it is made. These little pieces that hold the strings are "pierced" by small ebony cilinders, and at the base of these there is another terminal small piece like a disc. They are not glued, and can be disassembled.

The second pic shows my first violin with the tunable tailpiece, and it' s the original prototype, made in 2013. The slots are cut a bit short, so it can happen that there's no room for the distance i need (it depends on the single strings, they are never alike). But in this prototype the wood pieces can rotate almost 90°, so i can make it work anycase.

The pic 1 shows my second tailpiece made, in a new system. The slots are longer, the wood pieces a bit bigger and they rotate just a bit.

In each one, and in all other violins my luthier made in these last 5 years (about 9-10), the tunable elements are kept still and safe by the strings tension only. They don't move. They are relaxed only when changing strings.

I move them with a pencil, or with a broken arrow nock (i'm an archer).
I tune them preferably with the octave armonic of the directly upper string. For example, i tune the G string afterlength by playing with a stroke of a pencil the octave D (in the middle of the D string), and the afterlenght part of the G strings has to play the same note, but not just the same. I set if where the afterlenght part "rings" when stroked with the pencil. Sometimes it has to be a bit sharp to work. And so on with the other strings.

The difference in response when the elements are properly tuned is astonishing. All the strings gain ringing harmonics and the string is playable in the upper positions very easily like in the first position.

Interestingly, in these last weeks i learned, by observation, that when i switch from pernambuco bows to carbon fiber bows i have to retune the tailpiece a little bit at least in one or two strings. They seem to resonate differently and all the strings respond in a different way.

April 20, 2019, 10:24 PM · That's a really cool idea!! And your tailpiece is gorgeous!! What wood is it made from?
Edited: April 21, 2019, 4:19 AM · Black poplar and ebony.

simple hand drawing

April 21, 2019, 5:54 AM · You can get much the same result by shaving the thread off of strings, to raise the pitch of the afterlength. You could also add thread to lower pitch if necessary, but it is a nuisance. Better to shorten the tailgut to make a long afterlength and then adjust the strings with a knife or nail clipper.
April 21, 2019, 8:14 AM · My system, respectfully, is infinitely better.
Edited: April 21, 2019, 9:57 AM · I have to agree that Marco's approach seems more robust. I'm impressed with the simplicity. It's the kind of empirical makeshift widget that someone like Antonio Stradivari might have cooked up. I am thinking that the under-piece could also be a small steel flat-head screw. I don't have the tools for such detail work but I have a friend who would really relish this challenge. Actually the logical person to help with this kind of work would be a jeweler. But I'm thinking that the under-piece only serves to hold the bar in place until the string can be tightened, and then the string tension will not allow it to move. Is that correct?

Finally I agree with Kristen that it's a pretty tailpiece.

April 21, 2019, 10:01 AM · The next time I have some pretty wood and a few spare hours, I'll make a tailpiece like yours. We shall see if it is as amazing as you say...
April 21, 2019, 12:04 PM · You can make your own tailpiece, Cotton. But you have to have it installed by a qualified luthier. LOL
April 21, 2019, 2:13 PM · Cotton, be the judge yourself, if you can build something similar and then properly tune it..... :)
Advice: learning to tune it in the proper way is not immediate, so don't discourage :)

pic of the underside

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