Narrow necks and intervals

Edited: July 23, 2019, 4:59 AM · There is such a wealth of knowledge and experience here, I know that someone will have thoughts on this.

When I was considering upgrading my violin 2 weeks ago, I tested a higher level violin at my shop. A full-size violin with a narrow neck, they recommended it due to my small hands. I gave it a good test and loved the sound. I had given it the "scroll cup" test and know it really was a full size violin, they had not accidentally handed me a 7/8th - they have several.

The odd thing, at least to me, was the note intervals. All 1st and 3rd position notes had different intervals on that violin, mine, and the others I tested that day. If the violin is the same length and the only difference is the width of the neck, shouldn't the intervals be the same? I hope my question is clear.

There was no upgrade, my teacher and I agreed that I won't upgrade until I'm ready to enter his adult student string orchestra next spring.

Replies (7)

July 23, 2019, 5:59 AM · Have you checked the distance from the nut to the bridge?
July 23, 2019, 6:23 AM · I did not check it at the time. That would make sense if that distance were different, especially since the intervals between all notes in 1st and 3rd were different.

I did like that my 4th on the G string was easier with the more narrow neck - but my 4th finger challenge appears to be going away in most cases on mine.

July 23, 2019, 10:07 AM · The vibrating string length (which determines note spacing) could be slightly shorter on the narrow-necked violin, but you would have to confirm that with actual measurements for comparison. It's also possible that a narrower neck makes the distances feel smaller.
July 23, 2019, 11:00 AM · 7/8 violin should still have a proper neck stop: body stop ratio. The symptoms you describe may point to a non-standard, nonproportional violin. Check with an experienced luthier before you buy. Intervals have nothing to do with neck's width.
July 23, 2019, 11:17 AM · I appreciate the information! Rocky, that was what had me a bit confused- even as a returning beginner it did not make sense to me that a more narrow neck would impact intevals. This was not a 7/8 violin.

Ella, that is also a good point.

When I AM ready to upgrade next spring, my teacher will be with me to assure it really is an upgrade.

On a positive note, replacing the Dominant strings on my (intermediate) violin with Vision Solos has done wonders for my violin, and it had a nice sound before. I waited a bit after the fingerboard scoop repair before changing so the effect of the new strings would be clear. I was afraid I was hearing improved sound where there was none, and my teacher settled that fear. All of that over-thinking on strings paid off!

Edited: July 23, 2019, 1:31 PM · Neck width will not change spacing at all.

Not all full-size violins are the same length. There are variations in body length as well as things like bout proportions that can change the feel.

Spacing is proportional, and in most cases, going from one violin to another, even going from a full-size to a tiny kiddie violin, you can, after a moment of adjustment, play in tune because your brain unconsciously calculates the proportional distances rather than the absolute spacing.

If intervals are spaced weirdly, something is very wrong.

July 23, 2019, 3:27 PM · Thanks Lydia - I noted at the time that it was the only one out of 3 violins I tried on which I simply could not play in tune - I did find the notes (eventually) but my finger pattern felt incorrect.

All in all it was an interesting situation and I appreciate the feedback. It certainly does emphasize the importance of someone at my level taking someone more knowledgeable with me when it's upgrade time. I appreciate the feedback.


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