new violin sounds tinny

October 24, 2019, 2:45 AM · Hello, it's my first post here. I've been learning the violin by myself for almost a year now, starting with a budget student violin, one of those $70 types. I've since gotten a Gliga Gems 1, and immediately the tinni-ness of the sound it produces struck me. Not sure if something is wrong or if i should immediately change the stock steel strings, but i'm very sure my budget violin hardly sounded this bad brand new. Its sound production in contrast is much more expansive and have some warmth, but the Gems 1 just sounds metallic. No faults were pointed out when i brought it to a luthier, but it seems that the common problems are an improperly placed soundpost, overly-thick bridge or something to do with the fingerboard. I get the impression somehow that it may have to do with the sides of the notches contacting the strings in question, but i've no experience at all with this. APparently the strings should rise above the notch for about 2/3 of their diameters, which is true in my case. Could anyone render advice?

Replies (21)

October 24, 2019, 3:19 AM · metal strings sound tinny
October 24, 2019, 3:45 AM · An upgrade in strings can help the sound of new violins. You could give dominants a try, I’ve found they often help with the sound of my students whom have instruments at a similar price bracket to yours.
October 24, 2019, 4:20 AM · If you've got a $70 that doesn't sound tinny you have a bargain.
October 24, 2019, 4:21 AM · Another thing that might cause a tinny sound is improper placement of the bridge and/or the sound post. Take the violin to a luthier and have him/her make sure it's set up properly. They will also be able to check whether the notches in the bridge are too deep or not.
October 24, 2019, 4:52 AM · Yes, immediately change the stock steel strings.

I have found Pro-Arte strings are a good economical choice to get a warmer sound. Be sure to give any string that you try some time to break-in.

Edited: October 24, 2019, 7:50 AM · You say you took the instrument to a Luthier and he pointed out no faults but then your asking questions about what could be the issue. Sounds like you need to find a new Luthier :)

The Gliga Gem 1 does not come with a good set up normally. They make some nice looking instrument but..The nut height is normally to high on them, bridge height/thickness is incorrect and placement usually slightly off, sound post placement usually incorrect and sometimes space between the post and the back and or top of the instrument. And yes the strings most likely need to be replaced.

October 24, 2019, 9:18 AM · haha romanian strings but come with 100% more steel then, because the ones on the $70 one sound better and it's because of that that i've put off getting decent replacement strings like the ones suggested, but now i guess i'll just have to! I'll do just that then and hope i'll have good news to report back! The problem with the nut height is something else i've noticed too, guess i shouldn't be too surprised when my next and more attentive luthier passes remarks about the rest of the violin. Thanks for the quick responses folks, greatly appreciated! Now, on to the next step!
October 24, 2019, 10:17 AM · Tin strings sound tinny. Steel strings sound steely. Like Steely Dan.
October 24, 2019, 2:55 PM · The stock strings on the Gligas are their biggest weakness. Replace them with Tonicas and you'll notice a tremendous difference.
October 24, 2019, 4:21 PM · Seconding Matthew aboout gliga set up. I've bought a few gliga secondhand for my students, and it's very apparent which have been well set up and which haven't. Most are sold as they arrive, which is not yet a good violin. It's like the differences between an unedited self published oil and an award winner.

These two videos will show you what we mean:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SYzetDu3mj4
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dbNl2Y-ELs8
(Not necessarily recommending this Luther cause I've never been there but worth checking out if anyone reading this lives near Brisbane)

I don't know what your budget is - if it's low at least get tonicas (I find dominants don't work their magic on gligas, others may disagree). If you can afford a really nice set, try brilliant (less expensive than other brighter strings that bring out overtones, esp if you buy a trial set from the makers website) because gliga can have a dark muffled tone If not set up well. If you're getting a good luthier (don't get any random on be) set up, let them pick the strings - they know what will complement their set up.

October 24, 2019, 5:16 PM · Putting new strings on a $70 violin is a waste of money.

"The stingy man pays the most"

October 24, 2019, 5:34 PM · I don't know Scott. $40 strings on a $70 violin might make it sound as good as, say, a $130 violin, in which case you've profited $20.
October 24, 2019, 5:35 PM · Scott Cole the strings are for the new gliga that was purchased. Not the $70 instrument.
October 24, 2019, 11:25 PM · Sometimes I want these super cheap violins to be illegal; a fraudulent product. A proper set-up costs $200 or more, and it still isn't worth that much. Young beginners with these violins get frustrated and drop out. Older beginners can put up with them about one year. A one-time purchase of a warmer sounding set of strings might be worth a try. Besides those already mentioned there is Corelli Crystal, and for steel strings, the NS-Electric version of the D'adarrio Helicore.
October 25, 2019, 7:12 AM · Joel, a few thoughts about making cheap violins illegal:
1. Caveat emptor.
2. $70 is actually expensive for most people.
3. A $700 violin might just be 10 times the ripoff.
October 25, 2019, 8:13 AM · Joel; A beginning player has to start somewhere and unfortunately most can't afford to spend $2000 to $5000 on a hobby or even $50 sometimes. But you need some joy in your life and if it's going to be playing an instrument your going to spend whatever you can to do it. You say young students get frustrated and drop out. I don't think that would be a cheap violin issue.
Edited: October 26, 2019, 6:30 PM · Yes, matthew, it is -
If the pegs slip and you can't tune it properly, you can't learn.
If the tuning across the instrument isn't perfect you can't learn.
If the fingers end up in slightly different places on each string you can't learn.
If the strings are too high it hurts to press down and you can't learn.
If the bow is untightenable you can't learn.
If the bow is unbalanced you can't learn well.
If the sound is brash and ugly you don't want to practice and can't learn.

These are all things I found out the hard way after a student' dad saved all year to get her a cheap vso for xmas. I learned a bunch of stuff about making violins more playable but I ended up substituting one of mine when I have her back the outfit. (She's still playing long after I left the school - yay!)

The classical music community is on the whole comparatively affluent (In Sydney there are almost no violin teachers outside middle and upper class suburbs, mostly in the upper middle - and even things like preschool-age music intro lessons happen only on the middle of the day, assuming kids have a parent who doesn't need to work), so it might be hard for some people to realise that my stash of reliable beginner instruments for free loans is very much needed where I live/ teach.

There may well be students stubborn enough to work their way through sore fingers, unbalanced bows and fingering difficulties but this requires a much higher effort in terms of ear training and technical development. These are probably the students aiming for conservatories anyway. But what about the ones who could've but were held back by their instrument and came to the conclusion they were terrible musicians?

Violin, with it's unfamiliar body position and intonation issues, is hard enough for a beginner. Trying to overcome a vso as well has a very serious effect on drop out rates.

Only some of those drop outs will go on to find joy in a different instrument. Other will have learned that music - especially if they are from homes amid subcultures for who music is not a participatory pastime) as they experienced it doesn't belong them joy.

October 26, 2019, 9:04 PM · sydney classical community sounds stuck up! at least here in nyc i have met folks from all walk of life who knows bach when they hear it. hell the guys who works at my building even let me play at the lobby while waiting.
October 27, 2019, 12:32 AM · Well, I wouldn't actually advocate making those VSOs illegal; there will be trouble enough when OSHA discovers that musicians do repetitive motions. I think every instrument has some bottom line of quality and utility. I once had a trumpet whose valves did not work at all. When I bought 2 sets of Scottish bagpipes (!) for my children I learned that the Pakistani pipes were unplayable junk. A good choice for any beginners parents would be a rent-to-own instrument from a decent music store or one of the mail-order companies. My first violin had faulty measurements and set-up. Fortunately, my youth orchestra loaned me something decent at my second year of study.
October 27, 2019, 7:55 AM · Did anyone read the OP? The VSO was the PREVIOUS violin, not the one with the tinny sound.
October 27, 2019, 12:33 PM · I would recommend trying lots of violins prior to a purchase. Sure, this will not be easy in remote location, but I still recommend it.


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