second violin search - Glasser Carbon - anyone played one? Update
Three years ago I asked about a Glasser cf violin. I finally got one, but I went through an Andreas Eastman VN405 that I refurbished before settling on the cf Glasser. My main violin is an 1893 German instrument that I love- dark, resonant, and as responsive as I need. It’s diminutive pegbox has already been glued and the back hide glue has just been redone. Needless to say, no more steamy summer nights out or bitter dry and cold mid-winter rehearsals for it. My first back up instrument was an EH Roth 1964 student viola that is really heavy, but I have been able to set it up to sound close to my 1926 EH Roth viola. It has been bomber at saving my beloved 1926 Roth for summer concerts, so I wanted a backup violin too.
My first attempts were cheap German and Chinese instruments - no good, even with hours spent in setting them up and testing variable parts. I got the Andreas Eastman Vn405 because I almost bought a VA405 viola years ago and remembered loving the sound. It was abandoned by someone who had abused it and sold it sans bridge, etc.
Having finally set it up and adjusted it, swapping many combinations of parts, I played it in the fall concert. Playable, really stable with Knilling perfection pegs, loud And full G, but just did not allow me to relax and play.
That brings us to the Glasser. The prior owner had the bridge and soundpost well adjusted/ trimmed. He also had the tailpiece replaced with a Hill ebony one without tuners. It has a similar full sound, not as alive and resonant under the ear as the Vn405, but really easy to play, clear, and easy spicatto, legato, jete etc. Away from under the ear, they are comparable, but anyone would hear the difference in resonance and complexity, the Glasser has a simpler waveform. It is heavier, just like my student EH Roth viola is heavier than the old one.
The final deciding factor- I play better with the Glasser. it is probably either psychological or a perceptual difference under my ear, but there is a definite difference in my playing for the better, which outside, in a pit, or in a large section in a cold winter or steamy summer rehearsal matters more to me than beauty. at 1/10th the cost of a mezzo-forte, ricci, or Luis and Clarke it is something that I won’t cry about if something happens to it.
There are reviews to be found if you Google "glasser carbon fiber violin"
The glasser opened up a little using the light Wittner center-mount standard chinrest with the suspended Isny shoulder rest. A little less dampening from the mass in contact with the bouts imho. I’m going to try a titanium tail cord and harp tailpiece next to see if the upper positions on the IV and III strings can open up a little.
I’m not sure if it’s the weight or the smooth finish on the back, but I’m not very comfortable playing it without a shoulder rest as I can almost any other violin. Some of it is the balance pulling it forward and down like with heavier violas. Some of it is not feeling as secure chin hooking the Wittner chinrest as I am with my preferred Flesch.
I have the glasser carbon-composite (their term) 5-string acoustic-electric violin. When it came the tone didn't have any ring to it, and my wife, when she demonstrated it for one of her students, made the statement "That's all it will ever sound like." I bought the more expensive version, the one where you can see the weave of the carbon fiber through the clear finish (mine's green), not the solid-color version which is less expensive and sounds much softer unless it's amplified.
I bought a Glasser Carbon viola at the beginning of the year.
This web-page: http://www.theviolaworkshop.com/page16.html has a chart of string length, and for a 15.5" viola the chart shows 35.4cm or 354mm. That's measured from the neck side of the nut to where the strings cross the bridge. If your bridge needs to be moved (easy to do if you're careful and do it in small increments) then the soundpost may not be in the correct position. That's an adjustment that's best left to a luthier.
All my instruments have longer string lengths than indicated on the web page.
First week update. As a practice violin, the Glasser is really working out for me. It warms up in a minute- way faster than I do. Because I can rarely practice for hours at a sitting, this is a big efficiency thing for me. It is allowing me to pick it up, work on something a little, and go back to work on whatever else I need to do. I can spend more productive time playing and less time focusing on my old German’s quirks of weather, etc. Possibly because of its stability or its timbre, It seems much easier to find chords and double stops and large shifts with improved intonation.
So, for you Glasser owners wishing for a little more of an alive resonance, try the following from Andrew Victor, whose years of experience I find most valuable. This has made a noticeable, but not huge, difference in y Glasser violin-using light adhesive pads instead of cork on my jet-black ebony Flesch chinrest. It also helps that the pads are black - maybe I’ll put on some black or titanium hardware next.
Re: Lockdown ensemble Jones - I miss playing ensemble music, so I’ve been reading with a lot of recordings. The stability of the composite with the geared tuners makes changing tuning pitch a snap! It’s a breeze to play 425 one movement withbthe Dutch and then go right into old DG 445+ German recordings with a quick change.
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