cheap student violin
How to improve the sound of a cheap student violin ?
I'm thinking of changing the bridge, a light weight tailpiece, and a better strings set.
Your experience is welcome :)
Strings are the easiest swap, and you will need to change them at some point in any case.
How cheap? and why?
I had a pretty good sounding student violin and I asked the shop what I could do to improve it. They offered a standard " soup up" package with new strings, tailgut adjustment, sound post adjustment and maybe something else I've forgotten. It wasn't very expensive (the shop doesn't charge as much for labor as some others I've heard of). It made a great improvement and I don't believe it was all because of the strings. Maybe your local shop offers the same.
@Andrew Victor: a factory violin with factory bridge tailpiece and strings...
Depending where you bought a cheap violin from, the shop may already have done what it could to cost-effectively optimize the set-up.
For that violin, you want to (1) get better strings, (2) make sure the bridge feet are fit and the bridge isn't too high (DIY adjust as you wish), (3) get some peg soap, and (4) maybe swap in a Wittner-style tailpiece. That looks like a *super* cheap violin, but will probably get you started.
It's very common for cheap violins to have overly tall, poorly fitted bridges (sometimes even bridge blanks), especially if they're shipped directly from the factory rather than through a shop. So it's likely that having a luthier fit the bridge to the instrument will result in some improvement.
The easiest way to change the sound is to put a better set of strings on. This will not necessarily translate to better response or balance, however. To get more out of it, a new setup will make a huge difference. This can include planing the fingerboard, cutting a new soundpost, cutting a new bridge, reshaping or replacing the nut, tuning the afterlength, and/or putting on a tailpiece that works more smoothly (if the original is too cheap or clunky). If you want the best you can get out of it, a regraduation and new bassbar can be transformative prior to setup; the cost is often prohibitive for buyers of student instruments. There’s almost always something more that can be done to make improvements—it really comes down to how much you’re willing to invest to do it.
I was playing my cheap VSO at a late-night jam at a bluegrass festival. One one of the other players, who happened to be a luthier with a booth at the festival, peeked inside and said that my sound post was in the wrong place. He suggested I bring it to his table the next day for a setup, which I did. Getting the old sound post out was a bit of a struggle - it had been glued in place! I was holding the fiddle down on the table while he poked something in through one of the F-holes and gave it a good whack with a hammer until it broke free. He then cleaned up the inside and cut and fitted a new sound post in the right place. My old beater sounded like a brand-new instrument!
I've got a Stentor. It sounds echoey and cathedral-like.
I'm thinking something about a sow's ear and a silk purse. I've done up quite a few old hulks and decided rather quickly that they aren't worth spending any more money or wasting more time on.
First of all, greet you all.
MANUEL - welcome to violinist.com.
This touches on a question I was thinking about.
“I imagine Hilary Hahn could take pretty much any wall-hanger and make it sing couldn't she?”
I teach beginner violin/viola/cello to kids who can't afford a 'real' teacher and have a bunch of stentor and other similar loaner instruments. It would be lovely to have someone adjust the soundposts and ream the pegs to a better fit, but even just peg-pasting the pegs, adding decent strings, checking the height of the nut (and depth and placement of the string channels) and sanding the bridge to fit all make a big difference. These are all things I can do myself - one day I'll find someone to teach me three rest ...
Oh, I just checked to see where you were and realized you have a gliga 2. No tacky plywood there. Do get a luthier to set it up properly; it will sound like a new instrument!
You can put lipstick on a pig but it's still a pig. My old factory violin still sounded like a cheap violin, even with Pirazzis or Kaplans or a new bridge.
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