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Help with note positions on fingerboard
I have a Mendini I bought before I got m fiddlerman concert. The note positions are wrong on it.
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rczeien
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May 28, 2014 - 10:06 pm
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Before I bought my Fiddlerman Concert violin, I bought a Mendini for $80. Even if I never use it, I'd still like to keep it in playable condition.

The notes on the Mendini are about half a finger too high on the fingerboard. For instance, A on the G string is higher than it should be by about half a finger or so, as are all the notes on down the line. Same with all the other strings

I haven't found anything online about what causes this. Maybe the tailpiece?

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RosinedUp
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May 29, 2014 - 3:01 am
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I'm not sure exactly what you are describing, but ...

I'm assuming that both violins are 4/4 size.

Check the vibrating string length, that is, the distance from the edge of the nut to the edge of the bridge.  It should be between about 325 mm and 330 mm.  Loosen the strings somewhat, then carefully move the bridge so that that condition holds, then retune the violin.  The sound post should end up say 2 to 8 mm behind the treble foot of the bridge.

IMO the MV400 can be a decent violin.  However the setup of a new one is likely to be atrocious.  You may find that the adjustment makes a big difference in the sound.  Another big improvement would be to put some decent strings on it, say Preludes or better.

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Fiddlerman
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May 29, 2014 - 8:35 am
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Could you take some close-up pictures for us?

"The richest person is not the one who has the most,
but the one who needs the least."

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rczeien
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May 29, 2014 - 4:23 pm
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I can probably take a few pictures tomorrow. Let me take one last shot at describing the problem.

If an A note on the G string of the Filddlerman Concert requires me to place my finger about an inch from the nut, then an A note on the G string of the Mendini requires me to put my finger about 13/16th of an inch from the nut.

Every note is like this on the Mendini. They are all require me to place my finger closer to the nut than on other violins. This placement is a consistent amount closer.

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Fiddlestix
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May 29, 2014 - 9:58 pm
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@rczeien: I know exactly what your problem is,  I had the same situation with all three of my violins.

If the string length on your Mendini and your Concert are the same, and the strings are exactly the same height off the fingerboard, then both instrument's with play identical. They won't sound the same because no two identical instrument's sound the same. Violin's are like people, each has it's own characteristics, even if they are made by the same person.

I also have the Concert violin, a cheap Chinese violin and one that is about 130 yrs old. Each violin plays a little different than the other's because they are not set identical, so when I switch violin's I have to account for the difference's in the settings. 

So, there is nothing wrong with either violin, they just need the same settings.

 

Ken.

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cdennyb
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Fidlestix is exactly correct! Measure the string length from the nut to the bridge and see is they are the same, roughly 325-328mm. I have an old German violin well over a 120 yrs old and it sounds the best at 329-330mm string length (thusly bridge location) and a violin I just finished building needs a 324-326mm string length to sound perfect. Not to say it won't change as it gets older but trying to jump back and forth between the two requires me to really think where to put my fingers for a few minutes.

The longer string length will have the same note further from the nut than one with a shorter string length. Remember... it's all about the sound, not the ruler. There is no correct distance to adhere to... it is ALL subjective and dependent on the sound produced.

"If you practice with your hands you must practice all day. Practice with your mind and you can accomplish the same amount in minutes." Nathan Milstein

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rczeien
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June 2, 2014 - 1:02 pm
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I think this solves the mystery. It also confirms how much better the fiddlerman fiddle is once again. Every note is in the exact expected place on the fingerboard with my fiddlerman violin.

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Panzón
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June 2, 2014 - 2:26 pm
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RosinedUp said
Check the vibrating string length, that is, the distance from the edge of the nut to the edge of the bridge.  It should be between about 325 mm and 330 mm.  Loosen the strings somewhat, then carefully move the bridge so that that condition holds, then retune the violin.  The sound post should end up say 2 to 8 mm behind the treble foot of the bridge.

 

cdennyb said
Fidlestix is exactly correct! Measure the string length from the nut to the bridge and see is they are the same, roughly 325-328mm. I have an old German violin well over a 120 yrs old and it sounds the best at 329-330mm string length (thusly bridge location) and a violin I just finished building needs a 324-326mm string length to sound perfect. Not to say it won't change as it gets older but trying to jump back and forth between the two requires me to really think where to put my fingers for a few minutes.

The longer string length will have the same note further from the nut than one with a shorter string length. Remember... it's all about the sound, not the ruler. There is no correct distance to adhere to... it is ALL subjective and dependent on the sound produced.

I'm  getting a bit confused here. Everything I've read or seen on video about violin setup seems to say that the bridge goes between the inner notches of the f-holes. That would seem to indicate that the string length is determined by the bridge being in that position. The correct finger positions are then determined as a fraction of the actual string length, not a specific distance from the nut, and while 4/4 violins are all approximately the same size, there will be small differences in their actual finished dimensions, and therefore in the actual finger positions between various violins.

So, I guess what I'm asking is: is it more important that the bridge be positioned between the inner notches of the f-holes, or that the string length be set at 325-330mm?

 

Mike

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RosinedUp
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Panzón said
is it more important that the bridge be positioned between the inner notches of the f-holes, or that the string length be set at 325-330mm?

I think for 4/4 violins, it's fairly unusual for those two conditions to be in conflict.

I think it may be that moving the bridge is a sometimes a substitute for moving the soundpost and that the sound quality is determined by the relation between the bridge and the soundpost more than by the absolute position of either one.

When the string length is outside the usual bounds, your fingering habits begin to depend on the particular setup of the violin you are playing, so that you may have intonation problems when changing instruments or setup.  I keep all my bridges at 327mm, and I find that they line up quite well with the inner notches.

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RosinedUp
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June 18, 2014 - 10:56 pm
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It isn't clear what kind of pictures @Fiddlerman has in mind.

@rczeien If you have two violins whose open strings produce the same pitches and whose string lengths are the same, then fingers placed in corresponding positions on the two violins will produce the same pitch.

It can be calculated, for example, that if both violins have a nut-to-bridge distance of 327 mm, then a finger placed 82 mm from the nut on the D string will produce G, under equal temperament.

If the above doesn't come true for you, it means that the fingerboard is interfering with the vibration of the string, indicating that at least one of the following needs adjustment: nut, bridge, fingerboard scoop.

What are the nut-to-bridge distances of the two violins?

Edit 07:58 EDT Jun 19, 2014: I overlooked how a high nut could affect the tension and pitch as described by Daniel below.

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DanielB
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From what you have described, rczeien, I would suspect that the nut is too high.  That is what is most likely to be throwing off a stringed instrument's intonation in the low playing position.

To explain briefly, if the nut is too high, resulting in the strings being a bit too high over the fingerboard right near an end of the vibrating length of the string, it can make it take considerably more finger pressure to press down the string enough to play the note.   That additional finger pressure raises the tension on the string while it is being fingered more than it would on an instrument where the nut has the strings closer to the fingerboard.  More tension equals a higher pitch.

When the nut is high, the problem will be most noticeable near the nut.  If you think of a piece of wire stretched between two solid supports, it doesn't take near as much effort to bend it a couple mm near the center as it would very close to an end. 

I had a Mendini MV300, and as it came from the factory, the action was very high at both the bridge and the nut.  Made it feel like playing a cheese slicer and hard to get notes right until I did some work to correct it.  The set-up is usually the worst part of inexpensive violins.  Even on the cheaper Mendinis, the wood can actually be kinda nice and once you get the setup at least close to correct, with some play-in time they can sound quite pleasant.

It could be the bridge position as well, but since the amount of difference you're reporting for low position notes is nearly a half a cm?  That would be pretty obvious if you looked at the instruments side by side, and I'd think you'd have noticed a difference like that.

Possible, but even less likely, is that the strings on the Mendini could be very old.  Old strings lose their flexibility and become harder to play because it takes more finger pressure to get them to bend and more pressure equals more tension.  Even if you bought the instrument new and haven't had it long, you don't know how long it sat in a warehouse with those strings on it.

So if you do decide to do some work on it to try and get it to play at least more like your Fiddlerman violin, I would suggest springing for a new set of strings as part of that process.  Otherwise you do a bunch of work on it and then when you eventually do change strings, it could be wrong again and you're back to having to do yet more work on it.  It is a lot easier to set an instrument up to work right with new strings and just replace the strings whenever they start to get old.

But my bet would be the height of the strings in the nut.  If you compare it with your Fiddlerman violin, I'd expect the height on the Mendini for the strings at the nut will end up being a mm or more higher based on what you have said

On the bright side, though, even the cheaper Mendinis can sound at least pleasant, if you put some of the work into craftsmanship on the setup that the factory didn't.

"This young wine may have a lot of tannins now, but in 5 or 10 years it is going to be spectacular, despite the fact that right now it tastes like crude oil. You know this is how it is supposed to taste at this stage of development." ~ Itzhak Perlman

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Fiddlerman
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June 20, 2014 - 8:39 am
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RosinedUp said
It isn't clear what kind of pictures @Fiddlerman has in mind...........

That is true. I had to re-read the thread to understand. LOL

I was thinking about the nut and the bridge/afterlength.... or anything else that might solve the mistery, but maybe I was tired. ROFL

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but the one who needs the least."

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