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Possibly unplayable bow?
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farmboy
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May 14, 2016 - 12:47 pm
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Hi, I am a beginner and have bought a cheap Stentor SR1018 made in China. The violin itself looks good, I tuned it and if I pluck strings with my fingers I can hear a good sound.

I put rosin on the bow, tried hard to follow all standard directions about correct posture and bow preparation and holding, but none helped me to get rid of a very bad and scracthy sound.

I suspect my bow is not good. The hair is unevenly spread and there is some loose hair too. Could it be the bow fault? I spent one day in the attempt to sound a single clear note and got very discouraged.

You know, without a sense of progression, for how small it is, one does not find the courage to go on and overcome difficulties. I already play guitar and piano. I really hope it is the boy and if it is, I am willing to buy a new one and try again. I do not pretend to sound my first note like a pro, but at least something not creepy. I do not pretend to become a Paganini, just wanted to learn slowly how to play some simple 5-note tunes on the violin, but if I cannot make an acceptable single note at first, I can't go on.

If you think I should buy a better bow, please advice on what type.

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BillyG
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May 14, 2016 - 2:59 pm
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Do check how well the bow has been rosined.   Sometimes, "cheap" and I don't mean that in a bad way - setups may include really poor, or old, dried out rosin cakes.   Give the rosin cake a good scrub, say with a knife or evev sandpaper till you see the surface covered in rosin dust - then rosin up the bow.  I don't believe that even  the worst of bows cannot be made to draw some degree of reasonable sound from the instrument.  Of course, it may be something else, but, as a beginner, and with your reference to the bow itself - yup, I would check that out.   even two years in to playing I have a habit of flicking the underside of the bow hair with a fingernail to see if I get a slight puff of rosin dust.    Good luck....

I seriously recommend not copying my mistakes.  

Please make your own, different mistakes, and help us all learn :-)

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Crazymotive
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May 14, 2016 - 11:33 pm
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How tight, or loose, do you keep you bow tension ?   Some less expensive bows require more tension to sound right.

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farmboy
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May 18, 2016 - 7:52 am
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Hi, thanks to all. I've tried it all. Yes, I've put rosin, even tried too much of it but it did not help. My sound is still scratchy. Not squeaky, just scratchy. The bow is well tight, but not too much.

Here is a close view of the hair, which is uneven. Another one here. How is your bow hair? Is it even or not? These pics were taken with a tighten up bow.

There are no lutists in my area. Either I order a new bow or try to rehair this one by myself. But there are horses! What if I use real horse hair? 🙂

PS: I have written a beautiful tune for the violin and wanted to play my tune on it. I can share my tune here if you wish. I can play it on my keyboard or my guitar, but it is not the same. My electronic keyboard synthetic violin voice sounds better than my woody violin and that makes me sad every time I think about it 🙁

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BillyG
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May 18, 2016 - 1:50 pm
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Heyyyy - both links gave page not fond ( well, at least here, in UK they did ) _ - 

picasa.JPG

...  BillyG

 

EDIT:  By all means - share any music you have written/composed - of course - even if it is not fiddle/violin - we do that here and often improvise along to it - go ahead !

sp_PlupAttachments Attachments

I seriously recommend not copying my mistakes.  

Please make your own, different mistakes, and help us all learn :-)

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RonB
Jeffersonville, VT
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May 18, 2016 - 5:25 pm
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Page not found in US, also.

I'm curious to see this bow. Sight-unseen, however, I'm tempted to recommend that the loose hairs be cut out, but maybe there are too many of them for that to be practicable. The FiddlerShop sells replacement hair, and there are some YouTube videos showing how to replace bow hair—not a task for everyone though. 

None of the videos alone seemed very good to me, but after watching several I feel I have a good idea of what to expect if I were to attempt it. Maybe Fiddlerman can post a better explanation of the process in a single video, and maybe the FiddleShop could offer an inexpensive bow vice.

If the bow is really awful, the FiddlerShop also sells carbon fiber bows at good prices. 

Anyway, hoping to get a look at the bow.

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Fiddlestix
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May 18, 2016 - 11:57 pm
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farmboy:  You may also want to try this for tigtening the bow hair, but you will need an alcohol lamp which can be purchased in many hobby and craft shops.

My luthier does this to every bow he re-hairs. As a matter of fact, he did it to my "Fiddlerman" pernambuco bow last week and also to a $20k cello bow a customer brought in to the shop.

 And you don't really have to wet the hairs, just be careful while doing it, take your time and don't hold the bow over the flame too long.

Good luck.  Even if you re-hair yourself, you'll still have to do this step to get the hairs evenly tight.

 

Ken

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BillyG
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May 19, 2016 - 6:06 am
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   @Fiddlestix - interesting post, thank you !   ( I knew of the need to do something to tidy up the un-evenness in a new / re-haired bow - but had never gone out of my way to research this.   Cool, although I'll probably never undertake it myself! thumbs-up - well, you never know....)

I seriously recommend not copying my mistakes.  

Please make your own, different mistakes, and help us all learn :-)

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Fiddlestix
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May 19, 2016 - 8:46 am
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In case you're wondering how a bow could sell for #20K, It was made by bow maker, "John Dodd".

Here's an Wiki. article about the bow maker.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Dodd_(bow_maker)

 

Ken.

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farmboy
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May 19, 2016 - 12:32 pm
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Thx to all for your kind answers. Yes, it looks just like my bow the one Craig was flaming. I will try out flaming this crappy Chinese bow on my gas kitchen tomorrow, to see if a good roasting can improve at least a bit on my scratchy sound!

BTW here is my tune, the one I wanted to perform on the violin. You can find notes to play for each syllable of the lyrics at the end of this page. They are just the first five notes from the natural C scale and they should be played with "legato". I use Italian note names, but everybody knows Do,Re,Mi,Fa,Sol,La,Si (or Ti) are C,D,E,F,G,A,B. Make sure to vibrate Re (D) at the end of each verse, as I do on my guitar.

Since I still can't fiddle, I would be happy if some of you could play my tune so I can hear how it sounds like on the violin. Please send me a recording of your playing, so I can also have a model which I will try to achieve! My email is antonio.bonifati and the domain is the usual google one.

PS: here are two pics of my bow, you should be able to see them.

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BillyG
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May 19, 2016 - 12:51 pm
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Gas kitchen (stove?) - I would be extremely careful doing that !   Also, it may depend on the type of gas used in the stove - if it is propane (or butane), then, it can be subject to "incomplete combustion" (unlike the ethanol / denatured alcohol burner referred to above, which just produces carbon dioxide and water).   "Incomplete combustion" is caused by "too rich a mixture" ( i.e. not enough oxygen) and the result of this incomplete combustion ?  Yes in addition to CO2 and water - plain carbon - i.e. in other words - possible soot deposits on the hair......

Just advising caution here !   LOL.   Good luck !

EDIT:  How about a hair-dryer - they can get quite hot real-close-up ???

I seriously recommend not copying my mistakes.  

Please make your own, different mistakes, and help us all learn :-)

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Fiddlestix
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May 19, 2016 - 9:07 pm
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I have a car that runs on "diesel" fuel, but it's empty right now, but I have some gasoline, I think I'll try that.

What do you think,. should I risk it ?,, Oh well, it's your bow.

facepalm

Ken.

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Leana
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May 20, 2016 - 1:09 am
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everything about this was interesting, and scary, but now I know if I have a science question I will go directly to @BillyG 

I would be interested to see a video (without having to click on a link)--- maybe it's the strings ?

I have totally had my issues with a bow (actually it was the rosin) before, but scratchy ??  didn't we all sound like that at least for a little while ?

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BillyG
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May 20, 2016 - 4:05 am
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Leana said
...... but scratchy ??  didn't we all sound like that at least for a little while ?  

  Ain't THAT the truth !  roflroflrofl

I seriously recommend not copying my mistakes.  

Please make your own, different mistakes, and help us all learn :-)

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Fiddlestix
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May 20, 2016 - 8:24 am
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The "scratchyness" in the beginning usually comes from the bow speed across the strings and the amount of caked on rosin built up on the strings. Like rubbing two pieces of sand paper together.

Clean strings and faster bow speed should take care of the "scratchy" sound.

violin-1267

Ken.

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farmboy
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May 20, 2016 - 9:22 am
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So, what's the the bottom line? Is uneven hair not a problem? Should I not worry about being scratchy and go on and learn to play anyway? Will a beautiful tone come in time? What happened to you in this regard? When did you begin to sound nice? I guess I should now more about the working principle of the violin, so I can see where the problem lies. Rosin should not make strings dirty, if it does, does that mean I put too much of it on the bow or it is not evenly distributed? Could it be the rosin I am using is too grainy?

I remember when I learned to play guitar, I wasn't able to sound as good as now. I wanted to take lessons, but since I was only interested in playing my own music, because of that nobody wanted to teach me, regardless of how much I was willing to pay. The wanted to teach me through drills, which I found boring and a real putoff.

Yes, it takes time to develop calluses, hand coordination and overall self-confidence, but the best way to do it and keep motivated and always have fun and never pain is by learning real songs. It does not matter how long it takes you. Real songs provide all the drills, repetion and variations one needs, without you even realizing they are drills 🙂

A teacher can tell you that you are not pressing keys enough, that you are keeping your fingers  too flat, etc. All these things I realized by myself. Each song is unique and there is an easier way to play it while maintaining precision, e.g. by choosing an appropriate pivot point for your hand and fingers to move around it. A teacher won't teach you that, if it does not teach you real songs, yet very few do that.

Anyway I currently do not have the money to pay for a teacher and there aren't any in my town for the violin. I will try to find out a violin player nearby to check if my violin is alright and playable. I understand that cannot be done online. 

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Fiddlerman
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May 20, 2016 - 3:19 pm
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farmboy said
So, what's the the bottom line? Is uneven hair not a problem? Should I not worry about being scratchy and go on and learn to play anyway? Will a beautiful tone come in time? What happened to you in this regard? When did you begin to sound nice? I guess I should now more about the working principle of the violin, so I can see where the problem lies. Rosin should not make strings dirty, if it does, does that mean I put too much of it on the bow or it is not evenly distributed? Could it be the rosin I am using is too grainy?

Unevenly tight hair will mostly be a problem in regards to getting the exact tension you need and want. When you tighten the hair a lot, the loose hairs won't be as tight and if you want loose hair, you'll have some that are hanging. Your not getting a scratchy sound because of the uneven hair tension.

Most people apply enough rosin on their bows that the strings get coated with excess rosin dust. It's not an indication that you are applying too much rosin unless you have a crazy mess after each playing session. Rosin dust is pretty normal.

I remember when I learned to play guitar, I wasn't able to sound as good as now. I wanted to take lessons, but since I was only interested in playing my own music, because of that nobody wanted to teach me, regardless of how much I was willing to pay. The wanted to teach me through drills, which I found boring and a real putoff.

Yes, it takes time to develop calluses, hand coordination and overall self-confidence, but the best way to do it and keep motivated and always have fun and never pain is by learning real songs. It does not matter how long it takes you. Real songs provide all the drills, repetion and variations one needs, without you even realizing they are drills 🙂

A teacher can tell you that you are not pressing keys enough, that you are keeping your fingers  too flat, etc. All these things I realized by myself. Each song is unique and there is an easier way to play it while maintaining precision, e.g. by choosing an appropriate pivot point for your hand and fingers to move around it. A teacher won't teach you that, if it does not teach you real songs, yet very few do that.

Anyway I currently do not have the money to pay for a teacher and there aren't any in my town for the violin. I will try to find out a violin player nearby to check if my violin is alright and playable. I understand that cannot be done online.   

You can use us as your teacher for now and see how that goes. If you are not too shy you can post a video of yourself playing and ask for advice. We have the section called critique corner, which is perfect for this. Plus, you get a badge. 🙂

Welcome to the forum BTW!!!

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

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Leana
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May 20, 2016 - 5:00 pm
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Here is some proof that you barely need bow hairs at all..

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Leana
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May 21, 2016 - 11:10 pm
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farmboy I keep thinking about the questions you asked that seemed to be directed at me (maybe I am mistaken)  I really don't feel that I have gotten to the "beautiful tone" stage yet--  maybe when I learn vibrato,  I will feel more beautiful about my playing.  Don't get me wrong-  I really think I am playing fabulously (depending on my choice of practice song), but seriously ??  I need to keep practicing......  that is what it is for me.

your bow--  I saw the pics of your bow-  I examined my bow--  and if I magnified my bow in a picture like you did, It looks pretty much the same...... and mine is a trusted fiddlerman brand spanking new one !!

I honestly am only saying !!  you really should post a video of you playing at least a couple open strings- I believe that you might really get some honest, good humored, and valuable feedback-- to get you on your way.....

I had a cheap violin for the first 7 months of playing- you really can make them work !!

violin_girl

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farmboy
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May 22, 2016 - 7:39 am
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OK, I will post a video as soon as I get past horrible, because I am too shy to post a creepy horror movie now 🙂

Anyway my violin sounded so bad because it was tuned one octave below. I now put it in tune and it's much better. Strings are new and they need to be stretched.

Now my main problem is stability. I have the chinrest mounted in this position from factory, but I cannot keep the violin from falling if I do not support it with my left hand. I feel the chinrest is too far away to the left and it would be much easier for me to play if it were in the middle or almost. How is your chinrest positioned? With the chinrest in this position I was not able to mount the shoulderest. I spent one day trying to find out a way to hold the violin without my left hand with no success. I am a beginner, but I believe this is fundamental before one begins to play. At least it was for classical guitar. As soon as my guitar was correctly positioned and comfortable for me to play, I made outstanding progresses. A violin player online told me my chinrest is right and I have to develop callus on my collar bone and it will take 2 months for that, but I feel it is not, because there is too much weight on my left hand and it tends to fall down. What is your opinion? I am going to try to move the chinrest anyway and will post here about the result.

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