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Graduating the instrument
Th.oughts on graduating an instrument for a certain sound
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JohnBAngel
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March 15, 2021 - 9:47 pm
Member Since: May 19, 2020
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Greetings to all,

I was doing some homework about the "graduating" process for violins, etc. and an instructor referred me to a local luthier whom is quite skilled with the process. I was told that an inexpensive instrument could be drastically improved by this process.

When I spoke to this person, the first question he asked me was "who do you want to sound like"?

I could not answer him. Am I now tasked with listening to a vast repertoire of players and figure out which instrument (player) sounds the best to me?

I have noticed that I can identify some players from just their sound- Stephan Grappelli comes to mind. Yo Yo Ma comes to mind.

Any thoughts out there on how to determine who I want to sound like? Do I even want to sound like someone else? What am I searching for and how do I find the answer as efficiently as possible?

Thank you all in advance- your advice is appreciated.

JohnBAngel

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iFIDDLE
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March 15, 2021 - 10:09 pm
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Thats and interesting question!  I have a feeling that if I was able to get 2 of my favorite fiddlers in a room and have them swap instruments..you wouldnt be able to tell that theyd swapped instruments when playing.  I think I understand the point of the question he asked, but Im not sure it was asked in the right way.  Maybe do you want a softer silky kind of sound or one that projects and you have to hold back or it will yell..or one thats open and loud or one thats more subdued and smooth.  I might even be missing the point there with those examples.  But regardless and being wrapped up in fiddle so much i wouldnt have hesitated to blurt out a name just because im so familiar with his playing.   One thing that seems like a common cliche kinda statement from the greats is..find your own sound.. ive heard several say something along those lines which sounds very zen and all, but dang... I think im doomed then..lol

....Probably what will happen over time is the influences of people whose llaying we enjoy will work their way into how we phrase or try and play.  just an additional thought.

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AndrewH
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March 15, 2021 - 11:16 pm
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GregW said
Thats and interesting question!  I have a feeling that if I was able to get 2 of my favorite fiddlers in a room and have them swap instruments..you wouldnt be able to tell that theyd swapped instruments when playing.  I think I understand the point of the question he asked, but Im not sure it was asked in the right way.  Maybe do you want a softer silky kind of sound or one that projects and you have to hold back or it will yell..or one thats open and loud or one thats more subdued and smooth.  I might even be missing the point there with those examples.  But regardless and being wrapped up in fiddle so much i wouldnt have hesitated to blurt out a name just because im so familiar with his playing.   One thing that seems like a common cliche kinda statement from the greats is..find your own sound.. ive heard several say something along those lines which sounds very zen and all, but dang... I think im doomed then..lol

....Probably what will happen over time is the influences of people whose llaying we enjoy will work their way into how we phrase or try and play.  just an additional thought.

  

It depends on the instruments. If they're different enough you can tell. There's a recording of the Bach Double Concerto with Anne-Akiko Meyers playing both solo parts, recorded separately and edited together. She played the two solo parts on two different violins, and to me it's pretty clear in the recording that they're different violins.

I think the luthier could have been referring to two different things. One is: if someone famously plays an instrument with a certain character, the luthier could try to emulate that instrument. The other is: the luthier could try to set up the instrument to make it more suited for a certain player's playing style.

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iFIDDLE
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March 15, 2021 - 11:31 pm
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@AndrewH

As long as there was a before and after pretty close I guess.  Im not sure Id be able too but I understand your what your saying.  I didnt think about the playing style angle...good point.

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ELCBK
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March 16, 2021 - 12:42 am
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@JohnBAngel -

If you are taking your violin to have it's set up optimized by a luthier, can you tell him what you dislike about the way it currently sounds? 

He may be fine with you just telling him, in general, what kind of music you mostly want to play and what setting you'll be playing in, e.g., Bluegrass jamming outside, or indoor Orchestra playing Classical, etc...  

I can only tell you from my little experience that different strings and bows can make a huge improvement, but there's even more that a luthier can check and adjust for you!  

Just be careful that it doesn't cost more than purchasing a better violin that's already set up well. (lol) 

One Eyed Creature Smiley- Emily

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JohnBAngel
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March 16, 2021 - 9:19 pm
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Thank you Emily,

Yeah, the cost is the deciding factor.

I am going to experiment with strings for a couple of years before I decide to alter the existing instrument.

I need to test-drive as many instruments as possible all at one time. My ears can make the comparisons if it is all done one-after-another.

Sounds like maybe a trip to Fiddlershop could be in the works!

JohnBAngel

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ELCBK
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March 17, 2021 - 1:25 am
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@JohnBAngel -

Just curious...

  1. Do all of your strings bother you, stand out as irritating? 
  2. Or, is just 1 or 2 bothersome?  
  3. Do you need them brighter/faster responding, or warmer/more full? 

Think most people don't use a complete set of 1 type/brand of strings on their violin - usually the E string is the 1st to get changed (many are very shrill)... and I'm not the only one that's had trouble with the A string.  

I was amazed how very different certain brands of strings sound on my instrument, e.g., an "A" is not an "A" is not an "A".  Really felt it was important to get all my strings to sound like they belong together on my "Mortimer". 

If you have a problem with another string, other than E, I found it more cost effective to experiment with 1, before trying a whole set. 

Now, since I kind of liked my G & D strings, I just wanted a little more from them!  This really helped me narrow down my choices - to stay within that brand for those 2 strings. 

There's a few good threads here about members thoughts on strings and many reviews/descriptions/charts at Fiddlershop, as well as the internet. 

This whole process is about what YOU hear/feel from your instrument - maybe keep in mind how important the right bow is, but also the way you hold/use it and even the type of rosin you use. 

https://i.pinimg.com/originals/c0/a4/6f/c0a46f4a2d6370d2ed9512536ce19823.jpg

 

Then again, I notice a difference in my sound even when the skin on my fingertips is too dry. (lol)

....sorry, I talk way too much. 🙄 

- Emily

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JohnBAngel
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March 23, 2021 - 9:22 pm
Member Since: May 19, 2020
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Greg, Andrew and Emily,

I've been playing around with soundpost position and bridge position for the last week.

The soundpost positioning has changed the character of my instrument every time I move it. I think I have found the best location for my ears.

I am going to change out the E string soon and play with that situation. I would like more warmth and softness there.

I think if I take one item at a time it will give me the chance to properly evaluate the sound without complications.

All of you have valid points and I thank you for your thoughts.

No such thing as too much talk.

Regards,

JohnBAngel

violin-student

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ELCBK
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March 23, 2021 - 10:42 pm
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@JohnBAngel -

Luckily, E strings are usually the least expensive to experiment with. 

I've tried a handful of different ones, so my personal preference can be a place to start your search.

It is the Pirastro "Gold Label" E - this is NOT one of the gold plated E strings that are available. 

Btw, if you've watched any of my videos, I don't think it's wise to judge this string by any of them (pilot error). 🤣😁😉

I'm sure other members here will gladly give you their suggestions, also.

 

https://i.pinimg.com/originals/c0/a4/6f/c0a46f4a2d6370d2ed9512536ce19823.jpg

 

Hope it doesn't take long to make your violin all happy. 

...maybe you'll join one of our Parties?

- Emily

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