Hello good people!
I am Zoi and I am from Greece. I started my first steps of playing the violin about two weeks ago at the age of 37, and I have to say the more I practice the more I really want to become proficient in this instrument. Nevertheless, I do hate the sound that my violin makes. The first days I thought it was my obviously horrible scratchy playing, but my violin is VERY cheap and was bought about 10 years ago to start learning. ( I broke the E string while trying to tune it when I first got it , got really upset about it and put it back in the case until now haha! ) So, until I can purchase better violin and bow, that will do.
I have always loved the sound the violin makes but my first ever instrument was an electric bass which I have been playing since 2000.
Nice to be here
Welcome to the forum. Since I started at an age over 20 years older than you, you're definitely not too late.
While there are limits to what you can get out of a cheap instrument, this info might help on producing a good tone.
Divide the space between the bridge and the end of the fingerboard into 5 zones, each about the width of the bow hair. (A newly rehaired bow, if you have one that's going bald.)
Call the one closest to the bridge #1, and the one closest to the fingerboard #5.
On one of the strings, each of those zones is called a soundpoint. You have to play differently at each soundpoint to get a good tone.
#1 - play slow, with a lot of pressure. If you get a low-pitched "crunching" noise, that's too much pressure. If you get a high, whistling noise, that's too little. Start out with the bow just resting on the string, somewhere between the middle of the bow and the tip. Bow moderately fast (use the whole bow, both directions). That will almost certainly give you the whistling noise. Now slow it down, and use more pressure. Keeping going slower and with more pressure until you start hearing the crunching sound. That's when you know you're going too slow, or too hard. Experiment with speed and pressure until it makes the string vibration as wide as possible. That mean your bow is sticking to the string at just the right time to add more energy, like pushing somebody on a swing. (It will be easier to see on the D and G strings, but it applies to all 4.)
#2 - will require a moderately faster bow, and less pressure.
#3 - will require a faster bow and even less pressure (but still more than the weight of the bow for ideal results).
#4 - will require an fairly fast bow, and only light pressure. For the portion of the bow near the frog, you don't want to add any, and may not need any more than the weight of the bow out at the tip.
#5 - requires the fastest bowing and the lightest pressure. You may have to exert negative pressure (by pressing on the back of the bow with your little finger) to get the string to vibrate as widely as possible. I've found that to bow that fast is fairly difficult to control - don't be surprised if at first your bow goes all over the place.
I wrote those up in numeric order, but you don't have experiment with them in that order. Either #3 or #4 will be the easiest for most people (depends on how light your touch naturally is as to which one will be easier for you.)
Use the technique I described for number 1 for each of them. (For the higher numbered ones, it might be easier to start hard and slow and move to light and fast, instead of vice versa. The idea is go past what works in both directions, so you have some idea of where "middle" is.
The two tests of whether you're doing it right are how wide the string is vibrating, and how good the tone sounds. I'd recommend either getting another person to listen from a distance, or record from a distance (at least 4-5 feet/ 1.5 meters). What it sounds like under your ear can be quite different from what the rest of the world hears. And, if you've got a crappy instrument, the sound may not be wonderful even when you're doing it well. It should be as good as that instrument can get, though.
If the instrument is 10 years old, you might want to consider new strings. It won't fix everything by a long shot, but will eliminate at least one problem.
Hope this helps
@Tipiaowsek, thanks. I'll take some credit for the exposition, but the credit for the knowledge behind it goes to Simon Fischer. Someone referenced a video on vibrato (search for effortless vibrato on Youtube) that I thought very well of, and he mentioned that he had gotten a lot of the techniques out of Simon Fischers book on warmups. Long story short, I got the DVD on tone production, and that's the gist of it. I recommend it to anybody who wants to get a really good tone out of their instrument. The DVDs are not cheap, but very good information on them.
I keep telling myself I'm going to do a video on that, but it hasn't happened yet...