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Violin Upgrades
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Vermont, Massachusetts or somewhere in between

September 27, 2018 - 2:33 pm
Member Since: November 2, 2014
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I love the sound of the Traveling Fiddle when it was up here in New England again. I understand it was a "cheap" student violin to begin with. I have an Eastman Student violin and would love to make a few changes to help improve the tone. Besides new strings what else can I do to tune it up?



New Hampshire
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September 27, 2018 - 2:57 pm
Member Since: July 26, 2018
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That's a good idea Ripton. I did something similar. I addition to new strings, I had a new bridge cut and fit from a good violin workshop near me. That made a nice difference. They will also check sound post placement.

Boca Raton, Florida

September 27, 2018 - 4:31 pm
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I just looked at the pic of the Traveler that KindaScratchy posted on p. 77 of the dedicated thread. It looks like a pretty standard setup with 4 integrated fine tuners and a decent amount of string after length.

I mention the tail piece because @Irv and I were rattling on about tail piece sizes, tail gut tightness and after length in the violin metrics thread. I found that minimal adjustments in that area really made a difference to my sound (after length too short -> violin sounded "tighter" / after length too long -> G-string especially got wobbly.)

Brora, North-east Scotland
September 27, 2018 - 5:01 pm
Member Since: March 22, 2014
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Ripton said
I love the sound of the Traveling Fiddle when it was up here in New England again. I understand it was a "cheap" student violin to begin with. I have an Eastman Student violin and would love to make a few changes to help improve the tone. Besides new strings what else can I do to tune it up?



  Hia Steve @Ripton - it sounds so darned good because, before it was shipped to me in the UK,  the last "host" was Pierre / Fiddlershop - and they gave it a damn good "going over" - now- the sad story - it had some time with me and 3 others in the UK - but since then, it has, in my honest opinion, hardly been played.   You are about the first person in close to a year that has taken the time to really get involved with her - and THANKS for the posts !!!  :)  

  So, on The Traveller - yeah - the strings are still almost new, and it has, as you say, a great sound (i.e. because it is perfectly set up)  for what it is, it is darned awesome sounding -

Many "cheap fiddles" can sound like that with proper setup and strings (well, unless there is some underlying build/constructional/material-used) issue...

  I have no "specific" answer to your question - clearly you already experiment with string changes.   Have you tried the other obvious things like sound post adjustment (plenty to read up about regarding that, and how, it can, depending on the instrument, make a big difference to the sound, overall timbre etc by even a few mm shift one way or the other.   A slow process first time round, but worth exploring, that's for sure.   

  There are many other more subtle effects that can come into play - some so subtle a "beginners ear" ( not in any way belittling your abilities or you ear, Steve :) ) may simply not appreciate it ( things like string after-length, tailpiece material (and shape).   

   Other things not necessarily tonally related - say  playing ease -(nut/bridge heights, finger board projection and so on) will also contribute to "not getting the best out of the instrument"

  Just some random thoughts my friend ! 

  You were a fine host to The Traveler - Thanks Again hats_off

I seriously recommend not copying my mistakes. D'oh - guntohead.JPG

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

Gordon Shumway
London, England
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October 7, 2018 - 2:17 pm
Member Since: August 1, 2016
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BillyG said

Other things not necessarily tonally related - say  playing ease -(nut/bridge heights

Nut height is an interesting subject. Guitar and uke players obsess about it. And on a very cheap instrument, if the nut is too high, the first fret can give you something that's 3/4 tone, not a semitone, higher. This intonation problem happens on a violin too, but, being fretless, you can compensate. However, a better instrument will require you to unlearn that compensation. So one way you can improve a cheap fiddle is by having a luthier look at the nut height, if you don't want to do it yourself.

I know this from experience: I'd been playing my $50 fiddle, and the second harmonics where you finger G on the D string and get D two octaves above the open note, I thought to myself, "but that's not G, that's G#," without realising why. I could have done the maths, but I just left it alone...

Then I bought a Stentor Conservatoire, and its nut height is absolutely perfect, and I immediately realised with a loud laugh that the G# problem was an intonation one caused by the cheap fiddle's over-high nut. On a correctly set-up fiddle you really do finger G.

(and as I say, you can prove mathematically that that's what you are doing - a second harmonic requires you to be a quarter of the way along the string, which gives you 3/4 of the wavelength, therefore 4/3 of the frequency, which is a perfect fourth)


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