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Why does my playing sound so bad?
Looking for beginner advice
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AutumnGhost
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May 11, 2018 - 2:23 am
Member Since: May 11, 2018
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Hello forum!

I got to borrow an old violin a month ago, and it's my first time playing. I consider myself to have a good ear for music, and I play many instruments decently.

I know it usually takes years to sound professional, but I've practiced and practiced now, the bow movement, being somewhat on pitch, producing something resembling vibrato.

But the core TONE still just sounds really bad.

Could someone please have a listen to this short audio clip (I just uploaded it to clyp.it, I should be safe to click), and tell me the main causes of it not sounding good.

Possibilities:
1. The violin, the bow and/or the rusty strings make it impossible for good tone?
2. The (pretty good) microphone is set up wrong? (I already spent an hour trying to EQ the recording and giving it some reverb to make it less squeaky.)
3. I just play completely wrong?

It just barely sounds like a violin to me!

Grateful for any replies, thanks. 🙂

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Bob
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May 11, 2018 - 6:42 am
Member Since: July 13, 2017
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@AutumnGhost I don't know whether this is a joke or not, but if you've really only been playing violin for a month you are doing extremely well. At the one month stage most beginners (even if they are proficient in other instruments) can barely create a musical tone at all. Your playing along with the accompaniment sounds quite good.

Tone quality is dependent on all of the "possibilities" you listed. The mike setup sounds okay, you are playing fine. Yes the violin, strings an bow all have a part to play in tone production. Bow pressure, bow path and bow speed are the major contributors to tone production. If you're really bothered by what you've achieved as presented in the clyp, then I suggest you look at:

https://www.simonfischeronline.com/the-secrets-of-tone-production.html

I don't know if Fiddlershop carries the Simon Fischer series, but there books and very comprehensive DVD set available just addressing tone production.

Welcome to the forum 🙂

Bob in Lone Oak, Texas

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Fiddlerman
Fort Lauderdale
May 11, 2018 - 10:09 am
Member Since: September 26, 2010
Forum Posts: 13155

AutumnGhost said
Hello forum!

I got to borrow an old violin a month ago, and it's my first time playing. I consider myself to have a good ear for music, and I play many instruments decently.

You are doing great. Congratulations. 

I know it usually takes years to sound professional, but I've practiced and practiced now, the bow movement, being somewhat on pitch, producing something resembling vibrato.

But the core TONE still just sounds really bad.

My guess is that you have an instrument that sounds bad. That is the impression that I got when listening. Don't blame yourself just yet. Do you know any local violinists that can give you their opinion? Perhaps take one lesson and try the teacher's instrument.

If and when you decide to hunt for a beautiful sounding instrument, Fiddlershop will be happy to help. We do in-home trials as well. 🙂

........Possibilities:
1. The violin, the bow and/or the rusty strings make it impossible for good tone?................

If your strings are rusty, I would definitely get some new ones. 🙂 That will make a huge difference.

Welcome to the forum!

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

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BillyG
Brora, North-east Scotland
May 11, 2018 - 10:59 am
Member Since: March 22, 2014
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Yeah, WELCOME @AutumnGhost  -  seriously it sounds "fine"...   I think @bob and @Fiddlerman covered it all.   You are playing pretty darned well for a month or so, and, indeed your musical ear tells me that.    I really believe it comes down to the instrument and strings, and to some (lesser) extent bowing control from the piece I heard.

Some instruments, with a particular set-up (bridge, sound-post, strings) will simply just sound like that - regardless of how proficient your bowing is - and - indeed - there IS a place for that sound.   A "good stomping fiddle-tune-sound" can come from a plywood bodied fiddle ( OK, I exaggerate on the plywood, but you get the idea ) - however an instrument that plays really well like that, will NEVER bring out the subtle nuances, resonances and overtones that a quality instrument would.

If cash allows, it may be worthwhile experimenting with different strings to start, but equally, if you have serious intentions as a long-term instrument to add to your playing repertoire - trust me - you won't go wrong by chatting to fiddlershop.

Above all, enjoy your journey with this most awesome of instruments !  thumbs-up 

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

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

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AndrewH
Sacramento, California
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May 11, 2018 - 7:50 pm
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Sounds extremely good for one month. There may still be some technique issues, but I don't hear them and it'd be really hard for anyone to tell without video.

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pchoppin
Utah
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May 11, 2018 - 11:43 pm
Member Since: March 25, 2018
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So... I’ve been playing violin for 3 months.  I’ve been a musician for over 25 years.  

My tone is where it should be.  It’s right for 3 months of playing. I haven’t begun vibrato yet.  I am still playing 1st position.  My switching is improving, but still in the beginning stages. 

My violin is a $1500 beautiful instrument 

If in fact this is a sample of your playing of only one month... my advise is get yourself a nice instrument and some lessons.  You should be playing to your full potential and not waste anymore time. 

- Pete -

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AutumnGhost
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May 18, 2018 - 9:59 am
Member Since: May 11, 2018
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Hey, I'm sorry for replying so late!

Bob said
@AutumnGhost I don't know whether this is a joke or not, but if you've really only been playing violin for a month you are doing extremely well.

Welcome to the forum 🙂  

Hehe, certainly not a joke! I like challenges and have all the time in the world, and I've spent many hours every day.

Thanks!

Fiddlerman said
If your strings are rusty, I would definitely get some new ones. 🙂 That will make a huge difference.

Alright, I guess I'll have to give that a shot!

BillyG said
Yeah, WELCOME @AutumnGhost  -  seriously it sounds "fine"... 

Above all, enjoy your journey with this most awesome of instruments !  thumbs-up   

Hehe, "fine" is just not nearly enough for me. It was frustrating that I hit that wall of "it just won't sound better than this". I youtubed other players playing the same melody, and it was so beautiful in comparison! Made me give up on this whole violin idea.
 

pchoppin said
If in fact this is a sample of your playing of only one month... my advise is get yourself a nice instrument and some lessons.  You should be playing to your full potential and not waste anymore time.   

To be honest, it's not like I've ever dreamed of being a violinist. I have just accepted that it's a too difficult instrument, and that there are so many professionals already playing, so I couldn't possibly add anything to "that world".
(While on the other hand, with a guitar, keyboard and/or voice, you can create something unique and pretty despite not being professionally trained. I kind of feel like it's more about your creativity then, but with violin, everyone will analyze your technique above everything else.)

But now that I got to borrow a violin for free, I thought why not. 🙂

But anyway, thanks for all your input! I will find an instrument store and try a couple of violins there and see how they sound, and maybe invest in some strings.

I may or may not update this thread if I make progress. 🙂

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