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A bunch of viola questions
New to Viola and have some questions. (Note: this topic thread contains a lot replies of various tips and info about the viola and strings.)
Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 (69 votes) 
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stringy
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July 11, 2021 - 6:24 pm
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Ash telecaster, I dont mean you cant become an excellent player, In fact with your progress up to now I am sure you will, what I am trying to say is enjoy the playing without destroying yourself trying to progress to fast. Many people play in bands and are brilliant violinists, in fact a great person to watch who is self taught on you tube is peak fiddler, I am trying to stop you making the mistake of spending money before you need to. A better viola will undoubtedly help you to play better but not just yet, in six months you will see what I mean.

Andrew I had forgotten about you, and you already know what I think about your playing. The fact is though you are not a beginner like most on here, you are advanced and already have 20 years experience, which shows in your playing. wasnt trying to run you down in any way.

Bit more, bit more, snap #*÷?×[email protected]?#[email protected]

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Ash Telecaster
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July 11, 2021 - 7:45 pm
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Wow, look how far up Peak Fiddler chokes up on the bow! And he is bowing right over the end of the fingerboard. The end of his fingerboard is totally covered in rosin!

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AndrewH
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July 11, 2021 - 8:06 pm
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Choking up on the bow is common in fiddlers and rare in classical players outside of period performance. It tends to make quick string crossing easier by making the bow less top-heavy, but limits control of bow pressure and makes bouncing bow strokes difficult. (It's similar to how a Baroque bow would be handled.) I prefer to choke up on the bow when playing Baroque orchestral music, but not when playing solo or in most classical music.

As for where you play, eventually you're going to want to have control over the contact point between bow and string. Beginners are taught to bow halfway between the bridge and fingerboard for a singing tone. As you move toward the bridge, you get a louder, more aggressive sound with more overtones. As you move toward the fingerboard, you get a more muted, velvety sound. Double-stops are often played closer to the fingerboard, so I assume playing near the fingerboard is common in fiddle styles that use a lot of double-stops.

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ELCBK
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July 11, 2021 - 8:44 pm
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@Ash Telecaster -

Check out my Post No.43 here: 

Mikael Marin in Nordic Genre

Like Andrew said, some Fiddlers wish to play up near/over the fingerboard for easier double stops or a softer sound - they may just have a very bright instrument or just very bright strings and playing that way may tone it all down. 

Have you noticed you have to bow your C string differently than your A string to achieve the best sound? 

Many things about Violin bowing can still apply to Viola.  You may have fun nosing around my thread here:

Bowing For Dynamics

If you have your heart set on another instrument or bow at this early stage of your playing, then the only way to find out what is right for you is to try several out, by yourself.  You can go somewhere where you can do that OR talk to Fiddlerman to find out about their options for comparisons (which I think is best 😊).

giphy.gif

 

...everyone has to find what makes them happy. 

- Emily

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AndrewH
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July 11, 2021 - 11:07 pm
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stringy said
 

Andrew I had forgotten about you, and you already know what I think about your playing. The fact is though you are not a beginner like most on here, you are advanced and already have 20 years experience, which shows in your playing. wasnt trying to run you down in any way.

  

I didn't get the impression that you were trying to run me down. I just wanted to make clear that highly ambitious adult learners do exist (I may have 20 years of experience, but I also learned almost entirely as an adult after starting in my last year of high school), and that "never" is a long time if you stick at it.

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Gordon Shumway
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July 26, 2021 - 2:25 am
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When this thread was fresher, I asked my teacher what viola strings she used.

She replied a month later, lol!

"Thomastik Solo, but they are new to me, got a free set at a conference a couple of years ago, I like them though, they’re still on my viola anyway!" (that doesn't mean she put them on her viola a couple of years ago, lol)

Andrew

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Ash Telecaster
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July 29, 2021 - 6:14 am
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Gordon Shumway said
When this thread was fresher, I asked my teacher what viola strings she used.

She replied a month later, lol!

"Thomastik Solo, but they are new to me, got a free set at a conference a couple of years ago, I like them though, they’re still on my viola anyway!" (that doesn't mean she put them on her viola a couple of years ago, lol)

  

Thanks, with guitar I have become pretty opinionated regarding which strings I like and why but that is after years of experience. It seems to be even more important with strings. It may be more technique than instrument or strings but I would like a warmer sound. Any thoughts on strings that would be better for that. With guitar there are a lot of string gauge choices. Is it the same with Viola?

Thanks

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ELCBK
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July 29, 2021 - 6:36 am
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@Ash Telecaster -

Some strings come in 1 of 3 tensions (Light, Medium, Heavy), but tension standards vary between Brands.  You can check at the Fiddlershop for what they carry. 

Here's a thread here that should be helpful. 

https://fiddlerman.com/forum/t.....ker-sound/

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Ash Telecaster
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July 29, 2021 - 6:58 am
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ELCBK said
@Ash Telecaster -

Some strings come in 1 of 3 tensions (Light, Medium, Heavy), but tension standards vary between Brands.  You can check at the Fiddlershop for what they carry. 

Here's a thread here that should be helpful. 

https://fiddlerman.com/forum/t.....ker-sound/

  

That thread is perfect, thanks!

I appreciate the information.

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Gordon Shumway
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July 29, 2021 - 7:41 am
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Ash, you may be creating conceptual difficulties for yourself by equating viola strings with guitar strings. On violin and viola, if you've only been playing a few months, it really is 99% about you!

Andrew

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stringy
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July 29, 2021 - 8:10 am
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Gordon Shumway said
Ash, you may be creating conceptual difficulties for yourself by equating viola strings with guitar strings. On violin and viola, if you've only been playing a few months, it really is 99% about you!

  

I had a very heated debate on another forum with one of the worlds leading instrument makers over a very similar idea. His thread was called can a good violinist make a bad instrument sound good, I said yes, and pointed him to the YouTube vid of fiddlerman trying out the 80 dollar violin, which created the debate. Obviously the individual who has a vested interest in selling his fifty thousand dollar and upward instruments, which are obviously excellently made, disagreed with me, nothing wrong in that though, we are all entitled to our opinions.

Bit more, bit more, snap #*÷?×[email protected]?#[email protected]

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Ash Telecaster
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July 29, 2021 - 8:01 pm
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Gordon Shumway said
Ash, you may be creating conceptual difficulties for yourself by equating viola strings with guitar strings. On violin and viola, if you've only been playing a few months, it really is 99% about you!

  

Sure, but I'm trying to learn all the relevant dimensions of the instrument. The OP in the link from ELCBK has a Fiddlerman Viola and is addressing tone. Plus I have seen a lot of posts regarding the wide range in strings. Seems like you could get a degree on the topic. For the moment my strings are fine but when I replace them I would like to be able to make at least an educated guess. I'm actually wearing my Bow out so it probably won't be too long.

Which reminds me. I was going to post a new video last week but since that time and now life has gotten in the way and I haven't touched it. I felt I was really turning a corner in my playing and now...yuck. I lost a lot of ground. I am cramming right now for my lesson tomorrow. Good thing I enjoy practicing!

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Ash Telecaster
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July 29, 2021 - 8:29 pm
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stringy said

Gordon Shumway said

Ash, you may be creating conceptual difficulties for yourself by equating viola strings with guitar strings. On violin and viola, if you've only been playing a few months, it really is 99% about you!

  

I had a very heated debate on another forum with one of the worlds leading instrument makers over a very similar idea. His thread was called can a good violinist make a bad instrument sound good, I said yes, and pointed him to the YouTube vid of fiddlerman trying out the 80 dollar violin, which created the debate. Obviously the individual who has a vested interest in selling his fifty thousand dollar and upward instruments, which are obviously excellently made, disagreed with me, nothing wrong in that though, we are all entitled to our opinions.

  

Definitely an interesting topic.

When you are a professional athlete you consider every nuance of your sport to get every little edge you can. That includes equipment but also training, nutrition, perfecting movements through repetition, etc. I think this applies to playing an instrument well, even if not professionally.

There is also a psychological edge from playing an instrument that inspires you.

A great musician can make a cheap instrument sound good but a high grade instrument sound better. Perhaps not much difference to the passive observer but to the performer who loves the tone or the way the instrument plays, it can make a difference to the level of their performance.

At least that's one way of looking at it.

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ELCBK
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July 29, 2021 - 11:36 pm
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@Ash Telecaster -

Go for it! 🤗 

You've already got a trained ear - you can hear the difference. 

I've probably said this quite a few times - I believe it's very personal when it's time to figure out what's 'you' & what's your equipment. 

Maybe just keep in mind you probably won't be completely happy until you master all the little nuances of how you handle your bow.  Keep experimenting with every sound you can get from it - I believe it really is the key to everything.

Also, learning how to tell when your strings and bow hair have deteriorated, is sometimes overlooked. 

Try to have fun while you learn!

giphy.gif

 

...none of this is apparent in any of my videos, yet - have a ways to go with recording. 🙄  

- Emily 

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stringy
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July 30, 2021 - 6:21 am
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Ash definately agree that a great violinist can get even better sound out of a more expensive instrument, someone like Roman Kim for instance would obviously get a better tone.

There is a famous quote made by Heifetz, when after one of his concerts a woman spoke to him and said, 'your violin sounded beautiful tonight', to which Heifetz held up the instrument by its neck, shook it and said 'I dont hear a thing'.

Bit more, bit more, snap #*÷?×[email protected]?#[email protected]

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