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Giving Strings a Fair Chance With Instrument Adjustments
Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 (12 votes) 
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ELCBK
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November 29, 2023 - 2:40 pm
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When my Violin stops sounding good, or stops sounding like I think it should, the 1st thing I think about doing - changing strings. 

I feel I got a little overly excited after my last new set of string sounded better than my old ones, because they are NOT sounding as good as what I normally feel with new strings. 

When I watched "Itzhak" (2017) - I noticed how HUGE the kidneys & heart were carved out on Perlman's violin!  I'd LOVE to know what effect that could have on my CF Violin! 

Then I watched a series of videos from Edgar Russ on adjusting the sound!  To hear the HUGE IMPROVEMENT resulting from small adjustments is pure magic to me!

 

A lot of good info in this.

 

This is amazing!

 

 

There's more: 

More Edgar Russ Sound Adjustment videos 

 

Maybe consider have your instrument checked over if it's sounding a little lifeless. 

My 1st Violin (Mortimer) shipped directly from Glasser & it's been in my hands for the most part of 3½ years (concentrated on Viola for another year) - probably time for me to get a luthier to check it over.

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Strabo
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Very interesting.

I recently considered moving the sound post in one of my fiddles in order to strengthen a weak-sounding A string. I had tried changing strings without much success. I watched Fiddlerman’s video on this topic and acquired the tools, which are not expensive.

But I realized that I have no experience messing around inside a violin. Doubts set in. Maybe, I thought, I should be careful about this. I’m inclined to plunge into interesting adventures, but perhaps I should think twice before taking liberties with my precious fiddle. Is it possible that I could end up with a bigger problem than a weak A string? 

In the first video above Edgar Ross talks about moving the post 0.7mm. That’s a pretty small distance. How accurately can I measure the post’s position, before and after? How much force do I need to put on the post? Exactly which direction would I need to move the post? And what happens if I knock the post over? What then? I envisioned my fiddle with the sound post rattling around inside. My courage began to falter.

It was also pointed out to me that the tone and volume of that A string might sound different at a distance, compared with the sound under my ear. So I asked a fellow fiddler to play the instrument for me while I listened at a distance. I could not detect weakness in the A string and neither could other listeners. All four strings sounded equally strong. So I desisted and went back to practicing, trying to become a better fiddler.

I do have another violin, a cheap-o starter fiddle that I play only rarely. Maybe I’ll test out my nascent luthier skills on that instrument. That could be fun, and I might even make it sound better! 

Strabo

I realize I do not understand why balance across the strings might sound different under the ear vs. at a distance. But that’s a topic for another day...

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ELCBK
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November 30, 2023 - 11:48 pm
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@Strabo -

Idk, kinda important to enjoy what 'we hear ourselves play' - otherwise, why pick up an instrument?

I also had problems with a weak 'A' string on my 1st Violin - completely out of place with my other strings.  Tried to solve it by changing strings, quite a few different brands, nothing really helped.  Except ONE time, I got the PERFECT Obligato 'A' & never got lucky again. 😞 

I'm scared to death to touch my sound post. 🤣 

Still, all this info is good - great to know what a luthier can do to help! 

Found a good article at 'The Strad' -

7 tips on adjustments to get the best out of your instrument

 

I'm going to let my new 6-string fiddle strings settle in, but after watching those videos I might have to visit a luthier.  My 3 higher strings are very strong (the 'D' too much so) and the 3 lower strings are noticeably weaker (the lowest is weaker than on my 5-string violin). 

My new fiddle is also noticeably scroll-end heavy - obviously with more pegs, but it has a VERY large scroll.  Part of me wants to do something about it, but it's CF - too easy to make an expensive boo-boo (and a luthier isn't going to help with this). 😶

I read info by a luthier a couple years ago - said that the scroll is not just decorative, but helps balance out the frequencies in the instrument. 

I'm wondering about this now, because I've seen some acoustic/electric violins WITHOUT scrolls - & swear I saw one somewhere that didn't have a back to the pegbox.  LOVE to see a little pierced grill carving in place of the solid back-plate of a pegbox, but I can certainly do without a scroll when weight is a problem! 🤗

The pegbox is a rectangle box carved out of a piece of wood, or for CF I'm sure it's a molding process.  Why can't the pegbox be a 'norman' or 'gothic' window shape - would still be a 'box' that pegs run thru, not a flat piece of wood like for guitar. 

It's not much more work to make a templet & carve the farthest edge something other than straight!  It doesn't have to be elaborate to be interesting AND functional!

norman_window7872615076104889322.jpgHG-29.png 

 

...sorry, done ranting. (lol)

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Gordon Shumway
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ELCBK said
My new fiddle is also noticeably scroll-end heavy - obviously with more pegs, but it has a VERY large scroll.  Part of me wants to do something about it, but it's CF  

I'd have been happy with 5 strings. Isn't CF light?

Andrew

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AndrewH
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Glasser CF instruments are notoriously heavy. A standard Glasser 4/4 violin is heavier than my viola, and the ones with extra strings are heavier than that.

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Gordon Shumway
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Yep, I guess if CF is pure carbon and wood is a mixture of carbon and lighter elements, then wood will be lighter than carbon! Although I suppose there's some air in CF?

Andrew

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AndrewH
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I think it's just that particular brand, not CF generally. From what I've been able to find, a standard Glasser violin weighs 580 grams, which is heavier than my viola. But a Luis & Clark carbon fiber violin (the only brand I've seen in person) weighs 450 grams, which is in the middle of the typical weight range for wooden violins.

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ELCBK
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I shouldn't complain - I only have my instruments to compare & observe... and I can only dream of what I would want in a custom violin.

I'm grateful for these instruments by Glasser!  I just want to try to get the best possible sound out of them.

There are 'better' CF instruments, I've looked at many - have you seen the prices on them?  On a Luis & Clark CF 5-string (not 6-string) violin?  

Hard to justify something more expensive for this 'hobby' of mine (even if it does consume me).  LOVE that Glasser is affordable AND durable - no need to buy insurance. (lol)  

Btw, there IS a difference in the Glasser models.  I know the Glasser AEX version to be heavier (like my 5-string Violin), so this time I went with the better one, like my viola. 

There's no way to avoid a wider fingerboard with a 6-string, it's just that it seems possible to compensate for that extra weight (photos in my blog).  The pegbox 'could' have been designed to taper narrower toward the scroll & the scroll made smaller, or omitted & my fiddle would be next level, IMHO. 

I'm already getting used to the weight, it's still a much better instrument than my 5-string and it just feels natural - like I was meant to play this extended range. 🥰 

 

I'd like to know how the 'Hardangar Fiddle' fairs with the extra weight in hand from it's extra strings!  I know the neck is supposedly shorter than a regular 4/4 Violin.

I did notice on at least this one 'Viola D'amore' - it has only a partially enclosed pegbox!

 

CF is supposed to be stronger, hope to see more pegbox designs in future instruments. 

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Strabo
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Wow, can you imagine tuning that viola d’amore! And I wonder if he switches to from standard tuning to Hi Bass or Cross A or Calico!

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AndrewH
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ELCBK said
I shouldn't complain - I only have my instruments to compare & observe... and I can only dream of what I would want in a custom violin.

I'm grateful for these instruments by Glasser!  I just want to try to get the best possible sound out of them.

 

There are 'better' CF instruments, I've looked at many - have you seen the prices on them?  On a Luis & Clark CF 5-string (not 6-string) violin?  

Hard to justify something more expensive for this 'hobby' of mine (even if it does consume me).  LOVE that Glasser is affordable AND durable - no need to buy insurance. (lol)  

Btw, there IS a difference in the Glasser models.  I know the Glasser AEX version to be heavier (like my 5-string Violin), so this time I went with the better one, like my viola. 

There's no way to avoid a wider fingerboard with a 6-string, it's just that it seems possible to compensate for that extra weight (photos in my blog).  The pegbox 'could' have been designed to taper narrower toward the scroll & the scroll made smaller, or omitted & my fiddle would be next level, IMHO. 

I'm already getting used to the weight, it's still a much better instrument than my 5-string and it just feels natural - like I was meant to play this extended range. 🥰 

 

I'd like to know how the 'Hardangar Fiddle' fairs with the extra weight in hand from it's extra strings!  I know the neck is supposedly shorter than a regular 4/4 Violin.

  

Yeah, the weights I listed were for standard 4-string acoustic instruments. I don't think there's any way to get around extra weight for both acoustic-electric and additional strings. But I think it makes sense to reduce the size of the scroll to compensate, because it should be the entire mass (or moment of torque?) of the neck and scroll that affects the sound, not the scroll itself.

I would have some difficulty playing anything with a wide fingerboard myself, because I have the shortest fingers of any adult I know.

Strabo said
Wow, can you imagine tuning that viola d’amore! And I wonder if he switches to from standard tuning to Hi Bass or Cross A or Calico!

  

Not sure if you're aware of it, but standard viola d'amore tuning is all in a D major chord. It most commonly has 7 playing strings, tuned A2-D3-A3-D4-F#4-A4-D5, and a sympathetic string for each playing string. (Some have only 6 playing strings.) But scordatura is very common, because most of the music for it was written before the tuning became standardized.

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ELCBK
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AndrewH said: 

I would have some difficulty playing anything with a wide fingerboard myself, because I have the shortest fingers of any adult I know. 

 

Andrew, I have to be able to not only freely roll my whole violin from side to side to reach strings easier, but also move the scroll end up & down to allow me more bow stoke length (because of the only way I'm comfortable playing - sitting with my legs up on my bed).  ...feelin' like an acrobat!

I'm not sure, but might've just found an answer, to my questioning the size of my new 6-string CF Violin Scroll! 

The Important Acoustical Balance Between Violin Scroll and 'End of The Fingerboard' - from Violin Acoustical Researcher, David Langsather. 

 

 

The idea: EVERYTHING on a violin needs to be tuned/adjusted to specific frequencies

- even the CHIN REST!? 

😳

 

David's got quite a few more 'tuning/adjustment' videos at his YT Channel and here's his the page with links to tuning/adjusting other parts of the violin: "Important Violin Information Not Available Elsewhere... (as far as I know)" - GREAT section on specific adjustments to a bridge!

...I want to introduce my readers to the concept that each part of a perfectly (acoustically) balanced violin has all it's parts vibrating in a balanced way. 

 

...darn, I was pretty close to beheading my new violin. 🙄😉 

Hey, but what about the acoustic/electric fiddles I've seen with NO SCROLL? 

🤔... sounds Sad Fish Gets Present Smiley

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Strabo
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Emily, the range of potential violin adjustments is astonishing. 

I know the bridge is very influential and I have heard of tailpiece issues, but I never imagined that the scroll could need to be tuned! I always figured that the scroll was just a remnant from the past, like the lion’s heads on early vielles and lutes.

We all know that the design of the violin has been stable for 300+ years. I guess that people have been busy in those three centuries, figuring out ways to improve the state of affairs by coming up with ever more complex and subtle things to think about.

This reminds me of the myriad adjustments and enhancements that I thought about back when I was racing cars. Of course, race cars eat money a whole lot faster than fiddles, haha.

Strabo

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SharonC
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Saw all this talk about the weight of the instruments, so I decided to actually weigh mine to see what the differences were--so, just sharing that. 

I'm guessing the numbers I've gotten are because of the chinrests?  Either that, or my scale is off. 

Either way, Glasser is definitely much heavier than the others (and it's just an acoustic).  I can tell it is heavier when I play it, but it feels balanced--I don't feel like it is heavier at the scroll, and I don't feel fatigued when I've been playing it (I don't spend a lot of time practicing on it, though, so that may be why).

1. Glasser CF 4 string Acoustic: 638g

2. Fiddlerman Master 14" viola: 540g

3. August Kohr HC602: 463g

4. Holstein Prem Bench Lord Wilton: 469g

1 & 2 are as they were originally set up; 3 has a Wave chinrest, & 4 has a FM Freedom chinrest.

weight_glasser.JPGImage Enlargerweight_FMMaster14Viola.JPGImage Enlargerweight_AugKohrHC602.JPGImage Enlargerweight_HolsteinPLW.JPGImage Enlarger

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AndrewH
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I'm pretty sure most of the weight we feel when playing is from the bow pressing downward on the string rather than the actual weight of the instrument... even 638 grams is not all that much compared to other things we carry around on a regular basis.

Violin chinrests, depending on model, usually weigh between 35 and 75 grams if they're not lifted chinrests. Viola chinrests differ from the same model of violin chinrests only in the length of the clamp legs, so the difference shouldn't be more than a few grams. If you don't want to remove the chinrest that range should give you something to guesstimate how much of a difference they make. 

BTW, I see the following weights listed for Holstein Freedom chinrests:

Ebony 48 grams
Rosewood 40 grams
Boxwood 38 grams

I've only weighed my viola with the chinrest on. It's 561 grams with the chinrest. I have an ultra-low custom-made boxwood chinrest, so I would guess it's probably somewhere in the 520-525 gram range without the chinrest. This is for a bench-made American 15.75" viola.

I just weighed my violin (no-name German Strad copy from the early 1950s). It's 482 grams including chinrest. I'm guessing the weight without chinrest is 420-430 grams.

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I took off my Freedom chinrest (Rosewood) to check it; so about right as listed: 38g

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ELCBK
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BOTH of my Violins are Electric/Acoustic (extra weight with pre-amp electronics/controls) & have 2 AA batteries (45.5g) inside the chinrest for the pre-amp. 

Not so sure the 5-string fingerboard is wider than a 4-string, but the 6-string is definitely much wider (same with the pegbox & scroll) - adding to the weight.

Well, I broke down & asked Kevin to weigh my Glasser AEX 5-string Violin vs. my new Glasser 6-string Violin. 

...don't think I should've done this! 

...keeping in mind: 

Violins generally weigh about 350 to 700 grams (12.34 to 24.69 ounces). [What Things Weigh]

tenor.gif

5-string 'AEX' = 800.5g!!! 

6-string = 764g!!!  

WOW!  ...oh well, I'm used to it.

When I 1st opened the box & picked up my new 6-string, Kevin thought I was crazy when I mentioned it felt lighter than my 5-string - but the balance was heavier toward the scroll.  Pretty sure the cheaper 'AEX' version of the Glasser 6-string would be much heavier. 

It would be absolutely heavenly if Glasser would've tapered the pegbox & scroll size down & figured some other way to remove material from that end.  Also, I could definitely do without the extra weight of 5-6 fine tuners - the geared pegs work great. 

Obviously body material/density/thickness all has an effect on tone & can't take these Carbon composite bodies apart - so NO tweaking there.  BUT, a simple pierced/filigree design might be a good option for removing material/weight from the tail piece, back of the pegbox & scroll - without compromising strength.

 

I do think string playing length has a big impact on tone quality - my new Violin was short of the optimum by approx ⅟₁₆", or approx 1.5mm.  Adjusting made a big difference. 

Wikipedia mentions:

Many authentic old instruments have had their necks reset to a slightly increased angle, and lengthened by about a centimeter. The neck graft allows the original scroll to be kept with a Baroque violin when bringing its neck into conformance with modern standards.

Hardanger Fiddles typically have shorter necks than regular violins - I'm not sure if body length compensates for that.

Now, if we 'lengthen' the strings by lowering the pitch of each by a half step - then it is tension we're adjusting, besides frequency.  I can't help but think many violins/fiddles like this, because it's a common tuning for Baroque music (I like) that is played today.  ...even a lowered whole step is common for Cajun music. 

11-118640_christmas-flower-and-music-offering-form-colorful-music.png

I can't point to exact evidence, but I suspect every instrument likes certain tunings better than others... leaning toward the discussion of experimenting with tunings at the Sweetened Tuning For Extended-range String Instruments? Thread. 

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Strabo
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FWIW, I have two Royce Burt fiddles (rebuild German trade instruments 1900-1920): 503 and 505 grams 

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