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SteveLaBonne

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  1. Banzai, no matter how little you have to spend, it's always beneficial to get to a good shop and try a number of instruments, if at all possible. Even individual inexpensive student instruments of the same make and model can differ considerably in tone and responsiveness, due both to inherent differences and to setup. Quality of setup, and availability of adjustments after the sale, also argue in favor of buying from a shop (provided it's a good shop of course). That's not to say that buying online is unreasonable, especially for modest instruments; just that I don't think it's ever the optimal way to go, rather it's making a virtue of necessity if you really don't have access to a decent shop. If you do consider buying online make sure there is a generous trial and return policy.
  2. Eh, the New Vienna recordings are OK. But really the Arditti is worth the extra outlay.
  3. The classic Juilliard recordings, infuriatingly, have still AFAIK never been issued on CD. So by default, Arditti on Disques Montaigne, beautifully played (of course) though not quite as dramatic and compelling as the Juilliard.
  4. I'm another fan of the Bon Musica. It's the first rest I've ever used that I've been so completely comfortable with over a long span (over 3 years now, I think) that I've never even thought of trying anything else (and I have the usual drawer-full of leftovers from previous experiments). The secret is the ability to bend it into a shape that fits your needs perfectly- i.e. it can be many very different shoulder rests for different people. For example I like the little extension that hooks over the shoulder but if you don't, you can just bend it out of the way. (P.S. I'm talking above about the viola- I don't need so much support for my occasional bouts of violin-playing, so on the violin I'm happy with a Playonair.)
  5. I've tried one Erdesz owned by a friend, a "normal" non-cutout model. Appearance was attractive, workmanship (as far as a non-conoisseur player can judge) by no means the neatest but in a nice sort of way if you know what I mean. (I gather that's pretty much the way his instruments are). Sound and response were wonderful- I was very jealous.
  6. Although it probably doesn't make much sense from a pure physics perspective, always thinking "arm WEIGHT" rather than "pressure" seems to be psychologically very useful. And think of the hand and fingers as a delicate arrangement of springs that's modulating that weight while transmitting it to the string.
  7. barsky- to clarify my comment on Helicore life, that was only in comparison to Zyex, which in my experience are really exceptional in thar regard. Compared to the general run of strings Helicores also sound good for a long time. For example- I know from experience that violin Evahs start to go "dead" fairly quickly, even more quickly than perlon strings like Tonicas in my opinion, and if that's also true for the viola version it would have to be a consideration given their steep price. Helicores (with a Kaplan Solutions A) sound wonderful on my daughter's viola, and they're pretty good on mine too, just not quite as good as Zyex.
  8. If your instrument needs a little warming up Zyex are great- they are extremely stable and very long-lasting, powerful, respond well, and feel good under the fingers. They probably would sound dull on a viola that's already dark-sounding, as is also true of Obligatos. Helicores are more "neutral" and sound good on a wide range of instruments, and are about the most responsive viola strings around. They are also quite stable of course, being metal. I haven't broken any but others report they break relatively easily, and they don't seem to keep their best sound quite as long as Zyex (rather than getting dead like syntehtic strings, they develop a "gritty" sound quality and then start to go false) though they probably last longer than Evahs and of course are a lot cheaper. Stay away from the horrible Helicore A string though (use Kaplan Solutions instead). I would recommend considering a tailpiece with built-in fine tuners if using Helicores; they're a bit of a pain to tune with the pegs (though certainly nothing like as hard as solid-core steel strings would be.) Personally, on my slightly bright Chinese viola, I love Zyex to death. I have no plans at all to try anything else. On my instruments the mediums go nicely with a soft Larsen A.
  9. Yes they do exist, solveg; not only are there many such materials developed especially for Suzuki students and prominently on sale anywhere the Suzuki books are sold, but there's also nothing stopping the teacher from supplementing the curriculum with other stuff that has nothing to do with Suzuki. A situation like the one under discussion sounds like a teacher doing it "by the numbers" and not making suffficient effort to supplement the Suzuki books. A good Suszuki teacher ought not to be making such a fundamental mistake IMHO.
  10. I just wanted to comment that the expensive, heavily-promoted "stars" are not the only superb musicians around. Some of the most satisfying concerts I've ever heard were given by people who are not household names and who are much more likely to travel to smaller towns. This is also the case with singers- good regional opera companies present a great mix of young up-and-comers, and fine experienced singers whose voices, though beautiful, wouldn't fill the cavernous spaces of the big opera houses. Let's resist the outdated, anti-musical "star system" instead of giving into it.
  11. Hi GV- I too would of course make an exception for an instrument of known good make that somehow slips through at that low a price. Doesn't happen too often though- most ebay stuff is overpriced junk. And after all the street price of a well-set-up STA017 from a good shop is still pretty painless, and with much less risk attached. I'd still recommend that as the best route for most people. Got tired of the political stuff on SA (frankly I can't even think about our Fearless Leader anymore without wanting to spit, let alone discuss him calmly with those who still insist on being dupes) and sadly the actual string discussions never really took off. Maybe I'll drop by one of these days.
  12. For less than $600 you can buy an amazingly good-sounding Chinese viola from a reputable shop that will be there for you for subsequent adjustments and repairs. Why mess with ebay "bargains"?
  13. Oh, I think you should save your assistance for those truly worthy of it, like Hahn and Vengerov among many others. Please contact them immediately so that they can start living up to their true potential.
  14. Apparently you don't know what a Poehland pad is- and it is well-documented that Oistrakh used one. (It would be hard to see in a video, it's small.) It is fairly thick and rather hard, a bit like a cloth-covered, crescent-shaped hockey puck. Such a pad is providing support, not just padding of the collar bone. The same could be said, for example, of Kreisler's turned-back jacket lapel. And of the extra padding sewn into the shoulder of Heifetz's jackets. It's amusing to see the anti-rest campaigners twisting themselves into "it's not a rest if I say it isn't one" positions when faced with such examples. I have tried playing without a rest, and- as I have mentioned on this board some time back, since you claim to have inspected my earlier posts- I can definitely do it (like many dedicated "restless" players I would need a little cushioning over the collarbone to do it for any length of time.) I choose not to, preferring the greater comfort and security of a properly adjusted rest carefully set up (at a pretty low height) to, yes, place the instrument against my collar bone in much the same position and angle where it would be restless, but also provide some support elsewhere. That is the proper way to use a rest. The fact that some people use them improperly in a way that may be detrimental to their playing is irrelevant to the pros and cons of correct use. Dogmatism is never a wise or productive state of mind.
  15. Of course incorrect use of shoulder rests is incorrect. Tautologies are always so enlightening, don't you think? Oistrakh used a Poehland pad. Have you ever seen or tried one? That is NOT a device which allows the "sole" point of contact to be the collarbone. Get your facts straight before ranting. By the way, I'm a violist, and you have no idea what I'm capable or incapable of doing.
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