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  1. There was a dealer, Dan Lawrence, who had a 17 3/8 instrument made in Chech. for about 1500.00 (i think) I dont know if he still has it and I couldnt get to his web page. There was a 17 inch Conrad Gotz instrument on Ebay a few times, I dont know if it sold and ebay is always a risk. You may be able to get a 17 inch gliga-that would probably be a very good instrument. When I started out I was looking for a 17+ instrument too, but ended up settling on a 16 3/4 which is a very nice instrument and better than any of the cheaper 17 inch instruments I have seen since. There is nothing better sounding than the old big violas. My favorite is Walter Tramplers 17.5 inch Amati (anyone know who is playing that now?). Eventually I will probably get a nice large viola but will probably have it custom made by someone who has done a few of these before. Anyway, this is a topic that I have been over for years and years, If you want to discuss it more feel free to email me. DS : I posted this before and got no responses, so here we go again: : Anyone know where I can get a commercially made large viola (17" or larger)? : It seems all the very large violas I've found are too fine for me to be able to afford..... There are plenty of affordable 16.5" instruments out there, but I : have yet to find a larger one that I can afford... : Any help would be appreciated.... : Follow Ups:
  2. I've been told that Mark O'Connor holds his bow with his thumb under the frog, maybe something like what you're describing. He does it 'cause he's self-taught and didn't know better, says if he were starting over he'd hold it the classical way -- but he's doesn't do so bad his way! Here's an even wilder idea. It seems to me like our left wrists have to torque rather unnaturally to finger as we do from the right side of the fingerboard, and I wonder if we do it that way 'cause viol de gambas and other violin forerunners were held like cellos, in which case the left hand position is perfectly natural? If the whole culture was starting from scratch might we hold the violin fingerboard from the left? I mentioned this crazy notion to my teacher and she admitted that she has a suzuki student, maybe 5 or 6 years old, who holds the violin exactly that way. She has to keep re-positioning his (her?) hand. . .
  3. I have all of my instruments set up with a string spacing of 17mm center to center. I also have very large hands and the difference between 16.5 and 17 seems very noticable to me. I dont know off the top of my head what the fingerboard width is at the nut, but I have no trouble with my fingers falling off the board. My luthiers tell my that 17mm is about as wide you should go on standard instruments. DS
  4. I have had a few "junky" strads etc. that have sounded very good. These are instruments that were appraised at under $500 that sounded better than $5000 instruments, and Ive looked at a lot of 5000+ instruments. Still, most are not that good. In my experience the things to look for in old clunkers are a well graduated top, well fitted bass bar, overall workmanship and proper (at least close) measurements. The one thing I will add is most of the cheaper instruments that are good have a warm mellow tone usually on the dark side, many people really like this but I'm getting tired of it. I have yet to find one with brilliance and projection that you see in really really good istruments. Of course you could have just about anything and you still need to show it to somebody who is knowledgable and reliable. DS
  5. The string angle on my violin was 159-160 degrees, I guess its not too far off. All my other instruments were 156-158, including my viola. Does this same number go for violas as well? Also the violin does have a rounded saddle, the arching does not look to be overly high, but it does seem to peak near the bridge. Another question, if the string angle is the critical parameter, will lowering the saddle (this time i do mean the ebony piece that the tail gut goes over)be a good way to increase tension a bit? It looks like there is plenty of room for clearance and it appears that with a lower saddle I coulg get under 158. Also, I was told at one point that a low bridge could cause distortion of the top, is there any truth to that? Is this due solely to the tension?
  6. I'll make some measurements, and I am sure I'll have more questions later.
  7. I have a very nice old french violin, it has a sweet, focused sound with plenty of power. When set up with the strings at a comfortable height from the fingerboard, the bridge is a bit low, I dont have all of the dimensions in front of me, but it is just a bit over 30mm at its maximum height off the table. I am wondering how much of a difference in sound I could if expect if I had the neck re-angled with a higher bridge. I did have a higher bridge on originally, but it was impossible to judge the playing characteristics because the string height was too bothersome. I know that there are many many factors involved, and nobody can really help me without looking at the instrument. However, I have been looking at a lot of instruments lately and I have found that high quality expensive instruments (10K + in price) all have bridges around 32-33 mm at the highest point no matter what age or type of instrument. This leads me to believe that this could be optimal height for most instruments. Lower priced instruments I examined have greater variabily in bridge height, I presume because it is not worth the trouble to reset necks etc. I have rarely seen a professional quality instrument that had a noticeably higher or lower bridge than "normal". Because there are so many factors involved, I know it is difficult to discuss on line, so I will ask all the luthiers out there the following: Suppose you had a fine prof. instrument, made from about 1850 to present, that needed a complete set-up. Lets assume that the neck is off and you can set it any way you want. This is a 20K plus instrument and you want to sell it, probably as a general modern use, or orchestral instrument. 1. What is the minimum bridge height that you put on a fine instrument, even if you thought that the instrument was well suited with a low bridge. 2. What is the maximum bridge height you ever set an instrument up with, even if you thought it could tolerate a high bridge. 3. If you cant guess how it is going to sound, what is the middle-of-the-road bridge height that you would shoot for. 4. If an instrument such as mine needs a low bridge, what other setup properties could give optimal tone. I realize that all instruments are different, but are there any general rules of thumb? 5. How much improvement in sound could be possible with a bridge 2-3 mm higher? Most people told me you get more power out of a higher bridge, how true is this, and what are the trade offs? Thanks for your time, any help will be greatly appreciated.
  8. I've never heard of that! Most good string teachers that I know don't mind at all that others may be helping their students. My teachers (they all had excellent credentials) encouraged me to go to outside workshops, and there was even a short time when I was paying two different people for private lessons at the same time, they both knew it and didn't mind at all. It is always important for a student to have a broad scope, and get as many different views as possible. I can certainly see where poor teachers would come up with such "ethics" in fear of loosing students to better teachers, if this is the case its time for a change in profession. : Does anyone find it troubling for young string students to be asking advice over the internet (on playing issues) and for others to be responding? In piano circles, especially, it has always been considered grievously unethical for anyone to offer advice to a student in someone else?s atelier. Should the internet be blurring the line?
  9. Has anyone seen a newer (made within the last 5 years)Juzek violin? I have seen many old ones and and the higher grade ones are very good. Metropolitin Music still distributes them, and I am interested in the quality (esp. tone quality) of the highest grade (Master Art) instruments. Thanks. DS
  10. Usually I have a steel Jargar A and dominants on the rest. If I switch to all gut strings or or put a perlon A instead of the Jargar, the bottom register opens up. I suspect that the higher tension on the A string is the cause, but who knows. How big is your instrument? What is the nut to bridge string length, and what kind of strings do you use? DS : A viola at hand has a strong but "fuzzy" sound on the : C string. The best way I can describe it is that it : seems to lack focus or definition on that string - : especially when ascending beyound the first position. : I tried having the sound-post adjusted recently, which : seemed to help marginally. The G is fine, the D a little : weak and the A also O.K. It presently has Tonica strings : on. : Would experimenting with new bridge help? ... or different : strings (the Tonicas I prefer to the Dominants that were : on it when I first saw the instrument). : Any suggestion?
  11. When this topic came up I promised myself I wouldn't wade in -- no point in grumpling here about what so many obviously enjoyed -- but what the hey, I'll grumble too. I thoroughly enjoyed the fiddling, but thought the plotting, dialog and all that were at the level of a cheap grocery-store novel -- what I imagine a harlequin romance is like. Nothing wrong with that if that's what you're in the mood for, but it wasn't what I wanted from this film that I'd heard so much about. . . (Multiple languages do not, by their mere presence, add up to 'culture')
  12. They're also called 'evaporative coolers', work by drawing dry air through damp pads so that the water evaporates -- cooling and humidifying the air. Nowadays you can buy indoor units into which you have to regularly poor water, but if you're serious about this I'd suggest you get a unit that fits (more or less permamently) in a window and to which you run a water line. The indoor units keep recycling the same air and as the air picks up moisture it is less able to pick up more moisture -- thus becoming less effective. With a window unit, leave one *other* window open, on the far side of whatever area you're cooling, so air from outside is always being drawn in through the 'swamp cooler', crossing the entire area, and leaving through the other window. I grew up in a hot place and though all the neighbors had 'air conditioning', we had a swamp cooler and I've always preferred that air -- it's not refrigerated air, it's, well, say "refreshed" air. Of course, it works best in dry climates. I've never really understood why they're called 'swamp coolers' -- not much point in trying to humidify the amazon. . .
  13. Somewhere I saw Pirastro advising against tuning Obligatos high and then backing off. Is this problem unique to Obligatos, or a general problem. And how serious is it? Has anyone been bothered by noticeably poorer tone after tuning high and then back to standard pitch?
  14. I guess this is related to an earlier message about trimed violins. I have often heard about old very large violas (ones that were often 18+ inches) esp. Brescian instruments, being cut down significantly in size to be more playable. How is this done? It seems to me that it would be a lot more trouble than its worth. What about the purfling, edgwork, plate graduations, ribs, linings etc. etc. What about tone quality? Any luthiers want to comment.
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