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  1. quote: Originally posted by: hanxiao what do you put in between the violin and your collar bone area in place of the shoulder rest? Nothing. If the back of the violin is slippery, draping a chamois cloth over your left shoulder should help. Or you can just play shirtless--skin does a good job as well.
  2. Hanxiao, making the violin flatter should not really be all that large of a rotation, unless you've been playing the violin vertically. By removing the shoulder rest or sponge, the violin should just rest on the collarbone and automatically become flatter. I need to once again emphasize the need for a properly fitting chinrest. When I was using a sponge, I had a very flat cupped chinrest; when I removed the sponge, I had to get a chinrest with a sizable hump and deep cup. This configuration allowed for the violin to rest securely behind the jawbone when downshifting without needing to clench the violin. Your head should just rest on the violin to keep it from slipping out; your left arm needs to hold up/balance the violin. If you do this, I possibly can't see how your entire spine could feel uncomfortable, because all you're doing here is standing up straight; turning your head slightly and gently resting it on the chinrest; and holding your left arm up.
  3. Please note that I said "flatter" violin--not "flat" violin. I agree with you, Hanxiao: a flat violin might not be anatomically possible. But my experience, and the experience of many others, is that a flatter violin often produces a better sound due to letting natural arm weight do more work for you. (From what I've heard, this is also one of the advantages for violinists who study viola--knowing how to use natural arm weight more effectively.) The key here is personal experience; try it out yourself. Ditch your shoulder rest or sponge and see if you create a richer, fuller tone. You won't be crippled in a matter of minutes. Or, even better, find a teacher who promotes this type of posture and study with him/her. There are a lot of teachers that support this style of restless playing; in the Chicagoland area alone, I can think of four or five high-caliber teachers that are against shoulder rests unless absolutely necessary. My last post in this thread offered some some pointers on how to hold up the violin (collarbone, left arm, jawbone). A lot of success is also dependent upon having a proper chinrest. Victor_Zak, if anything, playing without a shoulder rest should allow for a lower right shoulder, because the right arm does not need to rise as high to meet the violin. When playing the G string, you shouldn't need to hunch your right shoulder at all--you just need to lift your arm. Obviously, your right shoulder will rise during this motion, but if you emphasize the movement of the arm, you should feel an incredible sense of freedom in your right side. As for the left side, though I stand up straight and tall when playing, I don't try to position the violin as far to the left as possible. This position is unnatural to me; instead, resting the violin on the collarbone, I try to keep the violin just far enough to the left to allow for easy and open bowing. Also, if done correctly, playing without a shoulder rest should relieve tension, because one will be less inclined to clench the violin with traps, shoulders, neck, and head. Evident in my last post, I agree that physical comfort is paramount to any sound improvement. But their relationship need not be antagonistic; one can achieve both greater physical comfort and better tone by holding the violin properly. This statement is true for both users and nonusers of shoulder rests.
  4. I have a Menuhin Shield mute that mutes my violin sound even when it's not supposed to. Except, my violin didn't need it; when I removed it, there was a drastic improvement in the resonance of my instrument. I thought paying $12 for a mute would automatically be better than an 80 cent single-hole Tourte. Can anyone say Haagen-Daas? If anyone wants this "feature" for their violin, I will happily sell my $12 piece of junk. :-)
  5. Much of what I have to say has already been said in this thread, but let me try to pull some of it together and put it all in perspective--at least from the point of view of a violinist. The presence of a shoulder rest changes the sound of an instrument, but the change is minimal when compared to the implications for violin technique from using or not using a shoulder rest. I've found that playing without a shoulder rest or sponge and resting the violin on my collar bone (held in place by the jawbone when downshifting and held up by the arm--the left shoulder should not rise to clench the violin in a vise-like grip) results in a flatter violin, which leads to a larger, fuller sound due to more natural arm weight--which is always preferable to pressure exerted by the index finger. Also, without something underneath the violin propping it up like a shoulder rest or a sponge, the bow arm need not rise as high to meet the violin, which can also lead to easier bowing--it certainly did in my case. This is why many people suggest getting a higher chinrest for long necks instead of getting a shoulder rest or sponge. On the other hand, if you're built like a goose (or a swan, whatever floats your boat), you might need a shoulder rest in order to play comfortably. Or, if you learned to play on a shoulder rest and got to be really good, you might not see a need to completely revamp your technique. Frankly, in this specific case of shoulder rests, the scientific standpoint--that is, how the contact point of shoulder rest feet or damping the back of the violin or whatever impacts sound--is irrelevant to violinists; the impact of a shoulder rest on violin technique and the resulting sound a violinist can produce from this set-up is far more significant. Put another way, there are more important reasons for deciding whether or not to use a shoulder rest than the way in which shoulder rest feet impact sound. As long as this perspective is firmly established, the scientific discussion can be fruitful.
  6. quote: Originally posted by: skiingfiddler Gut core strings...don't last as long as synthetics. Looks like skiingfiddler beat me to the punch! I have to politely disagree with the above statement, however. My first Oliv G lasted me two full years. I only replaced it because I was afraid that it might have declined so slowly over time that I didn't notice. The new Oliv G I put on did have a bit more sparkle, but the difference was so small that I wouldn't have minded putting the old one back on. My teacher said that back when he was performing, he could leave an Oliv G on his violin for a full year before he had to replace it; Dominants would only last a month or two at most. So, although Oliv G's are lots of cash, in my experience, they prove to be more economical over the long run, provided you don't take them off prematurely to play with other strings. :-) The A and D seem to last as long as synthetics or much longer--they usually tell you they're tired of working by snapping unceremoniously. I don't use Oliv A's (Synoxa A instead), but my last two Oliv D strings have lasted over six months each before I decided to replace them--though, like my G string, they really didn't need to go. For reference, I've never had a synthetic last for more than three months before sounding like a rubber band.
  7. quote: Originally posted by: fdl13 I just don't like playing high tension strings (Evah Pirazzi) and want to get a great tone and responsiveness with a low tension string. *Cough, Cough Pirastro Oliv Cough Cough*. They give a rich, complex tone and offer a wider variety of tone colors than any synthetic I've used. They are also lower tension than most, if not all, synthetics. In string guides, people seem to say gut strings are slower responding than synthetics, but I haven't really noticed it--I think if the violin is set-up well and is generally responsive, you won't need to worry about gut ruining anything. You do have to tune Olivs more often than synthetics, but the amazing sound of the Olivs more than compensates for the extra tuning. Just a thought! I also believe that it's important to get the violin set up and then to match it with strings. Chances are, a good set-up will make most strings sound good (though I could never imagine Infeld Reds sounding good on my violin. Eww.).
  8. quote: Originally posted by: chronos I vote for: buying an instrument according to its label. While I'm sure it's a good way to determine which violins to try (or which violins to invest in), the best way to pick out an instrument is to play it. (By the way, once I get a job I intend to pay Michael a visit and try out some of his violins, and perhaps even buy one). So, Michael: How long would be long enough for a less experienced player to realize what a particular violin offers in terms of tonal opportunities? How would a less experienced player know what to buy when he has yet to play the sort of instruments that would allow him to discover such possibilities? Hi Chronos, I'm not Michael--but I do play one of his violins, and it is absolutely marvelous. When I purchased my Darnton, a Strad model, I really didn't have the ability to maximize its potential: I was playing Haydn's Violin Concerto in G at the time--and not very well. I was moving up from a 3/4 size violin, and my teacher thought I should go for a big upgrade. I tried out a lot of violins over the course of a couple months and settled on the Darnton, because I thought I sounded the best on it, and my teacher thought it was a great violin. As I progressed and started playing heavier pieces, I found myself needing an instrument that could handle my more intense style of playing. So I talked to Mr. Darnton and tried out his del Gesu "Cannone" model. It was a bit raw at first (after all, it was brand new), but after a few hours of playing, I could already sense that it would allow me a much wider tonal palette and dynamic range. Mr. Darnton was kind enough to let me make an even trade. I've been a very happy violinist ever since, and I continue to find new tonal colors on my instrument regularly. I guess the theme of my story--and it is only my story--is that there's not always an easy way to realize the tonal opportunities of an instrument when you're a less experienced player, even over the course of a few years. For me, it took two years and a lot of practicing to realize that my first Darnton wasn't fitting my evolving playing style. But, had I not had that first Darnton, who knows if I would have gotten to the point where I could make that realization. I'm sorry I lack the expertise to give you a clear-cut answer, Chronos. But I hope my anecdote provided at least a morsel to chew on. Make sure you talk to Mr. Darnton, he's a swell guy.
  9. I've only used the Symphony, but it has just the right amount of grip and cleanliness for me. Considering I play with a great deal of gusto and find this rosin perfect for my playing style, I can't imagine what the Solo would be like. (Hi Adam!)
  10. I use Tartini Symphony exclusively on my instrument these days and haven't had any problems with it. Before Tartini Symphony, I used Jade. Jade does seem to be a stickier rosin, but I don't find that it grabs the string any better than Tartini. Hill dark just sounds dusty, which I initially enjoyed, but now find it irritating; if anything, Hill dark seems to grab less crisply than Tartini because it is so fuzzy-sounding. It might be best just to sit out and wait for Mr. Victor to chime in. He knows everything when it comes to violin accessories.
  11. My Oliv G string lasted a full two years before I replaced it. It was still sounding good at the time, but I had a concert and didn't want to risk it snapping during the performance. The new, fresh Oliv G did have more ring and accomodated intense bow pressure with a bit more grace, but, in comparing the old Oliv G to the new Oliv G, the difference was really not all that substantial. Seeing as the Oliv G is what's really driving the price of Olivs significantly above the other premium synthetics, I find Olivs to actually be more economical in the long run. Whereas I used to have to replace my G string every 3 months, I can now wait four times the amount of time. An Oliv G string is far from four times the cost of a top-quality synthetic G. My last Oliv D lasted 7 months and continued to sound good, but Oliv D's prior to that tended to last only a typical (at least, for me) 3 months before snapping. Not all that different in durability or cost compared to a synthetic, and, when it doesn't snap, it can last much longer. I find that Olivs don't "wear out" and become rubberbands quite like synthetics; instead, they just snap when they don't like you anymore. The Oliv A didn't sound good on my violin, so I switched it out for a Synoxa A which matches the set amazingly well and sounds much better. The gold-plated Oliv E, in my opinion, doesn't justify the cost. After going through many E strings, I've settled on the "classic" Gold Label E, which sounds better on my violin and costs less. Go gut!
  12. Crazy Jane, Not to take this topic too far off, but regarding the Westminster E's--be careful that they don't strangle your fiddle. I used to think that a Westminster E was great on my violin, because it had tons of power all the way up the fingerboard and wasn't shrill. However, it wasn't until I went back to a heavy gauge Gold Label E (and now, more happily, a medium gauge Gold Label E) that I realized how the Westminster--because it's so thick--took away the bell-like quality of my E string register. That said, plenty of people like Westminsters, and so my opinion is only based on one fiddle (a very heavy del Gesu "Cannone" model, which made me think that it would work) and my personal experience!
  13. I've never had a problem with my violin getting on board (knock on wood--but not my violin!); I've flown United, Southwest, and ATA in the past year. However, my friend had a problem getting on a Delta flight with her French horn (she usually puts it under the front seat and deals with the reduced leg room). The flight attendants wanted to make her check it. After initially pleading with them in a warm and civil way without success, she started getting saucy with a "I'm going to throw a hissy fit" look in her eyes and the flight attendants decided to compromise by putting her horn in a closet. When trying to board, sometimes it helps to attach the shoulder strap of the violin case to the clip on the bottom of the case so that the violin is carried vertically. It makes the thing look a bit smaller. When I was 10, everyone just smiled at me and let me take my plastic violin case on board. Things sure seemed easier back then...
  14. Tartini Symphony is absolutely terrific stuff. It gives a big, clear sound and provides great grab on the strings. I was fortunate enough to get a free cake from the generous Mr. Adam Sweet a year or two ago when he offered five cakes up to people who would write a review of the rosin for him. Initially, at the time I wrote my review, I didn't like the rosin because I didn't think it provided me with enough tone colors; I thought Hill dark was significantly better in this category, despite being dustier sounding. However, after a few months, I put some of the Tartini on when I became frustrated with my Hill dark sounding too dusty and crunchy, and I quickly realized that my initial impressions were completely incorrect! I have used it day in, day out (albeit just a few strokes each day), and it has just been perfect in all climates. Haxxorpoop, sorry for the obvious question, but why don't you get some from an online shop?
  15. Hehe, good catch MD! That said, I've always been a loyal Shar customer because they have always had very efficient service, a wide selection of strings and gauges, and good prices on strings (my orders have always been over the required amount for free shipping). You might want to check out Concord Music and Southwest Strings; from what others say, they seem to be good companies, though I haven't had any experience with them. Don't ever buy anything from Music City Strings--they are the worst.
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