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About mnvsos

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  • Birthday 09/15/1974

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    Southern Minnesota
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    Baking, homebrewing, winemaking, chocolate, woodworking, bicycling

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  1. First, the obligatory viola joke: you only need to learn first position! It's not quite true but probably 90% of typical orchestral music, the viola part can be played in first position (some things are awkward there, but it can be done). More seriously, the chart c.m. sunday posted looks helpful. Unlike bass (which I'm not very familiar with) or cello, on violin and viola typically the space between two fingers corresponds to either a whole step or a half step, so fingering and positions more directly correspond to the written note on the staff. On the A string normal fingering would be: first finger = B (flat/natural), second finger = C (natural/sharp), third finger = D (natural/sharp), fourth finger = E (flat/natural) First position would have your first finger "at home" on B natural, second position first finger on C sharp, third position on D natural, fourth position on E natural, fifth positon on F sharp. Obviously these things would change a bit depending on key signature, but that's how my brain thinks of them by default. Only very rarely do viola parts go above 5th position, usually only for music written after 1900-ish. If I were picking up viola coming from cello/bass, I would focus exclusively on first position for a long time before worrying about any other position.
  2. Bass players tell the most viol jokes.
  3. I have set up a couple very small fractional violins (1/32, 1/16) using my used viola strings, cut down to length. So the viola A string goes on as the E string, the D string acts as the A, etc. If the instrument can take the tension, and the pegs don't slip, it actually makes a phenomenal improvement to the sound of the instrument. Slightly harder to play but with a sticky rosin it makes an incredible difference over anything else I've tried. Turned a $30 vso into something that, although not good, was playable. Probably voids your warranty and will eventually result in a violin that spontaneously implodes, but we're not talking about a strad here...
  4. When you're Itzhak Perlman, you can hold your bow however you like. In the past, when I've had students, I try to teach them just the basics of a standard bow hold - it takes enough effort to get that right, let alone any sort of alternative. So an analogy might be warranted here - when I was in college, I took a bowling (ten-pin bowling, USA) class - seems like it would have been an easy class for a good grade. The teacher had very specific ways to hold the ball, approach the lane, release the ball, etc. He said if we followed his technique, he would give us an above-average grade, regardless of our results. Or we could do whatever we want, and if our score was high enough, we would get a perfect grade. So, some people were able to NOT follow his instruction and still get a high enough score. I chose to follow his recommendations, get a reasonable score on average, and get a reasonable grade. Could I have done better making up my own technique? Maybe - but following some established tradition has value also. There's a reason certain things are done the way they are, although rules are made to be broken. See also - Mark O'Connor regarding HIS bow hold (item 4 in this link): There will always be exceptions to the rule, and the human body works differently for each individual, so one must adjust - but starting from the "traditional" or "standard" seems like the best way to me.
  5. I've had good luck with Shar as well. As mentioned above, don't forget about the bow - at this price range I would think a carbon fiber bow would be your best bet for something that would meet your needs - you might find a better wooden bow in the lower price range, but there's a lot more variability with wood. If you really don't want Chinese, then eastern European is probably what you're left with for options. Don't underestimate the importance of the setup - a bad instrument will never sound great even with the best setup, but a good instrument can sound pretty bad with a bad setup (strings, bridge, and soundpost being the first thing to think about). If you're just getting (back) into this, you might also try a local music shop - they usually have rentals of "student" level instruments, which might give you a better feel for the low-end models if you rented one for a couple months - just to see how much higher you want to go. My experience with the low-end instruments is that they are just generally either way too harsh, or way to weak/inconsistent tone between strings. You may also want to find a local teacher who could help you evaluate if you have a choice of a few instruments - somebody with more experience playing may be able to identify some flaws that you wouldn't notice without more experience (although I think everybody's ear is a little different as far as preferred sound).
  6. Hi all - I'm hoping somebody with some experience and a good eye can tell me a little bit more about my violin. This is the instrument that I learned on and I still play occasionally (my primary instrument is now viola). What makes this violin unusual, as far as I can tell, is that it is quite "narrow" compared to a standard 4/4 instrument. Here are some measurements: Body length: 356mm Upper bout width: 155mm Center bout width: 106mm Lower bout width: 195mm Neck/fingerboard width at nut: 22mm Rib height: 30mm (tailpiece), 28mm (neck) Arching on back is about 13mm, I did not measure carefully. Front is slightly less. Plate overhang is small, and uneven (between maybe 1.75mm and .5mm) So based on the measurements the width seems to be much closer to a 3/4 instrument, but the length is clearly a 4/4. Any ideas on maker/style/age (I know it is at least 60 years old, and general location where it was purchased around 60 years ago, but no more than that) would be appreciated. No label. Has full linings (look like spruce to me) and corner blocks (linings do NOT appear to be mortised into the blocks). It came with an unexceptional 3/4 size bow stamped "JOSEF RICHTER", but I don't know any history about the bow either. More pictures here:
  7. mnvsos

    A knotty problem

    Yes, it is definitely just a small inclusion of some sort, and on the outside it is somewhat loose looking. There will be a small amount of filler of some variety required (suggestions anyone?) if I want the surface to be smooth. I have nearly completed roughing out the inside close to final thickness. This area I have left slightly thicker. I am down to about 4mm and it is starting to expose the defect from the inside. I don't think I dare to go any thinner than this. Since I'm viewing this whole project as a learning experience, I can always pull it apart and take a little more off later if I decide to. Enough other problems so far that I don't think a little extra thickness here is going to make or break the sound quality.
  8. mnvsos

    A knotty problem

    I'm not so concerned about aesthetics - it doesn't bother me to have a spot there. But I am afraid that it will fall out as I hollow the inside, and there is a definite gap on the lower edge that may actually penetrate all the way through the plate by the time it is thinned to the appropriate level. So if I do wind up with an actual hole all the way through, how do I fill it? Or should I apply for a patent on my special proprietary "rear-side sound hole" and soundpost secondary access method? Alternatively I could perhaps leave the plate somewhat thicker there on purpose, but then I don't know what that might do to overall sound quality.
  9. Hi everybody - I've been reading this forum for a while, off and on, and working on my first violin for longer than I'd care to admit (it sat in a closet for about the last 6 or 7 years!). Anyway, I am working on the back and I came across a knot or some sort of defect in the wood. Unfortunately it was not visible from either side of the wood when I started; it's only been revealed as I carve down. At this point I'm just treating this as a learning experience as I have already made many mistakes, so I'm not too worried about screwing something up, but I would like some ideas on how to deal with this. I suppose if I were a professional maker I might just throw it out and start over with new wood, but I'd like to salvage this in some way. The defect is about 20mm wide, 8mm high, and extends maybe 2.5 to 3mm deep (unsure at this point, as I have not yet hollowed the back, but it is not visible from the inside right now), so it will definitely be close to penetrating the entire thickness of the plate when finished. Should I carve or cut this out and try to patch it in place somehow before I hollow the back? If so, what would that patch look like? Or should I fill it with some sort of wood filler? Or leave a hole in my violin??? Photo of the problem (board isn't letting me attach or link to images directly, maybe because I'm a brand new member?): Violin back knot