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About Zeissica

  • Birthday 10/28/1966

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  • Location
    Albuquerque, NM
  • Interests
    Violin & Viola playing, astronomy, audio, family & friends.

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  1. Incredible... (facepalm) Wonder how long it stayed that way until it finally fell over?
  2. Recording on a phone has been really valuable for quartet rehearsals - it reveals ensemble problems readily. Like any tool, it requires learning, i.e. learning not to pay attention to some things. Using a phone certainly doesn't sound like a good recording in a good hall with great mics, but pitch and timing problems are certainly evident, and to some extent tone and blending between instruments. It can be disconcerting at first... of course!
  3. It is certainly possible, but I will say that there were some very notable differences between the way the 4 violins played and sounded to both of us in the room. Sure, psychology could have played a role, but I don't think that was all of it. I feel that even if it wasn't a Strad or if I didn't know it was one, I would have still noticed the "sports car" like feel, and very focused sound. We played the four violins for an hour or so, going back and forth, and with 4 or 5 different bows, too. My impressions didn't change much about the way the violins were responding and sounding during that hour. The "immediacy" of response and apparent volume of the Strad was very noticeable.
  4. They were not all using the same strings. Not sure about weight - the JVB did seem slightly heavier, being just slightly larger than the others. One of the modern violins had a Korfker shoulder rest and thus felt the lightest while the others all had a rather heavy shoulder rest which I think were the Kun model with the brass fittings.
  5. I had the wonderful opportunity to play a bit on a 1712 Strad "Le Brun" on Saturday - along with a lovely 1874 JBV (GDJ pattern) and a couple of modern violins. Fortunately, it was in a quiet environment and a medium-sized space with decent acoustics, so I was able to get a sense of "what came back from the room". The first thing I noticed upon starting to play the Strad was that it was extremely responsive, and already loud under the ear. It took very little effort from the bow arm to generate a big sound. It seemed easy to "relax into" playing rather than thinking so much about the bow, contact point, pressure, etc. It was just easy to play. The more I played it, the more I noticed that it was quite loud - the sound "filled the room" easily - there was a resonance that was quite striking. Also, I noticed that most of the energy in the sound was concentrated into the specific note or pitch being played - there seemed to be less "extraneous" sound. There was a brightness or brilliance to the sound as well, so perhaps while there were less extraneous sounds or "hair" around the notes, there were plenty of upper harmonics. The balance across the strings was amazingly good. There was plenty of power in the G string, although it did not have what some would call the characteristic "G power" of the best GDJ violins (see Rachel Barton Pine). I was able to lean on it and really dig in and it just kept giving. Really a spectacular violin! The other violins all sounded very good and the JBV was quite interesting, being just slightly larger than the others in every dimension. It had more bark on the G string, and overall had plenty of power, but did not quite seem to generate the volume in the room like the Strad did. The two modern violins fared well - sounded good, had plenty of power & brilliance, although not quite as "magical" as the two older violins. Totally unscientific in any way, but a wonderful experience to really play and listen to these amazing violins.
  6. Well, I did play exclusively viola for a very long time, despite it not being a real instrument... I started on it, and still play it for 95% of my playing time. Violin was an afterthought for me - I picked it up and learned it about 10 years ago "by immersion" (jumped right into the 2nd violins in my community orchestra at the time. Occasionally I get out some Bach, Sevcik, etc. and "work up" the violin again if I have a gig that requires it (one orchestra only hires me for violin... IDK why...)
  7. Someone tried to scrape off the built-up rosin?
  8. Nice! I love the pastoral setting - I feel like Beethoven would approve.
  9. And additional harmonics of the stopped notes - they are quite noticeable on lively instruments.
  10. There are a lot of very good makers out there right now, some well known, some lesser known. I just saw a wonderful viola by Joseph Curtain the other day, and it reminded me of one of his violins I saw and played a few years back. He's another innovator - he's got some interesting and unique features on his instruments although from arm's length they look traditional (i.e. "not weird"). Andranik Gaybarian is a Boston-based maker getting more notice lately - his instruments are "traditional" in pattern (Strad or GDG) but very nice, soloist quality (Gil Shaham regularly plays one). Around this area (Albuquerque) Christian Pedersen has a growing reputation as an excellent maker.
  11. I don't have pictures like you do, and BTW great photo of your quartet on a canal boat! For both violin and viola I have BAM HiTec cases with Mooradian covers (sad they are now gone!). They don't have a lot of room inside but I keep two bows (the max for these cases), then the shoulder rest nestles in next to the neck & scroll (it is a tight fit!). Each case has a digital hygrometer attached to the inside lid to keep track of humidity ranges. In the inner pouch I keep my rosin, a chinrest tool, a pencil, my Korfker shoulder rest tool, peg dope, and a set of new strings. In the larger pouch on the outside, I keep a couple sets of used strings, some face masks, a roll of Scotch tape, and a small ziplock bag with some aspirin. These "super light" cases get a bit heavy with the cover and all the stuff in the pouches, but the backpack straps make it OK to carry these around for a good while. I like walking and usually try to walk from the hotel to the gig when I'm doing out-of-town jobs.
  12. Yes - the Korfker rests are insanely expensive!
  13. I used that very combination for quite a long time - Dominant D, G, and C, and the Jargar "Mittel" A string. Once tried the "Stark" A string and it was a heck of a cheese cutter! Very high tension and not well balanced to the other strings.
  14. FWIW I position my shoulder rests for both violin and viola at about 3 and 8:30. I've been using the Korfker Rest on both instruments for the last two years - the combination of very light weight, the ability to customize the shape somewhat, and the fact that they really stay put well is what sold me on them. When I changed violas last year I had to add a longer foot and one of the extensions on the chest side to get the proper angle back. Many claim that they "sound better" than other shoulder rests - I'm not convinced of that, but I do feel that once they are set up right, they feel good and don't add much weight, so it is easier to play - perhaps that's why people think they sound better.
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