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Everything posted by Zeissica

  1. Congratulations to all! Great to see a couple of our Albuquerque locals do well: Christian Pederson, Paul Hart, and Chris Savino!
  2. Something to consider is that Pernambuco wood is a somewhat toxic material and may cause a rash, irritation or allergic reaction on your chin, unless fully sealed with varnish. I'd personally recommend using another wood of similar look/color for a chinrest.
  3. I recently saw a concert where a variety of percussion instruments were bowed and there were a variety of bows. I agree, though, that a carbon fiber cello bow with fairly soft rosin is a solid choice for this application.
  4. Incredible... (facepalm) Wonder how long it stayed that way until it finally fell over?
  5. 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!
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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...)
  10. Someone tried to scrape off the built-up rosin?
  11. Nice! I love the pastoral setting - I feel like Beethoven would approve.
  12. And additional harmonics of the stopped notes - they are quite noticeable on lively instruments.
  13. 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.
  14. 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.
  15. Yes - the Korfker rests are insanely expensive!
  16. 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.
  17. 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.
  18. Michael, what you describe makes the most sense to me. Rather than "trying to blend" or match the sound of the instruments, most quartets would benefit from having each with a different voice. The Guarneri Quartet comes to mind - you almost can't think of four more different-sounding instruments. Even just the two violins came from different universes. When they needed to blend, they made it possible with clever fingerings, careful bow techniques, etc. But when they wanted to have an individual line shine - no problem! As a violist I think it is really important for the viola to have a voice distinct from the cello in the low registers, and different from the 2nd violin in the higher registers.
  19. I haven't noticed a huge difference in sound, although I'm sure it is there. But playability is hugely affected by the amount of hair on a bow. I have a very nice, but slightly soft viola bow - I think it might benefit from a re-camber. For the most recent re-hair, I asked for "slightly less hair" and it came out really nicely - the liveliness in the playing is back. It does sound better, which may be attributable to less hair, or it is just sounding nicer because the bow is responding better.
  20. What if you had a $30,000 violin? Or a $300,000 violin? It seems that so many cases are "low end" and compete on price per features rather than truly high-end like this one with high quality and innovative features. It looks really great.
  21. I don't see why not, but I do think it can be approached in a nice way, rather than being too aggressive. Something like asking "Do you have any room to move on this price?" usually works. They'll likely say either "no" or "what did you have in mind?" in which case you should be prepared with a concrete offer that isn't offensive. Something like "I was hoping to get it down under "$X,XXX". Or, they may say "let me take a look" where they look up their cost, make a margin calculation, and come back with a revised price, usually something like 10% off or maybe less, depending on what they have into it.
  22. Where are your A strings breaking? I've never broken an A string except when I got a new fine tuner and it hadn't been de-burred yet. The typical "Hill" type fine-tuners have a stamped part that can have an edge on it. By using a fine tiny jeweler's file, I carefully dressed the edges and have never had a string break since. Is it breaking at the peg or at the nut? Then look at those places for possible issues with rough edges, etc. If your string is breaking anywhere along the playing length - all bets are off.
  23. Don't do that! Playing the viola can be really rewarding. Rather than worry about "popular" sizes for the viola, just find an instrument that you like that you can also play fairly comfortably. It is true that when I was growing up, larger violas were in vouge perhaps because they generally sounded best, and that now people are usually searching for instruments in the 16" and below sizes. I've played on instruments from 15-1/4" (a lovely 1775 Gagliano) to a 16-7/8" John Honeycutt. My current instrument is a 2001 Bronek Cison at 16-7/16" which sounds incredible. I'm 6'1" by the way...
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