Andrew Victor

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  1. It is standard symbolism for indicating the "natural" octave harmonic. Every string has natural harmonics at every "integer fraction of the length of the string. That is at 1/2, 1/3, 1/4, 1/5, 1/6 of the string length from the nut (and from the bridge). The 1/2 (octave) harmonic is generally the strongest; the 1/3 (fifth) is next. In my experience, better violins are more likely to be able to create harmonics for quite a large numbner of those "fractions." You will usually see violinists shoot their left hands way up the fingerboard to hit some of the higher harmonics (above the octave harmonic) but they are all accessible below the octave as well. There are also fingered harmonics that are played by having the 1st finger stopping the string and the 4th finger just gently touching it (in tune, of course).
  2. I started using an AcoustaGrip shoulder rest a few years ago for violin playing. It sticks to the back of the violin by micro-suction ans is easily placed and removed, no clips or rubber bands. Its foam conforms to one's shoulder (etc.) shape. I find more and more players in my orchestra using this. On viola (thicker instrument) I sometimes use a GelRest Micro (or nothing at all).
  3. I have found it is possible to change a viola's sound quite a lot by choosing just the right string combination. My two violas are totally different in sound and optimal string combinations - and bow choice. Also I wonder why people equate arm length (and hand size) for playing string instruments with height. My tallest height was 6 feet and I have long arms (my elbows reach my waist when I was that height - now in my 85th year the reach my hips), my violin playing granddaughter finally made it to about 5'4" but when were doing her lessons we had a "game" where we would compare the lengths of our left arms, by sticking our finger tips into the other's armpits. By the time she reached that height we could touch each other's armpits. I know violinist almost 6-1/2 feet tall with smaller hands and shorter arm.
  4. My violas are both 16". If you arms are long enough to play that size it fits very well with your violin experience because the arm extension AND the finger separations for 3rd position are the same as 1st position on violin and the other positions follow those proportions. I have not played other violas than mine - except over a decade ago I did play a Jay Haide at Ifshin Violins and thought it was a very good viola. One of our local "ringers" has actually chosen a Jay-Haide violin and viola as his performance instruments.
  5. Joachim and Kaufman are both flat chinrest models. I think the Joachim is a bit shorter (lower) if that is also what you want. Concord Music sells both models, perhaps other dealers do too. If you want a little rise (like the "original STUBER" model made in Germany up to about 50 years ago)* you can add a "The IMPRESSIONIST" to the top of the flat chinrest and fashion it to exactly what you want - and if at first you don't succeed you can just reheat it and try again. And if the IMPRESSIONIST** has too much material for your use, you can cut off just enough and use that. And if you change your mind you can just remove the Impressionist and no harm done. Been there, done that - except my IMPRESSIONIST halves are still on 2 violin and 2 viola chinrests, but I did remove them and reshape them more than once to get the perfect fit for me.. * Because one can no longer buy those chinrests except tailor-made from UK for about $160, which I did once years ago (when they were $100) and almost did again earlier this year.. **The IMPRESSIONIST is pretty amazing stuff if you are having trouble getting exactly the chinrest fit to your "chin" that you want.
  6. Is it not possible to fit a new screw into the old cap and thus get a perfect match of screw and eyelet? Would this decrease the value of the bow any more than replacing just the eyelet?
  7. Overtones are critical to use of vibrato to achieve decent projection from most violins, since vibrato adds higher-power neighboring overtones to the sound produced when playing certain notes. The pitches of the overtone peaks vary instrument-to-instrument but a competent player will quickly find how to perform vibrato on a "new" (i.e., unfamiliar) instrument if it is decent enough. See brief "vibrato" discussion near end of the following link. It was an article by Joseph Curtin in The STRAD magazine 10 - 15 years ago that solidified this thought for me but it was my own experience 55 years ago when I had to play some solo parts in our community orchestra concert that first raised the issue. My own cello had broken and I had to play the concert on a borrowed KAY cello; the effort required to produce sufficient vibrato to engage enough overtones for projection in the venue was unbelievable - in fact at one point my left hand flew off the neck! Somewhat embarrassing - but I recovered - and bought a replacement cello the next time I got out of town.
  8. In my opinion, Victor Sazer's book "New Direrections in Cello Playing" (not so new any more) provides excellent guidance for returning cello players who might have forgotten this and that and would rather not engage a teacher again. The cellists I make music with these days range in height from less than 5 feet to at least 6' 2" and all manage to do a great job with 4/4 cellos. PhilipKT has written nothing above I could possibly disagree with.
  9. Ifshin Violins did a New York neck reset for me 14 years ago after I bought a new cello from them. First they lowered the bridge* for me before I first took it home. The next week they lowered it a bit more. The following week, when I requested further lowering they refused and did the neck reset while I wandered around Berkeley for a few hours and had lunch before taking it home again. It has worked out fine for me even though it still has higher "action" than either of my other cellos. * I was used to a lower bridge.
  10. Really?? Someone would spend 10 minutes listening to a community orchestra audition? Really??? Just be sure that whatever you play is performance ready.
  11. I'm jealous. It's something I would love to do - but a "week trip" instead of a "day trip." I would start by narrowing down the number of potential makers by using this URL that Laurie published:
  12. As of this past November - been playing for 80 years - the first 30 without a shoulder rest (although I did own one - a "Menuhin", I think. The next 40 years with soulder rests - mostly Wolf Secundo. More important is finding a shoulder rest that is comfortable for playing an 8 hour day - even if you don't play that much. Important to set things up so you can hold the instrument on your collarbone. Most recently I've been using an AcoustaGrip foam (with micro suction) for violin playing (~ 3 years) and a GelRest Micro when playing viola (about 2 months). I use a thinner chinrest on viola but use the same "topography" for my jaw on both - in order to get that on viola I use a very low chinrest and build up the top with an "Impressionist" to match the top of my violin chinrests and just enought that both instruments fit between my jaw and collar bone exactly the same way. The lowest chinrest I have found is a "Joachim" and any dealer can replace the violin "barrels" with slightly longer viola ones.
  13. Really fantastic. Every Bach solo work is a Universe of potential expression and color. I do recall seeing Lara St. John performing the Chaconne from Bach's 2nd Partita at our local Border's bookstore in 1996 (hawking her new CD) and she rolled the chords. It was a delightful experience for my 7 year old granddaughter who had been taking violin lessons from me for 6 months by then. and was delighted meeting Ms. St. John, exchanging a few words and getting her Bach CD signed.
  14. I remember the last time I went to buy a replacement cello tailgut (mine had broken) and the store no longer sold them. That's when I "discovered" the Sacconi nylon! I think it was almost 70 years ago. The Sacconi tailcord was invented by Frank Passa, who gained his lutherie skills in the shop of Sacconi in NYC before moving to San Francisco where he set up the shop he owned for 51 years. I visited Passa at his home in Santa Rosa, CA in 2000, about a year before his death. He and his family were still producing Sacconi tailcord there. His product was far superior to competing, cheaper products ("off-brand") of the same design, which I found consistently would stretch and continue to stretch after installation. He also had stacks of pernambuco bow blanks stored in the large garage under his house, and instruments and safes that had come from his San Francisco shop that had closed the previous year.