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About KB_Smith

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    Chantilly, VA - a Washington, D.C. suburb

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  1. Very interesting and helpful comments and advice. I'm not in the market to buy another instrument, so I'll go to order of proceedings 2 - set-up. A couple of you have mentioned the soundpost. It could very well be that the set-up won't make a big difference on this instrument, an early 20th century Schoenbach trade violin, but worth discussing with the luthier. I just bought this set of strings a month ago, so I won't try another set for while, but will likely take the collective advice here and try Obligato's when I'm ready to change them again.
  2. My instructor told me not to bother with a viola smaller than 15 1/2 inch. It just won't have the powerful sound. Besides, I love bluegrass and Celtic fiddling - and that's violin. It might be a while before I can do that. Maybe a year from now I might be able to do some simple fiddling, but good to have an objective to work towards. And one day I'll get back to my 16 inch viola. I might just have to learn to shift to second position to cover for my short fingers! But now we're moving this discussion to something more for the Fingerboard forum - sorry about that.
  3. Okay, I'll talk with my luthier about the soundpost. He told me to let him know if I needed any adjustments. I also have problems bowing the D string cleanly. Seams like I almost always catch the G or the A string with it. I'm wondering if he puts a little more curve on the bridge for me if that will help. But my instructor does not have that problem on my violin at all. He says it is a good setup and I just need to learn the correct bow angle to play that D string cleanly. I don't have that problem on any of the other strings.
  4. I went with Dominant G, D, and A and Pirastro Gold E because that is what my instructor recommended I start with. He said we can try something else next time if I wan to "fiddle" around with different strings (my words, not his). I actually started learning on a 16 inch viola and I loved the deep, rich tone, but my hand and fingers are too short to comfortably reach the 4th finger on C and G. I had quite a bit of strain and pain in wrist tendons, and invariably my other three fingers would creep forward on the fingerboard whenever I had to reach for that 4th finger. So my instructor suggested I try violin. So I rented a violin for a month to try it and it was instantly easier for me to reach all the finger positions. So I went all in and bought a violin. I kept my viola and hope that after I get reasonably good at violin, I'll give the viola another shot. I love the deeper, richer tone of the viola. I know the violin is not going to sound like a viola, but I'd still like to get that full rich sound from it. I'm quite sure my bowing is the real culprit right now.
  5. My current setup is Dominant G, D, and A strings with Pirastro Wondertone Gold E. It was set up at my local violin shop with a new sound post and an Aubert Luxe bridge. I think it sounds bright, although I must admit it sounds beautiful when my instructor (a professional violinist) plays it for me. I can't seem to get a full, rich tone out of it, but I just started learning a few months ago and my bowing is not very good yet, so I imagine it is more the violinist than the violin. But would you say Dominant with the Pirastro Gold E is a bright set of strings? I'm just looking for advice for the next set of strings, maybe a year from now. Thanks.
  6. I'm not sure if this question is better placed in the Fingerboard or the Pegbox forum, but it seems to be more of a hardware question to me, so I'll place it on the Pegbox. I see violins described as having a "bright" tone, or having a "rich" or "warm" tone. I don't think I've seen them described as having a "dark" tone, which in my mind would be the opposite of a "bright" tone. Anyway, I'm wondering how much a violin's tone depends on the string selection, as opposed to the instrument's actual design, the qualities of the woods used its construction, and setup (tailpiece, bridge, etc.). without making changes to the setup, can one significantly change the tone of the instrument simply by putting on a different set of strings? If the violin sounds too "bright," can you "darken" the tone just by changing the strings?
  7. By the way, JW also makes a Carbon Fiber version of this case - more expensive ($283 on Amazon and 159 EUR at www.thomann.de). I asked JW about that case. They told me it is just a Carbon Fiber foil, rather than the fabric finish of the non-carbon version, as the outer finish of the case. JW told me it is just for looks. It does not offer any additional protection to the violin.
  8. I have a Bobelock case for my viola - very sturdy with a stiff, protective plywood construction that is difficult to compress. But it is also a heavy case becaue plywood is heavy. Bobelock cases retail for over $200 on Amazon, and also at my local violin shop, but I bought it used from a local violin shop where I take lessons for just $100. So I recommend you check with your local violin shops to see if any have some used Bobelock (or Gewa) cases. I just purchased a Jakob Winter JW 51025 case for my violin. I saw this case selling for $250 in the US on Amazon. I emailed the Jakob Winter company in Germany and they sent me a link to the best priced retailer in Germany for the same case. It is significantly cheaper in Germany. You can buy it at: https://www.thomann.de/intl/jakob_winter_jw_51025_n_b_violinkoffer.htm for 106.72 EUR plus 30 EUR for shipping to U.S. and less for shipping in Europe or UK. That comes to a little over $150 delivered in the U.S. if you use PayPal, there will also be a $5-10 charge for converting USD to EUR. I don't know if it will incur an import duty/tax by U.S. Customs, but I don;t think it will. It is not quite as firm a case as the Bobelock, but it is quite firm and very well padded. I also like that it has a channel formed in the top that ensures the padding in the lid will not touch your strings or bridge. It seems very well constructed except that the latches can't be locked, so they may be prone to pop open. You can also learn more about the Natural Fiber Composite material this case is made of at https://www.jakob-winter.com/en/natural-fiber-composites/ This Jakob Winter case looks very much like a Gewa Bio case available from Thomann for about the same price: https://www.thomann.de/intl/gewa_bio_violincase_4_4_gy_mp_sh.htm
  9. Wow, this discussion sure hits home with me. I am 66 years old and just took up the violin about 2 months ago. I 100% share Peter K-G's frustration. I actually started more like 6 months ago, trying to play a 16" viola my son played in high school orchestra, but stopped playing when he went off to college. In his defense, he played both piano and viola, but always had a passion for classical piano, decided to focus on just that instrument, and has become quite proficient on piano. Anyway, rather than sell his $2,000 viola for maybe $500, I thought I'd try to learn to play it. But my hand is too small and I just could not reach the 4th finger on the C or G strings without sliding my other fingers up the fingerboard, losing their proper position, or painfully straining tendons and ligaments in my wrist. After several months of that, my instructor suggested that I try violin. So I rented a violin for a month and instantly found that I can reach all the finger positions without pain. I went all-in and bought my first violin. I am still struggling with proper bowing - speed, pressure, and placement (mostly trying to keep the bow perpendicular to the strings). I am only just now starting to to be able to put together a short series of nice clear and focused sounds before the next dreaded weak, airy, squeaky, or scratchy sound invariably leaps forth. And if I focus on my right hand (bowing), I completely lose track of where I am in the music, or what the left hand is doing. Getting the three components (reading the music, proper fingering, and proper bowing) all in sync is very difficult and taking much longer than I thought it might. But I continue to practice, and figure eventually two of those three will sync up, and then eventually all three will magically come together. I like to go through about a page of my assigned music at one sitting, but then I set the violin down on the coffee table while I'm watching TV at night. I pick it up about once or twice an hour and just practice scales, or try playing fourth finger rather than open strings as I work a down-scale (very difficult for me)...short exercises that don't require sheet music, just drilling.
  10. A good shot of reality. The truth can be so simple and obvious. Thanks George and Rue. I will take your advice to heart.
  11. Thanks George, pretty helpful discussion about anatomy of the scroll and pegbox. The best graphic in that discussion is this ... very helpful. But the discussion about orientation was still confusing. Is it the bee sting that marks the fluting on the scroll ends? In an other comment, someone said the fluting is actually runs along the back of the pagbox and scroll, starting at the chin of the pegbox and running to the top of the scroll. When I look at a front view of the scroll, that fluting wraps all the way around the head, eventually disappearing under the scroll somewhere approaching the throat. So I can imagine that being described as the "fluting ends at 6 o'clock," but then wouldn't that apply to all scrolls? Looking at my scroll again, it looks to me like the bee sting ends at about 10 o'clock, and the bottom of the eye (or ear?) in the center of the scroll is at 6 o'clock (but again, that would pretty much be universal wouldn't it?) I'm still confused ... but learning.
  12. In the first response I got to my original post, Baroquecello commented on a couple of features of my violin's scroll and pegbox that I don't understand. So in the interest of teaching me more about how to identify a flawed scroll from one that is correctly made, can you please give me a short lesson about the scroll? I'm re-posting a couple photos of the scroll and pegbox for ease of reference to these questions. What does "fluting ends at 6 o'clock" mean? Is that an indication of poor workmanship, or low quality tradecraft, or that it simply does not meet a high artistic standard? Where should the fluting end if not at 6 o'clock, and what is the point to look at on the scroll fluting that tells you where it ends? And what is the "Delta" at the chin of the pegbox? Is that a feature seen on the front, side, or back of the pegbox? What does a good Delta look like, and what is wrong with the Delta on mine?
  13. Why is it that a novice buyer can't trust the authenticity of what is offered at auction? Aren't those instruments inspected by experts at the auction house before being offered? And why is it that certificates are not necessarily trustworthy as validation of authenticity? I understand that buying from somewhere like Brobst is the best way to ensure you get an authentic instrument. But that is a commitment to paying full retail price. Auctions give one the opportunity to get an instrument at a discount to full fair market value. It seems unless one has your level of experience, and therefore the knowledge and ability to determine the quality of the instrument, we really have no business bidding at an auction, even at Skinner or Tarisio - or risk the same fate as buying from eBay.
  14. To put a stake in the heart of this discussion, I wanted to share with you feedback I got from a very reputable violin dealer in Washington, D.C. area that has been in the business for over 50 years. I took my violin into Brobst Violin Shop in Alexandria, Va to take a look at the actual instrument, rather than photos. To give you an idea of what Brobst sells, he currently has for sale a c.1776 JB Guadagnini with certificate, a 1784 Storioni (Cremona) with W.E.Hill certificate, a c.1845-50 JB Vuillaume with certificate, and many more certified old violins. My point is this is probably the #1 dealer in the D.C. area in authentic old instruments and the most qualified to evaluate my violin. I also took in a summary of the many comments I got from all of you to discuss with Brobst. You should not be surprised to hear that they agreed completely with most of the comments from all of you. They did not give me a clear opinion of where this violin might have been made (France, Markneukirchen, Shoenbach), but agreed it is a basic trade violin, probably with several different workers involved in making different parts of the violin. They agreed it is old, and has been revarnished (which I learned destroys valuation). So, I want to thank all of you again for your comments and advice. I'm impressed with your expertise and ability to determine so much about an instrument from a handful of photos. I'll leave this discussion with one last question. I've read so many stories just like mine on this forum, so it seems a common issue - fake old trade violins that are not what they are claimed to be. And even some comments in the Auction Scroll about lack of authenticity of violins listed and sold by the Auction Houses (like Tarisio and Bromptons), and even that certificates might not be worth the paper they are written on... So I want to start a new thread asking where does one go to find authentic old instruments. I imagine that's been discussed before on MN. Can anyone provide me a thread or two where it is discussed where the real instruments are? If not, would that be an appropriate question to put out on The Pegbox or better asked in the Auction Scroll?
  15. Thanks. Great photo...shows how the ribs come together pretty well. What is the liner material? is that a plywood or fiber board to provide structure and support to the ribs? There does not appear to be a corner block here, unless the triangular shaped section of rather fibrous looking material is it.