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oldgeezer

Tone: instrument or player?

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Tone: instrument or player?

After no reply on the fingerboard let’s hear from the experts on the pegboard. I recently played a Yamaha electric. It had an unbelievable warm and sweet tone. It was not the the reverb. I have heard that an electric is more forgiving of unskilled players but there was a huge difference in the quality of the tone.

I have always believed that warmth and sweetness of tone is the player, not the equipment. How else do you explain the obvious difference in tone between great players playing great instruments? The recent experience with the electric has shaken my belief.

How much of a difference in tone is in the player and how much is in the instrument? Can the electronics in the Yamaha turn an unskilled player into a highly skilled player with great tone playing a Strad?

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Oldgeezer:

I am certainly no expert and hopefully someone else will pipe in here.

I too own a Yamaha electric. Did you play with the reverb off or on? If you played with it on, it has a HUGE effect on your tone.

I think that a beginner can play on it and sound much better than he actually is. I definitely think it's because of the reverb and whatever else goes into it.

That's the reason I don't practice on my Yamaha. It's way too forgiving. I need to be able to hear myself for what it is, so that I can correct what I'm doing wrong. Becasue I want to become a better player.

Don't let it shake your belief. Get yourself a yamaha electric, play it and enjoy it for what it is. But definitely keep up your practicing with a regular acoustic violin.

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I remember smiling the first time I tried a solid-body electric guitar, (Telecaster in original condition; wish I had it now!) after years of playing acoustic folk guitar. It was so easy and smooth! I swore that my tone had improved. Gradually, I realized it's just a different kind of playing. The amplification allowed me to hear what my fingers were not yet capable of expressing on the acoustic instrument. Oddly, when I went back to my classical guitar, I DID feel I was getting more out of it. There is a kind of cross-fertilization that goes on with this kind of thing...

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I tried the cheaper Yamaha but supposedly the only real difference is the ¼ inch jack on the concert select model. It was at Sam Ash. I used my bow. There are 3 reverb settings. The sweetness of tone isn’t just the reverb. The vibrato really comes through. The tone comes out like pancake syrup. My impression was that it makes you sound a whole lot better than you really do playing a normal violin.

I think Crystal has it pegged. You need to hear what you really sound like and the electric enhances the sound a bit much.

My normal violin is a bit loud and ringy, even more so since switching to Infeld Red strings last weekend. Maybe it is time to take it in for an opinion from a luthier. I don’t see an electric in my future because I don’t think it will help improve my playing. It is fun to hear yourself play with the tone you would really like to have but the electric won’t help you get it out of a normal fiddle.

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I find it useful sometimes to play violin with the two or one hole rubber tourte mute in place. It takes the harsh edge off and provides a change to the normal volume.

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