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Dan Keller

How long does it take to "play-in" a new violin?

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On ‎2006‎년 ‎6‎월 ‎6‎일 at 8:31 AM, Melvin Goldsmith said:

The Hills were wrong! Skiing fiddler sorry! we posted at the same time but I'd refer you to my post above. I think it's pretty patronising and just plain wrong in terms of the economics of production for Hills to imagine that a genius like del Gesu was making violins that did not sound great at the time he sold them. Believe me ...I make my living as a violin maker....if feeding your family depends on it you don't make violins that need 100 years playing in! Regards,Melvin

I absolutely agree with you. I am afraid starvation so  I have to make violins that sound good soon. 

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11 hours ago, finger said:

holy necro! nearly 7 year old thread...

Maestronet seems to be more accustomed to necroing to the nth degree lol.

I've seen nearly 20 year old threads risen to the top of the board lol. The topics discussed here are much more susceptible to being brought up again ten years later.

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I think, you have to look microscopic at this... It does make sense that settle the material is possible. The theori would be; if you fold a paper, open it, and fold it again, it would fold in the same place! The cell structure and the oxidation of varnish (and inner resins) would be affected along node lines. Meaning; It take some time for the box to realize it´s an instrument...

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1 hour ago, Strongest Fiddler said:

I think, you have to look microscopic at this... It does make sense that settle the material is possible. The theori would be; if you fold a paper, open it, and fold it again, it would fold in the same place! The cell structure and the oxidation of varnish (and inner resins) would be affected along node lines. Meaning; It take some time for the box to realize it´s an instrument...

I'm sure that it varies with the violin.  Some sound good very quickly.  Some take a few years, like a Chinese Strad copy I have that surprised me (and the customer I was demonstrating it to as an example of a "bad violin") by suddenly sounding very good after being a "dog" for 4 years.  Some obstinately remain awful forever.  :lol:

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2 hours ago, Strongest Fiddler said:

I think, you have to look microscopic at this... It does make sense that settle the material is possible. The theori would be; if you fold a paper, open it, and fold it again, it would fold in the same place! The cell structure and the oxidation of varnish (and inner resins) would be affected along node lines. Meaning; It take some time for the box to realize it´s an instrument...

Holy Necro Batman!

This thread keeps getting revived. 

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I don't understand the old thread revival either...unless it's a continuation of an on-going project (like a build, or an update from the OP, etc.)...but since we're already back here...^_^

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29 minutes ago, Rue said:

I don't understand the old thread revival either...unless it's a continuation of an on-going project (like a build, or an update from the OP, etc.)...but since we're already back here...^_^

In my experience, playing opens up a cello.I have had many instruments that were in need of restoration or rebirth after a long silence, that, when played after being set up, would noticeably open within the next few hours of playing.

My own cello had been essentially unplayed when I got it brand new,  and I could feel it becoming easier to play in the first several weeks I had it. To me, “easier to play“ means that I got the same response with less energy input, and that was definitely happening. I’ve had my cello almost 14 Years, and I suppose over the course of a year I put ~6-700 hours into it.  I think it has stabilized by now, and responds to weather and set up changes, but it definitely sounds more than it did when I took it out of the case that first day. 

It would be nice if the Lord would grant me a ticket to a concert to hear that cello played in a couple of hundred years. I’d be very interested in hearing how it sounds then.

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I find empirically that after playing through the harmonic series on each string, with a lot of bow, that the sound opens up a lot. I also think that the drying (hardening) of the varnish makes a difference over time. Not to mention the effect of string tension on the whole system. I cannot justify any of this scientifically, it is just my experience. 

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There are definitely changes in sound...correlated with weather/environment, new/different strings, set-up, bow etc....

But I think we might be attributing changes in ourselves to the instrument. It takes a few minutes to get familiar with an instrument - and if we pick up one that's been relegated to the back of the closet for eons...we'll tentatively start playing it (which results in a sh*tty tone) and then start playing confidently (which results in a better tone).

So, the instrument didn't improve...but we did...but since it's easier to attribute changes in sound to the instrument - the credit goes to...*waitforit*

The instrument! 

And of course, giving credit to the instrument is much more romantic and *interesting*...

"Yes, I could feel the soul of the instrument struggling to be released from the mundane confines of the wood that attempted to restrain it, to keep it held captive..."

Vs.

"Yup. I'm playin' it better"

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4 hours ago, martin swan said:

Players need playing in ....

They do but also I try to remember a single one soloist who did not think to "warm up" his violin before concert and I remember none. The really good soloists also warm the violin just so much as to not make it "tired". 

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6 hours ago, Anthony Panke said:

I find empirically that after playing through the harmonic series on each string, with a lot of bow, that the sound opens up a lot. I also think that the drying (hardening) of the varnish makes a difference over time. Not to mention the effect of string tension on the whole system. I cannot justify any of this scientifically, it is just my experience. 

I found fifths to be quikest and also tenths high up on D/A/E . G is with problems as if you push it it likes to show wolf tones.

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21 minutes ago, A. Strelnikov-Resch said:

They do but also I try to remember a single one soloist who did not think to "warm up" his violin before concert and I remember none. The really good soloists also warm the violin just so much as to not make it "tired". 

Maybe they are warming themselves up.

It's a lovely romantic notion that the agency of the player makes the violin sing.

Less romantic is the observation that hearing is comparative not objective. So everything we hear is conditioned by what we have just been hearing - the same as colour balance. It takes a certain amount of time for the brain to rid itself of the memory of whatever "colour tint" it has last been exposed to - once that wears off, then everything sounds or looks "more as it really is".

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I'm glad this thread resurfaced.  Early on I had read from a few sources that a violin needed years of playing in to reach a mature tone and I had taken that for granted.  However, my experience with the few instruments I've made is that the sound doesn't really change much after the initial period where the wood is adjusting to the tension and the varnish is hardening.  
 That being said, I do play them as much as possible during this period, loudly and across the full range of the instrument to help things along a bit and I can see how a device like the ToneRite would be useful to a maker who either doesn't play or doesn't have the time to play each instrument in. 

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17 minutes ago, martin swan said:

Maybe they are warming themselves up.

It's a lovely romantic notion that the agency of the player makes the violin sing.

Less romantic is the observation that hearing is comparative not objective. So everything we hear is conditioned by what we have just been hearing - the same as colour balance. It takes a certain amount of time for the brain to rid itself of the memory of whatever "colour tint" it has last been exposed to - once that wears off, then everything sounds or looks "more as it really is".

Yup.  Speaking from a player's POV, I've repeatedly found that changing keys from one piece to another seems to change the response of the violin for a few bars, which is voodoo physics.  IMHO, the brain has to "shift gears" from one scale to another, before you'll hear the notes of the octave as "true".  :)

OTOH, I feel that changes in the general tone of a violin with age and use can occur.  It could probably be investigated by taking spectra of a new violin at fixed intervals of a month or so, for several years, and paying close attention to changes (if any) in the minor peaks as well as the dominant ones, and in the often neglected high-frequency range.

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14 minutes ago, Violadamore said:

OTOH, I feel that changes in the general tone of a violin with age and use can occur.  It could probably be investigated by taking spectra of a new violin at fixed intervals of a month or so, for several years, and paying close attention to changes (if any) in the minor peaks as well as the dominant ones, and in the often neglected high-frequency range.

Changes in the first few days and weeks are fairly easy to detect, but over longer time periods my uncalibrated shop method is more questionable, and I have seen very large changes due to getting a new computer.

As for "how long does it take to play in", I'd say a few weeks... but it would "play in" whether you play it or not.  There might be some effects of playing, but I haven't been able to detect them with measurements as yet.

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13 hours ago, Rue said:

I don't understand the old thread revival either...unless it's a continuation of an on-going project (like a build, or an update from the OP, etc.)...but since we're already back here...^_^

IMHO, new members are finding MN through Google searches on specific violin topics, and responding in the threads they are reading without regard to the last posted date.  Using cell phones (with tiny print and simplified presentation) may be encouraging this. 

The most important part above being, "new members are finding MN".  :)

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1 hour ago, martin swan said:

Maybe they are warming themselves up.

It's a lovely romantic notion that the agency of the player makes the violin sing.

Less romantic is the observation that hearing is comparative not objective. So everything we hear is conditioned by what we have just been hearing - the same as colour balance. It takes a certain amount of time for the brain to rid itself of the memory of whatever "colour tint" it has last been exposed to - once that wears off, then everything sounds or looks "more as it really is".

 

53 minutes ago, Don Noon said:

Changes in the first few days and weeks are fairly easy to detect, but over longer time periods my uncalibrated shop method is more questionable, and I have seen very large changes due to getting a new computer.

As for "how long does it take to play in", I'd say a few weeks... but it would "play in" whether you play it or not.  There might be some effects of playing, but I haven't been able to detect them with measurements as yet.

So far, my observations are agreeing with Martin's and Don's.

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