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Dan Keller

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

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12 hours ago, Rue said:

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"

I am aware of that phenomenon and avoid it as much as possible.

when we play our own instruments, we develop a sense of effort required for a given sound. When we switch to a different instrument the instinct is to use the same energy to get a particular sound, and that can cause a perception that the instrument is not playing well, and that it improves as we adjust to the needs of that instrument. In that sense, yes we are adjusting to the cello and the cello is not adjusting to us. However, if we are aware of that instinct we can compensate And more accurately gauge the instrument itself.

when I pick up a new instrument I bow with as little energy as possible to get the softest possible sound. I start from zero and slowly increase. That way I am making no assumptions about how much energy it takes to get anything: instead, I am learning what the cello will do with a particular input, and when I have arrived at my default mezzo forte, I know the difference in power requirements between the new instrument and my current one. I continue to find out the upper volume limits. Then it is possible to evaluate the quality of the sound and quality of the response and not just the volume.

With the instruments I mentioned, each opened up over the time I was playing them. We do learn the nuances of a particular instrument, but that is different from hearing the difference in sound as a cello opens up through being played.

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40 minutes ago, PhilipKT said:

>

>

when I pick up a new instrument I bow with as little energy as possible to get the softest possible sound. I start from zero and slowly increase. That way I am making no assumptions about how much energy it takes to get anything: instead, I am learning what the cello will do with a particular input, and when I have arrived at my default mezzo forte, I know the difference in power requirements between the new instrument and my current one. I continue to find out the upper volume limits. 

>

What does that mean " I bow with as little energy as possible to get the softest possible sound"?  Do you mean as slow a bow speed as possible?  Or as little a bow downward force as possible?   Or a combination of both?  Energy could mean the bow stroke length times the bowing force (Newton meters?   Power level could be this energy divided by the time span of the bowing stroke Newton meters per second, watts etc.)

I had a player complain that it took too much "work" to get any sound out of one of my violas.  I replied that my viola was an exercise machine for burning calories to help players lose weight but she took my comment poorly.

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16 minutes ago, Marty Kasprzyk said:

What does that mean " I bow with as little energy as possible to get the softest possible sound"?  Do you mean as slow a bow speed as possible?  Or as little a bow downward force as possible?   Or a combination of both?  Energy could mean the bow stroke length times the bowing force (Newton meters?   Power level could be this energy divided by the time span of the bowing stroke Newton meters per second, watts etc.)

I had a player complain that it took too much "work" to get any sound out of one of my violas.  I replied that my viola was an exercise machine for burning calories to help players lose weight but she took my comment poorly.

 Sound is a result of a ratio of bow speed to bow weight. I put the bow on the string and start moving it at a slow speed with absolutely zero weight. It’s just moving back-and-forth across the strings. The result is a sound, but not anything structured or regular it can’t be called a pitch, it’s just white noise. As I bow I slowly increase weight until the ratio of weight to speed gives me the smallest PP.

On my own cello, to get that same volume level, the softest meaningful sound possible, it takes a certain amount of energy. On the new instrument that I am trying out it takes a different amount of energy, but once I found how much energy Is required, I can increase the ratio to find the instrument’s volume range.

and then within that available range I can evaluate other qualities of the sound. I actually just did that a few hours ago, with a freshly revarnished Guy Cole cello.

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21 minutes ago, Marty Kasprzyk said:

Attached is an article on how playing affects violin aging.  

aging by playing violins.pdfFetching info...

I think I’ve already read this but I’ll make sure. Although my own cello was indeed brand new and had basically never been played except by the maker after being setup, the other instruments to which I refer had been dormant for a very long time, had just finished an extensive restoration, or both. A friend and I are eagerly waiting for her Testori to be playable again after 20+ years of silence.

hmmm I’ll get video of that. Maybe there will be an obvious change( maybe not.) and maybe it will be subtle enough that an IPhone mic doesn’t pick it up.

that will be fascinating.

meanwhile, to the PDF!

(yes I remember reading this. Reading again)

Edited by PhilipKT
Addendum

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4 hours ago, PhilipKT said:

I am aware of that phenomenon and avoid it as much as possible.

when we play our own instruments, we develop a sense of effort required for a given sound. When we switch to a different instrument the instinct is to use the same energy to get a particular sound, and that can cause a perception that the instrument is not playing well, and that it improves as we adjust to the needs of that instrument. In that sense, yes we are adjusting to the cello and the cello is not adjusting to us. However, if we are aware of that instinct we can compensate And more accurately gauge the instrument itself.

when I pick up a new instrument I bow with as little energy as possible to get the softest possible sound. I start from zero and slowly increase. That way I am making no assumptions about how much energy it takes to get anything: instead, I am learning what the cello will do with a particular input, and when I have arrived at my default mezzo forte, I know the difference in power requirements between the new instrument and my current one. I continue to find out the upper volume limits. Then it is possible to evaluate the quality of the sound and quality of the response and not just the volume.

With the instruments I mentioned, each opened up over the time I was playing them. We do learn the nuances of a particular instrument, but that is different from hearing the difference in sound as a cello opens up through being played.

This is what a wise driver or motorcycle rider does when operating an unfamiliar vehicle for the first time.  

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3 hours ago, Marty Kasprzyk said:

What does that mean " I bow with as little energy as possible to get the softest possible sound"?  Do you mean as slow a bow speed as possible?  Or as little a bow downward force as possible?   Or a combination of both?  Energy could mean the bow stroke length times the bowing force (Newton meters?   Power level could be this energy divided by the time span of the bowing stroke Newton meters per second, watts etc.)

I had a player complain that it took too much "work" to get any sound out of one of my violas.  I replied that my viola was an exercise machine for burning calories to help players lose weight but she took my comment poorly.

The narrow waist and long neck of your design may have been taken for inuendo. (joking)

Could it be that she was accustomed to a different brand of strings (broken-in) or a different bridge type/setup? Did she use the same bow and rosin as on her "easy" instrument(s)?  Artisans understand controlled experiments - many musicians do not.

I need to lose weight and strengthen arms and neck. So, I'm also designing an exercise viola.  It will be 18 inches long, 22mm arches, Ipe back and ribs, Douglas fir top, lignum vitae fb and fittings. Handcart, dental guard and ear muffs included. (joking - for now).The viola will be fitted with a PFD in case it falls in the water.

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49 minutes ago, David Burgess said:

If audio cables are broken in by playing Black Sabbath, does it ruin them for classical music? :blink:

I prefer AC/DC for electronically imposed violin break-in. Back in Black preferably. I think my tastes may have been influenced by the music selections played in a shop I once worked in... :) 

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On 2/20/2020 at 4:27 PM, JohnCockburn said:

Apparently some hi-fi enthusiasts/audiophools think these are worth a few hundred bucks:

http://www.enjoythemusic.com/magazine/equipment/0404/audioharma.htm

 

i have no idea about that system ,

for more information you can check the main website or 

Company Information

Audio Excellence Az
940 East Cavalier Drive
Phoenix, AZ 85014

Voice: (602) 277-0799
Fax: (602) 212-9800
E-mail: alan@audioexcellenceaz.com
Website: www.audioexcellenceaz.com

 https://audioexcellenceaz.com/

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I believe instruments can definitely "warm up" by playing.  It's not imaginary.

I have had one of my guitars for 34 years now. Still to this day, if it's not played for an extended.period (month ot two), it takes a couple hours of heavy playing, often with other instruments, before it fully comes to life, where you don't have to play as hard to get the sound out, how the notes have a different pop to them, etc. And it's not "how I'm playing"; it can just be sitting there and you can pluck a string and hear how much different the response is compared.to when it was taken out of the case.

I also don't need to "get used to it" or "learn to play it"; it's been my main guitar for over 30 years...

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If it hasn't been used for a while, and you haven't heard it for a while, of course it will need to 'settle' in with the current environmental conditions and your ears will get used to it again. And of course you will 'get used to it'.  We have to get used to anything we haven't been doing on a regular basis...doesn't matter if we've done it before.  I've been riding a bicycle since I was a child.  I can still (and sometimes do) ride a bicycle.  BUT...if I haven't ridden for a few years...I'm wobbly when I get on.  I have to get used to it again...even if it's the same bicycle.

Two hours is well within what I'd consider 'reasonable'.  Even slightly longer estimates are still reasonable ...^_^

But I draw a line at comments suggesting '70 years' or other bizarre numbers that can't be confirmed or even narrowed down to a number that anyone can check within their lifetime...:angry:

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2 hours ago, Rue said:

If it hasn't been used for a while, and you haven't heard it for a while, of course it will need to 'settle' in with the current environmental conditions and your ears will get used to it again. And of course you will 'get used to it'.  We have to get used to anything we haven't been doing on a regular basis...doesn't matter if we've done it before.  I've been riding a bicycle since I was a child.  I can still (and sometimes do) ride a bicycle.  BUT...if I haven't ridden for a few years...I'm wobbly when I get on.  I have to get used to it again...even if it's the same bicycle.

Two hours is well within what I'd consider 'reasonable'.  Even slightly longer estimates are still reasonable ...^_^

But I draw a line at comments suggesting '70 years' or other bizarre numbers that can't be confirmed or even narrowed down to a number that anyone can check within their lifetime...:angry:

Acutely accurate memory, even over time spans as short as ten seconds, can be very challenging. There's no shortage of studies on things like that.

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If you are a violin maker, 3 or 4 months are ok for playing in.

But, depending on the violin dealer, a 100 years playing in period is the minimum necessary.... 

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I think playing in an instrument is getting used to it, and basically nothing else happens. However, changes may happen to the instrument, like creep in aching, environmental changes, varnish hardening etc. But not from the playing or vibrations per se.  

Edited by Anders Buen
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4 minutes ago, Anders Buen said:

I think playing in an instrument is getting used to it, and basically nothing else happens. However, changes may happen to the instrument, like creep in aching, environmental changes, varnish hardening etc. But not from the playing or vibrations per se.  

At this point, there does seem to be stronger evidence for humans adapting, than inanimate objects adapting. ;)

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I agree with Mr. Darnton that arching is important.   In particular,  the line of inflections is such that stresses will cause this to migrate toward the shape of minimum potential energy (in the stored stress.)   The closer to ideal,  the sooner this will happen.

Sometimes I find that a violin will very quickly come to an equilibrium from applied forces and sometimes it takes more time.  Also,  sometimes the arching may be so far from equilibrium that it may never reach an optimum shape.

Also,  this view could suggest why makers take both the outline and arching from a classic model and copy both totaly without understanding why.  The outline provides the boundary conditions for whatever the optimum shape of the inflection line should be.  DON?  what do YOU think ?

Finding the best shape of the inflection line may be something one could find with FEA.   (That is,  given the major curves in the central convex part.)

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32 minutes ago, Johnmasters said:

I agree with Mr. Darnton that arching is important.   In particular,  the line of inflections is such that stresses will cause this to migrate toward the shape of minimum potential energy (in the stored stress.)   The closer to ideal,  the sooner this will happen.

Sometimes I find that a violin will very quickly come to an equilibrium from applied forces and sometimes it takes more time.  Also,  sometimes the arching may be so far from equilibrium that it may never reach an optimum shape.

Also,  this view could suggest why makers take both the outline and arching from a classic model and copy both totaly without understanding why.  The outline provides the boundary conditions for whatever the optimum shape of the inflection line should be.  DON?  what do YOU think ?

Finding the best shape of the inflection line may be something one could find with FEA.   (That is,  given the major curves in the central convex part.)

I will agree that initial shape, and also shape changes from applied stresses over time are important. Whether or not vibration, or something like the "signature of a player" has an influence, seems to remain very much up in the air, aside from beliefs and anecdotes.

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21 hours ago, Rue said:

If it hasn't been used for a while, and you haven't heard it for a while, of course it will need to 'settle' in with the current environmental conditions and your ears will get used to it again. And of course you will 'get used to it'.  We have to get used to anything we haven't been doing on a regular basis...doesn't matter if we've done it before.  I've been riding a bicycle since I was a child.  I can still (and sometimes do) ride a bicycle.  BUT...if I haven't ridden for a few years...I'm wobbly when I get on.  I have to get used to it again...even if it's the same bicycle.

Two hours is well within what I'd consider 'reasonable'.  Even slightly longer estimates are still reasonable ...^_^

But I draw a line at comments suggesting '70 years' or other bizarre numbers that can't be confirmed or even narrowed down to a number that anyone can check within their lifetime...:angry:

I'll definitely have to agree to disagree. It's not just my guitar...others I know have the same thing happen. 

Also, how would you explain someone else playing my guitar right out of the case for a tune or two, and then playing something else for a few hours, and then playing it again later after it's been played steadily, and saying, "wow, this is really waking up!"? Did they "get used" to my playing it? 

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21 minutes ago, Fiddler45 said:

I'll definitely have to agree to disagree. It's not just my guitar...others I know have the same thing happen. 

Also, how would you explain someone else playing my guitar right out of the case for a tune or two, and then playing something else for a few hours, and then playing it again later after it's been played steadily, and saying, "wow, this is really waking up!"? Did they "get used" to my playing it? 

Strong beliefs can do interesting things to perceptions. A blind or double-blind study might be more interesting, like the Australian study Marty linked to earlier.

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27 minutes ago, Fiddler45 said:

I'll definitely have to agree to disagree. It's not just my guitar...others I know have the same thing happen. 

Also, how would you explain someone else playing my guitar right out of the case for a tune or two, and then playing something else for a few hours, and then playing it again later after it's been played steadily, and saying, "wow, this is really waking up!"? Did they "get used" to my playing it? 

I'll agree only if the sides and back are solid wood - none of that laminated stuff.   

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