Sign in to follow this  
dfowler1685

The real reason old instruments sound better.

Recommended Posts

There is some logic to that, however, it is not entirely true. The old instruments are hardest to obtain and generally only the most accomplished players get the best ones. But I know that I would sound better on a good Strad than on my very good modern instrument, they just respond better and are 'silkier' to play. Plus, perhaps the forces of instrument survival have favored the best of the old instruments, so the cream has risen to the top, so to speak. I've seen quite a few miserable old instruments though - I own one in fact.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Nice old violins really do sound better. A friend who plays in a major symphony and was judging a competition mentioned that the winner was able to get away with things that he would never be able to do on his 30,000 dollar modern, so not only do really good instruments sound better they are also just that little bit more forgiving. I heard a masterclass once with a strad being used by the woman giving it, everything she did sounded way better than any of the students, every note from her fiddle like a golden drop. It seemed sort of unfair.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

quote:


Originally posted by:
Andrew Victor

Just never forget what Jack Benny sounded like on his STRAD!

Andy

True, but he'd of sounded even worse with a Scott Cao. (That was not intended as an insult to Scott Cao!)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The survival of the fittest is a very likely scenario, Dr. S. It took me a while but I've begun to realize that the oldest, most repaired fiddles are that way because they have a better sound. There are a few very old fiddles around that are in mint condition but they're more an oddity or a museum specimen.

When I see an old fiddle on auction or in some discussion that's all patched up, horrible gloppy varnish and filth all over it, a few missing pieces and worn out bushed pegholes, I wonder why anyone would want to hang on to this thing that's way past it's prime. But then I realize that the only reason it's so worn out and used up is because of it's sound. Someone or several generations of someones must have wanted to keep playing it so bad that they went to all the effort of piecing it together time after time and splinting it's remains.

Either that or it was owned by someone who was just clumsy.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Exactly,

Play it, fix it, play again, fix it again etc....

After many years..

My own cheap old violin now sounds a lot better than it was when I first time had it.

Fixing a violin is just as important as it was built. Many professional repaired work

has put in it to make it sounds "right" (to its best). $100 here and

$200 there, etc.

(open the top, change bass bar, pull up the neck, done before me)

Not saying anything about my labor or (abuses, accident chisel marks).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

And Don't forget, Strads were prized from their first owners on. And the Cremona school has always been held in high regard, though it is true there was a time when Germans instruments were thought to be better, before the Cremona school was rediscoverd about the time of Pagannini.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

While I too like old fiddles, one poster made a seemingly valid point about violins with multiple repairs; sometimes a piece of junk will have had many seemiungly extensive/expensive repairs nt because of its intrinsic worth, but as an object of little value that a fledgling luthier can practice new skills on without risking a good violin to relatively unskilled hands.

Made me worry a bit.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

quote:


Originally posted by:
Bob A
sometimes a piece of

junk will have had many seemiungly extensive/expensive repairs nt

because of its intrinsic worth, but as an object of little value

that a fledgling luthier can practice new skills on without risking

a good violin to relatively unskilled hands. .

Imagine, in a hundred years, what some of Yuen's violins might

fetch on Ebay!

(this joke may never get old)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

quote:


Originally posted by:
Allan Speers

quote:


Originally posted by:
Bob A
sometimes a piece of

junk will have had many seemiungly extensive/expensive repairs nt

because of its intrinsic worth, but as an object of little value

that a fledgling luthier can practice new skills on without risking

a good violin to relatively unskilled hands. .

Imagine, in a hundred years, what some of Yuen's violins might

fetch on Ebay!

(this joke may never get old)

Yuen and we all, will only experience that postmortal.

Frits

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

++++++++++

Hundred years later, how much Yuen's violin be fetched on ebay....

+++++++++

It depends at time what label would be affixed on. Now it has no label. Any suggestion? (Just kidding)

Seriously, not all violins can be fixed. Some better be used for fire wood. Be sure

take the metal things and plastic things out first . Otherwise smell bad.

I did throw away two violins $10, $60 (in 60's) when I was in younger years.

I am pretty good in throwing thing out. Great talent , they say.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think Yuen makes a good point in that better instruments get fine tuned over years of good fortune in the hands of good luthiers and get optimized. After making violins for a few years I can empircally say that violins move settle quite a bit in the first few months. Intuition alone would reveal the the rate of movement has to slow and approach an stability over time. In the words of Manfio when I noticed one of the necks on a fiddle I made drop in two months in regards to bridge height as "a moving target". Any combination of these two facts could make old instruments sound better than new ones.

Mike

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

If I understand the question correctly the questioner/commenter is saying that they sound better because they are played better or are we saying that an instrument will physically alter to sound better in the hands of a good player? After all, if you play with a big full tone it's going to have a physical affect on the instrument is it not? A lesser player could then pick up the instrument and the tone would still be very open. So maybe any instrument can reach its full potential in the hands of a good player?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hard to get a new slant on this perrenial debate.

Here's one thought though ...... have any of you felt on a finer instrument

(not necessarily a Strad - I'm thinking of a Bisiach at the moment)

that it's sometimes like playing through the string - like the sound is coming

from somewhere other than the vicinity of the bridge/f-holes area?

(almost like you're playing deeper inside the instrument)

With many less fine instruments

what is apparently a biggish sound is often right in your face.

Not sure if that makes sense or not. Just a feeling.

Maybe it's also more helpful to talk of

fine and less excellent instruments

rather than new and old.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Indeed not all old violins sound great. I have heard and played a few modern violins that are very nice indeed. I must confess however that my tastes in fine violins is still changing even after 45 years

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

" sound better" is a judgement. How can anyone reach such a conclusion is debatable.

Not all old instruments are good. Everyone agrees that.

PS. There are many experiments and debates about old violins. e.g.

Dr. Nagyvary website and debates in this forum to get an idea.

No clear cut winner.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Well...as has been said already there are some horrid sounding old

instruments.

The reason that valuable old ITALIAN instruments generally sound

better is partly because they were very well made. ...the playing

has little to do with it but restoration and set up DO.

In something of a self fulfilling prophesy, instruments which are

of a make categorized as valuable and of good sound both get the

attentions of the finest setter uppers and restores and have a

value which allows weeks of tinkering if needed to ensure a good

and as expected sound if in the slightest bit possible.....That

counts for a lot.......But as the saying goes ....' you can't make

a silk purse from a sow's ear'.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Isn't it true that old Italian instruments "sound better" than modern ones because only expert violinists get to play the old master instruments?

I have seen a lot of very fine instruments in the hands of amateurs who do not play very well. But they all have something in common, namely money. They are passionate about violins and have the resources to indulge their desires. These are wealthy people you have never heard of and they buy well documented violins in fine condition.

On the other hand, I have seen a lot of professional violinists playing on terrific sounding violins with nebulous attributions, faux labels and often in fair condition only. They have been priced out of the pedigree market

and are forced to judge quality by listening with their ears and not their eyes.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It takes a good player to play a violin well. A good player can make a cheap liitle 1/8th size sing. A bad player will play any violin badly; however that aside, there are tone qualities and sound projection that some fiddles can handle and some can't and at a certain point in judging a players virtuosity you really are judging the violin.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Horrid sounding old instruments?, if your talking 1850 or earlier, not true, there weren't really any factories, even crude cheap 1700s sounds better than factory anything, just my opinion, and I mean Lowendall, Heberlein and Roth, a hand made built around 1800 copy worth $2000 will blow a Roth away, Johann

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...
Sign in to follow this  

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.