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maxr

Carbon fiddle opinions?

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Hi all, I haven't been here for a while. I'm aiming to buy a carbon fibre violin for use at outdoor events, processions, and other events involving  rude mechanicals, beer and accordions. I'd be glad of your opinions on the playing qualities of the Luis & Clark violin and the German Mezzo-Forte, if you've played either or both, or anything else comparable for that matter. I'm looking for loud as well as tough, and being mostly a folk and early fiddler I don't need an archetypal 19thC Classical sound - just a decent sound of some kind with good volume. Thanks, Max

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I owned a L&C carbon fiber viola for several years and played on it quite a bit, although 100% classical. What I liked about it was the toughness, the fact that it stayed in tune better than most wood instruments, the planetary-geared tuning pegs made tuning quick and easy (no fine tuners needed) and it was loud. It was also light weight, although a "real" violin is also pretty darned light. 

I didn't care for the carbon fiber fingerboard though, it felt "plasticky" and made a bit of noise as the strings were pressed down by the fingers. I don't think you would hear that at a distance, but I noticed it. The Mezzo Forte instruments have (I think) have ebony fingerboards, so if I had to do it again, I would get one of those instead. 

The sound was loud but lacking in some "depth" when compared to the better wooden instruments, but probably for fiddle playing, it would not be a problem. 

Hope this helps!

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Carbon sounds like carbon, more or less, at least to my ear. I have a friend who's in the market for a carbon cello. He tried the MF, the L&C, and the new Glasser, and found the Glasser and the L&C extremely close. Check out the Glassers if you can get your hands on one, could save you a boatload. 

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I sold a Glasser to a friend who plays Irish/Cape Breton music for his boat that is in St. Lucia. Both he and his violinist friend were impressed with how good it sounded vs how they expected it to sound. It is certainly the cheaper of the options and perfetly adequate for a fiddler, and the beer won't hurt the finish.

 

If you are looking for a CF fiddle, then tone isn't your first concern. I've done set-up work on the MF, and I like them, but I do not think that the price difference is worth it to most players.

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3 minutes ago, duane88 said:

I sold a Glasser to a friend who plays Irish/Cape Breton music for his boat that is in St. Lucia.

It's nice of your friend to play the fiddle for his boat, but I can't help being doubtful about whether his boat really appreciates it. ;)

Anyway, I've considered the Glasser carbon composite violins for a while, but I haven't made the buy yet. It is reasonably priced, and would have an undeniable utility. It's not considered to be loud, which is a criterion for our OP. I can't imagine paying the price for the MF or L&C.

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1 hour ago, MarkBouquet clearsky said:

It's nice of your friend to play the fiddle for his boat, but I can't help being doubtful about whether his boat really appreciates it. ;)

Anyway, I've considered the Glasser carbon composite violins for a while, but I haven't made the buy yet. It is reasonably priced, and would have an undeniable utility. It's not considered to be loud, which is a criterion for our OP. I can't imagine paying the price for the MF or L&C.

Ah, the pseudo-English language. So specific yet so vague...

I had no problem with volume. I did, however, cut another post and bridge and traded out the Larson strings that came on it for TIs.

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My son has a Glasser. It's not in the same league as his wood violin (about a $3k Eastern European). You can't beat it for travel and adverse conditions though, and certainly "decent sound of some kind with good volume," especially with a pickup. L&C and Mezzoforte recordings sound better to me, but I haven't heard them side-by-side in person.

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Seems like the L&C and MF instruments are crazy expensive for a "rough duty" instrument. I think I would find a couple of good sounding trade violins to use instead. The Glasser is more reasonable.

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But, any standard wooden violin will end up needing repairs for open seams, etc. if they are used outside, in the sun, humidity changes, and the like. A middle ground might be to look for a used CF violin - there are bound to be bargains out there. 

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On the wood versus carbon durability debate, I'll note that Chinese cashew shell liquid varnished wooden violins made with the dragon hide glue (or whatever it is), stand up to the temperature and humidity swings in North Florida, and mine has survived being bumped and knocked by small children without cracks or seam separations.  When well made to start with, and properly set up, they sound and look nice, too.  :)

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I have had both the  Luis & Clark violin and the German Mezzo-Forte.  I just wanted to try something different and bought the L&C and thought it would be a good "outside" violin.  This was to be a secondary instrument and not in any way to replace my primary fiddle.

IMHO the L&C was a much better sounding instrument than the MF.  In fact my main objection to keeping the L&C was I really disliked the carbon fiber fingerboard  and neck.

I sold the L&C and bought a MF,  choosing the one with the wood finger board.  It was RIDDLED with wolf and false tones, in all of the registers.  A total deal breaker.  I returned it and had to jump through many hoops to get my money back.   

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Thanks guys: your comments confirm what I've heard elsewhere, except that I hadn't heard much about Glasser violins. I'm told a first class setup makes a big difference to the better quality carbon violins, as it can on wooden violins. People find it difficult to believe that a $400 setup can make $3000 or more difference to the sound, but on some fiddles (eg better quality Chinese workshop ones) that has worked for me. I now play one of those in preference to an 1885 Collin-Mezin I used to have. By the way, I play Scottish music among other things, and a good tone can be important for that - just not necessarily a good Mozart tone :)

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Decent setup helps with the cheaper ones, too, I think. The Glasser was set up surprisingly well, with Larsen strings (not red label or noname rubbish), planetary pegs, and a bridge and soundpost that actually fit. That may have been a function of the shop, but I've seen worse on things at 2-3x the price. Since the sound isn't spectacular, we were thinking of putting clear penetrating epoxy on the bridge and soundpost to make it really impervious to weather.

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On 5/20/2019 at 12:34 PM, JacksonMaberry said:

Carbon sounds like carbon, more or less, at least to my ear. I have a friend who's in the market for a carbon cello. He tried the MF, the L&C, and the new Glasser, and found the Glasser and the L&C extremely close. Check out the Glassers if you can get your hands on one, could save you a boatload. 

I agree.

To me, materials are part of a sound's fingerprint.

Carbon tends to sound hollowish, with too much of the energy rolling around in higher frequencies.

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On 5/21/2019 at 12:36 PM, Violadamore said:

On the wood versus carbon durability debate, I'll note that Chinese cashew shell liquid varnished wooden violins made with the dragon hide glue (or whatever it is), stand up to the temperature and humidity swings in North Florida, and mine has survived being bumped and knocked by small children without cracks or seam separations.  When well made to start with, and properly set up, they sound and look nice, too.  :)

My personal dragon through a U.S. shop was made on an inside mold.  I suspected it because of a one piece bottom rib.  Then with a magnifier I saw on one of the rib corners the end grain of the bottom crosses the full width of the corner, meaning the center rib butts the corner on the inside like with inside mold.  I kind of couldn't believe it.  Pretty cool really

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On 5/22/2019 at 3:03 AM, PhilipKT said:

Buy a real violin.

PhilipKT - well, over the last 50 years I've had a few 'real violins, in fact last count I had 3 real 4 string violins, 1 real Baroque violin, one real 5 string violin and one real 5 string viola. Sure, they (mostly) sound good and have character - but why why would I take any of them out in the rain or hot sun (supposing the latter happens again here in UK)?  Also, I've played the occasional $15K luthier violin which looked beautiful but for some unfindable reason just didn't play anywhere near its price range, and many many $5K-$10K violins with antique value but lousy tone. So 'real' violins have their place, but so does carbon if it's done right.

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8 minutes ago, maxr said:

PhilipKT - well, over the last 50 years I've had a few 'real violins, in fact last count I had 3 real 4 string violins, 1 real Baroque violin, one real 5 string violin and one real 5 string viola. Sure, they (mostly) sound good and have character - but why why would I take any of them out in the rain or hot sun (supposing the latter happens again here in UK)?  Also, I've played the occasional $15K luthier violin which looked beautiful but for some unfindable reason just didn't play anywhere near its price range, and many many $5K-$10K violins with antique value but lousy tone. So 'real' violins have their place, but so does carbon if it's done right.

I’m trying to find the right words to respond ....violin family instruments Made of something Other than wood don’t count. I’ve seen metal violins and glass violins, And they were interesting, but they are Experiments in alternate materials, And not serious musical instruments. I understand that some people think otherwise and that is OK, but I would never under any circumstances recommend or Use a CF instrument, And I have played several.

The very material that my cello is made of makes it unique, slightly different even from a cello cut from the same log and assembled exactly the same way. The man who made my instrument had a slightly different approach from every other maker. Each maker seeks the same goal in different ways; Even if attempting to do it the same way, minute differences will still affect the final product. That infinite variety makes every instrument, and therefore every pairing of instrument and player, unique.

In her book, “dialogues with the devil,” Taylor Caldwell depicts Hell  as a place where only perfection is allowed. Nothing but perfection is acceptable, and when everything is perfect, everything is the same, and therefore everything is meaningless. Carbon Fiber is infinitely reproducible, so that the millionth is exactly like the first.

I find that completely appalling.

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9 minutes ago, PhilipKT said:

I’m trying to find the right words to respond ....violin family instruments Made of something Other than wood don’t count. I’ve seen metal violins and glass violins, And they were interesting, but they are Experiments in alternate materials, And not serious musical instruments. I understand that some people think otherwise and that is OK, but I would never under any circumstances recommend or Use a CF instrument, And I have played several.

The very material that my cello is made of makes it unique, slightly different even from a cello cut from the same log and assembled exactly the same way. The man who made my instrument had a slightly different approach from every other maker. Each maker seeks the same goal in different ways; Even if attempting to do it the same way, minute differences will still affect the final product. That infinite variety makes every instrument, and therefore every pairing of instrument and player, unique.

In her book, “dialogues with the devil,” Taylor Caldwell depicts Hell  as a place where only perfection is allowed. Nothing but perfection is acceptable, and when everything is perfect, everything is the same, and therefore everything is meaningless. Carbon Fiber is infinitely reproducible, so that the millionth is exactly like the first.

I find that completely appalling.

I don't know where this idea that carbon fiber instruments and bows are perfectly reproducible came from.  I know from my own experience trying several bows of the same model and maker that carbon fiber bows vary considerably from one to another.  It makes sense that some of the same factors that affect the sound of wood instruments would affect the sound of carbon fiber  instruments: small variance in consistency of the material, thicknesses, curvatures, etc.

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It has to come down to what you think about the material.  CF, wood, neither has to dictate how valid the maker's approach to making is. 

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On 5/21/2019 at 10:36 AM, Violadamore said:

On the wood versus carbon durability debate, I'll note that Chinese cashew shell liquid varnished wooden violins made with the dragon hide glue (or whatever it is), stand up to the temperature and humidity swings in North Florida, and mine has survived being bumped and knocked by small children without cracks or seam separations.  When well made to start with, and properly set up, they sound and look nice, too.  :)

Yeah, but can you make an ice cream sundae with it, or paddle a canoe?

https://maestronet.com/forum/index.php?/topic/321669-viola-matic/

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