Sign in to follow this  
Ted_B

Can you turn a trade violin into a pro-quality instrument?

Recommended Posts

I'm an adult beginner/intermediate violinist and am considering purchasing a violin that will serve me for the rest of my life. Let's say my budget is around $2-3k. All I care is nice sound and proper setup for ease of play. It doesn't have to be pretty, flamed, old, French, etc. Just a good overall instrument that advanced or even professional violinists wouldn't mind playing. Anyway, today I spoke to a luthier (also a violin store owner) who told me that he can take any trade violin, open it up and with a proper set up make it sound as good as any professional level violin. I really don't know what to think of that. He offers to sell me one although he sells new professional level US made violins that cost five times more, but he claims that his overhauled trade violins are just as good. Any thoughts?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
7 hours ago, Ted_B said:

...a luthier...told me that he can take any trade violin, open it up and with a proper set up make it sound as good as any professional level violin...

I doubt that it's possible with all trade violins, but I don't see why it couldn't be done with some.  You would have to try the violins and see what they sound like.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
7 hours ago, Ted_B said:

I'm an adult beginner/intermediate violinist and am considering purchasing a violin that will serve me for the rest of my life. Let's say my budget is around $2-3k. All I care is nice sound and proper setup for ease of play. It doesn't have to be pretty, flamed, old, French, etc. Just a good overall instrument that advanced or even professional violinists wouldn't mind playing. Anyway, today I spoke to a luthier (also a violin store owner) who told me that he can take any trade violin, open it up and with a proper set up make it sound as good as any professional level violin. I really don't know what to think of that. He offers to sell me one although he sells new professional level US made violins that cost five times more, but he claims that his overhauled trade violins are just as good. Any thoughts?

Hmm. What is a Pro quality violin? It will sound very similar after he has worked on it, because the wood will still be the same.

You might as well ask, what is good wood tonally? And that is very difficult to answer

 

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
6 minutes ago, sospiri said:

Hmm. What is a Pro quality violin? It will sound very similar after he has worked on it, because the wood will still be the same.

You might as well ask, what is good wood tonally? And that is very difficult to answer

 

 

 

It has bugger all to do with the wood

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
9 hours ago, Ted_B said:

Anyway, today I spoke to a luthier (also a violin store owner) who told me that he can take any trade violin, open it up and with a proper set up make it sound as good as any professional level violin. I really don't know what to think of that. He offers to sell me one although he sells new professional level US made violins that cost five times more, but he claims that his overhauled trade violins are just as good. Any thoughts?

Let the burden of proof rest on him. Try one of the violins which he has already modified, and see what you think.

I'm skeptical. Maybe his professional-level US made violins that cost five times as much aren't all that good.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

A decent Chinese instrument purchased from a shop that will have it well set up will meet your requirements and then some. In the area where I live this would be something like a Jay Haide. Lots of people in your position are doing very well with these.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 minutes ago, deans said:

A decent Chinese instrument purchased from a shop that will have it well set up will meet your requirements and then some. In the area where I live this would be something like a Jay Haide. Lots of people in your position are doing very well with these.

As Will any well made instrument. I have no idea what Jacob is trying to say?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
7 minutes ago, deans said:

A decent Chinese instrument purchased from a shop that will have it well set up will meet your requirements and then some. In the area where I live this would be something like a Jay Haide. Lots of people in your position are doing very well with these.

That is the second time in two days you have been promoting new Chinese violins, entirely out of any context. Do you get a commission?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
8 hours ago, Ted_B said:

 Anyway, today I spoke to a luthier (also a violin store owner) who told me that he can take any trade violin, open it up and with a proper set up make it sound as good as any professional level violin. 

I'm struggling with the "any"s here.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
8 hours ago, Ted_B said:

Anyway, today I spoke to a luthier (also a violin store owner) who told me that he can take any trade violin, open it up and with a proper set up make it sound as good as any professional level violin. I really don't know what to think of that. He offers to sell me one although he sells new professional level US made violins that cost five times more, but he claims that his overhauled trade violins are just as good. Any thoughts?

If it were really that simple, everybody would want to play one of his molested trade violins, and not look for anything else.
Yet this doesn't happen.

You should ask him if he has made any violins, and if so, why they were worse than trade violins.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
20 minutes ago, jacobsaunders said:

That is the second time in two days you have been promoting new Chinese violins, entirely out of any context. Do you get a commission?

Sorry. Both posters added a little context about their musical needs. I felt compelled to suggest an alternative that usually turns out better.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Having done several regrads of old (and not so old) trade fiddles, I would struggle with "any" as well.  What you start with matters.

1) As I think Jacob was saying, the wood matters.  Occasionally an inexpensive violin will have good tonewood, but the vast majority don't... and although you might get an OK tone out of it, the power and projection that a professional player might want will be unobtainable.

2) Arching matters.  You can't do much about it (unless you REALLY want to do some fancy things), so some of the tonal color is baked in.

3) Occasionally trade fiddles are too thin, but not often.  Building back up thickness is not so keen for the tone, or the work involved.

Due to 1) and 2), a lot of the tonal capability of an existing violin is set in stone (so to speak).  You can shift the stone around to a different spot for better balance,  but it's still basically the same stone.  I'd look for a trade violin that has a decent basic tone and has plenty of volume, but might just be too shrill and lacking roundness and low end.  That can be balanced out with thinning.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
21 minutes ago, Don Noon said:

Having done several regrads of old (and not so old) trade fiddles, I would struggle with "any" as well.  What you start with matters.

1) As I think Jacob was saying, the wood matters.  Occasionally an inexpensive violin will have good tonewood, but the vast majority don't... and although you might get an OK tone out of it, the power and projection that a professional player might want will be unobtainable.

2) Arching matters.  You can't do much about it (unless you REALLY want to do some fancy things), so some of the tonal color is baked in.

3) Occasionally trade fiddles are too thin, but not often.  Building back up thickness is not so keen for the tone, or the work involved.

Due to 1) and 2), a lot of the tonal capability of an existing violin is set in stone (so to speak).  You can shift the stone around to a different spot for better balance,  but it's still basically the same stone.  I'd look for a trade violin that has a decent basic tone and has plenty of volume, but might just be too shrill and lacking roundness and low end.  That can be balanced out with thinning.

Great answer - thanks.

How important is just basic old LOUDNESS ?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, jacobsaunders said:

It has bugger all to do with the wood

I might be wrong, but taking the liberty to interpret Jacob's comment, I think he means that it does not have all to do with the wood.  I may not totally agree with him, but we all know that setup is a big factor.

BTW, I have friends using Chinese Jay Haide violins who are quite happy, but I don't use one myself.  

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 minutes ago, violinsRus said:

...I think he means that it does not have all to do with the wood...

I think he means exactly the opposite -- that the wood is of paramount importance.

Jacob:  You should straighten us out.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
9 minutes ago, Brad Dorsey said:

I think he means exactly the opposite -- that the wood is of paramount importance.

Jacob:  You should straighten us out.

Good luck with that.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

All violins are made of wood. I remember a couple of years ago doing major restoration work on a Gagliano cello, and thinking every day what disgusting wood he had used, and why he hadn’t stoked the fire with it. The Böhmerwald around the Saxon/Bohemian area had whole hills of good violin wood, to the point that they even exported it for violin makers elsewhere. In fact, the roughly “hogged out” (© Ann Arbour) bellies, can only be done with split wood, and not with the Gaglianos short grained stuff (try it). The contention that the “clasical Italian” wood is one thing, and the Saxon wood an entirely different inferior substance is risible.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It seems to be difficult enough to find a consense about what's a "trade violin" (thinking of Juzek et.a.), but sheere impossible to tell what's exactly defining a "pro instrument".

OTOH, it often just takes to glue in a label (once more Juzek, and maybe it's exactly what the OP's luthier is doing), and perhaps some pro violins need to be turned into playable instruments.

And I guess I have no problems to understand Jacob, probably because it's not my first language.:)

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.