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60 Year Old Cheap Violin - Cannot get a Sound out of it


Monsterenergy

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Hello everyone,

 

I recently got a 60 years old violin and I wanted to make a sample based instrument with it. Since their was barely any hair left on the bow, I have ordered a new one. Bow arrived, I tuned the instrument, watched a couple of lessons and spent the next hour trying to get a note out of it. I didn't expect to get anything useful from the beginning, but since all I can get out of it is very quited sounds like this example below (after the plucked strings), I was wondering what exactly is wrong:

https://voca.ro/155KXV3nOsWd

(had to hold the violin awkwardly towards the microphone. It's more representative of the sounds I am getting, than my actual efforts.)

Could there be something worng with the violin?

spacer.png

Edited by Monsterenergy
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Thanks for the response!

 

Yes, tuning the instrument is not as easy as tuning my guitars, the tuners are quite unstable.


That must be it. The bow is un-rosined. Thank you! HH brother!


I can loosen the strings and readjust the bridge. It does have a soundpost fitted inside.

 

I am going to put rosin on the bow, make sure I get the tuning right and reposition the bridge.

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"the tuners are quite unstable."

Sounds like the pegs might need some work. I would suggest taking it to a luthier who's good with violins. They would give you a better idea of what's going on, and it could save you a lot of frustration.

On a new bow, I would suggest at least 50 strokes on the rosin to get enough on to work well.

 

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2 minutes ago, FiddleDoug said:

"the tuners are quite unstable."

Sounds like the pegs might need some work. I would suggest taking it to a luthier who's good with violins. They would give you a better idea of what's going on, and it could save you a lot of frustration.

On a new bow, I would suggest at least 50 strokes on the rosin to get enough on to work well.

 

Thanks for the advice!

 

I have done a sound liberay for a virutal instrument with an electric guitar before. I did down- and uptune each string to allow for each note in an chromatic virtual instrument to be an open string (for nicer more consistent sound). Don't know if that is going to be possible with the violine though. I doubt it.

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The bridge needs work, too, IMO. A skilled luthier should look over the whole instrument, do a proper "set up" including the bridge, the pegs, and possibly recommend some (hopefully) reasonably priced new strings. 

Next is to get a lesson from someone who teaches adult students. That person can help teach everything from how to rosin the bow to how to old the instrument, etc. 

The violin is one of the most difficult instruments to get started with, and IMO especially with adults because you know what you want to hear and have no idea how to do it. The bad sounds that come out are cringey! The advantage is that you'll understand what your teacher is telling you to do and can apply it quickly. 

Best of luck and welcome to the world of the violin!

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When you tune using the pegs, are you pushing them in (gently!) to make sure they don't slip?

I'd add my welcome to the wonderful world of violin! And to second the need for a teacher to show you how to play. I joke with my students that if someone wants to teach themselves, do the exact opposite of how you think it should be done!

Best of luck with all things fiddle

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On 2/23/2024 at 11:11 AM, Shelbow said:

I think you may also need to adjust your bridge position. Does it also have a soundpost fitted inside?

the bridge looks terrible and it is 2 cm out of the place. It needs to be replaced and adjusted. Bridge is very important and the bridge on the picture is too thick on the upper side and probably thin in the lower side just looking on it without any measurements. The material of the bridge looks terrible and I think it was sanded by somebody who didn't understand the basics because it looks unfinished. The strings sucks as well, these are the cheapest Chinese metal core strings you can get with (probably) aluminum wrap on G,D, A and nothing on the E. It is very important on the violin to get decent string, nothing cheaper then for example pirastro piranito or tonica will not work on any violin properly. Strings need to be tuned properly G,D,A,E and they will need a good bow with fresh hair and good quality rosin, the bow is not grabbing strings, it is sliding, probably because hair are in bad shape. And the tailpiece is heavy, with 4 heavy tuners, it needs to be replaced with light tailpiece with integrated tuners. The violin is in fact probably decent one but it needs to be checked by luthier because we don't know how it looks inside, what is the quality of the soundpost, if the neck has good angle and length, how the fingerboard geometry works, if the mensura is ok and so on. Many important details which matters must be checked.

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On 2/23/2024 at 10:54 AM, David Burgess said:

Do you have a lump of transparent amber-colored stuff somewhere in the case?

This sounds like an un-rosined or barely-rosined bow.

It sounds like he is playing "col legno" :D
bbdcd4bc0d100c52.jpg

And the bridge is 2 cm out of place, to the back. In fact, it stands behind the sound post instead in front of it. If the soundpost is present at all. What really puzzles me is that there are no traces of the previous location of the bridge on this instrument (or it was always badly placed???). The bridge itself looks like the original one, unfinished template of very poor quality and I'm not sure, what is on the top of that, some golden lacquer ?? The violin was probably never played, maybe someone who didn't understand the basics tried it once or twice, created some rosin deposit on the figerboard :) :) :)  and then left it alone... This is a warning sign, because a good old violin is nearly always played a lot and there are often a lot of traces of using on it, and vice versa, bad old violins are often in their original pristine condition :D 

terriblebridge.jpg

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Yeah, the bridge is way out of position and looks like a brick.  Still, if nothing was wrong with the bow or strings, you should be able to produce a normal-ish sound rather than the atonal scraping of the recording.  See this video for some bowing tips.  There's a lot to take in; probably a good idea to get help in putting the violin into playing condition and how to get started playing it.

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Sorry for the late response, unfortunatly my posts per day here are limted. :blink:

By now I have recorded the sample libary. I figured out the tuning and placed the bridge in the correct position.

It is a very old soviet violin. It was played a bit and then never touched for decades. The strings certainly are not chinese.

I was gifted a litte amount of rosin to get me going. I'd like to buy more rosin, just in case. Now that I have everything recorded I don't know if I'll pick it up again, but you never know.

I was looking at this: https://www.thomann.de/ie/hidersine_6v_rosin_violin_viola.htm

Is this decent rosin?

 

Thanks for the warm welcomes and the response.

Edited by Monsterenergy
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Yes that is very good rosin.  I understand the posting limitation can make you crazy, I don’t understand it myself, it is the most restrictive restriction on the internet I have encountered since the 1980s.  Probably admin was fed up about something. It would be nice if you took that violin to a luthier just so everything can be check out to make sure the tensions are not all out of proportion all over the place.  This is to at least keep the various woods from cracking and coming unglued prematurely.  

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2 hours ago, Mille regardz said:

Yes, this rosin is decent

Thanks for the information.

1 hour ago, Aston4 said:

 I understand the posting limitation can make you crazy, I don’t understand it myself, it is the most restrictive restriction on the internet I have encountered since the 1980s.  

It's intense.

1 hour ago, Aston4 said:

 It would be nice if you took that violin to a luthier just so everything can be check out to make sure the tensions are not all out of proportion all over the place.  This is to at least keep the various woods from cracking and coming unglued prematurely.  

Do you think a cheap old soviet violin is worth that trouble?

Edited by Monsterenergy
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On 2/24/2024 at 8:19 AM, trick-nobody said:

the bridge looks terrible and it is 2 cm out of the place. It needs to be replaced and adjusted. Bridge is very important and the bridge on the picture is too thick on the upper side and probably thin in the lower side just looking on it without any measurements. The material of the bridge looks terrible and I think it was sanded by somebody who didn't understand the basics because it looks unfinished. The strings sucks as well, these are the cheapest Chinese metal core strings you can get with (probably) aluminum wrap on G,D, A and nothing on the E. It is very important on the violin to get decent string, nothing cheaper then for example pirastro piranito or tonica will not work on any violin properly. Strings need to be tuned properly G,D,A,E and they will need a good bow with fresh hair and good quality rosin, the bow is not grabbing strings, it is sliding, probably because hair are in bad shape. And the tailpiece is heavy, with 4 heavy tuners, it needs to be replaced with light tailpiece with integrated tuners. The violin is in fact probably decent one but it needs to be checked by luthier because we don't know how it looks inside, what is the quality of the soundpost, if the neck has good angle and length, how the fingerboard geometry works, if the mensura is ok and so on. Many important details which matters must be checked.

Does Pirastro still make the Pirinito? I haven't been able to find them the last couple years. 

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5 hours ago, Monsterenergy said:

 

 

Do you think a cheap old soviet violin is worth that trouble?

Yes.  Someday it will be, to someone, a fascinating instrument from strange days of long ago.  But only if you preserve it, to pass it along.  A luthier will charge very little, perhaps nothing, to just make sure nothing is going to break.

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I think even old (these are not that old BTW) Soviet violins are worth getting properly serviced and tested by a professional. Sometimes cheap instruments sound good if the wood is good and they are set up correctly. Your violin looks decent as for as of the wood quality.  It will probably never be too expensive to resell due to average craftsmanship, but it is definitely worth professional care as it may be used as a budget option for young talented artists. The worst thing that can happen is when someone (even with good intentions) tries to make a violin work without knowing the basics.
Sometimes the joints can be weak. If you put strings on a violin with a loose lower wood block, it can actually explode and the damage is usually fatal because the pressure of the strings on loose block breaks the ribs and crack the top plate. If your violin can't be tuned and you hear some popping and cracking noises, this could be the problem and you need to stop. The soundpost falls on most of old instruments. If soundpost is absent or it is misplaced or too narrow or too tight, it is a problem. If people try to put modern high tension strings on such an instrument, it can actually crack the top plate or cause deformations which are expensive to repair. Sometimes the bass bar is weak and needs to be replaced or at least luthier can select proper low tension strings. Sometimes the saddle is missing and people put the tailgut directly on the top plate and the tailgut rope cuts through the soft spruce wood or it can crack the top plate. Sometimes the top nut is missing and people cut through the fingerboard with the strings and destroy both the strings and the fingerboard.

There are many things you need to check before you can put new good quality and expensive strings on your violin. As a violinmaker, I have to admit that I'm quite cautious when doing this on an old, unfamiliar instrument that I haven't been allowed to take apart and check everything because of the customer's budget. Despite the utmost caution I've seen many catastrophic failures including the worst you can imagine on old, cheap instruments, from a collapsing neck to a ruptured belly bellow the soundpost.

So it is always a good idea to visit a professional before trying this at home :D

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Chinrests are very personal, this is why there are so many shapes. If you plan to play the violin and bring it to a luthier, ask them for help to select one that is most comfortable for you. You might want a shoulder rest, as well.

Otherwise, for decorative or re-selling purpose, I guess any chinrest will do. You might prefer one that matches the colour of the tailpiece or pegs.

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I've put the lower notes together in a virutal instrument. Unfortunatly it did not work out well.

Listen here:

https://vocaroo.com/11Wah69BrNwD

I was going for recreating a string section by stacking multiple layers of this violin ontop eachother. I recorded it with a close mic about 1 foot distance and a room mic 8 feet distance.

Kind of sounds like an accordion. Not what I was going for.

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