Any violin players here?

Discussion in 'Fred's Barcalounge' started by Bertotti, Nov 27, 2020.

  1. Bertotti

    Bertotti Friend of Fred

    Jul 20, 2017
    South Dakota
    I am considering a violin, kids are partially interested and I have always wanted one. Stringworks in Geneva Ill seems to have a really good rep. Just curious if any of you play. I am really drawn to the five-string
    the idea and love the sound of the extended range it covers.
  2. BrianW

    BrianW Country Gent

    Oct 21, 2014
    Vancouver Island
    I tried many many years ago. All I could accomplish with it (a cheap Chinese made kid's fiddle) was to chase the hair off the neighbour's cat with the squeaks. Not really a valid attempt, honestly. I wished I had invested more time and money in lessons and the violin, but didn't have the resources.

    Hopefully somebody can give some guidance!

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  3. mrfixitmi

    mrfixitmi Country Gent

    Mar 20, 2010
    If you have always wanted one, and the kids are interested, that is the icing on the cake. A mutual love is the kind of legacy that you want to pass on. If you feel a 5-string is more desirable, as we all know with COVID and other events, life is too short, go for it.
    Yes, my son and I play violin.
    I was trained on a four string, my son was also trained on a four string, but he wanted the extended lower "C" so that he could record fill ins with his Cello, so he got the five string while he was in high school. The advantage is that a 5 string violin can go enter into the viola range, and the first four strings are the same as a four string violin.

    It did take him some transitioning based upon the fingerboard width. But he can switch from 5 string to a 4 string in about 5 minutes of practice.
    The advantage is that you don't have to unlearn any habits from a 4 string. The 5 string violin has been around for a while, and is becoming more popular. The 5 - string sets have come down by 40% since he started to play becasue they are becoming more common.

    I do need to caution, that violin strings are not cheap, but they do last for a long time. My advice is to try it out, along with a bow. Some bows feel natural, and some do not. My violin bow was handed down, from the old country, and is fairly expensive, but my son hates it.

    We bought my son a composite bow, which he loves better than my bow. The bottom line is higher price does not always equal satisfaction.

    The ability to play without frets, really helps develop your ear for music, and ability to hear pitch. Most violinists, violists and cellists have good pitch, or at least good relative pitch.
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  4. Bertotti

    Bertotti Friend of Fred

    Jul 20, 2017
    South Dakota
    I use TI strings on my mandolin, at over 50$ a set! But they also last a long long time. I will request they put TI on the violin and get an extra set because that's what I always do. What about bows? I see some have multiple bows. I have no idea why. I would be more inclined to just have some extra hair on hand to rehair it. Not even sure that's the correct term. I was given three levels of bow to consider to start out, a Store bow49$, a composite harmony bow 80$, and the Jon Kruasch at 270$. The few people I know think you shouldn't skimp on the bow but dog gone some of the bows are into four digits! I don't know the difference. The store will talk with me tomorrow or Monday and I'll get some information from them. Sadly for a five-string, it looks like a special order.
  5. knh555

    knh555 Gretschie

    Apr 22, 2019
    I have a couple violas and a violin. As a violist, the appeal of a five string makes sense and getting something that's more easily amplified and recorded sounds good too. I'm sure if I'd want a five string viola or five string violin though given my history as a violist and partiality for the melancholy tone violas produce.

    Funny you mention Geneva IL. I'm originally from St. Charles next door but have been gone for 30 years. I'd also look at They're here in MA but do business all over. I've bought a high-end bow, auditioned many violins and violas there, done repair work, and generally had good experiences with them. They also own and are co-located with, which have some very nice stuff. Good violin will send you a couple/few instruments to audition for a few weeks to help you decide and you just send back what you don't want. I did that when I found my currently preferred viola bow from a shop out in the midwest (I forget where now!).

    Good luck!
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  6. Bertotti

    Bertotti Friend of Fred

    Jul 20, 2017
    South Dakota
    I play mandolin more than guitar so I hope it translates well same tuning slightly different finger placement, and now a bow. I really just want the kids to do something else as well. My son fell out of love with the guitar. He really liked the clarinet, started in the band but got bells palsy halfway through the year, they wouldn't let him back in once he recovered. Funny considering how small the school is. My daughter got his clarinet and joined the band. The first seat currently but she will lose it shortly unless she learns to play louder. Technically perfect but so quiet some of the kids behind her wnt her spot and play loud and fairly well. I told her it doesn't matter how well you play if no one can hear you. I digress both showed interest and I want one so it will happen. String works offer a 100% trade-in value if you move up to a higher quality instrument and keep the one being traded in good shape, the first trade after that 80% of the value. Seems like a nice incentive.
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  7. bluenote23

    bluenote23 Country Gent

    Oct 17, 2009
    Montreal, Canada
    I have been trying to learn now for about five years. It takes up just about all of my playing time.

    I have found this to be the most difficult instrument. One of the difficulties, especially at the beginning, is the lack of sense of progress. After almost five years, I still sound bad. I feel that on the violin (maybe different if you play fiddle music and not classical music) you either sound good (so you sound like you can play the instrument) or bad (so you sound like you can't play). There is no in between. You can be an ok guitar player (like me) but that does not exist for the violin.

    Try to get decent strings and a decent bow but in the beginning, your sound will be pretty bad (unless you are naturally talented) you want something that will make it easier to play, rather than being so concerned about tone.

    I would forget the 5 strings. Four will be enough of a struggle (plus the heavy gauge C string will probably cost $50 itself) and at least for a beginner, the physical stretch needed to get there would mean you would almost never play that string.
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  8. mrfixitmi

    mrfixitmi Country Gent

    Mar 20, 2010
    Sorry to hear about your son's hardships.
    I applaud you for allowing your children to join the Band, this will benefit them throughout their lives.
    I am a big supporter of Band, this really is a team sport, and the kids typically do lookout for each other, even with the "chair competitions". My son learned saxophone in 9th grade, and was very far behind the other students in the Band, but the school was so small it needed heads.
    He could sight read violin, cello, and guitar, but had no experience in Saxophone. He had strong work ethic, but more importantly, the top chair Saxophone student helped my son after school, because he wanted the entire band to sound well.

    I would not be too worried about your daughter's volume, she probably just needs confidence, and the gift of time will help her with her volume. Loud notes played poorly are probably less desirable in the big picture, especially with her peers.
    If she has the opportunity to play in an ensemble, this drives the desire to play loud enough to be heard., and the other students will encourage her.

    Even though my son was told to play louder many times, when it came to selecting the participants in the orchestra pit, accuracy was preferred.
    There is always amplification that can be used. Pit directors are typically perfectionists, who insist that the show must go on. This drives resourcefulness and responsibility, at that age, they are more sensitive to the collective student success, or peer pressure. You can tell her that she sounds great, her lesson instructor can tell her she sounds great, but it won't have the same effect as approval of other students.

    It sounds like String works has a good upgrade program. As far as bows, please try them out, for any beginner, you want a bow that they can control easily. A bow that needs to be re-haired will not be easy for a beginner regardless of the cost. We tried over 20 bows when my son stated playing, he was happier with the lower end composite, and it gave him some skin in the game.

    Coming from a small school has its advantages. My son went to a small Catholic school, with having few students equated to several opportunities. Most of the Band Students ended up playing multiple instruments, as well as him, he had to gain confidence and volume, because the sections were so small.
    There is a reason that the Band Students are the top students, Music is a great way to exercise that muscle, we call the brain.

    Besides if your son or daughter needs help on homework, would you prefer that they talk to the "A" student, or a "C" student?
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  9. wabash slim

    wabash slim Gretschified

    Feb 10, 2010
    lafayette in
    What's the difference between a violin and a fiddle?
    You carry a violin in a cas, and a fiddle in a gunny sack.
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  10. knh555

    knh555 Gretschie

    Apr 22, 2019
    The bow will give you a level of expression beyond what a guitar can do. I'm quite rusty on the orchestral instruments, but I do appreciate the voice the bow brings. The other big challenge that you can only work on through practice is proper intonation on that fretless fingerboard. Scales, arpeggios, and etudes are the only way to really maintain that. And most importantly, have fun with it!
    Last edited: Nov 27, 2020
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  11. Scott Fraser

    Scott Fraser Country Gent

    Jan 14, 2012
    Los Angeles
    Actually bows can easily run to six digits. Vintage 19th century French bows from famous makers can fetch well over $100,000. Makes fancy vintage guitars look pretty cheap.
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  12. johnny g

    johnny g Country Gent

    Sep 2, 2017
    union, ms
    I play banjo, guitar, piano, jaw harp and a few others. I bought a cheap maple body fiddle to see if I could play it. It is the hardest instrument I have ever learned to play. I am glad I did not spend a lot for it.
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  13. thunder58

    thunder58 Super Moderator Staff Member

    Dec 23, 2010
    tappan ny
    Admin Post
    I had the pleasure to see Itzhak Perlman in 2015 . A most memorable evening
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  14. Bertotti

    Bertotti Friend of Fred

    Jul 20, 2017
    South Dakota
  15. MrWookiee

    MrWookiee Synchromatic

    Jun 17, 2020
    SoCal, USA
    Oh, man! I understand buying something with a rich provenance as an investment (especially when it will be used, not stored away) but have to wonder where the point of diminishing returns is located. Of course a $100k bow would sound better than a $50 bow, but is it 2,000× better? How much better does it sound than a $500 or $5000 bow?
    The same concept holds true for most things, imho.
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  16. Cdb1961

    Cdb1961 Gretschie

    May 5, 2018
    Orange Park, Fl
    I have been playing violin for a couple years now. Sometimes it does not get the practice time it needs. I had never heard of a 5 string until you asked... This basically adds a viola string on a fiddle... hmmmmm

    I did find the progression of tuning interesting on violin, viola, cello and double bass.

    I took lessons about a year, not so much for becoming super talented but to help me NOT develop bad habits... You may want to locate a teacher that can guide you into the genre that you are interested in. I never considered orchestra music but Celtic, blue grass and folk were right. If you can’t find someone to help you learn a 5 string, you can always develop the talent on a standard violin and then move to a 5 stringer...

    Fortunately for myself, we have a small and talented string shop in our town. I have been able to pick up not only older German made violins but he also carries good quality carbon fiber bows (under 500) which is what I use. Sticker shock is real on a quality pernambuco bow.

    Good luck and enjoy the hunt for a new instrument
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  17. mrfixitmi

    mrfixitmi Country Gent

    Mar 20, 2010
    Let me break this down if possible:
    The price range for a violin is all over the map.
    Going to a reputable shop/Luthier that can Set Up the Instrument is essential for someone learning the instrument.
    A poorly set up instrument will lead to frustration, and a resistance to play it, no matter how much you spend....just like a guitar.
    A lower priced violin that has been set up properly is better than paying more for a violin that requires adjusting.
    As mentioned, lessons can also teach the student how to set up, tune, adjust the bow properly.
    My mother purchased a decent quality 5-string violin for my son, but the bridge would not stay in place, the sound post kept falling out, and the bow was not adjusted properly. We were deciding to use it as a wall hanging, or kindling in the fire place.
    We decided to take to a luthier who understood the violin.
    He had it for a few weeks, and replaced the bridge, sound post, and added relief to the body to stabilize it when the humidity levels changed. He also showed my son, how to adjust and hold the bow properly. In addition, showing my son how to tune, and verify the correct alignment, allowed him to actually play the instrument within 10 minutes.
    As far as the additional "C" viola string, it doesn't get used a lot, but it is helpful when you have a piece that may require alternate tuning. Yes, violins can have alternate tuning like a guitar.

    If a shop is trying to sell you a high dollar pernambuco bow without letting you try alternatives, that is a red flag.
    Attending the string competitions, you will see many students achieving top scores using the $75 -$95 composite bows, and low to middle priced violins.
    Let's be honest, being a musician, you already know that you do not need an exotic pernambuco bow, learning proper technique will advance you further than high priced equipment.
    We do have high priced pernabuco bows, however they were not purchased until my son could reach #1 on his competencies. This gave him some incentive to work hard and practice.

    I do applaud you for giving your children a lifetime gift, and spending quality time with them.
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  18. Scott Fraser

    Scott Fraser Country Gent

    Jan 14, 2012
    Los Angeles
    I've been working with Kronos Quartet for nearly 30 years, mixing their concerts & albums, & I've spent scores of hours backstage listening as Hank, the violist & major bow GAS addict, goes through scales & etudes, comparing this $80,000 bow to that $35,000 bow. They are all slightly (or significantly) different, often in extremely subtle ways, & not at all on a linear "better or worse" scale. One will have better articulation on the A string, but the other speaks faster on the C & G strings, while another has a sweeter octave on the D string. To the audience it all sounds good, but the main difference is to the player, since intonation may be easier with one bow, or overall clarity, etc. In the end, the seasoned professional often takes several bows on stage because different pieces of music will benefit from different bows with different strengths. Just like we all take a Gretsch & a Tele to our gigs.
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  19. MrWookiee

    MrWookiee Synchromatic

    Jun 17, 2020
    SoCal, USA
    Crap... does that mean I need a Tele now, too? :eek:
    Not that I'm likely to ever gig as a guitar player.
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  20. Scott Fraser

    Scott Fraser Country Gent

    Jan 14, 2012
    Los Angeles
    I'm afraid so.
    Actually I often take a solid & a hollow body, but the solid body is usually a PRS or Taylor, & the hollow body is a Gretsch or an Epiphone.
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