Violin setup guidance

Discussion in 'Other Guitars, other instruments' started by Ron C, Sep 24, 2021.

  1. Ron C

    Ron C Tele-Holic

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    About 15 years ago I bought this very inexpensive violin (maybe $150?) knowing that it would be great wall art even if it didn't get played. It wasn't played.

    It's a Florea brand, Persoana 4/4 model, made in Romania in 2004. Description from WWBW says it is
    "fully carved and graduated, and constructed using a seasoned Carpathian spruce top and seasoned Carpathian maple back and side. Features satin nitro lacquer finish, inlaid purfling, all ebony fittings, D™Addario Prelude strings, four Wittner tuners and figured maple bridge...and wood with horsehair bow"

    Question for violinists and luthiers who work on violins: what should I do to make this instrument as playable and good sounding as it can be, within reason? I do plenty of guitar repair and setups (nuts from blanks, fret work, etc.) and am not afraid to get my hands dirty. But I don't know anything about violin setup. I suspect it's worth working on, but if not, I'm all ears.

    I'm coming to you folks instead of a violin forum because we'll have the same frame of reference (e.g. we know that an Affinity Squier can be made to play and sound great with some modest work AND that you can also go way overboard on mods/improvements).

    Watching YouTube setup instructions and posts elsewhere by violinists makes me feel like I've bumped into one of those TGP threads where Fender Custom Shop is the bargain option...

    Thanks!
    Violin.jpg
     
  2. MatsEriksson

    MatsEriksson Tele-Afflicted

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    ..you hook it up to a tuner...compare the 12th fret to the harmonic...awwhh...bugger...;)
     
  3. magicfingers99

    magicfingers99 Friend of Leo's

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    yank the bridge or whatever they cal the thing that holds the strings. Put in a tape head and an output jack. PUt a tape loop on the Bow,instead of the horse hair. and voila

     
  4. Fenderbaum

    Fenderbaum Tele-Meister

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    Where is the whammy bar?
     
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  5. nojazzhere

    nojazzhere Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    I would seriously recommend a violin repair shop, mainly because of the sound post within. There are actually special and unique tools to get those in just the right position. The bridge, which is not secured in place by anything other than string pressure, is also pretty critical. My opinion of course. Maybe you can find info on Youtube? Good luck.
     
  6. magicfingers99

    magicfingers99 Friend of Leo's

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    you'll probably regret posting here....

     
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  7. Ron C

    Ron C Tele-Holic

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    Thanks. I'm plenty nervous about walking into a violin repair place around here. Pretty affluent with a huge school music scene and an "anything for dear little Johnny so that he crushes the competition in 4th grade orchestra" attitude, so it's hard to picture getting a response I'll like. But I should just buck up and do it.
     
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  8. Ron C

    Ron C Tele-Holic

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    note to self: google "Floyd Rose on cheap violin"
     
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  9. Bowpickins

    Bowpickins Tele-Meister

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    I'm not a professional luthier, but I was an apprentice for a while at a shop to see if I wanted to make violin building/repair a career, and my main instrument is violin, so I'm always trying to stay on top of maintenance.

    A simple way to get a good tone is to use good strings and rosin. I used prelude strings and liked them, but I'm now using D'addario's Helicore strings. They are responsive and a little warmer than your typical steel strings while still retaining clarity. Pretty affordable, too, at $32 compared to other violin string offerings. I use Pirastro Rosin, which gives my bow a good grip, but it doesn't have that grainy sound I hear in some other rosins I tried.

    As far as instrument adjustment, check how well/flush the violin bridge sits on the top. In order to get the most of string vibrations to the body, you want to make sure there are no visible gaps between the bridge feet and the top, so you know your instrument is getting the most out of your strings.

    Also check how your soundpost fits, it's visible from the right f-hole (it is crooked or standing straight between your top and back plates?), as this is critical in sending vibrations from the top plate to the back of the instrument. Usually, it's not a bad idea to cut and fit a new sound post on an older instrument. I had it done on my pre-WWII violin, and it's projection was greatly improved, and I think it sounds a bit clearer now.

    Lastly, make sure those tuning pegs are still good - not too hard to turn, nor to loose that they slip. Like all wood, the maple neck and ebony or rosewood pegs can shrink or expand slightly depending on the seasons. I usually take mine in when it starts to warm up or get cold to make sure everything's in good shape.

    At this point, though, I would recommend finding a good violin luther near you, as the sound post is a tricky part to get right. I've tried adjusting mine, but after a few attempts, I decided to let the professionals handle it.

    Hope this helps,
    Joseph. :)
     
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  10. basher

    basher Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

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    Yah, take it to a violin shop. It's way too easy to mess one of those up if you don't know what you're doing.
     
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  11. nojazzhere

    nojazzhere Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    OK.....here's a thought, if there's a university music dept where you are, call and see if you can get a string professor to show you a few pointers. I doubt they would charge you, cause most of them are happy to help neophytes. When I studied violin at TCU, my prof was always adjusting my sound post, and it really only takes a few minutes, usually. Ask if you can bring him/her something from Starbucks.
     
  12. mherrcat

    mherrcat Tele-Holic

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    You should really take it to a violin repair shop. Violins need things like sound post adjustments, bridge adjustments, etc. Usually the bridge is warped and needs to be replaced. Your bow may need to be straightened and re-haired. Lots of people forget to loosen the the tension on the bow before putting it in the case for months (or years!) and it ends up warped.
     
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  13. Seasicksailor

    Seasicksailor Friend of Leo's

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    Some great tips from @Bowpickins
    I would add that the position of the bridge is important. For starters, you want it to be just ahead of the sound post. That is, if they were on the same plane, they would be just touching, with the bridge being ever so slightly closer to the neck.
     
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  14. magicfingers99

    magicfingers99 Friend of Leo's

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    the thing to remember about a violin, is don't fiddle with it...
     
  15. Ron C

    Ron C Tele-Holic

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    Thanks folks, really appreciate your suggestions. I'll give the suggestions @Seasicksailor and @Bowpickins laid out a try, but will keep in mind that the general consensus is to get it into the hands of an expert.

    It's notable to hear such a loud and clear message to go to a luthier (or at least a university violin expert) from this very DIY oriented community.
     
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  16. Guitarteach

    Guitarteach Doctor of Teleocity

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    In what way is it not playable now? They tend to have what guitarists might consider a high action. It may be fine.

    You really need to rosin the bow and play it to get rid of any screech or poor noises, or if it is gunked up with rosin, clean the strings with methylated spirits.

    My daughter is a first violinist so I’ve done bits for her over the years as she learned. Although her current piece is around 150 yrs old and will go to the shop for anything major.

    Things you can do yourself are check position and angle of bridge. You can generally align it with the little marks cut in the edges of the F holes. Make sure it is not leaning too far back or forward or bending.

    Your’s has fine tuners which are nice to have.

    You may need to use some peg grease if the pegs are sticking or cracking/creaking or feel like they might break.

    Watch for the sound post coming loose if you release all the tension. The position effects the tone. You should be able to see it. Like comments above, you can alter the ‘voice’ quite a bit by moving the sound post. I leave that to the professionals with her expensive one.
     
    Last edited: Sep 24, 2021
  17. haggardfan1

    haggardfan1 Friend of Leo's

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    I'm also a fiddle owner, if not necessarily a player :oops:.

    After a time of being unplayed, the bridge slipped AND the sound post fell inside mine. It's a Knilling student model, not terribly expensive but pretty good quality, with geared tuners and the fine tuners on the tailpiece.
    I feared all was lost, but surprisingly, the biggest independent store in town has a violin guy, and he put it all in order for what I considered a very reasonable price--not only resetting the post but fitting a new bridge and installing a Shadow transducer I had had for years.

    Don't despair till you get a couple evaluations on yours. All you have to do is get estimates, no obligations.

    Good luck! I just got mine out and squeaked around on it Sunday afternoon.
     
    Last edited: Sep 24, 2021
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  18. magicfingers99

    magicfingers99 Friend of Leo's

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    if she's doing that good, you ought to buy her a new violin. I mean I understand times are hard, but making her use a 150 year old violin? cmon man... at least get her a 10 year old one..
     
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  19. Freeman Keller

    Freeman Keller Poster Extraordinaire

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  20. MatsEriksson

    MatsEriksson Tele-Afflicted

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    First, sorry for being that straight guy, or even "that guy" but... don't you think there's a violin forum out there, where you could ask this question? Or really, if you're afraid to register yet another account there, that this question hasn't already been answered in any violin forum? Frankly, I don't think it exist. I don't know why you think a Telecaster forum would be the greatest, or best spot to sort out this for you. On the contrary, chances are very slim...

    And BTW I think you will get way better answers and guidance there, than on any Tele (or electric guitar) forum. Luthiers are those who build guitars, and even if acoustics, it's way different than any violin builders.
     
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