How To: Make My Violin Sound Better
Tips for your Violin:
- Install good quality new strings. Most student violins have inexpensive or worn out strings. Try a set of Thomastick-Infeld Dominant Strings, or a brand recommended by your teacher. There are several very good E strings that are better than Dominants including. Lenzner GioldBrokat and the D’Addario Kaplan Non-Whistling Violin Aluminum Wound E String are amazing right out of the package. (How to change strings.)
- Use a flash light and dental mirror to check the fit of your sound post – or have your local violin shop check it for you. It should be exactly straight up and down, about 1/8th inch behind the bridge and just inside the foot. The sound post should fit perfectly against the top and bottom with no gaps at all. If there is a gap, the violin will not produce as much volume as it should. Moving the sound post even a little will change the balance between bass and treble or change the tone from bright to dark. If your sound post needs adjustment or needs replacement, leave that to a professional.
- Check your bridge and make sure it is perpendicular to the top (not leaning toward the peg box). Tuning a violin will tend to pull the bridge forward so the feet aren’t sitting flat on the violin top. (How to adjust your bridge.)
- If you have fine tuners on your tailpiece, consider getting rid of them – they are heavy and deaden the vibration. They also change the string length which dampens the vibration. It’s best to only use a fine tuner on the E string. If you aren’t ready to give up the convenience of fine tuning, get a Wittner fine tuning tailpiece or alternately get Wittner geared pegs – geared pegs are a wonderful invention that will make you love tuning your violin!
- Carefully tune the violin before playing. An in-tune violin will vibrate differently than an out of tune violin. Definitely a secret to make my violin sound better.
- Either have your bow hair cleaned or replaced. Old dirty hair doesn’t pull the same sound quality as new or clean hair. Also, learn the correct amount of rosin for your bow. Too little and the bow won’t pull sound. Too much and it will sound scratchy. Use good rosin – try several and see that it actually makes a difference.
- Humidify consistently. 40% is ideal (+/- 10%). This may mean adding humidity during the winter and turning on the A/C in the summer. Keep your violin in the case when not in use. The violin tone will change along with the humidity. Also, pegs may slip if the humidity changes significantly. Make my violin sound better – check!
Tips for your Playing:
- Practice pulling clear, strong, beautiful tone from your violin. Speed is not as important as learning to draw sweet, inspiring, full sound. This will require good technique with the bow, the location of the bow on the strings with good pressure. Experiment and listen to the sound change. Your teacher can help you with your specific needs.
- Breathe. The best way to counteract being nervous to to take several long, slow, deep breathes and let the tension flow out of your neck and arms. As you breath you will relax. Some people prefer to close their eyes or look off into the distance. Smile as you breathe.
- Play music you love! Include some contemporary pieces along with your classical. Learn a different style: Celtic, Jazz, old time Fiddle, Country. Make it fun and you’ll find you play more often. Playing different styles of music will enhance your technique and versatility. Our girls joined an old time fiddlers group and were the youngest players by 4 decades. They had a blast! When in high school, my daughter was invited to play Jazz violin on the Las Vegas Strip. How exciting is that for a classical violinist?! Her friend played cello for Celine Dion one evening when her regular was ill. Versatility = Opportunity.
Adjusting a violin bridge so the feet are flat.
One step to “make my violin sound better”.