We've all been there-you're not in the market for a new violin, but the instrument you've been playing isn't doing the job. The tone is off, or it's not as vibrant as you'd like it to be. Or it's just plain hard to play.
Instead of spending thousands of dollars on a new violin, you can make some upgrades to your old one at a fraction of the cost.
In this post, we'll go over five ways you can instantly improve the sound and playability of your violin. These tips are also applicable to viola, cello, and bass.
1. Changing to New Strings
There are two main reasons why you might want to change out your violin strings:
The strings are old and have lost their vibrance
You want to get a different sound and response from your instrument
If you've had the same strings on your violin for over a year, it may be time to switch them out. Old strings will eventually start to sound dull. The repeated tension from tuning and bowing strings slowly wears them out. Combine that with oxidation, and after a while, they lose their life and resonance. Simply replacing old strings on your violin will immediately put new life back into it.
In addition, if you're not happy with the tone you have now, changing to a different brand of strings can make a world of difference. There are all kinds of strings designed that cater to different player's needs and wants.
Manufacturers produce strings with different properties ideal for different situations. Some can give your violin a rich sound that blends well in an orchestra. In contrast, other strings offer a brighter tone more fit for soloistic performances. With so many options available, it's easy to customize your sound. Try experimenting with different sets and see which ones fit your needs best.
2. Upgrading Your Bow
The bow plays a vital role in the sound of your instrument. Playing your violin actually causes the bow to vibrate as well as the strings. Dense materials like fiberglass or plastic will absorb and insulate sound rather than resonate.
Carbon fiber bows are becoming more and more common and are an excellent choice for beginners and intermediate players. A good carbon fiber bow is lightweight, strong, and will often sound more pleasant than a wood bow in the same price range.
Speaking of which, not all wood bows are created equal. Inexpensive wood bows can warp easily and may not have as good of sound as a quality carbon fiber bow. Suppose you're an advanced player looking for a high-quality bow. In that case, a bow made from Pernambuco or Brazilwood might be ideal for you.
When shopping for new bows, always try them with your instrument. Each one will have unique characteristics that change the tone. Find the one that's flattering to your violin's sound!