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 Post subject: Help wanted
PostPosted: Sun Sep 27, 2020 7:22 am 
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Just got a violin, needs new strings and a bow.

Do you all have recommendations?

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 Post subject: Re: Help wanted
PostPosted: Sun Sep 27, 2020 5:00 pm 
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It may need a few more things too. Depending on how long since it has been played you may need a set up. There is a soundpost inside that sometimes moves around a bit. And a bridge that will also. Those two things right off the bat will affect your tone. They need to be in the right place to get the best sound and a mm here or there makes a difference. Every violin likes different strings, so there is no real way to give you much advice on that. New Chinese instruments are sometimes "bright" and can benefit from a richer string, like an Obligato, which depending on what you spent on the violin may scare you price wise. Tonica strings are much cheaper with a little less fullness. Violin strings make a huge difference in the sound. But for the beginner beginner Dominates or Tonica would be fine. Stay away from Red Labels, they are cheap but harder to play.

Are your pegs holding? Is the soundpost standing up inside? (If it isn't DO NOT TIGHTEN THE STRINGS) Is the bridge warped or bent at all? All these things can be adjusted and or replaced by a violin luthier.

Ultimately you will find that finding a bow that compliments the instrument your are playing and the type of music you are trying to play is a pilgrimage all of its own. But for now an inexpensive no-name or store name carbon fiber bow will get you started. Fiberglass bows are pretty clunky, and bad wood bows are discouraging. If you are in the US and don't have a place around you I'd check out Fiddlerman in Florida. They have a wide range of strings and bows and can talk you through choices over the phone or chat. Make sure your bow has real horse hair. Some super cheap bows use synthetic stuff which is useless.

If you are feeling confident that your instrument is well set up and all you need is advice on how to replace the strings there are many YouTube videos on that. Take it slow and made sure you are adjusting the bridge to keep it upright during the process. String tightening will pull your bridge over and sometimes snap it in the process.


Jade rosin is a nice beginner's rosin. It seems to be less prone to build up than others. Beginners often put on too much or too little and things get confusing if the bow hair gets gunky from rosin build up.Jade seems especially forgiving.

Do you have a teacher? Though a violin teacher won't know anything about ITM they can get you started with how to hold the instrument, where the notes are and how to wrangle that bowif there are no fiddle teachers around. If ITM is what you are after you will need to connect with an actual ITM fiddle teacher, but due to covid you will find many experts are teaching online now.

Enjoy the journey!


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 Post subject: Re: Help wanted
PostPosted: Sun Sep 27, 2020 5:50 pm 
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sjcavy wrote:
Do you all have recommendations?

Yes. Heed busterbill's advice and have it inspected by a qualified violin luthier (especially if it's lain dormant in an attic or a basement for a while). Though I can't speak for the quality of their violin strings, I liked D'Addario guitar strings, so that's an option I'd consider.

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 Post subject: Re: Help wanted
PostPosted: Sun Sep 27, 2020 8:55 pm 
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Dan A. wrote:
sjcavy wrote:
Do you all have recommendations?

Yes. Heed busterbill's advice and have it inspected by a qualified violin luthier (especially if it's lain dormant in an attic or a basement for a while). Though I can't speak for the quality of their violin strings, I liked D'Addario guitar strings, so that's an option I'd consider.


I think I had D'Addarios (Helicores, maybe?) most recently on my violin before I went back to Dominants... they were recommended to me as a cheaper alternative to the Dominants. I was fine with them, but, I'm not a connoisseur (and I also sound equally bad no matter which strings I put on), so take it with a grain of salt. They were fine as far as longevity, playability, etc., though.

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 Post subject: Re: Help wanted
PostPosted: Sun Sep 27, 2020 10:41 pm 
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Katharine wrote:
I also sound equally bad no matter which strings I put on.

We're in the same boat!

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 Post subject: Re: Help wanted
PostPosted: Sun Sep 27, 2020 11:46 pm 
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Busterbill's whole post is great.

Personally, I wouldn't put Helicores anywhere near a fiddle. Dominants are absolutely fine, but heed busterbill's warning about making sure the soundpost and bridge are set up correctly before you put strings on. Personally, I use Pirastro Golden Spiral Solo strings, but I've been playing for 55 years. I wouldn't recommend them to a beginner, and, as busterbill suggested, different strings will suit different fiddles.

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 Post subject: Re: Help wanted
PostPosted: Mon Sep 28, 2020 10:05 pm 
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Lady and Gentleman....

Been in ITM a while now. Actually have a great social network here in Austin. The fiddle is a E. Reinhardt Schmidt Guadagnini Model... Roughly ~1920? I will have one of the 2 professional Luthiers here in Austin look at it and set me up with a bow.

Thanks! I will refer to this in the future.

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 Post subject: Re: Help wanted
PostPosted: Tue Sep 29, 2020 12:46 am 
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sjcavy wrote:
Lady and Gentleman....

Been in ITM a while now. Actually have a great social network here in Austin. The fiddle is a E. Reinhardt Schmidt Guadagnini Model... Roughly ~1920? I will have one of the 2 professional Luthiers here in Austin look at it and set me up with a bow.

Thanks! I will refer to this in the future.

Ah. Ernst Reinhold Schmidt (trading as E. Reinhold Schmidt), I take it. You need to treat it well. Some of those are apparently very nice fiddles - a few potentially very nice indeed.

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 Post subject: Re: Help wanted
PostPosted: Tue Sep 29, 2020 8:06 am 
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benhall.1 wrote:
sjcavy wrote:
Lady and Gentleman....

Been in ITM a while now. Actually have a great social network here in Austin. The fiddle is a E. Reinhardt Schmidt Guadagnini Model... Roughly ~1920? I will have one of the 2 professional Luthiers here in Austin look at it and set me up with a bow.

Thanks! I will refer to this in the future.

Ah. Ernst Reinhold Schmidt (trading as E. Reinhold Schmidt), I take it. You need to treat it well. Some of those are apparently very nice fiddles - a few potentially very nice indeed.


And some could be quite ordinary indeed!

They were made in Germany & sold through Sears. Some can be quite pricey as well.

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 Post subject: Re: Help wanted
PostPosted: Tue Sep 29, 2020 11:53 am 
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whistlecollector wrote:
And some could be quite ordinary indeed!

They were made in Germany & sold through Sears. Some can be quite pricey as well.

Yes. Do you have any insight as to whether there was any difference in quality between the fiddles made while Ernst himself was alive and those made after his death?

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 Post subject: Re: Help wanted
PostPosted: Wed Sep 30, 2020 10:24 am 
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benhall.1 wrote:
whistlecollector wrote:
And some could be quite ordinary indeed!

They were made in Germany & sold through Sears. Some can be quite pricey as well.


Yes. Do you have any insight as to whether there was any difference in quality between the fiddles made while Ernst himself was alive and those made after his death?


Nothing in specific. I've got a few trade violins of this sort (on and off trying learn how to play) and have relied on Violin Information as a resource on these older instruments. Much like the zillions of instruments being exported from China & Romania and so forth now, these were made in factories. The Schmidt was made in Markneukirchen, which was one of many string instrument making centers in Germany and Bohenia. Quality of wood and workmanship will naturally vary much more than a master made instrument.

It seems that those made after Ernst's death were made by one or the other of his sons. Both sons ended up in the US, so a later instrument would likely have been made in Germany & imported by them or (perhaps) made in the US. I don't know if they set up a factory here or not. Either way, I suspect that no matter who oversaw the making, quality would come down to the skill of the factory workers and the quality of the woods and glues used. My hope is that the OP has gotten himself a real gem!

Reading the Sears catalogs of the day is pretty interesting, too. I have the 1897 & 1908 editions, and reading the blurbs is a lot like looking through Ebay ads now (with the exception that Ebay cuts out the middleman, and makers can sell direct to consumers). They sell violins from less than two dollars all the way up to $69. A pretty impressive range of models and qualities. Sadly, they almost never name the actual maker of the instruments. They might hint at a general region, though. The focus is almost universally on the colour and quality of the finish. Almost all the instruments are described as having some variation of superb tone quality (which in my mind is why you would choose one violin over another!); and all descriptions are exceptionally vague. But at least they let you try an instrument before committing to buy.

I find it interesting to note that the $1.85 models are often described as having a "surprizing tone". Perhaps "surprising" that they even make a tone? ;) I'm not complaining, though! I have a "Salzard" labelled violin that was probably sold through Sears and that's one of their $1.85 models. I know my grandfather played a "Stradivarius" (made in Czechoslovakia) and my grandmother's brother played something similar, which did service for many dances and parties over the years. I have, in addition to the Salzard, a couple "Stradivarius" in different sizes, the violin-mandolin, and continuing the factory violin tradition, a modern Song five string from China. As near as I can tell, it sounds perfectly fine and is well made.

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