Here, I’m sharing my experience on what I did with my violins as well my two cents on what to focus on when transforming a violin’s sound into either a rich deep like cello, a Phantom’s tenor voice or an angel’s voice like a soprano. The important elements for me are the bow and strings in the process of transforming both my old and young violin sound into a beautifully rich and deep yet bright sound just like a lyric soprano or tenor. Bows and strings are like a married couple that need to be able to accompany each other. And a bow will need to match the violin to obtain harmony; thus, compatibility is essential. However, what comes as the first step of sound change, bow or stings, is a personal preference. Most people will make sure the bow and violin harmonize with each other before changing anything else on the violin. Also, I hunted for my bow before I began my string search journey. The matched bow with a violin gave me the potential sound that I set out looking for.
Sound – It’s subjective because everyone has different hearing and different expectations for sound quality: deep, rich, vibrant, bright, loud, soft, etc. In addition, there are environmental differences as well solo vs. orchestral, small concert hall vs. outdoor big concert hall such as Hollywood bowl. Thus, it’s important to decide what sound you are seeking and the planned use of the instrument. As a soloist myself (not performing regularly, and no orchestral), I tend to like a mellow, soft and more dark and rich sound for A, D, and G strings but seek a mellow, soft and clean sound, not bright or crispy, for the E string.
Bow – Different shapes project a different sound. In general an octagon shape is able to give a bold, assertive sound as opposed to a round shape which gives a softer, mellower sound. I started on a student grade octagon bow and moved to a better quality handmade octagon bow. It took me a year to find my current bow which has a round shape and is old, handmade and has a well balanced weight from tip to frog. Continue reading