I asked my kids’ violin instructor if I could have a lesson because “something is wrong.” She played my violin for a bit and agreed that something was wrong but couldn’t identify what. The violin needed love. She told me to bring it to the shop.
(It’s a “tune-up”! Get it now? Please someone laugh at my pun. Please?)
The Shop only refers to one store in these parts. They have a violin for sale for $125,000, for example. If your Guarneri is having issues, you bring it there. And therefore my might-be-a-Longiaru went as well. I’ve been failing to get there since February to buy something for myself, but once my violin needed it, we were there in two hours.
The luthier said the neck is too low, and due to the violin’s age he wants to do a complete neck reset. For $700. I said, “And what would you recommend for a crappy violinist?” He laughed. Instead they’re going to do a full work-up on the violin and make a laundry list of everything they could possibly fix, and I’ll decide then what to have done.
They gave me a loaner violin and a loaner bow. I did not like it. It’s not mine. It sounds wrong.
BUT — it does all the same bad things my own violin does, so that means (thank heaven) I cannot blame the instrument. Thus I will not be paying $700 for a neck reset. If I could pay $700 to fix myself, I’d do that, but thankfully there’s no option for that either.
(I am of the opinion that my own neck is wrong, but that’s not something a luthier fixes.)
Over the past few days, though, something happened. I got used to the loaner’s sound. Plus, the instructor had corrected my bow-hold. I changed the chin rest to an over-the-tailpiece variety. And somehow in all this, I suddenly “got” vibrato. As in, I recorded myself playing in Garageband, and when it plays back, I can see the difference between the vibrato version and the non-vibrato. The places where I tried to do vibrato are bumpy.
So…is it the violin? Or the player? I changed too many things all at the same time. This is very bad science, but I wasn’t trying to conduct science: I just wanted to play my violin.
I guess we wait a couple of weeks until my regular violin and my regular bow come home, and then we try again, and we hear what happens then.
It’s a poor craftsman who blames his tools. But I never claimed to be anything other than a poor violin-player, and maybe sometimes the tools are non-ideal.