Thursday, September 25, 2014


New VS. Old

The Eternal Question

 Many Strads are 300 - We're 15!

Longevity? Violins are an amazing item in that category.  There are still playable examples of violins being used over four hundred years after they were created.  This subject reminded me of a recent experience.

When I was at VSA (the Violin Society of America) meeting last week, I was asked by Joe Curtin to "blind test" a selection of older makers' and living makers' instruments in a acoustically dead room in the convention hotel.  They put dark glasses on me so I had no visual references, then I played instruments and put them in to categories and rankings as I saw fit. The objective of the project was to study how players respond and make choices in testing instruments.

While I think this process is useful, it is only partial.  Players try instruments in various environments that respond to the violin.  As an example, a dead hotel room will sound totally different to the player than an alive hall or very spacious dead room.  The type of surfaces in each environment can significantly alter the impressions of the player.  So, you might say, "just test all in a dead room so all you hear is the violin, not the room."

Therein lies the problem.  In my 35 years of experience, many instruments sound superior in an isolated environment, but are surprisingly dramatically inferior in actual performing circumstances.
This is the reason we take strings instruments on trial.  Try them under all circumstances and in all possible environments to see how you can live with them.

Also, throw away your prejudices!  It is clear that new violins do not sound or respond significantly worse than old violins.  Chinese violins do not sound "Chinese" and German violins don't sound "German," etc.  Antiqued violins don't sound better that "straight" violins, but the perception of them is often enhanced by the old "feel" of them.  Becoming unbiased is an important part of the process.
Then, lastly, find a violin you love and can be passionate about.  An instrument should inspire and challenge you, not just be a good purchase.  When you find the one, you will know!

Violins have been around for 500 years, but can you believe in October we will have been in business for 15 years? We began as a closet in Alex and Laura Ross' home in 1999.  Our original reason for being was to provide the best violins possible for the Omaha Conservatory of Music students, but we quickly grew beyond those borders.  It couldn't have been possible without you - our loyal customers - so in honor of our 15 year anniversary, we're offering you 15 percent off on everything (excluding consignment items and repairs).  Come in through October 1st to take advantage of this special.  

We look forward to seeing you! -Alex

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