Difference in violins

Edward Pong

Industry Expert
Jun 24, 2013
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Locust Hill, Ontario
This is a very interesting subject which holds many variables, much like the audio systems we all have. The fascinating thing about violins is they were designed 300+ yrs ago & have not been bettered by technology. In fact the Stradivari & Guarneri violins from that time have not been equaled. Of course there are double-blind "studies" where violinists play many modern & Strads & del Gesu instruments & pick their preferences. Often the modern is picked & modern makers use this to boost their profile...This kind of "study" is so flawed... 1st a good violinist needs a lot of time to find the way to get the best sound from any instrument. Often the Strads need a completely different way of bowing to bring out their magic. One needs a "formula one driver" (international soloist) to really explore this comparison. Every violin sounds different, because no 2 are the same... just like all our audio systems sound different. Rather than this kind of study, the real answer to which violins are better, you only have to look at what the best soloists in the world are playing... I'm sure they would gladly play a modern violin at a fraction of the cost, than pay insurance on a multi-million dollar instrument.

Bows can completely change the response and sound of a string instrument, violin, cello... I will list a cello tape/download with 2 tracks played on 2 different bows....

The true test, of a violin, is it's projection in a large hall. A violin can sound "loud" under the ear of the violinist, but the sound will not project in a hall. Often, the Strads & del Gesu will not sound loud, under the ear, but the sound will travel & project to the back of a large hall. This has to be heard to be believed... Strads produce a very pure, angelic, densely concentrated soundscape which needs space to bloom. del Gesu tends to create a warmer, gutsy sound, which many soloists prefer... Pinchas Zukerman is a Guarneri del Gesu guy...

Here are 2 links to the digital downloads of 2 tracks: Both, current violin soloists playing a concerto in the same space, recording with the same equipment.

1) Alena Baeva (Mendelssohn Violin Concerto) - she's playing a 1738 Guarneri del Gesu

2) Xiang Yu (Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto) - he's playing a 1729 Stradivari

These are both similar types of pieces, & likely good for comparison on the sound of a Stradivari & Guarneri del Gesu violin...

3) Narek Hakhnazaryan (Chopin & Paganini Cello Favourites) - the Chopin Etude is played on 2 different bows.
One a modern & one, on the Strad of bows, F.X.Tourte

Of course, for anyone interested, these recordings also exist as 15ips 2 track tapes on my website: ultraanaloguerecordings.com

I forgot, actually those 2 violin recordings exist on my YouTube channel Sample videos:


Enjoy

Ed
 
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Ron Resnick

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Jan 25, 2015
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Thank you, Ed, for this very interesting and educational information!
 
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Mikem53

Well-Known Member
Oct 1, 2020
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This is a very interesting subject which holds many variables, much like the audio systems we all have. The fascinating thing about violins is they were designed 300+ yrs ago & have not been bettered by technology. In fact the Stradivari & Guarneri violins from that time have not been equaled. Of course there are double-blind "studies" where violinists play many modern & Strads & del Gesu instruments & pick their preferences. Often the modern is picked & modern makers use this to boost their profile...This kind of "study" is so flawed... 1st a good violinist needs a lot of time to find the way to get the best sound from any instrument. Often the Strads need a completely different way of bowing to bring out their magic. One needs a "formula one driver" (international soloist) to really explore this comparison. Every violin sounds different, because no 2 are the same... just like all our audio systems sound different. Rather than this kind of study, the real answer to which violins are better, you only have to look at what the best soloists in the world are playing... I'm sure they would gladly play a modern violin at a fraction of the cost, than pay insurance on a multi-million dollar instrument.

Bows can completely change the response and sound of a string instrument, violin, cello... I will list a cello tape/download with 2 tracks played on 2 different bows....

The true test, of a violin, is it's projection in a large hall. A violin can sound "loud" under the ear of the violinist, but the sound will not project in a hall. Often, the Strads & del Gesu will not sound loud, under the ear, but the sound will travel & project to the back of a large hall. This has to be heard to be believed... Strads produce a very pure, angelic, densely concentrated soundscape which needs space to bloom. del Gesu tends to create a warmer, gutsy sound, which many soloists prefer... Pinchas Zukerman is a Guarneri del Gesu guy...

Here are 2 links to the digital downloads of 2 tracks: Both, current violin soloists playing a concerto in the same space, recording with the same equipment.

1) Alena Baeva (Mendelssohn Violin Concerto) - she's playing a 1738 Guarneri del Gesu

2) Xiang Yu (Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto) - he's playing a 1729 Stradivari

These are both similar types of pieces, & likely good for comparison on the sound of a Stradivari & Guarneri del Gesu violin...

3) Narek Hakhnazaryan (Chopin & Paganini Cello Favourites) - the Chopin Etude is played on 2 different bows.
One a modern & one, on the Strad of bows, F.X.Tourte

Of course, for anyone interested, these recordings also exist as 15ips 2 track tapes on my website: ultraanaloguerecordings.com

I forgot, actually those 2 violin recordings exist on my YouTube channel Sample videos:

Enjoy

Ed
Thanks for sharing! Amazing recording quality and talent !
The iPad replacing a music sheet, still needs someone to flip the pages.. soon to be replaced I’m sure..
 

Edward Pong

Industry Expert
Jun 24, 2013
331
112
383
Locust Hill, Ontario
To your point of the iPad music... when I saw Vadym with that, I had visions of the battery running out during the performance... have a look at around 3:43 in the piece. The page turner misses a turn & Vadym, a testament to his talent, fills in the right hand notes & never misses a beat, while he turns with his left hand. Consider, this piano reduction of the orchestra is definitely not a normal piece for him to play... if you did not see the video, you can hardly hear the missing left hand notes... Vadym won the Van Cliburn Comp about 7 yrs ago.

Apparently he composed the cadenza for the Mozart Piano Concerto on the flight from Moscow to Texas in his head & played it for the 1st time during the competition...! Unbelievable....
 
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astrotoy

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May 25, 2010
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Ed, great posts. We have many musician friends who use an ipad for their music. They use a little foot pedal to change pages - the pianists use their left foot. You can go forward and backward, so if you skip ahead by mistake, it is easy to go back to the correct page. I was talking with one violinist who uses an ipad. He said it was great when he is travelling. On an airplane he can study multiple scores without lugging a bunch of music with him. We know duos or larger groups where some use the paper score and some use the ipad. The Alexander String Quartet has three of their members using an ipad and their second violin uses a paper score.

Larry
 
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audioguy1958

Well-Known Member
Feb 8, 2015
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I'm lazy. Can you suggest one?

Ed's recordings have the best resolution into the tone of these violins that I've heard. He uses an all tube recording chain, the best Western Electric tubes available, silver wire transformers etc. You can hear the vibration of the instrument like nothing I've heard before. On a reel to reel its astounding.
 

Edward Pong

Industry Expert
Jun 24, 2013
331
112
383
Locust Hill, Ontario
Further to the point of comparing modern violins with Strads & del Gesu violins, I like the analogy of these historic violins to a formula 1 car.... we all know formula 1 cars are likely the fastest racing cars, but only a few know how to drive them.... similarly not all violinists can "drive" those violins to their potential.

I once heard an amateur violinist tell me, "there's no difference.... I've played both Strads & moderns, and they sound the same to me...." I think he just told me he's not a formula driver of violins!

In the hands of a great violinist, they can make anything sound good...

There's a famous line from Heifetz: After a concert, a member of the audience went up to Jascha Heifetz. He said, "Wow, your violin sounds really great." Heifetz then held the violin up close to his ear and replied, "Funny, I don't hear anything."

The player is everything!
 

stehno

Well-Known Member
Jul 5, 2014
1,156
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Salem, OR
....

I once heard an amateur violinist tell me, "there's no difference.... I've played both Strads & moderns, and they sound the same to me...." I think he just told me he's not a formula driver of violins!
Sure. Unless per chance the amateur happened to be a great violinist. Because that's exactly what I'd expect a great violinist to say. IOW, that response can be taken either way. Unless you happen to actually know the amateur's actual skill level.

In the hands of a great violinist, they can make anything sound good...

...
As you just proved my (and your) point here. ;)
 
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Edward Pong

Industry Expert
Jun 24, 2013
331
112
383
Locust Hill, Ontario
Sure. Unless per chance the amateur happened to be a great violinist. Because that's exactly what I'd expect a great violinist to say. IOW, that response can be taken either way. Unless you happen to actually know the amateur's actual skill level.
Please don't misunderstand me.... many amateur violinists can be very good, but they are not on the same level as an international soloist.... definitely no disrespect to any amateur violinist meant here.....
 

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