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Author Topic: Rosin for warmer tone  (Read 3113 times)

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Offline Fluffyhamster

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Rosin for warmer tone
« on: Jan 11, 2015, 12:13:42 AM »
Hello all,

I just bought a nice used violin, but I'm trying to mellow out the sharp tone a bit. I just bought a cake of Liebenzeller silver II, but I've read on here that Andrea orchestral is great as well. I'll probably have this rosin for a while, but it would be nice to hear of everyone else's opinions on the subject. I also have a new set of tonicas to replace the steel strings that come with it.  Would if be counter-intuitive to "mellow out" the tone of such a violin?

I'm not really concerned with volume (I'll just be playing in my room), but a warm tone, smoothness and (preferably) low dust would be nice.

Offline JSFisher

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Re: Rosin for warmer tone
« Reply #1 on: Jan 11, 2015, 01:29:02 AM »
It can be a challenge, with a new instrument, to find the strings and setup that suit it best.  Regarding the rosin . . . both Liebenzeller Silver and Andrea are both excellent rosins.  But, they are also both fairly bright in tone.  If you're seeking a darker sounding rosin, I'd recommend Melos or Salchow.  Baker's would also be a wonderful choice, though that's harder to get a hold of.  You'll want to replace your rosin with fresh every year or so, as they do tend to dry out.  I've also had success mixing Andrea with Melos.  The result is a warm tone AND a sharp bite - best of both worlds.  
Tonica strings will be warmer than plain steel.  If your looking to get darker still, you could consider Obligatos.  But, one person's "warm" is another person's "dull", just like one person's "brilliant" is another person's "harsh".  So, you almost need to experiment a bit to get a feel for what you like.  But, no, it's not counter-intuitive to try to mellow out the sound, if you think it's too bright.  Be careful changing the strings, though.  Synthetic strings, like Tonicas, are both larger in diameter, and more fragile.  If you instrument was setup for steel strings, you may need to have the grooves at the nut filed before installing synthetic strings.  Otherwise, the windings may strip off as you tune them up.  Also, they may not fit well in the fine tuners (if you have them).
Good luck!

Offline Fluffyhamster

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Re: Rosin for warmer tone
« Reply #2 on: Jan 14, 2015, 07:08:45 AM »
Thank you!  That was excellent information.

Offline maxr

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Re: Rosin for warmer tone
« Reply #3 on: Jan 14, 2015, 10:18:04 AM »
Try playing your fiddle as much as you can manage for a few weeks, and don't be shy about playing it hard as well as soft. The tone of used bowed instruments often 'goes off' when hung on a shop wall or stored without playing for a while, and will then 'play in' the same way as new ones (but it doesn't usually take so long). Very often the result is that the tone will become more complex and the hard edges will either come off or be better balanced by softer ones that develop. Once you've played it in well, ask someone good to play it with your and their bows, stand 10-20 feet away and listen - does your fiddle still sound too harsh  from there? Sometimes the high harsh frequencies are mostly audible to the player, and no problem to the listener. Is it actually hard sounding, or just brighter than your previous fiddle?
As a long term messer with and player of fiddles (I'm not a luthier), I would suggest that once it's played in, you start messing with easily messable things. Try other people's bows, to see what suits your fiddle. Messing with rosin is relatively cheap but you should really clean the bow hair before applying a new one - I'd suggest Obligato rosin, or something else on the 'soft' side. If there's a good violin shop or luthier workshop near you, take it down there, explain your problem, and ask them to check the soundpost position. That shouldn't cost much, some may even check or adjust it quickly on the spot for nothing. 
I would also suggest that, unless you really like the sound of steel core strings (they have their uses particularly for folk, country, and electric fiddling, suit some fiddles, and are generally long lasting  affordable and fast speaking), you switch to synthetic core. If you have a wooden tailpiece with four fine tuners, throw the G-D-A ones away, or fit one of those black lightweight tailpieces (composite or metal) with tuners built in. If you're pretty sure the basic fiddle sounds a bit harsh, I'd second JS Fisher's suggestion of Obligato strings  - they're not cheap, but I've never had a fiddle that either Obligato or Evah Pirazzi strings (which are brighter and higher tension) didn't work pretty well on.
If you're still not happy, try this - ask someone with experience (maybe a fiddle teacher) to take the tension off the E string then shift the bridge feet forward just a little - like maybe 1-2mm. They may then need to correct the vertical alignment of the bridge. As I understand it, in theory the optimal bridge position is centered between the nicks in the soundholes - but you find fiddles where that's not quite true in practise. If the bridge is sitting South of those nicks, I'd try getting someone to move it to between them as a starting point.
Does your bridge look thin compared to other violins? Some violins suit thin hard bridges, but not all. This is getting into specialist fiddle messing territory and possibly more money. Some fiddle wranglers who do expert wood and varnish work are just no good at the 'black art' of sound adjustment, most are OK, and just a few are geniuses at it. Try to find someone with a reputation among classical players for fine sounding violin setups. The luthier may recommend anything from a new bridge and/or soundpost to a full setup - or might even say 'this is all OK, that's the way it sounds'. A full setup may involve replacing the bridge and sound post, adjusting the nut and sometimes working on the fingerboard and pegs, plus replacing the strings and maybe the tailpiece (which can make a big difference). Cost can vary from less than the cost of a set of Obligato strings for a standard bridge from a reasonable priced repairer, to $00's (or 00's) from a glossy big city shop with a reputation. In relation to the latter, you might think that if e.g. you had a really fine instrument you'd need to take it to a top violin shop - but there are always equal quality craftsmen working on their own in the suburbs or out of town, for a much lower cost (we're not talking cheap here, but less expensive).
Good fiddling!

Offline Nick2

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Re: Rosin for warmer tone
« Reply #4 on: Jan 14, 2015, 07:38:42 PM »
I think experimenting with strings will have more pronounced effect than the rosin. There are lots of posts on this subject on this forum. Generally gut or synthetic cored strings will take down the brightness compared to metal strings, although  there is a bit of overlap as there are some reasonably mellow wound metal strings available these days . Most of us play around with different strings to find the one that works best for them. I've not used Tonicas, so s ee how you go with them. I understand they are very similar to Dominants which are fairly mellow.  I used to use DAddario Pro Artes , which were very mellow. Some of the strings are available in different gauges so you could experiment with a heavier gauge as well. 
Now ear this!

Offline chesneys_violin

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Re: Rosin for warmer tone
« Reply #5 on: Jun 03, 2017, 02:01:57 PM »
In my personal experience, Obligato or Evah Pirazzi gold (quite expensive but well worth the price) strings make the mellowest sound possible. Another big factor for warm sound is a good metal rosin. Liebenzeller isn't nearly as smooth and warm sounding as the Laubach gold rosin. During winter time, when the air gets really dry I often use this combination so ensure perfect sound.
Wish you the best when playing!

Offline Joe Gerardi

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Re: Rosin for warmer tone
« Reply #6 on: Jun 03, 2017, 03:19:54 PM »
See, now, I'd disagree with that: I have an Evah gold E on my violin, and it's not mellow at all: it does sing very well, but I can get it to really scream when the music calls for it. in fact, it tends to make the standard Pirazzi A next to it seem a little dull.

IMNSHO, the best combination for a mellow tone would be D'Addario Helicores or Warchal Karneols and Jade rosin. Also, the Jade lasts forever: my current (!) cake is eleven years old, and isn't a quarter gone yet.

..Joe
"Some people are like a Slinky... not really good for anything, but you still can't help but smile when you shove them down the stairs"

Offline tpquinn

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Re: Rosin for warmer tone
« Reply #7 on: Jun 06, 2017, 10:49:16 PM »
Joe, you say the Helicores with Jade rosin would provide a mellow tone. Aren't Helicores steel strings? My only experience has been with Dominants, which I have loaded right now, but I was under the impression that steel strings were typically considered bright compared to others (e.g. Dominants). Is that too much generalization and it really depends on the strings or does the Jade rosin make that much of a difference? I have Helicores in the drawer for the next replacement and am really interested in hearing how they sound on my fiddle, but the Dominants have only been on since January and are wearing well so I'll be waiting a while longer.
Bad times make for good stories.

Offline Joe Gerardi

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Re: Rosin for warmer tone
« Reply #8 on: Jun 07, 2017, 03:15:47 AM »
Yes, you are right. I was thinking Kaplan and had just remembered the Karneols, and in the rush, wrote Helicores.

Thanks for keeping me honest.

..Joe
"Some people are like a Slinky... not really good for anything, but you still can't help but smile when you shove them down the stairs"

Offline tpquinn

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Re: Rosin for warmer tone
« Reply #9 on: Jun 07, 2017, 10:01:51 PM »
Quite all right. And if the Helicores don't suit me I'll be trying the Kaplan flavor next.
Bad times make for good stories.

 




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