Drawing the absolute best sound from your violin is the goal of every violinist. The quality of the sound your violin can produce largely depends on the form and technique you use when bowing, but sound post position and other factors can help or inhibit the sound quality as well. In fact, there are many adjustments you can do yourself that will increase your enjoyment and ease when playing your instrument.
Whether you are just getting started, or you’ve been playing for years, DIY violin adjustments can help you coax the richest, fullest sounds from your instrument.
Replace Your Strings
Often, the strings on your violin will need replaced. Your strings can stretch or contract from the amount of humidity in the environment. And older strings will sound dull and can begin to fray, which may scratch the fingerboard. A general rule of thumb for string replacement is that if you play over an hour each day, then you should replace your strings every 4-6 months.
Beginners should have their strings replaced by a luthier, but if you’ve been playing for a while, replacing the strings for the first time yourself is a challenge, but not impossible. The actual steps involved require patience, but if you do attempt it, the main thing to remember is to replace one string at a time. If you completely remove all of the strings, the subsequent lack of pressure on the top of the violin can cause the Sound Post to slip out of place. If this occurs, high notes will screech and lower tones will be muffled most unpleasantly. Learn how to change your violin strings.
For the very advanced player, a DIY violin upgrade to real catgut strings can make a big difference in the sounds your violin produces, but there are also many very fine metal equivalents available. Learn more about violin strings with our guide.
Visually Check the Position of Your Sound Post
As previously mentioned, if the Sound Post has slipped out of place, you’ll probably notice a marked difference in the sound of your violin. The French word for this crucial element in the violin basically means “soul,” therefore, you can understand that its placement is extremely important.
The sound post can shift in place for a variety of reasons—the strings contracted from lack of humidity, perhaps overtightening during tuning has stripped the set screw causing a lack of pressure, etc.—but unless you are extremely adept in violin craftsmanship, trust a luthier to actually perform the actual adjustment.
The sounds made by your violin are especially dependent on the placement of your bow when bowing. The straight bow technique ensures that you are producing sounds that are uniform by keeping the bow at the correct sounding point on each string. This DIY violin adjustment simply requires dedicated practice on your part.
Other Bowing Adjustments
Getting the best sound from your violin has much to do with your bowing techniques. The speed, weight, and placement (mentioned above) of the bow have a large impact on the sounds you make.
Learning to tune your violin is an important part in becoming proficient in your ability. Using an electronic chromatic tuner is the best way for beginners to learn this DIY violin adjustment.
Basically anything you can do to lighten the weight of your instrument will help enhance the sound. Install a lighter tailpiece or apron… or you can have a luthier thin your bridge slightly (the feet must be fitted exactly).
Try a new bow. A good wooden bow with horsehair strings [generates] the best sound.
Getting the optimum quality sounds from your violin requires corrections from time to time. DIY violin adjustments to your bowing techniques simply involve practice, but when contemplating additional changes, if you aren’t sure about it, always seek the help and assistance of an experienced luthier.