Choosing a new instrument or thinking about an upgrade? Here are some important points to consider.
The setup on an instrument can not only make a big difference to the sound but will also affect how easy and comfortable it is to play. There are many small details that need to be exactly right; the nut height and shape, the curvature and “scoop” in the fingerboard, the string heights over the fingerboard, the smoothness of the peg action, the string spacing at the bridge as well as the curvature of the bridge top, and so on. These might only be tiny measurements but if any of them are wrong then you will find the instrument frustratingly hard to play.
Vivaldis make sure every instrument has the ideal setup so you will always get off to a good start.
The sound of an instrument can be a very individual preference, but you shouldn’t be hearing any unpleasant noises. Gargling, nasal or hollow sounds are to be avoided and you certainly don’t want to experience an annoying buzz! These are generally symptoms of poorly made or badly set up instruments. However, a lot can be done to improve the sound by adjusting the bridge and soundpost, or by trying a different set of strings. All of the instruments sold at Vivaldis have been tested and optimised for sound quality.
Note too that when trying out different instruments, you should always use your own bow so that you will remove one possible variable.
The visual aspect is not as critical for playability, but it is still something to consider. Your instrument will be your constant companion for many hours, weeks and probably years, and it’s more encouraging to practice and play if you find it a pleasure to look at.
Generally, you should buy the best violin, viola or cello that you can afford. A musical instrument is a long term investment and you need it to be able to grow with you and match your playing skill as you learn new techniques. Cheaper instruments might be adequate for a while, but they will eventually become limiting. To realise your full potential and make sure you can progress and improve, you need an instrument that will see you well into the future.
Many old instruments have repairs. It’s not necessarily a reason to avoid them, but make sure the repairs have been carried out professionally and are stable. Ideally, a good repair should be invisible, or at least inconspicuous. If you can see obvious black cracks, or large pieces of mismatched wood there is a good chance it was an amateur job and should be avoided. Vivaldis will always point out any repair work on the instruments they sell.