I am on Cloud 9, having retrieved my new violin, a 1926 Roth Strad., from the shop late this morning. I was already completely taken with the instrument’s appearance, but most of the minor cosmetic blemishes were evened out at the shop and it’s even more beautiful now. It’s got new strings, a new bridge, and a re-haired bow. The seams are repaired, as were two little cracks. The workmanship is unbelievable – it’s stunning.
But looks are not what a violin is for. The moment I got it home and pulled it out and touched the strings I knew I was dealing with an entirely different kind of instrument than my rental – the difference in tone was apparent even in my incidental handling of the piece. When I finally managed to get it tuned up (I’m still an abject beginner at peg-tuning and had a bit of a calamity with the G string) and started to draw the bow across the strings it was practically magic.
It feels like a cheat to improve this much simply by holding a better quality instrument. As I noted in the first post – where you will also find pics of the piece – I didn’t know if a better instrument would really matter much, considering my newbie skillset. Well, it does. It matters a whole lot. I think the better bow helps too. It certainly handles better than my rental bow.
I’ve also decided to take this opportunity to remove the training wheels, so to speak, and I’m not going to put tapes on the fingerboard to mark off first position like they came to me on my rental – Teacher was already itching to remove them from the rental anyway. But not having them did impact my ability to be in tune, especially as I moved between strings, I noticed. I mostly got used to it, and after I was well warmed-up I started not missing them much. The change also helps me psychologically; I’m better able to look away from my fingers, which will help when I start to read music.
The fullness and depth of the sound are amazing; the highs are bright, the lows clear. I’m certainly no pro at testing an instrument for quality and I don’t even have much of a vocabulary to describe it, but I have to believe that anybody would be able to hear the differences between the Roth and the rental. In this season of giving and gratitude, I feel honored and lucky to be its new steward.
Thanks for reading.