Vintage Fiddle

What are the main differences between a student violin and a better quality one?

When I ask people they say ' its better quality' I understand that but what are the better qualities compared with a student one. Why does it sound better? why does it play better? etc

Is it the wood used? the shape? are the strings made of something different?

Also the bows and hard cheap rosin compared with the sticky version.

thanks :)

Everything Walter lays out has validity. But more can be added.

Both wood and varnish go through chemical changes over time. There is a subtle chrystalization process which alters the acoustic resonance of the materials. Some of it relates to moisture content, some is aging, some is probably non-accountable and variable from instrument to instrument. However, a vintage fiddle can provide a more responsive experience for the player. Obviously, not every old violin is better than every new one. But aging is a factor to consider.

I knew a maker. Some of his products were much better than others. I doubt if even he knew for sure why some of his violins were just average and some were real treasures. I am sure there was absolutely no science to support this, but he had a basement room where he aged his wood under controlled humidity. In this room, 24/7 he played Mozart at medium volume. He was "serenading" his future violins for a year or two, accustoming them to concordant service, even before they were built. Pure superstition, I believe. But truly, who knows?

Two pieces of wood come together with a longitudinal seam on the back of a violin. A better violin will have carefully matched the grain patterns of the two pieces, fitting them together, and making the pattern continuous. Some believe this makes for better sound.

Look at the "purfling," the double-line strip tracing around the outer edges of the body of the violin. In a fine instrument, this is inset veneer, actually set into the wood. In an inferior instrument, the purfling is a plastic stick-on strip, destined to peel off sooner or later.

Not to be ignored is the design and placement of the bridge. An otherwise fine violin will be impaired by a poor job of "set-up." The soundpost figures into this equation as well.

Strings, bows, and rosin are separate subjects of concern. Obviously, the quality of the strings can have a significant impact on sound, as well as their composition and gauge (thickness). Additionally, strings are subject to the same aging processes which affect violins. However, aging strings are typically discarded. Players generally find their own preferences on the basis of individual tastes and experiences. Cost is not a perfect guide in appraising string quality.

I have a personal suspicion. It is something which could be confirmed only by prying into the secrets of the Romanian, Chinese, Malaysian workshops. I suspect the week's production run is surveyed by the shop master whose critical ear listens to the resonance of each work-in-progress. Based on this human appraisal, some are finished to be intermediate or advanced, and the remainder remain entry level. I am saying I suspect all these musical children receive the same birth from the same genetics. But they are culled in early childhood and sent to separate paths for their final education.

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