Jim Clinton Violins Greenville, SC

Posts Tagged "first instrument"

A PASSION FOR INSTRUMENTS – SERVICE

THE RIGHT SETUP, THE FIRST TIME

All too often when you buy a new instrument it is setup to some common standard to fit most players most of the time.  Our passion for instruments does not let us just get by.  Every instrument that leaves Jim Clinton Violins is setup with the musician in mind.  Here is what we mean:

The Setup as (unfortunately) it usually is:
Instrument manufacturers offer their factory setup to music stores and reputable violin shops. This makes it easy for a store or a violin shop to have a large volume rental program without the intensive labor necessary in setting up hundreds, if not thousands of instruments. This significantly saves money and time, a necessity in a highly competitive rental market. Even though setups are offered as a selling point to the end user, they are often irregular, incomplete, mass produced setups done quickly with the bottom line price point as the primary function of this work, or they are cookie cutter setups meeting MENC or some other specifications designed rather to keep the instrument from coming back to the store for buzzing (resulting in being difficult to play). Hardly ever does a setup performed outside the local workshop and without consultation effectively meet an individual’s needs. It is important for the workshop technician to discuss with you your needs in order to complete your instrument setup. We welcome suggestions and preferences from you and your teacher.

Jim Clinton Violins has chosen to set in motion a new direction. We have chosen to stay small, avoid corner-cutting methodology, and put in the time necessary to provide an excellent musical experience for new as well as advanced musicians. The advantage of professional grade craftsmanship is now available to the new musician.

Many years of instrument setup research, an ongoing pursuit at Jim Clinton Violins, has made it possible for the musician to benefit.

The Setup as it should be:
A 14 task Setup couples the JCV Passion for Instruments with the musician’s Performance of a lifetime. The following description is a procedure simplification requiring up to 12 hours of detailed workmanship on a violin.

This is a basic setup applied to all instruments either before or at the time of purchase. Additional tap tuning, tonal and parts adjustments may be applied based on the requirements of the musician and his instrument.

Every adjustment performed on an instrument influences its tone and playability.

Performed on all Jim Clinton Violins instruments are the following Setup inspections and adjustments:

-Analysis & performance testing with a musician consultation
A conversation with the musician may be as simple as a few questions about his musical intentions, ensemble or solo use, tonal preferences, musical style, acoustic environment, and the innate realities of the musician’s instrument.

-Neck angle
Neck angle is foundational to correct feel and ease of play. Correct neck angle provides the ability for the technician to make appropriate adjustments, and provides the basis for the instrument’s ultimate tone, and power. Neck position must be correct before beginning a setup. Correcting the neck angle after doing the following procedures will require redoing all setup procedures.

-Soundpost
The soundpost is initially set with the instrument’s removable parts disassembled in order to find the maximum tonal center of the instrument. Thickness, position, and proper fit of this hand made soundpost influences the instrument’s power, tone, and lifetime of the top and back.

-Pegs
Fittings are not merely accessories. Properly selected tuning pegs are made of a strong, dense wood, are easy to use, and accent the instrument’s appearance. Properly prepared and fitted pegs hold the string to pitch, are resistant to humidity changes, and are ergonomic during tuning. These pegs will give maximum life.

-Fingerboard
The fingerboard is a critical and complicated adjustment to the instrument. Carefully planed compound arcs on the fingerboard’s dense ebony is smoothed to a glassy finish and will stabilize pitch location, regulate string “feel” under the fingers, and clarify tone throughout the range of the fingerboard positions.

-Nut
The nut is usually replaced with a new instrument setup. It is made of hard ebony and is painstakingly carved and fitted relative to the new fingerboard shape. The nut’s grooves are smooth and evenly spaced. It is fitted precisely to the instrument and fingerboard. This new nut influences string height feel and tonal focus. Strings will now last longer and deliver clearer tone.

-Neck thumb area
The neck’s lengthwise thumb area must be smooth and straight. It will be artistically graduated toward the neck heel and scroll ends of the thumb area. Any varnish is removed to provide a non-sticking surface for ease of shifting technique. Proper thickness and “cam lobe” sectional shape assists the left hand in locating pitches and minimizes fatigue. Changing the thickness of a neck has tonal implications and must be taken into account before performing this task.       

-Saddle
The saddle provides for sensitive tonal adjustments that will be tailored to the characteristics of the instrument and the musician’s acoustic preferences.

All work must be neat, carefully fitted to the instrument’s lines and contours in order to remain intact and allow clean vibration of the tailpiece.

-Bridge
The bridge has the greatest impact on the tone and response a musician experiences while playing his instrument. JCV purchases only select grain and top quality maple tonewood bridges. These are individually selected based on the instrument’s needs. The hand carved bridge can be tuned to warm the tone, brighten it, even out the tone between strings, and increase or temper the projection of an instrument. String clearance is also set for correct feel and pitch stability. Much time is spent on a professional bridge while carving, installing, play testing, removing, and repeating this process. For a professional bridge this sequence is repeated until the instrument response is optimum. Simply buying a “premade” or factory setup bridge and installing it will result in poor tonal characteristics, damaged strings, and if improperly fitted will damage the instrument’s top.

-String Selection
String selection, a close second bridge carving has the greatest impact on the tone and power of an instrument. Selecting appropriate strings is not a matter of liking a particular brand and putting that brand on every instrument. Each instrument and its setup brings with it individual requirements. These necessitate an understanding of the tonal characteristics that a particular string, its weight, its winding, materials, and design bring to an instrument’s projection and tonal potential.

-Tailpiece
As previously stated: “fittings are not merely accessories”. The tailpiece vibrates with the string and delivers tone. The materials, weight, shape, length, and position between the bridge and saddle provides subtle and sometimes not so subtle influence on tone, response, and harmonics.

-Tailchord
The tailchord is lightweight, strong, and flexible allowing the tailpiece to vibrate. Shifting the length and position of the tailchord makes significant fine tuning adjustments for tone, clarity, balance, and power.

-Performance test & final adjustments with musician feedback
Performance testing and final adjustments are the last step in a process similar to cheese tasting. The technician must maintain focus and lock in on a tonal reference point. The fine-tuning of these adjustments will bring the instrument to its full potential.  Additional subtle adjustments are available once the musician experiences his/her new setup. The musician and technician may now perform final tweaks together.

-Document the setup
Once the instrument setup is complete, many hours invested are protected when the instrument setup is documented. This service is recorded for professional instruments.  We record the dimensions, positions, pitches, and mass of the many parts adjusted on this instrument. This will serve as a reference should a mishap occur influencing this most sensitive aspect of the completed musical instrument’s tone.

This is all part of the passion that drives Jim Clinton Violins for the instruments we sell.  Please feel free to contact us by calling 864-322-2622

A reoccurring nightmare for teachers and repair persons is the bright-eyed student who comes in the door with their new acquisition, fresh from  (you pick), EBay, Craig’s List, the local flea market, antique store or the local pawnshop.  “It was a great buy”, they exude,  “and it only needs to have new strings or a new bridge or a setup or something.”  All too often the instrument is of inferior quality with budget level fittings, not of a high-grade wood, and will only aggravate their efforts to learn.  The chin rest is plastic and the sound post is not properly fitted so there is an almost imperceptible bulge to the top, or it falls and starts to roll around as soon as the strings are slackened even a little.  The old adage, “If it’ s too good to be true, it probably isn’t”, persists for a reason.  Or, “You get what you pay for.” Is another quote that comes to mind.  When shopping in these places the other adage one must keep forefront in their mind is, “Buyer beware.”  Often the people doing the selling are not informed as to the true value of these treasures.  They tell you it is old or pretty or some other quality as their selling point.  These qualities are not top priorities when buying an instrument, though they are considerations. It is exceedingly difficult to buy an instrument on the Internet and know exactly what you are getting.  The photographs and descriptions tell you nothing of the tone or sound of an instrument.  Sound and tone are perhaps the most important characteristics of an instrument along with playability.  You cannot get a good measure of these qualities when viewing an instrument on line.  It does not matter how pretty an instrument is if it does not sound good. In the initial rush of acquiring and instrument it is easy to get swept away in the moment.  Rushing into a contract at a school event while your child is wide-eyed with excitement is very tempting.   Taking a deep breath, shopping around to find the best deal to find a friendly atmosphere with folks who are there to help is a much better idea. As we all know, money does not grow on trees.  So take your time.  Evaluate the place as well as the instruments and what financing options they may have. Your best bet for buying an instrument that will suit your needs is a local shop that provides service after the sale.  A shop like this will have a friendly, helpful, knowledgeable staff that recognizes quality, not only in instruments but also in instrument care.  They set up each instrument to fit your needs, to meet your requirements.  They have researched the available product lines and will have what they feel is the best buy for the dollar available.  They can back up what they sell and will make sure that it is ready for you to play when you get it.  It is tough enough to learn a new instrument, you don’t need to add to the complications by using an inferior instrument that won’t stay in tune or the pegs don’t operate properly, or the bridge is ill fitted.  This can lead to frustrations that come from fighting the instrument just when you are facing the daunting task of learning how to play it. As a rule of thumb, your first instrument should be good enough to take you through and beyond your first three years of learning.  This way you can concentrate on learning the instrument and how to play it without the nagging problems incurred when parts fail, tuning pegs get stuck and will not turn, and the instrument becomes more of a hindrance than a help.  With an eye for the future, ask the local merchant if he has a rental plan for his instruments.  If they have a “rent to buy” program, you can work your way up to a better quality instrument as your playing skills advance.  This is especially helpful when buying for a child.  With the right program you can roll over your rental towards a larger instrument as the child grows.  Check into trade-in and buy back programs the store may also have.  Some stores keep detailed records of what they sell and whom they sell it to.  These stores often have buy back or trade in programs where you can recoup some of your investment when upgrading to a larger instrument or one of better quality.  Before buying ask about plans for rolling over rental money toward a better instrument, buy back and trade-up policies.  Find the one that is best for you. When passing through the threshold from being a music consumer to becoming a music producer, many things change.  This instrument is not just something pretty, but it is a tool for the expression of your artistic self.  This makes the qualities of playability and sound more important than ever.  If the instrument is not easy to play and cannot produce a pleasing sound, you aren’t going to want to play it.  It is that simple. As you progress on your musical journey, you will become more demanding of a responsive instrument that can reflect and express your music for others to enjoy.  Having the support of a local shop and all the services they supply is invaluable to your journey toward fulfilling your musical destiny.  The shop that deserves your business will offer good trade-ins when you want to upgrade or they provide a good rent-to-own program where you can take your equity in your instrument and apply it to an advancing instrument.  The deserving shop will have a knowledgeable, friendly, sales staff that helps you find the instrument that suits you, and a repair staff that can keep your investment in top form.  This will make your trip into the shop more of a delight and less of a chore as well as an opportunity to learn a bit more about the world of bowed instruments.  Additionally, with this support system you are free to keep your mind on your music and not on getting along with your instrument.  

Heyyyy, this is fun!

Heyyyy, this is fun!

 

Smart idea to play the violin

Smart idea to play the violin

Create-Your-Own Case ID Tag

Receive your free Case Identification Tag and create your own personal design for your instrument case. When you Rent to Grow, Rent to Upgrade, Rent to Own, or Purchase your violin, viola, cello, or bass from Jim Clinton Violins. We will provide the glitter glue, stickers, pens and workspace so you can create it right here in our shop. Here are just a few creative musicians with their own personalized, hand crafted name tag. These case ID tags were handmade right here in our town.

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Eye think Eye see what you are saying about fun!
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Just a few ideas

 

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Ocean Theme

 

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Talk, talk, talk

 

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Aaah, very satisfying.

 

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Me and my case tag