Do not assume that the violin has been put through a rigorous evaluation process. The best way to find out why your violin sounds bad is to start by performing some initial sound reproduction tests. The sound reproduction tests below are intended to determine whether or not there are issues or deficiencies. If you’re interested in learning more about the process and getting yourself set up to perform some initial sound reproduction tests, check out Part 2 of this post, where I cover a step-by-step process for getting your sound reproduction to work.
If you are not familiar with the process, simply go with the test in Part 4. Then, once you have a good-fitting sound, you’ll learn what to do next to improve the sound quality.
Testing for Harmonic Distortion
When the violin’s strings are vibrating at a certain range, the vibrations generate harmonics that are reflected back and forth.
The harmonics that are reflected outward from a string are called “harmonic distortion,” and they affect the overall sound of the violin (as well as the performance of the player’s instrument). Some of the most common types of harmonic distortion are pitch shifting (shapes that change in pitch when the strings are vibrated), pitch bending, and color shift.
The purpose of this post is to help you determine the harmonic distortion that your instrument has. To do this, take a listen. If you listen to the recorded sound, try making a recording of your own instrument playing the same sound or different sound. Make sure the player’s instrument is not different than yours.
Sound reproduction tests can be performed in a number of ways, but with the following methods you can quickly find out the most common types of harmonic distortion in concert players’ instruments.
Harmonic Distortion in Concert Players’ Instruments
One way to determine the harmonic distortion in concert players’ instruments is by performing some initial sound reproduction tests. Test each individual string individually while playing a violin. Play the same sound in separate ears or test two separate instruments simultaneously.
Here is a chart of the harmonic distortion that is produced by different string combinations:
Here you can see that with the violin’s two major strings, the “A” and “O” strings have little to no harmonic distortion.
To determine the harmonic distortion for a given string combination, consider what kind of sound a player would normally make with their musical instrument.
For example, you might expect your violinist to play a mellow,