A proper set up is very Important to the sound Of the Instrument and the stability and playablility….Below are a few things to Look for when shopping at a Violin store its easy to just look the the violin and say “that’s Beautiful” or that looks “Old it must be good” but without a proper setup the violin or any instrument wont sound good or be easy to play, ill go through the main setup parts you can see and explain the Importance of having each part right.
Called by many “The Heart of the Violin” it transfer’s the vibrations from the strings to the body which in-turn produces the “Voice” of the violin, there are many different idea’s and opinions on how bridge should be cut…I wont get into that to deeply in this article. The Bridge feet should fit the curve of the violin body perfectly, so it can transfer all the vibrations to the body. The bridge should be neither to low or to high, when you press the string down to play it shouldn’t hurt your fingers, if it dose then its to high, if you press a string and play and it makes a “Buzzing” noise then your bridge is to low or your fingerboard is “Warped”. a good bridge should also be stamped with a maker or brand name, Aubert, or Despiu are good brand’s. The bridge should be about 1.5 mm thick at the top (A Little Thicker is Okey) and about 5-6 mm at the feet, The strings should be evenly spaced apart both at nut and bridge. there are many other factors but for the beginner or someone who dosnt know what to look for these are the main factors.
Also called the “Soul” on the Violin, Transfer’s the vibration’s from the top plate (Top of the Violin) to the back plate (Back of Violin), The position and fit of the sound post is very important for the sound of the violin, if placed to far back you violin can sound “Hollow” if placed to close to the bridge it will sound To Bright or “Shrill”, Its hard to tell just by looking into the F holes if the post is wrong or right, you should look at the bottom of the sound post and make sure it looks like it fits the belly of the instrument, and has no gaps, the sound post should look like it is standing up straight and be placed about 2 mm behind the bridge if placed correctly every string on the violin (Open Strings) should have the same resonance or loudness on each string, it should create a equal balance, without actually looking into the violin this is what you look for.
FingerBoard and Nut
The position and the shape of the Fingerboard are Essential to playing the violin, If the fingerboard is placed to height on the violin neck you will have problem’s playing the different positions. The fingerboard Should always be ebony wood (Not painted Black but Natural Black) some low quality instruments will have pine or a white wood painted to look like ebony, it should have a “Hollow” shape to it, the top and bottom should be higher then the middle of the fingerboard when you look down it, the edges should be rounded and comfortable to hold and move up and down, it should be smooth. where the fingerboard meet’s the violin neck, it should have no edges and be seamless. the neck should also be smooth and easy to travel up and down it. The nut just above the fingerboard where the string’s rest, should not to so high as to make the strings hurt your fingers when you play or to low, as to make the string touch the fingerboard this will create a buzz. The fingerboard Height also matter but it is hard to tell unless you can measure it or have been working on violins a long time, For the average person this is what to look for.
Pegs are Essential part of tuning, if your pegs and peg hole’s don’t fit right, you cant keep the Violin in tune. The peg material should be either Boxwood, Ebony, maple, date or Walnut the most common is Ebony, Ebony should feel hard and smooth and not look like it has been painted or dyed some low quality instruments will use pine or a soft white wood and paint it black to make it look like ebony these will lose their shape very quickly. The pegs need to be a hard wood, the peg hole and peg need to fit perfectly so the pegs turns smoothly and will hold their you tune,if shaped improperly it will slip and come untuned and wont hold its intonation. it can be very frustrating tuning a violin that wont stay tuned, look for a violin that hold its tune when you turn the pegs they stay and don’t roll back. When everything works together you get a great sounding instrument that is easy to play and Beautiful to hear.