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Luke Wells (artist name Luke Mandala)
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Hey everyone :)

I’m learning the violin to play it with my dance music live. I have written songs (the violin parts I want to integrate are mostly simple and not so fast) and I can play them at this point although I need to learn and integrate vibrato. Please let me know what I need to do to get to the point where I can learn vibrato.  

I use an electric 5 string violin made by Bridge. This way I can play it out with sound systems without feedback problems. 
http://www.bridgeinstruments.co.uk/Lyra-5-String-Violin.html

Also, how important is it that I buy a more expensive bow? I currently have a Black Fibre Bow with an ebony frog, nickel fittings and winding. It says Bridge on it so I’m guessing Bridge made it..? Is it going to hurt me to learn on it for a while before buying a better bow (assuming I should get a better bow at some point). 

Experience:
-I've basically been going through the Suzuki book 1 for about 5 months
-I can play though song 12 in Suzuki Book 1 with few mistakes (I usually play a bit better than I did in this video)
-I have watched videos 1-88 with Violin Lab.
-watched about 15 other online videos 

I’m so grateful that I am getting some help with learning though violin lab.. I couldn’t afford a teacher otherwise! Thanks for your help :)
Luke Wells (artist name Luke Mandala)
22 Responses
Posted: March 4, 2015
Last Comment: March 5, 2015
Replies

Luke Wells (artist name Luke Mandala)
Posted: March 5, 2015
Elke ~ good to know, thanks

Diane ~ cool! 

Kevin ~ I’ll just get the $700 when I can.. thanks for your help! I have nice studio equipment because I’m a music producer so I’m good to go with that. 

I’m now playing into my headphones and it sounds waay better. I got lazy for a few months and wasn’t plugging in the violin to run through my computer system :P

Kevin
Posted: March 5, 2015

PS. The reason I suggested a Mackie Mix8 mixer is because it has AUX outputs on all the channel strips, so you can strip off a copy of just your violin sound during performance for recording if you like, without picking up all the other tracks.  And that can be useful. (After looking at your big soundcloud page, you obviously know a ton about mixing and mixers, so I won't mention mixers any more ...:-)


Kevin
Posted: March 5, 2015

Hi Luke, if you think electric violins and carbon fibre bows are expensive, be happy -- you can spend WAY more on acoustic gear...

In answer to your question about a bow, my advice is to not buy a $300-$500 version, for a couple of reasons.

First, it's not clear to me at all that you actually have a bow problem to solve.

Second, I am guessing that your current bow costs something around that range $200 - $300. (Since you are in contact with Bridge, maybe find out what the normal retail price of your current bow is.)

Third, I am guessing that you might regret it later if you buy a midrange carbon fibre bow for $500, and then end up wanting a top-of-the-line bow for $700 or $800. (I have been through that process, and it is a bummer knowing that if you had spent just a little more money, you could've had the top-of-the-line equipment. I usually end up buying the thing I really wanted anyway, and so I usually lose some of what I invested in the lesser product.)

In answer to your questions about carbon fibre bow recommendations, I have only used the CodaBow NX and GX bows (www.codabow.com). Both of them are fine bows, but the flagship GX bow has somewhat better parts, and is a bit lighter on the tip for faster bow work. The GX bow definitely felt better in my hand for playability and response, although your hands might feel otherwise.

I think if you are in it for the long term, and want to get a good carbon fibre bow, I would say save your money until you can get a top-of-the-line one like the CodaBow GX. Apparently lots of professionals use those bows. I know I am very happy with mine.

Until that time, I'd say just continue to play with your current bow until you have the money. (Kindly spoken here) Your bow is probably better than you are at this point, so it is not likely to limit you in any way until you save up the funds for a new bow.

If you really want to spend a few more bucks, and assuming that you do not already have a mixer and headphones, I'd suggest spending your money on a nice Mackie Mix8 mixer (about $75 USD) and some nice studio quality headphones. That way you can enjoy all the nuances of sound that will help you to become a better player.

All of my words are simply suggestions, of course. I usually like to concentrate my money first on what limits me, or on what really affects my playing enjoyment (like a really cheap bow), and then worry about upgrading my other gear later.

Please let us know with another video or posting when you make your decisions, and when you get your violin hooked up with a mixer and a speaker, everyone likes to see videos from students. Cheers!


Diane in SOCAL
Posted: March 5, 2015
  Oh…I love Seattle.  I was there mid January over on Whidbey Island at a Scottish Fidddle workshop with Alasdair Fraser at Fort Casey.  It's a 4 day workshop and it's awesome. 
Check out their website here...http://www.nwscottishfiddlers.org
They have a jam session for beginners where they teach a tune…look at their website if 
your interested in fiddle stuff.  An excellent group…very sharing and great teachers too. 
Have a great day…keep practicing and have fun with your violin (electric) journey. 
Stay tuned. Diane 

Elke Meier
Posted: March 5, 2015
A few months ago we had an interesting thread here, can't remember who it was. He tried different bows and let us evaluate them. It turned out that most of us voted for a rather cheap bow, but definitely not for the expensive one he had among the lot. So trying it out is very, very important, and not necessarily judge it by the price.

Luke Wells (artist name Luke Mandala)
Posted: March 5, 2015
Diane.. I just saw your message.. that's great, thanks for the tip on the strings.. I'll probably do that! I'm near Seattle, there's lots of shops here. I'll try out bows at the shop! I was thinking why not buy the bow now so that I can practice on it too.. although.. 6months to a year from now may be better because I'll have a better idea of what I prefer. 

Luke Wells (artist name Luke Mandala)
Posted: March 5, 2015
Beth.. that is so cool of you to take the time for a personal response.. thanks :) I can play proper long stokes most of the time. As you noted, it says in the suzuki book to play those songs (most of the notes anyways) as staccato, so that's how I tried to play them. So if I can play somewhat consistent long strokes then I can start vibrato training? I was holding off because I heard it's good to get to suzuki book 2 or 3 before starting vibrato training. 

Diane in SOCAL
Posted: March 5, 2015
  Hi Luke.  Yes, those are good strings….but when you change strings at 10months or so.  Buy a complete set of strings for a 5 string electric.  I would try the D'Addario's medium  gauge, …a metal, rope core (twisted steel) string that is very stable and will last for a year or so.  : >) They have a wonderful rich, warm tone for electric's and acoustics.  That's what we use on 5 string acoustic and electric's here at our shop in SoCal. 
Some suggestions on buying a bow:  do you have any violin shops near where you live? If so, take your violin and amp with you and try out bows at the shop. Each bow, depending on the weight of the bow will sound different on any particular violin.  I do not have a lot of experience with electric fiddles, but as I mentioned earlier..a bit of a heavier bow…63 grams is idea to move those thicker strings.  Do you live here in the US?  If so, Sharmusic.com or Southweststrings (southwest.com) has programs where you call them up and tell them what your looking for in the way of a bow for electric violin and they will send you a couple of bows to try out in your home…you then select the bow that you like, keep that one and send the rest back.  The best way though is to go to a violin shop and try out many bows…don't just buy the first bow that comes along…shop for a bow.  Also, I would stick with a good carbon fiber bow…they are stiff bows, will not warp and you will be happy with one for a long time.  There are a lot of good CF bows coming out of china as well.  You just need to test drive them….bring your own bow along and compare…you might find that your own bow is just as good as a $400-$600 good carbon fiber bow for right now. So then no need to buy another one just like you have….: >)So,  until you gain some more experience and can play better, LOL, using the whole bow…maybe keep the bow that you have, save some money and then in a year or so….invest in a better bow because by then you will know more and what you need to get that electric fiddle to perform.  Have fun.  Here is another website you might want to take a look at…toddehle.com…go on his home page and click on his article he wrote on "Buying  a bow".
Stay tuned. Diane  
PS:  take a look both a todd's site and here in Beth's videos with practicing long, slow whole bow strokes for tone production…yes, definitely turn that thing up on volume. :>). 

Beth Blackerby
Posted: March 5, 2015
This discussion includes members-only video content

Luke, I embedded your video for you. To grab the embed code, click share below your video then under the url you'll see the "embed" button. Click that and then you can copy your embed code. Once you're in the VL editor window, click "embed" at the top of the window and then paste your embed code.

Elke Meier
Posted: March 5, 2015
Luke, acoustic violins are VERY loud! I was kind of shocked when I had one under my ear for the first time. And I am not listening to loud music normally! Actually, I often have it just silent around me. I like the silence, it helps my thoughts to become clear. So one problem I have/had is that the loud violin really hurt my ears. That problem is solved with ear-piece ear-plugs.

But then the other problem is that I have neighbors who I would like to keep a good relationship with. If I had to listen to myself practicing, repeating the same ten notes twenty five times it would drive me CRAZY. So for practicing I often use an Artino mute, which is a heavy piece of rubber coated metal to be put on the bridge. It prevents the bridge from vibrating and transferring the vibrations into the resonance body of the violin, and thus dampens the sound just about to what your electric violin sounds like without amplification.
 
However, as I said, I found extensive practice with the mute to have a really negative effect on my bowing. Normally, bow pressure, speed, amount of bow, all has a heavy influence on the tone and you hear the effect right away. When I practice with the mute, all these things hardly make any difference any more on the sound. So my bowing gets sloppy very quickly. I think if you are an experienced player and your bowing is kind of solidified, it wouldn't make such a difference any more. But I have only been playing for a year, my bowing is anything but perfect and stable, and that's why I make sure to not practice too much with a mute. - I would suspect that it is similar with your amplification. Like using tiny or longer bow strokes: they might sound rather similar without amplification, but I would assume that you would hear an instant difference if you listened to it with the full sound. Well, obviously that is not experience, just assumption, but you could try it and let us know what you find out.

Luke Wells (artist name Luke Mandala)
Posted: March 5, 2015
Bridge got back to me and said the strings are G-E Dominants and d’addario C. 

Luke Wells (artist name Luke Mandala)
Posted: March 5, 2015
Diane, Elke, and Kevin ~ they said the strings are horse hair and the bow weighs 62 grams. 

Elke, Jaime ~ I’ll try out using more bow strokes.. nice tip :) I’m not quite sure what you mean when talking about mute with your violin although I have a guess. I’m somewhat sure that I am suppost to be practicing at all times with the electric violin with either speakers or headphones.. which I haven’t been doing.. but I’m realizing that I should do that because maybe this violin won't sound as it should if it's heard any other way. 

Kevin ~ Very useful info, thanks! I didn’t know most of that info. I’m inclined to just get a better bow now and learn on it and get used to it now. I’m in this for the long term so I figure why wait. Is there something more like 300-500$ that you would recommend? Not sure if I can ever come up with $700 to spend on a bow. I can’t believe how expensive this stuff is :P I’m learning that things sound different when listening to this violin though speakers or headphones now.. so I’ll record the sound that way next time, thanks.  

Diane ~ I make all types of chill out and dance music. It’s all rather deep, groovy and melodic.. or ambient. https://soundcloud.com/luke-mandala

Jaime - Orlando , Fl
Posted: March 5, 2015
Hi Luke!
Welcome to VL!
Excellent renditions! The only comment I have is like Elke, perhaps a little more bow use, bigger , longer strokes so as to make the notes more fluid and together. Short strokes seems to separate the notes,  therefore compromising the fluidity of the  melody.
Hopefully much more skilled experienced members and Beth can give you a more professional feedback. 
Happy fiddlin'!

Kevin
Posted: March 4, 2015

Hi Luke, sorry if my words were confusing. I will clarify.

No, I don't think your bow is a high end bow, but it doesn't look like a low-end bow either. By low end, I mean something like the Fiddlerman carbon fibre bow (from China, obviously) that retails for $68 USD. By high-end, I mean something like the CodaBow NX/GX bows, roughly about $700 USD.

I looked at the Bridge website, and couldn't find any pricing on Google, but I'd guess that your bow is probably a mid-range $150 or $200 carbon fibre bow. If it's nickel wrapped, with ebony frog as you say, and if the construction of it doesn't look cheap to you, then I'd say you're in the mid range. Hard to believe that Bridge would sell a cheap bow with their nice violins.

When I talk about how the bows don't make much difference on an electric violin, I mean that the sound doesn't change much. This is because the sound is completely generated by the electronics (piezo electric pickups) from the movement of the bridge feet.

So the normal harmonics produced by bow influences, string influences, etc that acoustic violins "capture and amplify" through acoustic means are not captured or amplified in the same way by electric violins. Instead, the electric pickups and circuitry are the major determinants of electric violin characteristic sounds. For example, my violin has a 3-position switch on it to select between "acoustic envelope modified sound", "raw pickup electric violin sound", and "for use only with pizzicato" (a second set of pickups is used to pick up vertical bridge movement for pizz, because the normal pickups don't do pizz very well.)

So when I play with my low-end bows, and switch to my high-end bows, the sound doesn't change that much. BUT... the feel of the bows in my hand does change, and I like that. The high-end bows have much more "critical dampening" of bow/hair string oscillations (physics stuff), and don't spring and jump around nearly as much as the better bows. In contrast, the better bows still have good spring for spiccato bowing, but they remain far quieter on fast bow changes, allowing me to do (for example) double shuffle Hokum bowing at high speed with far more control.

Hopefully that clears things up a bit. I'd say your bow is fine for now. When you get better, and start playing with full bow strokes with ease, and doing faster string changes, etc, that would be a better time for you to go try out some other bows.

(Gently spoken here) I don't think you're far enough long at the moment to really feel and appreciate the difference in bow quality based on your skill level. But I'm totally with you if you have the money to just buy a high-end carbon fibre bow (for example, a CodaBow GX) to solve the bow question outright -- then you know you have one of the best carbon bows that humans can make, and you don't have to worry about your bow quality at all.

I'd say that your next investment should be a little mixer (eg a Mackie Mix8?) and speaker, headphones, cables, etc, so you can hear your violin and play some actual sound for us in your next video.

My violin has a headphone jack that I can run into a tiny little Bose Soundbox Mini (any headphone speaker would do if you have a headphone output on your violin) for doing videos. But the best way is to run the sound directly from the mixer into the video camera, if possible. If you have to use an external mic, you can search for microphones on this site. I remember someone had a Samson podcast mic, and someone else (Chris?) just posted using a ribbon mic. But if you're doing dance music live, I suppose you know all about mics and such already.

Hope this helps! I'm looking forward to hearing you play something nice on that low fifth string!


Elke Meier
Posted: March 4, 2015
Nice to see you play, Luke! I don't know anything about electric violins, but I still have a thought about upgrading your bow. Before you do I would try first what kind of sound your current bow produces if you use a bit more of it. You seemed to use as little bow as possible. I would think it should be hard to produce a really nice and full sound with very tiny bow strokes.

Do you often practice without the full sound? As I said, I don't have an electric violin, but my acoustic one sounds similar if I have the heavy practice mute on. When I practiced a lot with this heavy mute on I noticed that my bowing really deteriorates. It becomes cautious and unfocused, because I don't really need to grab the strings well - the sound is the same, even if I just glide over the strings. So I make sure that especially for bowing practice I have practice times without the mute on.

Diane in SOCAL
Posted: March 4, 2015
Hi Luke.  The strings might be great and a good brand name.  Some times on violin outfits, the dealers or companies will put on inexpensive China-made strings to help cut costs.  So I would ask the company what brand of strings are on the violin that comes with it.  Strings will usually last about 8-10months and then they need to be changed because the life of a set of strings, especially if your playing on them a lot can start to deteriorate and you lose tone and power.  I would also ask about the bow..is the hair real horse hair.  You would need to get a scale that weights in grams.  You can buy post stamp scales that are cheap-o 
and really work.  What happens if you have a light-weight bow, say in the 55-59 grams weight, then you need to apply allow of bow weight and your right arm can fatigue over a few hours if your playing live music at a dance. The same goes with a heavy bow…anything over 64 grams and it will work your right arm.  With a 5 string tuned E, A, D, G and C…you might want a bit heavier bow 62-63 to move (vibrate) those heavier G and C strings.  Bows and strings (brands of strings) are synergistic with a particular instrument
so you just have to fine the best combo to work the way you want it to sound.  If your happy with the string set on the violin now…great.  When you change strings a few months from now…experiment with a new set…like one of the  ones above.  With our acoustic violins…there have been many discussions on which brand of strings to use and which ones sound the best…the true be known….you just have to try out a different set to see what sounds the best to you.  Hope that helps.  Stay tuned. Diane 
PS:  what genre of music are you playing for dance music??? 

Luke Wells (artist name Luke Mandala)
Posted: March 4, 2015
Thanks Kevin. Really useful info! Are you saying I have a high end bow at this point? I'm confused.. you said there's not much different in the different bows you have tried, but also said you love the difference between your high end and low end ones...?

Kevin
Posted: March 4, 2015

Hi Luke, I play an electric violin too, and I don't think electrics are as sensitive to either strings or bows as the acoustic instruments are. (And if you use effects pedals, that's a whole different sound story.) The reason is that the pickups and electronics determine a lot of the sound and tone quality in an electric violin.

I think the reason you might want a different bow one day is if you don't like the feel or quality of your current bow. (I've tried at least 4 different bows on my electric violin, and there's not much difference in sound, because the pickups and electronics determine most of the sound.) I know I like playing with a nice bow as part of the beautiful violin experience, so I upgraded. (I also like playing with my cheapest carbon bows regularly, so I can "feel the magic" when I go back to my high end Coda bows -- it's a cheap thrill that never dies... :-)

I certainly don't think the Bridge bow will hurt you in any way.

As for vibrato, Beth has a whole (really nice) series on vibrato, the best one I've seen on the Internet. Click the vibrato box in the topic list, and have at it! Learning vibrato wrist and finger motions is pretty much independent of intonation issues (especially Beth's early exercises), and vibrato can take a long time to develop, so getting started early sounds like a good idea to me.

Good luck!


Luke Wells (artist name Luke Mandala)
Posted: March 4, 2015
OK the video should work now. 

Diane, thanks for your hep! I can't find where to find out how much weight by bow has, or whether it has horse hair.. I'll send a message to the creators. I'm not sure if they are Bridge or not though. Are you saying the string that came with the violin when I bought it 5 months ago are not very good? It's a $1200 violin and the strings aren't very good?

Diane in SOCAL
Posted: March 4, 2015
  Hi Luke and welcome to VL and the family here at VL Community.  Your UTube video is marked as private….that means that no one can see if but your self.  Mark it as "unlisted"
here and then the VL community can see it posted here on VL and can give you feed
back.  As for the "Bridge" bow that is carbon fiber, does it have really horse hair or is it 
synthetic hair, which is not going to give you good sound.  I would wait on buying a more expensive bow IF, your present bow is drawing some good tone, it's not too heavy or light in weight (bows are weighed in grams).  If your doing a lot of gigs…maybe investing in a better carbon fibler bow…a Coda or Jon Paul carbon fiber bows are good choices. Also, putting better strings on your 5 string will help to improve the tone.  We recommend, D"Addario…Helicore string set, they come in medium gauge and heavy gauge (heavy strings need more bow weight to vibrate).  These strings are, (braided steel core…they really last and are warm sounding or Vision strings by Pirastro. These are a synthetic core string and come in medium and heavy gauges.  Just google strings sets for 5 string fiddle. 
Hope this helps.  Stay tuned. Diane in SoCal

Elke Meier
Posted: March 4, 2015
Luke, I guess you can't see the embed thing in Youtube because you have the video marked as private - meaning you don't want anybody else to see it. You need to make it "unlisted", then you can either embed it or share the link. Going to the link you included in your post, gets one also only the information that the video is private.

Luke Wells (artist name Luke Mandala)
Posted: March 4, 2015
I tried to use the "embed" code from utube for that video.but couldn't find it.. where can I get that code? In case you didn't see it, there's a link to the video at the top there..