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Ian Renshaw
Here it is folks! A new thread about our violins and equipment, set up and so on. I'd like to hear what kit people use and how they get on. Comfort issues, string qualities. Bows; wooden or super-tech carbon fibre? Most importantly most people have an attachment to their fiddles (not just literally...). How did the love affair with your squeaky wooden thing begin?

I told the story of mine on the previous thread about this so won't bore y'all with the details again just a brief run-down?

Bow: Currently using a carbon fibre number as my posh wooden bow developed an alarmingly sudden case of alopecia and is having the hair re-attached.

Shoulder rest: Bon Musica or Kun depending on how I'm feeling. I'm finding it hard to bond with either of them actually. Maybe a big cushion would be nice.

Strings: Dominants

Violin: A long story - which some of you read on the previous thread. Short version: It's not valuable but is of unusual design. I love it - it's warm and forgiving - but it's not mine (a 'permanent' loan from a friend). Here's me with it - complete with very 'rock and roll' pick up.

Ian Renshaw
16 Responses
Posted: November 19, 2011
Last Comment: November 22, 2011

Posted: November 22, 2011
Thanks Andreas!

Posted: November 21, 2011

Thx Eileen :D

@Andrea: I use Thomastik Dominant because they have been on the instrument when i bought it ;)  They have a smooth, warm sound (in my newbie opinion)...

Posted: November 21, 2011
My violin is definitely masculine and I just call him "the Ole Gent"...he's certainly a gentleman !

Posted: November 21, 2011
Hi Ian

Instrument: I have an Andrew Schoetter Orchestral series Viola (15.5").

Shoulder rest: I'm currently trying a viva shoulder rest. It seems ok so far, but what do I know after only two weeks of playing!

Bow? Well, it came with one, which I considered a good thing. ;o)

Strings? Yup it's got 4. I did mean to buy a spare set just in case of accidents. Can anyone recommend a decent (but not too expensive) brand for a viola? I like a nice smooth sound.

Viola name? Hadn't really thought. I shall have to think of whether it is a boy or girl before picking names. I think it feels too masculine for Violet.

Posted: November 21, 2011
Hello Andreas !  Welcome to the site !  :-)

Posted: November 21, 2011

Hi everyone... my first entry in this forum :)

Instrument: a viola from Walter Mahr, Germany

Bow: wooden from W. Dörfler

Strings: Dominants

Shoulder rest: i first had a Kun but now a Bon Musica which i find a lot more confortable


Posted: November 20, 2011

Ian about the Cello, is good to have him like a big brother threatening and warning the violin to be nice to me; otherwise, Sebastian will be the one standing right next to the piano while the Cello will have all my attention with tender loving care.


Ian Renshaw
Posted: November 20, 2011
Thanks Tricia - interesting to read about your menagerie of instruments. I'm guessing you sometimes have to practice within earshot of others, hence your heavily muted one!
Have you tried to do much with the cello (apart from admiring it next to the piano)? I had a go on one for about an hour in a nearby strings shop. The assistant advised me to give up trying and stick with the violin!
I think with regards to twisting the Bon Musica rest - just be firm and make it submit to your will.

Posted: November 20, 2011
no it's not just females naming their instruments. The luthier who made my violin named the violin. The name is on the label: Pondwell. But I want my 'own' name for my violin as it reflects the 'relationship' I HAVE with it and what the violin says to me, hence: EOWYN :)

Posted: November 19, 2011

I'm under the impression that in the very old times, it was customary that the luthier was the one naming his instruments sometime using the name of the person or family that was made for or ordered it. See for example Hellier Stradivarius.

I once read that the "Le Messie" (The Messiah) was in Stradivarius workshop after his death, so it has his name before is was sold by his son some years later. I'm not sure why Joshua Bell's Strad's name is "Gibson" and Jascha Heifetz Strad's name was "Dolphin".

No, I believe there are some men attached to their violin too.


Posted: November 19, 2011
Are girls(females/women) the only ones that name their instruments? lol

Posted: November 19, 2011

Hi Ian!

I will like to introduce my “Three Babies and a Cello”.

After a fairly nice student violin along with a Silent Yamaha purchased for the purpose of not torture others around (neither my ears) specially during my vibrato practice with the annoying WOW WOW WOW sound, I decided to purchase a brand new Hiroshi Kono. It may not be an Strad, but is the best I can afford. Later, it was appraised for a lot more than what I paid. Beside, not only the previous violin was accepted back at the full price original paid, but the lady gave me an additional discount at her discretion and without even ask for. This was a nice surprise when I was ready to sign for the purchase.

Probably the discount was due to the Cello that I bought prior to the Hiroshi Kono violin because once I thought I was not going to be able to play the violin. Every time when practicing for more than 10-15 minutes, my neck and chin were all red and sore. You are not going to believe this, as soon as the Cello entered my house, I no longer have a problem playing the violin for as long as I want. Can someone explain this? And for the Cello, its looks very pretty right next to the piano.

Then the third violin is a very inexpensive one. Actually the new Evah Pirazzi strings and bridge are more expensive than the violin. On this one I use (and never remove from the violin) the railing for straight bow, the big heavy mute etc., so, in case something goes wrong, it is not a big deal.

Strings. So far, Pirastro-Evah Pirazzi. But I will like to try “gut” strings in the future, particularly the G-string. I love the dark gypsy sound of them. But not for the E-string because I like this one to have a brilliant sound. Anyway, I just want to try something different.

Shoulder Rest. For the Kono I use the “Kun” and for the cheap one “Wolf Forte Primo” which is the one that pops off sometimes. The Yamaha comes with one removable but semi-adjustable one. I have a “Bonmusica” that I don’t know how it should be properly set. I can bend all parts but not twist. At the shoulder is OK, but the other end touch my collarbone and chest only at one side (at the very corner) the other side is on the air.

Bows. My wooden bow does not have alopecia, at the contrary, is the one with most hair; however, its needs a brand new set of hair because once in a while does not grab the string and then you hear a whistle. Now, I’m using a “CodaBow Diamond GX” &/or my favorite “Sonata” both of them are carbon fiber (fibre in UK).


PS.- Since I’m the first owner, I will like to name my Hiroshi Kono, “Sebástian”. I don’t know why I like this name when I never even date someone with that name, but it sound so dramatically romantic. Hehehe!

Posted: November 19, 2011

I got my violin back from the luthier today.  they cleaned her up really well and she looks great!  i've only had a minute to play, but i can tell a huge difference between that one, ("Cherie" named after my sister) and "Chang" my chinese violin.  I had them put on some Pro-art strings which i've never seen heard or used before.    Can't wait to really put in some time and try it all out. 

Let's see... my set up is a carbon fiber bow made by who-knows, and i use a Kun shoulder rest. 

Posted: November 19, 2011
YEAH !!   my strings just got here !!     (whoop waHOOO ! ....runs, not walks.... to go put them on her violin........)

Posted: November 19, 2011
Thank you Ian for reposting this topic.   It's very interesting to me to hear personal violin stories from others.  I also went on about my violin in the last "deleted" thread  >:-\ ....I won't go over all that again but I will tell some of the story I left out in the last post.

I play an old antique violin, like Ian...was loaned/permanently given(?)  to me by a friend.  It was previously owned by a professional violinist who was given it as a graduation present around the turn of the century.  The fella played this violin well into his 90's and owned it until he died at the age of 102, when my friend inherited it.   I think it sat in her attic..in the original old case, collecting dust until she gave/loaned it to me in Septemberish 2002.  A reputable appraiser said it's over 200 yrs old but not worth much as it doesn't have a label/name on it....doesn't matter, it plays beautifully !   The top is not original to the rest of it, has some expertly repaired cracks, the back is one piece, hand carved with a high arch...beautifully done.  I adore this violin and feel very blessed to have it.

The bow came with the violin and is a Sartory bow made sometime in the 1940s.  It's of pernambuco wood with sterling silver fittings and mother of pearl inlay...a very pretty bow and well balanced. 

I also use a bon musica shoulder rest, which I like....it was the first shoulder rest I finally felt comfortable with, though at present it's in pretty sad shape.  I'll be needing to spring for a new one before much longer...hopefully I'll get around to that before it gives out completely.

I play obigato strings, which are costly but oh so nice on this violin......I've been playing this present set since March.....and they're way past their expiration date, but.....eh...new set is in the mail and on the way....  \o/  <(yeah!)

Posted: November 19, 2011
Hi Ian,

we did have a little thread like this in the past, only the way this forum is organised things get left behind as new threads get posted.  I hope one day Beth gets to 'revamp it' and to update it like other forums work too, where posts are all under different headings and groups and you click on those headings and see the posts rather than a topic being pushed further down as new ones get posted regardless of what topic it is about...if you know what I am talking about....

I am not going to say the price of my violin as I think price is irrelevant, but it is 'not' a 'student' violin, it is a hand made violin made by a modern contemporary british maker who has won some prizes at Cremona and he is becoming more and more known slowly, so he is quite good.  His name is Christopher Rowe and he trained at the Newark school which is in Britain the well known school for luthiers.

I acquired my violin by 'accident' after I went to try a 'smaller' violin at the shop Guivier in London.  I wanted to see if a 7/8 violin 'fitted' under my hands better....

They only had 2 7/8 violins (one of which is the one I have now) and when I played this one I fell in love with it VERY VERY quickly!

I was NOT looking to buy a violin, let alone an expensive violin as I only just recently passed my grade 5 exam and I had 2 violins I was very happy with and intended to keep until after my grade 8 exam.  My plan was to buy a violin of the calibre of this one I fell in love with AFTER my grade 8, when I reached diploma level.

But this violin took my heart away and I HAD to have it!

My birthday was just 2 weeks away, my father helped me hugely and cut a long story short I got 'Eowyn' (my 7/8) violin!  My brother then funded 'Sid' (my bow) which I could have never afforded, he said there was no way now I had such beautiful violin I could carry on playing with 'Rod' (my previous bow LOL).

I emailed Christopher Rowe, the maker and asked him about the violin and he told me he made her in September and October 1996 (the label just says 1996), it is violin n.187 he made and the only 7/8 he made.  He made it on commission for a female professional violinist who was the only previous owner.  It is made on a 'Guarnieri del Gesu' pattern'.

Anyway, I don't use 'any' accessories, I don't use a shoulder rest or sponge or cushion (I used to, stopped last January).  I was using plain gut strings on D and A but I was not capable on doing very nice artificial harmonics on them so until I develop the skill I have swapped to (just for now) passione (covered gut) strings on D and A, a heavy gauge Eudoxa (covered gut) on G and a medium gauge Goldbrokat E which is the cheapest but to me best sounding E I ever tried (Heifetz used this ;))

I use Larica Gold Rosin, I only need a tiny smear every other day.  I re-hair my bow every 6 months.  Change my strings every 4 months.  I want to try Oliv strings next in January :D

I have kept 'Rod' as my spare bow.

Oh yes, 'Sid' my bow is a bow from 'Hills' made by Sidney Yeoman (English like my violin) have not asked the year it was made but probably 1920-ish?