What about violas? I’m talking about the same-priced acoustic violins, the ones you could see used for around $4,500, and most of which probably had a string break just seconds after the first, and were used for a few more years as a cheap alternative to expensive concert instruments, including the violins that you see used by the likes of Steve Reich, Joe Lovano, and Leonard Bernstein in their concerts and film work.
Why are violins so expensive?
Many violin makers also make their own string-break insulators — sometimes called “violins that stop the break” — which are a little bit more expensive. Violins that have their string broken often become less effective and sound worse over an extended period of time, and when that happens you have to replace them. Violins are made of thin laminated sheet metal covered by a thin sheet of polymer. Polymer is made up of a number of different chains, and over the years it has turned into a hard substance that will break easily.
In an attempt to counter this problem, violins are constructed out of thicker sheets of metal, which prevent the polymer from breaking, and which therefore sound better. Because violins are made mostly out of plastic, they cannot be made as thick as an instrument made from metal. There have been reports of violins that were made out of solid metal, however, and the sound of this would suggest the manufacturer was attempting something more than just manufacturing a cheaper alternative to the pricey concert violin.
Why do some violins sound better than others?
In the grand scheme of things, a few things contribute to what makes an instrument sound particular, and the ones that appear to stand out the most are:
1. The materials used2. The tone and timbre3. The amount of damage they sustain.
What makes an instrument sound better in the short run?
First, you can only listen to one piece to hear how it sounds. As an experienced violinist myself, I have always been impressed by those violins that were made in the mid to late 1920s, as they are often less “distant” in their timbres and sound slightly different from a few decades later! Of course, there are certain models of violins (for example, the one that was used to record the theme to Alfred Hitchcock’s “Vertigo” in 1962) that are still used by a few generations of classical violinists, so it may be the case
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