Thursday, November 19, 2020

Why Do Strings Break?

By Andy Fein, Luthier at Fein Violins

and Ivana Truong

Most string players have had the awful experience of getting all set for a lesson, concert, or recital and BAM a string breaks. It seems like the bigger the occasion, the more likelihood of a string breaking.

Why do strings break? What can you do to prevent a string breaking at the WORST POSSIBLE MOMENT?

Violinist Midori Goto, age 14, breaks two strings during her debut performance, 
and didn't even flinch! 

Thursday, October 29, 2020

Environmentalism and Violin-making

By Andy Fein Luthier, at Fein Violins & Mikaela Marget

Environmental Sustainability in Violin Making 

Spruce, Maple, Basswood, Ebony, Pernambuco, Tetul, Rosewood, and Boxwood. What are these? All of these are types of wood that are used in your stringed instrument or bow. They are wood from trees that grew for decades or centuries before they were cut down to make your viola, viola, cello, or bow. After being cut down and milled, they are carefully stored to air dry for decades more. 
Like trees? Like the environmental benefits of trees? You know stuff like oxygen to breathe, carbon storing to slow climate change, soil to stabilize and nurture, shade to sit under, fruit and nuts to eat, birds and animals that live in the forest, and sap to make into syrup. If you do, be a good steward and know that your instrument comes from the health of forests.

Mata Atlantica, Brazil
A. Fein & Atelier Cremone Seraph Cello

Sunday, September 13, 2020

Bow Bugs- Little Bugs That LOVE Bow Hair

By Andy Fein, Luthier at Fein Violins,

and Ivana Truong

 If you open up your case and you see this- You Have BOW BUGS

"What??? Bugs are eating my bow?"

No! Just the bow hair. (Fans of Schitts Creek are now hearing Alexis say "EW!")

Monday, July 27, 2020

Tips & Tricks for Surviving the Online Lesson World

By Andy Fein, Luthier at Fein Violins and Mikaela Marget

"A little too sharp... not quite... now it's too flat! Go the other way... Nope, too far..." Bam! Oops. Now you need a new string.  

If you're a student who has recently had to start taking online-lessons, you know this struggle: learning to tune. There can be a bit of a learning curve to this, but don't get discouraged--we are here to help! 

We've made some helpful videos to help you as students (or parents) learn how to tune, change a string, and reset a bridge without teacher help during the times of video lessons. This way, even though you can't see your teacher in-person, you can keep up with the daily maintenance of your instrument.

Monday, June 22, 2020

Who Invented the Violin? Sephardic Jews and the Early Days of the Violin

By Andy Fein, Luthier at Fein Violins, and Mikaela Marget

Who made the first violin? 

With a cursory internet search, you may be convinced that the mastermind behind all modern violin making was Andrea Amati of Cremona; many give him credit for the oldest existent violin, a 1546 instrument that is now lost. The truth, though, is more complicated than that; first of all, we don’t even know if he was responsible for the very first modern violin. Even if he was, Amati didn’t just come up with a great idea out of nowhere! 

ex-Kurtz violin by Andrea Amati

Tuesday, June 2, 2020

Stage Fright/ Performance Anxiety- Got Yours?

Great Violinist Yehudi Menuhin was a Proponent of Yoga

By Andy Fein, Luthier at Fein Violins,
and Ivana Truong

"Relax. RELAX. JUST RELAX, YOU'LL PLAY SOOOO MUCH BETTER?" Ever had such sage advice thrown your way? Yes, most musicians have. And it doesn't help. But learning to relax and focus on your performance truly will help you play better. But how do you do it when every part of your being is telling you just the opposite?

Though perhaps to different extents, every musician understands the stomach-turning restlessness that precedes a performance, not to mention the heart-racing blur of the performance itself. For some musicians, the feeling becomes manageable with time, as confidence in their technique grows and the player gains more experience with public performances. For others, performance anxiety can become a serious issue preventing them from pursuing music more seriously. 

Monday, May 18, 2020

Coffee and Composers

By Andy Fein, luthier at Fein Violins, and chief coffee taster at Stradivarius Coffee
and Ivana Truong

Wagner’s table at Caffe Lavena

Today, getting a cup of coffee from your local cafe can be a great way to get your daily dose of
caffeine while getting some work done or chatting with some of your neighbors. (At least, it has
been in the recent past and we hope will be again shortly!)

But in the past, cafes, or coffee houses served more as a meeting place for intellectual and political debate. Beginning in the 16th century Ottoman Empire and spreading to Europe through Venetian merchants by the early 17th century, coffee houses provided an accessible place for patrons to openly exchange their ideas. Coffee houses were actually key meeting places for the founders of the American and French Revolutions! [1]

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Pernambuco Wood or Carbon Bows- Which Are Better?

By Andy Fein, Luthier at Fein Violins,
and Ivana Truong

Your bow is half of your sound.

A seemingly surprising statement, but very true.

Most professional and advanced string players have more than one bow. That's why a lot of bow cases have four bow holders! Different bows give different sounds to the same instrument and work better or worse with different styles of music. And then there's the venue. It's a good idea to have a Carbon bow for outdoor and bar gigs!

So which is better- Pernambuco or Carbon?

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Women at the Workbench

By Andy Fein, Luthier at Fein Violins,
Mikaela Marget, and Ivana Truong

Do female violinmakers even exist?? 
del Gesu scroll

One difficult aspect of researching female violin makers pre-20th century is that there were strict laws across Europe that forbade women from owning individual property or having control of their own income. In addition, pre-20th century stigmas about what instruments were considered "proper" for women to study may have made women uncomfortable about publicly working on or playing violins, violas, or cellos. In many places, it wasn't even acceptable for women to carry a stringed instrument in public! 

Monday, March 9, 2020

Round or Octagonal Bows- Which Are Better? The Definitive Answer

By Andy Fein, Luthier at Fein Violins and
Ivana Truong

A round bow or an octagonal bow- Which is better???? 

The absolute, definitive, very, very correct answer is...

Sunday, February 16, 2020

Stradivaris, Amatis, Guarneris, and more at the Smithsonian

By Andy Fein, Luthier at Fein Violins
Ivana Truong

This is Presidents weekend and maybe a few people have Washington, D.C. on their minds. Do you know the American people own a tremendous number of historic instruments? The collections of the Library of Congress and the Smithsonian are treasures of the United States and belong to each and every American.
The inlay on the Side of the Scroll of the Greffuhle Stradivarius violin

Sunday, January 5, 2020

Stringed Instruments of the Royal Academy, from 1676 to Modern

By Andy Fein, Luthier at Fein Violins
and Ivana Truong

On this blog, we love to talk about some very specific, admittedly esoteric, stringed instrument topics- from All About Tailpieces to Tarahumara Violins- but now we're going to take a pause and do something that everyone can appreciate. We're going to take a look at some beautiful instruments that belong to the Royal Academy of Music in London.

The 'Archinto' Stradivarius viola, 1696