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Fiddle Lovers Online


Aug 8, 2022 - 1:24:35 PM
208 posts since 4/2/2019

I know not to leave my violin in a hot car, but in the hot summer, how dangerous might it be for a violin to go from an air conditioned location directly to the hot humid outdoors?

We were “camping” in Branson (in air conditioned cabins) this past weekend and I wondered if it would hurt to step outside to the shaded picnic table and play for awhile while others were napping. I didn’t really have time to take the case and violin outside and let the instrument adjust slowly before we would be running off again. I wasn’t sure how dangerous this temperature/humidity change might be, so I just left my violin in the case and surfed on my phone while the others napped. :) Any practical experience?

Aug 8, 2022 - 2:07:48 PM
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Swing

USA

2169 posts since 6/26/2007
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You might experience peg slipping, soft loose hair on the bow.... and sweat in the arms pits...

Play Happy

Swing

Aug 8, 2022 - 2:22:02 PM
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546 posts since 7/31/2018

I will tell you this: Be careful changing strings if you take your fiddle into a cool, air conditioned room after being in a very humid room.

A few years ago the summer was unbearably hot and humid like we have been now experiencing. I needed to cool down and decided to change my strings in a room we have closed off with a/c.

I went about it as I always do. In 42 years of playing, I have never had a sound post fall... until then.

I think since the room was so cool that the wood shrunk a bit.

Right now it is about 80 degrees in the house with 72% humidity (dew point, according to the weather, is 73 degrees).

Ugh.

Aug 8, 2022 - 2:23:19 PM
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208 posts since 4/2/2019

quote:
Originally posted by Swing

You might experience peg slipping, soft loose hair on the bow.... and sweat in the arms pits...

Play Happy

Swing


I use (and love) Wittner geared pegs, so slipping pegs won't be a problem. I wasn't even thinking about the effects on the bow!

Aug 8, 2022 - 2:26:12 PM
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208 posts since 4/2/2019

quote:
Originally posted by FiddlerPaul71

I will tell you this: Be careful changing strings if you take your fiddle into a cool, air conditioned room after being in a very humid room.

A few years ago the summer was unbearably hot and humid like we have been now experiencing. I needed to cool down and decided to change my strings in a room we have closed off with a/c.

I went about it as I always do. In 42 years of playing, I have never had a sound post fall... until then.

I think since the room was so cool that the wood shrunk a bit.

Right now it is about 80 degrees in the house with 72% humidity (dew point, according to the weather, is 73 degrees).

Ugh.


I've had a sound post fall over one time. That quiet little "tink" is not a happy sound! :)

Aug 8, 2022 - 3:10:46 PM
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Mobob

USA

217 posts since 10/1/2009

Be aware, sudden changes like you describe are often the cause of saddle cracks on the top, might want to check how snug the saddle fits to the spruce, if its too snug, expansion and contraction of the wood can be a problem. when in doubt, get a luthier's opinion, might prevent a costly repair. Plenty hot and humid in Missouri today!

Aug 8, 2022 - 7:34:05 PM
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2756 posts since 10/22/2007

My fiddle sits in an ice cold basement all week until go time. And go time could be a 90F 85% humidity outside gig consisting of the dreaded sunset shift where the dew sets in.

I think our only saving grace is that fairly well insulated fiddle case. Actually the most harm is the basement. My luthier says. treat a fiddle as you would a pet or a child. If I'm comfy, chances are the fiddle is comfy. If I'm uncomfortable, beware! First give away for me is rosin. Since I make sure not to rosin just prior to a show, this has been less. But I'm getting older and picky about creature comfort.

Several times I've got caught with dew on my fiddle top. Don't have a good (positive) answer. Actually I was quite surprised how well it worked. Not that I'm going to fiddle in a swimming pool, but if your fiddle starts to drip, don't freak out, but find a graceful exit point. "Must use the biffy. Yeah, that's it."

Edited by - farmerjones on 08/08/2022 19:44:30

Aug 8, 2022 - 9:38:20 PM
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2100 posts since 12/11/2008

I did have one fiddle let go of its neck after one particularly hot, humid several day stretch at my new home in the rain forests of Hawaii Island. I mailed the fiddle back to the shop I bought it from in the San Fernando Valley. The place's gracious, elderly, German-accented owner told me "Zeese things happen" and glued the neck back on for a reasonable fee. Fingers remain crossed, but none of my other wooden instruments have suffered a similar fate. That particular fiddle, BTW, is just fine. I gotta say, though, that my turn-of-the circa 1900 piano will never, ever be able to be brought into proper tune.

Aug 9, 2022 - 3:49:36 AM
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carlb

USA

2448 posts since 2/2/2008

quote:
Originally posted by FiddlerPaul71

A few years ago the summer was unbearably hot and humid like we have been now experiencing. I needed to cool down and decided to change my strings in a room we have closed off with a/c.

I went about it as I always do. In 42 years of playing, I have never had a sound post fall... until then.


When I change strings, I only do it one at a time. By doing it that way, the sound post should never fall over.

Aug 9, 2022 - 4:26:21 AM

Swing

USA

2169 posts since 6/26/2007
Online Now

Or you could go the synthetic route and get a carbon fiber violin and bow

Play Happy

Swing

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Aug 9, 2022 - 5:44:13 AM

208 posts since 4/2/2019

quote:
Originally posted by Swing

Or you could go the synthetic route and get a carbon fiber violin and bow

Play Happy

Swing


Yes, definitely an option. I bought a Glasser "carbon composite" violin last year for this sort of thing, but I just don't enjoy playing it. I think I could tolerate the squashed tone from the heavily built instrument, but I don't like the playability. After the weekend at Branson, I took the Glasser to forum member KCFiddles to see what he can do for it. He said the scoop was way too high on the e-string side, so he's going to see if he can make things a little more playable. Fingers crossed. Long-term, I have been considering the Mezzo Forte Design carbon fiber violin as a go-anywhere fiddle with reportedly much better sound and playability.

Edited by - DougBrock on 08/09/2022 05:58:31

Aug 9, 2022 - 6:19:31 AM
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546 posts since 7/31/2018

quote:
Originally posted by Swing

Or you could go the synthetic route and get a carbon fiber violin and bow

Play Happy

Swing


Keep in mind that merely a carbon fiber stick won't solve bow issues due to extreme humidity. The hair, if natural, will still get loose, and your sitck fully tightened will have very little tension. You need to have synthetic hair, too, in order to help. I, personally, do not like the feel of a cf bow or synthetic hair, but when it's so humid (and especially playing at outdoor festivals), you gotta do what you gotta do. 

Aug 9, 2022 - 6:20:59 AM

546 posts since 7/31/2018

quote:
Originally posted by carlb
quote:
Originally posted by FiddlerPaul71

A few years ago the summer was unbearably hot and humid like we have been now experiencing. I needed to cool down and decided to change my strings in a room we have closed off with a/c.

I went about it as I always do. In 42 years of playing, I have never had a sound post fall... until then.


When I change strings, I only do it one at a time. By doing it that way, the sound post should never fall over.


Did I ever say that I took off all the strings at once?

Aug 9, 2022 - 7:06:04 AM

208 posts since 4/2/2019

quote:
Originally posted by carlb
quote:
Originally posted by FiddlerPaul71

A few years ago the summer was unbearably hot and humid like we have been now experiencing. I needed to cool down and decided to change my strings in a room we have closed off with a/c.

I went about it as I always do. In 42 years of playing, I have never had a sound post fall... until then.


When I change strings, I only do it one at a time. By doing it that way, the sound post should never fall over.


My sound post fell over when I was changing the tail piece. I kept the violin flat on a blanket and was careful to not move the violin very much, but the sound post still fell over (apparently it wasn't really installed properly). No fun!

Aug 9, 2022 - 7:07:21 AM

208 posts since 4/2/2019

quote:
Originally posted by FiddlerPaul71
quote:
Originally posted by Swing

Or you could go the synthetic route and get a carbon fiber violin and bow

Play Happy

Swing


Keep in mind that merely a carbon fiber stick won't solve bow issues due to extreme humidity. The hair, if natural, will still get loose, and your sitck fully tightened will have very little tension. You need to have synthetic hair, too, in order to help. I, personally, do not like the feel of a cf bow or synthetic hair, but when it's so humid (and especially playing at outdoor festivals), you gotta do what you gotta do. 


Hmmm, I forgot about the issue with the bow hair. My main bows are carbon fiber, but they do have horse hair.

Aug 9, 2022 - 7:14:16 AM
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Swing

USA

2169 posts since 6/26/2007
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There are several carbon fiber violins out there that are pretty good, but they tend to be expensive.... carbonfiberviolin.com looks ;like a great candidate if you go in that direction.... as fares bow hair on a carbon fiber stick getting soft with humidity well that is a solution for that... many years ago I was at a fiddle contest and a young fellow played his fiddle with a wooden coat hanger, he rosined the dowel and played...I think he won the trick and fancy division...

Play Happy

Swing

Aug 9, 2022 - 8:17:58 AM
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rcc

USA

503 posts since 8/5/2008

I've done this a lot. Stay in an air-conditioned dorm room and then go out and play in humidity (Asheville, NC type). Or move back and forth between air-conditioned classrooms and outside.

I wouldn't want to take an instrument that had spent 5+ hours on an very dry, cold, airplane and then take it out into >95 degree, >95% humidity and play straight away.

But if you're talking an instrument that's moving back and forth between a reasonably air-conditioned room and outdoors, if the instrument is in reasonably good shape, I think it should be fine.

But there are some precautions you should take.

Turn your pegs every now and then. Otherwise, the pegs may stick as the wood swells and won't turn at all until it dries out again. In an extreme case, the pegs may crack the pegbox. When you turn the pegs, they'll reseat themselves to accommodate any swelling. If it's very humid outside, I would do the same after I come back in, just to avoid a slipping peg.

When you loosen the bow hair after playing, loosen it to the point where the bow is almost about to fall apart because the screw is out so far, the frog is about to come off.

Bow hair stretches when humid and shortens when it's drier. "Plenty loose" hair when it's humid can easily turn into "Oh my, the hair is so tight, my bow is straight" (or worse) after the hair has dried out in an air-conditioned room. You can ruin the camber of a bow if you're not careful.

Other than that, make sure you've got some rosin that works in really high humidity. The past OT Week at Swannanoa was the most humid I can remember. My go-to rosin was terrible - the bow was literally skating across the strings at times. I might buy a cake of viola rosin for next summer, just in case.

Edited by - rcc on 08/09/2022 08:18:20

Aug 9, 2022 - 8:21:09 AM
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2756 posts since 10/22/2007

Some talk about "beater" mandolins and fiddles too. It all depends. That was all I had to play at one time, was what anybody else would call a beater. And sometimes you find a cherry looking for a beater, so that's another route. Y'know some humidity is good, but the drastic swings aren't good. I laid my fiddle on a cold concrete floor. Didn't think a thing of it.the cold went up through the scroll, to the pegs. She spit her pegs out, right before my eyes. What a mess!

Aug 9, 2022 - 8:31:37 AM
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208 posts since 4/2/2019

quote:
Originally posted by farmerjones

Some talk about "beater" mandolins and fiddles too. It all depends. That was all I had to play at one time, was what anybody else would call a beater. And sometimes you find a cherry looking for a beater, so that's another route. Y'know some humidity is good, but the drastic swings aren't good. I laid my fiddle on a cold concrete floor. Didn't think a thing of it.the cold went up through the scroll, to the pegs. She spit her pegs out, right before my eyes. What a mess!


Lol (and scary) about the pegs being spit out!

Yes, when I got home I tried a couple of my Chinese violins, wondering if one of them might make the next trip (less concern if damage were to occur). 

Aug 9, 2022 - 8:35:13 AM

208 posts since 4/2/2019

quote:
Originally posted by Swing

There are several carbon fiber violins out there that are pretty good, but they tend to be expensive.... carbonfiberviolin.com looks ;like a great candidate if you go in that direction.... as fares bow hair on a carbon fiber stick getting soft with humidity well that is a solution for that... many years ago I was at a fiddle contest and a young fellow played his fiddle with a wooden coat hanger, he rosined the dowel and played...I think he won the trick and fancy division...

Play Happy

Swing


I ran across that carbon fiber violin in your link, but it seems like the best recommendations I've seen have been for the Luis & Clark and for Mezzo Forte (their Design model) carbon fiber instruments. Those two companies seem to be the main providers. One problem is that I've never been able to play one of their instruments in person to check out the sound. Seem people say the sound is great (especially for the Luis & Clark), but there are always a few folks who hate the sound.

Aug 9, 2022 - 9:32:38 AM
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Earworm

USA

370 posts since 1/30/2018

When I bought my (current) second fiddle, I was really aiming for it to be my lower-grade-but-but-still-pretty-good-travel-fiddle, compared to my Stainer-copy, which I adore. Turns out I adore this one too.

Aug 9, 2022 - 6:16:31 PM
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631 posts since 6/11/2019

I've seen references to bows, so if someone already said this, pardon--

Bow goes slack, you tighten, and then tighten again--"boy, the thumb leather sure is out there"

Come back inside, and you loosen and put it in the case. Next day, open the case and the bow is overtightened. You have to "overloosen" before storing, or maybe do it in stages.

Aug 9, 2022 - 8:39:47 PM
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109 posts since 4/30/2012

Thermal shock is hard on a violin or any instrument for that matter. It can cause a varnished finish to crack all over. When going from an A/C room to the hot outdoors, I leave my violin in its case for at least 30 min before getting it out. This lessens the thermal shock. When playing outside, always do so in the shade. Playing in direct sunlight can potentially heat the hide glue and the violin will come apart.

Even with various precautions, the violin will have to be re-tuned fairly often as outside conditions vary. Bow hair lengthens as the humidity increases. When putting the bow back into the case, be sure to allow for the bow hair to shorten once the bow is in an area of lower humidity.

I treat all of my instruments as if they were a puppy. Not too hot, not too cold; controlled humidity. My instruments are the last thing to go into a vehicle and the first item to come out.

Aug 10, 2022 - 2:41:38 PM
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519 posts since 7/30/2021

I dunno...last year I played regularly in an outdoor jam, it required a lot of tuning, retuning, retuning...and then my bridge suddenly cracked. I've NEVER had a bridge break before!? (and I've been playing since I was a little kid)

I don't know if it was related to the indoor/outdoor environment changes, but I do think the necessity of tuning a lot, did my bridge in...

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