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Apr 24, 2024 - 7:27:43 PM
6519 posts since 8/7/2009

It wasn’t that long ago that I was shopping for a new fiddle – a fiddle made with carbon fiber. I was thinking that it would be a good fiddle to take places where my other fiddles might be at risk. I figured it could be fitted with things like geared pegs – that way it would always be tuned up. And if I wanted to change my tuning for another key, it would be very quick and easy.

Based on what I have experienced – I’m not concerned about the tone of a carbon fiber fiddle being acceptable. I’ve watched and listened to enough videos to know that there is not a significant difference in tone quality for what I want to play. Not only that, but I have had a carbon fiber guitar (CA Legacy) for about 20 years now. I bought it for the same reasons. I would sometimes work a rotation on the North Slope Oil Fields (Alaska) and I wanted to take a guitar I didn’t have to worry about getting damaged during transport or from extreme conditions. I still have it. It has a sunburst finish. To see it and hear it played – 99% of the viewers / listeners would not know it was made with carbon fiber. I’ve only played it a few times in the last year or so, and the strings are probably going on 10 years old or more. But I’d be willing to bet, if I pulled it out – it would be in tune and sound just like it did the last time I played it. I say all that to say this – I would want to play the perspective fiddle to see if it felt good and sounded right, and if it performed as well as my CA Legacy, I’d buy it and play it.

So, why haven’t I bought one? Well, I still may do that, but – goodness – have you priced new ones? I haven’t got that much invested any of my fiddles (except one). And that includes the repairs I’ve had to do on a few.

But - apparently, they are popular enough a good number of businesses are making them, and selling them at the asking price. And – apparently, they are realizing a good amount of success - or they would have been out of business by now. Do a google search and tell me they aren’t popular.

I still might buy one, but maybe a used one. And I now I’m thinking about a plan… Someone told me recently: “A wooden body is important if you're trying to make something that actually sounds like a violin. Carbon fiber violins are proof enough that alternative materials do not yield favorable results. Just try reselling one and you'll find that out. I had a customer who bought a carbon fiber cello and has kicked herself ever since. She feels trapped with it because there isn't a shop that wants to take it in trade.”

Perhaps I should ask for help finding a violinist that is kicking themselves for buying a less than favorable sounding carbon fiber violin. I could probably get a used one at a seriously reduced price - since what they bought doesn’t really sound like a violin. And - based on the success of the makers that have been selling them for years - there has to be a huge number of dissatisfied violinists out there by now.

I wonder how many buyers there are that would say that is the way they feel about their purchase? Now a few dis-satisfied customers / owners out of any group is not surprising. But the way that story was told – it isn’t just a few. I’m left with the impression that only a fool would buy and play a carbon fiber violin / fiddle - or cello.

And I wonder how many owners would feel they were shamed and/or disrespected if they heard this story told to them by someone who is supposed to be a well respected expert?

If I buy one, I'll let you know.

Apr 24, 2024 - 8:38:27 PM
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DougD

USA

11892 posts since 12/2/2007

It seems you had a definite need for a carbon fiber guitar, so you bought one and seem well pleased with the purchase. Do you have a similar need for a carbon fiber violin? If so, shop for one, and if not, I wouldn't worry about it.
Not sure exactly what you mean by "shamed and/or disrespected" by that story, but I do wonder about the qualifications of that "well respected expert" - that seems like quite an extrapolation from one experience. I'd look for other opinions - there are plenty of used instruments bought and sold, and surely some are carbon fiber. If you can, ask a luthier/dealer you know and trust for their opinion.

Apr 24, 2024 - 9:26:41 PM
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6463 posts since 9/26/2008

I've only seen/heard one that was for sure a CF fiddle (it was a dark forest green); it sounded perfectly fine and had good projection. Maybe put a couple "want to buy" ads on Craigslist and the like, see what happens.

Apr 25, 2024 - 5:50:32 AM
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254 posts since 11/26/2013

Back a few years ago, when I received a 40th Anniversary bonus from my job, I decided to use it to buy my ideal 'lifetime achievement award' instrument, I tried a few carbon fiber fiddles. With $$ as no object, I tried a few that were really up there. But they all got sent back or passed up, as the tone was just not there for me.

The fact that a CF instrument is always going to sound the same as when it was made, good or bad, was a factor. Wood violins definitely change over time and amount of playing time, usually for the better. Plus the fact that no normal luthier would even touch it, if a repair or adjustment needed to be done (and eventually all fiddles need some work, even if its a fingerboard issue).

If this is going to be an exclusively outdoor use instrument, yeah, CF is a viable option. Other then that, not a fan.

Apr 25, 2024 - 8:37:16 AM

6519 posts since 8/7/2009

quote:
Originally posted by DougD

It seems you had a definite need for a carbon fiber guitar, so you bought one and seem well pleased with the purchase. Do you have a similar need for a carbon fiber violin? If so, shop for one, and if not, I wouldn't worry about it.
Not sure exactly what you mean by "shamed and/or disrespected" by that story, but I do wonder about the qualifications of that "well respected expert" - that seems like quite an extrapolation from one experience. I'd look for other opinions - there are plenty of used instruments bought and sold, and surely some are carbon fiber. If you can, ask a luthier/dealer you know and trust for their opinion.


I see your point. I should have said "felt they were being shamed or disrespected if they heard this story being told to them by someone who is supposed to be a well respected expert"  

You are absolutely right. There is no reason for anyone to feel shame or disrespect for something that someone else says. 

Apr 25, 2024 - 10:06:25 AM
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1475 posts since 3/1/2020

If you want a carbon fiber violin, there are a number of places you can purchase one. The only reasons to hesitate are that:

1) They don’t tend to sound very good.

2) They’re difficult to resell. Even though the used price would be lower, a lot of the players who are looking at them want a new one and will be less enthusiastic about one that doesn’t look new

3) Due to the nature of their construction, carbon fiber instruments cannot be repaired by most luthiers if they become damaged. Carbon fiber does not respond well to normal carving tools.

It’s up to you to weigh the pros and cons. If you decide that the pros outweigh the cons, then it makes sense to buy one.

I just always feel terrible for the players who get sucked into purchases they regret and spend the rest of their lives trapped with instruments they can’t trade or sell and unable to obtain the ones they want. That’s why I recommend going into any purchase well-informed or with someone who can be trusted to be knowledgeable. Lots of sellers are happy to unload junk. I've had several customers bring in carbon fiber instruments asking "is there ANYTHING you can do to make it sound better?" in desperation.

I do appreciate the idea of trying carbon fiber as a way to explore alternatives and to make extend the abilities of "outdoor" instruments and it would be interesting to see if the instruments on the market eventually improve. 

Edited by - The Violin Beautiful on 04/25/2024 10:18:53

Apr 25, 2024 - 10:27:56 AM

6519 posts since 8/7/2009

quote:
Originally posted by The Violin Beautiful


Carbon fiber does not respond well to normal carving tools.
 


LOL.  Yes, I can see where that might be a problem.  

Apr 25, 2024 - 10:57:11 AM

254 posts since 11/26/2013

Hey I am all for innovation and new materials take time to ingratiate them into general use. I mean look at Ovation guitars, that synthetic bowl back took decades before it was considered nothing special. Is carbon fiber the real deal to replace wood? Its not there yet, IMHO. OP -You want a fiddle to take with you camping etc, get a beater fiddle off EBAY/Amazon, put a few bucks into it to get it right and don't worry about it.

As an aside, I played with a guy who had a sheet metal bass fiddle! Made for orchestras that worked exclusively on ocean liners, this thing was indestructible. We used to strap it to the roof of the car, going to festivals. Just turn her over and dump out any rain water accumulated and she was good to go. Sounded like crap but then .... sheet metal.

Apr 25, 2024 - 12:49:16 PM

6519 posts since 8/7/2009

quote:
Originally posted by wrench13

Hey I am all for innovation and new materials take time to ingratiate them into general use. I mean look at Ovation guitars, that synthetic bowl back took decades before it was considered nothing special. Is carbon fiber the real deal to replace wood? Its not there yet, IMHO. OP -You want a fiddle to take with you camping etc, get a beater fiddle off EBAY/Amazon, put a few bucks into it to get it right and don't worry about it.

As an aside, I played with a guy who had a sheet metal bass fiddle! Made for orchestras that worked exclusively on ocean liners, this thing was indestructible. We used to strap it to the roof of the car, going to festivals. Just turn her over and dump out any rain water accumulated and she was good to go. Sounded like crap but then .... sheet metal.


Well, others may think carbon fiber is a fad that will "go by the way of Ovation". Right or wrong - I'm not one of those.  I think carbon fiber instruments are here to stay. They have a place in the music world because they do fill a niche, They are reliable, indestructible, and virtually maintenance free. 

You (and others) are right, the tone of the instrument is different. Carbon fiber can still produce all the same notes, but carbon fiber is not wood - so I don't expect it to "match the tone" exactly. Yes, it could be distinguished from a wooden instrument by a "discerning ear" - a concert violinist could probably spot a tonal difference right off - I'm sure of that. I have never heard a guitar using any kind of pickup system sound that sounded exactly like a mic'ed acoustic guitar - I can usually tell right off. But I still stand by my earlier statement concerning my CA guitar: "To see it and hear it played – 99% of the viewers / listeners would not know it was made with carbon fiber." - that would be acoustically speaking. 

Side track - I had a nice discussion with the folks at CA before I bought my guitar (another story).  They told me that the guitar was designed and built by working towards matching the voice/tone frequency patterns of a Martin D-28 - attempting to match the tone as best as they could. Perfect? Well - this is where you need to ask "whose D-28 did they use?" ...and "how close did it come to that D-28?"  Because no 2 wooden instruments sound exactly the same - right?  I would never make the claim that it sounds better than an excellent example of a D-28 (silly) - nor was that my demand criteria for selecting the instrument. But it does (to me) sound like a good quality acoustic guitar to my ears. 

Pretty much all of my fiddles were very inexpensive (price wise) and would probably be considered "beaters" by any violin aficionado.  But - a carbon fiber instrument - imo - would be better than any of my "beater" wooden fiddles in the situations I have described. It would virtually have none of the issues or risks for outdoor use - or any other place - when compared to a wooden instrument of any quality. The heat, cold, humidity, sun, rain is not going to affect how the instrument is going to sound and it will never cause it to go out of tune. If it is dropped, knocked over, kicked, sat on, or thrown across the room - chances are there will be no damage - and it will probably still be in tune. Close your eyes, and chances are you will be able to tell that it isn't a "high end - high quality" instrument - but I bet almost no one would say - "on man... that's not a wooden fiddle - that's made with carbon fiber." 

Which brings us full circle. This discussion is not about the tonal qualities of a carbon fiber instrument versus a wooden instrument. This started out as a challenge made based on this comment:

There is no part on the violin that is unnecessary.

I named a few things that I know are not included on some violins/fiddles. A wooden body is one of those things. And a carbon fiber body is not wooden, and a violin/fiddle made from carbon fiber is a violin/fiddle.  And here we are.

That pretty much sums it up for me.  If I buy one - it won't be in a pursuit of the best sounding fiddle available on the market, I will buy the "fiddle" for very practical reasons. And as I said earlier - if it performs as well as my CA does in making guitar noises - I'll be very pleased. 

Edited by - tonyelder on 04/25/2024 12:59:40

Apr 25, 2024 - 1:53:03 PM

2598 posts since 8/27/2008

quote:
Originally posted by tonyelder
quote:
Originally posted by wrench13

Hey I am all for innovation and new materials take time to ingratiate them into general use. I mean look at Ovation guitars, that synthetic bowl back took decades before it was considered nothing special. Is carbon fiber the real deal to replace wood? Its not there yet, IMHO. OP -You want a fiddle to take with you camping etc, get a beater fiddle off EBAY/Amazon, put a few bucks into it to get it right and don't worry about it.

As an aside, I played with a guy who had a sheet metal bass fiddle! Made for orchestras that worked exclusively on ocean liners, this thing was indestructible. We used to strap it to the roof of the car, going to festivals. Just turn her over and dump out any rain water accumulated and she was good to go. Sounded like crap but then .... sheet metal.


Well, others may think carbon fiber is a fad that will "go by the way of Ovation". Right or wrong - I'm not one of those.  I think carbon fiber instruments are here to stay. They have a place in the music world because they do fill a niche, They are reliable, indestructible, and virtually maintenance free. 

You (and others) are right, the tone of the instrument is different. Carbon fiber can still produce all the same notes, but carbon fiber is not wood - so I don't expect it to "match the tone" exactly. Yes, it could be distinguished from a wooden instrument by a "discerning ear" - a concert violinist could probably spot a tonal difference right off - I'm sure of that. I have never heard a guitar using any kind of pickup system sound that sounded exactly like a mic'ed acoustic guitar - I can usually tell right off. But I still stand by my earlier statement concerning my CA guitar: "To see it and hear it played – 99% of the viewers / listeners would not know it was made with carbon fiber." - that would be acoustically speaking. 

Side track - I had a nice discussion with the folks at CA before I bought my guitar (another story).  They told me that the guitar was designed and built by working towards matching the voice/tone frequency patterns of a Martin D-28 - attempting to match the tone as best as they could. Perfect? Well - this is where you need to ask "whose D-28 did they use?" ...and "how close did it come to that D-28?"  Because no 2 wooden instruments sound exactly the same - right?  I would never make the claim that it sounds better than an excellent example of a D-28 (silly) - nor was that my demand criteria for selecting the instrument. But it does (to me) sound like a good quality acoustic guitar to my ears. 

Pretty much all of my fiddles were very inexpensive (price wise) and would probably be considered "beaters" by any violin aficionado.  But - a carbon fiber instrument - imo - would be better than any of my "beater" wooden fiddles in the situations I have described. It would virtually have none of the issues or risks for outdoor use - or any other place - when compared to a wooden instrument of any quality. The heat, cold, humidity, sun, rain is not going to affect how the instrument is going to sound and it will never cause it to go out of tune. If it is dropped, knocked over, kicked, sat on, or thrown across the room - chances are there will be no damage - and it will probably still be in tune. Close your eyes, and chances are you will be able to tell that it isn't a "high end - high quality" instrument - but I bet almost no one would say - "on man... that's not a wooden fiddle - that's made with carbon fiber." 

Which brings us full circle. This discussion is not about the tonal qualities of a carbon fiber instrument versus a wooden instrument. This started out as a challenge made based on this comment:

There is no part on the violin that is unnecessary.

I named a few things that I know are not included on some violins/fiddles. A wooden body is one of those things. And a carbon fiber body is not wooden, and a violin/fiddle made from carbon fiber is a violin/fiddle.  And here we are.

That pretty much sums it up for me.  If I buy one - it won't be in a pursuit of the best sounding fiddle available on the market, I will buy the "fiddle" for very practical reasons. And as I said earlier - if it performs as well as my CA does in making guitar noises - I'll be very pleased. 


An important difference between an Ovation guitar and a carbon fiber fiddle is that the fiddle has a carbon fiber top, where the Ovation has a spruce top. Trying to imagine the sound of a carbon fiber fiddle is abstract to me. Apparently it is different enough from spruce to to be stated authoritatively to be so. So, is there any simple comparison to hear online? Of course wooden fiddles vary among themselves, but the way it's been stated a carbon fiber fiddle will stand apart from them overall. I don't know where to hear a carbon fiber fiddle around here.

I have a plastic stand up bass with a warped top and various bondo patches from probably the 40s when spruce was being saved for airplanes in the war, and it sounds great! Better than some carved and plywood basses I've heard. Bass frequencies need less complexity in the wave forms than violins, perhaps.

Apr 25, 2024 - 2:11:51 PM

124 posts since 4/17/2023

I've considered getting one to use here in Kansas because they can sound good plugged in and the elements here are extreme... People like their music outdoors, but also don't realize that acoustic instruments aren't meant to compete with high winds and rain and sun with no shelter. There isn't really a listening culture here with quiet indoor stages and appreciation for good acoustic instruments like the southeast either.... The fests are few and a little rough for acoustics as well. This sounds like complaining, but it's just the way it is here on the southern plains and a carbon fiber fiddle with good electronics would come in handy. But yeah, when I priced them... dang! Maybe I just think they're overpriced because I really don't want one.

Edited by - Shawn Craver Fiddler on 04/25/2024 14:12:24

Apr 25, 2024 - 2:56:33 PM

6519 posts since 8/7/2009

deleted duplicate

Edited by - tonyelder on 04/25/2024 14:57:50

Apr 25, 2024 - 2:57:30 PM

6519 posts since 8/7/2009

quote:
Originally posted by Brian Wood
quote:
Originally posted by tonyelder
quote:
Originally posted by wrench13

Hey I am all for innovation and new materials take time to ingratiate them into general use. I mean look at Ovation guitars, that synthetic bowl back took decades before it was considered nothing special. Is carbon fiber the real deal to replace wood? Its not there yet, IMHO. OP -You want a fiddle to take with you camping etc, get a beater fiddle off EBAY/Amazon, put a few bucks into it to get it right and don't worry about it.

As an aside, I played with a guy who had a sheet metal bass fiddle! Made for orchestras that worked exclusively on ocean liners, this thing was indestructible. We used to strap it to the roof of the car, going to festivals. Just turn her over and dump out any rain water accumulated and she was good to go. Sounded like crap but then .... sheet metal.


Well, others may think carbon fiber is a fad that will "go by the way of Ovation". Right or wrong - I'm not one of those.  I think carbon fiber instruments are here to stay. They have a place in the music world because they do fill a niche, They are reliable, indestructible, and virtually maintenance free. 

You (and others) are right, the tone of the instrument is different. Carbon fiber can still produce all the same notes, but carbon fiber is not wood - so I don't expect it to "match the tone" exactly. Yes, it could be distinguished from a wooden instrument by a "discerning ear" - a concert violinist could probably spot a tonal difference right off - I'm sure of that. I have never heard a guitar using any kind of pickup system sound that sounded exactly like a mic'ed acoustic guitar - I can usually tell right off. But I still stand by my earlier statement concerning my CA guitar: "To see it and hear it played – 99% of the viewers / listeners would not know it was made with carbon fiber." - that would be acoustically speaking. 

Side track - I had a nice discussion with the folks at CA before I bought my guitar (another story).  They told me that the guitar was designed and built by working towards matching the voice/tone frequency patterns of a Martin D-28 - attempting to match the tone as best as they could. Perfect? Well - this is where you need to ask "whose D-28 did they use?" ...and "how close did it come to that D-28?"  Because no 2 wooden instruments sound exactly the same - right?  I would never make the claim that it sounds better than an excellent example of a D-28 (silly) - nor was that my demand criteria for selecting the instrument. But it does (to me) sound like a good quality acoustic guitar to my ears. 

Pretty much all of my fiddles were very inexpensive (price wise) and would probably be considered "beaters" by any violin aficionado.  But - a carbon fiber instrument - imo - would be better than any of my "beater" wooden fiddles in the situations I have described. It would virtually have none of the issues or risks for outdoor use - or any other place - when compared to a wooden instrument of any quality. The heat, cold, humidity, sun, rain is not going to affect how the instrument is going to sound and it will never cause it to go out of tune. If it is dropped, knocked over, kicked, sat on, or thrown across the room - chances are there will be no damage - and it will probably still be in tune. Close your eyes, and chances are you will be able to tell that it isn't a "high end - high quality" instrument - but I bet almost no one would say - "on man... that's not a wooden fiddle - that's made with carbon fiber." 

Which brings us full circle. This discussion is not about the tonal qualities of a carbon fiber instrument versus a wooden instrument. This started out as a challenge made based on this comment:

There is no part on the violin that is unnecessary.

I named a few things that I know are not included on some violins/fiddles. A wooden body is one of those things. And a carbon fiber body is not wooden, and a violin/fiddle made from carbon fiber is a violin/fiddle.  And here we are.

That pretty much sums it up for me.  If I buy one - it won't be in a pursuit of the best sounding fiddle available on the market, I will buy the "fiddle" for very practical reasons. And as I said earlier - if it performs as well as my CA does in making guitar noises - I'll be very pleased. 


An important difference between an Ovation guitar and a carbon fiber fiddle is that the fiddle has a carbon fiber top, where the Ovation has a spruce top. Trying to imagine the sound of a carbon fiber fiddle is abstract to me. Apparently it is different enough from spruce to to be stated authoritatively to be so. So, is there any simple comparison to hear online? Of course wooden fiddles vary among themselves, but the way it's been stated a carbon fiber fiddle will stand apart from them overall. I don't know where to hear a carbon fiber fiddle around here.

I have a plastic stand up bass with a warped top and various bondo patches from probably the 40s when spruce was being saved for airplanes in the war, and it sounds great! Better than some carved and plywood basses I've heard. Bass frequencies need less complexity in the wave forms than violins, perhaps.


First one I saw that I thought might be worth offering.

I didn't listen all the way through, but really... are we going to say that the carbon fiber violin does not have good tone? What is your impression.

...and there are a good number of similar videos.

edit to add - (LOL) - did you notice? The carbon fiber violin doesn't have a scroll, f holes, or points?  surprise   laugh

Could you blank the screen - listen - and tell which of violin is playing the high and which is playing the low part - and when? ..without watching?

AND - read the comments.

Edited by - tonyelder on 04/25/2024 15:12:01

Apr 25, 2024 - 3:02:55 PM
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6519 posts since 8/7/2009

quote:
Originally posted by Shawn Craver Fiddler

I've considered getting one to use here in Kansas because they can sound good plugged in and the elements here are extreme... People like their music outdoors, but also don't realize that acoustic instruments aren't meant to compete with high winds and rain and sun with no shelter. There isn't really a listening culture here with quiet indoor stages and appreciation for good acoustic instruments like the southeast either.... The fests are few and a little rough for acoustics as well. This sounds like complaining, but it's just the way it is here on the southern plains and a carbon fiber fiddle with good electronics would come in handy. But yeah, when I priced them... dang! Maybe I just think they're overpriced because I really don't want one.


lol... Yeah. I think about the price I've paid for some of my guitars and I wonder what the reluctance is about.  And I think - for me - as practical as the carbon fiber fiddle would be in those circumstances - I don't think it would ever become my favorite or my "go-to" fiddle. It would work as a good substitute for my other fiddles when I would be concerned about the risks. Now ---- if that fiddle were to have an exceptional sound, my attitude about all that would change.

I' wouldn't be opposed to being "seen" playing one.  And - imo - if it does sound good, it will speak for itself... I probably won't have to say anything.

Edited by - tonyelder on 04/25/2024 15:06:06

Apr 25, 2024 - 3:41:08 PM

6519 posts since 8/7/2009

if you're interested in a demonstration and review
 

I thought it was very fair and balanced - what I would expect one to sound like and the kind of impression I probably would have.

Nothing I have heard on any video has said to me "I don't sound like a violin" (fiddle).

Apr 25, 2024 - 3:59:26 PM

2478 posts since 12/11/2008

I have nothing against carbon fiber musical instruments on a theoretical level. And I sincerely tested out a zillion carbon fiber guitars in the years when I made a nuisance of myself at L.A. guitar shops. The trouble was, no matter how well they played or how aggressive or subtle the salesperson was, I never found the tone of a CF guitar remotely as good as a genuine wood guitar from one of the higher end guitar brands. Putting it another way, I never had the slightest urge to buy any carbon fiber instrument. I can't even cop to carbon fiber bows. What can I say?

Generally, CF instruments were the butt of jokes at guitar stores, too. Over the years I heard more than one salesman joke, "But yeah! If there's a flood they make for good boats!"

Edited by - Lonesome Fiddler on 04/25/2024 16:01:22

Apr 25, 2024 - 7:34:32 PM
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6519 posts since 8/7/2009

quote:
Originally posted by Lonesome Fiddler

I have nothing against carbon fiber musical instruments on a theoretical level. And I sincerely tested out a zillion carbon fiber guitars in the years when I made a nuisance of myself at L.A. guitar shops. The trouble was, no matter how well they played or how aggressive or subtle the salesperson was, I never found the tone of a CF guitar remotely as good as a genuine wood guitar from one of the higher end guitar brands. Putting it another way, I never had the slightest urge to buy any carbon fiber instrument. I can't even cop to carbon fiber bows. What can I say?

Generally, CF instruments were the butt of jokes at guitar stores, too. Over the years I heard more than one salesman joke, "But yeah! If there's a flood they make for good boats!"


CA Legacy  

.,,this guy bought his because he  lives on a boat 

...and another home picker thought enough of his to share a clip

If you never found a reason to buy one, it's good that you didn't.

I wasn't out shopping for the "best sounding guitar on the market" or "the banjo killer" or the "loudest one ever made" "better than a '35 model D-28 or D-18"  - one that would replace all the other guitars I had at the time. I stated my reasons, They were good reasons. I found the one I like, and it happened to be the first one I played. I end up not getting that particular one, I left without getting it - time to think it over first - and when I called back it had been sold. They (Gruhn's in Nashville) didn't have another with a  sunburst finish - and told me they couldn't get another one - not available. That's why I called CA and talked to them about ordering one. They told me there were only 6 made (prototype) and they knew of only one that was still on the market - it was in Dallas. I called and bought it that day. As far as I know they never went into production with the sunburst finish. I have no regrets. You can say what you will... this guitar sounds like a good guitar with excellent tone and volume. And believe me - I have had some NICE guitars - - I STILL DO. I have nothing to prove. If I'm a fool - I'm a happy fool. 

And - yes, they do make good boats. yes   You'll regret not getting one when the levee breaks. Crying won't help you.   wink

Edited by - tonyelder on 04/25/2024 19:46:20

Apr 25, 2024 - 11:09:23 PM

254 posts since 11/26/2013

What did you end up getting? Can you post a video of the CF and wood ones back to back?

Apr 26, 2024 - 6:20:13 AM

1475 posts since 3/1/2020

quote:
Originally posted by tonyelder
quote:
Originally posted by Brian Wood
quote:
Originally posted by tonyelder
quote:
Originally posted by wrench13

Hey I am all for innovation and new materials take time to ingratiate them into general use. I mean look at Ovation guitars, that synthetic bowl back took decades before it was considered nothing special. Is carbon fiber the real deal to replace wood? Its not there yet, IMHO. OP -You want a fiddle to take with you camping etc, get a beater fiddle off EBAY/Amazon, put a few bucks into it to get it right and don't worry about it.

As an aside, I played with a guy who had a sheet metal bass fiddle! Made for orchestras that worked exclusively on ocean liners, this thing was indestructible. We used to strap it to the roof of the car, going to festivals. Just turn her over and dump out any rain water accumulated and she was good to go. Sounded like crap but then .... sheet metal.


Well, others may think carbon fiber is a fad that will "go by the way of Ovation". Right or wrong - I'm not one of those.  I think carbon fiber instruments are here to stay. They have a place in the music world because they do fill a niche, They are reliable, indestructible, and virtually maintenance free. 

You (and others) are right, the tone of the instrument is different. Carbon fiber can still produce all the same notes, but carbon fiber is not wood - so I don't expect it to "match the tone" exactly. Yes, it could be distinguished from a wooden instrument by a "discerning ear" - a concert violinist could probably spot a tonal difference right off - I'm sure of that. I have never heard a guitar using any kind of pickup system sound that sounded exactly like a mic'ed acoustic guitar - I can usually tell right off. But I still stand by my earlier statement concerning my CA guitar: "To see it and hear it played – 99% of the viewers / listeners would not know it was made with carbon fiber." - that would be acoustically speaking. 

Side track - I had a nice discussion with the folks at CA before I bought my guitar (another story).  They told me that the guitar was designed and built by working towards matching the voice/tone frequency patterns of a Martin D-28 - attempting to match the tone as best as they could. Perfect? Well - this is where you need to ask "whose D-28 did they use?" ...and "how close did it come to that D-28?"  Because no 2 wooden instruments sound exactly the same - right?  I would never make the claim that it sounds better than an excellent example of a D-28 (silly) - nor was that my demand criteria for selecting the instrument. But it does (to me) sound like a good quality acoustic guitar to my ears. 

Pretty much all of my fiddles were very inexpensive (price wise) and would probably be considered "beaters" by any violin aficionado.  But - a carbon fiber instrument - imo - would be better than any of my "beater" wooden fiddles in the situations I have described. It would virtually have none of the issues or risks for outdoor use - or any other place - when compared to a wooden instrument of any quality. The heat, cold, humidity, sun, rain is not going to affect how the instrument is going to sound and it will never cause it to go out of tune. If it is dropped, knocked over, kicked, sat on, or thrown across the room - chances are there will be no damage - and it will probably still be in tune. Close your eyes, and chances are you will be able to tell that it isn't a "high end - high quality" instrument - but I bet almost no one would say - "on man... that's not a wooden fiddle - that's made with carbon fiber." 

Which brings us full circle. This discussion is not about the tonal qualities of a carbon fiber instrument versus a wooden instrument. This started out as a challenge made based on this comment:

There is no part on the violin that is unnecessary.

I named a few things that I know are not included on some violins/fiddles. A wooden body is one of those things. And a carbon fiber body is not wooden, and a violin/fiddle made from carbon fiber is a violin/fiddle.  And here we are.

That pretty much sums it up for me.  If I buy one - it won't be in a pursuit of the best sounding fiddle available on the market, I will buy the "fiddle" for very practical reasons. And as I said earlier - if it performs as well as my CA does in making guitar noises - I'll be very pleased. 


An important difference between an Ovation guitar and a carbon fiber fiddle is that the fiddle has a carbon fiber top, where the Ovation has a spruce top. Trying to imagine the sound of a carbon fiber fiddle is abstract to me. Apparently it is different enough from spruce to to be stated authoritatively to be so. So, is there any simple comparison to hear online? Of course wooden fiddles vary among themselves, but the way it's been stated a carbon fiber fiddle will stand apart from them overall. I don't know where to hear a carbon fiber fiddle around here.

I have a plastic stand up bass with a warped top and various bondo patches from probably the 40s when spruce was being saved for airplanes in the war, and it sounds great! Better than some carved and plywood basses I've heard. Bass frequencies need less complexity in the wave forms than violins, perhaps.


First one I saw that I thought might be worth offering.

I didn't listen all the way through, but really... are we going to say that the carbon fiber violin does not have good tone? What is your impression.

...and there are a good number of similar videos.

edit to add - (LOL) - did you notice? The carbon fiber violin doesn't have a scroll, f holes, or points?  surprise   laugh

Could you blank the screen - listen - and tell which of violin is playing the high and which is playing the low part - and when? ..without watching?

AND - read the comments.


What did you like about the video? Were you aware that it was made by a company that's selling carbon fiber violins? How do you know you're actually listening to the two violins you see?

I'm also not sure why you're recommending the comments section--the majority of the comments are about it being a poor comparison video or about the carbon fiber violin (assuming the audio is accurate) being the weaker of the two. That doesn't exactly sell the fiddle to me. 
 

The video is from ten years ago when carbon fiber instrument were a trendy experiment. I think most people who study violins have concluded that the limits of its usefulness were reached a while ago and they've moved on to other ideas. Carbon fiber is still very popular for cheap bows, where they've made more of a difference from cheap wood. There are a few manufacturers that make "high end" carbon fiber bows but these bows are sold once and almost never resold because no one will buy a used one, shops don't want them, and the original owners aren't willing to take the massive loss they'd need to sell them. Most players who've tried them have concluded that you can also get an equivalent or better wood bow for a third of the price. Many bow makers absolutely detest carbon fiber, and those who are interested in changing the materials in making aren't using carbon fiber. 
 

It's a great material for bicycle frames. 
 

Apr 26, 2024 - 7:49:56 AM

6519 posts since 8/7/2009

quote:
Originally posted by wrench13

What did you end up getting? Can you post a video of the CF and wood ones back to back?


CA Legacy AE  I think I purchased it around 2005 or 2006, I maybe wrong (its been a while) but I think the name of the store was Charley's. I called an bought it over the phone and had it sent to me in Alaska.

Sorry, I'm not going to make a video. I explained in another recent thread: "The video is another thing. It looks like it requires the video to be posted on YouTube and then the link saved to FHO for it to be included here. hmmm.... not really sure about doing that."  It's not that I don't know how - I just don't want to. It's personal. I'm not a big fan of social media and I don't have a YouTube account set up for a "channel".

I might make an mp3 later and post it. All that stays here at FHO.  But - you would have to take my word that it was the CA. 


Edited by - tonyelder on 04/26/2024 07:50:57

Apr 26, 2024 - 7:55:08 AM

6519 posts since 8/7/2009

I said read the comments because there is a mixture of both praise and negative reviews. What do you think about the positive comments? ARe they worth reading? ...consideration?

I don't know why you think I am insisting that a carbon fiber anything is better / sounds better / or plays better than anything made from wood. I own 5 fiddles and they are all made from wood. That has not been my point!  Go back and read what I just said above: 

Which brings us full circle. This discussion is not about the tonal qualities of a carbon fiber instrument versus a wooden instrument. This started out as a challenge made based on this comment:

There is no part on the violin that is unnecessary.

I named a few things that I know are not included on some violins/fiddles. A wooden body is one of those things. And a carbon fiber body is not wooden, and a violin/fiddle made from carbon fiber is a violin/fiddle.  And here we are.

My point is - and has been - violins don't have to be build with those things. If they don't have them, they are still a violin. My message has never been to promote anything as being better than anything else. That's your argument - NOT mine. 

I didn't post the videos to prove a violin made with carbon fiber violin is better than a violin made with wood. I offered them as a demonstration that a violin made from carbon fiber is a still a violin. They sounds like a violin, and they play like a violin - and violinist own them and play them. I'm not trying to convince anyone that carbon fiber violins are better than anything. 

Is there really any point in continuing?  I think we both know what the other thinks about all this stuff now - right? What else is there to say? I think we are at an impasse.  Can we agree on that?  laugh

Edited by - tonyelder on 04/26/2024 08:33:18

Apr 26, 2024 - 9:16:22 AM
likes this

574 posts since 9/1/2010

 

It's a great material for bicycle frames. 

laugh
 

 


Apr 26, 2024 - 10:31:01 AM
likes this

1475 posts since 3/1/2020

quote:
Originally posted by tonyelder

I said read the comments because there is a mixture of both praise and negative reviews. What do you think about the positive comments? ARe they worth reading? ...consideration?

I don't know why you think I am insisting that a carbon fiber anything is better / sounds better / or plays better than anything made from wood. I own 5 fiddles and they are all made from wood. That has not been my point!  Go back and read what I just said above: 

Which brings us full circle. This discussion is not about the tonal qualities of a carbon fiber instrument versus a wooden instrument. This started out as a challenge made based on this comment:

There is no part on the violin that is unnecessary.

I named a few things that I know are not included on some violins/fiddles. A wooden body is one of those things. And a carbon fiber body is not wooden, and a violin/fiddle made from carbon fiber is a violin/fiddle.  And here we are.

My point is - and has been - violins don't have to be build with those things. If they don't have them, they are still a violin. My message has never been to promote anything as being better than anything else. That's your argument - NOT mine. 

I didn't post the videos to prove a violin made with carbon fiber violin is better than a violin made with wood. I offered them as a demonstration that a violin made from carbon fiber is a still a violin. They sounds like a violin, and they play like a violin - and violinist own them and play them. I'm not trying to convince anyone that carbon fiber violins are better than anything. 

Is there really any point in continuing?  I think we both know what the other thinks about all this stuff now - right? What else is there to say? I think we are at an impasse.  Can we agree on that?  laugh


No, we can't agree, because you think I'm arguing that carbon fiber violins sound worse. That wasn't my point. My point was that you have suggested that "carbon fiber violins are here to stay" and that more and more manufacturers are jumping on the bandwagon. You've also argued that it's hard to discern them and provided a video made by people who sell carbon fiber violins as evidence. Yes, there were a few positive comments, but the recurring opinion is that it's not a real comparison. Of course, the comments are only as good as the understanding behind them, but the video and comments don't support what you're saying.

I see benefits to an outdoor fiddle. I also see reason to be realistic. Carbon fiber is a wonderful material in certain applications, but it is not impervious to problems. It isn't entirely accurate to portray them as indestructible. And that's not even taking into account issues like warpage, which again happen with carbon fiber. I mentioned bicycle frame construction partly because it's worth thinking about the R&D that goes into frame designing vs that of a carbon fiber violin. While both items may be made in Chinese factories, bicycles with carbon frames are designed with a high level of expertise and the wisdom of researchers and formula one designers to make them strong, light, fast, and aerodynamic. Even though the knockoffs aren't engineered the same way, they're often produced by the same factories or copied carefully, so they still ride on the coattails of thoughtful construction. Carbon fiber violins don't get that kind of attention, and most are made without a comprehensive understanding of either violin making or carbon fiber fabrication techniques.
 

A local "maker space" (now defunct) in Arlington had a carbon fiber violin on display in its front window to show an example of a complex object that a potential maker could make in the shop. It was only made as a challenge in fabricating carbon fiber in irregular shapes and it was never taken out of the window and played. 
 

Carbon fiber can be used to make a violin. So can other materials like metal, plastic, fiberglass, or glass. That is no guarantee of what works, and their existence does not disprove anything about traditional violin making. The Stroh violin did not disprove the necessity of normal violin construction, as an example.

I think the resilience of violins is often underestimated. For hundreds of years violins had to exist in uncontrolled environments in some of the harshest climes in the world, yet they somehow managed to do so (perhaps with some care toward their preservation). They were taken to sea around the world and some even came through shipwrecks. That's pretty amazing. I certainly don't recommend being unkind to any instrument, but they are tougher than they are sometimes made out to be.

There are all kinds of violins developed specifically to be carried around, so there are lots of options. If carbon fiber is the one you like best and you know what you're getting, that's great. I don't think you have to justify liking any instrument; there's no shame in any personal preference you have. I just don't like to see bad information used as justification for an opinion because it erodes the validity of the opinion.

If you say "I like the sound of this carbon fiber violin" or "I think this violin sounds just as good as a wood violin"  or just "I like this violin" I have no reason to argue with you. Your comments suggest that I am judging your personal opinions, but that's not it--I'm looking at the evidence you offer for them and critiquing it.  It's when you say things like "this violin is proof that parts of the violin aren't necessary" or "this violin sounds the same" or "carbon fiber is a growing trend in violin making" that it becomes an issue because it's relying on information that's not opinion, and that information is either accurate or inaccurate.

Edited by - The Violin Beautiful on 04/26/2024 10:33:49

Apr 26, 2024 - 1:23:17 PM

6519 posts since 8/7/2009

OK Rich. I have compiled pertinent clips taken from the first topic and this one, arranged them as a conversation in chronological order, in order to help see how we got here - from there. This is the way things went – in my opinion:

You: In order to get the cleanest, purest tone, it's important for the fingertip to cover the string in the right area and for it to properly stop the note on the fingerboard--if the fingertip doesn't contact the string properly, the tone is weak and aenemic. 

Me: I am a firm believer in not pressing the string all the way to the fingerboard. NOT NEEDED. I use enough pressure to stop the string - and it doesn't require much pressure. In fact, I use more pressure than I really need to. But I hardly ever press the string to the fingerboard. IMO - wasted energy.

You: While it is possible to get a sound without contacting the fingerboard, that does not mean that is the ideal. I would agree that too much pressure is just that—too much pressure, and there’s no advantage to pushing the fingers down with any more force than is necessary. However, if contact with the board was so superfluous, the fingerboard would not be necessary. 

Me: IMO - that is not a valid argument. I'm not going to declare that my fingers "NEVER - EVER" touch the fingerboard - they do. But my habit and focus is on the desire to not use any more pressure than necessary to note the string. It works more often than not. And if it can be demonstrated that a fiddle can be played without pressing the strings to the fingerboard (and I do) - then fingerboards have been proven to be superfluous (not necessary).  But that doesn't mean they wouldn't serve a valuable purpose (creating a "need" in the mind of some), only that they are not technically required to note a string on the instrument. I know - that is extreme - but true. It could be done. Whether people would buy it or not is irrelevant to that issue. 

You: There is no part on the violin that is unnecessary.

Me: Not true. The scroll is not necessary. The f holes are not necessary. The points of the C bout are not necessary. Wooden pegs are not necessary. A wooden body is not necessary. Gut strings are not necessary. A wooden tailpiece is not necessary. 

You: A wooden body is important if you're trying to make something that actually sounds like a violin. Carbon fiber violins are proof enough that alternative materials do not yield favorable results.

And here was the first mention of a carbon fiber violin. You brought it up.

And your comment - "if you're trying to make something that actually sounds like a violin" was the reason I offered a sample of how a carbon fiber violin sounds on recordings that were made when played alongside a wooden violin. Yes, the video was made to favorably demonstrate how well the carbon fiber violin performs by someone who makes them. And yes, he could have been a dishonest cheat and just cooked up a hoax – just to sell a few more of his carbon fiber violins (but is that what you really think?). He would have also probably known that doing so would ruin his reputation and business when the truth was discovered. …they are still in business – 10 years later.

The age of the video is irrelevant. But it does help re-enforce my point about doing a google search to see how many businesses are currently making and selling them - successfully. I never once said they were replacing wooden instruments in the market place. …or that they should. …or that wooden instruments we outdated. No, any of that would be silly.

Did you watch the other video I posted?  …of Anna Elizabeth doing a review of her new Glasser Violin  that she bought? Watch it  – then you can watch her 1 year update. She doesn’t make violins nor does she sell them. She plays them and uses them as a professional musician and music teacher.

Now, I  never said that a violin without a scroll was better that a violin with a scroll. I said the scroll was not "necessary" on an instrument that would be played and called a violin. A violin without a scroll is still a violin. I named off several things like that.  And wood was another one of those things that I said is not "necessary".  And that is all I have been saying - from the beginning of all this silliness until now.  I made no mention of tonal qualities, comparisons, or  disproving anything about traditional violin making. I made a simple statement. I'm not sure where this other stuff is coming from. 

And now you have added a number of other things that are not wood - besides carbon fiber - that could be used to build a violin. So, if you say these are materials that can be used to make a violin, then I will say that a violin made from those materials could be played and would also be called a violin.

Perhaps …we do agree. Sure sounds like it - at least on this one point. 

Apr 26, 2024 - 1:29:20 PM

2478 posts since 12/11/2008

As Rich sezzzz.

Let your ears and the ears of the knowledgeable be the judge & jury. The thing will be parked beneath your ear, or at least nearby. Ya gotta enjoy the tone you produce from it. It's always good, too, to listen to the instrument being played by somebody else...with any luck someone better than your are, but it's even helpful to listen to somebody worse. Exult in the fact that each fiddle (at least the wooden ones) is an individual amongst itself. Let a thousand flowers bloom.

Once again, be picky as all get-out. And oh yeah...I agree with Rosin Head when it comes to bicycle frames, another passion that just won't quit inside me. Steel may be real, and aluminum may be zoomium, but there's a reason practically every pro bicyclist in the 21st Century insists on them.

Edited by - Lonesome Fiddler on 04/26/2024 13:38:25

Apr 26, 2024 - 2:24:47 PM

6519 posts since 8/7/2009

quote:
Originally posted by Lonesome Fiddler

As Rich sezzzz.

Let your ears and the ears of the knowledgeable be the judge & jury. The thing will be parked beneath your ear, or at least nearby. Ya gotta enjoy the tone you produce from it. It's always good, too, to listen to the instrument being played by somebody else...with any luck someone better than your are, but it's even helpful to listen to somebody worse. Exult in the fact that each fiddle (at least the wooden ones) is an individual amongst itself. Let a thousand flowers bloom.

Once again, be picky as all get-out. And oh yeah...I agree with Rosin Head when it comes to bicycle frames, another passion that just won't quit inside me. Steel may be real, and aluminum may be zoomium, but there's a reason practically every pro bicyclist in the 21st Century insists on them.


laugh  ok

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