Yi-Ping Yang — How to Test String Instruments to Find the Right One For You
The Violin Channel recently caught up with Yi-Ping Yang, Co-Founder of the Contemporary Violin and Bow Makers Exhibition
“When you’re presented with a large selection of string instruments, what are the systematic ways to test them? How do you narrow down your search? What are the things you’re testing for?”
1. Start in groups of three or four at a time. Many instruments that make the initial cut can then be compared to the next group, and so forth.
2. Play the same passage of a piece that you’re very comfortable with on each instrument.
3. Also test a basic scale over the four strings of each instrument.
4. Make sure to keep other things constant, like the bow and rosin.
5. Although physical factors can be adjusted, test for playability and comfort.
5. If you can, play the instruments at least twice. You’ll find different factors when you revisit it
6. Look for a connection with the general voice of the instrument. If it seems compelling somehow, keep it in play.
7. Pay attention to the ones you’re immediately attracted to.
8. Write everything down. You might think you can remember everything, but it’s like an assignment, you should take notes when making this big of a decision.
9. Once it’s whittled down to a small group, then a more thorough analysis of projection, response, and balance is necessary.
10. If there is a wolf note, remember that it is actually a good thing; it means the instrument is vibrating really well. There is a misconception that it is bad, but in time, good players learn how to overcome it as the relationship with the instrument develops.
11. If possible, take them to different settings to hear the instruments in different acoustics.
12. While playing it for colleagues, friends, and teachers can be helpful, remember it’s your opinion that matters the most. You’re the one that’s playing and convincing people that this is your musical voice.
13. If buying from a contemporary maker, remember that you could be the very first owner of the instrument, so it’s quite possible to get one that is as close to your ideal as possible.
14. Take into account that it’s crucial to take the time to adapt and explore the full range of possibilities of each instrument. In time, a front runner will emerge.