Revenge of the Strings

I finally managed to restring my guitar quite some time ago with only a moderate amount of chaos. Soon thereafter, though, the violin began to resent all the attention I was giving its larger stringed cousin. Popping a violin string is a bit unlike popping a guitar string. First, the violin string sounded a bit like a jack in the box coming out of its little house with a vengeance. It almost sounded like a crunch. Let me interrupt my own post for a minute to clarify– my violin is crap. I really wanted to learn to play but couldn’t afford a truly nice instrument. I’m sure that affects the whole experience.

Anyway, the concept of restringing the violin seems relatively easy at first glance. Four tuning pegs, four strings. Turns out it’s not quite that easy. For one, the bridge balances somewhat delicately on the body of the instrument, and it is completely detached. Keeping that balanced was a bit of a trick when I put the first set of strings on. Trying to tighten the strings properly took some work as well. I’m sure restringing it is going to be a treat as well, but as we know, it’s something I’ll feel compelled to learn.

The really cool thing about violin is that it’s played largely through hand positions. Since the neck isn’t fretted (can you imagine frets on a neck *that* small?!) figuring out where your fingers should land comes in memorising those positions and the notes as they are open.

As I’m new to guitar and *extremely* new to violin, it’s been interesting to see how they complement each other. I’m quite familiar with piano, which was helpful in learning guitar since my hands were already accustomed to working independently on an instrument. What I wasn’t expecting is how much learning to switch hand positions quickly on the tiny neck of the violin would help my guitar technique. I started on a classical with a neck that made me very proud to have long, double-jointed fingers. Switching to the electric felt like a new instrument. On either guitar, though, barre chords gave me fits. Violin shifted something in my mind that made the technique of barring more accessible to me. Something about making tiny adjustments in the position of my fingers and in the angle of my hand really helped with the precise (at least in my experience) positioning of the barre chords. Also, moving my fingers quickly in a small space on the violin helped me in jumping from chord to chord on guitar. I was having quite alot of trouble switching between chords that were a few frets apart and travelling up and down the neck in general. It wasn’t until last night when I was playing some stuff on guitar for my best friend that I realised how much my very, very limited knowledge of and experience with violin was helping with that.

Music is incredible. Often the things I can’t express in words flow out easily through guitar or piano. I’m hoping the same will be true for violin eventually.


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