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How To Upgrade Your String Instrument: Our Expert Advice

How To Upgrade Your String Instrument: Our Expert Advice

So you’ve been playing the violin, viola, cello or double bass for a while now, and you’re not sure what’s next. If you’ve been practicing and performing with gusto, you may have started wanting a richer, fuller sound. Simply for Strings’ team of experts are here for the next step: upgrading your instrument.

Buying an instrument from Simply for Strings is a fun and hassle-free experience. 
First things first: explore our range of intermediate and advanced instruments online or in our stunning Red Hill showroom. Our luthiers ensure each intermediate instrument is set up to bring out the best sound possible, through the use of higher quality bridges and soundpost material. Learn more about our professional set up here. 

Browse Intermediate Instruments here
Browse Advanced Instruments here.

Players are most welcome to visit our store at any time to play through our selection of intermediate and advanced violins. If upgrading from a full-size beginner violin, we recommend players bringing along their regular, comfortable shoulder rest with them, as well as some familiar sheet music. We recommend players bringing along these items so they feel comfortable when trying out new instruments. 

Our intermediate and advanced violins, violas, cellos and basses are all constructed using higher quality tonewoods. The upgraded materials (maple, spruce and ebony) and higher quality craftsmanship aide in creating a warmer, clear and more powerful sound, with a lot more projection across the entire instrument. Our intermediate and advanced instruments are always sold with upgraded strings – including brands such as D’Addario, Larsen and Pirastro. These higher quality strings ensure you’re getting the best sound and projection out of the instrument. It can take some time to get used to a fuller, louder instrument, so we encourage players to play through as many instruments as possible for as long as they wish.

A lot of students get very familiar with the sound that they’re hearing as they play. Even if the sound isn't as beautiful as it could be, they’re used to it under their ear and they start to trust that it is the “right” sound. This can mean that they’re put off by a nice sounding instrument because it’s not what they’re used to. It can take a lot of reassurance from their teacher and others to finally understand what a good tone sounds like!

When you’re looking to upgrade your instrument, be sure to compare the sound of everything that’s available, This will give you and your child an idea of the tone that they’re trying to get to, which is usually a much bigger, more mature sound.

When upgrading, some musicians choose to also upgrade their bow. Bows are very important – they compliment your instrument, by bringing out the best sound quality, and also make it possible to accomplish a variety of bow techniques. Weight, balance and flexibility are the determining factors in playing qualities of all bows – all of our bows are hand selected to achieve the optimal combination of these criteria. We recommend the Paesold #192 model in particular for intermediate and advancing students – it is staff and teacher preferred due to its consistently high craftsmanship and easy playability. Shop all Paesold bows here. 

At an advancing level, it’s nice to invest in a higher quality rosin in order to get the best from your bow and strings. A great intermediate rosin choice is Melos. We love this rosin for variety – the rosins are produced in two types, light and dark, for different playing conditions. The “light” type is used more in high temperatures (spring or summer), for “smooth” playing or for solo in chamber music. The “dark” type is used more in low temperatures (autumn or winter), for full-tone playing, in an orchestra, or for great solo concerts. One can also choose based on his/her right hands’ peculiarities and bow technique.

A great advanced rosin choice is Leatherwood Bespoke Rosin. Offered in two formulations, supple and crisp, this Australian made rosin is used by professionals across the globe. 

The supple blend can help generate a more powerful and focused sound from a softer and lighter bow with less ‘bite’. Supple can also enhance the sounds of a deep/warm sounding instrument by making it sound more resonant. Supple can also ‘soften’ an instrument which is too loud, bright or one-­dimensional in sound. It offers a warm and softer sound, consistent traction that feels velvety and rich; this recipe maintains a reliably sharp attack on the string.
The crisp blend often works well with an instrument with lots of resonance but is a little ‘woolly’ in sound, offering it greater clarity and articulation. Crisp also assists bows or techniques that struggle to achieve a clear and articulate spiccato or sautille. Crisp can also assist small student or beginner instruments, by enhancing their sound to be brighter and sometimes louder; and beginning students find it easier to articulate with crisp. The crisp blend offers a decisive attack, firm traction and crisp sautille; this recipe creates an undeniably forthright sound through a glassier texture.

Although many of our intermediate instruments are sold with a case included, many students like to invest in a fun, colourful case for their new instrument. We have a huge range of cases to suit all budgets, but the colourful and protective Kreisler cases are definitely a student favourite. We also offer the very popular BAM Cases at Australia's best prices in-store and online. 

Your new instrument is precious – whether you’ve invested $300 or $3000 in a new instrument, it is very important to show your instrument some TLC. A cleaning cloth is a life-long essential in your musical journey. We also offer a range of care kits which can be used to treat your instrument at regular intervals. Shop Instrument Care and Maintenance Tools here.

We have all the extra accessories you made need in-store or online, with our team of string experts available to help with any question you may have. Our staff pick for intermediate students are the NS Micro Tuners (available for violin, viola, cello) – they are perfect for slow scale practice! Shop all accessories here.

A wide range of sheet music is available in-store and online with all of our Simply for Strings team of professional musicians and teachers available to provide personal recommendations. Buy your next AMEB books at Australia’s lowest prices, or chat to a member of the team about which studies from Kreutzer, Popper and more may suit you best, in our sheet music library.

Don’t hesitate to contact our friendly team if you have any questions regarding upgrading to an advanced instrument with Simply for Strings. We’re only too happy to help!

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