The answer depends, of course, on the reason for which you want to hear them. If you’re just going to listen to them for a couple of hours a day, you might be able to get away with it if your violin isn’t of particularly high quality. If you’re seeking authenticity, though, you’ll want to spend some time putting a violin through its paces to make sure it’s as good as it can be.
The basic components of a quality violin are, of course, string strength, wood type, and the string’s overall length. The string strength is determined by one of three factors: how hard it is to blow, the type of steel used for making the strings and the size of a violin’s bell or bellows, or how the violin’s resonant frequency is determined. For a good-looking instrument made with materials of superior quality, the string strength will be in the range of 30 to 70 pounds per square inch. Some low-end guitars and cellos can get as much as 200 pounds per square inch.
There’s also the wood. String strength, like wood content, is influenced by the wood’s moisture content. When the wood dries in the summer, the moisture in the wood slows down the movement in the guitar’s strings, and the resulting loss of string strength makes the wood a poor choice for making acoustic guitars. So the best violin will have a thick, durable plywood soundboard, and wood from the highest quality trees.
But how good is the violin? The main factor in deciding whether a given instrument is good enough to enjoy is its tone. If the instrument you’re considering has a sweet sound, the instrument is probably sound enough to appreciate from a distance. But if it can sound too flat, or it’s not quite as detailed, or if it’s too harsh on the edges, it may not be worth your time.
A good violin should have an open tone without harshness or coloration. In other words, as soon as you turn a violin on, it should be clear what the sound is going to be. A violin’s tone needs to be bright enough to stand out from surrounding sounds, but not so bright as to overpower them.
Your violin may also have a brighter, warmer sound and be too bright to be heard with the earphone. It may also be too bright to have much clarity when you’re playing from a distance.
As to whether your instrument gets harsh on the edges (if so,
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