“I really enjoy working with Andreas on sound adjustments. I find he always listens to both me and my cello to find a solution that pleases us both and improves the sound.
He tells me exactly what he is doing and why and is happy to listen to any suggestions that I have.”
Rebecca Gilliver, principal cello London Symphony Orchestra
Tonal adjustment is making your instrument work as perfectly as possible for your particular way of playing. Think seasoning in a wonderful dinner, or fine-tuning of a Ferrari.
In an tonal adjustment session, we talk about how you’d like your instrument to sound and what you think is wrong. You play the instrument, and we listen to it together. I will usually start with small adjustments, such as moving the soundpost. Between each one, we listen and discuss what difference it has made. Sometimes I will need to keep the instrument for a few hours or days to do more complicated work.
How do I know if my instrument needs adjusting? Maybe most of your instrument works well, but there’s an area which sounds a bit dull. Perhaps it’s harder to get the notes to sound in a fast passage than it used to be. Or perhaps you can’t play as quietly as you need to and still hear yourself, or you struggle to project enough in a large hall.
What problems can you help? Typical problems might be: Uneven sound – an areas of the instrument that doesn’t quite fit with the rest; poor response; lack of dynamic range; wolf notes.
Do I need to know what’s wrong? It’s helpful if you have some idea of what the problem is, but don’t worry if not.
How do you fix it? Solutions can be very simple: perhaps a small move of the soundpost. other cases might include a new bridge and/or tailpiece, changing the angle of the fingerboard or some work inside the instrument.
My instrument was fine but now there’s something wrong. What’s happened? Humidity or temperature changes can cause an instrument to sound quite different, as the wood of the instrument or bridge reacts. Strings wear out, or a small knock may have altered something. Changes are quite normal.
How often should my instrument be adjusted? It’s wise to have your instrument examined regularly to keep it working optimally. If you’re generally happy with it, once a year is fine. If you’re regularly travelling between different climates or have to keep your instrument in peak condition, you may need to have it adjusted more often.
Michiko Theurer, violinist: