Thursday, June 17, 2021

Violin strings


The strings currently on my fiddle.  I have a slight preference for Obligatos. Here, the D-string and the e-string are Obligatos.  A few months back, the A-string shredded at the 2nd-finger in 1st-position spot.  I didn't have Obligatos on hand at the time, but did have a broken-up, partial set of Evah Pirrazi strings, so that's what the A has been since then.

The G was starting to shred at the nut, in part because I've been doing some alternate tunings lately -- ADAD and FDAE. I now have a new set of Obligatos on hand.  But the D, A, and e still seem ok to me.  I have an in-person gig on Sunday.  And I also had this busted-up, partial set of Kaplan Amos on hand, which had a G still, so that's what's there now.

Because I'm cheap.  Just like everyone else.  

I used to order in sets in bulk, stock them in the store, because customers would come to me for strings.  I'd give them a discount on the suggested retail and install them for no extra charge.  

Then internet sales came along.  Now I don't order so many sets.  

By the way, 'suggested retail' now means 'this is the price the manufacturer uses to calculate your wholesale price, but it has no bearing on any price offered anywhere online'.

I break up sets, selling individual strings to customers who want a single string, but not a whole set.  It's something of a service I can offer.  So I have incomplete sets around, and, as above, use them to fill in on my own fiddles as needed, as I feel the need to conserve.  It's been a tough year-plus.

Had a customer in today.  They had purchased a fiddle from me 15 months ago, for their child.  The child's teacher was telling them there was a wolf on the instrument.  Where, I asked?  Because I couldn't hear one.  On the G and D strings.  Which notes?  No, both of those strings.

Well, that's not a wolf, but it was something to look into.  The teacher had heard something. The bridge was tipped forward.  I straightened it so the feet were again making contact with the top.  The strings were caked in rosin.  I cleaned that off.  I thought it was an improvement in tone.  Cleaned the rosin off the instrument as well, just to be tidy.

How long since the strings were replaced?  We haven't.  And you play a lot?  Yes.  Getting ready for the big contest now.  Well, new strings would be a big improvement, and you'd want to do that soon, so they're settled in before the contest.

Well, we could go to <local music store> and get some strings.  Yes, but I do have strings here, too.  Oh, how much?  Well $_______.  Oh, that's too much. We can get them a lot cheaper on line.  Yes, you probably can.  I can't compete with big online merchants that sell at near wholesale.

They then looked up the string set on their smart phone.  Do we want light, medium, or heavies?  Well, I'd say medium.  Ok, thanks.  And they ordered the strings right there, standing in my retail area, three feet away from me.

We talked about the possible need for a bow rehair, but they don't have a second bow and can't be without it right now.  I was not interested in pushing the point.

They left.  Didn't ask if they owed anything for the adjustments and cleaning, my time.  I would have said no, but it is nice to be asked.

I just passed my Beatles birthday.  One more and I'm at the traditional retirement age.  Of course, as an independent business owner, I don't have a pension.  I have saved up some money.  I will qualify for Social Security.  I'm still in decent health.

After they left, I looked up the price of the strings at the site they had been on.  Looked at the price through my wholesaler.  Exactly the same, to the cent.  The manufacturers have no concern about small businesses these days.  That's not a complaint, just an observation.  A reality.

I want to keep making fiddles.  I like playing and giving lessons.  

Pretty sure I'm about done with sales of retail objects like strings, shoulder rests and the like.  Not terribly interested in rehairing bows sold by music stores or online, bows that have circular mortises which need to be cut properly before the bow can be rehaired, and at no additional charge.  It's interesting to contemplate what life might be like, what changes I can make, need to make, to survive.

Still thinking it over.

All this sounds like a rant, a complaint, and I suppose in part it is.  My customers are great; they value what I do and know, and that adds value to my life.  

I, however, still need to buy groceries and pay the mortgage.

I cannot fault someone for finding a better price on a commercially manufactured object, such as a set of strings or a toaster.  I do the same thing.  Brick-and-mortar merchants who insist on selling commercially manufactured objects at X% off the suggested retail price are going to fail, in the most part.  We will see more stores, more malls, folding. 

The future for small businesses such as mine, if there is a future, is to make that which is not easily done by factory workers.  I have known that for some time.  I am slowly beginning to realize more of what that means.  Maybe it's like being on the Oregon Trail, where one has to pitch the cast-iron stove out the back in order to be able to finish the trip.  

No comments:

Post a Comment