Most beginner musicians don’t know what a sound post is. Probably because it’s not easy to see and we don’t talk about the sound post often. The tiny wooden dowel is hidden inside the violin, close to the bridge.
But experts know that the sound post plays a very important role. Not only does it support the top of the instrument. The sound post also can alter the tone dramatically, and completely change the sound depending on the position or angle. Sometimes the musician thinks it’s the strings or his own playing, that is the reason for the violin performing poorly. But by moving or changing the sound post, the violin can sound louder, project more, and even make a clearer, darker or brighter sound.
As late as 10 years ago, not all string musicians paid much attention to the sound post. As a matter of fact, it’s not unheard of musicians peeking inside the violin to find that the sound post missing.
Nowadays there is more talk about sound posts and believe it or not, there are professional ”sound post adjusters” that visit orchestras to work on the sound of the instruments. It has become a fine art to bring out the best sound that your violin has to offer.
Some musicians have their sound post adjusted before every concert, while others never do it. But the majority can agree on one thing: It’s definitely worth giving it a shot. Especially if your violin has a muffled, unclear or fuzzy sound. A lot of musicians are surprised over the difference and variations in sound after an adjustment or change of the sound post. A good adjustment can definitely open up the sound of the instrument. It can also make the instrument easier to play, mainly in regards to the response time. Some people say that their violin is back to what it was, after they get a sound post adjustment.
—The first time I started paying attention to the value of adjusting the sound post, was when I bought a new violin, a Swedish Jan Larsson, says Fiddlerman (Pierre Holstein). The maker kept adjusting my sound post regularly and the difference in sound and projection was amazing.
—Since then I have learned to work on sound posts myself and really enjoy the craftsmanship behind it.
Most musicians let their luthier adjust or change the sound post. Just make sure the craftsman is specialised in that kind of adjustment.
More people are starting to experiment, and even doing it themselves. There are tons of videos online, guiding you on how to adjust the sound post.
If you decide to give it a try, you will need a sound post adjuster. It’s made out of stainless steel and made to move and set a sound post.
Fiddlerman warns everyone not to try to do this on your own, unless you are very handy. Make sure to not overdo it or you can hurt the instrument. The best thing is to observe others adjusting or viewing many videos online first, if you are gutsy enough to give it a try.