From Karl B
Posted September 28, 2010 at 11:57 PM
I am a violin newbie father of a 12 years old girl who needs to upgrade her old beginner 3/4 violin to an intermediate-advanced 4/4 violin and after hours of reading violin reviews I am lost and confused. I have done some research, and I could say I am a little bit more literate about buying violins but to be honest I really have no clue on what violin should we buy. We have budgeted about $1,000. My girl plays in the school orchestra and she is an enthusiast player and we want to get her something that helps her to advance. After some research we narrowed our options to the Otto Benjamin series (by eastmanstrings), the Maestro (by Stringworks) and the Carlo Lambertti AV1000 (by Shar Music); however, we are open for suggestions. Could any share you experience with any of this instruments or suggest some other.
Thank you all for your valuable input we are now visiting different retailers in the area, to try different violins and look for the one that best fits my daughter.
If you have any violin dealers near you, I'd recommend taking a visit (after all, trying them does not obligate you to buy). It's important to be able to actually try the violins.... the same violin that would be a good "fit" for her might not work for another. If there is anyone you could ask (teacher, colleagues), it's good to get a recommendation to find a dealer that is reputable. Another consideration is the bow and whether your budget must cover both these things or just the violin. Good luck.
What Elana said. Also be aware that most violin shops will allow you to take out a violin and try it for a while to make sure that it's a good fit. I recommend taking it to her teacher and asking his/her opinion of it. This is not likely to be her final violin so your budget is just about right. You don't need a professional concert violin but basically it should be able to make a pleasant sound with fast response and above all else it should be clear enough that she can hear her intonation easily.
Somehow, my original post to the $6000 bow thread ended up in this thread. I removed my post as it made no sense in the context of this thread.
What Elana and Michael said! If your girl is 12, she's plenty old enough to try out different instruments, and lend her voice to the discussion of what would be best for her. It looks like you are thinking about going the mail-order route. If that is your only option, at least see if you can get a few instruments to arrive at the same time, so she can spend a few days playing them side-by-side. If you can, go to a local violin shop and let her have a go at everything in your price range.
It's hard to tell you what will be best, as different examples of the same make and model can vary wildly. My kid has a Snow that was about in that price range that he has been quite happy with. I think Johnson Strings carries that brand, if you are definitely using the mail-order process.
Karl, as others have noted, your best bet is to find a violin shop in your vicinity so that your daughter can actually try a violin before you buy it (although the price may be a little higher than a mail-order outfit can offer). You would be well advised to involve your daughter's teacher in the selection process, as has also been previously mentioned. Even moderately priced student violins have unique and individual characteristics that aren't necessarily reflected in brand names.
Your profile indicates that you're located in a suburb of Philadelphia. You shouldn't have a problem finding a violin shop that carries student instruments in the Philadelphia area, though it may mean a few trips downtown. Here are a couple that Google turned up (though I can't vouch for them personnally):
You probably don't want to visit one of the high-end dealers in the area--yet (although some of them may carry a few instruments in your price range). You might try posting a new message on this site asking for some recommendations in the Philadelphia area.
One other thing to think about: if your budget permits, you might also want to think about upgrading your daughter's bow as well as her violin. To non-violinists it often comes as a surprise, but a better bow could make an astonishingly huge difference in tone production, dexterity and ease of playing, as well as the satisfaction and pleasure your daughter gets from playing the instrument. If you decide on a bow upgrade, you should first select a violin and then try to find a bow to match the violin, because, believe it or not, the same bow can produce different results on different violins (and vice versa), even at the student instrument level. But selecting a bow is a process in which your daughter's teacher should be involved, even more so than in selecting a violin, because it takes a lot of experience to probe the qualities of a bow.
Hope this helps.
We really appreciate all your input, comments and suggestions. We are going to approach my daugther's teacher and ask for help. But in the mean time we wanted to speed up the process and find possibly a viable option, but it seems to make more sense to go and visit different violin stores and let my daugther to try a few before chosing the right suit for her. Also, as you pointed out we had not considered upgrading her bow, but now we will. And, we really appreciate the time you took to answer and even to google stores around philly.
Please consider supporting Violinist.com by becoming a sponsor, and reaching our dedicated community of violin professionals, students and fans!