From Melinda Keeling
Posted March 14, 2011 at 02:31 AM
I am 51 years old, a late starter to the violin. I have a full size 1996 Hermann Beyer E201 violin that was a rental in a local music store. It is in pretty good condition, no cracks, chips, repairs, etc. I started playing in January 2010. My teacher says I play at about a two and a half year level now, and I am playing second violin in the local community orchestra. I will never be a professional, currently I enjoy playing for myself and in the orchestra and practice in trio with viola and cello players from the orchestra. I would like to be good enough to play at weddings and local events in a small trio or group.
My question is...what general level/quality would this instrument be considered? When should I look to upgrade, if I keep progessing? Will this instrument limit me, or will just my own abilities be the limit with this instrument.
Welcome to the late starter club. You have me beat....I started when I was 42, hitting 9 years on the violin. I'll leave the rest of the math to you. Anyways, the violin you have is priced on the really low side (<500.00). There has been discussions on this forum related to violin quality/sound mostly having to do with instruments costing 2K thru 20K. This is probably where most (70%) of the discussions have been. Of course there are discussions that exceed these bounds. Many people could probably go on for a long time about their experiences, but best advice is to look up some shops in the LA area , and try out a bunch of instruments in a price range you are comfortable with. If you stay less than 3 to 4K, you will probably mostly see instruments from China or countries such as Bulgaria in Europe (low-cost labor).
Play scales, chromatic scales. Listen for consistancy in volume of the notes, play the scales/notes soft (PP), loud (FF), play close to the bridge, far from the bridge.....where does the violin sound good, bad, etc...... and you have to decide what you like, don't like. I recently went thru this and found a instrument for 2.5K I liked. And then don't forget the bow. It affects the sound, and also affects your ability to control the bow pressure, speed, etc.
Get the opinion of impartial people (your teacher), take violins and bows home for a week (a generally accepted practice), if the shop doesn't support that policy, then walk out.
Given that you have a couple years under your belt, you have a good point of reference now.
I suspect you have a budget. My opinion, you are looking at spending at least 2K on Violin and Bow, and probably more to give yourself more choices. I found alot of choices in the 3K ballpark.
Please consider supporting Violinist.com by becoming a sponsor, and reaching our dedicated community of violin professionals, students and fans!