How to Choose the Right Violin?
Instruments: I am currently on the search for a new violin to call my own, and would like suggestions on different brands, and the qualities one should have.
From Jessica Vong
Posted June 11, 2012 at 12:05 AM
The hardest part in the search for the perfect violin is the vast number of options that are out there. I am currently an intermediate to an advanced player, and the violin that I have now was passed down to me as it is a family instrument. That being said, I have never had much experience in finding my own, and I feel that I have graduated from the one that I currently have. I'd appreciate any advice on qualities a good violin should have, and if you'd prefer a new violin over an old. My price range is $3,000 or less. The violin brands I have been interested in include Snow Violins, Jay Haide, Ming Jiang Zhu, and makers that live in my area. I am open to any suggestions, and appreciate all advice given.
I have a Ming Jiang Zhu AAA (also called 909) violin, and viola. I especially like the viola. They make quality instruments. After trying a bunch, they both just felt right. I would just say to not "settle" on an instrument. When you find the one that feels right, you will know. Just take your time. This probably will not be your "final" violin, so have fun. There really is no straight answer on what is the best one until you yourself have tried it.
I actually am interested in trying out the Ming Jiang Zhu AAA, but there are two models (Guarneri and Stradivarius) What are the differences between the two?
I have no experiences with these specific violins, but with the other violins I have tried, the Guarneri is overall warmer and deeper, while the Stradivari is bright/sweet and not very deep, but still warm, in the bass. My personal preferences are Guarneri models, but some people like Strad models more.
From Brian Lee
Posted on June 11, 2012 at 01:09 AM
A couple of my friends have the basic model Snow viola, and it's quite a good instrument for the price. Snow instruments are very good in their workmanship.
A friend of mine plays on a Jay Haide violin (he bought a relabeled one that cost $1,600) that beat out many violins that cost over ten times as much. They're also well made and quite a good value.
Whether you like a Guarneri del Gesu pattern or a Stradivari pattern violin is personal preference - in my experience, del Gesu models tend to react better to bow pressure, Stradivari models tend to react better to careful usage of bow speed, placement, and contact point.
I have the Guarneri model. Where do you live? I went to the Amati shop in Cincinnati, OH and they set a couple up for me to try. Their prices are a bit higher than what you would pay Shar, or SWStrings, but it was a very personal, and helpful experience.
I agree with Lyndon to an extent. Don't just limit yourself to new violins. @3K you are starting to get to the point where you may find an old violin you like more.
However, the problem is that modern Chinese violins have turned the market up-side- down. They are simply better made, and sound better, than European factory made instruments of the past.
At this price point I'm not sure you need to worry too much about "investment". I don't think there will be very much appreciation old or new. Buy a violin that you love to play.
Jessica. Have a look at another thread called, " Step from VSO - Stentor?". I discuss what I look for in a violin on that. Remember you need to spend at least 25% of your budget on a bow. Try the Coda Diamond GX as it may suit you.
From David Beck
Posted on June 11, 2012 at 01:32 PM
"I agree with Lyndon to an extent."
Me too. A "Wolff brothers" from Germany, for example, might come within your budget if you are lucky. A lot will depend on how an old violin has been maintained. But the new Chinese can be terrific value - a professional I know bought one and used it. It boasted handsome wood and a remarkably good sound. Similarly, another pro 'cellist bought an inexpensive new Chinese bow and liked it enormously - but it broke !!
I reside in the Dallas Fort Worth Area. Thank you for your suggestions on an older violin. I was a little hesitant to consider one simply because I have played some older ones and most did not have what I was looking for. The ones that I found more suitable were over my budget, and it seemed the newer ones within my price range seemed to beat the older ones. Because of your advice I will surely take those into consideration, and begin searching for one. Based on your experiences where would you suggest a place to look for older violins? Thanks again for the idea.
Jessica, is your teacher helping you on this adventure? If not, who is playing the instruments for you to hear?
Remember, under the ear is only part of the equation. If you can, have someone play the same things as closely as possible to the same way on every instrument you try (ideally, in the same place, but that's more difficult to arrange until you have borrowed the few top choices to take home).
@Lyndon I agree, Ebay is not the best place to look for one. I also noticed that Ebay sellers tend to want to sell the instrument without letting potential buyers try it out.
@Marjory Yes, in the past my teacher has played several for me while I stood and listened about 6 feet away. I was on the same hunt last year when that happened, but I decided to wait until I could invest more money into a better instrument. So after some time, I now feel that this is the right time for a better one.
Let us know how you get on.