Buying a violin at a convention? (and many other questions)
I'm a high schooler that is in the market for a new violin and bow as I am currently renting from the school. It's going to be my second year in the TMEA All State Orchestra so I thought that it would be a good idea to go to the convention and check out some of the shops that aren't around my area (Robertson's). I have a couple of questions though that I decided to list below.
My current price range is around $5000 for both the violin and bow, but I'm not too sure if that's a good price point. Do most students at this level have instruments around that price?
If I happen to find a violin that I like, would it be a good idea to try and buy it during the final hours of the convention to try to bring down the price, or should I take it home and trial it for a little longer?
Where/what shops would be the best place to look to get the biggest bang for the buck?
At the $5000 price point, would it be better to focus more on new Chinese workshop violins or ones made by a luthier?
At your price point you are probably talking about a CF bow, so if you can narrow that down then you can focus more on the violin, which you should be doing anyway. $4000 will net you a nice violin. You're not going to get a recently-handmade American or European instrument at that price, but there are some really nice ca. 120-year-old European instruments (often German) to be had at that price range. I know because I bought one for my daughter for $3500. And yes there are great Chinese instruments. I know because I bought a really nice Chinese viola a few years back for $3500.
First of all, waiting until the end of the convention will not give you the opportunity of buying at a reduced price. You will not see signs going up saying "all Strads are 30% off today, or "clearance sale everything must go."
I do ‘t think that I could buy an instrument with only a few minutes of playing it in a noisy environment. I’d want to take the instrument on trial for a week at least. First impression isn’t always the best impression.
Also you need to hear how it sounds when someone else is playing it. Someone who can play circles around you, preferably.
At a $5k combined budget, you're probably looking at about $1,000 - $2,000 for the bow, and around $2,000 - $4,000 for the violin.
Even if the OP does not purchase an instrument at the "convention" it is a good way to start relationships with some responsible dealers that might lead to the optimal purchase later.
Man. I would really love to try a Kittel. :-)
What were the strad and guarneri like, Andrew? I've always wanted to try them but the most reasonable chance of that happening is if Ifshins gets more.
Bruce already said everything I was going to say. It's fun to try out instruments at TMEA but it is super noisy. I wouldn't buy anything without taking it home and living with it for a week or so, and getting your teacher's input. You will definitely not get any kind of price break no matter how late you wait.
Lydia I have tried one but it was wasted on me. It was a little more playable than my CF but probably I'm just not able to do the finely tuned bow strokes where the differences would be realized. It's okay. It's far better off in the hands of the man who owns it.
Try a variety of affordable violins and bows, pick your favourites, take them home for trial, show them to your teacher, and go from there.
"Man. I would really love to try a Kittel. :-)"
I actually just bought a violin at TMEA last year.
Erik, this was in earlier times when the Ifshin shop was still in Berkeley (not El Cerrito). I was not overly impressed by either instrument (which is why I went home with my own violins without Jealousy). On a later visit Richard Ward told me the Strad had turned out really well before SFSO bought it for $2M. So they were still working on it when I was allowed to try it. It does go to show you how much work they will put in on instruments with supposed potential - labor cost exceeding the price of some very good new violins, probably!
Thank you all for the advice!