I could really use some advice on purchasing a violin...
I started learning the violin about four months ago. I bought a very cheap $100 Mendini violin to test the waters. I really, really enjoy playing and would like to upgrade to something better. The problem is I don't have the money to have a brand new violin made for me (I was quoted minimum $6000), and I absolutely cannot tell if the used ones people are selling are any good/reasonably priced. And furthermore due to living so rurally, I don't want to drive 1-3 hours to try out a violin to see if at least "seems" good to my newbie eyes when any Tom Dick or Harry off these forums could have told me not to even bother wasting my time and money, the violin in the ads are garbage. And that's why I am humbly asking if maybe you guys could have a look and tell me if any of these are reasonable buys, or if they are all junk? I simply cannot make this purchase without help, I just know my ignorance will get me sold a lemon.
Also I just want to clarify I am looking for something that will last me a long time and sound pretty good, but it's just my own private hobby and I don't need anything progressional grade. I am generally hoping to spend less than $2000.
But anyways here are some of the interesting ones I have found in my price range, if anybody has the time to take a look. The first two ads are about an hour drive away from me, and the second two ads are about 3 hours away.
The last two ads are 3 violins sold by the same person and there is a video of them all being played in the first ad also, if that helps...
Thanks you guys and I apologize if people hate this kind of post, I just don't know where else to ask :( Also if they all suck and I shouldn't buy any of them, that's a good comment too.
I recommend visiting The Sound Post in Toronto. They have a range of student instruments and should have someone around who can play them for you to hear them, while not exceeding your budget of $2000. There is probably another violin shop or five in the area you can visit as well, I just know they have a location there.
I think it is a very big mistake to buy a violin from craiglist or similar.
Like Michael said, you have to visit some violin shops. It is normal that you make an appointment and ask to try some violins. They will lay them out for you to try. You can tell them your budget so no time is wasted. Also put aside 25% of your budget for a reasonable bow. So spend 1500 (more or less) on a violin and 500 (more or less) on a bow. Don't buy in the first shop you visit, they also will not expect you to buy immediately but they will do their best to serve you so you may return to buy later! Since you are a beginner you can also ask them to have someone from their shop play the instruments for you so that you can hear their sound when professionally played.
A total of 2000 USD should buy you an instrument which will last you a very long time, at least based on pricing in the UK, where I live. I have spent about £1200 between instrument and bow, and my teacher is convinced that this will satisfy my needs for a very long time.
Also agree with Michael.
The 1-3 hour drive will be the best use of your time, believe me. I know it sounds awful to travel that far, but let me tell you how I ended up with my violin.
If you really know what you're looking for in a violin, buying from owners on places like Craigslist or Kijiji isn't necessarily a terrible idea. It's highly luck-driven, though.
Decisions sometimes seem be either the lesser of two evils or a gamble. In this case you can greatly narrow the odds in favor of making the right choice.
If you are just starting out, rent an instrument. Don't buy. Who knows, you may want to eventually switch to viola. You may want to consider buying a nice bow if you cannot get one through a rental.
Fiddlershop has a program that lets you try violins via mail order. I live in a violin desert, and if I hadn't gotten lucky and met someone that repaired/sold violins as a hobby I would have used them.
Go forward with the help of an honest person. With that person's advice and judgement, it will be years before you need to re-invest.
You can get an acceptable violin for under $2000 but you have to get in your car and do some shopping. In your price range, there is little point trying dozens upon dozens of violins hoping to find that truly special instrument that sounds like heaven and plays itself. A good plan would be to visit two shops, try 5-6 instrument in each shop, and ask if you can take one home from each. Play those for a week, consult with your teacher if you have one, and then pick the best and buy it. In the grand scheme of things a $2000 purchase is not something you need to agonize over.
Perhaps a brick and mortar store that also does internet and phone sales is a possibility. A few years ago I was in your position and found my violin at a place called Kennedy Violins. (www.kennedyviolins.com). If you go this route give them a call after looking over the web page. The people you will talk to play violin and can help with the selection process. They have a great 45 day return policy and future trade-in if you decide to upgrade again. A $2000 budget should get you a good enough violin for quite a few years.
I have bought violins, violas, and cellos and lots of bows.
Rent for a year or two and then cash in the rental credits to buy a better violin.
Second or third the recommendation for the Sound Post -- they're supportive of beginners and will show you a few and play them for you as well if you want. And let you take one or even two out on evaluation. Getting your teacher's input would be invaluable.
Here's another recommendation for The Soundpost in Ottawa, which seems to be fairly close to you, from the coordinates you gave (Kingston & Toronto). The staff are knowledgeable, responsible, and thoroughly professional. They are string players themselves, and the manager, David Doyle, is a fine luthier. Their clients range from beginners to professionals, and they'll give you good advice. They have an excellent selection of violins and bows in all price ranges; you can try out instruments freely and also rent from them.
I definitely agree with the advice you're getting here: that your best option is to find a reputable, trustworthy dealer; you should be able to find something well beyond the student violin category at a price not too far over $1,000.
Quite frankly, since you just purchased a $100 violin and nothing else, I wouldn't even buy anything over $1400. Plus you've only learned for 4 months. I upgraded my violin to a $700 only after 2 years on some 3/4 violin and a cheap 4/4
You should always try before you buy but if that is not possible you could consider West Country Violins in the UK. They have been selling over the internet for over 20 years and have lots of client feedback. Here is the link:
J Ray quote-
Ashley Roy, the OP, says " I really, really enjoy playing and would like to upgrade to something better."
@birchall: Um... a under $6,000 “professionally built” violin from an unspecified luthier? Lindsey Stirling promotes a scam by a buddy in their early 20s who sells “professionally built” violins from China without trial, half down to ship in that price range.
Again, why isn’t anyone curious why her teacher isn’t involved if she’s only been playing four months?
Sometimes though, I wonder if it's a which comes first "chicken or the egg" kind of thing?
"Since my teacher doesn't play my violin she didn't know it had issues."
Sometimes good violin teachers really don't know that much about buying a violin. I say that because I've met quite a few violin teachers whose last major instrument purchase was when they were heading to grad school which might have been 20 years ago and maybe only a few of their students were advanced enough to need better than student grade violins. And because they're just not super interested in that side of the business. Other teachers I've known have seemed incredibly knowledgeable to me. They're the ones who are always going into shops wherever they travel, trying instruments, talking to makers, etc., because they enjoy that kind of thing.
I'd budget $1200 for the fiddle, $730 for a bow, and $70 for strings.
Jane Kingsten said, "@birchall: Um... a under $6,000 “professionally built” violin from an unspecified luthier? "
Actually, I was following this thread with great interest since I am trying to buy a viola. It seems that very few luthiers have multiple violas on stock, but I did find one where I could try four. I'm renting one as an "extended trial period". Hopefully, my teacher will say that I made a good choice. (She's OK with me learning viola next to violin.)
@ Mary Ellen Goree- This is a great idea.
So I played hooky from work today and went to a violin shop for a few hours. Using the advice of this thread, I brought my current violin and best bow. I tried out 8 different violins and 20 different bows. Alas, my pocket is happy to report that nothing felt or sounded like an upgrade; granted I stayed within within the prices I specified. I do encourage traveling a bit to try things out. There were some nice instruments, but I am glad that I brought my main violin.
If you want to buy a good violin, you should first try to figure out how much money you want to spend and than try to find the best violinmaker in your are or if you want to spend a whole lot of money, the best in your country or an auction hause for stringed instruments. there you try out at least 7 violins(everything under seven seems to low for how important this decision is). if possible, try out violins in a higher pricerange too, to find qualitys you can look for in the violins you could buy with your budged. you should primarily try to find a violin that sounds good to you. other things you should test are how responsive the violin is and how it's responed near the end of the fingerboard as well as phlageolet and a few doublestops or better playing a constant slow speed and playing doublestops in constant intervals(on one bow) by simply touching a second string. the third thing you should do is asking someone who has to do with music how the violin sounds when you play it. if you found your violin(hopefully below budget) you should try out a few bows that fit into what is left of your violin budget. if you also found a good bow for you, you should try to evaluate what you don't like about the tone of the violin(minor things only or you shouldn't buy the violin) and use a stringcompass to find suitable strings that make up for that (e.g. you'r new violin sounds a little bit too bright and has sound that isn't rich enough so you choose a set of trings that has a very rich sound and is on the darker side of the tonal spectrum) you should always try to get strings that are know to be very responsive if you can find some in the area of the spectrum where you want your strings to come from. if you are a beginner, just chooe a violin that has a sound you like and that you feel makes it easier for you to play on, but if you are a very good violinist, you should also practise a very hard piece that you can than try to play on the violins you are testing. i like to use the bach-chaconne for that because it has such a big variety of techniques that test almost every aspect of your bow, violin and of cause you(eccept very very high notes and phlageolet)