Is it worth buying this violin as an upgrade?

Edited: August 17, 2017, 3:36 PM · I have been wanting a new violin for some time and "window shopping," as I feel that I have outgrown my instrument; yet, I unfortunately cannot afford to spend what would be needed for a logical upgrade from my violin (I'd like to buy an adequate intermediate/advanced violin one day, but as of right now I cannot afford to buy/save up for a new violin).

I currently play on a classical strings vl75 violin, and though it has served me well these past four years, I am in my university's orchestra and having a lot of issues as far as sound quality and wolf tones on a multitude of notes on my violin, needless to say I have tried violins that are more suitable for intermediate violinists and I can safely say my current violin does my playing no justice. I stumbled upon a violin that's being sold near me and was curious to know if it's worth buying as an upgrade for now. It's selling for $100 and it looks quite nice (I would obviously thoroughly examine the violin in person to the best of my abilities before buying it.)

The seller says it had been appraised in 1989 for a value of around $600 in today's currency (he also included fuzzy pictures of the appraisal forms), it is supposedly a 1950's Czechoslovakian violin (I don't know what maker). I personally don't care about the label and am taking the appraisal forms with a grain of salt because I know that it's easily faked and that doesn't matter much to me (I just need a violin that can play better than mine). The look of the violin definitely caught my attention because the wood looks of a better quality than what I play on now. I have posted pictures of it below and am curious to know what opinions are out there as far buying this, and if there are any glaring issues I'm not seeing before I go to see the violin in person.

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I figure I should add more context as to where I'm coming from now... this is the description from the place that manufactures the violin I currently have, "Handmade student instrument, perfect for the beginner to intermediate student. Selected aged nice Maple for the back and spruce for the top.
Set up comes with French bridges and D'Addario Prelude strings.
Hard wood Fingerboard, Chin-rest, pegs and Carbon fiber tailpiece." I've upgraded the strings from the ones they came with. I've put photos of my current instrument below. (I can't seem to post the pictures without the link)

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Replies (24)

August 17, 2017, 1:22 PM · Shouldn't the back of a good violin be constructed out of two pieces, with a seam along the center line?

You can add inline images using the html img tag (link to the jpg file directly, not the imgur description page).

Edited: August 17, 2017, 1:34 PM · Hi Han,

A one or two piece back is not indicative of quality - merely the wood the builder had access to. The difficulty with the one piece back is finding plates of sufficient size and quality. If they can be located there is no problem :)

At $100 if you enjoy the playability and tone I don't think you can go all that far wrong. I'm sure an expert on antiques will come by soon, but if you like how it plays and sounds (if possible get a better player, maybe your teacher, to try it too) then why not.

From the wear it looks like -someone- got some good use out of it, or was sweating acid.

August 17, 2017, 1:32 PM · While I am no expert, it is my understanding that having a two-piece back, versus a one-piece back does not affect the sound. While a center seam can add some measure of strength, it does not reflect a more expensive or better sounding violin.
August 17, 2017, 1:33 PM · I've read that there hasn't been a significant difference in sound between the two, but one piece backs are less common because of personal taste and wood sourcing (not sure if sourcing is an issue though) but, there are some Strad, Del Gesu...etc. one piece backs, I think it mostly has to do with the luthier's skill.
Edited: August 17, 2017, 11:10 PM · I just found a long thread about the topic of one/two pieces: http://www.violinist.com/discussion/archive/14579/ .

Edit: the thread confirms that one/two pieces mainly differ in the cost of wood and labor, not quality.

August 17, 2017, 2:09 PM · looks like a decent student grade violin, not intermediate. How much it is going to cost to properly fix it up, new strings etc, is something to worry about, I would probably charge almost $200 to fix up something like this to its top potential, you might find someone cheaper but not to the instruments top potential IMHO
Edited: August 17, 2017, 2:09 PM · edit
August 17, 2017, 2:28 PM · Not exactly good pictures to judge the violin. I agree that it is a student violin, nothing special.
To me it looks like the neck is varnished, I dont like that on violins. I have slightly sweating hands sometimes and this does not work out well, be aware.
Han, I am not sure how you got this out of the tread. One piece or two piece back is the very last creteria to judge a violin.
I never met anybody that could seriously claim to prefer one over the other despite for the looks.
August 17, 2017, 4:02 PM · I would try a variety of affordable violins and pick your fave. In your case, I would see if you can try out this violin and see if you're satisfied with the sound and playability or not. Looks have nothing to do with sound. Also, I recommend upgrading the strings to some cheap synthetics like Tonicas. They cost between $30-$40 depending on where you buy them.
August 17, 2017, 4:27 PM · Lyndon;

Would it still be a fair deal at $300 (setup+instrument price)? I think that is what is most relevant to the op.

August 17, 2017, 4:28 PM · The violin in question is only $100, its not a high risk proposition, and you'd be hard pushed to find other comparable violins for $100 to compare to, so traditional logic doesn't really apply.
August 17, 2017, 11:13 PM · Marc, I updated my comment for clarification.
August 17, 2017, 11:22 PM · Yes it would be a fair violin at $300, seems more like a $700-$1000 violin to me, and older than the 50s.
August 17, 2017, 11:53 PM · In Germany I would not buy it, in the US its propably a good deal.
Prices for German manufacture instruments differ significantly between Germany and the US.
I would ask the seller if the neck has the same varnish (basically if it feels the same) as the body. It kind of looks like this on the image.
If yes I would recommend trying such a violin first. I cannot smoothly shift on such violins and I know others with that problems too. If you have very dry hands it does not matter though.
August 18, 2017, 12:18 AM · I'm not saying I would buy it for $100, there are enough instruments of similar caliber going as cheap as $100 on ebay that I don't buy, because I don't really have customers for them.
August 18, 2017, 4:17 AM · Marc,

Are you saying that decent, inexpensive violins are easy to find in Germany? I'll be over there on vacation soon - wondering if I should look around to find a replacement for my beginner rental VSO.

(Assuming, of course, I don't win that Berlin Philharmonic audition...)

Edited: August 18, 2017, 4:37 AM · Madeye, violins are not cheaper here but there are a hell lot of cheap Markneukirchen/Schönbach wandering around. These particular violins dropped significantly in prices on the privat market. On these violins a significant difference between the professional and the privat market developed the last decade. It will be interesting to follow the market and see if the peivat market will recover in prices or the luthiers will have to sell those violins very cheap.
Here is kleinanzeigen.ebay.de quite similar to the us craiglist. Search for "Geige".
A violin I would be positiv to play in the Berlin philharmonics will not be cheaper in Germany than in the US. And good luck!
August 18, 2017, 6:26 AM · If it is 100 bucks and you can afford it, I don't see why not test it and buy if you like it better than your current instrument.
August 18, 2017, 6:33 AM · This may not help with the violin shopping, but consider Warchal Amber E to get rid of wolf notes on E. Also consider upgrading your bow first, if you are not satisfied with the sound quality. It could be a more cost-effective option than replacing your violin.
Edited: August 18, 2017, 9:41 AM · i got my second fiddle for free and only had to pay repairs (it wwas a checoslovakyan too) if i were you i would take a luthier with youu to see it
-EDIT-
After seeing the pictures i can agree it looks quite like mine
checoslovakyan violins can be a bargain sometimes
August 19, 2017, 4:43 AM · Han N

I beg to differ on violin backs. Stradivaris are made with 1 piece backs sometimes. Personally and from experience 1 piece backs are better. If there's a problem with the line after a long time it damages the sound

As for the new violin. It looks alright
Nice flamed maple. Will sound better but it won't last you because..... NO EBONY

ebony fingerboards last for hundreds of years withstand 100 of fingerings and all they need is some cleaning and some olive oil.

Sorry to say that the violin won't be a nice fit.


Fiddlerman are good. Kennedy as well.
Gligas are decent but lack in comparison in cheaper models

August 19, 2017, 5:11 AM · Thats not right either, one piece backs are not better. Problems with joints are not more often than with one piece backs cracking and uncommon outside old Mittenwalds.
Also I have a very high quality ebony fingerboard and need it to get reshaped every 18 months, on my last fiddle even every 9 months. Mmore than just cleaning and oiling.
August 19, 2017, 8:33 AM · You mentioned "being sold near me". Can you contact the seller and ask to try it first?
August 20, 2017, 9:07 AM · Marc.

What are you doing with your fingerboard?

Well i said on old instruments. My teachers got a crack in the middle of the back. He recommended 1 piece backs. Obviously restoration and good varnish
help.

Well between one piece and two piece backs i said better because of the possibility of less trouble in the future.
Even if slight

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