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The Weekend Vote

What do you do with your unwanted violin items?

September 11, 2009 at 7:24 PM

Do you have a secret stash of violin stuff you'll probably never use? I'm talking about old cakes of rosin; the pegs the luthier replaced and then handed you in a baggie; a collection of discarded shoulder rests; a book of sheet music you thought you'd use but never did and never will; an electronic metronome that has needed the battery replaced for four years; an old violin case, even old violins....

Maybe you even have a piano scarf. (Don't tell us if you do.)

How do you handle this old stuff? Do you keep it? Do you give it away? Sometimes I give things to students, or I serve as a trading posts for my students to donate their old stuff to younger students who need it. Do you try to sell it? Do you ever throw things away? Or do you keep it all?

Thanks to Alison Smith for today's vote idea! (Have an idea for the Weekend Vote? E-mail Laurie!)



From Anne Horvath
Posted on September 11, 2009 at 7:27 PM

The upside of "hoarding" is that a lovely collection of bought-tried-rejected shoulder rests and chin rests can be tried out by students or friends.

Not that I have baskets of shoulder rests and chin rests that rival the Shar catalogue selection...

From E. Smith
Posted on September 11, 2009 at 8:03 PM

I've been able to donate items by posting here on Even if it costs me postage and (horrors!) a trip to my local post office, it seems so much more fulfilling to find someone who can really use these items. I'd suggest that potential donors take advantage of the "For Sale" category to find homes for unused accessories. Or maybe there could even be a "donations" section.

Posted on September 11, 2009 at 9:15 PM

Interesting question...

give away...did so with 2 "brand new" hard cover copies of "My First 79 Years"  (Isaac Stern autobiography) and did so right here on even paid the postage. One thank you and one naughty, silent, ungrateful soul, you know who you are...gee I feel so much better now!!! LOL


hoard...such a harsh word...collect, save for a rainy day, might need sometime, waste not want not

throw away...NEVER, NEVER I SAY

nopity.gif No Pity image by TGrosjean

From Michael Divino
Posted on September 11, 2009 at 10:47 PM

We could put up a "trade" section too.

From Brian Lee
Posted on September 11, 2009 at 10:50 PM

I even save my old strings, to put them on my school instrument.  At any rate, they're better than the Helicores, Chromcors, and Flexocores that I customarily have on it.

From E. Smith
Posted on September 12, 2009 at 4:20 AM

 For a long time I've been thinking it would be a great idea to create a system for collecting donations of used strings, shoulder-rests, and other paraphernalia, for periodic shipment to strings programs or orchestras in places in the word where these items are are in short supply. Over the years I've heard anecdotally about orchestras and schools in Haiti, Africa, and central Europe where used strings and such are very much sought-after. I think it would be a wonderful gesture if we could organize something like this through Sort of like the very thoughtful group project that worked together to put a violin into the hands of a young serviceman-- the catalysts were people on this board. Used strings, rosin, and shoulder rests (and CD recordings) are not as glamourous but they are easier to come by and to ship, and redistributing them in the world could make a profound improvement in local string programs. What do you think?

From Gail Tivendale
Posted on September 12, 2009 at 10:11 AM

I rather like the idea of giving stuff to schools in Haiti etc but I think giving used strings is not so good. I'd rather give new ones - better sound and they would last longer. Shoulder rests & rosin may be ok provided they were in good condition.

From Man Wong
Posted on September 12, 2009 at 10:49 AM

Since I'm still so relatively new at this, I'm still in the process of hoarding more often than not.  I definitely already own more violins, not to mention violas and a cello, than there are people in the family to play them. :-)  I did actually sell off a supposedly German-made 1990's quality student viola I bought off eBay -- as a trial at the 15.5" size -- to a coworker friend whose high school aged son needed a better viola than the school loaner.  I actually ended up making a little bit of money on it (because of the bargain I got off eBay) while his son still got a very nice bargain on the viola -- his violin/viola teacher was apparently so impressed w/ the bargain that he wanted to ask me if I had some older violins to sell to him. :-p

I've also loaned out some unused student instruments to people indefinitely as well.  It's good to be able to share...

Of the multiple choices above, I guess the only thing I'm not inclined to do is "throw away" stuff.  I'm such a pack-rat -- although part of that is just my generally laid-back, procrastinating nature. ;-)



From Gary LaCom
Posted on September 12, 2009 at 11:43 AM

So far, the stuff just accumulates.  I don't need the extra pegs, chin rests and such that have somehow piled up, but the stuff is still good and I hate to throw it out.  My violinist friends have their own 'treasure trove,' and don't want mine added to theirs.  So there it sits, and I don't know what to do with it.  Anyone who doesn't have a pile of bits laying around, and would like one of their very own, let me know.

From Karen Allendoerfer
Posted on September 12, 2009 at 12:02 PM

I have a drawer in the room where I practice where I hoard the stuff.  So far, I haven't hoarded enough stuff to overflow the drawer, but when I do I'll probably have to rethink it.  I also have some stuff hoarded in my violin case (!), such as the 30-year-old violin polish that my teacher gave me in 7th grade when I got my first real full-size violin.  I haven't felt the need to polish my violin in those 30 years, I wipe the rosin off carefully every time I play, and I've taught my daughter to do the same, so there it sits.

Also, I got the first quarter size violin my daughter used from a friend, and so I have paid it forward by loaning the fractionals she used to other friends.  Right now both the half and the 3/4 size are on loan to others. 

From Alayna Faulkenberg
Posted on September 12, 2009 at 6:00 PM

oh I totally hoarde it. Most of it lives in one of the old cases that I am also hanging onto for no apparent reason and the worst part is that since I am in college, I bring some of the most prized never used junk with me to school and keep it in a little plastic box. There's the chinrest I hated and finally changed last year, the shoulder rest that doesnt fit me, and several other odds and ends that I should get rid of that actually made the 5.5 hour trip to school for the third year in a row...

From Leanne Slingerland
Posted on September 12, 2009 at 10:43 PM

 Don't really have enough stuff collected to call it a hoard yet. I do have an old violin yet (the one I started on) - thought about selling it once but the sound is so bad that I'm not sure I'd wish it on anyone....suggestions on what to do about that little dilemma?

From Man Wong
Posted on September 12, 2009 at 11:52 PM


If it's really *that* bad, maybe you could use it to demonstrate to other parents why they should get something better for their kids, especially when their kids seem ready to commit long term to the violin. :-)

If it's not really quite that bad, then maybe it'll do as a 1st violin for some adult beginner (or similar).  That's actually how I feel about my 1st violin (as an adult beginner).  I found the sound to be annoyingly glaring, especially considering I was new to the violin *and* it was so new (and had that new violin harshness to its sound), even though most others, including a teacher or two, was impressed w/ it as a beginner's instrument.  It's mellowed out some after a couple years, but I still don't like its sound -- maybe I'm just particularly sensitve to the certain characteristic that annoys me about it since it doesn't seem to bother anyone else.  Admittedly, I might also be spoiled now by the sound I get from various other violins I've tried (or owned).

And considering that, actually, maybe your old violin is only "so bad" to you and not so much to many others kinda like mine.  Also, remember that the audience doesn't really hear the same sound in the same way as you w/ violin under your ear.  Certain things that annoy you (or sound great to you) w/ violin under ear may not come across at all for the audience.



From Alison S
Posted on September 13, 2009 at 8:46 AM

Hi Leanne, when I was in your situation I sold my violin to another student. Sometimes younger students who have physically outgrown their violin only need a bigger student violin.  

I have a similar dilema concerning my spare violin which is better than a beginner violin, and has lots of character plus plenty of limitations to go with it. When I upgraded to my current fiddle (my second upgrade) the luthier told me to keep the old one as a spare, which was a polite way of saying he wouldn't take it off my hands. I don't feel that it's good enough for an instrument loan scheme such as Benslow House (, so I'm considering lending it to a local school.  Does anyone have any experience of this? Can I expect it back in one piece?

On the news yesterday they reported that prices of used cars are going up, which shows what strange and interesting times we live. That got me thinking - will middle-of-the-road used violins ever be in great demand? Going by the number of fellow hoarders in this quiz and combining this with the rules of supply and demand, it seems doubtful.  

One thing I will never do is hand my fiddle or sheet music into a general charity shop. Some friends once presented me with sheetmusic for a Bach Sonata bought in the local Oxfam shop. It was a nice thought, but there was a slight problem. They had used it to make christmas cards and had taken big chunks out of it!

From Ruth Kuefler
Posted on September 13, 2009 at 2:36 PM

For the most part, I just save stuff for later, in case my students ever need it. Most of my old music books I just keep in my studio in case my students forget theirs or something. 

From Mary Carlson
Posted on September 13, 2009 at 10:20 PM

I save everything so I can give them to my students.  It comes in handy to have them right there.  I consider it donating. 

From Patricia Baser
Posted on September 14, 2009 at 12:20 AM

I am always scrambling to find enough stuff for my school string students (who are mostly poverty level). Maybe we need a version of freecycle. 

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