As the market for student instruments has changed, I've alerted some parents of new players to outfits from new companies like Gliga, Zhang, and Scott Cao, that make reasonably priced beginning fiddles, and Eastman and Snow making great intermediate ones. Knilling, Glaesel, Lewis, Roth and other companies that used to dominate the student violin/viola/cello world are not as competitive as they used to be. I wanted to take a survey of what everyone thought of six violin models, from well known internet distributors, that are better than the $100 junk packages but cheaper than used to be possible (prices reflect the "instrument-only" price):
Gliga "Gems I" (violinslover.com) $285
Hoffman "Maestro" (sharmusic.com) $275
Scott Cao "student" (swstrings.com) $325
Klaus Mueller (swstrings.com) $276
Strunal 260 (music123.com) $299
Which of the above would you recommend to a new student? I have been impressed with the Gligas; are any of the other ones on the same quality par? Would anyone prefer to spend the extra $100-$200 for a beginning Knilling, Glaesel, Lewis, Roth, Meisel, Kohr, etc...
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