need help in purchasing my daughters first full size violin.

December 22, 2007 at 06:58 AM · need advice in purchasing a violin.

i am purchasing my 12 year old daughters first full size violin. three choices currently at hand are as follows.

the first has been discussed in a discussion string since 2004 and is stamped. " ernst heinrich roth, markneukirchen 1924 copy of 1732 joseph guarneri" priced $6500.00

the second is a violin labeled "wilhelm bruckner 1927, erfurt" priced at $ 7000.00 and

the third is labeled "prosper , rue saint george, mirecourt dated from just before the turn of the 20th century and is priced at $ 6500.00

i read the discussion string on the roth. the price of the roth based on the discussion string appears reasonable.

my daughter likes all 3 violins. her violin teacher has not yet seen them. i would appreciate any advice or comments anyone may have.

for this price range are ther any other violins makers i should specifically consider.

thanks gordon

Replies (22)

December 22, 2007 at 09:52 AM · Since they are older, they certainly have either one player or several imprints on them from my understanding of how instruments adjust to the player on a more abstract level.

But beyond that (I'm only familiar with Roth generally), are:

a-the instrument's responsiveness to bow pressure and speed in basically all positions, and the nature of that responsiveness.

b-the instrument's ability to project given (a) above, with all those considerations, and the stability in that projection.

c-conversely, the instruments responsiveness in soft(ppp) sounds, given (a)+(b).

Generally, there are mellow and brilliant instruments--I prefer mellow. So, this is another abstract point, but how is your child's personality developing in terms of music that is chosen beyond lessons--is it slow songs and mellow things, or brilliant things like maybe Paganini or something... Is there stability in these directions?

Similarly, would a more brilliant instrument take the child in different directions developmentally.

These kinds of things, as a parent, I would want to think about I think.

December 22, 2007 at 02:56 PM · That is pretty good money to put into a violin for your 12-yr.-old. If you are in a large city, you could consider contacting some shops in smaller places. Sometimes you get more for the same price. I would encourage you to rely on her teacher. You might also consider asking any high-level players of your personal acquaintance to test-drive them. You don't mention a bow. A rule of thumb is to put a $2000/2500 bow with a $6000/7000 violin, though that is clearly not cut & dried. If you weren't thinking beyond the violin, maybe you want to take your total and portion it to get a great bow. Say $5000 vln.,$1500 bow and tax, the big item #3 :( Sue

December 22, 2007 at 06:53 PM · my daughters teacher liked the wihelm bruckner over the others stating it was a superior insrument for the money. she was not familiar with the bruckner . the teacher is a julliard graduate with 40 years of professional orchestra experience. it was also my daughters favorite of the three.

does anyone know anything obout the maker.

also is it acceptable to negotiate with the seller which is a reputable big city violin dealer.

thanks gordon

December 22, 2007 at 08:37 PM · We just bought a full size for our 12 year old daughter and it felt somewhat stressful! We tried a lot of violins from several shops - all shipped because there are really no big shops/dealers in Colorado, though there are some very fine small shops and builders.

We ended up buying a fiddle for $7500 from a local maker/restorer who was selling one of his own on consignment for year 2000 price for a person who needed quick sale. They now go for 12 to 14 thousand.

My daughter's teacher says that when a person holds and plays the right violin, they will know it. After a few seconds, our daughter stopped and said she like this one - and that was after trying 12 violins in similar price range.

I don't know how 'serious' our daughter is, but both her parents are professional musicians and, no matter what, we wanted to give her the chance to own a decent instrument because she can tell the difference. We tried several Roths but they did not win out. I think the quality of really good Roths drive up the prices of mediocre ones as well.

It was more than we were intending to spend, and now we need to find a bow.

Good luck!

December 22, 2007 at 08:47 PM · We are also going to be looking(again)for a full size violin for our 12 year old daughter too.

If you want my advice, please let the teacher try them out before making your decision. We ended up purchasing a full size instrument without our teachers consent and it ended up the teacher didn't like it and it was too big.

Eventually, we ended up going back to a bigger sounding 3/4 size violin on loan from nice parents.

I think we will eventually sell the other violin in order to make room for the new better sounding full size.

Please let us know what you decide.

December 22, 2007 at 11:43 PM · Our initial viewing was always with the teacher and it just ended up that the teacher agreed with our daughter and commented that she recognized quality:-)

We wouldn't have ordered all the full sized violins for trial if the teacher had not recommended the necessity and even given a price range for what would be acceptable.

We chose to get something that allowed room for growth because we didn't want the continual upgrading to continue. We could have gotten away with spending less but decided to make somewhat of a sacrifice and go for quality. Our daughter is happy and we've gotten over it!

December 23, 2007 at 03:46 AM · In your price range the 3 violins your dealer has offered seem reasonably priced. Make sure that you can trade the violin back in for what you bought it for should you wish to upgrade. Also, make sure that the dealer has the instrument set up in ideal condition. I would also recommend, in the case of all of the instruments that you make sure the violins are not oversized. Bigger is not necessarily better. A 14 inch back measurement should be maximum.

It is also important to know that some dealers give commissions to teachers who recommend instruments for students therefore driving up the price of instruments. This odious practice is becoming a thing of the past, but still persists. You might wish to divulge the name of the dealer offering the instruments for feedback from people in the know about reputable dealers.

December 23, 2007 at 04:14 AM · I'd suggest making sure you know what condition all of the instruments are in so you know what if any repairs and maintence you'll need to do. If you're torn between instruments maybe you could try experimenting with various bows, strings, and even other people playing them...

December 23, 2007 at 02:38 PM · thanks. i am not concerned with kickbacks to the teacher for numerous reasons. have you heard of wilhelm bruckner before. i cannot find anything on him.

December 23, 2007 at 03:18 PM · Did a google search and found a viola 1919 at Kolsteins

December 24, 2007 at 12:03 AM · Further googling reveals a website of the current generation of Bruckner (u-umlaut) Brueckner's if you can read German.

It says that they have been 100 years in Erfurt, they are in the 4th generation, and the current Bruckner is Ruth. Her great-grandfather is the one that made your daughter's violin, and worked with Guiseppe Fiorini.

December 24, 2007 at 06:15 AM · Many people say that the most important factor with a violin is the sound - a subjective factor. Therefore, one of your top considerations should be the sound quality. This is actually not so easy to judge, because the sound can vary considerably depending on the strings. What if the best violin did not have the ideal strings? In a perfectly controlled environment, you would be able to campare all the violins with many different strings.

However, sound is NOT the ONLY factor. Craftmanship (which will affect the quality of sound over time), playability, and sellability are also important.

A violin that has a well-known name in the market may retain it's value and be easier to sell than an obscure violin, even if they sound the same, because the purchasing party is buying a product from you that has a known reputation.

The craftmanship of the violin is also important. A violin that only sounds nice but has obvious quality issues may not be such a good investment. The sound can actually deteriorate if the varnish and wood are below standard. You may have numerous repairs ahead of you if the structural integrity is not sound.

The reputation of the seller is often related to the quality of the craftmanship. Buying a known violin of known quality is a safer choice when you need to sell the violin later.

Roth: The Roth seems to be a good year and actually seems to be fairly prices, depending on the quality of the instrument. Check what level model it is. I think some models were better than other cheaper models, but I am not sure. As someone else mentioned, the goog Roths drive up the price of the average ones.

Wilhelm Brückner: If your Juiliard teacher and daughter both like it the most, then that should probably be the deciding factor, as long as the quality is sound. You would simply buy that one. Yet according to Wikipedia, a Nazi by that name was one of Adolph Hitler's closest officers -- by perhaps coincidence. Go to Wikipedia and check for yourself. You asked.

Also, I can only find information on Bruckner VIOLAS and not violins, based on the websites posted here by others.

Mirecourt: This was an area of major violin making in France, like Marchanuchen in Germany, that has since declined is business activity, except for a few makers, including some fine bow makers. Although I am not an expert, I think generally speaking Mirecourt was a little better than Marchanuchen. Unfortunately, the Mirecourt violin you mentioned seems to have something of a generic name, so you would have to be more careful about the assessment of the sound and quality of the instrument itself.

A lesser-known violin may actually be better sounding, yet underpriced, because it is not as well known. You may have a chance to get a great value. Does anyone stand out for sound AND have good quality? Yet on the other hand, if all three seem equal, you may want to try and disqualify the one(s) that have the highest risk. On the other hand...

Isn't this fun????

That's why they pay you the BIG bucks.

Finally, you are paying a lot of a money for a child that age. I am happy for you if you have that kind of disposable income, but beware of the risks, such as having it stolen. I am not dissuading you. If you have extra money and can give you child that advantage, then do it. But be sure you also have a good bow. But if not, you can get a good violin for $3,500, such as from Sofia region in Eastern Europe or for even less from Luby. Search those cities with "violin."

December 24, 2007 at 09:22 AM · Mirecourt, France

Markneukirchen, Germany

December 24, 2007 at 05:02 PM · According to Jalovec Encyclopedia of violin makers:

Brückner, Wilhelm Erfurt. b.30.6. 1877 in Markneukirchen, d. 5. 10. 1929. Tranined by his brother, Heinrich Albin B, employed with Giuseppe Fiorini in Munich, then in Dresden and elsewhere. Independent since 1897 in Erfurt. His workmanship is praisworthy.

December 25, 2007 at 03:40 AM · Todd, different Wilhelm Bruckner (birth and death dates do not match). The luthier was born in Markneukirchen, died in Erfurt, 1874-1929. The one in wikipedia was born in Baden-Baden and died in Upper Bavaria 1884-1954.

December 26, 2007 at 07:30 AM · Bruce Berg wrote:

"Brückner, Wilhelm Erfurt... His workmanship is praisworthy."

So it sounds like the Bruckner is maybe the best of the three, especially considering the recommendations from the teacher and student.

Note that I said that I found information on Wikipedia stating that the name was the same name as a high-level officer to Hitler, which is kind of creepy. I did not say that this violin maker was Hitler's officer.

Exchanging information, and prompting others to exchange information, like this is very useful. We learn.

December 25, 2007 at 08:31 PM · Why buy a semi trade German violin when you can buy a new American (or Chinese!!!) violin that will have better wood, workmanship and tone for this price?.........

Look up V.S.A winners from the past few competitions and find out how much they charge? you might be surprised :-)

December 25, 2007 at 09:11 PM · Just for the sake of discusssion, here are the past Violin Society of America Winners for violin over the last 30 years:


Gold Medal Violin

Ming-Jiang Zhu

Silver Medal for Workmanship

Borja Bernabeu 17

Raymond Schryer 88

William R Scott 197

Silver Medal for Tone

Jeff Phillips 136

Zu-Liang Wu 37

Certificate of Merit for Workmanship

Feng Jiang 60

Krzysztof Krupa 45

Philippe Mahu 192

Jan Spidlen 43

Shiquan Zhao 187

Certificate of Merit for Tone

Dorian Barnes 158

Jan Bartos 157

J. Peter Bingen 195

Xueping Hu 120

Feng Jiang 60

Shan Jiang 34

Ryan Soltis 121


Gold Medal Violin

Feng Jiang


Gold Medal Violin

Frank Ravatin



Perry Daniels

Toshiyuki Matsushi-ta


Violin Gold Medal

Hiroshi Iizuka

Andrae Robin-Frandsen

Kurt Widenhouse

Ming-Jiang Zhu


Violin Gold Medal

Kurt Widenhouse


Violin Gold Medal

Thomas Croen

Tetsuo Matsuda


Gold Medal, Violin Workmanship

Karl Bitterer

Amos B. Hargrave

Paul Wiessmeyer

Gold Medal, Violin Tone

Gregg Alf

Amos B. Hargrave

Amnon Weinstein


Gold Medal, Violin Workmanship

David Burgess

David Gusset

Francis Kuttner

Samuel Zygmuntowicz

Gold Medal, Violin Tone

Chen Jin-nong

Samuel Zygmuntowicz


Gold Medal, Violin Workmanship

Roland Feller

David Gusset

Horatio Pineiro

Gold Medal, Violin Tone

Richard Oppelt

Paul Schuback

Rena Weisshaar

Naiden Ganchev

December 26, 2007 at 05:20 AM · While I am waiting to either comission a Needham or a Burgess I am playing on an ax I just bought for 3,500$, a Putsintelli. I will probably always keep it as a second ax, it sounds like a 6,000 violin. Many players in the Ukraine play on one. I bought it while in Cremona. Hope it helps.

December 26, 2007 at 01:07 PM · I have a slightly different take on this process. I got my first full-size violin when I was around 12, too, and I still have it. I am impressed that you are able to spend that much on an instrument for a 12-year-old.

I'm guessing your daughter is more advanced than I was, but I'll come out and say anyway, that I was not mature enough, musically, at age 12, to make a decision of that magnitude. I think it would have been better if I had been able to purchase a really excellent violin in the price range you're talking about when I was 15-16. I would have had more to say about it, been able to have much better input than I had when I was 12. But instead I've had the violin that was bought for me when I was 12 for the next 30 years.

Anyway, I guess I'd just like to add the following: think about the future, especially if resources are limited (the way they were for my family). Depending on where your daughter is in her training, she might want/need something different in 3-4 years. Is any decision you are making now going to limit her choices or options when she's a more mature artist?

December 26, 2007 at 05:38 PM · As a pianist, I have to play different instruments all of the time. Sometimes it takes a while to adjust to an instrument, but rarely do I have over 20 minutes or a half hour. I like some better than others. Violinists get their instruments and stick with them if it's 'the one'.

After playing 12 or so trial instruments in the 5,000 to 10,000 range, my daughter played one that she immediately said she liked after only a few notes. It cost more than we had hoped and we'll be paying for it over the period of a year. We still need to find a bow. This violin sounds good under her and is great in a large room. She loves it. When her teacher tried it out, she said there isn't a bad note on the instrument and that we won't need to buy another violin for our daughter again. She has 3 daughters who are professional string players. One of them finally upgraded again because she is assistant principal in a major orchestra. Not having to constantly upgrade is nice. There's lot's of room for my girl to grow with this fiddle.

I was happy to go without presents for myself this year.

December 26, 2007 at 10:50 PM · My violin daughter got her first full-size instrument when she was 13, and we found it by chance while auditioning other instruments at a shop. It's a long story, but she liked it right away and it was about half the price of the instruments we had been looking at (it was a new instrument by a relatively young maker).

But-- before we considered buying it we brought it (along with other contenders) to her teacher, as we had been doing with instruments all along. Her teacher and she conducted numerous "blind tests" with each other playing the various instruments. We also tried it in different kinds of halls-- dry halls, bigger halls, etc., to get a sense of what it would sound like . Because it's easy to think you're in love, but the ear is the best judge.

We paid $10k for this instrument, although most of her young colleagues play instruments valued at least twice that price.) But what matters most to us is the sound, not the value. Her sister, a violist, plays a $4500, new Chinese-made viola whereas most kids at her level play much more expensive instruments. Of course she'd like a better one (her teacher had one in mind, but it turned out to be too expensive for us) but she gets an amazing sound from her relatively cheap instrument.

My violin daughter recently had the opportunity to play on a friend's Amati and she was blown away by the sound. Maybe she'll get to own or borrow one of those herself someday, but for now she needs to learn how to get the best possible sound out of the instrument she does own.

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