Worries of Getting a New Violin

February 16, 2008 at 05:09 PM · I have outgrown the violin that I began learning on, and am seeking to buy a new one, but have some problems. I live in an area without any violin shops within hundreds of miles, and can't afford to travel across the United States to search for violins.

This has led me to consider having instruments sent to me for trial, in order to find the right violin for me. This approach has some problems, because neither me nor my parents are at home during the time FedEx or UPS delivers, and the nearest FedEx hub is hours away.

Which presents a problem especially when I want to try quite a few different violins in order to find one that fits me.

So, to solve that problem would I have to have the sender tell FedEx/UPS to leave it at the door? This presents another problem. I live in an apartment, and I am very worried that if the violin was just left at the door, when I got home there'd be a huge empty space where the box was left!!

Also, someone broke into my family's apartment a few weeks ago, taking our TV, clothes, money ... and in a neighboring apartment there was a break-in just a few days ago.

If a company like Shar sends me violins, or a modern maker sends me a violin to try out to decide if I want to buy it, and it is stolen from my doorstep/apartment, what would I do since I don't own the violin?

Maybe I shouldn't worry because not many people steal violins, but as a lover of violins I am deathly paranoid at the idea!

But at the same time I really need to try a new violin since I've outgrown mine, and having ones sent to me seems the only way since I live in the middle of no where.

Replies (25)

February 16, 2008 at 06:49 PM ·

February 16, 2008 at 06:52 PM · Do you have a apt complex manager's office? I used to get my packages from the manager's office when I was in school living in apartments. If your area has a history of crime, I would not ask them to leave the package outside of the door. You can request them to keep it at FedEx for you if no one answers, then you or your parents can go to the FedEx place to pick up your packages.

In any case of lost, I do believe there is insurance covered. But you will need to file a police report. Hope this helps.

February 16, 2008 at 07:06 PM · I second PM...or do you have a trusted neighbor that would accept delivery? Could one of your parents accept delivery at their place of work?

February 16, 2008 at 07:26 PM · I'm not sure but I think it can be quite expensive to have fiddles sent to you, because you usually have to pay to have them returned. It could cost close to $500 to try a half dozen violins. I believe there is a shop in Las Vegas called the Violin Outlet which I think is only about 2 hours from you. Why don't you check them out first?

February 16, 2008 at 07:46 PM · Usually the shop pays the outgoing shipping and you pay the return. Also they will send two in a box. So no it isn't anywhere near $500 to try 6 fiddles!

February 16, 2008 at 08:04 PM · The store in LA that sells Gigla charges $17 to ship one, and that includes insurance. Shipping isn't that expensive unless you are trying out like 2 dozens of them.

February 16, 2008 at 08:07 PM · we recently ordered violins from three different shops all located in the northeast united states. we live in tennessee. we kept one violin but sent 8 violins back including the trade in. each shop required we return the violins by no less than 2 day delivery. it costs almost $250.00 to return the 8 violins to the 3 shops by fed ex and i used my office account which allows for some discount in shipping fed ex. we did not insure the returns by agreement with the violin shops because insuring a fed ex shipment is a real pain. i agree if you are returning just 2 violins, it shouldn"t approach over $100.00

February 17, 2008 at 04:18 AM · Sorry,my math might have been slightly off. I have paid $55 to $75 to ship violins and if next day delivery is required it will be more. It depends on the shop and the quality of violin being sent.

February 17, 2008 at 04:55 AM · The way I've found to be the most effective method for violin shopping (if you're really serious) is to find a shop within reasonable travel time (up to 4 hours) and then go there in person to try out some violins. I would spend up to two hours and play for 10 minutes on at least 8 different violins (play the same passages on each violin for direct comparison, and use your own bow), and write down the make and model of each violin as well as accompanying price. Rank them in order and request that they lend your top two choices for a week to really try out. Also ask them about shipping instructions and costs for sending them back to the shop. Spend the next week diligently playing on each violin - I'd break up a single practice session in half, playing one violin during each half. At the end of the week, if one violin suits you then go ahead and make the purchase and send the other back. If neither work, you still have a list of 6 others that you've already tried and ranked while at the shop. If the price range was already good, chances are you won't have to revisit the shop before you're able to pick a violin that you like.

I've found that your bow will help determine which violin to purchase, as every bow seems to prefer a different violin.

Hope this helps out!

Ben Chan

February 17, 2008 at 05:43 AM · Jake, if you don't have any neighbours who could receive the FedEx package while you are out, how about asking your teacher if you could have the violins shipped there? Well, just an idea.

February 17, 2008 at 12:14 PM · Ben Chan described the exact way I bought my violin. If you're looking for something that's so important to you, something you're going to be spending hours of time with every day, it really is worth it to make the trip to a shop where you can pick out your favorite contenders yourself. Plus violin shops are the best! I ended up making two trips, and then a third a year later when they re-bushed the pegs for me.

February 17, 2008 at 03:31 PM · I will advise to get to a shop within a couple of hours distance. You may not get the best price compared to an ''internet'' deal, but you will be confident in what you buy.

If it is a major purchase you could try it for a week. If it's close to 1000$, I would try all in the price range at a nice shop, ask the seller to play on each so you can hear what they sound like and choose the best.

The problem with hipping violin, will be the charges and you won't be able to compare the sound to others. So the choice won't necessarily be the one you would get.

I bought a 1200$ violin two weeks ago. Tried 8 violin for a couple of minute each, asked the girl (seller) to play a passage on each. I then ranked the three I prefered and asked to play again and the seller to play until I found the one I liked.

Or one of the best thing is to ask you teacher to come with you.

Another way to get a decent violin is to look in the ads or at a university music faculty, many change their violin for more advanced ones.

February 17, 2008 at 04:32 PM · I live in a small city in Idaho and there's no violin shops in my state that I have ever heard of, so driving hundreds of miles to go to another state is really out of the question since I do not have my driver's license yet, and my parents both work 7 days a week.

I know it'd be better to find a shop where I can try out a lot, but I've heard lots of great things about modern makers on this site, and don't most modern makers send out violins for trial?

(Speaking of which, can anyone link me to a thread or give me a list of the best makers/companies that will send violins out on trial? I really want a violin that just would be a marriage match for me, so that I wouldn't have to upgrade again)

I talked to my violin teacher and he agreed to let FedEx ship to him, and he'd offer his advice on the violins and help me choose, so now my only problem is my mother. She doesn't like the idea of having violins on trial at our home, because she thinks it's too much responsibility to have something so expensive in our apartment when we don't own it yet.

We don't have renter's insurance, so I guess she's afraid of someone stealing the violins, and then us having to pay the maker for it.

February 17, 2008 at 04:50 PM · @Claude

Asking the salesman to play the violin for you may not always be such a good idea because they can make a particular violin sound better than others in order to influence your buying decision in their favour. The best is to either play it yourself or if you are a complete beginner, bring somebody along who can play it for you.

Another thing to consider is that a violin will sound better in the presence of many other violins in the same room because they will resonate. You might find you can judge an instrument better when you play it in surroundings which are (acoustically) familiar to you.

February 17, 2008 at 04:54 PM · Hi,Jake, I googled Sugar City, since I had never heard of it. Bet you haven't heard of Hemlock,NY, either :) I have some creative ideas for you. 1) Convince a parent to take a field trip. You aren't SOOO far from Salt Lake City, for example. People around me, where there are shops, still sometimes go to NYC, Philadelphia or Cleveland (6-8hours'drive) to look. Start googling more-urban locales to find where there are violin shop or luthiers. Salt Lake has an orchestra, and there are outstanding music schools at Brigham Young in Provo and other Utah cities, so there MUST be some businesses. // Convince your folks you really need to go to music camp, and find one with lots of violin students/teachers. People sometimes bring instruments they want to sell, some have a luthier on hand, or the camp is in a city or on a campus where you would be closer to some shops. 3) If you want to go ahead with having violins shipped, would someone at your school accept delivery for you? Or if any business in town (I know it's small!) is a drop-off/pick-up point for any of the delivery services, they should be able to provide secure holding. Is there an airport, even a little private one? Sometimes charter pilots will carry stuff in or out for not a whole lot if they already have a commission. Last, is there anybody else in town who might also be instrument-shopping? Two to split the cost and bounce opinions off each other could be nice. Just plan ahead how you'll decide who wins if you both like the same fiddle. Luck! Sue

February 17, 2008 at 05:40 PM · @Jake

What kind of instrument to suggest is very much dependent on your budget. If you want to buy a violin made by a luthier in the US, you probably look at 5000 USD and upwards, possibly even twice and upwards. If you do have 5000 USD to spend, you may want to check out the thread titled "commissioning a violin" on this site, in which several people recommend a price winning luthier in the US who only charges 5000 USD for a custom made instrument. You'd have to wait a bit but it would probably be worth the wait.

If you are looking below 5000 USD, you will probably be looking at an instrument made in Eastern Europe, for example Bulgaria, Czech Rep., or Romania. Two examples of Eastern European makers/brands with a good reputation and resellers in the US are Sofia and Gliga. A web search for these should bring up addresses of various shops in the US, most of which should be willing to send you instruments for trial. Also, your teacher may have some suggestions.

One more thing ... I somehow got the impression you might be in a hurry to buy a new instrument. Are you? If so, I'd say, don't. You said you want to find the perfect match, so take your time. I spent two months of research and shopping around before I bought my violin and although it was tempting to buy sooner rather than later, I am now glad that I took my time.

February 17, 2008 at 07:32 PM · Basic questions:

1. How old is Jake?

2. How long has he been playing?

3. What is his level of play? (And I don't mean merely book xx of Suzuki. Some people progress faster than the book they are on and vice versa).

4. Is he fully supported in violin by his parents, or is this something he pays for himself?

5. If he lives in an apartment without renter's insurance, why not get renter's insurance?

6. Why not find out what the liability is for instruments on loan?

Mail order possibilities are not merely the big mail-order places such as Shar, SW Strings etc. Independent shops will also do mail trials.

6 months ago we went through a trial period and we had many instruments in the house at the same time--so that they could be tried against each other over a period of weeks. In fact the one chosen was in and out three times from a local shop, tried against ones from many places. It finally won out.

The other thing that was on trial was a new bow. That sorted itself out quite quickly but it isn't always that way--an it is just as important.

February 17, 2008 at 08:38 PM · It isn't that long til the Easter and summer holidays. Why not arrange a family vacation trip around your violin search? Choose a location that is not only good for the vacation but also for 3-4 violin shops and spend a bit of time trying out instruments, perhaps choosing 2 or 3 to take home for further more intense trials?

What does your teacher think about this? He/she should have personal contacts who can perhaps help to provide some violins to try out. Maybe your teacher travels to other cities which have violin shops and could pick out/bring back a handful for you to try.

February 18, 2008 at 05:22 PM · It's important to know what level you are on, and what kind of instrument you are looking for. A step-up instrument you are going to replace in just a few years isn't nearly as critical as one you are buying "for keeps."

If it's just a step-up instrument, the dealer's trade-in policy and upgrade path are nearly as important as the instrument itself. If you are buying a "keeper", then it's most important to get just the right instrument for yourself.

February 18, 2008 at 06:42 PM · Jake,

I see you're in eastern Idaho.

There's a music store in Twin Falls, I think (it might be in Pocatello) that I once visited which had a nice selection of student instruments, even though it's not a dedicated violin shop. When I'm on tour I like to go in to shops and play their instruments for fun and played a couple in the 1200 range that sounded pretty good.

They are one of those which has primarily orchestral instruments, pianos, and a pretty great sheet music section. If you can manage to make a day trip there and try out a few things that might be better than the mail order route.

February 18, 2008 at 06:44 PM · Oh, I just googled violin shops in idaho because I realised that a friend of mine's bandmate's father owns a violin shop in idaho, and here's what came up :

http://www.sitesviolinshop.com/ (Idaho Falls)

Dunkley music is in Boise, similar to the place I describe in my previous post.

Dean Violins in Burley, ID

Welch Music is the place I described in my earlier post, I think.

There are also some shops in Utah - I frequently visit Scoggins and Scoggins in Salt Lake, which has some nice instruments, and they are very nice people as well. All these places are not too far from you, I think.

Good Luck!

February 18, 2008 at 07:00 PM · I'd go to Salt Lake if I were you, Peter Prier & son's is one of the best shops you'll find! There are many others that you'll find there as well. I grew up in Pocatello. Granted, nothing is ever close, but Salt Lake was only a couple hours drive, at least from Pokey anyway.

February 18, 2008 at 07:37 PM · Another option for you might be to get a used instrument from a student at BYU Idaho. I think that's near you, and they have a fantastic orchestra program. As students move up they'll either be trading in their instruments or selling them, so it might be a good option for you.

I know Ted Ashton was there a while ago, and he would be a great person to talk too. If your heart is set on new they might be help you with that too.

Another option for shipping an instrument would be to have it sent to your teacher.

February 18, 2008 at 08:01 PM · Oh my gosh, the great Ben Chan posted on v.com!

February 18, 2008 at 09:51 PM · The purpose was to ear the violin from a distance. It doesn't necessarily sound the same when it's next to your ears. Also, the owner played the very same passage and scales.

Some owner might want to pass off more valuable instrument with less sound... but not all of them.

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