Old v. New- $1,500 v. $5,000

April 12, 2008 at 06:16 PM · Our 13 year old daughter has been playing the violin for eight years (since she was 5) and we have always rented from her teacher with the understanding that when she reached a full size we would invest in a violin. Her teacher is a committed and dedicated Suzuki instructor and our daughter is currently working in Book 7 of the Suzuki repertoire. The time has come for a full size and we went on a buying trip with our teacher last week (our teacher does not take a commission from sales). The violin that they both chose after looking at several in various price ranges was a $5,000 violin made by Andrew Hyde in the late 1800's. The violin shop is a small independent shop owned and managed by a very well respected man in whom our teacher has utmost faith and with whom she has done business for thirty years.

My question is this- We could buy a new Potter violin for about half the price but would have to do all trials etc via mail since we live in a rural area.

My husband feels a $5000 investment in an instrument for someone who still has to be reminded to practice every day is completely excessive and I have to say I can understand his point of view. However, he is unconvinced that even a $2500 investment is necessary.

My question is: 1) Could we truly sell (not trade in or up but sell) this violin for what we paid sometime in the next eight to ten years? Obviously, this is assuming the violin stays in the condition in which we purchased it, and 2) does a violinist of slightly above average skill and talent necessarily need or deserve a violin in this price range?

In looking on-line I was struck by a comment of Isaac Stern's who allegedly said that unless you are willing to pay $100,000 or more for an violin you may as well buy a new one...

Replies (46)

April 12, 2008 at 06:43 PM · When I offer to shop with students & parents, I clue them in to the choices, the relative cost of same, and ask them to let me know a price range after some discussion at home w/o me. Your teacher sounds wonderful, but possibly she needs to step up to this plate differently? If you didn't have such a long acquaintance & confidence in her, I could see you or your husband feeling "taken for a ride." I don't think that most 13-year-olds need a $5000 antique violin, and there is the care needed to keep it nice, have it checked regularly, etc.,to consider with a kid,too. There are very nice older violins available in the range of $2000-3000. I know 'cause I have a couple. And there are great-sounding, mostly Chinese, violins, and for a lot less than $1500. My local shop has a line they call "Tartini", which start at $495 and go to around $1000. 100% exchange forever. They do a brisk by-mail business. I am not an employee and I don't take a kickback. You can call them at 585-442-9272. Though in Illinois, even though you say you are located rurally, it can't be that many hours to where you can see more of a range of violins. Maybe an overnight to someplace with several shops in reasonable proximity? Sue

April 12, 2008 at 08:10 PM · If you or your daughter cannot tell the improvement then perhaps a less expensive would be the ticket.

We just spent $7500 for a new full size for our 13 year old. There was indeed sticker shock, but she and we could tell a HUGE difference in quality. She likes it a lot but still needs to be told to practice.

She also needs to be told to make her bed and pick up her room!

You might try comparing (listening to) the $5000 one in a large room if you can get less expensive fiddles try out simutaneously.

April 12, 2008 at 08:09 PM · I think the violin you purchase depends partly on your daughter's goals in the near future. If she is planning to audition for the top level city youth orchestra, or to enter concerto competitions, or to form a chamber quartet, or join a chamber orchestra, then it might make sense to purchase a more expensive violin. These are all situations where a better quality violin would be advantageous. If she is thinking of playing violin in college, but doesn't have any immediate plans for activities that would demand a bigger, a more sophisticated sound, then maybe you could wait a few years before purchasing a finer instrument.

The other thing to consider is your daughter's level of technical skill. At some point, students have the ability to pull more out of an instrument than their student violin is capable of delivering. For an advancing or advanced student to continue to grow technically, it is really important for them to have an instrument that can respond to what they are attempting to do sound-wise. I'm talking about the ability to bring across subtle dynamics, and a variety of textures, as well as sheer power. Big double stop sections in works are tough to play well if the instrument is not well balanced across the strings, and works involving high positions can be difficult to play on a violin that has uneven sound in the different positions. Your daughter's teacher can tell you if your daughter needs "more violin" for technical reasons.

Keep in mind that a nice bow can make as much of a difference in sound and ease of playing as the violin. The rule of thumb is that the bow should be around 1/3 the price of the violin. This is probably a shock, but believe me, a good bow can make all the difference. A good strategy, and one we followed, was to invest first in a good full-sized bow. We then spent about two years looking for the perfect full-sized violin.

As far as resale value of a $5,000 instrument. I am not sure. Some of the older instruments in this price range are quite popular with teachers and parents of advancing students. I'm not sure about the one your child's teacher has picked out, however. I was told by a luthier friend who was not trying to sell me anything, that the instruments in the $15,000 - $17,000 or so have a much greater resale value than the instruments in the $40,000 - $75,000 range because there are so many more players (conservatory students and young professionals) who are looking for instruments in this range. I have several friends who purchased new instruments for their high school aged kids in the $5,000 - $7,000 range. These were kids who anticipated going on to study violin in college, but not conservatory. So, you would probably be safe as far as resale goes. Shops will usually allow you to trade-up to more expensive instruments, paying the difference. If you purchase a less expensive instrument, you can trade up later.

My advice is to take your time in finding the right instrument. Visit several shops. Call some of the bigger shops and have them send you some to try. The price of an instrument is not necessarily proportional to the quality of sound it will produce. I think this is especially true in the $7,000 and under range. Also, older is not usually better in this price range.

April 12, 2008 at 09:03 PM · It's ironic that the "old" violin you are considering is an Andrew Hyde.

When he was making new instruments, this is what he had to say about the old ones. I wonder if he would feel differently now that his are old?

"Besides all this, the cost of a good new violin is not unreasonable in comparison with that of many a dirty looking dilapidated old tub that for sanitary reasons, if no other should have been buried years ago. How disgusting to see a beautiful and fastidious lady violinist hugging to her breast one of these filthy relics of a past age. It is horrible to think where it has been the past two centuries. Who has used it, and where? Who can tell its story? Held under the chin, breathed into, saturated with the sweat, filth and odor of cripples and tramps, street and gutter musicians that have perhaps used it for centuries. Played in dens, dives and brothels. A receptacle for foul and malignant diseases, rotting with accumulated grime and poisonous moisture, a hideous thing indeed to contemplate."

April 12, 2008 at 09:21 PM · Yuck. David's quote makes me want the glass violin that was linked to an old post - may not sound so hot but can easily be sterilized.

April 13, 2008 at 03:56 AM · The only way to tell how a different (in this case lower priced) instrument compares to that Andrew Hyde instrument is to actually compare them. As it would seem that both your child's teacher and the shop keeper are honest people who can be trusted, you could have another instrument shipped to you (there's usually a trial period before you have to commit to the sale) and then compare the instruments directly to each other.

While I think it is perfectly normal that a 13 year old child has to be reminded to practise, I understand that your husband is concerned about the cost of the instrument when considering that there is always a possibility that your daughter may lose interest at some point in the future. So, why don't you ask the shop keeper about the resale value of the instrument in the event that your daughter gives up playing? Some shops give buy back guarantees at a predetermined value, for example 70 or 80 percent of the purchase price. From what you describe, this shop appears to be respectable and honest, so they may be willing to provide such a written guarantee to you.

As for getting your daughter to appreciate the value of an expensive instrument ... you may want to discuss this with her. You might find that even at only 13 she will probably understand that this is a concern to you and that buying an instrument for several thousand dollars means she will have to make a serious long term commitment to make use of it. As for your husband, tell him that this isn't only about playing the violin, but that entrusting your daughter with such a responsibility will be a very good exercise and learning experience towards growing up to become a responsible adult. In other words, even if she will eventually give up playing, the experience of great responsibility alone may still have made the expense worthwhile.

Of course, if you can find a lower priced instrument that is of sufficient quality for her to progress, I can see no reason why you shouldn't try to save money and spend less. Anyway, good luck.

April 13, 2008 at 04:46 AM · I would definitely try new violins in that price range before buying an old one.

It's quite possible that you could find a less expensive new violin that will sound and play as well as the old one.

In addition to Potters, based on my personal experience, I would look hard at the high-end Scott Cao violins as well as the Jay Haide violins.

April 13, 2008 at 10:48 AM · Why don't you try Luis and Clark?It's 4900$,easy to play,easy to maintain,very durable.One big problem is the resale value.

April 13, 2008 at 02:55 PM · Yes, you're best going for a nice Chinese violin in that price range. Personally, if this is long term, I'd just fork down the extra money to get a 7,000$ Shan Jiang violin. More expensive than Jay Haide and the factory violins, but the tone is much better.

Personally, I think that's a hard price range to choose from. There are some nice violins under 10,000$, but there is still a huge difference in tone from then on.

April 13, 2008 at 03:41 PM · I saw a Luis & Clark violin sor sale used. It was sold at $3500, came back after a few weeks, was sold again at the 3500 price, and has apparently proved satisfactory to the new owner.

FWIW, that's the only used example I've seen in the market.

April 13, 2008 at 08:22 PM · Having gone through instrument acquisition a number of times these past 4 years, I can make a few suggestions.

1. Put "price," and "characteristics" in two separate columns.

2. Set a maximum budget. You have to do this. We all have limited resources.

3. Try out a lot of violins, and preferably for long (week or so) periods and try them against each other. The cost of shipping is part of your budget. Expect to spend between $100 and $200 shipping stuff back. It takes a lot to spend $200.

4. You cannot know the quality or characteristics from internet suggestions. "Buy a Luis and Clark" or "Buy a Sheng Jiang" is just blowing smoke. You have to try them out to know.

5. I cannot stress the try out aspect enough. It is the *only* way to learn what is required!

6. Don't forget the bow. You have to put a new bow into the budget too, and it is just as important and you should go through even more bows than fiddles. We tried 14 bows and 8 violins this last time around.

7.Resale and trade-in.

This violin is temporary. All of them are until you become Joshua Bell.

Full-size isn't "final size." If she's advancing, she'll revisit this process again. Good local shops tend to have very good trade in policies. Some of the mail order ones are more restrictive and will only trade-in their own stuff.

April 13, 2008 at 09:11 PM · Mr. Prattle's advice is excellent. This is precisely what we did for each of our two violinist sons once they reached full-sized.

April 14, 2008 at 12:55 AM · WOW! My husband and I are very impressed by all the insightful and helpful responses to my inquiry. I am extremely amused by the Andrew Hyde quote and almost feel like we should buy the violin out of respect for such a fantastic invective against antique violins!

I do believe some of our concerns would certainly be allayed by further shopping and comparisons. Given that we live several hours from any major metropolitan area, the advice about shops which will ship was very helpful. Also, we are traveling to Boston, MA in two weeks to visit our other daughter and have one day with nothing planned. I am certain there are violin shops or luthiers in Boston but how does one go about finding a reputable one?

April 14, 2008 at 02:52 AM · Some shops will guarantee trade in value of an instrument or bow towards a more expensive instrument. I did this at Ifshin Violins. I started with a less expensive instrument and traded up as I got better and more certain that I would stay with it and would benefit from a better instrument. The only catch was that you had to trade up each time, and in Cal. had to pay the full tax on the new instrument. I thought it was well worth it.

If you do this, look for a shop with a large inventory, since you want a large selection of trade-up instruments when the time comes.

If you don't have a full price trade up guarantee, you could be in for a long wait to sell your old instrument.

April 14, 2008 at 04:08 AM · Greetings,

I have found may good modern instruments in Japan for between three and four thusand dolars. In America one shoudl be able to get soemthign a litlte cheaper of comparable quality.By good I mean good enough to get a thirteen yera old ready for and into a conservatoire. At that stage one might be considering a much larger investemnnt.

Cheers,

Buri

April 14, 2008 at 04:35 AM · Most of the shops will ship instruments to you to try out.

In Boston, I would definitely look at Reuning and Sons. Try out as many violins in person as possible. Reuning and Sons will also ship. They are very good at asking the right questions over the phone and selecting appropriate instruments for you to try.

Robertson and Sons in Albuquerque, New Mexico will also ship and is a big shop.

Bein and Fushi in Chicago is worth contacting.

April 14, 2008 at 05:17 AM · Ditto that Bilbo's advice is really excellent. But I still can add a few things that haven't been covered.

I respectfully suggest a change in mind set: you are not investing in an instrument, you are investing in your daughter. I can think of nothing more important to invest in! Maybe you will get your money back, maybe not, but if you can afford the instrument, should that be the primary consideration?

Your daughter may not be the next Hilary Hahn, but it is important that she not be held back in what she can do by an inadequate instrument (see final paragraph below). At this point you don't know her ultimate ability or involvement in music. But the potential contribution to her life of a romance with the violin is so great, is it not worth the chance of the investment to give her every opportunity to continue?

I looked on the map to see where you live. Hop on Amtrak with your daughter in Quincy (or jump in the car) and spend a day in Chicago. Visit several shops (see below) and have her play instruments, which will help her to get a sense of how her sound differs with different violins. Phone and talk with the shops in advance to explain what you would like, so they will be expecting you and know what to show you. Bein and Fuschi has been recommended; I can also suggest James Warren, and Gregory Sapp (who does repairs for him, and also has his own shop). I've dealt with all of them, and can recommend, especially Warren. All are in walking distance of Union Station in Chicago. Others on this site may have additional recommendations. You'll both enjoy the expedition together, I'm sure. If her teacher can go along, so much the better.

Finally: your quote from Isaac Stern in conjunction with your request jogged my memory. A true story: when I was young, a little less than your daughter's age (and quite untalented with bad practice habits) I had a really crummy instrument. A famous violinist came to our house, and naturally I played for him (I shudder to think of what I must have sounded like). After I finished, he turned to my parents and said, more in sorrow than in anger: "The violin is hard enough to learn, get the boy a decent instrument." The violinist's name: Isaac Stern.

Good luck.

April 14, 2008 at 05:25 AM · I didn't tell her to "buy a Luis and Clark" like Bilbo said,I just tell her to "try a Luis and Clark".

And hey,if you are going to Boston,then you should definitely try a Luis and Clark(their company is in Boston).

April 14, 2008 at 06:27 PM · You have received many good suggestions here. I agree that you shouldn’t necessarily view this as the “final” instrument for your daughter. There are many good options for a first full size violin. Like you, we don’t live near any violin shops and were leery of some of the shops in Atlanta after hearing bad reviews on them. We did manage to visit several shops in Virginia and North Carolina. In the end we purchased an Eastman. It was inexpensive, a little over a $1,000, and served very well as my older daughter’s first full size. Looking back I wish we had gotten a much better bow (first bow was about $240). After a year and a half, her younger sister was ready for a full size and my older daughter was ready for a more advanced instrument. We purchased the next full size violin and bow from Potters and have been very pleased. We had planned on paying substantially more for the violin, but initially were shocked at the price of a good bow. The salesman gave us the Bow Lecture and I am glad we listened. A really good bow makes a big difference.

We also upgraded bows for my younger daughter and it made a huge difference in how the violin sounds. At 13 and Book 7, your daughter is on the cusp of developing as a musician. Have the salespeople demonstrate more advanced bowing techniques for your daughter. It will also help your daughter hear from a distance what the violin sounds like as opposed to under her ear. Just keep in mind that the salespeople are generally professional level musicians and can make just about any instrument sound good.

We purchased our fractionals from Potters, but the Eastman from a different shop and therefore we ended up with an extra violin when we bought the last violin from Potters. Potters was willing to sell the extra violin on consignment for us and only charged a nominal fee. Definitely worth it.

You should definitely visit Reuning & Son/Carriage House. I’d advise that you call ahead and make an appointment. That was they will be ready for your visit and probably already have pulled a selection of instruments and bows for you to try out. We know many satisfied customers of theirs. You can definitely trade in the instrument, don’t know about strict resale.

Smaller shops like the one that you visited with your teacher can be great resources, especially for adjustments and bow rehairs. We purchased the Eastman from a small shop. The downside is that they don’t have the inventory necessarily to give you a lot of options.

Good luck with your trip to Boston. As a final note, be prepared to be there for several hours and don’t go hungry or thirsty. Maybe even plan for a lunch break.

April 14, 2008 at 08:17 PM · I'm with your husband a $5,000 violin for a 13 year old seems excessive... I'm sure your 13 year old can make do with a nice new $2,500 violin. My violin teacher is a professional violinist and he plays a $4,200 violin.

Also of course it depends on your income levels, to me $5,000 is A LOT of money, to others it really isn't so a $5,000 violin for your 13 year old daughter wouldn't strain your finances. For our family it really would. That all has to be taken into account.

April 14, 2008 at 09:01 PM · According the the Henle "Dictionary of Violins...(etc.)" Andrew Hyde did a wonderful job of violin making. The only caveate I might add is that I have heard that there is some self-interest in some of the descriptions in that large book - but he was long dead when my edition of the book was published. He made some 1200 or more instruments during his lifetime.

In the only auction with an Andrew Hyde violin (that I could find listed) the instrument remained unsold.

While it is true that some wonderful violins are being made now (probably more than ever before - with the profusion of violin-making schools and graduates -- and the "third-world" entries to the Western market, you really have know what you are doing when you buy one.

I recently played some chamber music with a man who had a relatvely new Chinese violin that he had bought in China. I rally thought it was a $250,000+ ancient instrument both when I heard him play it and when i tried it myself (and I have played some Strad and Guarneri violins). It had cost him around $1,500.

I would try to compare the Hyde with newer instruments at the same and lower prices - and buy what plays and sounds best. The Hyde will not likely get better, new fiddles probably will.

The breakpoint I think I have found on "named" violins was around $35,000. Below that I found lots of $20,000 violins I would not want to have to live with.

BUT - the good thing is that among newer professionally (luthier)-made violins, you can find real gems between $10K and $20K, and among the workshop and factory instruments there are some real standouts - in which everything went together right - and these may show up anywhere from $1,000 to $5,000 - but buying them remotely you never get a good chance to compare a bunch like you should.

My estimate from trialss (and I've heard this elsewhere too, is that about 10% of the "factory fiddles" are really good, 10% are really bad, and the remainder are worth about what they cost. So when someone talks about $1000 violins or $2500 violins or $5000 violins, they are talking about the average instrument, not the standouts.

Andy

April 14, 2008 at 09:08 PM · There are many great shops in the Chicago area. Seman violins is a very nice shop and seems to have a large collection of instruments. Bein and Fushi has great instruments too, but I don't think they carry anything in the $5000 price range (I may be wrong).

April 15, 2008 at 05:17 AM · Regarding the price range question... back in 1970-something when I was in Book 3 or so, my parents bought me a $500 viola (about the equivelent to $2-3K today).

That viola served me well until I finally reached book 5-6 (a few years ago). At that point my teacher and I both agreed that I was "out-playing" my instrument.

I now have a viola that is around the same price range that your daughter is looking at. I can tell the difference - big time! Everytime I take my old viola with me on business trips to China, I cringe to the point where I took off the chin rest to get a better sound.

Granted, I'm an adult and made the financial decision to upgrade based on my own personal situation and commitment to music. I wish I had done it sooner though.

April 15, 2008 at 10:26 AM · I agree with the suggestions of many people on this thread.

1. You should definitely compare, by playing, some other instruments with the $5000 violin in question. Try a few $5000 and a few less expensive ones. This may mean driving to or visiting a big city or selecting some violins to order on a trial basis.

2. Inexperienced people may not realize the importance of a good bow. A good bow can convert a fairly good violin into a very good violin. There is a 3 way interaction among violin, bow, and player. A bow which works really well for one person may not work so well with another person.

3. Thank you for reminding me to be grateful for living near a big city with several good violin stores nearby.

April 24, 2008 at 11:36 PM · Hi Lynn, here a option for you.

I have a old violin from George Apparut

1927 copy of Stradivarius in my possesion that

I want to sell.Because it is revarnish, the value is lower than a original one who can cost

a lots of money. It is in a perfect condition,and it as been see by two Luthier.

The cost is only $2000.00 Canadien+shipping.

I already spend $450.00 to change the sound post,string,fingerboard,and the talepiece.

If you are interesting, it is on my site.

At that price, it is a gift.

www.geocities.com/chateauguay04.

Since the site is a free site, it is possible you cannot see the page for 1 hour because I have a data limit on it. Excuse for the mispelling, I am a french person.

Thanks

April 25, 2008 at 01:56 PM · We too, have recently purchaced a full sized violin for our 12 year old daughter. We decided that with the time frame that we had (we needed a good full-sized right away because the VSO she had was very bad) and with our budget at the time, we settled for a very nice 1920's instrument...sorry I can't remember the name; my daughter calls him Laddy. She has done really well on this violin and truly loves the instrument, dispite her parents lack of funds. :)

We did this fully knowing that in the near future (2-3 years) we would be purchasing a much better higher end violin. This also buys us time.

I have heard a couple of your teachers student's violins at youth symphony rehearsal and I was impressed with the quality of sound that each one had. I would also ask other parents in the studio information about their instruments too.

Also, don't feel bad if you have to rent a full-size violin while you look or try out other violins... Both you and she will know when the right instrument comes along. It just takes time; which in itself can be really frustrating.

Good luck to you and your daughter

Jodi

April 25, 2008 at 10:08 PM · I'd say try it out...both of them.

Keep in mind that she will grow and is likely to grow out of violins.

In the beginning of college I had a wonderful violin, worth about $1600, was a Langdi Shang (sp?). It sounded great, but after a couple years, I realized I needed more. Now I have an antique French violin that was worth 2500 euros.

You can always trade in and upgrade at shops. There are perfectly good violins at the $1500 price range and then I've seen 5,000 euro vioilns that were utter pieces of junk.

Good luck and try not to stress out about it. It's best to see which one works the best for her.

April 26, 2008 at 08:50 PM · we have a 12 year old for whom we recently purchased her first full size violin. she has been playing violin for 9 years and she must also be told to clean her room , practice etc. when she finally does practice she takes the practice seriously.we live in a relatively large city but there are no shops carrying a large number of violins. we had 3 reputable shops in larger cities send us a total of 9 violins to review. we would have requested more if we did not like the first shipment. we also set a price range for the violin at around $7000.00 . we di purchaser a bow at less than the rule of thumb cost. we wanted a violin that would carry our daughter thru high school and possibly the rest of her life depending on her aspirations. good violins will only become more expensive. though we dealt with each violin shop before, my daughter who apparently has a good ear did not like most of the violins recieved nor did her teachers and other persons consulted.

we did however get very lucky and ended up purchasing a violin made in 1927 in erfurt , germany by a known but by no means a prolific maker. we were lucky because first my daughter fell in love with the violin after listening to it after playing it for 5 minutes. second is that 2 former professional violinists and teachers separately and apart loved the violin in my daughters hand . they each independently of the other said the violin was a superior instrument for the money once they learned of the price. even more importantly is that 2 high schools seniors who each recently purchased violins in the 10,000.00 to $15,000.00 both stated independently of each other after playing the the violin that it was superior to their respective violins because it did not do very specific things that their more expensive violins did do .

accordingly i believe that if you can not go to several shops in a large city to try numerous violins with someone who understands what to look for then its worth the fed ex return charges to recieve numerous violins from various shops

April 28, 2008 at 12:21 AM · Interesting Topic. As an amateur violinist and parent of a talented teenage violinist, let me distill this discussion for you.Of interest, untill recently I played on a $100 violin I purchase at age 13. It served me well, got through being concertmaster at an Ivy League University.My parents could barely afford that. At age 21 I purchased a Hoyer bow with my own savings that cost me $300. My parents were appalled and thought i was being taken. That bow today is worth well over $3000 and my daughter uses it.When It came time for my talented daughter to upgrade her violin at age 11-12 we did audition many violins, primarily at Reuning in Boston. They were very helpful. Surprisingly , she chose a modern maker whose instruments are now selling for more money.

Bottom line1 Decide what you can afford.Assess whether a new instrument will enhance your daughter's playing.The bow is also important.Crummy instruments will rapidly lose value, good one will retain or increase. Good luck

April 28, 2008 at 01:07 PM · First "real" violins are a real challenge. I feel very lucky that older violins were more modestly priced when my parents and I selected my first violin, a ~100-year old American-made violin that had seen some hard time as a fiddle (and bore the scars to prove it) before being rescued by a local luthier. That unlabeled violin was price-competitive with intermediate-grade Shar-type workshop violins and served me well from high school through college and into some professional playing. Because it's not a mass-produced instrument, it has continued to increase in value over the years. I haven't seen comparable new violins of that time do as well, by a long shot.

Things have changed quite a bit in the new instrument world, and some new instruments are very competitive with the 1920s German and Eastern European violins that used to be a staple of the "first violin" circuit. However, I wouldn't expect much of anything in this class to be an investment-grade instrument, even if it plays well.

I would say that the bottom line needs to be how the violin sounds in the hands of your daughter--and how she feels about it. I really fell in love with my first violin, and that helped inspire me to become more focused in my practicing. The better sound also helped me feel good about the progress that I was making. I think it's telling that, years later, I still reach back for that violin a reasonable amount of time, even though I've had a much better 1920s Italian violin for the past 17 years and have tried out a number of "second violins" for outdoor gigs and the like.

April 28, 2008 at 06:08 PM · Writing as a parent I relate to your shock. As others mention some new violins are less expensive and the age of the violin can add price due to it's status as a collectible. I don't think you should see it based upon resale at this price range but I could be wrong. That being said, if your daughter tries a lot of instruments as others wisely suggest, and comes back to it, then I would buy it for her. She has to play it. If she is serious about her playing and thinking of going on to study in college or conservatory, then she should like it. A quality instrument is like buying another car. That is the only way I can reconcile spending the money. Instead of buying her a used car when she turns sixteen, you could buy a decent instrument and you don't need to pay $4.00 per gallon... except to drive her someplace to play it. Good luck.

April 29, 2008 at 09:53 AM · Well,you can not ride a violin.

April 29, 2008 at 11:19 AM · I recently went through the process of going from a rental to buying a full size violin for my 14 year old son.

Buy what you can afford and this means including the cost of a new case and good bow.

Also when owning a violin, include the cost of new strings, rehairs, new bridge, etc (maintanance) that will occur over time.

I took a different view in buying.

1. I want my son to be exposed to music as a player.

2. I want a violin that is setup properly. Pegs are easy to turn, etc. vs a low cost rental. Violin is relatively easier to play if properly set up.

3. A better chinrest vs what normally comes on a rental. A chinrest can also make a difference in comfort.

4. Stay away from high tension strings. Some new violins have very high tension strings (Zyex) that my son disliked. Fingers hurt.

5. Definitly look for a better bow.

6. Sound is important, so try as many as possible, but set a budget and stick with it.

7. Most of the people here are players, not parents, and definitly not 13 year olds that need to be reminded to practice.

8. I looked at my son's motivation. Is he highly motivated to play? Does he want to get better, etc. This as a parent I cannot instil, no matter how much I push, so I stand back an just try to encourage him.

Based on this I ended up buying a new violin in the $1600 range and a $350 bow, new case, etc. If my son truly wants to play, puts in the time, wants to study music at college, then I would consider a more expensive violin in the future. I basically went for a reasonable priced new violin. In my view, a great sounding violin is important, but more important to what makes a great sound is the violinist.

April 29, 2008 at 12:48 PM · This is a multi faceted question. If your child is putting in some effort, you want to get her an instrument that is good enough that it won't impede her progress, and possibly even motivate her. For someone having played that long, I'd think your starting point would be 2-3000, and on up if you didn't find what you wanted in that range. The Hyde you mention sounds like a very reasonable choice. You can expect that whatever you buy will be difficult, in the short run, to sell for 100% of your cost. An older, higher quality violin should retain it's value better and be better to trade in down the line. If you buy the $2,500 now, and find it doesn't work out, and trade it for a $5k violin in a year, you'll be further behind than just springing for it now. That said, outside of the violin world, $5k is alot of money, and you have to decide what you're comfortable with.

April 29, 2008 at 05:46 PM · One does need to decide how much money to spend.

I played a short recital with a talented young lady the other day who had a violin purchased for her last year by her parents. It cost $2000 and sounded like it had a mute on it. Her bow cost, I think either $350 or $650 - most likely the lesser.

I was very distracted by the thought of how she might sound if she had a worthy instrument and bow. She worked very, very hard to play that violin and performed admirably.

Sometimes a parent needs to bite the bullet and go the extra mile.

April 29, 2008 at 06:32 PM · It is important to try a number of violins, or you might just end up with a $2000 violin that sounds permantly muted. We actually came across some new violins that did sound muted. We tried a number of violins from aprox $1000 to over $2,500 and also had help from my son's violin teacher in choosing the violin. We finally picked the violin that my son said just felt right. How your daughter feels about a specific violin is probably just as or more important than budget. If she doesn't like it, no matter the cost, it will be a dud.

We also auditioned I think every Coda bow from the Aspire to the new diamond models, plus a few others.

So many violins and so little time.

April 29, 2008 at 09:38 PM · From Bruce Patterson;

"I played a short recital with a talented young lady the other day who had a violin purchased for her last year by her parents. It cost $2000 and sounded like it had a mute on it."

--------------------

The odd thing is that she may have chosen this violin over many others which a professional player would consider better. Dark, muted violins tend to be more forgiving of technical playing flaws.

When selecting an instrument to "go the distance", that's why professional or teacher input is so important. Keep in mind that such a person MAY be getting a payment based on their selection, so try to factor that in.

April 29, 2008 at 11:56 PM · On the other hand, my own daughter recently chose the most expensive instrument we had for her to try without her knowing the price! We thought it might be good to have a 'benchmark' fiddle for her to compare to the other less expensive but very respectable ones we had obtained on trial.

Her teacher tried all the fiddles after my (our!) daughter had selected her favorite and complimented her on her good taste... said that there are no bad notes on this violin.

We spent more than planned but are happy to have a good instrument that was being sold on consignment by the maker for it's original (year 2000) purchase price (for quick sale).

The bow took a while to find and ended up being slightly higher than intended as well....

April 30, 2008 at 02:32 AM · @ Bruce

"It cost $2000 and sounded like it had a mute on it"

"Sometimes a parent needs to bite the bullet and go the extra mile."

This account makes it sound as if every instrument up to 2000 USD has this muted sound you described.

But just because you found one odd example of a bad 2000 USD instrument doesn't mean that everything else in the same price range is also bad. In fact you should be able to find instruments at less than 2000 USD which sound better than the one you described.

April 30, 2008 at 06:08 PM · I didn't mean to make it sound that way, but I suppose I did - my apologies. I do believe that they could have found a better fiddle for their money... and I couldn't help but speculate what this girl could sound like on a really good instrument.

When we were trying a slew of violins for my daughter, her teacher preferred one particular instrument selling for $2800 over a few others in the $5,000 to $6,000 range. The difference between that $2800 fiddle and the one we ended up choosing, when heard from 80 feet away in a large room, is enormous.

I wouldn't typically expect to find a truly professional quality instrument for 2 grand, but would love to be pleasantly surprised.

April 30, 2008 at 06:58 PM · going back to the original post, I would not look at this as a $5000 investment in an instrument. I, as a parent, looked at my situation as an investment in my child. but as a parent, it is so easy to fall into the thinking that if I spend more, then it must be good for my child. I would think of the situation as buying an instrument that will help, not hinder my child's music though the end of High School.

Since I am more intent on investing in my son, resell value was not an issue.

"needs to be reminded to practice"

I see this in my son, and have seen in many other kids. there is a chance that this will change, we all hope for that day, but then again it might not.

"does a violinist of slightly above average skill and talent necessarily need or deserve a violin in this price range?"

I am in a similar situation. What I did was look at good enough or sligtly better violin to carry my son through the next 4 to 5 years. I looked for a violin that would help, but not hinder my son's music education. If my son decided to and became a very good violinist and wanted to audition/compete, then I would consider a much more expensive (>> $1600) violin.

At this point, it would be I "need" to get a full size violin, bow, case, shoulder rest, etc. I would look for a happy fit between my budget, which violin and bow my child likes, and the violin teachers recommendation on sound, etc. I didn't look at what my son deserved, but how could I invest in my son's music education.

I would rather save the money on a violin at this stage and spend it on lessons and other related expenses.

also, accidents do happen. Can I afford to replace/repair what I purchased? In High School, I dropped a trumpet out of a case (in a hurry and forgot to latch the case), another trumpet player borrowed my trumpet (without my permission) and scratched it badly, and a few other mishaps occured.

April 30, 2008 at 07:33 PM · "My question is: 1) Could we truly sell (not trade in or up but sell) this violin for what we paid sometime in the next eight to ten years? Obviously, this is assuming the violin stays in the condition in which we purchased it"

I just purchased a new violin for myself, and having done a lot of buying and selling of other instruments, was struck as to how much violin purchasing has not been modernized. As several people advised, there was a huge difference between different instruments, and the only way to know was to try a bunch in person. The result is the main way of selling a violin is on commission to a violin dealer, and you're dependent on someone else liking the current sound of the violin.

For example, I tried several used violins, and I didn't particular care what they cost originally, only what they sounded like now, and none of them made the cut. There's been a huge increase in quality in the under $3K range from China, and it doesn't matter if you paid $5K some years ago and the violin is still in great condition if the current models sound better. So, you could purchase a new instrument today, and it would lose half or more of its value in a few years. Or not. Its impossible to say, and if you're trying to make the $5,000 seem like an "investment" its risky at best.

"2) does a violinist of slightly above average skill and talent necessarily need or deserve a violin in this price range?"

I can't pretend to be a violinist, but in my experience skill has much more to do with the sound than the instrument, providing you start with a proper set up and adjustment for the individual. For example, the woman who helped me pick out a violin at the store was very, very talented, and made most of the violins sound great.

In the end the $2,400 Jay Haide à l'ancienne I purchased completely exceeds my expectations. It sounds fabulous when she plays it, and I love the tone it has when I play it. Maybe I don't have an ear for this type of thing, but I preferred its sound over most of the more expensive models.

April 30, 2008 at 07:55 PM · Yes, skill is far, far more important than price. If you can play marvelously, you can bring tears to people's eyes even with a 1,000$ Chinese instrument.

So don't put too much focus into price.

May 3, 2008 at 11:12 PM · Along the same lines, my parents bought me a $1500 violin when I was 12 and I have been using it for ~8 years now. We were going to upgrade it when I was 15, but when I tried out several other ones even the very pricey ones (upwards of 10,000) didn't sound as good.

Sometimes a less expensive violin sounds amazing - if you are lucky and happen to stumble across one.

As others have been suggesting, compare and try many different types of violins. Although, seeing that you have narrowed two down, ask if you can take them home for a week (a violin shop near me lets people do that) to test them out.

May 14, 2008 at 10:44 PM ·

May 15, 2008 at 01:20 AM · good advice here.

invest in your daughter.

a good instrument and bow will bring out the best in her, and not just musically. the "spin off" is very great.

besides, what is say $5g when you consider all the years of lessons, commutes, sweat, tears, and time?

if you do something, do it right, all the way.

of course, be discerning. everyone wants a good value for the money spent on a violin.

good luck.

This discussion has been archived and is no longer accepting responses.

Facebook Twitter YouTube Instagram Email

Violinist.com is made possible by...

Shar Music
Shar Music

Yamaha Silent Violin
Yamaha Silent Violin

Pirastro Strings
Pirastro Strings

Find a Summer Music Program
Find a Summer Music Program

Dimitri Musafia, Master Maker of Violin and Viola Cases
Dimitri Musafia, Master Maker of Violin and Viola Cases

Violinist.com Business Directory
Violinist.com Business Directory

Violinist.com Guide to Online Learning
Violinist.com Guide to Online Learning

Dominant Pro Strings

Antonio Strad Violin

Bay Fine Strings Violin Shop

Bobelock Cases

Fiddlerman.com

Fiddlershop

Los Angeles Violin Shop

Nazareth Gevorkian Violins

Violin-Strings.com

Metzler Violin Shop

Leatherwood Bespoke Rosin

Warchal

Barenreiter

Johnson String Instrument and Carriage House Violins

Potter Violins

String Masters

Bein & Company

Annapolis Bows & Violins

Laurie's Books

Discover the best of Violinist.com in these collections of editor Laurie Niles' exclusive interviews.

Violinist.com Interviews Volume 1
Violinist.com Interviews Volume 1, with introduction by Hilary Hahn

Violinist.com Interviews Volume 2
Violinist.com Interviews Volume 2, with introduction by Rachel Barton Pine

Subscribe