Please Help Me

September 29, 2008 at 04:42 PM · I want to purchase a 1/4 size violin for my niece, but I don't want to spend a lot of money. The most I would want to spend is $300. I am in the New York City area and so far I've either found dealers who are out of my price range or ones who have their own monetary intentions. I've been browsing, and since I've had a good relatioship with the company in the past I've been considering a few of the instruments they have, specifically Molinari N301-1 Romanian - High Quality 1/4 Size Student Violin Outfit (nitro finish) and the Molinari 301-3 Romanian - High Quality 3/4 Size Student Violin Outfit (oil finish). The latter is out of my price range but I'm willing to buy it if a few people here tell me it is a good buy. Oh, I need it asap.

Replies (23)

September 29, 2008 at 05:00 PM · My advice is never buy a violin for a student until they have reached a 4/4 size. Why? She will outgrow the 1/4 this year along, then you'll have to buy a 1/2 size and she'll outgrow that within a year, and then so on and so forth. Eventually she might end up not liking the violin and here you are the owner of 3 or 4 violins you have no use of.

A better idea is to rent a violin the appropriate size for her and then switch to a bigger one when she is ready. By the time she grows into a full sized violin you can make a decision to buy a decent student model violin.

September 30, 2008 at 01:30 AM · i agree with the rental idea. IF not that then a shop may have an old rental that they are willing to sell. That might have gotten enough wear on it that they could let it go for your price. However, what are you going to do with it once your child has outgrown it?

September 30, 2008 at 01:52 AM · Yes, you need to rent. The child is going to outgrow it in size and abiliy.

When I first started playing at 13 I was out of my "beginner violin" in a year. My abillity was beyond it.(rental)

Then last fall I switched to a violin for 3k, Now it's time to switch again.... So it's impossible to stay on the same violin for a long time, either ability or size

September 30, 2008 at 01:54 AM · Unfortunately, none of the Chinese vendors have online stores. For a very good 1/4 size, I think $150 is sufficient for here. IF you wish to explore this, pls write. good luck!

October 1, 2008 at 01:19 AM · Try Shar:

October 1, 2008 at 02:53 AM · I've never found anyplace in Brooklyn (the one place that rented in Carroll Gardens is no longer there). Strings and Other Things on Broadway (between 67th and 68th)does do rentals, though I'm not sure of their rates. Could be worth a call. Of the online places, Stringworks does them, as does Johnson Instruments. There are others but I know these two are quite reputable.

For purchases, if that's what you decide, those two above and Shar and Southwest Strings are among the most well known places on line. I've also heard good things about George Behary's He has Scott Cao violin outfits in your range.

October 1, 2008 at 04:19 AM · That is the problem I'm having. (Be warned: This post is long but please read everything!)

I rented a violin from a place called Universal Musical Instruments in NYC and the first violin I received, the teacher said that it was crappy, that the strings were in poor condition and that the back of the violin was broken. I wanted to give the company a chance to redeem it self...and so I opted for a second violin instead of asking for my money back. Now the second violin I received turned out to be just as bad (this according to the teacher) as there was a problem with the bridge.

Now this all began two weeks ago (and she has missed two weeks of practice) and so I have opted to buy instead of to rent because of the predicament I am currently in.

I plan on returning the old violin tomorrow in hopes of receiving my $106 rental fee.

Note also that the broken violin I received was a Bestler and the man said it was worth $350. (I know I didn't do my research, but you have to be kind to me, I am new to this). In anycase, I found the same violin (brand new albeit) online for $99.00. (I feel like a fool and a sucker, please don't be hard on me!) But my thinking is this, if I can get a brand new violin for the cost of a rental, then why not just buy a new violin? And not just a new one, a quality one.

My niece is getting taller by the minute (seriously) and I know she'll need a 1/2 size by February, but maybe I can rent this new violin, when she outgrows, and therefore get back at least a portion of the purchase price. What do you think?

October 1, 2008 at 03:17 AM · Ifshin violins do rentals as well. There are various grades offered.

October 1, 2008 at 03:44 AM · One thing I would do, in your situation, if I had the chance, (Read Emily Grossman's blog, to understand my use of, commas).

I would try to find a local place to acquire a violin. It is not important if you rent or purchase, but it IS important that you get the violin in your hands to try and to see how it feels and looks before any transaction occurs.

October 1, 2008 at 04:06 AM · I don't know anything about the violin in question, but the price tag does make me wary. It's below the playable low-end instruments I've seen -- say, the Scott Cao, Snow, Eastman, Johannes Kohr-type violins.

If you do want to go the purchase route, those places I mentioneed above are reputable, offer trial periods, and are easy to deal with. Most offer a trade-in option when it's time for a new size. At the very least, you won't get instruments with warped bridges and otherwise bad setups from these folks.

The same is true from reputable local shops, and there you can establish a relationship for maintenance/repair and trade-in/upgrade purposes -- and usually get to try a large selection of instruments before making your decision.

In NYC, maybe you've tried them already, but if you haven't, you might want to consider giving Strings & Other Things (212-362-0857) and David Segal (212.769.4559 )a call.

October 1, 2008 at 04:03 AM · patrice, since the teacher has already "rejected" your effort 2 times, i suggest you ask for the teacher's suggestion this time before you "trouble" yourself too much...

what a nice aunt you are!

October 1, 2008 at 04:23 AM · We actually rented from Strings and Other Things last year, but my wallet got a little bit smaller and so I opted for the crappy shop. BIG MISTAKE, of course.

Nevertheless, what is really bugging me about going back to Strings is that why spend $275 on a rental when my research has shown, that maybe, just maybe, I can get a high quality beginner's violin for that cost. By the way, the starting price for a 1/4 size violin at Strings is around $750. The one I received last year wasn't new, so I can't see how the trade-in would work. I've never tried David Segal so I will definitely give them a call. Thanks a lot everyone!

October 1, 2008 at 04:27 AM · Okay, I wasn't sure of their low end stuff at Strings. That's the problem with shops in the city -- they're great when you're moving up in size and quality but not so much before that.

In that case, I would think about returning that Bestler post haste (I looked it up after my last post -- it's a cheapy for sure, words like "ebonized" and Cherry-wood bow are alarm bells) and just go straight to, or and get one of their lower end instrument outfits. I don't know about Shar, but at Stringworks you can return the instrument when it's time for the next size, and get good trade-in value. Sounds strange for a New Yorker to go online to Michigan (Shar) or Wisconsin (Stringworks) for an instrument, but I know lots of folks who have done just that for the exact reasons you've mentioned.

October 1, 2008 at 01:35 PM · I ordered my son's 1/8 sized handcrafted Romanian Gliga from It is abt $300+. Lovely to look at, and wonderful sound, for such a small box. Contemplating getting a 1/4 fropm Gliga for him as well, although I do have a Suzuki 1/4 sitting at home from his older brother.

If you have some time, do go to their website and browse through the different grades avail for 1/4 size.

October 4, 2008 at 04:48 PM · I know this is contrary to the popular response here, but.... I would recommend that you buy your child's first violin and keep it. It is great to look back when she gets older and more accomplished. If you are not the sentimental type... buy one and ask the maker to take it back on trade for the next size up. This is the policy in my workshop. Unfortunately, I do not have any fractional sizes to sell at the moment, and cannot be of assistance to you.

October 4, 2008 at 09:16 PM · I agree with Giovanni on this. My father kept all my violins from about 1/4 size on. As a result, my daughter is now set for violins. It was a 35+ year wait, but there are at least two violins in the bunch (the 3/4 and the 1/2) that would be very difficult to replace now.

Just an opinion here, but it's a lot easier to find a good full size violin than an excellent 3/4. If you ever get really good small violins, I would keep them. They are hard to find, and not that expensive in the scheme of buying violins.

There's a certain amount of work in putting together a decent instrument. Good craftsmen can be found in the violin industry, but if they are good, they have no need to work for free.

If you deal with an honest and reputable violin dealer, you will have to pay an appropriate amount for what you get. Unless you know a lot more than your violin dealer, it's seems unlikely to me that you are going to get something for nothing. If you set in your mind, an hourly rate for skilled labor and multiply it by the number of hours it takes to make a violin, I think that you will find that a good small violin is the best deal there is in the violin world.

I have found that most reputable shops will take a violin back in trade (often at full price) if the vioin is returned in appropriate condition. I am a BIG, BIG believer that kids, particularly young ones, should have the best equipment you can afford. A good violin really helps a players development at every level. Playing the violin is challenging enough without handicapping yourself with less than best that is available to you.

Best of luck in your search.

October 5, 2008 at 01:59 AM · Albert Yen, I love you!!!!!! Wish I had written that well thoughtout piece of advice. A child needs a decent sounding instrument at all levels (after they show sincere interest, and agree to a regular practice routine). Playing just to please Mom should not to be confused with sincere interest. Additionally, a junk violin does not provide the student with a pleasing sound. As a result, they get discouraged, and eventually lose interest. Nothing sounds worse that a scratchy, buzzy, molded plywood cigar box with a fancy neck and strings. Inexpensive factory violins are sold to resellers and rental companies for about $20 each, in large quantities.The fellow that rented you that "$380 junkolin ... EXAGGERATED! GG

October 5, 2008 at 02:05 AM · At the advice of teachers, we always bought our kids' instruments from a good dealer in our city and traded up as they advanced through the fractional sizes. The first instruments for each kid were about $300 or $400, and with each new purchase we bought better instruments. I think I counted 13 bills of sale for violins and violas from that dealer. Of course there was the problem of the large leap forward when one of them needed a more expensive full-size violin and the 3/4 size instrument she was playing left us with a $4000 credit at that dealer. We put it on consignment there but it did not move in over a year, so we ended up trading up again, for a viola. Not every family needs quite so many instruments, but the only reason I can see for not buying is the possibility/eventuality that your child will need to buy from another dealer someday-- or will quit violin. And then you may be stuck with an instrument which you must either keep or dispose of on your own. Of course it's also nice idea to save all the instruments for grandchildren if you can afford to do that.

October 5, 2008 at 04:51 AM · I purchased a very nice 1/4 for my daughter from old-violin-house, an ebay seller. They are called performa prodigy and you would have to email him to see if he has any. I put some obligato strings on and it has a very pleasing sound. My daughter likes it better than her other more expensive german instrument. His email is

I have no commercial interest or association with this company.

October 13, 2008 at 07:09 PM · Stringworks are clearing out some 1/4 for $55


October 13, 2008 at 08:35 PM ·

October 17, 2008 at 04:37 AM · I have a 3/4 violin on consignment with my local violin shop for $1500. It hasn't sold yet. Most people in our area rent the 3/4, or spend a lesser amount of money on it.

My daughter's former conductor thought it was a very nice 3/4 violin. It was bought in the early 1920's, used (it's German).

October 17, 2008 at 04:44 AM · Contact Paul G.!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! ;-)

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