Want a new violin

November 2, 2009 at 02:18 AM ·

OK, I have been playing for a year now and I think I am making progress. I definitely need to practice more, but who doesn't?

The violins I have are good for me and I like playing both. One is a Scott Cao beginner/intermediate violin that my teacher likes. The other is a Yamaha electric, for silent practicing.

The problem I have is that I get an irrational itch to upgrade stuff every once in a while. I think it’s a guy thing. That itch has started for a new acoustic violin. I notice some weird tones every once in a while on the Scott Cao, but these are caused more by my bowing technique than the instrument. What should I do? What do you think my teacher will say if I show up with a new violin at the next lesson? I can aford something around $1000.

Replies (20)

November 2, 2009 at 03:38 AM ·

Maybe you should get helped by your teacher. They love to give advice and try violins in the shop with students.  Generally violinists go crazy with violin trials and in any prize range.  If ever he/she says you don't need to upgrade, tell him/her you can afford it as a luxury because it's always a good thing to have a better violin (better in playability this is not always proportional to the price so just don't get fooled by asking advice to professionnal neutral or unbiaised player...) 

Good luck!   Just remember that your instruments is yours and thus your decision but it is a big decision to take alone with all the risks of guetting fooled etc.  It is always comforting to know that x good player agrees very much with you on your choice... Call me pea soup but it's not a 10 $ toy you buy... : )  

Well this is just my two cents... I always proceeded like this for my violins (well I just keep and own one at the time but have had a few) and have been very happy with my choices. Also, trying better violins to see if it makes a difference is a good way to know if you need one...

Good luck!


November 2, 2009 at 04:01 AM ·


how about upgrading the bow? Tehn you can claim moderation while being completley excessive...

Guys will be guys,


November 2, 2009 at 04:04 AM ·

For $1000 I think it doesn't make any big difference if you have a Scott Cao (how much you bought it?). Maybe spend a little less than that to upgrade your bow (oh Buri beat me to it lol)? You'll be surprise how much difference a better bow can do to the sound of your violin...

November 2, 2009 at 04:51 AM ·

My first thought after reading your post was also: getting a better bow. To be honest though, I'm not sure $1000 will buy you that a great one either. Why not save some more and try to get a better bow at $2000-3000, then you'll see the real difference in sound. I think with some help and careful search, a violin at $3-5K with a bow at $2-3 K should satisfy an intermediary to advanced student for quite a few years. 

Another thought about the itch, how about invest the money in more lessons? You'll progress more if you get more lessons each week.

November 2, 2009 at 06:23 AM ·

Well, I think you should throw out most of the other advice, because they missed one line of your post

It's a guy thing.

So, get another violin. I would first identify if your current violin is bright, dark, projects, is subtle, or what characteristics you notice. Get another violin that is completely different. Don't worry if it is the wrong violin, it will not be the last one you buy for this purpose. You will also need the bow, as mentioned in a couple posts. All you need to decide is if you want to stay with pernambuco, or go to a baroque snakewood bow, or get a carbon fiber bow.

Then, you will need an electric, because once you see the differences between the two violins, you will realize that the electric one is a little too 'jazz only', and you want one that rocks.

Finally, to complete the roots of your collection, you will need to get a good composite, or carbon fiber violin...... and again be off in search of bows, because you realize that the different bows you are now strewing around the place all play differently on the different violins.

Ah, now you will be in 'guy heaven'!

Unfortunately, I don't have the budget to do this, so I can only do so by proxy.... let me know how this turns out.

November 2, 2009 at 02:28 PM ·

"It's a guy thing"

I also get that feeling that I want an upgrade but since I'm a new adult I get it more often, say about every month I want a new violin. So far I still kept the same 3 violins for about 9months now. And within that time I bought another 2 bows.

If I get the urge to upgrade I just try a set of strings that I remembered sound good but different then the set I currently have on them.

November 2, 2009 at 02:57 PM ·

Put a new or different strings(like maybe Passione) and invest on a new bow. Maybe a Coda CF bow, try it first if you can, before you plunge in.

Save the money for real better violin.

Hope it helps..

November 2, 2009 at 03:33 PM ·

Talk about the guy thing...

When I started to learn the violin, well, exactly for a year or so, I started to want another violin. Then the never ending story lasted for about 5 years, I purchased for like 6 violins in the past, before I end up with my current violin that I've been playing for 3 years now, and still continue to inspire me. It's a $6k violin. Now I have a fantastic bow to go with the violin, I don't think I need another one in another few years time. I've played contemporary italians cost $10k~$13k, and I still prefer mine.

So for $1000, I think it won't last that long. It's either save up, or buy a bow. Well, since it's a guy thing, maybe there's no advice can stop if you insist to buy another violin. Been there, done that. ;-)

November 2, 2009 at 07:27 PM ·

I'm with Casey, it's not just a guy thing...

When I started, I passed 3 violins in 1 1/2 years.  I didn't need it but I realized with my picky ears that they sounded bad (even when played by good violinists).  Last year, I traded my good violin for another one in the same category who is even better.   But now, I think I'm ok for all my life!!! I love it.  What is a guy thing is to want gadjets in my opinion...  They always want the latest one : ) I never considered the violin itself as a gadjet! 


November 2, 2009 at 08:29 PM ·

A sign in our old computer room:

"The difference between the men and the boys

is the price of their toys." 

To paraphrase Anne-Marie:  A violin is not a toy!

November 3, 2009 at 02:24 AM ·


Hi. First of all a violin is not a toy. It's an instrument. A very delicate instrument. If you want to buy a new violin, you should talk to your teacher and ask him/her for their opinion. I hope you find your right violin and add it to your collection. Good luck=)


November 3, 2009 at 01:53 PM ·

A guy thing?

How about packing up your violin and bows and taking them to a good violin shop and spending the day trying various other bows and violins to see what they do for YOU! Let money be no object in these trials.

Also, don't plan to buy on that first day - just plan to see what's what and what upgrading might be worth to you and what it might cost.

Consider it a play day! The last time I did that with violins was sort of by accident, when I went to my luthier to pick up my two best violins that had been in for setup exams and adjustments. The owner took me into the back room where we played on an 1698 Antonio Stradivarti that they were fixing up to sell (for $2M) and an Andrea Guarneria that was making the Bay Area rounds (to sell for $300K). We also played around on my two fiddles. I went home with my two fiddles, and not at all unhappy about them. On the other hand, the last time I did that with one of his cellos --- it went home with me and is still there.


November 7, 2009 at 01:56 AM ·

Thanks all for the advice. I'll talk to my teacher about this at the next lesson. Assuming one of us isn't sick... It's been one of those months. :(

If I do ask her to go with me to the store, I assume it is customary to pay her for a lesson?

November 7, 2009 at 02:34 AM ·

> If I do ask her to go with me to the store, I assume it is customary to pay her for a lesson?

Not necessarily.  I think it depends on the teacher.  My teacher offered to help me pick out a violin on his time, free of charge.  Some teachers get commissions from the shop.  That is something you should try to avoid.  It presents a serious conflict of interest (e.g., the more you spend, the bigger their commission).  In many cases, you can ask the shop, and they will tell you whether they pay commissions. 


November 7, 2009 at 02:44 AM ·

One other thing I would add: If your teacher does volunteer to go with you, make it as easy as possible for your teacher's schedule. The worst case scenario would be for you to get the teacher to commit to go with you, and have you readjust the time multiple times, each time the teacher has to clear their schedule to follow up on the commitment.

November 7, 2009 at 03:15 AM ·

Guy thing huh? Nah. I'm already looking to upgrade too, but I'm saving for a 6k - 7k violin...maybe that will keep me happy for a while....then I'll need a new bow, of course.

November 7, 2009 at 05:52 AM ·

Hey, just because it's a Guy Thing doesn't mean it can't be a Gal Thing too!!!

November 7, 2009 at 06:48 AM ·

I'm also thinking about upgrading, but I'm looking at about the $15,000 range.  I've had the same violin for decades (before that it was played by my father), and it can't quite give me what I want from it.  However, I'm going to get through a situation I am facing, and then only reward myself the new violin when I lose weight!

November 7, 2009 at 08:38 PM ·

one of the easiest and cheapest thing to do is to just change the strings. For instance i had Dominants on my violin and started not to like my violin, i put Evahs and the soundt started to get better.

I upgraded my bow and started to really like the sound and was amazed on how much difference was between the bows i tried.

Then i chose to change the tailpiece from a Whitnner to a wooden one in Rosewood. The sound became bigger, and projected better.

But there was still something. I was practicing double-stops and I was really struggling to add  more dynamics. It was very hard to go from Piano to Forte.

I replaced the Evahs strings for a set of Passionne and can not be more happy....  for now :-)


November 7, 2009 at 09:34 PM ·

One other thing I forgot to mention.  All shops let you try violins for at least a week before you buy.  You can play through a bunch and pick a couple that you like and take them to your lesson.  Then you can get your teacher's opinion.  That is what I did when I bought my violin, and also my bow.

Note, when I bought my violin, I literally tried over 100 fiddles before I found the one for me.  It took many hours over a period of several months.  If I paid my teacher to join me during my search, it would have costed a fortune.

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