Buying vs Renting

April 8, 2012 at 04:11 AM · My current rental violin right now is about $670 right now, it's a normal student Eastman VL80-5(whatever that mean, I just copy down the receipt).The one on Craiglist is near my home so I can go and check it out, they're(the people that selling it) are pricing it at $500 but are willing to negotiate.

Here's the link: http://minneapolis.craigslist.org/dak/msg/2941351772.html

I know that there's no way I can tell how it will sound, but if I can bargain it down to $300-$400-ish, then I think I can restore it with the remain hundred or so and would still cost less than my rental and could possibly even sound better.

Oh, and another thing

how much do you think the restoration for this violin would cost??

Any advice is welcome:D

Thanks ^.^

Replies (46)

April 8, 2012 at 06:10 AM · I see your post is new so hopefully someone with more knowledge than I will answer. It seems worth looking at. I don't think an estimate of how much it would cost to restore without actually seeing it. The pictures don't say a lot. Funny the poster didn't say what the violin was appraised at--they usually do. Judging by what my luthier had in stock when I bought a violin from him last year, it could be worth over $1200 if in playing condition. The bow looks interesting--I wonder if the frog could be ivory (which is banned now)

Would your teacher be willing to go with you to check it out?

April 8, 2012 at 06:33 AM · I could be wrong but from the picture the proportion of the upper and lower bout seems a bit off somehow.

April 8, 2012 at 02:36 PM · There's not going to be any substitute for you going and inspecting the violin very carefully and playing it to see how it sounds. Taking someone with you who knows how a violin should sound would be a plus. Compare the violin with your existing violin. Play it up and down a few scales slowly and listen for notes that sound too loud or that make the violin buzz. Listen to the overall tone. Make sure the pegs work and so on.

You want to spend $100 on restoration? $100 buys you a tune-up, likely not including a fresh set of strings.

April 8, 2012 at 03:33 PM · If you go to play it, DO make sure it still has a sound post (without a bridge, it's entirely possible the post is gone, and if you tighten the strings without one, disaster!) You would have thought of that, I'm sure, but just in case...

I played an old Hopf for years (when I first strung it, it didn't have a sound post, and I--10 years old and ignorant--didn't realize what I was doing...); it sounded 'musty,' till I had a luthier tweak it. Even then, it definitely didn't sound 'modern,' but I liked it.

April 8, 2012 at 06:50 PM · some of the hopf's from those times sound very good if they're set up well- but it could take several hundred dollars to get a really good setup on it. More if it needs a new bassbar or has open seams, which are not uncommon. Get it looked over by a good luthier so you know what you're getting into before you get it.

April 8, 2012 at 06:58 PM · Here's a thought.

If you are going to continue to play the violin, there will be some point where a rented violin will no longer be acceptable. You will reach that point, it is not a matter of 'if'.

This violin may be the one, but even if the decision is made to not purchase this one, you and your family should be mentally prepared to see you as a violin owner rather than a violin renter if you are going to be serious about playing.

April 8, 2012 at 07:17 PM · I bought my instrument, and my children's instruments because after doing the math I realized that if you plan on playing indefinitely it's actually cheaper to own your instrument rather than rent it (unless we're getting into some extremely expensive violins).

In my area you can rent an instrument for about $25/mo, so within 18mos you have already paid for a $500 instrument - plus you have the advantage of equity in the violin when it's time to trade up someday. Have your parents considered this?

Good luck!

April 8, 2012 at 09:19 PM · Don't bother to look at it unless you have someone knowledgeable with you, preferably whoever would fit the new bridge. A bridge alone might cost you $100, plus a new set of strings and probably new sound post. The case is worthless. The bow might be good, but you can't tell from a picture like that. I never recommend buying something like that unless you can do all the work yourself, so that if it turns out to be a dog you aren't out much.

April 8, 2012 at 09:35 PM · How knowledgable do you mean by knowledgeable?

I certainly read about and learn about the structure of violin so I trust myself enough to pick out crack and fault.

Also, does anyone ACTUALLY click on the link? It's obvious there's no bridge and the strings are crap, bow is undecided, who know what kind of condition it's in now....

Anyway, so should I ask my mom to buy it or not. About the bridge and soundpost, can I buy the bridge and ask a luthier to set it up? Soundpost.....(any suggestion/)

Since the owner seem to not be so knowledgeable about the violin, I can get my mom to bargain it down(it's in Asian blood to negotiate ;))

Anything else????? More please (>.<)

P.S

Can anyone predict a price on 'restoring and setting up this violin?

April 8, 2012 at 10:08 PM · If you have doubts and no further information with which to resolve them, then walk away. Follow your gut instinct.

April 8, 2012 at 11:03 PM · I don't have doubt technically, just unsure of my fact, I want to buy it but need more info in order to convince my mom. So yeah///

April 9, 2012 at 12:47 AM · Just a general note--if the buyer doesn't seem to be knowledgable about the violin, be double alert. My son got burnt twice buying things he thought he knew a lot about from sellers who didn't know what they were selling.

April 9, 2012 at 01:53 AM · A 1800 old German Violin I really don't know what to expect. It's probably worth $1,200 at the most. The bow seems Brazilwood with an ivory frog. The case is just junk. A good option would be to keep renting the violin, and after you've paid it of trade it in. Although it may seem I'm against the violin, I suggest you follow these tips.

1) Judging from the picture the owner did not take very good care of the violin.

2) When a violin bow is stored away for long periods of time bugs that stay in the dark come and eat the hairs of the bow, some bows that aren't stored very long only have dark gunk on them from the insects. I wouldn't use the bow if I were you. That's why they invented Toneballs to protect the violin bow.

3) When A violin goes through periods of time where a lot of change in weather is involved. And does not get polished/ humidified/ or even tuned The moisture in the wood drys out leaving it very fragile, and the oils and rosin build up leave a very hard residue that takes a lot of money clean up. The pegs often get stuck and brittle.

4) From the picture the violin has no bridge, and no padding under the tailpiece a sign that the violin was not very taken care of. A tailpiece left like that would scratch the underside of the violin. And the E string part has no Finetuner which can and will be a problem

5) If you happen to have a problem with the peg, I 've seen a many old violins with pegs that have been worn out. The peg holes will need to be rebrushed which will take a lot of money.

6) Overall this violin from the 1800's isn't in bad shape, just put in a bad place, and done unprofessionally.

I can do a guess of total cost.

Student Bridge: $60

Professional Bridge: $100

New Soundpost: $40

Fine Tuner for E' String: $5

Add on Finetuners: $5 each

New Strings:

Now this depends. If you get add on fine tuners you can use steel strings like Red Label: $10

But if you leave the tailpiece as it is with a E finetuner steel strings don't work so well with that kind of tailpiece.

Dominants are a good Perlon Core string and have set a standard. $50

You might want to consider fitting the old pegs which can be $80 minimum

A good case would cost around $100-$200

A good bow for about $150. Trust me you don't want to use a bow and find bugs in it. I think by now the bow has loss grip and will slide around.

All of this will cost around $500 which isn't a very good deal. A better option

Let's say you are renting at Music & Arts

You are renting a Eastman violin which you have finally paid off for and now own $600. And you are really great and need a more suitable violin. So you go trade it in for let's say their Otto Benjamin Violin model which is around $1,200 depending which model you get. $600 to apply to that violin. That's really great.

But why?

Otto Benjamin are made by Eastman a great company that serves amateur to professional musicans

Their case is lightweight, oblong, includes 4 bow holders, suspension, Hygrometer, String Tube, and has Gewa bow holders. Trust me that's very fancy.

The higher models up to $1,800 have a more nicer case. It has suede interior, 2 tone interior, attached blanket, leather cover.

Their bow offers a introductory Pernambuco bow. That is professional. Worth at about $400. Stamped Andreas Eastman. I myself use a very nice Brazilwood Bow, better than most Pernambuco to save the trees. Their bows are octagonal which is said to provide a more better sound. The winding is real silver, The Lining is very elegant and shiny.The bow cost more than what the outfit includes.

The violin is flamed maple, with boxwood/ rosewood fittings with a shiny lacquer finish to the fittings. The higher models might have some carvings into them. Dominant Strings.

For $600 more you get a nice violin that will take you far, a nice oblong case, a pernambuco bow. The violin alone is worth about $2,000 with a bow for about $400, and A $200 case. That's why many students choose Eastman. Several young virtuoso in my youth Orchestra has this particular violin and sounds very great.

http://bernunzio.com/media/images/productimages/productimage-picture-otto-benjamin-ml-300-50223_jpg_800x600_upscale-_q85.jpg

The beauty of that violin.

http://www.musicarts.com/Otto-Benjamin-VIOLIN-4-4-W-PERNAMBUCO-BOW-OBLONG-CASE-ML-500-BL80-46199N-i1716287.mac

Now this one is the same, but I guess Music & Arts might have a promotion. They can haggle the price down.

My experience trading in a violin versus buying online is that a violin has people that know what their doing. If you need a lighter bow no problem. A brighter tone or darker tone? More Projection? On a budget? Lighter case? I absoulutley love my violin shop. When I walk in there they greet me by name and give great discounts. They also have trials so you can try the violins and if you don't like it no problemo....

April 9, 2012 at 02:05 AM · I looked at the pic- I got a real nice Hopf from around 1800 in similar condition once at an estate sale for $125. Paid a good luthier about $700 for complete setup, seal seams, new fingerboard, and it sounded very nice and sweet, but "small". Later got a great luthier to do a better setup and new bassbar, for $1200, and it sounds very Italian and has incredible tone and projection. I love playing it, but it's still a hopf, though...as far as resale value goes.

The one in the ad will definitely need some $$ spent on it. It takes an experienced luthier to know whether it's worth it or not to do the work. Even then, there's an element of risk, cause you never know how it's going to turn out.

At least with another student violin that's already set up, you can play it ahead of time and know for sure what you're getting.

April 9, 2012 at 03:15 AM · I agree about being cautious about someone that doesn't know much about a violin. That statement allows them a free ride about any qualification questions. It is a frequent ruse to claim lack of specific knowledge when selling something (either real or false, the reason is the same).

Possibly arrange to meet the seller at a Luthier, and get the luthier opinion before the transaction (you paying for the luthier's fee)? If the seller does not want to do this, consider it as a signal there is more than looks as a problem.

If the violin does not sound good, how convenient that it is not set up, and needs a bridge?

That said, I still think that buying is the best for the long term, although this may not (or may) be the time to make that change.

April 9, 2012 at 03:28 AM · That violin looks like a mess. Why would you want to even take that big of a risk when you know you are guaranteed to sink in at least a couple of hundred more to reach even the possibility of playing it? You can't even try it out because it apparently has no bridge and the strings are crap. Plus, the person selling it didn't even bother to post focused photos. This is either deliberately sketchy, or ignorant/lazy.

The rental you are currently using is most likely a decent instrument with a decent tone, and suits the needs of a beginner just fine. Save up and treat yourself well by side-stepping potential pitfalls like this one and shop around. Try out several instruments so you can make comparisons on what you like and don't like. If you don't know what to look for, either shop through someone with lots of good reviews from knowedgable people, or take someone with you who can spot a good deal.

There are way too many new violins at a steal of a price for you to bother risking what looks like a good chunk of money trying to revive something that may not be worth it.

PS I think it's fine to shop on Craigslist. I've had a couple of students come up with some pretty nice steals this way. However, in all cases, the violin in question was playable and I was able to go check it out for them first and see if it was worth the risk.

April 9, 2012 at 03:31 AM · I wrote that last post under the assumption that you are renting to own. If you are not, then perhaps this would be a better option for you. I can point you in the right direction, if you're interested. You can not only rent to own, but you can choose a trade-in/trade-up policy that will make it easier to step up into your next violin. If you plan to have a long term relationship, always be looking into the best long-term options.

April 9, 2012 at 02:00 PM · Lyndon - why are you so anti Chinese violins? Do you have any idea how GOOD many of them are - and bows, too? I didn't think so. Or maybe you do, and are just prejudiced for some reason. And no, I'm not a dealer in Chinese violins; I'm a professional violinst first and foremost, and something of a collector, second. Of course there is Chinese junk, too - as well as a lot of German and Czeck junk. I have 2 good Chinese violins, and several Chinese bows that are excellent - and none of them are for sale. Some top New York dealers have admitted that "it's scary" just how good some of these things are. I recorded my 1st CD on an Eastman violin in the 600 series - and a number of colleagues said, besides complimenting my playing, "wow - what was that fine violin you used?" It also compared very well to a good Fagnola and a good Poggi that I tried at a Tarisio auction showing. A woman working there admitted as much. I've since sold that to a grateful student. The violin that I use on my Youtube video in the "Meditation from Thais" is also Chinese - and again, besides some nice compliments on my playing, I've gotten "oohs" and "ahs" about that violin, including from 2 concertmasters that I've worked with, both of who, by coincidence, play on genuine Guadagninis, and one of whom made me 2 offers to buy it from me - which I refused.

Now Skylar - don't be put off by disputes between old fogies like myself and Lyndon. (OK, maybe I should just speak for myself, old fogie-wise!) I admire your enthusiasm. I did look at that violin. Have you consulted your teacher, or DO you have a private teacher? I couldn't see clearly whether that violin had a sound post crack, which would be a major issue and value sinker. And if there is no bridge or soundpost up, how would you try it? This could be a good potential value. Even that old case may be worth something to a collector. But for you, I'd say this is risky. It's the kind of violin that an auction house like Tarisio would put into one of its "speculative and restorable" sales. If your budget is only about $500-1,000, you might want to wait for a while till you have more money, and that go with a higher level Eastman, or something from Shar - always with your teacher's help and approval. Good luck!

April 9, 2012 at 02:24 PM · Eastman instruments are reliable for the price, for my (very occasional) viola work, I use an Eastman Model 100 viola that I have on loan from my school; with a set of Dominants and a Jargar A on it, it ggives a surprisingly resonant, warm sound that can compare with some of the "nicer" violas owned by my friends (who are actual viola majors).

April 9, 2012 at 06:56 PM · Lyndon, if your post is a response to mine, I didn't once prejudice myself pro or anti Chinese. That thought didn't even occur to me. And no, I'm not in the business of selling, and no, I don't get paid to give my opinion. Mine is based on years of watching kids suffer on crap violins and trying to get people on a shoestring budget something that lets them play as beautifully as they deserve to play.

April 9, 2012 at 07:45 PM · The Eastman 80 is a great starter instrument. You can buy the set new for about $350. Resale value would be less than trade-in. For trade-in you would get $250 maybe better (depending on the trade-in policy).

The violin in the add, frankly, looks awful - and if they're selling it for only $300 WITH an appraisal - that tells you it's not worth much more.

Having said that, it looks like it would need - at the very least - a bridge, soundpost, new strings, a new case and a new bow (or, the bow is in decent shape, repairs and a rehair). On top of that I imagine it would require $200-300 in unseen but expected repairs that any violin might need that's been kicking around for years. So about $500 total. And of course that still doesn't guarantee it would sound or play well.

Maybe a worthwhile purchase for something interested in fixing up violins to practice...not a worthwhile purchase for a newbie.

I suggest you put your money towards an Eastman 305 (or the equivalent). That should take care of your needs for the foreseeable future.

And as far as the picture quality goes...likely just someone selling a violin that isn't interested in violins. I doubt they're either 'ignorant' or out to pull the wool over anyone's eyes.

April 9, 2012 at 08:06 PM · Seconding Patrick and Emily's recommendations...if this is a long-term investment for you, if you cannot arrange to have a good luthier inspect this particular instrument, you should really look into a 'rent to own' or purchase scenario through a reputable luthier or music store. It will save you money in the long run until you are ready to trade up in the future.

The reason for a more experienced opinion is sometimes there are things wrong with an instrument that are not readily apparent to people who don't handle (or repair) them for a living. If you have a teacher, or a trusted luthier you and the seller can go to for a once-over....?

April 9, 2012 at 08:08 PM · You see N.A, the Eastman i have now is $670, renting from Schmitt music store. Im actually thinkin about buying a Carlo Lamberti from shar for $500, as least until I am clear on Schmitt insurance policy.

Anyway, thanks for all your helpful comment and one last thing. Does anyone know what the Carlo Lamberti Model Sonata Violin

look like in real life? The picture show a one-piece back and well...I'm a sucker for one piece back. Even if I already know that it doesnt affect the sound

I do intend to buy a violin anyway because I know that with the fact that when I'm an owner , I'll be force to practice/ise more because I'll be paying it with my own money.

And please, no more pussycat fight on post, you can trash each other however you like via email. Pussycat fight is/are reserve for teenager under 18 only ;)

April 9, 2012 at 08:18 PM · You always pay more to 'rent' an instrument than the instrument is worth. That's how stores make their money on rental instruments. That's why you've put in double the outright purchase price to date.

Going from a $350 dollar package to a $500 package won't do you much good if you're ready for a 'better' quality instrument.

April 9, 2012 at 08:31 PM · N.A

no--I'm going from a $670 package to a more or less $500, maybe not, who know? The internet teaches alot but not evrything (>.

April 9, 2012 at 09:32 PM · Skylar, I'm not familiar with that specific Shar model as compared to the Eastman, but I've had enough experience with them to know that you will be getting a solid instrument with a good trade in policy. That model may not be a step up for you, but I doubt it will be a step down, and you will be able to save and trade for a better instrument much more easily than you would your craigslist model. I think you're making a good choice with the Lamberti.

April 9, 2012 at 09:38 PM · @Skylar I have heard of the Lamberti, and don't find it suitable for a step-up instrument. I have seen the other students that my private teacher has for a master class. Many have tried out this option. When they first start the began saving up little by little right away. Many have started in the 5th grade, many much younger. 3 years later by the time it's for high school they have very fine and expensive instruments from the $2,000 and all the way up to $6,000. For High School and College.

Seeing that your are on a budget, I find that students now a days lean towards older instruments. Now not saying that older instruments are bad, but they are often poor in quality. You can get modern instruments for a steal. I know I did. I had bought my lovely Italian violin made no less than 2 years ago for $1,500 turns out it was worth $2,800 when it was appraised.

Have you started looking at other violin shops?

Since you live in Minnesota, in Minneapolis there is a shop called Quinnviolins. I have heard a lot of positive reviews from them. I heard that the have low prices by my fellow orchestra members. You should check it out sometime. They also do trade-ins.

Some tips on buying

It is better to buy in a violin shop so you can see the set-up they do and the quality and sound.

Play some violins, ignoring the price, when you get a violin you like ask for the price. It you feel like it's asking too much, negotiate. If they are still not bringing the price down. Leave. There are other shops with violins needing to be played.

Think about upgrading the bow and case also. Most players will need a flexible bow for spicatto, martele, and sautille. Pernambuco can be expensive, other alternatives like Carbon Fiber and Brazilwood will sound as good/ or even better and at less the price.

If you end up getting the lower of an advanced violin you can simply put strings like Evah Pirazi, Z'yex, Obligato, Vison's to add the sound of your liking

Never Rush, you want to find a violin you're going to be happy for a while. Even if it goes over the budget a little, it's for a good cause.

Eastman Strings is a good company, their outfit is a lot better than other companies. Their Andreas Eastman and Otto Benjamin and favored for their projective, dark, balanced sound. Plus they're a lot cheaper. Give that on some thought.

April 9, 2012 at 10:05 PM · " You always pay more to 'rent' an instrument than the instrument is worth. "

Tha is not so true as a fact. it depends on the shop and on how long you rent a violin. Some shops will rent you a very good violin for a fair price. But I would never rent a 4/4 violin for longer as 2 years. past that, you may be right. But as long as you are looking for an good instrument, why not renting an good instrument, wich you could not afford yet.

Of course it is better to find your own but in my opinion it is better not to rush things, because with time you will learn, what you really need. And Skylar needs certainly time to realise, that as a player you have to play an instrument before you even consider to buy it. its different maybe if you are an experienced trader and you speculate on the value of some violin in need of restauration. But for a player there is nothing more important than that the instrument is in perfect playing condition, before you buy it. Wich is obviously not the case here.

I am sorry Skylar, but let me tell you out of experience that you will not find your good sounding violin over the internet! Unless you like to play roulette with your money...

April 11, 2012 at 02:39 AM · So many things go into making a violin sound good. The setup, the strings, soundpost, bridge. Any one of these things improperly installed, all by themselves, can make a good violin sound terrible.

The other thing is there are good sounding strads and bad sounding strads. Just because the label says Hopf doesn't mean it's a good sounding Hopf. And Hopf is not exactly some great maker either.

I agree with Simon, only check out instruments that are perfectly setup. Otherwise you don't know what you're getting.

And violin repairs, even involving seemingly little things, are ghastly expensive. There's a reason that new handmade name instruments go from $7000 - 35,000. If all it took was a chisel and a block of wood and an hour or two all of these violin luthiers would be driving around in ferraris. :)

April 11, 2012 at 12:36 PM · Thanks everyone, I'm not gonna buy it, since I've decided to buy one from QuinnViolins instead. Their instrument are pretty goood and there's trade in as well

April 11, 2012 at 06:04 PM · Sounds like fun--I'm so excited for you! Please let us know what you end up getting, okay?

April 11, 2012 at 06:41 PM · Lyndon, you can take your expertise and fix up as many poor, abused ugly ducklings as you like and sell the swans to happy customers. If you love that Hopf so much, buy it, fix it up, and let Skylar try it out.

April 11, 2012 at 07:31 PM · I am honestly curious...

Why would an old violin automatically be superior to a new violin?

Especially an old, cheap violin?

April 11, 2012 at 08:27 PM · ya can't generalize so much- I've got spare fiddle that's a Hopf from around 1800 that's been redone and sounds great, but I got my daughter a Chinese violin (selected by a good luthier) for under $1K that also sounds great. Some old ones are junk, and some new ones are junk. Stay away from the junk!

April 11, 2012 at 08:32 PM · @Skylar good for you! A violin from Quinnviolins!

Actually while looking through there again, I couldn't believe the price! A Eastman Apassionato was cheaper/ same as the Otto Benjamins! Their Albert Nebel were certainly much cheaper, the shop near me has it for $3,000+

Might I suggest the Johannes Kohr. I say a video review on Fiddlerman.com and later saw someone with one, and for the price range the varnish was really beautiful! Plus they have a one piece back, if that's something you like Skylar. They can be quite powerful, but in comparison to my violin. I still love my beautiful violin :)

April 11, 2012 at 09:39 PM · Lyndon: I have limited experience...but I have some (with entry level instruments). I can't agree. I have a 1910 German violin (a fancy one) that I just had repaired (it has antique value). It sounds quite nice, so despite some odd quirks it has, it's perfectly playable...

But it is NOT better than a couple of Eastmans I've played in that price range.

I don't think you can make a blanket statement about all Chinese instruments anymore...maybe back in the 1970s...but not anymore.

I also have a 2001 Shen viola...that I love. It sounds way better than the old German viola a friend plays...

April 12, 2012 at 02:16 AM · NH - take a look at my post above, and don't worry about prejudiced views!

As to old vs new, it depends on which old vs which new. One of my contemporary Italian violins just beat out a Strad at an auction showing yesterday. It's not only my opinion, but was supported by 2 other pros who were there, who had nothing to gain or lose one way or another.

April 12, 2012 at 10:23 AM · All this talk about what ciolin is better.... it depends so much at the setup. I know violin makers, who buy chinese violins and set them up properly. Then they sell them for fair prices. I tried many of that kind. For the money (under 2000 €) they are fantasic. Old violins have probably been through this process more than one time and therefore are sounding to their full potential.

Same with new violin to strad comparison. I think often the new violins are set up better and the strad comes out of a safe.

April 12, 2012 at 01:44 PM · I was going to save most of the following - which was originally a private e-mail to several friends and colleagues - and expand it into a new blog, and still might put it in a blog as well, along with other material. But just now, I awoke to find no fewer than 4 e-mails to me in regard to my modern vs Strad reference above! So I'll expand it a bit here. One thing I will change or rather omit, is mentioning my colleagues' names, since at this point, I haven't gotten their permission.

Dear friends - I'd like to share my latest auction adventure with you, which just took place earlier today. I went to the Tarisio auction showing in New York, to check out some violins - most notably, a Stradivari known as the "Baron von der Leyen" c. 1705. For comparison purposes I brought with me my own overall favorite violin from my collection of 10 - a Vittorio Villa, custom made for me in 2010, made along the lines of the "Lord Wilton" Guarneri del Gesu. Also with me was my overall favorite from my more than a dozen bows - an Emile Ouchard, c. 1920's.

I thought I'd work my way up to the Strad by trying out a few other violins. First I tried a violin by Sam Zigmuntowics, a copy of the "Plowden" del Gesu, and custom made for Ruggerio Ricci. The Sam Z. was really quite good. But honestly, I liked my del Gesu model Villa - which I've named "Michelangelo" even better. It was richer and fuller. I tried a few other forgettable ones, and then went to an Asnsaldo Poggi. (For any of my Korean-speaking friends - sorry! "Poggi" means something perfectly innocent in Italian - short hills, probably where the family originated.) Ansaldo Poggi is considered one of the top early modern Italian makers, and such greats as Milstein and Rosand have owned violins by him. But this one was very disappointing - it really didn't sound good at all. When I attended the Mondo Musica festival in Cremona this past September, I had tried a Poggi that sounded wonderful. I spent more time on a Storioni - considered the last link between classic Cremona and the 19th century makers. This sounded quite good, but the G had some problems, and I don't think the bridge height was good. Again, overall, I preferred my Villa.

It was time to try the Strad! Visually it was beautiful, however little or much original varnish has remained, and even though there may be some question about the back matching the top. It sounded lovely, too - but it was not without its problems. It was a little weak and congested here and there, and didn't have much bottom on the G. It's particularly on the bottom that my Villa, "Michelangelo" rules, tough it's quite good everywhere! The Strad sounded best in the middle register, and was more fluid and complex here and there than my 1 1/2 year old violin. But again, believe it or not, overall, I preferred my Villa! Both in terms of quality and sonority, my Villa was much better on the G, marginally better on the D, stronger on the E, but not as good on the A.

Is this just an owner's pride? Well, you can never get away from at least some subjectivity in this sort of thing. But - as it happened, there were 2 distinguished players with me- top-notch freelance violinist and extremely knowledgeable about violins and bows, "R", whom I expected, and noted New York Philharmonic violist, "M", whom I met again many years after playing with him in a chamber music project. And we were all pretty much in agreement on the specific relative strengths and weaknesses of the Villa and the Strad instrinsically, as well as relative to one another - and what instrument is absolutely perfect?

Strads are sometimes known to sound a bit weak under the ear, but project wonderfully in a hall. So I asked both "R" and "M" if they would play both violins for me while I listened at a distance. Now, this wasn't Carnegie Hall. But it was a large room, and I was able to go back about 40 feet or so to listen. And what I heard at a distance was very close to what I'd heard under my ear. And that particular Villa out-projected that particular Strad, as well as maintaining its excellent quality. I'm a lucky fellow! Since my Villa, "Michelangelo" is a del Gesu model and really captures a lot of that del Gesu richness and french-horn like timbre, I'd be even more interested in comparing it with an actual del Gesu. Maybe at a future auction!

Recently at a qartet gig that I did with "R" I had used my most recent Villa acqisition - a beautiful inlaid copy of an Amati, which I call "Leonardo". "R" likes that one even better than "Michelangelo", I think, though

we haven't yet compared both, back to back. I sometimes compare the voicing of "Leonardo" to Pavaroti, and "Michelangelo" to Domingo. May I never have worse problems than deciding which of my violins and bows to use on a gig!

All 3 of us speculated on the state of adjustment on the Strad. Certainly the sound post looked to be in a very normal position. But sometimes with a weak G, it helps to angle the sp a bit. I noticed looking at the Tarisio photos that it originally had different strings, so probably, they tried some more adjustment as well. Again, I'm not saying that the Strad was bad. But it hasn't given me sleepless nights the way an Amati at Tarisio did a while back. You just never know with individual instruments, and it's always good to keep an open mind. "R" said that if my Villa and that Strad - as they were sounding on that day - were his only choices to use on a gig, he would pick my Villa

I also collect to a certain extent, antique cases, wooden stands, etc. I looked at some of those, too. The star of that part of the show - too rich for my blood, I might add - is a double case that belonged to Jascha Heifetz, and can be seen in some photos and film of him. Honestly, it didn't look that special. But knowing who had used it for years, I had to handle it a bit for good luck. Could some of the magic still be there and rub off? Well, it didn't hurt! So far I don't notice any improvement in my technique from touching the magic case. But for 24 hours I spoke with an oddly-clipped Polish/Rusian accent! ;-)

April 12, 2012 at 03:42 PM · Interesting experiences Raphael. but I think that running after a name is out of date for a long time. Stradivaris seem to vary in soundquality too. I heard that the best ones are barely original anymore due to restauration and repairs. But they sound good anyways... or because?

It doesn't surprise me that your best violin is stronger than some strad who has a name like a german politician... can't be good! ;)

April 12, 2012 at 04:49 PM · lol!

April 12, 2012 at 06:08 PM · "... only about 20% can recognize the superiority of stradivaris over moderns, i happen to be one that prefers strads, you prefer eastmans, your choice after all, youre the one that has to live with your chinese violin..."

Ouchie. Harsh.

I'll go back to selecting new orange shag for my double-wide now...;)

I must say though...I didn't know a Strad compared directly with an Eastman. At least not on price point...*ducks*

April 12, 2012 at 07:45 PM · Strad, non-Strad, who care? =.=? unless you're an accomplished player and have perfect pitch with experience in both the Strad and normal quality violin it's not like anyone can tell. A good modernish violin to an untrained ear can sound better than a strad depend on the player.

For my new violin, I got the Core Collection K490 one piece back alone for $1200 with a nice Carbon Fiber bow for $65(it's an Amazon deal but are actually quite good and nicely balanced) and are extremely happy with it, who would have thought I can actually convince my biological Dad to give me an 'early' birthday present(along with guilting him for the fact that he forgot my b-day last year:)

*Sigh happily*

new toy, new ambission, 1st seat here I come (^.^!)

April 12, 2012 at 07:54 PM · Congratulations...may you have many happy hours playing your new violin...

Sounds like you made a good choice!

April 12, 2012 at 10:09 PM · may I never have Kids! :D

April 16, 2012 at 12:54 PM · Basically, when renting you will usually end of paying list price for the instrument, while buying you will receive a discount. Some rental companies will still afford a discount after renting say 6 months and then buying the instrument. You might also ask the rental company if they have any used instruments for sale....

Chris B's Music

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