Should I get this violin? (picture)

June 17, 2013 at 05:40 PM ·

Alright so I'm a total rookie when it comes to the violin (and instruments in general). I don't know how to play it, I've never even touched one. I'd like to pick it up as a hobby though and am looking for an affordable violin suitable for a beginner.

The above violin is one I found on an auction website. It's described in the ad as an antique and I notice it doesn't have one of those chin rest things but I'm sure I could order one off the web. The length of the violin is listed as 60cm. Also it looks like the violin only has 3 strings in the picture but I asked the seller and apparently there are 4, one is just really thin. The bow is also missing, will have to order one of those as well off the web.

So what do you guys think? Is an antique wooden violin a good choice for a super beginner like me or should I keep looking? Is there anything in particular I should ask the seller about this violin? I really don't know at all what to be on the lookout for as I have zero experience with violins.

Replies (25)

June 17, 2013 at 06:18 PM · What is your price range?

I have had extremely good experiences with Old Violin House. I've tried five of their violins and they have been good to very good (for a beginner such as myself, not necessarily for high-zoot professionals...although they have passed muster with my instructor).

Here's an example:

Opera Violin

Violin, case, & bow for ~$400 delivered. It will be at least as good as an Eastman beginner level outfit. Or that has been my experience so far.

June 17, 2013 at 07:46 PM · I really don't want to spend more than 100$ USD, and preferrably not even that much... That's why I'm only looking at used violins. Is that a realistic price range at all? There doesn't seem to be any violins in the thrift stores around here though... guitars and pianos but no violins haha. The violin in the picture I posted is currently going for 30€ and I am super tempted to offer, though I'm sure the going price will skyrocket as the deadline for the auction closing approaches.

June 17, 2013 at 08:16 PM · Unless you want a VSO (violin shaped object) you may want to spend somethig over $200. Sure you can find a decent violin for a beginner at $100 but anything less that will be a waste of money. Music is expensive whether it be a violin or a flute, you are going to have to spend more than the "ideal" to get your money's worth. This is looks like a decent violin, but you will never know until you buy it.

June 17, 2013 at 08:21 PM · Well, Honestly $100 is a very low start. You might get a violin at that price now but find yourself wanting to upgrade in as little as 3 months. I recommend to start with a range of at least $300. But respecting your range here are a few I suggest.

Skylark

Ametto

Stentor

And More in the $300-$500 range:

Luger

Core Academy

June 17, 2013 at 09:41 PM · violins $100 and under are quite often very unsatisfying, even for a total newbie.

June 17, 2013 at 09:59 PM · I'd look into rentals, if you don't want to spend more than $100 at the moment..

June 17, 2013 at 11:24 PM · Have a look at the article posted by our website moderator Laurie Niles about why NOT to start on very cheap violin.

You indicate you know nothing about violins and that's fine, because everyone has to start some where at some time. Can you go to a local music school or music store and talk to a teacher or salesperson (no obligation, just as a looker), to get an idea of what the scope is and see if this is really what you want to be getting yourself in to? Just ask them to show you what a usual starter violin package is, how much it might cost new, if there is a rental package, how much some lessons might cost, some books etc.

$100.00 is going to leave you really frustrated unless you strike an incredibly lucky day, but those lucky days usually happen to people who already know what to look out for, and you just don't so you are vulnerable to people who are deliberately or mistakenly shonky. Best of luck in your endeavour.

June 18, 2013 at 12:38 AM · Renting is good advise.

You get to use a moderately expensive violin of good quality with no real downside.

June 18, 2013 at 02:13 AM · Look for T19 instruments from Yitamusic on eBay. That's your best bet for finding a playable instrument and bow at around twice your budget.

A local rental from a good shop could be a better idea for the very short term, but you don't play a violin well in the very short term, and before long, a T19 can be better value than a student rental, while often giving better quality.

June 18, 2013 at 01:42 PM · "Should I get this violin?"

Like everyone else here I wouldn't recommend it.

The picture tells you very little other than that it looks a bit like a German factory fiddle.

The main problem may not be the price you have to pay but the money you might need to get it in a reasonably playable state. And then the sound and playability you end up with may still be inferior to even a relatively inexpensive chinese violin.

For some reason many people think older must be

better but particularly in this category and price range of instruments that is often not the case.

June 18, 2013 at 05:09 PM · If I were you, I'd find a teacher first!

June 18, 2013 at 10:01 PM · Its a cheap, cheap violin, maybe 50 years old but if you can get it for $100 + set up, it shouldn't be any worse than a new chinese violin for $100 which will need at least as much set up, there are good Chinese violins but not for $100 in my opinion.

June 19, 2013 at 03:00 PM · It doesn't even have a chinrest. That's not a good sign, really. It looks like a cheap, awful sounding instrument (a VSO - or "violin shaped object") What is your budget; how much do you want to spend? You really shouldn't buy an instrument on your own without consulting with a private teacher; they will know what is available locally. The thing you picture is a total waste of time, and you will regret spending the money, IMHO.

The general consensus is that anything less than $300 is going to be hideous and make you miserable. Please plan on spending at least that much, and on finding a good private teacher. These Ebay/craigslist/cheapo violins are not worth looking at and a scam to ensnare people who have no knowledge of the instrument. A complete waste of money.

June 19, 2013 at 06:50 PM · I don't know, Robert. I recently bought a Kremona VP1 violin on eBay for < $300 and have been very pleased with the quality. That same fiddle would have cost around $800 - $1000 had I bought it in a shop.

eBay basically allows people to pay wholesale rates for instruments, but many of them will either be junk or will need substantial setup. However, if you know what to look for, you can often find a decent instrument in the sub-$300 range, given some time and patience. I have found several over the years.

That said, I would never consider buying the instrument listed in this post. It is clearly a modern VSO being paired with a bad vintage case with the intention of fooling the uninformed into paying more than its worth.

June 19, 2013 at 10:43 PM · "However, if you know what to look for, you can often find a decent instrument in the sub-$300 range, given some time and patience"

That was my point earlier. OP doesn't know what to look for, this is not the time to be buying an 'antique' off a list. Better to get some advice, see what purchasing actually entails, and then make a decision.

As the thread starts with OP wanting to take up violin as a HOBBY, this will go one of two ways - the realisation that its too expensive and intensive to be worth it (as my daughter said, I want to play but I don't want to learn), or be bitten and willing to spend and do what ever it takes.

June 19, 2013 at 11:35 PM · No,

Brevity.

June 19, 2013 at 11:50 PM · "as my daughter said, I want to play but I don't want to learn"

lol (perhaps I shouldn't laugh?)

June 20, 2013 at 04:32 AM · Ebay prices may have been wholesale years ago, like auction prices, but on the average today ebay prices are retail or higher than retail, I would not recommend buying anything on ebay unless you have an expert to help you, and even then its risky.

Even these Chinese brands that people are recommending usually need a lot of set up $$$$ and are very inconsistent in quality, you might get a good one, might not, and if you get a dud, its like you've been ripped off. best thing is to find a reasonably priced store you trust where you can try out several instruments,

Buying a violin is a very personal choice, one man/woman's Strad is anothers VSO, just because so and so recommends ?????? doesn't mean you're going to like that anywhere near as much as they do, and beware on the internet a lot of the recommendations might be coming from people that are dealers or agents for the brand, likewise you may not want to trust me because I have a small shop, But still buying violins sight unseen and unplayed is just not wise in my opinion

June 20, 2013 at 06:30 AM · I had a good luck on an old violin (more than 100 yo) for $150 through eBay last year. With an additional set up by luthier (a new bridge, open seams, fingerboard repair) it ended up less than $300 in total.

Having said that, though, I recognized the risk of (a) totally losing money for VSO, and even if not so (b) paying at least the same amount or probably more to properly set up. In short, I budgeted $200 for set up, and was ready to lose the 150 if the repair is too costly.

June 20, 2013 at 06:37 AM · Like Buri said, the answer is very simple: "No."

The more correct course of action has already been provided: Rent First, Buy Later. For not much money you can rent a decent real (not VSO) violin from a reputable luthier who can professionally set it up. Later, once you're more familiar with the instrument and know what it is you want you can buy a good instrument with your teacher's help.

Personally, I rented for a year and a half until I was ready to look for what I wanted. And I'm all the happier and better for it. I ended up with a terrific instrument and bow that I wouldn't have been able to appreciate as a neophyte.

June 20, 2013 at 09:03 AM · Mario sums it up - rent until you are able to judge a good instrument for yourself.

Then you can start looking for a bargain - they're hard to find but they do exist, if you search locally.

The other night someone turned up at a session with a fiddle she found for $100 in a junk shop. It was a no-name machine-made student instrument and you could see your face in the ghastly spray-on varnish. But when I played it I was stunned - I've played $2000 instruments that sounded worse. And the setup was fine. If you rush you won't find bargains like these, but if you're patient you might strike lucky.

June 20, 2013 at 04:33 PM · I bought mine from a music shop for £140 and is sounds ok - bought new strings and a new bow. Been playing for 18 months - it's fine for now. As someone said - time yet to look for something fancy !!! :) :)

June 21, 2013 at 11:05 AM · Thank you everyone for your very helpful responses. I've decided not to bid for the violin in the picture I posted and instead will look into renting one from somewhere. I'm the kind of person who buys things on a whim and regrets it later, so you guys really saved me here. :) Here's hoping I find a good rental! It'll have to wait until I move into my new place in the fall, but then I'll definitely get cracking. I've wanted to play the violin for years and have just been putting off getting started because I've convinced myself it's too hard and I could never be good at it anyway. Time to put those silly thoughts aside and at least give it a shot! :P

June 22, 2013 at 05:54 PM · Another alternative no one mentioned is to find a luthier who imports a line of Chinese student violin and then does their own setup. Then you know what you're getting and also have a luthier who will stand behind it. And some of them offer 100% trade-in if you buy another violin from them down the road. I did that several years ago; his current price is $400 for the set. The case is decent--I use it for my "newer" violin now and it's holding up. The bow broke soon but low-end bows are easy to replace. My teacher thought it was a very decent violin and when I did replace it, it wasn't because she said I had outgrown it.

August 6, 2013 at 01:40 AM · Julian, I'm late to the party, but I want to encourage you in your effort to learn the violin. I started last year and it was a wonderful decision. I'm having the time of my life with it. Keep us posted on your progress.

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