I think I should still consider myself as a beginner when it comes to playing the violin, I've been playing continuously about two years. I spent some amount of money on accessories, books, the instrument and the bow.
Here's a little bit of history on my recent step-up
Quite recently I have upgraded from my old Korean made violin and bow to a 1920's replica of Andreas Amati and a light weighted pernambuco bow.
When I was buying the instrument, I took my old violin to a local master luthier and told him that I have $800 to offer at the moment. He showed me 5 instruments to play with, all of them worth over $1000 he said.
First one made by himself, I liked it, very good looking and single piece front and back. The sound wasn't very unique though.
Second one, 1800s German made with a LOT of repaired cracks which I was afraid of touch/break as I play. I don't think I was putting too much attention to the sound when I played it for that reason.
Third one, early 1900s replica of Andrea Amati, while I was playing this one, on the A string, on C, I felt the violin "opening up" as I read in some articles. I instantaneously grew very fond of it.
Fourth one, relatively new Italian made, again I like it but not as much as the replica of Amati.
I took the Amati replica and played with it for 4~5 hours a day for a week until I started noticing that my bow isn't doing justice. I also swapped out the unidentified strings on the violin to Tomastik Infeld Red which I am used to.
I took the bow to a local music store where a cellist worked. He told me that the problems I am having with the bow (The bow went out of balance whenever I switched strings and I had to work very hard not to make it bounce. I also had to concentrate VERY HARD to make loud enough noise on the third position to match first position on the next string) shouldn't exist with a decent bow and he suggested that the bow is tip heavy and I will need to upgrade the bow. He showed me selection of Coda carbon fiber bows, which I couldn't play but they definitely felt nice in my hand. Due to the price tag of the my favorite one being in $800 range, I decided to re-hair my old bow and keep trying to better control it.
I visited another luthier who lived some distance away and asked her what bows she has to offer in my budget (~$300), she showed me selection of one Carbon Fiber bow and one Brazilwood bow and two Pernambuco bows. I picked one that I liked the best and I told her that I'll come back for the bow once I confirmed my contract at work(Which surprisingly happened that evening).
I went to see her the next day and asked her to take the tags off the bows so I can blind test it, and I ended up picking the same one that I picked the day before. I purchased it.
I didn't quite notice so much difference from sound I can make from changing bow until I put enough rosin on the bow and played it at home for a while. I'm feeling that I have almost a 100% control over what sound I am making. It's actually quite scary for me because the sound is so clean and responsive.
Now, my next step up is at least a year away, until I start my fully funded MSC degree and (or take up another contract with work, I am a research and teaching assistant at University for physics), I won't even be able to afford an upgrade.
In between now and then, I will be getting the best of my bow and the violin and I am contempt with that. In fact, some of my friends even accuse me of being in love with my instrument. I'm not sure if I can deny that.
I was curious and wanted insight on what would be a decent next step up from my current step-up. How much should I be investing in the Violin and how much for the bow?
I'd like to look for a violin locally made by local luthiers, I think there's not enough of them and I want to support them. Besides, as much as I like older violins, I'm afraid of breaking them or mistreating them. My amati replica does have repaired seams which I am afraid will come apart someday. If I'm not mistaken, I think someone took the violin apart at some point because I had to shake the violin to get the old dried up glue pieces out through the f holes.
Also, I'd like to know if I should keep the current bow and re-hair it until I am noticing problems.
I decided to ask now even though the next upgrade won't be happening in a few years most likely because I want to compile the list of things I should consider. I have looked at the FAQ section of this website(and many other online resources) about buying a new instrument. I'd like to mention that I do not have a teacher, I have been using remote resources and books to teach myself. I am hoping to ask a musician friend(he plays the Piano, and on his way to become a medical doctor) to connect me to a professional violinist someday.
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