The next step up?

June 6, 2015 at 04:42 PM · Hello,

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.

Replies (55)

June 6, 2015 at 05:06 PM · I would say upgrade your playing skill to the point where you know what the limitations of your current violin before spending too much on a new violin.

June 6, 2015 at 05:21 PM · That's a given, but I'm asking regarding the instrument.

June 6, 2015 at 09:52 PM · Kevin is correct. You should base whether to upgrade based on your technique and whether or not you've gotten all you can out of it.

"Besides, as much as I like older violins, I'm afraid of breaking them or mistreating them."

Stop worrying about breaking a violin. Unless you're playing hard rock music or slamming the thing into a wall regularly, the likelihood your playing will break it isn't going to happen. Plus, with that kind of thought, you are liable to hinder your technique in the long run.

June 6, 2015 at 11:25 PM · I'll agree with Kevin, and also suggest playing everything you can get your hands on. It's hard to make intelligent choices, until you know what the choices are (what's out there).

June 7, 2015 at 02:52 AM · Thank you for the insight, honestly I doubt I will be swapping my current violin for a very long time. I just wanted insights from people who knows what I should be looking for.

It's not like if I have money flowing out of my pocket.

1. Should I be trying out more bows, my current one is the so far the best I've had, but it's unlikely the "highest class".

2. I spent 18 years using the same bow(I didn't continue playing the violin for all those years). I re-haired it a few times and recently I found out that I've been spending hundreds of dollars on a bow worth $40.

With the new bow, when the time comes, should I be more focused in re-hairing the bow I'm accustomed to or trying more bows? Since there is 1:3 ratio between re-hairing and this new bow, I'd like to know which is more advisable.

June 7, 2015 at 12:08 PM · Good bows cost between $1,000 and $8,000 and can be a hell of a lot more. Let's say we will stick to very good modern bows which will be around £2,000 - £3,000 or say $3,000 - $5,000 (US).

The cost of a re-hair is about £50 or $75 so that's only a small amount against the cost of the bow. (Over 10 years you might spend £1000 or $1,400 on rehairs).

Cheaper bows will be OK but once you get to a reasonable standard of playing you need a better bow as I have detailed above. Generally speaking bows below about £750 (or $1,000) are OK but will not give the best sound or playing possibilities.

June 7, 2015 at 01:14 PM · You cannot really give time periods for getting used to a new instrument or bow. Some people adapt within two or three weeks but others may take 6 months.

It depends where you are musically speaking and your experience.

For me, I can get used to a new instrument or bow in a couple of weeks, or even much less time (and if it's on trial make a decision), whereas another player may take 6-12 weeks. It depends on how long you play each day as well as your experience in evaluating.

June 7, 2015 at 01:55 PM · Since you have time...why not ask around to see what local luthiers you have in your neck of the woods. Then see if you can find some of their violins to test-drive.

When you're ready, you could also have one commissioned by whoever you prefer...or be on the lookout for one of theirs for sale.

You kind of have to be 'in' on it all to find these instruments it seems.

But it's a viable option! :D

p.s. There's nothing wrong with rehairing an inexpensive bow. If the bow works for you - its worth it. Rehairs are part of any bow maintenance - no matter how much the bow cost at point of purchase.

June 7, 2015 at 02:18 PM · Thank you for the insight,

I believe I am still getting used to the current violin for the moment. I cannot help but thinking that there is/will be something going wrong with the violin.

In the past week during practice, I heard some "cranking" sound, which is probably the peg slipping or bridge moving slightly.

I haven't had it with the new violin yet but I get this "grainy" sound as of yesterday and I'm uncertain of the cause. The string is still new, the bow is well rosined, I'm not sure if something happened to me in the past week... (I kept on getting the grainy sound with the old violin before I switched, I was very happy that I didn't hear it on the new violin)

June 7, 2015 at 02:53 PM · Too much rosin?

Temperature and humidity changes?

Too much bow pressure?

June 7, 2015 at 05:04 PM · I think humidity may have the most to do it, along with too much rosin. Humidity was over 80% yesterday. I haven't changed my technique and I did a lot of rosin on the bow because I learned that the bow is losing grip after only 15 minutes of playing and the bow is new.

June 7, 2015 at 06:26 PM · Yes, I found the reason!

The violin started singing well as soon as I switched to the dark rosin. It's kind of funny because I bought Hill's light and dark and decided to stay with light with the old bow and I kept the dark around nearly unused and didn't have a place for it.

June 7, 2015 at 09:46 PM · I actually brought over my current violin over to a professional violinist who lives in the next building.

He suggested that my violin is not yet fully open, but as I keep on finding the sound, I will open it and with the quality of the wood that I have, it will open over time as far as I practice everyday.

Here's a new question. My electronic clip-on tuner seems to be unreliable. Especially for open A, it flickers from G and A even when it is in tune (I confirmed with a tuning fork).

Are there any suggestions for clip-on tuner preferably rechargeable and dedicated for a violin?

June 7, 2015 at 10:59 PM · You might try muting the other 3 strings by placing your fingers on them. Then bow the string you want to check. This might work depending on the tuner.

Stay pawsitive,


June 7, 2015 at 11:47 PM · I want to get an active tuner that tells me which note I am on, so I can confirm that I'm playing the right now. I can confirm my D, A and E on G D and A string by playing the next open string together but I can't really confirm because the tuner likes to be a little bit funky.

June 8, 2015 at 12:10 AM · The old Korg TM-40 will do that if you play slow enough

June 12, 2015 at 04:38 PM · After consulting reviews, I decided to purchased a rechargeable tuner:

June 24, 2015 at 04:04 AM · Regarding the tuner, it came with a defective battery and the seller decided to give me refund without the hassle of me shipping it back. I thanked them and inquired regarding if I order another one, if they would test it first.

I have hooked the tuner up with 10ft USB cord, suspending the cables off of a fixed lamp on a book shelf, clamped to the scroll of my violin and it seems to be quite responsive, and no twitch A(my previous tuner NEVER picked up the A440 properly).

As for my violin, I borrowed and played some other instruments briefly, and I think I will stay with this violin for about a decade. I will be doing all kinds of upgrade(mostly aesthetics after bridge, nut, chinrest and tailpiece).

Now, I hope at least that after a decade, I will be able to afford ~$6000. So, I wish to currently spend more on the bow. Question:

-Should I save up and buy an even better bow and keep my current one as the "practice", or should I buy a more durable bow of lesser value as practice bow?

In the far future, I would like to be able to afford to commission a violin, and maybe some bows. Again, in far future. Hopefully local bowmaker and luthiers will stay active for few more decades.

June 24, 2015 at 11:35 PM · Nevermind about the practice bow, I couldn't stop thinking about wasting my "good bow" while the violin is muted, and I bought a Carbon Fiber bow on sale. Aileen WV880C. Nothing special, ~okay control. ~okay sound with bernardel. It can take more aggressive playing without stick hair making contact with the stick.

August 16, 2015 at 01:45 AM · I've taken the advice and put my hands on as many violins as I could throughout the summer(within reasonable budget).

There's one particular violin that I must use the expression that I fell in love with, the weight, the string height, playability, balance(I move both the violin and the bow, I also only do wrist vibrato because I've had surgeries in my left shoulder and my range of motion is limited), and most of all PROJECTION!

There's nothing wrong with mine, it's just my lust. Ideally, I will have the money for it in a few months. I am still juggling few things in my mind because in September, I will have the money, and new teaching contracts.

If I accept the contracts, I can spend the money, then survive the semester with the pay from University, but I honestly think I could live and study much more comfortably without teaching in my final year of studies. If I end up with good grades, I will apply for a scholarship in January, which will grant me a lot more the money than I can earn from teaching.

I must ask, when violinists and violin enthusiasts(like myself) made a step-up or a second step-up, did you find the "one" that really got to you? I can justify spending what I've spent on my "Campbell(the Amati copy with uneven wings, campbell means crooked smile)" because what I had before was a VSO really, but I'm not sure if I can justify why I am contemplating on getting the new one. Beside its uniqueness, and that Canada may face a bit of inflation after the new election.

August 16, 2015 at 03:39 AM · For me, each upgrade has needed to be a big step up in quality in order to justify doing so. Each such step has carried a correspondingly big step up in price too, though.

August 16, 2015 at 07:55 AM · It is somewhat like buying a car. For many people, there is no need for a luxury car. A Corolla will do just fine. But for some people, there is a need for a luxury car; e.g. financial advisers, real estate agents for high-end markets, Fortune 500 CEOs, etc.

August 16, 2015 at 01:20 PM · It's odd because I don't lust over luxury cars, watches, computers, phones etc. when it comes to violin, I'm almost powerless.

With "Campbell", it feels and sounds like playing a violin, with the one I "fell in love with", it almost felt like I was intimately moving my body with the violin(as weird you may think). I could almost feel that I'll be contempt keeping that violin forever. I didn't feel that way towards anything else that was in my hands.

It is definitely a big step up from in quality, as well as the price.

August 17, 2015 at 03:46 AM · Have you tried any modern violins? My former teacher(professional violinist, played in both top and middle of the road symphonies) used to say that he preferred his modern violin over his antique Italian violin. He even gave this exact endorsement on the maker's website. The only difference is that the old violin is worth approximately 25x more. I don't really know what your price range is, but violins are expensive, and if you're hurting for cash, then it might be wise to invest on a high quality modern instrument.

Also, it's important to note that no instrument is perfect. Out of the "nice" violins I've tried, I've always been able to find a weakness in each of these instruments. This is not to say that I prefer my current violin to some of these "nicer" violins, but it's just something to keep in mind on your search for a better sound. You've probably tried a lot more violins than I have at this point, but as of now, I've yet to find something that is just flawless in every category.

August 17, 2015 at 04:09 AM · Hello Shawn, I am actually fond of newer instruments, just the idea of the fact every scratch, worn varnish would be made by me. Oddly when I try two of the same price range violin I've touched, I often like the older ones better. I have not yet played anything made by a living, working luthier. I'd love to get my hands on one eventually. What do you classify as a "Modern" violin? I really want to try something made recently, in 21st century.

The violin that I "fell in love" with is actually relatively modern. 1958, made in Canada. Sig. Hoibakke violin. The fact that Olivia has the very last one being sold(from google search) puts rush for me to raise money to raise the money for it.

The only flaw that I could spot was the nut and saddle possibly made of some sort of ivory, hopefully not an elephant one. Other than that, this is the "perfect" instrument to me at least from a night of trial.

August 17, 2015 at 04:19 AM · I'm glad that you have found a instrument that you really like. If it has the sound you're looking for, and the price is right, you love playing the violin, then by all means buy it. I'm not trying to discourage you at all.

I'm just surprised you haven't tried any new violins. What I mean by modern is made a year ago, or just by a maker that you can still talk to. I think you should give those a chance, just to see what's out there. I usually try some violins every time I go to the shop to either rehair my bow or swap out some strings. I just mess around while waiting for the Luthiers.

The maker, who also owns the shop that I go to, sells his instruments for 12k each, and I guess that's by my understanding, a reasonable price for a high quality modern instrument(even though it's a high price for a non-professional). I don't really intend to buy any of his instruments in the near future, but it always amazes me how every violin sounds so different from each other, even instruments by the same maker. In some ways, violins are like people. Out of the violins that I have tried in that price range, most of them I like, but there are several that that I strongly dislike, and several that I love, but, nevertheless, none of them are perfect.

What I meant before by flaw was just in terms of sound and tone. For example, there are some instruments that sound very nice, and project well when you play them with a slow and steady bow, but are just awful in the higher positions, or if you attempt to bounce your bow and vice versa.

August 17, 2015 at 04:48 AM · Thanks Shawn, I have been recommended by a colleague, if I want to buy a modern excellent violins "without selling an organ" as he says, he told me to try modern Eastern European made violins. I'm not even certain where I'd even find those.

I am particularly fond of non-workshop and non-copy violins. I don't like the copy of(Amati, Strad, Gunaerari, etc. I am particularly fond of something that was designed and made by an artist) although I wouldn't discriminate as far as it has qualities I look for.

I cannot say that I've encountered any "super new" violins to this date. I want to try some of them. Where do you usually find them(that is in a realistic price range for me, because I'd be terrified to even touch a $12K violin)?

My budget was $2K, and for some reason, they were nice, none stood out though. Then near $3K, I found what I really like. Which is out of my reach for now, but something to aim at. I'm still in conflict trying to tell myself to get it, and telling myself not to. I know for sure that it will likely be the best motivation to quit smoking to raise money.

August 17, 2015 at 04:58 AM · I own a 100-200ish year old German violin somewhat close(a bit higher) to your price range(forgot the maker, but the scrolls look nice!). I've had this instrument for a long time, but I'm happy with the sound quality I got for that price. If the violin you like isn't available by the time you have money, you could also consider looking into these instruments.

If you're looking for a "realistic" price, then try some instruments by his/her students. However, I don't think it hurts to try instruments outside of your price range. It's not disrespectful to do so. Also, it helps you learn what you like.

I will say with certainty that my current instrument is straight up inferior to most of the quality modern instruments that I've tried. That's not to say that I don't like it, but there are some objective things to look for.

You actually made me very curious about modern Eastern European violins. Maybe there are some Luthiers on this site know a lot about them? Like do you actually have to go to Romania just to see if you might like a violin or not? because that seems a bit extreme :).

August 17, 2015 at 05:06 AM · Hello Shawn, my current violin "Campbell" is a German workshop violin, from about 100 years ago as well. As I've mentioned, this sounds like a violin. A decent one, and I have not yet found a violin that I enjoyed playing until higher than my budget. The current idea is for me to trade this in when I go for a new violin, but I'm starting to contemplate that as well, because from comparison, I like this better than a lot of "nicer" violins as you described before. Ideally, I want to keep this one. Maybe later in life, fix its neck, regraduate, refit pegs and etc. Almost entirely for sentimental reasons.

My colleague is from Iran, he says he owns an Iranian made violin(in Iran, he works in the physics lab with me here in Canada), and have played Romanian made, and Czechoslovakian made violins. I've been bugging him to ship is violin over from Iran to show me, but that is yet to happen.

A soloist in my neighbourhood has a Cuban made violin, from what he's told me, he's had that thing for longer than I've been alive for. It sounds very nice, but he didn't quite offer me to touch it.

August 17, 2015 at 05:08 AM · You're still in the student-instrument price range at $2k-$3k. In that range, you are mostly looking at workshop instruments if you are wanting contemporary. If Eastern European, that would get you brands like Gliga and Sofia. At that price, you get good Chinese workshop instruments, too, under brands like Scott Cao (workshop, not Scott's personally-made violins) or Jay Haide.

August 17, 2015 at 05:20 AM · Hello Lydia, from what I've read, Hoibakke violin I've touched seems to be the non-workshop violin in the range I've been seeking for(should I sell my left or my right kidney for this one?). I can see myself eventually commissioning a violin from someone who I trust, 20~30 years from now, when I have landed where I wish to be. Currently, if I make my secondary jump to "student level" violin, I'll likely be only maintaining it properly for few decades.

The rush for me to step up are based on:

1.Uniqueness of this new instrument, and how it atains just about every characteristics I'm looking for.

2."Issues" to be resolved with current violin(unfitted pegs, varnish touch up, etc.), not affecting the sound. greed and lust.

August 17, 2015 at 05:44 AM · Honestly, I've seen $700 violins that sound alright. Some of these cheap instruments are terrible, and some are okay. They don't necessarily sound bad, but with a cheap instrument, you just have virtually no responsiveness and tonal flexibility. However, at some point, a fine instrument might seem overrated.

This is not to say that a good instrument won't improve your playing ability, but it seems very plausible to me that someone can get into a top conservatory like Juilliard with a $600 violin, provided that they have the skills. A cheap violin can still be acceptable in terms of tone.

Back on topic. I think one thing that makes evaluating instruments tough is the fact that some very fine instruments have a certain degree of "edge" that the audience doesn't necessarily hear.

August 17, 2015 at 08:08 AM · There's some excellent advice already here as usual, but I'm gonna put in my two-cents as well! :)

Steven, violins can be like a drug for some folks, so watch out not to fall into the neverending need for more. You have to live with the fact that there may be a 'better violin' out there. Don't go crazy trying to find it.

That said, if you're still bent on finding a better one, in my opinion the two most important things you should look for are the sound - does it please you? Is it what you want your playing to sound like? - And how it benefits your technique - does it make it easier for you to play? Does it allow you to play advanced stuff that your other instrument can't cope with?

A /good/ instrument should allow you to use advanced technique, so ultimately the sound is what I would concentrate on. But also keep in mind what are you going to be playing! Are you gonna be playing Mozart, or will you tackle Paganini's Caprices?

If you found a violin you like, and you've played a dozen others in that range to make absolutely sure that's the right one (heck, try a few below that price range and a few above, but don't find out how much they cost at first, this way you can truly see if that is /the one!/, and make sure to play them hard, don't be afraid to hurt the instruments, if you have proper technique, they can take it! Also don't worry if they are 10 years old or 100, that shouldn't matter! ...also, use the bow you will be playing it with if you buy it!), and if you can afford it, then go for it, but don't look at another violin after that at least for a few years! Commit to it! It can take a couple of months, or it can take years of experimentation to get the most out of your instrument.

Also, if your current violin has some intrinsic value, many dealers accept for you to trade-in your old instrument to help offset some of the cost of the new one. See if that's an option with whomever it is you're dealing with.

August 17, 2015 at 10:31 AM · Steven, since you like violins so much and like Olivia's work, why don't you ask her if she is offering a violin-making class this fall here. You can then make the violin that you dream of.

August 17, 2015 at 12:26 PM · Thank you Fox, that's definitely something I'll have to consider. I cannot claim that I got the most out of my current violin, but I do feel confined in a way, also, the sound from the lower strings feel somewhat empty.

Kevin, I'd love to take that class, but one reason why I can't, I'm a full time student, and it's considered as a demanding program. I'll be lucky if I have an hour to practice every day starting in the Fall.

August 17, 2015 at 02:17 PM · Years ago, I was agonizing over whether or not to spend a significant amount of money on a violin, and a good friend told me: Money can be used to purchase goods and services. ;-)

If you've got the money, and a better violin is going to bring you pleasure, why not? It's not like you're throwing it away. An instrument in that price range should keep its value, so if you ever change your mind, you can probably trade or sell it back.

IIRC, you're an adult beginner, so treat yourself to a decent instrument; it'll make learning easier. You will probably find yourself with the desire to continue to trade up as you improve your playing over the years.

August 17, 2015 at 02:53 PM · If the sound on the lower strings seems empty, have you experimented with different strings on it? Sometimes you need to mix and match to find the right combination of strings that work best with your violin. :)

August 17, 2015 at 05:23 PM · Hello Fox,

I have tried some combinations, and I've decided in the end that I want "Bright" lower strings, and dark upper strings for the best balance.

The whole violin simply lacks the "background" sound that a lot of better violins have. I think that's what my soloist neighbour means by "open", he keeps on saying that my violin will be "open", if I keep on playing, but I'm not too optimistic about a 100 year old violin. He doesn't speak English very well, so it's hard to explain and converse sometimes.

Lydia, I'm tempted, basically, I'm in the phase of "How will I make the money for this?", which I can do in several different scenarios, in each of that scenario, there are ups and downs. At times like this, I'm upset that my supervisor kept me around as a volunteer instead of paying me. I'm also partially trying to convince myself why I don't "need" this violin.

August 17, 2015 at 06:07 PM · I understand the 'greed/lust' to possess a better instrument; the smartest way to harness that is to play TONS of better instruments until you find the one(s) that do what you want. If they are near your price range, well enough; if not, you have motivation to raise your range sights.

Many shops will let you try instruments as long as you respect the instruments you try. It's THE best way to find out what you like, what will stretch you, and what enchants you. The more violins you play, the better you will understand what is 'negotiable' and what is 'bottom line' in your next instrument. So what I would suggest is to make friends with some reputable dealers in your area.

August 17, 2015 at 09:35 PM · I just read your op. You said

"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."

If you've only been playing for two years and trying to learn the basics by yourself, it can be a very daunting process. Are you taking lessons now? If not, I would strongly recommend in investing in these first before you upgrade your instrument. You can probably invest in a good bow as well because these might make a bigger difference to your technique.

With proper guidance, you will surely improve your sound more than a good violin can. Maybe it would be better to stave off on the upgrade for a while once you have some more money, and then buy a much more expensive instrument than what your price range is right now. It's probably better to do that than to constantly have to think about making small upgrades.

August 17, 2015 at 10:49 PM · Hello Shawn,

I'm not taking regular lessons, but I take lessons on need-to-know basis of techniques.

I am following Suzuki books, I am starting on Volume 4, reading Carl Flesch's "Art of Violin Playing", and following some of his scale exercises with wall-plugged tuner attached to my scroll.

I basically identify what I have trouble with then take lessons on what I wish to learn and develop. I think so far, I am happy with my bows and books I follow.

Also to come to think of it, it has been 3 years now. I was in mid-Suzuki vol 2, and only knew first position in May, now I can move move around from 1st~5th position. I progressed the most this summer.

I'm currently planning to passively accumulate/save some money, while learning as much as I can, then make a jump when I've reached my goal.

The low fingerboard projection(22~23mm) keeps me paranoid of striking the top and edge with the bow, I've done it few times already. Some people suggested neck adjustment or wedge, but I don't think it's worth investing further into this one considering the cost. This is especially hindering my progress because Suzuki Vol 4, has many double-stop staccato. I also had "I had enough of this" moment, after going through some pizzicato parts and struck my violin top with the button of the bow.

This led me to trying out other violins, I found the violin(s) I borrowed do not have these problems. Very easy to play. With one particularly sounding and feeling best.

With my current violin, in order to play on G string, I have to tilt the violin as far to the right as possible, and bring my right arm up almost to my eye/chin level.

August 17, 2015 at 11:36 PM · A decent, well-set-up instrument in your $2k-3k price range should serve you perfectly well until you become an advanced player. You may end up lusting after other violins before you really reach the point where you need the upgrade, but you can figure that what you're contemplating spending now will (assuming you're making a good choice in that price range) serve you well for some years to come.

August 17, 2015 at 11:55 PM · Thank you Lydia,

I must admit my current violin is the best sounding one that I could afford at the time, I didn't know much to look for other than the sound. It has downsides because I am learning new things. I feel "confined" as I mentioned before, because there are things that I can do, but not as well as I could with other instruments.

What I'm lusting over now, is possibly the BEST I put my hands on. Later, I will learn new things, and then I may start identifying downsides of it as well.

I have a feeling that if I end up getting that one, It'll(have to) be the last one until I start bringing in salary(I can't stop until PhD). Especially since I will not pursue a music career.

Forgot to mention to Fox,

I wish to tackle Paganini's Caprices, some day... I will for now, settle with some Bach, Vivaldi pieces(I must confess that I am not the biggest fan of Mozart). I like to Caprices and certos by Wieniawski and Paganini the most, but I'm quite far away in skill level.

August 18, 2015 at 01:25 AM · Steven, I know there are many improperly set-up violins out there, but sounds like a lot of the 'problems' you mentioned above could also have to do with technique. I mean no offense when I say that, just trying to help explore the issues at hand. You said you're learning on your own; that's great, but have you had a proper violin teacher watch you play at some point to perhaps spot any difficulties or bad habits you might be having that could be related to improper technique?

Also have you had a teacher play your current violin and give you their opinion on it?

I'm still of the opinion that if you are so in love with this other violin, and you can afford it, then go for it! There's a huge deal of psychological stuff on what comes to playing, and if you aren't confident on your instrument, your performance can suffer! Your motivation can suffer, and you can easily get frustrated. Get one you'll be happy with even if it is a minor upgrade. There's no rule that says you have to be stuck with an instrument you don't like. But make sure it's the violin, not you that's to blame. ;)

August 18, 2015 at 01:46 AM · Scale up by a factor of three.* Old rule of thumb in synthetic chemistry that is probably based more on folklore and B.S. than anything else, but I learned it long ago, and I've found it reliable in my own work. Thus, if you presently own a $1000 violin and a $300 bow, your next step is a $3000 violin and a $900 bow.

*Really simple procedures can be scaled up by larger factors, but buying a violin is not a simple procedure. :)

August 18, 2015 at 01:54 AM · Hello Fox,

I do ask my soloist neighbour and a teacher I see once a while to look over my playing and the violin.

My soloist neighbour looks like he has almost NO problem playing it, but he keeps on mentioning that the violin isn't "open" and when he plays on D string, he seems to slow down. He also hates my chinrest. He showed me slow bowing techniques which I am still working on. I think he's trying to tell me to loosen my right wrist, which I am trying.

My teacher didn't play it for very long, she also mentioned that my intonation is good and that I need to relax more. Which I enforced by purposely making myself tired before playing, I had the best bowing after an hour run.

I'm certain it's mostly me, still in the beginning stage. From what I could take away from trying other violins, at least a little bit is the violin as well.

My violin is quite well set-up now, good bridge and planed fingerboard. It's just that the fingerboard projection is quite low, encouraging me to be more mobile, flexible, and accurate. Flexibility is where I am limited due to surgeries in my left shoulder. This violin in combination with Bonmusica shoulder rest, I raise my right arm above my head to play on G string. I've been using a tailored piece of leather, and viva la musica shoulder-rest instead for a while.

-On the side, I still don't understand how some violinist who don't neither shoulder-rest nor chinrest perform vibrato.

August 18, 2015 at 03:20 PM · Vibrato without shoulder rest or chinrest is possible if you learn how to do it properly.

Don't believe comments about non brand new violins opening up through playing.

August 18, 2015 at 04:14 PM · Thank you Kevin for the confirmation, I have to curse the language barrier because the soloist keeps on thinking that my violin is relatively new, while I keep telling him that it's quite old.

I do recall however it took a few days until it starting ringing better and sympathetic vibrations happened a lot more intensively. Most noticeable on A string when I play A on G(the violin I'm in love with didn't give me much sympathetic vibrations, I can only imagine what it'd sounds like once it starts doing it).

August 19, 2015 at 10:48 PM · Well, the good news is that agony over the new violin is over, the bad news is that I won't be getting it.

I fell off my bike this morning leaving me with a light concussion, bruised and swollen right hand, and destroyed just about all of the electronics that resides in my backpack. I will have to invest into repairing my bike, helmet, thankfully my supervisor is buying me a new laptop, and I also need to get a new ipod. Surprisingly the one thing that I expected to be broken on impact survived(my sunglasses which was on my face before impact and I remember cursing when it few off of my face.).

Also, I picked up my DIY project violin with repaired nut.

Say, playing the violin is my ONLY form of recreation, what do you usually do to pass the time when you physically cannot play it?

August 20, 2015 at 01:22 AM · Wow, at least you're in one piece, bruised as it may be. Glad it wasn't any worse! Get well soon!

August 20, 2015 at 06:08 AM · Mental practice is great when you cannot play, you can catch up on musical theory. If you can use only left hand just now, you can improve your LH pizzicato.

August 20, 2015 at 08:59 AM · Phew to light concussion, sounds like it might have been so much worse. Best wishes.

August 22, 2015 at 02:52 AM · Thank you, I'm feeling much better now, although though my whiplash keeps me far away from playing Campbell.

As I've decided to spend conserved savings so far for the new violin, I've spent a little on an electric violin as well, for $60, only marking is silenzia.

I think, it's an EV202

It's actually louder than my violin with the mute on, and I have to say using my headset to the active/passive amp makes me cringe. Without an amp, this "silent" violin for me is as good as fingering practice(the previous owner even kept the stick-on fretboard on the fingerboard). I can't say it sounds horrible, but it certainly is no acoustic violin. At this point, I can't wait to put my hands on Campbell again.

August 23, 2015 at 04:18 AM · After gaining quite a bit of confidence on fitting pegs on my DIY project, I've successfully fixed my Campbell's pegs. Believe me it took long. I rotated the pegs in circles on sandpad, then tried fitting on the pegbox, then repeated until it felt like how the pegs on more expensive violin felt. I'm also trying on Warchal Ametyst G, D and Infeld Red A, E. The best two of the two in my opinion. I'm looking forward to play it tomorrow when the strings settle in(I often found regardless of which strings, it took at least 8 hours for the strings to set and stabilize and stay in tune, after string change, I set all strings half step high and leave it over night).

I've decided to put my DIY project on sale to start saving up for a better violin(apparently I haven't given up yet).

I am also putting Infeld Red G, D and Warchal Ametyst A and E on my electric violin, it actually sounds good, at least better than unidentified steel strings that were on it before.

I should probably mention that all combinations of strings at this point are at least a month old.

August 30, 2015 at 09:29 PM · I feel a little bit lightheaded...

I've managed to save+earn the money for the Hoibakke violin, I decided to borrow it for a weekend before making a final decision...

I can already hear all of my peers calling me insane for how much money I'm spending.

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