3 new violin questions - 1910 German Violin

January 20, 2005 at 08:02 PM · Hi - I bought a new violin recently it's worth £1200 and is a circa 1910, Heinel & Herold (I think that's the spelling anyway it's swirly writing hehe). Does anyone know anything about these kind, I only know its German.

Also...? I find myself playing my really cheap old one sometimes and feeling it sounds better, well vibrato anyway. Is this because I bought it new and so it tends to have got used to me if you like?

If so, how long do i have to play on my new one to get the right feel and sound I want?

Thanks

Replies (26)

January 21, 2005 at 03:19 AM · An old violin should sound better than a new one. Wood improves as it ages, like fine wine. Have you had a luthier check out your German violin? One of my students just bought a German violin of about the same vintage as yours. It sounds good now, but I'm sure it will sound a lot better after the luthier works on it.

Re your question about how long you need to play a violin to get the sound you want from it: I don't want to discourage you, but I'd say the answer is, "A lifetime." :-) Have fun!

January 21, 2005 at 08:02 AM · Nathan, where did you buy it? Why not ask the shop about it?

I have always used German violins of about that age, and from my limited experience, sometimes German workshop violins have the name of the retailer not the maker or the model (i.e Strad, Stainer etc.). If it is a retailer's name that can make the maker hard to track down.

You might be interested that I showed a London-based maker, well known for his setting up skills, my 1890's Saxon workshop instument. It is rather poorly made, with a crack under the chinrest. He said he would pay 200 pounds for it, spend a lot of time 'making it work,' and sell it for 1200 pounds. Obviously 1200 pounds is above the 'book price' if you go by maker's name, but I think the price is fair enough if he can sell it on the sound quality, and guarantee it. So there is diffrence between a violin worth 1200 at auction and a violin worth 1200 because a luthier has worked hard to get the best out of it before putting it in his shop.

Based my experience again of German workshop violins, after a new set-up they begin to settle down after a few days but take several months until I feel comfortable with them.

January 21, 2005 at 07:24 PM · you may be interested to see there is a Meinel & Herold violin in musicalinstrumentsales.co.uk offered at 14,000 pounds.

January 22, 2005 at 12:33 AM · I'm tempted to ask why you spent £1200 on a violin you didn't like as much as your cheap one? If you have gone past the time when you can take it back then i guess you're stuck with it and perhaps the best thing you can do is to start experimenting with strings and set up.

liz

February 24, 2005 at 09:47 AM · Hiya - Can I start by saying I'm pretty sure I made a mistake with the name of the label in my violin. Looking inside I thought it was a 'H' for Heinel, but it looks like an 'M', and on the recipt I was given it says Meinel and Herold. I bought it for £1200 and was told it is German, circa 1910. I don't know if this is a big coincidence, seeing as I too have seen the one advertised for sale for a lot of money. I assume that is a better violin, if not only because I bought it for the amount I did instead of much more. I will try and find picture of this violin and comparre it. Can anyone comment on this? Oh, I'm gettting slower better results too with my new violin. I am very fond of it, but I know I sound better on my old one for many reasons: - I played on it since I began so developed my new skills and vibrato on this. The sound has matured with me in my playing style too. It is actually slightly smaller than my new one. So I am confident I will grow to really appreciate my violin, I have a nice bow too!. I do have issue with the fact the dealer has very illegible handwriting and I cannot for the life of me make out the name of the maker of the bow lol! I had trouble with the violin one, especially as I will have to contact the insurance people and change the name. CAn anyone help? Thanks!

February 24, 2005 at 02:10 PM · Nathan, tell us a bit more, it might help. What is your modern violin? How long have you been playing? What strings have you got on each of your violins? What does your teacher say, tell us that sort of thing.

Liz

March 2, 2005 at 04:07 PM · The violin I play on now is simply a Stentor, but I seemed to have got a good one (rare i know) as it is loud and adjusted to my playing. I just wondered fi anyone knew anything about Meinel and Herold, as Ive ssen one being sold for about £14K and its meinel and herold, german 1910, same as mine and mine has been all refurbished etc and is beautiful. any comments?

March 2, 2005 at 06:43 PM · Nathan, you're still not telling us the whole story. Stentor what? If you are seriously saying that a Stentor student 1 is sounding better than the one you paid goodness knows how much for then something is seriously wrong. it is true that tone has little if any bearing on price but that would be extreme. What type of strings have you got on your Stentor? How does the sound of the two violins compare when someone else plays them to you? Are you sure it is the tone you are not happy with and not something to do with the playing?

Liz

March 2, 2005 at 06:47 PM · Nathan,

What dealer did the £1200 violin come from? Was it from ebay by any chance?

Liz

March 4, 2005 at 05:41 PM · Hi,

To the original question... It's the instrument, period. Hard to say in this case because you would have to be more specific about what troubles you with the sound and what you would like to be different about it.

And Pauline: That is false. Older instruments are not always better and don't always improve with age. There are many good modern instruments that are far better in my experience that older instruments. However, it can be said that a good new instrument that is well-cared for, and well played, can improve with age. That is most definitely true as it will settle with time and open up. I am sorry to speak, but that older instruments are/should be better is fallacy keeps running around the violin world and I have no idea why.

Cheers!

March 10, 2005 at 11:07 PM · Hi - I purchased it from David E Vernon's in Manchester, a violin dealer. It's Meinel and Herold, brought for £1200. I am slowly getting a better sound out of it. I don't know what strings are on it, but my Stentor has Infeld Red which did improve the sound of it. Maybe I will experiment with strings then! Just wondered though how can one violin being sold for lots more be like mine? Same year and dealer. Could it be that the label inside isn't the manufacturer or what? Cheers

March 13, 2005 at 11:49 PM · If it is the same dealer there must have been some significant difference in quality, it's hard to say without having seen both.

I do know David Vernon. You're not far from my neck of the woods, probably. I'm in Huddersfield.

I still can't imagine (sorry!) why, given that David Vernon is a reputable dealer, you didn't take the violin on approval and return it when you realised you preferred your Stentor (Stentor what? 1, 2 , Conservatoire, Elysia, what?). Did the Stentor also come from David Vernon? If so you could ask his advice on how to get the best sound from your new violin, as he will know what he did to the Stentor.

Another point is that, with violins, the value has very little to do with the tone. We had an English made (by one named maker) viola here recently, £6000 new, that sounds nowhere near as good as a £200 Gliga. Now it could be that the instrument needed some set up work but the set up would have to make a very big difference indeed to have made that sound like a £6000 instrument, yet that is the price of a new one and it is there on the web for all to see.

Still, it sounds to me as if you are stuck with what you have now, your chances of getting anything more than a small fraction of that price back, unless you trade it in again with David Vernon, are miniscule, so I'd say it's experiment with strings time. If you want loud, perhaps Helicore would be a reasonable (and inexpensive) starting point.

Liz

March 14, 2005 at 12:13 AM · Greetings,

maybe Liz is making a good suggestion there. AS reputable dealer is not going to try and fob you off with an instruemnt that deosn`t suit you, especially in an era when their name is going to pop up in the most unexpected places +)

So why not just go back to the shop , explain the situation and ask to start over. The worst that can hasppen is he can say no. but most dealers will recognize the value of a satisfied customer over an unhappy violnist I guess. I mean, isntruemnt aside, a customer is an investament for a shop. You represent an unending trickle of income for new strings, adjustments, shoulder rests (until you stop using one ;)) and a link to other buyers.

I hope you keep us posted on what you do,

Cheers,

Buri

March 18, 2005 at 03:38 PM · I am growing increasingly fond of it though. My guy feeling is that I grew up on my older and cheaper violin and it was new and mature to a degree with me. But as I get used to my new one, the vibrato is really lovely on the G string - I do like it. CAn anyone tell me anything about Meinel and Herold? I mean, did they make the instruments or what?

Cheers

March 18, 2005 at 06:17 PM · Nathan, if you google "Meinel & Herold" you'll get a wealth of information.

March 19, 2005 at 01:08 AM · you know, its interesting, part of the skill of a violinist is in their ability to get exactly teh sound they want. every violin sounds different, but i swear my teacher can make mine sound like his gagliano, and also other instruments as well. In time i think your sound will become what you want it to if you keep imagining what it is you want, and listening to what you have

July 25, 2012 at 09:06 PM · This has been a fascinating thread so far, with a variety of opinions. My thoughts are that generally speaking, if it's made well, it will sound good regardless of age, although they do need to be 'played in'. I own a fine 280 year-old instrument which sounds wonderful, but I was shocked by the beauty of a 1912 Hannibal Fagnola priced at £60,000, some ten times the value of mine. It's important to remember that vintage junk is still junk. It's all about quality.

July 26, 2012 at 12:35 AM · Christian Vachon says above "...that older instruments are/should be better is fallacy keeps running around the violin world and I have no idea why."

I suggest the answer is that for some considerable time the best violinists in the world have been playing very successfully on a few hundred extremely good violins (mostly Italian) that are about 2-1/2 - 3 centuries old. The logical fallacy which says that if some old violins are seen as good then all old violins must therefore be good gets pounced on by the press and swiftly passes into popular culture as fact.

Popular culture fails to take into account that the violins surviving in use today from the first half of the 18th century have survived because they are so good (incidentally, makers' names come into the equation as well), whereas most of the far greater output from that era generally hasn't been good enough to survive three centuries and eventually ends up as firewood for the kitchen stove.

[Edit: I've just noticed that this discussion is 7 years old. Not the first time I've done this!]

July 27, 2012 at 06:54 PM · Please read these:

Judging violins

How to judge if a violin has a good tone

There is no positive and significant correlation between the market value of the instrument and the sound it produces.

Price is affected by:

1. the maker

2. country of origin

3. condition

4. age

5. investment potential

Instrument's sound is determined by the maker's knowledge of basic principles of applied acoustics and practical skills in carving and tuning the plates.

I agree that a great player with a clear concept of sound will make almost any violin sound good, but it is such a waste of energy that could be better applied to music making and interpretation.

Lastly, you may want to consider upgrading your bow instead of violin; in most cases (unless you have a really bad instrument to start with) the investment return (measured in sound quality) is greater.

July 27, 2012 at 07:18 PM · Rocky,

I beg to differ. Tone comes first in value, and one can see this in the high value of violins that were not terribly well-made, like some of the Gaglianos or other later Cremonese.

I think it more correct to say that there is a statistical, rather than individual, correlation between sound and cost.

The insurance company has very accurate statistics as to when the average white American non-smoking male will die, but they can't tell you when YOU will die.

So I would say that the AVERAGE $100,000 violin sounds better than the AVERAGE $25,000 violin. This says nothing about individual violins or outliers.

Violins that don't sound good, regardless of all other factors, will get sold sooner by a frustrated player, and will sit on the market longer, driving the price down. That's why there are Strads that cost more, and Strads that cost less.

July 28, 2012 at 09:43 AM · Rocky

Those articles are stating the obvious. And sometimes ridiculous notions.

September 24, 2013 at 05:55 AM · On the contrary to what Peter Charles said, I found the two links in Rocky Milankov's post extremely helpful.

As a parent who plays no musical instrument, it is good to see what other people's views of good violins are. Especially when the costs of my kids' violins are starting to head into thousands of ozzie dollars.

The authors of those 2 articles have the courage to put their reputations on the line and the tenacity to write such long articles on a topic that is very difficult.

It is always easy to criticise (especially using few words without giving any explanation or example), it is much harder to publish something substantial - knowing that that one's own point of view might not be the same as others.

September 24, 2013 at 01:52 PM · @Scott,

What you are stating is correct for violins of a very high quality; correlation between the price and sound gets a bit stronger with violins that are top class. Still, as my friend and violin maker said, one has to pay a lot more to get just a bit better sounding instrument.

@Peter

My post was intended as a guidance and help to less experienced buyer, not as an argument with more experienced, like you.

September 24, 2013 at 09:29 PM · What do you mean by "Sound better" ? Louder, better balanced, more harmonics, darker, clearer etc. Don't foreget that "student" instruments are "by definition" easier to play in many respects (albeit at the expense of other qualities), and you may need more experience before you can truely bring the best out of your new instrument (just a possibiity, assuming that your new instrument is indeed a better intrument). Was you new instrument properly setup by a professional luthier ? Are the strings new and of quality ? Many factors may

influence the sound. Given the wide range of Meinel & Herold instruments poping up on Google, going from string instruments, violins, guitars to accordeons..., I am guessing that this maker is like a Yamaha music company, where there's good instruments, and no so good ones and everything in between, aimed at a mass market.

September 24, 2013 at 09:29 PM · What do you mean by "Sound better" ? Louder, better balanced, more harmonics, darker, clearer etc. Don't foreget that "student" instruments are "by definition" easier to play in many respects (albeit at the expense of other qualities), and you may need more experience before you can truely bring the best out of your new instrument (a possibility, assuming that your new instrument is indeed a better intrument). Was your new instrument properly setup by a professional luthier ? Are the strings new and of quality ? Many factors may

influence the sound. Given the wide range of Meinel & Herold instruments poping up on Google, going from string instruments, violins, guitars to accordeons..., I am guessing that this maker is like a Yamaha music company, where there's good instruments, and no so good ones and everything in between, aimed at a mass market.

September 25, 2013 at 01:18 AM · @Roger

Read the articles from my first post; they sum-up the most important attributes of violin sound. When I say "sound better" that means that an instrument in question has got ALL of the basic acoustic properties PLUS a very high quality of timbre.

Here we enter the maze of psycho-acoustic definitions, and for disambiguation, I often cite "Investigating English Violin Timbre Descriptors" (

http://www.lam.jussieu.fr/Membres/Fritz/HomePage/postdoc.html)

A lot is a matter of personal preference, but most people will recognize (and a lucky few pay for) a great violin when they hear it.

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