Getting a new violin

July 23, 2005 at 02:22 AM · I'm getting a new violin (so happy!) and I was just wondering what I should be looking for. I'm not exactly a beginner, though I'm not advanced, so I guess I can say I'm intermediate. I'm in Suzuki 4 and am familiar with 3rd position.

I have another question. Is it likely I will sound better on a more advanced violin (than a beginner)? Like do you think I'll get a better tone, and less, shall I say, fretting when crossing strings?

My budget is going to be $2000, violin and bow. Also, any suggestions on what kind of bow I should get? Thanks!

Replies (5)

July 23, 2005 at 02:31 AM · I just got a Meinel bow from Shar at only $89 and I am very happy with it. The carbon fiber bows are good too, and they look nice and would be in your price range. When I upgraded to a Roth Guarneri I found myself playing more, my creativity was jumpstarted, and it was less work. If your bow and violin are matched well to the sound you want, your playing will become more effortless ! God bless.

July 23, 2005 at 02:58 AM · Personally I'm playing the Mendelssohn Violin Concerto on a $600 violin and it sounds fine (it just barely can't handle the super high notes).

Often times I'm amazed at what people were charged for a vastly inferior instrument :(

Now the instrument I bought was the lowest model of the Jay Haide instruments sold at ifshin violins in Berkley. here's their website , but recently a friend looked at an instrument there and the quality of the instruments, fittings, and service had drastically declined so I don't know if this is a good move anymore or not. The only thing I can really say to you is to try a couple instruments out first, get the retailer to let you keep it for a week if possible and get a bunch of people to try it and see what they think. there should be and article at www.stringsmagazine.com about purchasing an instrument too. Also a good reference is in the Violin Wikis on this website.

Finaly my advice. Don't skimp on the bow, it should have a good sound (very important), respond well, be balanced, and bounce easily without flying off the string when you don't want it to do so. The bow is really important too so you should choose this just as carefully as the instrument. Also, some people will suggest that you choose bows and instruments at different times so that you choose the best instrument and bow for you as opposed to the unlucky pairing where you might have been so blown away by one of them that you also fall in love with the other.

In regards to the instrument only even try instruments that are within your budget so that you don't fall in love with a million dollar violin, also remember that more expensive doesn't necessarily mean better and that the country that a violin is made in really shouldn't be a consideration. There are basic ways to check the craftmanship, for example the back usually should be flamed (have an irredescent spike pattern on it), the neck should be oiled (with no varnish), the varnish should not be super shiney, etc. Another good way to tell is if the wood between those little black lines around the edge of the violin (I can't think of what they're called right now) has a different grain that the wood around it. If not they are just painted on and serve no purpose. If you're going to be spending anything near or above $1000 for an instrument you will also want to be sure of the quality of the fittings. The tailpiece and pegs should be real ebony or other high quality wood, and the fingerboard should be real ebony (if it is not you can tell by seeing if the underside of the fingerboard is also black.) Also since some instruments come with cheap strings you should check them and possibly change them _after_ you purchase the instrument (some shops will do this for you anyway).

Finally you will want to try the sound of the instrument. of course this is a matter of taste, but there are some basic guidelines. First check that the instrument is tuned and set up and jump in. The strings should each produce a strong tone that you shouldn't need to work at all to produce. The strings should also have even tone (so one doesn't have a different volume or character than the rest). A major warning sign is if the tone gets weaker toward the lower strings! Then you should play some pieces, see how the violin responds to different techniques (do all of the violin testing with the same bow so that this portion of the trial is accurate)and how it sounds in different positions (ie. 1st, 2nd, 3rd, harmonics, whatever). The sound and response of the violin should become apparent then. Pick the ones you like the best and get every musician you know to play them, listen to you play them, and give you their opinion. Remember that it's your opinion that has to be the final word, but that they might have more experience than you do too. Finally, once you're done you should go back and start selecting a bow.

Wait, there's more!!! now you have to select a case! lol, this isn't really as hard, you just need to find the balance of protection, weight, shape, and price that you need and pick the case that meets these criteria. Usually you also will get to pick the colors of the interior and exterior too.

(oh god, I'm so long winded!! you're all welcome to tell me off for this if you want to...)

July 23, 2005 at 03:17 AM · Thank you both for the very informative responses!

I've read the article in Strings Magazine, 2005 Buyer's Guide. It's very helpful, in fact I can't stop reading it :)

I really never knew the importance of the bow (the real importance) until now... I'm planning on spending at least $250 on a bow. Funny, I showed my mom what kind of bow I was looking for (though it was $100 so I changed my mind right after seeing the price) and my mom said "$100? That's a little spendy. I think we'll have to go for a cheaper one." Oh time to have the little bow talk with my mom...

Again thanks for the replies!

July 23, 2005 at 03:33 AM · Joseph! Hi, how's it going!

Great job at the SYS chamber music concert, btw.

July 23, 2005 at 03:34 AM · lol, did you like my tips, or do you have some better ones?

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