How are Sofia Instruments? Some advice for purchasing one?

March 26, 2006 at 06:38 AM · Anyone have any input on Sofia instruments? I was considering purchasing the Wienawski copy (Guadignini) one. There are two dealers that carry Sofias, but the one I'm leaning towards is Shar. I looked in their catalog and their site, and the picture of the Wienawski has wood that looks fakish orange, with very fake looking lightly colored "ornaments" (chinrest etc.), is this how it's supposed to look? I'm in the $3000 to $5000 range of violins.

Replies (9)

March 26, 2006 at 08:47 AM · Sorry, I can't give you any advice. I'm looking for a new violin too. I visited a whole bunch of makers today and ended up taking home a Sofia for trial. I'm not sure which one it is, but I like it. I'll check in the morning when people in my house are awake.

Another question for all of you more experienced people. I also took home a 1860 Neuner and Hornsteiner violin. Has anyone heard of them? Opinions? And are there any other violin makers that I should be trying? (I'm in about the same price range as Bobby, maybe a little less. I'm about to become a broke college student, so I need to save for tuition and books.)

March 26, 2006 at 02:57 PM · The sofia violins are nice but a lot over priced for what you get. For 3-5k you would at least expect hollowing around the f-holes. I have seen a lot nicer hand carved violins for a lot less, and with better sound. Dont get caught up with the made in europe its got to be good mentallity.I had a sofia replaced it with an insturment half its price that blew its doors off in the sound department.

March 26, 2006 at 06:18 PM · Well, I was in kind of the same boat as you were, looking for a violin in about that price range (slightly higher, but not significantly), and one of the violins I tried was a Sofia. I want to say it was around $3300, and it was a decent, solid violin, but I found lots of other violins that beat it hands down. I would recommend going to your local violin shop and trying a slew of violins including a Sofia and see what you think.

Eventually, it comes down to the individual instrument and how it works with you. Each violin is so unique that it's quite difficult to make a general comment, even about a specific maker. When I go to try violins I try to play on a couple by the same maker, and the sound can sometimes be incredibly different. I guess what I'm trying to say is that even though we might recommend a certain maker or kind of violin, there's really nothing that can help you other than trying the individual instruments yourself. And I guess that's not really very much help....

March 27, 2006 at 01:30 AM · Emily, my son owns a 1880 Neuner and Hornsteiner violin although it is a 1/2 size. We took it to a luthier after purchasing from another luthier because he couldn't get the buzz out of G string. The second luthier told me about it. I tried to find out the history of my son's violin but the guy who sold it to us didn't know anything about the detail. The second guy took a look at the violin and told me at first sight. He said they were based in Mittenwald (spelling?) Germany. He said that up until 1880 they used one-piece side which could be identified by the faint bee-sting-like marking on the tail to match the center. They stopped doing one-piece-side after 1880. We tried several different violins from other violin shops and took them to my son's teacher to try out. Neuner had definitely more mature sound and beautiful upper register. When she played all the violins we brought to her, it was obvious. I don't know if this will give you the info you are looking for, but we are very happy with it. My son played at the symphony hall and one of the orchestra member sat in the mid section of the hall to listen. She said the sound carried very well. Considering being a 1/2 size, I think it is well made. As for their market value, it shouldn't be that high because they were a mass producer. Neuner himself was said to be a very talented violin maker. I think he was trained in France by a famous violin maker, sorry I forgot who that was. But I think he was also a talented businessman. If the violin you are trying out was made entirely by him, it could be even better sounding violin. Good luck with your violin search.

March 27, 2006 at 05:51 PM · I see... I was leaning towards buying a modern instrument rather than an older one, so does anyone have any other reccomended makers/workshops besides Sofia instruments? I always thought Sofia's were the best for the price. I understand that each violin is unique, but I just need a few names that are reliable that I could focus on trying.

And to Tom:

The reason why I am considering Sofias is because they seem to be well reccomended, and what kind of violin did you replace your Sofia with?

March 27, 2006 at 09:58 PM · Hi Bobby,

I never actually owned a Sofia, but I've played on several. The ones I've played on HAVE been good, but I found things that worked better FOR ME in about the same price range, maybe a little higher.

I guess another point I'm hinting at is don't get stuck on a brand. Especially in the world of violins, EVERYTHING is unique, and each instrument has its own individual personality. I personally play on a Glier from the early 20th century. It's a great fiddle for me. It's also a maker I had NEVER heard of until I tried the violin.

Another tip.... don't look at the maker before you play the violin for the first time. Also, don't look at the price. Even if what you are trying is above what you want to spend, you'll give it that critical listen and you'll be able to ask the shop if they have others with a similiar (bright, dark, etc) sound for a bit less $.

April 4, 2006 at 11:46 PM · I personally don't like Sofia violins. I tried some out a couple years ago and they were all dark and gloomy sounding. Not as bright as something else you can get for that price range!

October 8, 2007 at 03:37 PM · I have a Sofia Master Art made in 1991. To my knowledge all of the Sofias are handmade by a single hand in Bulgaria and shipped to the US in the white for varnishing and setup. They have about 20 employees worldwide and make something like 350 instruments a year. Mine was made by a Luthier named "Mincho Mincheff" in Sofia Bulgaria.

Anyway - wonderful sounding instrument. I can't say enough good things about the lower register which is very rich and has a nice bite to when you want it. The A and E are very sweet. I have Evahs on it now and love the projection and clarity I get out of this instrument.

My other instruments are a 1880'ish German with a nice mature, rich sound, and a better than average Chinese workshop that is "good" at just about everything but not particularly "great" at anything.

Before I bought the Sofia, I used to think that where I wanted to end up was something rich, warm, and silky like the German but just with more volume. I played quite a few instruments in the 3-4k range, but my perception changed after playing the Sofia for a bit.

First of all, I now appreciate what a truly "responsive" violin feels like, and that alone opens up lots of possibilities for expression. I would describe the sound as neither dark nor bright...mine has a very even sound with great volume and very clear projection. The G has a rich woody flavor to it which I really like. It goes wherever I want to go and never "crumbles" or becomes harsh.

In short it has a nice clear "tight" sound that has lots of complexity, but in no way muffled or dull. Sound is such a subjective and difficult thing to describe. I Hope someone finds this useful.

October 8, 2007 at 08:25 PM · Thread raised from the dead...

Anywho I settled on a 15k modern violin, I never had the chance to try a Sofia.

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