step-up violin recommendation

May 1, 2006 at 03:08 AM · My violin teacher recommended that I look for a step-up violin. I'm currently using a violin that was purchased in package form (case and fiberglass bow)for $365. I've only been playing for 6 months but my teacher said i'm way ahead of where I should be (I grew up playing guitar). I'm an adult player and wanted to know that if violin's in the $600 price range would be a logical choice. Is there a rule of thumb for stepping up to a better violin? I currently do have a better bow that I purchased in January.



Replies (8)

May 1, 2006 at 02:47 PM · I'll stick my neck out here........

First, with violins, there is a wide range of value for the dollar. You don't always get what you pay for. It makes sense to buy from a reputable luthier, rather than one of the big volume stores. They can make sure your instrument is properly adjusted, and keep it sounding as good as possible.

Second, a good setup is vital for any violin, both for playability and tone. The quality and fitting of the bridge, and especially the fit and adjustment of the soundpost make a huge difference in how a violin sounds. Almost any violin of decent quality can be made to sound OK when set up properly, and conversely, very good violins can sound horrible when set up poorly. I hope you have good setup person available. They make a huge difference.

I'd be leery of buyng a violin without trying it out first, especially if you are new to the instrument. There are, however, lots of good quality step-up violins on the market. One that gets consistently good reviews is the Eastman model 305. It's available for about $1000, if you shop a little, and should carry you for quite a long time, and also should have a good resale value if you decide to quit or if you get good enough to outgrow it. Another good value is the Angels CA01AT, available for around $800. The Gliga Gama (from Romania, I think) also gets good reviews.

You can do a lot better pricewise, if you know what you are looking at. I bought my best violin for $100 at an estate sale - currently have it insured for $4000, based on appraisals from local dealers.

That being said, if I were in your shoes, I'd go ahead and spend some money to get the best I could justify, even if I had to wait a while. A good, responsive violin (and bow) make practicing much more enjoyable, and you'll progress faster, in my experience. A few hundred dollars' difference in price, amortized over all the hours you're going to be playing, gets pretty insignificant in the long run. Plus, those cheap outfits don't hold their value very well.

Lots of room for differing opinions, here. That's just my experience.

May 2, 2006 at 08:24 PM · Does your teacher have any suggestions? Usually they might have a relationship to a store or a dealer where they can watch out for a violin that they think will fit a particular student and then bring it to you to let you try it for a week or so. Or if you have a friend who is an advanced player they can help you try out violins. A well setup and responsive good sounding violin will make you progress a lot faster as you'll enjoy practicing and be motivated since you actually sound good. I think violin sound and the ability to color it is part of the addiction to get us to keep playing. As it is always a joy to drive a responsive car, it's the same with a violin and bow. If you can get good sound, handling, and feel, then you'll really enjoy it a lot more. Good luck!

May 2, 2006 at 09:22 PM · I too would ask your teacher. Also... do some asking among violinists (and fiddlers :) Setup is so, SO important... and I'm not a huge fan of the brand new, fresh-out-of-the-store variety of violins. I would much rather have an instrument that has a history... warm, big tone... and is set up easily playable. Best wishes in your search!

(And... as I often remind folks.... As an adult do give some consideration to learning some fiddle tunes, going to some jams, and adding new styles of 'violining' to your learning.)


May 3, 2006 at 02:03 AM · Dave,

Since you are an adult and this is your own money you are talking about, the amount you are willing and able to spend would depend on if this is something you are wanting to do for a lifetime or a passing hobby. If you are really serious, I'd look at what you would be willing to spend on something that will carry you through many many years of playing. It playing violin is something that you are still unsure of continuing for years to come, you can get very good sounding violins in the $1K price range.

Use your teacher to help guide you in local stores to start your shopping. If your teacher is willing to go with you shopping at least on your first excursion, the better! That may help refine your price range and quality of instrument and learn from someone outside of a sales person.

May 5, 2006 at 01:26 AM · I've been playing for six months. My rental is a Kohr-500. Sells for about $600. I like it and recommend it. My teacher likes it, too.

I will likely purchase it next week.

May 5, 2006 at 03:51 PM · I'm interested in knowing the reply to this as well. Mendy, you wrote, "Since you are an adult and this is your own money you are talking about, the amount you are willing and able to spend would depend on if this is something you are wanting to do for a lifetime or a passing hobby. If you are really serious, I'd look at what you would be willing to spend on something that will carry you through many many years of playing." Okay, so what's a ballpark figure for the average adult with some but not a huge amount of expendable $$? (In my case, I'm sure I'll want to continue for a few more years at least, but honestly can't tell if it's going to be a life-long endeavor.) Is 2K a realistic price point? Do people feel there are price points, such as $600, and then $1200, then $2000, then $5000, etc, or am I simplifying the equation?

Thanks for letting me hijack your thread with my question, Dave.

May 5, 2006 at 05:47 PM · An excerpt from a Strings Magazine review of "student" violins:

>>>Andreas Eastman VL305ST, $1,256

Excellent playability, mellow tone, subtle response, and dynamic projection made this outfit a definitive favorite with our review team. We detected a slight buzz, but this is probably an anomaly singular to this instrument and not a characteristic of Eastman’s violins in general (on occasion, buzzes can occur in any violin). The setup proved better than that of many of the other violins we looked at, the pegs worked smoothly and easily, and the striking antique look and rich, dark-red varnish won high praise. The one-piece, flamed maple back and the boxwood-and-ebony fittings displayed exceptional craftsmanship. And the Eastman pernambuco bow, with its imitation whalebone winding, has an effortless response and produces a refined sound. We are confident recommending the Eastman violin to the advanced student as well as the promising beginner—the violin is one of the best higher-priced models we evaluated and its quality far exceeded that of some instruments at comparable prices.<<<

The violins are available at less than list price, close to $1000, IIRC.

May 6, 2006 at 01:34 AM · These are the guidelines that I used for myself... everyone is different...

I've seen good quality sudent (beginners) available for about $1K, $2-3K for a good intermediate instrument that will last a long time (my old one was appraised in this range and it lasted me over 25 years). I just "upgraded" with a budget between $5-7K. My last teacher in CA who was just starting professional was in the $15-20K range. These ranges I use are intrument only. I haven't developed a feel for bow prices so much yet.

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