For a beginner - is a Hidersine Piacenza fine tune too expensive / advanced?

Edited: March 9, 2018, 7:27 AM · Hi, I'm hoping someone can give me a little advice on this.

I am an adult learner and I recently had my first ever lesson, using a violin provided by the teaching school (which the tutor told me is poor quality but enough to give people an idea of if they even like the idea of learning / the violin in general).

I am keen to buy my own violin this weekend and I have looked into a couple available at a shop... The Hidersine Vivente fine tune and the Hidersine Piacenza fine tune.

The former is for the whole outfit at around £250, the latter for £330 but also comes with Thomastik-Infeld strings.

I like what I have read about both, but the Piacenza looks to be a better investment in an instrument I may not need to upgrade so quickly.

Is it too advanced for a beginner?

Replies (32)

March 8, 2018, 2:59 AM · There is no such thing. If you buy a higher quality instrument, you might just not get its full potential. That is it.

Make sure that it is playable and that you can easily land notes on it. Also make sure the setup is correct. If you have a teacher, show to him.

March 8, 2018, 3:05 AM · Thanks Bruno, I appreciate the advice.
Edited: March 8, 2018, 5:04 AM · Hi Emma and everyone. I am new to the discussion forum, although I have been reading it for months, but wanted to sign up to reply to your question. I am an adult beginner myself and I completely agree with Bruno. I have a Hidersine Veracini with regular pegs and it's fantastic, except for the bow, which is slightly warped to the right and felt somewhat heavy at the beginning - not so much now - so I ended up getting a separate carbon fiber bow. My teacher was really impressed with the violin's sound quality for its price and he thinks it's a very fine violin for beginners and intermediate students - I am based in Spain, where Hidersine violins are virtually unknown, so he had never tried one. I have only been playing for 11 months and I guess I still haven't got its full potential at all, but at least I know that it's my fault if I am not getting a nice sound. It really sounds and rings very nicely for an affordable student violin. I've only read good things about the Vivente and the Piacenza and actually considered buying one of them, but finally decided to stretch my budget a bit to get an instrument I won't have to upgrade at least for a few years and I haven't regretted it, but I guess the same might apply to the Piacenza. If I were you, I would definitely get the Piacenza, if you can afford it, specially if you have a teacher that can go and test both violins and confirm the Piacenza is really worth the price difference compared to the Vivente. Hope this helps!
March 8, 2018, 5:20 AM · Thanks Sue, your advice as a beginner was very helpful. That's very interesting to know that you bought the Veracini. The shop I am going to at the weekend also sells the Veracini (regular pegs) and is only a little more than the Piacenza fine tune. The Piacenza regular peg version is also available but significantly lower in price so I don't know what option is really best (I like to research before picking the brains of the knowledgable shop staff on the day).

Do you (or anyone else on this forum) have any insight as to just how useful / beneficial it would be to purchase a fine tune violin over a regular peg violin?

I am aware that it can be quicker / easier and therefore more convenient to beginners but have also read on a better quality violin / string set that not so much tuning is required anyway, thereby potentially making the fine tune option not so important.

March 8, 2018, 7:15 AM · Fine tuners can be installed on any violin, so it's not a big deal either way. It's preferable for all violinists to learn to tune with the pegs. Four fine tuners are more common for little kids, and for fiddlers who use all-steel strings.

Note that the price range you're talking about is really barely entry-level, and it's likely that you would receive a better-quality instrument if you rent. You're likely to exceed the capabilities of a violin in that price range pretty quickly.

Edited: March 8, 2018, 8:01 AM · Hi Emma, I am afraid I cannot say as I have never tried a violin with Wittner fine tune pegs. I did consider the Hidersine violins fitted with them but the Veracini was already a good stretch over my budget so I decided to go for the regular one. My teacher says its pegs are very nice, but I do have the same concerns as you and, I guess, any beginner. As a classical guitar player, violin pegs are quite puzzling to me :-) I still have the strings the violin came with and they rarely get out of tune. They did at the beginning, particularly the G string, but I guess that was mostly due to their being new. They are very stable now and I only have to use the small regular fine tuners at the base of the strings very rarely. Sometimes my teacher will pick up my violin and retune it using the pegs, but never because it goes seriously out of tune. So at least in my violin, not much tuning is required. I guess I will start playing with the pegs soon to get used to tuning with them, as the strings are quite old (way too old actually, I know!!!) and I don't mind if I break one now. If you're not going to get lessons from a teacher that can help you tuning in the first stages, I think the Wittner pegs can be a nice option though. I wouldn't want to discourage you about them and then have you regret it. They are sold independently though, and reviews about them are indeed very good, so you can always install them later on if you decide to go for regular pegs, but you might need the help of a luthier for that...:
Edited: March 8, 2018, 7:41 AM · "Fine tuners can be installed on any violin, so it's not a big deal either way. It's preferable for all violinists to learn to tune with the pegs. Four fine tuners are more common for little kids, and for fiddlers who use all-steel strings."

Hi Lydia, Emma is not talking about the usual small fine tuners at the base of each string (I think you're referring to these in your post?), but about Wittner finetune pegs, which are regular pegs designed to make tuning easier for beginners. I've posted two links in the previous message and here is a (sponsored, I guess) video review of the Piacenza with Wittner pegs:

Hidersine sells their student violins with regular pegs and Wittner pegs, but these increase the price for the same model significantly.

Edited: March 8, 2018, 7:48 AM · With "fine-tuning pegs" it's owner will never learn the frustrations of stuck or slipping pegs and will never have a valid excuse for the instrument ever being out of tune. The price difference between the two models is approximately the difference between that for cheap regular pegs and the discount price for Wittner or Knilling "fine-tune" pegs. After-purchase installation of "fine-tine" pegs will include not only the cost of the pegs, but also the cost of the luthier's labor that will likely be at least twice the cost of the pegs alone. So it is cheaper to get the instrument with the "fine-tune" pegs already installed. Years ago, when I asked my luthier what he would charge to install a set of Knillings in one of my cellos he quoted a price that exceed the price of any of the violins mentioned by the OP - just for the labor - so I set about doing it myself.

Since then I have installed "fine-tune" pegs (both Knillings and Wittners) on all my instruments (and those of my family members) over the past 10 years I heartily recommend them. I would now recommend Wittner pegs over Knillings (or Pegheds) although only 2 of my 13 installations were Wittners.

These mechanical pegs are not only for "beginners." They are a great help for professionals as well. Having a set on your instrument is a life-long gift that never stops giving!

March 8, 2018, 7:53 AM · Sue, thank you. I feel like I'm learning a lot. It's nice to go on a forum and have good answers to my questions.

I am going to be attending lessons therefore as you've stated, I'll be shown how to tune using regular pegs as well as everything else.

I now feel like I have more choice being able to consider the regular pegs as more of an option rather than a secondary choice to the Wittner pegs.


Edited: March 8, 2018, 7:58 AM · Hi Andrew, nice to know you have experience with them! It seems Hidersine only considers them for beginner/intermediate players as only their lower range violins have the Wittner peg option and the more advanced/expensive models are sold only with regular pegs, if I am not mistaken. Thanks for your advice! I think that anything that makes tuning easier in a violin is a nice addition, not matter your level indeed - at least for someone like me! :-) The finetune option was too much for my budget though when I got my violin one year ago if I wanted to go for the Veracini.

I guess Emma can make a more informed decision now.

March 8, 2018, 7:57 AM · Go for the fine tuners, theres enough frustrations with the violin even with them. My beginer violin has fine tuners and Im so glad, the pegs tend to tet stuck alas more frustrations. Adult beginners rarely are going to be super great players, so cutting corners is just fine. And if you will be a super great player, you will then need to upgrade the violin anyway.
Edited: March 8, 2018, 8:37 AM · Ah, sorry, I was thinking Wittner tailpiece with fine tuners, as opposed to geared pegs.

Geared pegs are convenient. They can also be retrofit into existing violins, but that's not cheap, so if you want geared pegs on an instrument in this price range, it would certainly be better to get them at the start.

Those pegs are going to be a huge percentage of the cost of a violin in this price range, though. You're going to get more bang for the buck with a more expensive instrument, I think, rather than putting that money into geared pegs. It's not that inconvenient to tune with regular pegs once you learn how.

(Cheap instruments often have very poorly-fit pegs, which can sometimes frustrate the heck out of beginners, because the pegs of a VSO tend not to stay no matter what. But a manufacturer that can't properly fit regular pegs probably also shouldn't be trusted to fit geared pegs. If you think that this manufacturer reliably fits good pegs, I'd stay with the regular friction pegs.)

March 8, 2018, 9:09 AM · Hi and thank you to all of you who have provided advice. I didn't expect to get so much feedback and so it is greatly appreciated.

I now have a much better understanding of how geared pegs are useful but how a decent quality violin (considering my beginner's budget) can also have reliable regular pegs and that I'll just have to learn how to tune with them *makes a note to get a spare set of strings, especially an E*.

If I make the purchase this weekend and anyone is interested, I will post what violin I decided on.

Thanks again all :)

Edited: March 13, 2018, 6:54 AM · "Those pegs are going to be a huge percentage of the cost of a violin in this price range, though. You're going to get more bang for the buck with a more expensive instrument, I think, rather than putting that money into geared pegs. It's not that inconvenient to tune with regular pegs once you learn how."

Thanks for your input, Lydia, that's what I thought too when I got the regular peg Veracini, rather than the lower range Vivente or Piacenza with Wittner pegs. I'd rather have a nicer instrument with regular pegs than a "lower" model with pegs that make tuning easier but of course don't have an impact on the violin's sound, and my teacher can help with tuning in the initial stages. However, I think I will consider them when I eventually upgrade my instrument, even if I have to buy them apart.

"(Cheap instruments often have very poorly-fit pegs, which can sometimes frustrate the heck out of beginners, because the pegs of a VSO tend not to stay no matter what. But a manufacturer that can't properly fit regular pegs probably also shouldn't be trusted to fit geared pegs. If you think that this manufacturer reliably fits good pegs, I'd stay with the regular friction pegs.) "

For what is worth, my teacher thinks the regular friction pegs of my Veracini are very nice. He is quite impressed with the quality of the instrument (given its price, of course) and that includes the pegs. He thinks it's completely fine for intermediate players. I don't think he is very prone to praise lightly, so I guess his opinion is reliable and it's also consistent with everything I have read about Hidersine violins, although not particularly about pegs. But I also have no doubt that, as Andrew says, the finetune pegs would make anyone's life easier! :-)

Another thing to consider is that, if Emma gets a violin fitted with the Wittner pegs, I guess she might be able to transfer them to a new instrument when she eventually decides to upgrade in a few/couple of years, as I guess they are standard and can be fitted into any violin, at least modern ones? That would make the investment more worthwhile, if feasible... Maybe Andrew could clarify if this would be possible?

March 8, 2018, 9:24 AM · Fine tuner pegs cannot be simply switched from one instrument to another. The peg holes would have to be identical size which is extremely unlikely.
Edited: March 8, 2018, 9:26 AM · OK, thank you, Lyndon! :-)
March 8, 2018, 9:47 AM · Just an additional tip from another adult beginner (one day I will be intermediate) is buy from someone who will also do a proper set up if possible, failing that take it a luthier. I got mine from a lady who is primarily a luthier who also sells violins (and family, instruments, not hers) and she made sure the sound post was set, the fingerboard was correct, the bridge was set correctly and I think she also reamed out the peg holes so they rarely slip (all pegs slip sooner or later, such fun if you happen to be playing).
It's worth cultivating a relationship with someone like that if you can, so when I see her, I always buy a pack of strings and she gives my fiddle a free checkup and does any minor adjustments.
March 8, 2018, 9:50 AM · I would go with a nicer violin with regular pegs over the wittner pegs.
I don't know about these particular pegs, but I had a student with an inexpensive rental viola with I think, Knilling geared pegs, and it was almost impossible to tune (the pegs turned easily, but they never seemed to stay exactly in tune, you could get them close, but rarely could you get true perfect 5ths, and the instrument also went out of tune more frequently than most, so geared pegs are not a guarantee of easy tuning.
If you have trouble with tuning, I would just have the shop install a wittner tailpiece with built in tuners while you get comfortable tuning with pegs. I actually have a Wittner tailpiece on my violin (even though I'm a teacher and pro player) because the pegs on my older instrument don't fit well and replacing them is expensive (peg holes need to be re-bushed) although I will probably have it done at some point, my violin actually sounds better with the Wittner than the wood tailpiece anyway.
March 8, 2018, 1:51 PM · 1st) You should really just rent at first. That way you'll get something that plays well without the commitment to buying. And if you want to buy after only a few months, you've only spent, say, $60-$80 on the rental, but that will easily pay for itself in the increased efficiency with which you learn initially. (If you're paying $200/month for lessons and you get 25% more progress because you're playing on a reasonably good instrument, then you have "saved" $50 in a single month by renting or purchasing a more expensive violin).

2nd: violins at $300-$500 are really considered the bare minimum if you want to have success on the instrument. This is not considered an "advanced" violin by any means.

3rd: When you're ready to buy, I highly recommend you ask your teacher their opinion on what to start with. They may give you some good ideas, and it gives them less means to complain when you show up with a violin that you - as a complete beginner - picked out yourself. Sometimes I'll meet my more advanced students at a violin shop to help them pick something.

4th: there really is no such thing as a violin that is "too advanced" for a beginner, although some particular violins can be a bit touchier or more sensitive than others, and if you're a really neurotic person, you may find that these violins punish you a bit more when you're just starting to learn. But, I've found that if a person has "grit" in their personality, they will learn more efficiently with touchy violins vs forgiving ones. Still, I've had plenty of student that PHYSICALLY react that bad sounds they may produce, to the extent that loud and/or sensitive instruments prevent them from playing effectively because they can't help from tensing up at every little unexpected sound that comes out. I usually slap on a mute to fix this, although I'd prefer not to do this if it was a choice.

March 8, 2018, 4:36 PM · I don't think it's important to have geared pegs, unless you're going to go without fine tuners. If you're using regular pegs, I strongly recommend having all 4 fine tuners, as they're convenient. Pegs are great for big adjustments, but for small ones, I find fine tuners to be way more convenient, even with great pegs. There is absolutely nothing wrong with using fine tuners or geared pegs.
March 8, 2018, 7:31 PM · I bought a piacenza in an emergency - I'd no idea it was part of the Hidersine range. I think it makes a good sound. There was a very promising late teenage beginner visiting a church I sometimes also visit, who already plays Bach unaccompanied untaught (He wasn't bad on the piano either). I was planning to swap my piacenza for his VSO, at least temporarily, but he hasn't turned up since.
Fine tune on that model is a good idea, because the pegs can start to slip. Also, it's worth smoothing the outside corner on the nut to the right of the E string - it can feel a bit sharp on the first finger inner segment if you don't.
March 9, 2018, 2:37 AM · Interesting to read more about everyone's knowledge / experience with regular vs fine tune pegs.

I am aware when I refer to a £300 / $500 violin it's very much near the bottom of anything you could buy. The Piacenza is one that is suitable for up to the highest grading if doing the ABRSM exams and is thought of as a second or upgrading violin from an absolute beginner's. Just to clarify the reasoning behind my original question.

I am happy to make an investment and purchase rather than renting an instrument and the shop I will be buying from contains the music academy where my tutor teaches from. They have a good reputation for knowledge on the instruments they sell but I wanted to know more from fellow violinists on here.

The only thing I am unsure of now, is whether to buy a regular or fine tune peg violin. The difference being that a Piacenza with Wittner pegs is only slightly less than the Veracini with regular pegs (that Sue above owns and refers to as very good for that price range).

So the question has evolved into a "nice" beginner's violin with easy / quicker tuning pegs or a "nicer" beginner's violin with traditional pegs, albeit potentially harder to tune / keep in tune.

So much to learn.

March 9, 2018, 10:57 AM · With traditional pegs, as long as the pegs work well and you have all four fine tuners, you're good.
Edited: March 9, 2018, 11:31 AM · I have fought with regular pegs in the climate of New York City, upstate New York, Maryland, Pennsylvania, the California Desert and the San Francisco Bay Area. After 70 years of that s__t I finally installed Pegheds. Even good pegs go bad! I have watched professionals have to put their violins and violas on their laps to get their wooden pegs to turn and/or to not slip. I have watched professional cellists have to lay down their bows and turn their cellos around because their left hands were not up to the task of tuning with the pegs.

Replacing "regular" pegs with Wittner "fine-tune" pegs or Knilling/Peghed pegs is relatively simple as long has you have a peg-hole reamer, a hacksaw, a file and some sandpaper. The FIRST thing you need is a MICROMETER to measure the diameter(s) of your original pegs BEFORE you order your mechanical/geared pegs. The geared pegs you order have to be the identical diameter OR as slightly LARGER as possible. I have Installed 13 sets of geared pegs - 53 pegs (one instrument was a 5-string violin) - this is probably more experience with these kinds of pegs than most luthiers. AND - one last bit of advice before you get started - read the directions at least twice and go through the entire process in your mind before you start - if you screw up there is no going back - you will need to go to the violin doctor!

I don't think I would ever attempt to install regular pegs, even though I own a peg shaper as well as a peg-hole reamer. Getting that right is very much more difficult - as evidenced by all this talk about poorly fitted pegs - and even perfectly fitted pegs are perfectly fitted only for a narrow climate condition!

Elizabeth Pitcairn's "Red Mendelssohn Stradivarius" has been featured in Wittner ads for its installation of "fine-tune" pegs. A violinist colleague of mine had a set of Pegheds installed on his Enrico Rocca (a $150,000 fiddle) after he saw how easily and quickly I could tune cello and violin with mine.

March 9, 2018, 1:04 PM · Thanks Andrew for your input. I only use pegs for large adjustments and when the fine tuners are too tight, so I haven't run into too many peg problems. In other words, I am extremely fine-tuner dependent, and I'm definitely not alone. If my pegs slip, I just put rosin on and that usually fixes it. Everyone's experiences with pegs are different, so there's lots of variation.
March 9, 2018, 2:02 PM · I had new pegs made for my violin in 2016, but I still use the Wittner fine tuner tailpiece that my luthier installed at the same time. I can tune with the pegs just fine, but for daily micro-adjustments the fine tuners are easier and faster. I don't really like the plastic tailpiece aesthetically, but for now it is fine.

How much would it cost to have a fine-tuner tailpiece (Wittner) installed vs the fine tuning pegs? I think I'd go this route if I had to choose between a better violin with no fine tuning ability and a not better violin with fine tuning ability. (Meaning: I'd take the better violin any day of the week.)

Edited: March 9, 2018, 5:14 PM · Internet prices:
Wittner ultra composite tailpiece about $15 to $20.
New tail cord about $2 to $10.
Do it yourself or pay about $60 to $100 including resetting sound post if necessary.

Wittner fine-tune pegs $75 to $80.
Professional labor minimum $100 to $200.

March 13, 2018, 3:59 AM · Hi, to all who wondered about my decision following the original question...

At the weekend I purchased a Hidersine Veracini with regular pegs.

I have not yet had a problem tuning it although the first time was a little nervewracking! Regardless of it being under £400 / my first violin / what some would consider low quality, it sounds brilliant and looks beautiful.

Thanks especially to Sue :) and thanks to everyone who offered advice.

Edited: March 13, 2018, 6:55 AM · Hi Emma, you're most welcome! I'm happy to hear you purchased a Veracini. The antiqued varnish makes it look beautiful indeed :-)

I hope you enjoy playing your new violin! Coincidentally, I got it on the 10th of March one year ago :-)

Happy fiddling! :-)

March 13, 2018, 8:41 AM · Great to hear that you're happy with your new violin!
March 13, 2018, 2:44 PM · Hey Emma, Sorry if I'm a little late. I too am a beginner violinist like you are and have been learning for 1.5 years. I Purchased the cheapest violin that I could find (costed by $130), but I soon ran into few problems

My violin, for some reason, doesn't sound all that good when I go beyond the 3rd position, regardless of how hard I press the strings, the deterioration in sound quality becomes audible. (The bad sound could be compared to what one hears when strings are not pressed hard enough at the first position)

The Neck Piece came off after a few days and I had to tighten it on my own. (The Problem persists to this day)

I had to purchase a new tail piece because my fine tuners stopped working. (I was told that there was something wrong with the tail piece, it was covered by 1 year warranty)

I hope you learn from my experience. Its always better to accompany a teacher whilst purchasing a violin. I purchased it from internet, so didn't have that luxury

March 14, 2018, 5:50 AM · Sorry to hear your violin had problems Aditya. I sought advice both here and from my teacher and the shop I bought my violin from and have no doubt I made the right choice.

@ Sue... the 10th is the day I bought mine - I think that makes the 10th of March Veracini day :)

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