For a decent student violin are Chinese violins comparable to Western ones?

Edited: April 1, 2018, 1:28 PM · I have a Meisel I paid $300 for in 2009, and haven't played it since 2010.I'm thinking about starting up again. The bridge is badly warped, and gouged into the finish below. I'm not sure on the situation of the sound post. One guy just quoted me $150 to install a new sound post and bridge. I'm thinking of just buying a new one from one china. Is a few hundred dollar violin from Meisel comparable to ones like this from China? https://www.aliexpress.com/item/4-4-Old-Violin-Aged-Maple-Russian-SPruce-Pro-116/626295948.html?spm=2114.search0204.3.109.4c9410bc7Wm0we&ws_ab_test=searchweb0_0,searchweb201602_2_10152_10151_10065_10344_10068_5722815_10342_10343_10340_5722915_10341_5722615_10696_10084_10083_10618_10307_5722715_10059_10534_100031_10103_441_10624_10623_10622_5722515_10621_10620,searchweb201603_25,ppcSwitch_4_ppcChannel&algo_expid=36bec401-ebfa-4d6f-9cf7-86e78e9ef22d-21&algo_pvid=36bec401-ebfa-4d6f-9cf7-86e78e9ef22d&priceBeautifyAB=0

Replies (22)

April 1, 2018, 2:13 PM · In my opinion, you are better off having a luthier repair the one you currently have. Low priced mass produced instruments are made as quickly as possible, using lower quality fittings, to get them out the door. So a new replacement could very well use the same attention as the one you have by the time it has been shipped from China. A good and willing luthier will do a better set-up than what was originally done.
April 1, 2018, 2:34 PM · I have had good experiences with the instruments I’ve purchased from both Old Violin House, as well as Yitamusic.

They did require some tweaking, which I was able to take care of myself (change out strings, reposition soundpost, adjust nut height). I am actually trying to sell of my violins since switching to viola permanently. So drop me a message if you’d be interested in more info/pics, etc.

April 1, 2018, 3:38 PM · You could try out a bunch of affordable violins locally and pick your fave. The setup work is generally already done (except strings sometimes, which are easy to change). I'm assuming you have some playing experience.
Edited: April 1, 2018, 3:55 PM · I highly recommend Gliga violins from Romania. They advertise right here at V.com. Mine was made in 2004, a "Genial" violin I bought used for $250 in a guitar shop and I LOVE it! When I paid my luthier $1000 to fix my other violin (a 1924 "Cremona" violin made in Chicago by Gustav Fassauer Ferron), I brought along my Gliga and he said this Romanian student violin was very fine for the price. And honestly, I'm not sure I can hear any superiority in that supposedly $6,000 to $8,000 (estimated value) violin over the Gliga. Probably I'm just not a good enough player to get the best out of the better fiddle, but it also shows the Gliga is a fine enough student violin.
Edited: April 1, 2018, 9:49 PM · I observed, for quite some time it had been commonly accepted that for violins under ~$2000, Chinese violins offered better quality for the price. The bewildering last-decade development of the Chinese violin industry (factory-made and otherwise) could be due to 1. Cheap labour and material on the supply side; and 2. Noticeable demand for violin learning in the domestic market of China.

However impressive Chinese economic growth in recent years, together with improved income gap, has put upward pressures on wages, so cheap labour advantage should be expected to gradually diminish. In big cities such as Shanghai, decent violins have become more expensive.

My very 'guessy' interpretation of the current situation is that though you can usually get a good value-for-money Chinese instrument (especially in the student range), don't expect it to always happen.

P/S I have a Gliga Gama violin from Romania, and I love it too. BTW there isn't much wage differential between Romania and China now.

April 1, 2018, 8:23 PM · I found my Gliga 17” viola unplayable. A Chinese Ebay Collin Mezin violin was similar in poor tone quality, but a good build. A Chinese Ebay ‘Baroque’ Klotz violin was also very poor in sound. I also refurbished a made-in-China viola from the 1990’s that was poor in quality.
That said, the Snow 400 viola I played for several years was excellent in tone and playability. I also own a. Christopher hybrid double bass that sounds very good after setup. I would recommend those two makers.
Edited: April 2, 2018, 4:48 AM · Any opinions on a Meisel violin? Are they any good?

I play banjo and guitar, and really am interested in the violin as an old time fiddle, and also to teach my twin toddlers the basics. Being 35 I hardly think I can learn to play good in another form, at least sever people told me that. But I want to say, that I find it annoying that you have to buy a $2000 instrument, or it's considered a "student" version. It's not much difference with banjos and guitars either.

April 2, 2018, 4:55 AM · Being able to beat Chinese violins with genuine antiques in the $500-2000 range is what keeps me in business. What year is your Meisel, if its 2009 it may not be that great.
Edited: April 2, 2018, 6:55 AM · @Bryan "Being 35 I hardly think I can learn to play good in another form, at least sever people told me that"

Don't believe that old canard! There are a number of discussions here that have looked at that and come to quite a contrary conclusion. However, you'll certainly need a good face-to-face teacher for a while because books and videos can't tell you what you may be doing wrong (as you doubtless will if you're learning entirely on your own). A well setup "student" violin at under $2000 can be more than adequate for most.

Fwiw, I didn't start on the violin until my early 60s, but had a lot of cello playing before then. I think your banjo and guitar experience will stand you in good stead for developing left hand technique on the violin - you will have already developed a degree of left hand muscle control that someone who had never played a musical instrument would never have.

April 2, 2018, 2:16 PM · "Being 35 I hardly think I can learn to play good in another form, at least sever people told me that"

The general consensus among the recent threads for late starters, in this forum, AFAIK, is only that you generally should not be able to access very advanced repertoire (above Bach A Minor??) or a professional route as an orchestral violinist. It also depends on whether by 'starting late' you started in your late teens or late 30s.

AFAIK no one has said you cannot play well even if you started at 40 or 50 years old. Quite the contrary.

April 2, 2018, 3:44 PM · There is absolutely no limit for late starters. Your level of advancement will depend very much on your learning environment, learing style, dedication level and commitment. The only impossibility is professional work. A student violin will do just fine for a beginner for at least a while.
April 3, 2018, 12:40 PM · so I can still learn? that's awesome. My professor in anthropology was a renowned expert in peace, one RK Dentan, told when I started at 27 that I would never be any good. having read just about every book on the human condition written in the last 5,000 years, I assumed he must know what he's talking about.

But back to my original question, the Gliga violins get rave reviews all over the web. They look pretty plain IMO. The Chinese ones are very nice to look at, with different shapes and finishes that bring out all kinds of grains in the woods. Can anyone list a few decent violin companies in the $300 - $600 range? Though I think if I do buy another one I'm definitely going to look at Gliga as an option.

Edited: April 3, 2018, 1:38 PM · I guess by ‘never be good’ he meant you generally wouldn’t be able to play Paganini or Sibelius, and your route to professional orchestra or performance is well-nigh impossible. But most goals below that should be within the reach of a committed player.

There is indeed very heated and prolonged debate in v.com as to what a late starter can achieve.

In your price range also look at Yita violins as well, especially their T20 model.

April 3, 2018, 4:12 PM · Eastman could be a good choice. Although adult learners rarely achieve very high levels, it's definitely not insanity or absolutely impossible. It's just very difficult.
April 3, 2018, 4:29 PM · Eastman is also a very good brand. Buying it is also very ok. However, buying Yita (or Gliga) would help you avoid the dealer mark-up, which is normally up to 100% of instrument manufacturer price, in that price range. Yita is sold directly by the manufacturer, and Gliga can be bought via its own store branch in the US.
April 3, 2018, 5:14 PM · I'm told that there was a period in the 80s and 90s when attitudes toward late starters were especially dismissive. I was rejected by more than a dozen teachers when I was in my early teens, all of them saying I was already far too old to ever learn to play even passably... I kept hearing that 9-10 was the upper age limit for being able to reach anything above beginner level.

Fortunately, that does not appear to be the prevailing attitude today.

April 3, 2018, 5:50 PM · My current is a maestro Gliga... it was $2500 but it hasn't even been a year (May 2017) since I got it so I don't think its tone is fully developed yet. But it is warm and round and sounds good with Evah Greens.
April 3, 2018, 9:05 PM · Bryan -- Sharmusic.com sells beginner violins (<$500) and intermediate ($500 - $2000). They also offer free consultation. You might want to check them out.
April 3, 2018, 9:53 PM · The purple violin I got on eBay sounds like a del Gesu.
April 4, 2018, 7:54 AM · I bought a Chinese copy of Strad Messiah from an eBay shop called capitalmusic2008 for $650, including shipping. It was listed at $800 but the seller gave me a brake on the price. Cannot beat the quality and sound. You can't get anything close to it in Europe/US within this price range.
Edited: April 4, 2018, 11:46 AM · Most Chinese violins seem to be obtained through mail order . This is the single largest hurdle compared to trying a violin out in a shop.
If I were in the market for a new Chinese violin I would look for an online company that has the patience of Jesus. Seriously you might need three exchanges or more before you get the one you want.This is the trade off when using mail order.This is why I hesitate on a mail order violin.

I haven't played long enough to determine what good really is. I know how good sounds. I don't know what good is.For that reason I intend to set up appointments with a few local shops when the time comes and play a bunch of really good violins, hopefully in the presence of someone knowledgeable who is on my side and will go to bat for me.

Once I determine what good really is I can make better informed decisions. Of course I would feel an obligation to purchase from the shop or shops that were helpful.They would obviously get my first consideration. If they can offer me the same or a similar thing to mail order, then I see no reason to go the mail order route.

You can test violins endlessly. You can't buy violins endlessly.

April 4, 2018, 12:35 PM · If you mean factory violins, Chinese made is best in the world, nearly all factory violins come from China even in Italy, and these violins are affordable and cheap, many pupils in their first five years using Chinese violins.

But I do not think manufactured Chinese violins better than European violins, many small countries also make good violins such as Hungary, Czech, Romania, Moldova, Albania and Serbia, if you want a cheap European manufactured violin you can contact luthier from those countries.

I recommend that if you have enough money, buy a good violin, because a worse violin will destroy your interest at very beginning, my brother learnt oboe at conservatory, at first he used a second-hand old oboe whose sound was cracking, later my parents bough him a Lorée and things became better. In Italy before 90s’, factory violins of various sizes were very rare, in order to encourage children in conservatory, the parents would buy decent hand-made violin for children, though a hand-made Napoli or Mantova violin not cheap.

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