Practice violin in Zurich, Switzerland

October 21, 2018, 2:52 AM · Hello, I used to post here regularly but I ended up getting very busy and started focusing on other things in life.

Long story short, I now live in Zurich, Switzerland and my nice violin sits at my parents' and I may bring it the next time I visit. However I am a bit afraid of damaging it or having it stolen.

I want to get an inexpensive practice violin instead if I can.

I am thinking of ordering something off of ebay unless if someone has a suggestion here.

Thank you for your time.

Replies (13)

October 21, 2018, 5:05 AM · Steven,

There must be a local shop you could visit and actually try out the lower priced violins rather than gamble on receiving something playable from an online seller.

October 21, 2018, 5:09 AM · I own a Yamaha V5 violin worth €350. It’s quite bright. You may want to use it with a better bow, which for me has made a difference. And of course, you should change the default Prelude strings, which are way too shrill for this violin. It’s not the best violín out there, but I’m satisfied with it for the price, and will use it until my technique improves enough to “earn” a better instrument.
Edited: October 21, 2018, 6:21 AM · Hi Jeff and Miguel, Thank you for your responses. After talking to my wife a little bit, we found this one: Stagg Violin in Lousanne

A Stagg electric, which I am a fan of, and have tried before. Of course not the best quality but it'll be a good practice substitute. I'm in touch with the seller for the above and I will seeing/picking it up from Lousanne next Friday.

I like the Yamaha ones, but never liked their quality vs price especially for electric violins. They are nice, but there are nicer ones for the same or less price.

Also, over the years I realized that the setup is much more important than the violin itself. I had a great luthier in my previous town and she was always great at making my primary violin to sound its best, and I will look for similar services in Zurich, but it's quite a bit pricier.

Edited: October 21, 2018, 8:30 AM · You're welcome, Steven. I think you're right thinking the setup is important. I like my violin, and it has sentimental value for me, since it has been my only violin and it was given to me as a gift from a very close relative. That's why I'm slowly trying to set it up the best possible way. I want to keep it.

I have never played an electric violin. I love the Yamaha clavinova and silent pianos, but I've read somewhere that the technology of silent/electric violins is still behind, and that they're not comparable to the acoustic instrument...

October 21, 2018, 8:55 AM · Hi Miguel, Honestly, I've never heard a single electric violin that sounded "Bad." As far as you invest in good amplifier, it can mimic the sound of the best violin, but it simply isn't "right".

I love the violin vibrating on my chin, my neck, and my shoulder, which makes me play the violin, but as far as I am concerned about the electric violins. It's simply just the setup and how ergonomic it is.

October 22, 2018, 2:13 AM · It surprised me that you decided to get an electric. What I've been told from people who has played electric violins is that the bowing tends to be very different, and the intonation is slightly different, since they lack the overtones an acoustic violin produces. I imagine they're good for practising fingering, scales and exercises without bothering anyone. I practice lots of times with my violin using a heavy lead mute almost at midnight, and so far, none of my neighbours has complained.

Of course, an electric is better than nothing, specially when you can't play it on its full potential in a tiny flat. It also requires less maintenance. I will personally wait some more years until they improve the technology a bit, and if they're comparable to a Clavinova piano (or similar), I will definitely get one.

October 22, 2018, 2:39 AM · I take my electric along while traveling. But after two weeks practice-wise I feel stuck and have to get back to my acoustic one.
(adult learner, started 5th year of private lessons)
Edited: October 22, 2018, 1:33 PM · Well, I guess I can tell you the long story now. I've had about 10 cycles of secondary violins in the past. You can find my old posts if you search my name.
I have a fancy main violin. I treasure it, so I get a secondary practice violin, then I don't like it as much as my main violin and sell the secondary, and the cycle begins again.

The difference now is that I am now in Switzerland and my main violin is in Canada, so is my Viola and Cello haha.

This is for my "office violin". I should let you know that my main violin is too loud for me to play without a mute, or ear plugs.

October 23, 2018, 2:23 AM · I treasure it, so I get a secondary practice violin, then I don't like it as much as my main violin and sell the secondary, and the cycle begins again.

I'm still a beginner and I only own a violin. But this is one of my fears in the future. I'm sure something like this will happen to me once I find a beautiful sounding violin. Which violin do you have as your primary one (if you don't mind telling me)?

I also perfectly understand the loudness issue. You can also search for my name, and you will find I tend to get strong headaches on a regular basis, and that there are days in which I just can't even stand a violin with a heavy mute wearing an earplug in my left ear. A loud and shrill instrument is not the best instrument to play when one is about to get a migraine or in the middle of it. That's exaclty what woke my interest on electric instruments.

Getting a new instrument, even an "office one" (I like the expression) is always a joy. Enjoy your new violin!

October 23, 2018, 1:23 PM · Hi Miguel. If you keep playing the violin, you will see more than one in your possession in your lifetime. Some better than your primary.

My primary violin is a 1958 Sig Hoibakke violin which has seen its share of bad days. It has a soundpost patch and many cracks which were repaired well. It's now the second best sounding violin I've ever got to play. Best one, I almost bought the violin made my former luthier. I ended up now because I was in no condition to spend the time and try the violin because I was always 4 days away from flying across the Atlantic Ocean.

Over time, it's not just the violin that is precious and costly. Even the case itself was pricey.

I think it's a bit of a curse that we can't hear the beautiful voice from our acoustic instrument naturally. Though, I did find a perfect spot with good acoustic and large volume near my office to play the primary violin.

October 24, 2018, 4:03 PM · Hoibakke is a totally unknown maker for me. Your instrument has an interesting story. I'll search for some info on Hoibakke violins. Thank you.

I know I will probably have more violins in my life, as I plan to stick with the instrument for my lifetime. Who knows what will I end up playing...?

Having a good place in which you can practice is a great thing. I usually play at home, with a mute. But some days I've been allowed to play alone in a stage, and it's a very satisfying experience, even for someone like me who is still struggling with some very basic techniques.

Edited: October 25, 2018, 4:06 PM · There are a million varieties of cheap travel violins out of China. You can find them on Ebay and also Alibaba. They are study enough to pack in a suitcase. The only thing I don't like about them is they are kind of heavy -- 3-4 pounds. They are electronic/"silent" -- meaning if you don't plug them in, you can practice with them without disturbing people in neighboring rooms.

If your goal is to keep your fingers limber, you buy one of those for $50-$150 and then buy a half-size $20 chinese bow.

One step up from that (and a little more compact) is the electric violin by NS Design called the Wav. 4. if you wait for SHAR specials you can buy them for about $450. They're a much better made violin -- and if you hooked up to an amplifier, it even sounds fairly decent. But they're really nice and compact when you take the chinrest/shoulder rest assembly off -- sturdy enough to share a suitcase with your clothes and shoes.

On the other hand, if you have space for a violin case, and noise isn't an issue where you're traveling, then just bring an actual violin because it will be a much better practice experience. You can get a decent Chinese violin on ebay suitable for practice for as little as $200-$400 -- though it will require some setup when you receive it - you may have to set a soundpost.

Edited: October 25, 2018, 11:42 PM · It truly depends on what you want. In our household we keep a Stag Electric for travel. It is a perfectly adequate instrument for hotel room or office silent practice. It feels like a proper violin and it is playable without a shoulder rest which is important to some, unlike many other Electics. It doesn't care about humidity, it doesn't care about temperature fluctuations and it doesn't annoy the neighbours. We also keep a Cricket. It is a great travel option since it travels in a document tube. Its a real acoustic instrument, and again its bombproof in terms of humidity and temperature, although in terms of tone it might offend those of a sensitive disposition. However, if you want a real instrument that can give you the full acoustic violin experience you will need, as you already know, a real violin. Europe is literally stuffed with violin shops. Take a couple of days off from High Energy Physics and go shopping. You are more likely to be at least partially satisfied by that approach than you are buying stuff cold from fleabay, but really, you know that already!

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