Buying a New Beginner's Violin in NYC vs Midwest

November 3, 2018, 10:09 PM · Hello, I was hoping for your advice on the best place to get a new beginner’s violin. For some background. I’m a late 30’s adult who started lessons in the NYC area in July. Because I wasn’t too sure if I would enjoy it I bought a Fiddlerman Concert violin and was lucky enough to find a great teacher who’s helping me learn the basics as well as baroque music, which I’ve find myself liking the most.

First, everyone tells me the violin I have is very good for what it is. However, the instrument is very bright and loud, and even after taking it to a local Luthier, he was only able to mellow it so much. While I was there getting new strings and having the soundpost adjusted he was kind enough to let me hold some instruments he was working on as a comparison. At NO time did he try to sell me anything, and he really was just educating me on various things. However, I was able to feel and see the differences and one thing that stuck out to me was the in necks, and just how thick mine was in comparison, especially since I have smaller hands.

In a couple months I’ll be leaving NYC and moving back to Illinois in order to be closer to family. I do plan to continue lessons there. I’d like to get a new beginner’s instrument, especially one with a warmer sound, but I’m not sure if I should get one in NYC, or wait until I move. I’ll be between Chicago & St Louis and I’m sure both have some great shops, but after the experience and friendliness at the NYC shop I’d really like to try there.

What is your opinion? Try the NYC shop or wait and develop a relationship with a shop in the midwest?

Replies (7)

November 3, 2018, 11:54 PM · Either NYC or Chicago is a perfectly good place to get a violin, regardless of whether you are buying a student instrument or a top-dollar antique.

NYC might also have some viable Craigslist options, I'd bet.

November 4, 2018, 1:33 AM · Just a suggestion. Change your strings for warmer ones, let a luthier thin down the neck of your violin a bit (that’s no big deal) and wait until you have found a new teacher in Illinois. They can help you and advice you in regard to a new instrument.
November 4, 2018, 6:21 AM · If you choose to wait until you move, I second Eva's suggestion. In fact we seem to have obtained our violins from the same source and we both started to learn violin at about the same time. I also have smallish hands so the shop's master luthier helped me out by thinning down the neck as suggested. Over the course of a couple more sessions working with the luthier, some other adjustments were made. The one that mellowed out the sound the most was switching out the tailpiece for a 3/4 sized rosewood harp (and experimenting with the string after length.) I thought those were pretty cost effective things to do.

Especially if you choose to wait before switching instruments, I would add that you might want to try using an ear plug. I uses earrasers... mostly only in my left ear. I find that this enables me to learn with more confident bowing.

November 4, 2018, 10:02 AM · My guess is that the neck work might cost more than the instrument is worth. How much did you pay for your current violin?
November 4, 2018, 12:47 PM · Ifshin Violins pointed out to me that my 1951 Strad copy's neck was a little wide and charged me $250 to narrow, shape and finish it. They did a nice job and knowing that my viola's neck was too wide I had them do that next ---$300!
Edited: November 4, 2018, 1:13 PM · Please be wary of letting someone thin the neck. Most players interface with the neck diagonally, from the corner of the board by the E string, directly through, diagonally, to where the thumb rests. Blindly thinning the neck without considering the diagonal aspect will make a violin brighter. Most likely, if your instrument is cheap, the neck is not too thick or wide--it's too round on the back, or even, if it's cheap enough, approaching square.

In my shop, I often fix "thick" necks just by taking off the sharp corner of the board near the E string. $25 for 15 minutes, and it usually does the trick, since many violins have knife-like edges there that intrude uncomfortably.

One quick way to take the edge off is to move the tailpiece closer to the bridge. This snuffs the high frequencies somewhat.

November 4, 2018, 3:30 PM · Thanks for the replies. A luthier already looked at it and changed the strings and put about as warm as I can go without using gut. The violin is only $299, $399 for the outfit, so I don't want to put anymore money into it that I can use towards the upgrade. While very inexpensive it served the purpose the making sure I'd enjoy learning violin. Also, it gives me a travel violin so I can practice on road trips. That's why I'm looking at getting a better instrument.

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