Upgrade Parts & Setup or New Violin?
I'm going to take my $400 student violin on a luthier tour around the city tomorrow and see what they have to say about it, but I want to hear your thoughts about this as well.
I know it depends on the instrument on a case by case basis, but if one or more of the local luthiers thinks they can improve my violin's sound and playability with a few part upgrades and a setup, should I go for it? And how much should I trust their opinion? I'd hate to waste a couple hundred dollars on something that doesn't make a big difference.
I'm going to hear what they have to say tomorrow and update this post with their responses, but do you think I might be on the right track with upgrading parts and getting a good setup? (my setup might be fine already, idk) instead of buying an intermediate violin? Or am I wasting my money?
UPDATE: I took my violin to a luthier to give it a look over and make sure its setup was good. He said the E string was a little high, but within acceptable standards and not worth adjusting, and otherwise, it was a good setup and he said nothing he could do to it like replacing the bridge or tailpiece would make a noticeable difference.
While I was there I tried out a bunch of old German workshop violins, my favorite being a $2500 1890 Thomas Ernst. I also tried a $950 Martin Beck, but I didnt like it very much.
On my way home I took a sharp turn and went to Y. Chen's shop, a Chinese luthier who lives here but has a workshop in China where he makes his instruments.
I tried 4 in my price range and noticed a big difference compared to my current violin. They were actually very nice, resonant, and loud!
I especially liked the $800 Arcos Brasil A. Carualho silver pernambuco bow I got to use in the shop. Even made my current violin sound much better.
So at least I figured out that my current setup is fine and in order to improve the sound I need a new violin and a new bow.
So now I will start saving money and go back to these two places (and probably a couple more. I hear there's a Romanian workshop dealer in town as well).
Overall, a good day!
I wouldn't expect much out of a $400 violin.
Depends on how much the upgrades and setup cost. It's probably not worthwhile if it's going to cost $200, but if the price you're quoted is under $100, it might be worthwhile to go ahead and have the work done.
Imho, I think set up affect more of its playability and consistency than its tone. It surely affect the tone too, especially projection, if that's what you concern.
Take it back to the luthier where you bought it.
There's a false economy in not getting a violin that's set up properly. Local labour costs are what they are due to the local cost of business and living. I'd expect a good luthier to value the playability of even student instruments despite knowing that there are better instruments available and not to take a salesperson's role of pushing the latter.
It depends on two things:
Honesty is the best policy. But I can't always offer full value trade up policy on violins bought from other dealers like I do on my own sales, other dealers prices are often a lot higher than mine. But I do endeavor to have the same high quality set up standards even on the cheapest violins I sell. I can't tell you how rare it is to get a violin in for set up that has its soundpost properly fit. Not to mention pegs and bridges.
Trade it in if you can and get a new violin. Make sure you are happy with setup before you purchase. Doesn't matter the level of the violin, if you are getting it from a violin shop, they should be setup similarly to their finer instruments.
I cannot agree with you Anthony. It may be that a good shop will start the setup of a cheaper violin the same way they would a fine one, but I don't believe they stop at the same place.
Updated original post with the results of my luthier visit
We're not talking Strads, or anything even above 10K for Russell, that is a very different discussion.....
Sounds like you've found an honest luthier who isn't trying to oversell you.
Violins are personal to the player too, even at the high end. I
I didn't mean much more than that - if you've resolved the playability issues you'd mentioned earlier, and find that your instrument is not noticeably more difficult to play than other instruments, then that's great.