Understanding Different Level Gilga Violins

March 17, 2019, 4:15 PM · I'm interested in old time music, and a violin in that capacity. I'm not sure if there is a specific type of violin for old time.

That said I had a $300 meisel that sat for about 10 years, and wasn't sure any repair work would be worth it over just getting a new violin.

Many people here recommended Gilga as an affordable student level violin. I'm looking at the differences between the beginner, student, and intermediate level Gilgas and all the specs are the same. What is the difference?

Replies (24)

March 17, 2019, 6:48 PM · I'd probably at least go for the "student" level gligas. I'm sure the "gems 2" model would suit your purpose just fine. They're all pretty good for the price though, especially if you replace the strings once you get one (the steel strings that the lower end models come standard with are very bad). You can just put on some alphayues or perhaps tonicas.

The difference between the models is in the sound and level of craftsmanship. Violins aren't really defined by "stats" as much as overall quality and the time/labor put into making them work well.

March 17, 2019, 9:16 PM · If I were looking for a bright fiddling sound for Old-Timey, I would look at Scott Cao or one of the similar sorts of brands (Jay Haide etc.). Gliga tends to be dark, and I wouldn't favor that for the style.
Edited: March 17, 2019, 9:54 PM · I had a Gliga once and got rid of it. All of their models need a setup, including a new bridge. So, that adds to the cost. It also didn't cut thru when playing with guitars, banjos etc. because of the dark tone.

My suggestion is to try a local violin shop. Old time fiddlers generally prefer a Maggini copy. I you have to buy online, Royce Burt sells regraduated fiddles and demonstates them on youtube.

Edited: March 18, 2019, 1:02 PM · @ Lydia Leong after checking the entry level Scott Cao's are a bit more expensive than something like a Gilga. What quality or specs make them especially suited to old time? I was just a beginner, who never got past tunes like Red River Valley, but from time to time long to take violin playing up again. I'll probably never be that good as I'm 36, and am only a basic guitar and banjo player. But never the less, I find it fun to do.
March 18, 2019, 1:01 PM · @ leon skibinski I'm not big on having antiques. I'm not sure I'm the right person to preserve them for the next generation. I had a real samurai short sword, and let my adult man child brother get a hold of it, and he had a drunken sword fight with his friends and smashed the blade up. What about Maggini violins are good for old time? I see several copies on aliexrpess. Are those any good?
Edited: March 18, 2019, 1:08 PM · You want your violin to basically be even-sounding and playable with some intrinsic volume. A lot of times violin shops will have older violins that sound pretty good but they don't command good prices because they've taken a beating physically -- a broken corner, say, which you can fix yourself with your pen knife, Elmer's glue, and a black Sharpie. Then invest in electrification -- pickup, pre-amp, amplifier (possibly with battery capacity if you want to be able to play anywhere), and then get yourself a looper pedal like the Boss RC-1 or Electro-Harmonix EH-720.
March 18, 2019, 1:20 PM · Bryan The fiddles sold by Royce Burt are not antiques that have to be preserved. Some are Chinese made that he gets in the white and regraduates and varnishes them. The others are mostly cheap German workshop instruments that he reworks. I tried some of his fiddles and he manages to get a really good sound out of them.

A drunken sword fight?!! I hope no one got hurt.

March 18, 2019, 2:26 PM · Are regraduated fiddles really going to be in OP's price point? I was under the impression his budget was low, like under 500?

March 18, 2019, 3:27 PM · sorry. He said his current fiddle was worth around $300. I didn't know what his price range is. Burt fiddles average around $1200. Sometimes he has an instrument with some minor imperfections and sells them for a bit less.
Edited: March 18, 2019, 6:39 PM · @ leon skibinski Yeah I was looking at something in the beginner range and not too much more than $500. I was checking out those Scott Cao violins. The review video on the page from 2014 says it only cost $450, but it's listed as $657. I feel like that's a rip off. A $300 increase for the same instrument?


It actually seems banjos have gone up too. The Bart Reiter Standard was $1100ish a year ago, now it's about about $1300.They've been saying all kinds of industries are in decline, like Harley Davidson, because millennials have a declined in purchasing power. It would seem it's not effecting instruments at all.

March 19, 2019, 12:48 AM · Bryan, violins are generally priced to be on par with what competitors are charging for a similar quality instrument. If the price has gone up since 2014, it's probably because competitor's prices have gone up as well.

Also, keep in mind that the reputation of a manufacturer adds to the price. You know what you're going to get when you buy a Scott Cao violin. And you pay extra for that assurance.

It's always painful to see what we could have bought something for several years back, but just because it's more expensive now, that doesn't mean it's a bad deal.

March 19, 2019, 1:53 AM · There is no consistency, even within a same manufacture's model, best thing is to visit a violin shop and try out multiple options in your price range, mail order is not a good idea.
March 19, 2019, 2:18 AM · It doesn't sound like the OP is experienced enough to be able to visit a violin shop and try out the violins.

On that note, though, your best bet for the first few months of learning would be a good quality rental. No need to buy right away.

March 19, 2019, 2:32 AM · So that makes him experienced enough to buy some random violin online, based on name brand recognition????
March 19, 2019, 3:41 AM · To answer the OP's question, Gliga offers good value for the price. I once played on their $800 Gama model. Its tone is dark and thick, which I like.

You can also look at the $350 Chinese Yita violin, which also receive very good reviews on v.com. Chinese violins tend to be a lot brighter in tone than Gliga. It just comes down to whichever kind of sound you prefer.

March 19, 2019, 4:31 AM · He's already got a Meisel violin, I really doubt these are significantly better.
Edited: March 19, 2019, 6:32 AM · I agree with Lyndon. Going from a $300 violin to a $450 violin basically seems pointless unless you can try them both in your own hands and see how they sound. That'd be true for any upgrade but especially when the price of the new violin is on the same order of magnitude as the old.

Bryan wrote,

"The review video on the page from 2014 says it only cost $450, but it's listed as $657. I feel like that's a rip off"

Better not ask how much it cost them to build it!

March 19, 2019, 7:03 AM · Probably about $50!!
Edited: March 19, 2019, 7:21 AM · I agree with Lyndon about not buying another violin at that price range, unless you can try it.
Edited: March 19, 2019, 1:42 PM · Thanks for the reply guys. I was looking into getting up and going again with violin, but decided fixing the Meisel wasn't worth it at the time, and buying a new violin was beyond my price range. I guess I will hold off for a bit longer. It's just that I dabble in guitar and banjo, and my twins are going to turn 3 in a few months. They really love and fight over the $30 1/8 violin I bought them from China. It's not worth its weight in fire wood, the bridge is badly gouged so that the center two strings are too depressed to hit with the bow, and sounds like dying cat when played. I think I will put this off at least til they turn 3 in August, then would like to start teaching them the basics, while having something i can use for my personal interest in old time. Something along the lines of this style: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HwREKEuNUqc
March 19, 2019, 1:42 PM · @ Lyndon Taylor

Thanks for the input Lyndon, but I seriously doubt I could appreciate the sundry timbres in various copies of the same make and model violin. But I will definitely keep that in mind when I finally do get one.

March 19, 2019, 3:32 PM · Well, if my opinion counts for anything, I've been happy with the Gligas that students have bought in the 300-500 range.

Of course, you can get much better violins for more $$$, but I don't see anyone here recommending anything else in the 300-500 price range.

And yes, Lyndon, reputation is, in fact, the *only* thing a beginner can rely on. This is why brands even exist. If he was already an experienced player, he could just go to a shop and try violins to see what he wants.

I can generally expect any student model Scott Cao violin to be roughly as decent as another Scott Cao violin of the same make and model. Same with Yamaha.

March 19, 2019, 4:18 PM · I regularly take my Gliga to bluegrass jams (the old-time folks are in the room next door). We're lucky enough to have a Gliga shop nearby, so I picked mine out of a couple dozen, selecting for an open, clear tone. I have no trouble cutting through the banjos.
March 20, 2019, 1:57 AM · I can see what you guys are talking about if I check reviews on youtube, Scott Cao vs Gilga. The Gilga definately has a dark mellow sound, where as the Cao has a bright sound. IDK. I don't know violins that well. This old time fiddler has an instrument with a mellow tone.


I don't understand why a $500 violin sounds inferior to a $5000 violin. The construction seems quite forward. This old time luthier makes violins out of cigar boxes and other things. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7pcr8GFrK5s

If most violins are made of maple and spruce what accounts for the timbre difference? Because in guitars it's the kind of tone wood. But here the majority of violins seem to be the same tone woods.

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