I have lurked around the website for quite a while and finally decided to join a couple of weeks ago.
I have always wanted to learn to play the violin; I play flute-family instruments and keyboard, but have held off from learning violin due to the cost of a decent instrument and lessons; in addition there are no teachers, music shops or luthiers within a 2 hour drive away (difficult in any case as I don't drive!)
Over the past few years though, I've had more of a yearning than ever to learn to play the violin and keep looking out for second hand ones in good condition, then signing up for some online lessons.
Not perfect I know and lots of opportunity for me to get into bad playing habits.
Now, I live with my family and we all share the computer.
To cut a long story short, I logged onto the computer today, the Amazon account was open and I spotted a violin at the top of the list of 'dispatched items', or rather what I believe would be termed a VSO.
I am now rather anxious, having read and heard the many VSO disaster tales on the internet.
I take it to be that one of the family members, or possibly all of them, have decided to treat me to this VSO for my upcoming birthday.
I have read down the details of the ordered item:
* 100% brand new 4/4 full size acoustic violin
* A perfect instrument to for beginners, students or daily practice
* Featuring high quality and meticulous craftsmanship
* PLYWOOD front, back and sides
* Black-dyed rosewood fingerboard, chin rest and 4 tuning pegs
* The tailpiece with 4 fine tuners is made of aluminum alloy
* High quality steel wire as string which gives beautiful and rich sound
* Maple wood scroll and bridge
* Rosewood bow with authentic Mongolian horse tailhair
* Eco-friendly and CNC varnish brings healthy and quaint feel
* Exquisite inlaid purfling
* Quality rosin as a free gift
* A durable oblong carry case is included
* Lightweight foam interior with flannelette finish and tiny protective feet
* Double zippered for more convenience
* With a pouch at the front for notepad and others
* 2 adjustable shoulder rests and a sturdy side handle, easy to carry
The reviews vary - 49 people give it a 5 star rating "for the price", which is £50.
The rest of the reviews are awful as you would expect, with one person stating that the "exquisite inlaid purfling" was in fact, drawn on.
Most people said that it's terrible to get to stay in tune for more than 10 minutes.
The trouble is, my family are so lovely and I know they will be really pleased at the thought of me having a violin for my birthday.
£50 is quite a lot for them to spend on a gift, as funds are far from abundant for us at the moment.
It isn't that I'm not grateful to them, because I really am, but I'm just worried as to what is going to arrive.
I had actually seen a second hand violin for sale on Ebay this week that appears to be in good condition, a Stentor II, and it's not too expensive.
Of course, if I bought that and it arrived before my family's surprise for me, then they are going to be horrified by me cheerily annoucing "look I got a violin!"
I'm more terrified of them being disappointed than I am of me being disappointed, if you know what I mean.
Apologies for the rambling.
Just wanted to talk to someone about it, as I can't discuss it with those around me, being as they are in on the plot!
All I can think of is how apt Jane Austen's words in 'Emma' are:
“Surprises are foolish things. The pleasure is not enhanced, and the inconvenience is often considerable.”
Thanks for reading guys, I'll keep you updated :)
Edit: In case anyone was wondering, I've made sure to use the Private Browsing window, so the family won't find my Violinist.com profile and this thread!
OMG. You have my sincerest sympathy. On the plus side, you seem well equipped with kindness and understanding to navigate this well-intentioned minefield.
Also, Amazon is good at taking things back and giving you a refund, so it may be possible to quietly return it.
Many of my students encounter this issue. My deepest sympathies.
Thank you for your replies and kind sympathies :)
And when you returned it, you could get some rosin and a shoulder rest for that money. Or, at least, a very very basic chinese CF bow.
Plywood? Yikes !!! I personally. Would not even open the box before returning asap.
Isn't there someone reasonable in your family you could discreetly talk to, and give a silent hint to take influence on this disaster?
That's a lovely thought Nuuska.
I feel with you... It's tricky not no hurt anybody's feelings in this situation, no matter whether you will use it or not!
If all else fails, I can at least try practicing instrument & bow hold with it I suppose, possibly even manage to play an odd note that's in tune, say I'm loving the whole thing so much that I think it's time I got a second violin because, because, because, ah, yes, because I will need a specific violin suitable for playing ITM, does that sound vaguely plausible? - and migrate to playing the proper one more and more, until I hardly ever play the VSO.
Just checked out the seller name on Amazon - it's called truecharms Ltd.
Hmm. If you want to return the violin quietly... do you have a trusted friend you can have a new violin shipped to? You may be able to order a violin, have it shipped to a friend, and bring it home when you return the VSO so that you there is always exactly one violin in the house.
Now there is a master plan Andrew!
Welcome to violinist.com. So ... you have already discovered that you have chosen one of the more expensive hobbies. My suggestion is, get the VSO. Hang around in fiddle jams. Ask to be shown a few pointers. Compliment the other players. Excuse yourself from playing as a raw beginner. When you have come to know these people, and surely you will charm them just as easily as you have charmed us, perhaps there will be one among them with a second instrument to lend you for a time. Save your allowance for an electric violin and a small amplifier. The electric instrument will give you many years of love, and it will not need the kind of (expensive) care and feeding that a real violin inevitably needs.
Playing a cheap VSO that is not set-up properly can be physically damaging to your left hand, including life-long nerve damage from repetitive stress.
I “like” Paul’s suggestion.
You said funds are short at the moment. What about something paid over time? I believe Fiddlerman or Fiddlershop offer time payments.
You said it yourself, £50 is quite a lot for them to spend on a gift, especially as this is a waste. Find a tactful way to let them know there is no violin on the planet worth buying at this price, but you'd certainly appreciate whatever contribution they generously wish to make.
If I were in your shoe, I will do the following:
Alana, could you tell your family right away that you are interested in getting a violin, and ask them to be involved in consulting a professional on what would be a good choice, and point out things to watch out for? Could that be a good way of educating them, without any hurt feelings among the family?
Mention casually in course of conversation with said member of family that you really appreciate things for their worth and are sad when beginners are put down from practice via a cheap "fiddle". :)
Ouch! Good luck on ebay! (Who would have expected I'd ever write something like this... *sigh*)
Good luck indeed! When is the auction over?
Thanks for the good wishes :)
Rent. You're more likely to get an instrument which has been set up properly (or at least have a chance to choose in person or have adjustments made); get some minimal support from a store, and avoid some of the unknowns and uncertainty while seeing if it's for you.
Another vote for renting. I was able to get a very nice intermediate violin via that route via rent to own. It gave me a space to try it out before paying it off.
Oh dear. I will hope for the best with the ebay auction.
Well... Can always use one as timber in the Winter and save on wood.
When I did the Myers Briggs they said I was a PITA. LOL
While many of us would focus on the violin rather than the thoughts and feelings of those who brought it to us, it is wonderful to have their support and active encouragement (and tolerance).
I too vote for renting. As you said, the likelihood of another "pig in a poke" is quite high. I would not up my bid just in case you start getting outbid, which will likely happen at the last moment.
Thanks again for all the replies.
Lol, the things we do to spare peoples' feelings.
Alana B I’ve noticed you’ve said you’re in Wales, which is the same area as me! I wonder if we are in the same part? I know of a couple of folk and fiddle traditional music meet ups in my area! Good luck with your violin journey1
Mary Dixon - that's interesting to know. In a broad sense, I'm towards the SW of the country :-)
Hi again folks,
It's not uncommon for G strings to fit some fine tuners differently than the other strings because they are thicker - also what I see there is not a problem for that kind of string. The bridge "sucks." it has not been shaped appropriately either to fit the top or for proper mass - it is probably twice the mass it should be.
Thank you Andrew; I wasn't sure, so thought I'd ask you more experienced folk first, just in case it was something that meant it was going to pop out on me!
Make sure the soundpost is standing up inside (about one post thickness "south" of the bridge - and the nut ("north" end of the fingerboard, where the fingerboard meets the pegbox) looks strange to me. The clearance of the strings above the fingerboard just "south"should be small, just one standard business card thickness.
The soundpost is standing up; it was the first thing I looked at when I saw that the bridge wasn't on.
On a plywood violin, there is no technical need for a purfling; plywood won't crack like a thin plate of solid wood might do.
A general point about protecting the integrity of the sound post when it is necessary to take the bridge down. If the sound post isn't in at quite the right tightness there is the real possibility that taking the bridge down may cause the post to shift slightly or even fall over; in which case you'll need professional assistance to get it back in the right position.
Condolences, of course.
Hi Alana, if you would like to connect with me, email me on email@example.com (this is my spare email, I still have access to it).
I'm no expert, but because during my teen playing years we lived a long distance from the nearest violin shop (in the lousy western Maryland climate) I learned to fiddle with soundposts and other things on my instruments and so I've been doing what I thought I could for the past 70 years with no unrecoverable mishaps - although in earlier years I had to deal with my share of fallen soundposts; violin and cello. By the time I got into playing viola too I must have solved it because I've never had a viola soundpost fall.
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