tried the jay haide, not impressed. any other brands?

Edited: September 4, 2019, 2:53 PM · i finally got to try out some jay haide l'ancienne models, while my trial period violin back in the shop for repair, i tried out both the european, and a chinese wood model at another shop, this is the violin i'm looking to upgrade to, and i'm just not impressed by them, yes they sound quite decent and responsive. but it wasn't much improvement over my current violin, in fact i think my current(on trial period) is more responsive and warmer tone while being half the price i paid.

am i missing something? everywhere i read folks rave about them, but yet nothing about them stood out to me, or am i simply expecting too much. i played Tchaikovsky op 35 1st mvmt follow up with chaconne, along with some 2 octave scales. the tone wasn't warm and response was lacking compared to my current. i tried both with/without shoulder rest and i just find the jay haide to be decent, but i feel they do not justify the price tag consider my current is half the price yet its about the same. i don't know if this holds any relevance but the jay haide is also heavier than my current. also, what is up with antiquing, it made the violin look like it was found in a dumpster.

if not jay haide, what other brands would you guys recommend.eastman maybe? thanks

Replies (32)

September 4, 2019, 1:18 AM · Don't go by brands try lots of violins in your price range and unlabeled or obscure makers might often be the best deal, you pay more for a brand.
September 4, 2019, 1:33 AM · thanks lyndon! i realized violin shopping is way harder than guitars, back in high school i only needed 2-3 weeks before i know i want a gibson, now i spend 5 months and the one violin folks keep recommending just falls short!

i guess i'm just amused that this is the 1st time i taken advice from here on jay haide and it didn't work out for me.

September 4, 2019, 2:18 AM · Lyndon is right. If you're not impressed by the Haide violins don't blame yourself. You may have read a lot of good "reviews" online but people who write reviews online usually don't know what they're talking about (if they are not in the employ of the maker).
Edited: September 4, 2019, 2:32 AM · thanks herman, thats very reassuring, i also tried out the snow SV900, which is suppose to be a direct competitor to the jay haide, and i can see why they say its a direct competitor, it was equally decent! nothing stood out. also the snow 200 and 400 were even a class below, not completely terrible, but i wouldn't recommend that to someone who are considered intermediate.

i just find the jay haide and snow very lacking character, it doesn't like my current(still on trial period) or my friend's(his is a custom made one so not exactly fair comparison)

September 4, 2019, 2:33 AM · what do you have now??
September 4, 2019, 2:50 AM · i'm currently on a trial period violin from a local luthier, trial ends in about 2 days and its in a shop b/c there is a blemish on the top the luthier is fixing. its the best one i played so far compare to 20 other violins including jay haide and snow and old german trade violin.

the violin has a rich, yet responsive tone. Not muddy or muffled. It projects well, according to my friend who was with me when i was trying out the instruments.

September 4, 2019, 2:53 AM · is it a hand made instrument or a factory instrument the luthier puts finishing touches on??
September 4, 2019, 3:03 AM · i don't think its factory made since it doesn't feel bulky like the factory ones i tried, its very light and airy, but i do believe the luthier put the finishing touches on it.
Edited: September 4, 2019, 3:09 AM · probably factory if you can afford it, hand made starts at about $10,000 unless its an amateur builder, weight has nothing to do with whether its factory made or not, but light is often good.
September 4, 2019, 3:09 AM · your probably right! i know at this point from what i learned, anything under 5 grand is factory made. but at the same time, can anyone explain these yitamusic instruments, they claim 1 luthier made these master range violins, but the price tag of a factory violin.
Edited: September 4, 2019, 8:11 PM · I'm looking at Chinese bows going for $995 and they're the same non descript non pernambuco wood used on the $50 bows.
September 4, 2019, 3:28 AM · that makes so much more sense, every luthier i know, cheapest one charges 7 grand, and yet on yitamusic they claim one luthier for master range violin for 2999. they are gorgeous looking violins, but their questionable description puts me off from purchasing.
September 4, 2019, 3:31 AM · A luthier can only make 5-10 violins a year, why do you think there are so many of them
September 4, 2019, 7:39 AM · When we traded up my daughter's 3/4 Jay Haide cello for her full size, I was pretty surprised at how much variation there was between instruments. None were bad but it wasn't until we got the fourth one that we were like "wow this is really good". But it's still nowhere near her good cello made by a VSA "hors concours" luthier...I don't think it would be fair to expect otherwise.
September 4, 2019, 8:20 AM · In the end, you're looking in the student instrument range -- generally Chinese or
Eastern European workshop-made violins. Some of these violins will turn out to be surprisingly good, and as a whole, I think they're a lot better than I remember factory violins in my 1970s / 1980s childhood being.

As always, there's variability in the violins. A $1500 instrument might turn out surprisingly good for its price. A $3000 instrument might turn out to be mediocre for its price tag. That means that one isn't necessarily hugely better than the other. (And as you go up the price range, this continues to hold true. A specific $40k violin won't necessarily turn out to be meaningfully better than a specific $20k one, though on the average it will be at least somewhat better.)

Set-up also makes an enormous difference regardless of price range.

As far as workshop violins go, the Jay Haides have pretty consistently good quality for what they are. Ditto the Hiroshi Konos. If you're playing Tchaikovsky you're unlikely to find any workshop brand to be satisfying.

September 4, 2019, 9:20 AM · thanks lydia and stan, yes i completely understand that no 2 violin are the same when they are the same model, i agree that factory violins have certainly stepped up their games since the 80s. if what you are saying is true, i guess the only way forward is for me to save up for handmade violin here in the states. i got a quote of 10k euro from Daniele Tonarelli in cremona, i guess thats what i'll be saving up for.

and i just remembered, even the luthier said the chinese jay haide is more or less the same as my current after i played couple passages.

also, at what price range is not considered a student range anymore.

September 4, 2019, 10:36 AM · Instruments from full-time violin makers, personally fully handcrafted by an individual, are typically $10k+. You can sometimes get apprentice-made violins in the $7k+ range. (There are individual makers who may charge less than $7k, but they are generally amateurs or people who don't often make instruments.)
Edited: September 4, 2019, 11:09 AM · "currently on a trial period violin from a local luthier"

Kai, I am a little confused. You speak of upgrading "your current violin", which you are saying have ON TRIAL hence is not YOUR current violin, or is it?... and which is the best of everything you tried so far. And the problem is? In other words are you saying that you are looking for something better than what your are currently trialling? And what price range would that trial instrument be? $1500 or less, $5-6000, $10-12000 or more?

"what price range is not considered a student range anymore"

$15-20K I would think.

September 4, 2019, 11:27 AM · hi roger, yes u are right, sorry for the confusion, i was up late typing this up. the current on trial is 1300, but its a bit more complex thn that, i basically bought it already, with a 7 day full refund period cause the luthier understand i want to take it home and try it there. my apology for not explaining that part better, so i guess technically it is mine.

its the best one i played so far, the varnish looks cheap but the violin is light and airy, very responsive and open compare to the snow and jay haides. basing on the recommendations here i thought jay haide being 2x the price tag would at least sound and play better, but its not the case hence my thread asking what is up. my budget going into this is 3-4k, so i'm basically trying everything i can get my hands on in this range. and so far this on trial is the best i tried for under 4k.

hi @nate, as far as setup goes, all of them were from violin shops, i can't imagine they putting aside violins for me to try and not having the proper setup, most of them have dominant with one exception of using pi strings. so i tried to take out as many variables out of the equation as possible.

i guess, going forward, i'll take the on trial as the best candidate, and stash the leftover budget for a handmade later down the road.

Edited: September 4, 2019, 12:18 PM · If you're jumping from a $2000 to a $4000 instrument, you're unlikely to see consistent dramatic increase in tone quality.

Look, if you're playing Tchaikovsky and end-game Bach, your next big purchase should probably be a step up into the $10k range, an instrument that will last you through the professional repertoire, rather than a $4000 purchase that does have an expiration date. It's possible to find a diamond in the rough, but a $4k violin will most likely eventually hold you back from solo rep.

Also, if you're playing Tchaikovsky and end-game Bach, play your 3 octave scales.

September 4, 2019, 12:41 PM · James makes a good point. How expensive is the violin you currently own (NOT the one that you have on trial)?
September 4, 2019, 1:49 PM · If you can play Tchaik mvmt 1, and the Bach Chaconne, and you find an instrument that you like for $1300, don't worry about what the internet thinks, buy the instrument! :-)

Seriously. If you are playing at that level, you can tell if the instrument makes you happy, and an instrument that can handle those two things can handle just about anything. (Maybe try some scales in thirds and really really high notes on E string just to be sure, as those things aren't heavily exercised by your test pieces and instruments vary there.)

Do be aware that room acoustics and bow choice are _massive_ variables, so you need to control for those. Control for room by bringing along your own instrument, and for bow by using the same bow, or trying multiple bows with multiple instruments. There exist rooms that make anything sound like a Strad, and these rooms have a surprising tendency to exist in violin shops. :-) (One luthier clued me in that hanging instruments' resonance is part of the reason.)

There is very little correlation between price and playability or tone. Not zero correlation, but low and noisy correlation. Particularly if you don't need to routinely play solo _with orchetstra_, I don't agree that it is impossible to find instruments that play that level of rep at that price range.

The actual answer to your original question as asked, what other brands to try, might include Scot Cao 750+. I own one that I like about as much as my other instrument, a modern American luther-made instrument, and vary them based on repetoire and desired sound. The Cao loses a bit of punch above 7th position on the E string, which is the only actual downside I've observed, and audience tests suggest that it makes a more pleasant tone at listener distance than the other instrument.

But like I said, don't go by brand and don't worry about price, if the price is right. (Do test projection if you have to care, but unless you are soloing over an orchestra specifically, anything that sounds good to you is probably fine. Over an orchestra, things get funny and you need an audience member to tell you.)

Edited: September 4, 2019, 3:07 PM · thank you james, francis, and lydia, i'm beyond flattered by all your comments. :) i been dodging 3 octave for awhile now but yes i do need to get back on it.

right now i have a cheap 200 dollar violin that my aunt got for me from china, its about 15 years old with a really bad interpretation for bass bar. throughout college and grad school i didn't have much cash so i always use school instruments. so maybe thats why i was so impressed by the trial period cause honestly anything sounded and play better than my current haha.

yes i know exactly what your talking about francis, but so far i lucked out in the testing environment, the shops i visited so far are acoustically dampened with carpets everywhere, and i have brought my own bows to all the testings. i also try to make sure all the violins have dominant string since they are the most neutral tone out there.

as for high e position, along with parts of op 35 1st mvmt, i played Paganini violin concerto No.4 mov.2 aka pense amore, actually its because of that piece i wrote off the jay haide and snow cause they gave me this shrill sound, where the trial had a warmth tone to it.

i have two appointments with two shops on sunday, to test out another jay haide and a old german trade. i'm gonna take all the advice here put it to good use :)

on another note, i just want to say thank you for all the response, i hate having all this thoughts and doubts trapped in my head and with no one in my friend circle to talk about violin with, this really is a breath of fresh air.

i also got off the phone with the luthier whos fixing my trial, he too concluded, after hearing me play, that the jay haide is not something i should be looking for. and hes going to put aside couple much more expensive ones just so i can get an idea of what my future purchase should look like. what a nice guy!

September 4, 2019, 3:41 PM · Playing things you can't afford (either yet, or ever) is hugely valuable. Regarding violins, most of what I know about what I like came initially from playing things outside my price range.

It is often possible to find lower-priced violins whose personality resembles that of more expensive ones, especially in specific ways. I bought my modern American luthier instrument because it reminded be of a Pietro Guarneri I once got to play for a couple minutes, and my Scott Cao because it reminded me of a much more expensive modern luthier instrument I played once.

Edited: September 4, 2019, 6:20 PM · Tx Kai for the clarification. If you can, try Core Select violins, which actually can be rather nice for the price if you find the right one properly set up. Also known as Mingjiang Zhu violins in the past.
September 4, 2019, 6:37 PM · i have heard about mingjiang zhu, but haven't been able to find a shop that carries them or core select violins. are they generally precede better than jay haide or snow? sorry thats literally my two only base line going forward.
Edited: September 4, 2019, 7:38 PM · Racist statements such as categorizing whole nationalities of people as "master liars" should be flagged and removed.

I don't know why there isn't zero tolerance for these kinds of offensive statements and their writers.

September 4, 2019, 7:33 PM · "are MJZs generally precede better than jay haide or snow?" I don't know as I never played Jay Haide or Snows, but they have the reputation to be good value. Then there are the Bulgarian instruments in the $5K range also worth trying.
September 4, 2019, 9:26 PM · Core select are Howard Core Company, I don't think they have anything to do with MJZ instruments.
September 4, 2019, 11:02 PM · I have a MJZ viola. It's got a big sound and even does pretty well in the higher registers (learning that now with some cruel orchestra rep) but it's not very responsive. I'm hoping to trade up to a bench-made instrument. Like a Manfio.

"There exist rooms that make anything sound like a Strad, and these rooms have a surprising tendency to exist in violin shops. :-) (One luthier clued me in that hanging instruments' resonance is part of the reason.)"

Wow, now that you say that, Francis, it seems so obvious.

September 5, 2019, 6:17 PM · I play on a Jay Haide violin as my main instrument. It has served me well for the past ~5 years, but I often wonder what owning a professional level violin could do for my playing...

Before purchasing my Jay Haide, I did try many of them from Ifshin's. There was definitely varying levels of sound and playability. I didn't like all of them.

I have heard a lot of good things about MJZ violins, and I was really impressed with the only one I ever tried which was their 909 model (maybe more impressed with it than my Jay Haide). You can still get the MJZ 909 model from Fiddlershop -- it's priced at $3100.

September 5, 2019, 7:26 PM · hi gene, wow that mjz 909 sounds fantastic in the fiddlershop video, i need to find a shop that has it. cheers

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