Violin capacity for different grades

Edited: October 14, 2019, 11:07 PM · Why are there violins that are categorised as for different “grades”? It makes it very confusing.. Say for this one it says it is capable up to 7 or 8 https://www.violins.com.au/collections/instruments/products/violin-johann-stauffer-500s-4-4
Does anyone have any experience regards with European instruments?
Or should I get a german violin which is bit more expensive https://www.violins.com.au/products/violin-otto-jos-klier-maestro-3-maestro-series?_pos=10&_sid=2ff41d230&_ss=r

Replies (12)

October 14, 2019, 11:51 PM · For the first violin, the website says "In terms of AMEB or Trinity levels, we believe it is most suitable for advancing players up to a grade 7 or 8". It's quite straightforward actually, they are saying that this instrument can handle technical, tonal requirements of a grade 7 and 8 piece (Beethoven Romance in F, Kreisler Praeludium and Allegro, etc.).

So it's a nice, decent intermediate instrument, for which the price AUD 2200 is suitable. That's what they mean, but whether it's true or not, you have to try it out.

About the 2nd violin, at that price point, provenence shows very little indication whether the violin is good or not.

October 15, 2019, 12:57 AM · Where do you live? If you live in or close to Sydney, it would make sense to go to the shop /s and physically try them. Poring over a website like that could drive you nuts.
If you don’t have a teacher, do you know someone who could help you decide?
At what level are you playing and what do you have already? How much of a hurry are you in?
It would be nice if it was, but this doesn’t have to be your forever violin, if you find something you like better later on.
Enjoy the search, don’t stress!
October 15, 2019, 1:10 AM · Not sure of the differences with the European violin or german one?
Edited: October 15, 2019, 1:19 AM · 'the website says "In terms of AMEB or Trinity levels, we believe it is most suitable for advancing players up to a grade 7 or 8". It's quite straightforward actually,'

No it is not. It is ambiguous. "most suitable" can mean "best employed", or it can mean "extremely suitable" in the sense "perfectly adequate" or it can mean "extremely suitable", in the same way that a Strad would be extremely suitable.

And the more expensive violin, in even more ambiguous language, only cites grade 6 ("and beyond". We have to assume this means "slightly beyond" rather than "beyond to infinity")!

Four fine tuners might be a clue.

"Poring over a website like that could drive you nuts." Rosemary is wise.

Otoh, if you know the shop is reliable, that is important. Soundfiles can be useful. I spent $1,000 based on a soundfile and got lucky.

October 15, 2019, 2:32 AM · Have you watched their videos that compare violins in different ranges? and whitehorse music (in melbourne) as well? If not check YouTube.

This is indeed a very reliable store. It's worth the trip if you live anywhere near Sydney. Contact them before you go and let them know your requirements (playing standard, price point, bright or mellow sound, new or old) and they'll have a few different violins for you to try.

I took my whole string group all the way across Sydney on a school excursion there after one of the kids dads saved all year for a $60 vso on eBay, so they would know the difference. Sydney string centre were very good at dealing with a whole bunch of school kids, only one of whom would be a potential customer. They've also been very helpful about helping me source cheap instruments and resources for the group.

Their luthiers are good, but much more expensive than MrIrwin in edgecliffe whose reputation is good enough that my teacher took her incedibly valuable c18th violin to him for repairs. He has a different range of instruments so it's worth checking out both stores. Don't bother with Logan's pianos - despite their advertising they are a piano store not a string store and their instruments aren't that well set up.

Whitehorse music has a great mail order service and will send things ought on trial if you don't live locally, so they might be worth a try too.

Edited: October 15, 2019, 2:51 AM · Oh, and about the "suitable for grade..." comments: don't you're buying from them, don'the idea is not to get a grade 7/8 instrument if you're a beginner (forgive me if you're not, or you're an adult who'll stick with it non matter what) - it will be harder to play.

Their "to grade 3" instruments are designed to be easy to play - very forgiving - and have (esp. The kreisler) a lovely non-squeaky tone for beginners. They also have a more direct sound with less overtones which makes it easier to learn to play in tune. I found them much better in terms of sound and playability than other beginner instruments.

When you start to play up in the high positions, they won't sound as good (plus you'll want a more sophisticated overall sound) and you'll need to upgrade. That's the trade-off for an easy beginner instrument.

These do come up on gumtree for very reasonable prices and you'll be able to get a similar price if you sell a second hand instrument on when you upgrade. The difference is you won't get the free "check ups" outfit sydney string centre iffer with all their instruments if you buy it elsewhere.

October 15, 2019, 7:22 AM · Ok, but I can't agree that having fewer overtones makes it easier to play in tune...
October 15, 2019, 3:55 PM · Adrian, fewer overtones make it easier to LEARN to play in tune. Also it makes slightly off-key intonation a little less painful for the innocent bystanders. ;)
October 23, 2019, 7:20 AM · @Adrian
Those of us with little exposure to music (which is who I teach) often haven't learned to distinguish the main sound yet. Took me ages, and I have a friend who found choirs impossible till she an opera pointed out she was randomly singing overtones (unlike me, perfectly in tune) instead of the main note and taught her how to hear the tune.
We're outliers but I presume the problem is more widespread than us if good violin stores are setting up their beginner instruments that way (and point it out).

I learned on a good violin but having a beginner cello with a very focused sound is helping me learn to hear the c- string notes, which I found difficult when I was borrowing a very much nicer one from a music teacher. I did point good strings on out though, which show up every bit of bad bowing - the original crown strings were way note forgiving.

October 23, 2019, 7:24 AM · Not hearing overtones so you don't have to play perfectly in tune does not help you to learn to play in tune!!
October 23, 2019, 9:32 AM · I find the tangential overtone discussion interesting. Long story: I came from an instrument where the overtones where nigh-on impossible to hear outside of the open string references GDAE, and the instrument would howl (NOT wolf) when close to in-tune, but when in tune it would refuse to resonate. It was a strange instrument, that's for sure. I literally had no idea that a B natural could sound so amazing, because the instrument I came from would not ring on a Bn (for example), and would barely ring in the GDAE range. Imagine my shock when I was trialing instruments that allowed me to hear (and feel) correct intonation! I spent YEARS thinking that I could not play in tune, that I was a terrible player, and so on - turns out, it really was my instrument.

I blame this realization on my luthier for lending me an expensive instrument when my howler was getting some maintenance done on it - it opened my eyes to what is possible with instruments.

Long story short, I agree with Lyndon(!): not having ring-tones/overtones does not help with learning to play in tune. At least not from my experience.

October 23, 2019, 9:39 AM · I'm in the "it's straightforward" school of thought. IF you are currently, or will soon be, at the level of AMEB/ABRSM grades 7-8 then this is the kind of violin they think you should be buying. Cheaper instruments won't have the tone or middle-position response you need for that level of playing, more expensive ones will have potential that you aren't capable of exploiting so you might as well save your money. It's in the price bracket I'd expect, as well.

Of course the instrument may or may not suit you personally but that's what it means!

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