got an offer for my violin

February 6, 2020, 2:49 PM · hello lovely folks.

to start, i'm very happy with my current violin that i purchased last year for 1300usd, its light, bright, easy to play, and have a massive sound, i chosen this after trying out at least 30 violins in the span of 3 months.

a number of my musical friends and teacher have tried it and the reviews are quite positive, one of them even offer to buy it off my hand for 200 bucks more than i paid for.

however so far, i have not tried another violin in the 3-5k that felt, or sound better than my current, including couple old mirecourts, old germans, new polish violins

i have enough saving to jump into the 5-6k range if i choose to sell this. but i feel something in that price range might be too professional for this hobby violinist.

what would you do if you're in my shoes, should i turn down her offer and keep this violin, or sell it while i can since violins in the 1k range don't exactly keep their values.

Replies (29)

Edited: February 6, 2020, 2:56 PM · In your place, I would sell it and upgrade, but that's because a violin like that would be a hindrance at the level of performance I would need it for.
If it works fine for the music you intend to play, and buying a better violin is an unlikely proposition, then, by all means, keep it.
You don't need a strad to play jigs and fiddle tunes :)
February 6, 2020, 2:58 PM · If I were in this position, I would sell an upgrade. I am a keen amateur violist, but intend to upgrade to something in the 3-5k range at some-point in the next year or so, because I need something that will keep up with me.
Start violin hunting for your upgrade! :)

Of course, only you know what is right for you. I don't think it's a bad thing for "hobby' violinist to have the kit to make them happy and successful in their endeavours.

February 6, 2020, 3:08 PM · thanks for the replies thus far, i have start looking as i previously mentioned, i even brought my teacher with me and even he had a hard time finding something that would be considered an "upgrade" from my current.

shes not looking to purchase right away since her still have 5 months left on her rental. so i have time to shop around, but so far, the hunt has been quite disappointing.

Edited: February 7, 2020, 9:18 AM · I went through the trials of buying a violin last summer. My price range was around $4,000 - $4,500. I went to two violin stores, and tried roughly 30 violins. While many sounded great, none were grabbing me. Then the owner of a shop brought out a violin for $3,500. He said, "The kids come in here and want a pretty violin. They ignore the sound. Hence, they always pass over this one, but you might like it." It was - and is - around 90 years old, with markings on it from misuse, some of the wood has lost its shine, and didn't look as good as many of the others. So I gave it a try. Well, WOW! It may not look great, but the sound is amazing. I ended up buying the violin for $3,500 and a bow for $500. A couple of weeks later I wondered if I'd made the right decision. How could a rather unattractive violin sound so good? So I went back and tried the more expensive ones again. Well, they looked pretty, but didn't even come close to the sound of this instrument. I feel I made a wise choice. Now, with your violin, it sounds like you've already got a winner, so as tempting as a more expensive instrument may be, and as seductive as that siren song may be, let me give a word of caution. There is a saying, "Never quit your job until you've been hired for another." So, in relation to your violin, I wouldn't do anything until you find another violin that you think sounds better. Never rush into any of this, and believe the sound before you check out the price tag. Expensive doesn't always mean better.
February 6, 2020, 3:37 PM · If you like your current violin, then look into buying a better bow.

February 6, 2020, 4:00 PM · Follow Michael Kennedy's advice!!

If you are really looking for something better, take you violin and bow to dealers and start trying violins. Forget about your price range and find out what is out there, regardless of price.

You might be surprised! I had my two better fiddles (my opinion) re-set up about 20 years ago when my luthier had a 1698 Strad and an Andrea Guarneri in his shop at the time I went to pick up my up my own instruments. The Guarneri (priced at $300,000) had been making the rounds of bay area violin dealers at the time - the Strad was later bought by the San Francisco Symphony for $2,000,000. I got to play both of those instruments in the same room and at the same time I got to play my own violins (again). (I did get to play a better Strad back in 1963 and I'm still envious.)

I was able to take my own violins home without envy! One of them was bought new from the maker in 1952 for $350 by my father, the other in 1974 for about $1,100. Both makers are listed in the Henley "Universal Dictionary of Violin and Bow Makers." (Of course that is no great distinction because thousands of makers are listed in that book - along with all those who are well-known.)

If (all the way up the fingerboard) your instrument produces tone you feel comfortable with after trying more expensive instruments and if it is as responsive to your bowing - go home happy.

Your violin looks old? HA! A few summers ago I was visiting an art exhibit at a SF museum and there, against a wall, was a glass case containing an old-looking violin. It was the del Gesu Guarnerius that Heifetz had owned and played and willed to the San Francisco Symphony at his death. It is played by the orchestra's concertmaster during the season and kept in the museum over the summers.
OLD LOOKING IS GOOD!

February 6, 2020, 4:22 PM · Umm, keeping the violin that makes you sound the best is a no brainer, especially when the only positive outcome of selling it would be a measly 200 dollars. The only exception to this would be if you've recently played a violin you like better, and are fully prepared to pay the money to upgrade to it. But keep in mind the law of diminishing returns: it's very possible that the next worthy upgrade might cost you $5000 or more, especially if your current violin is a "best-in-class" type of situation (e.g. sounds better than other violins in its price range).

Cotton's and M. Zilpah's advice *might* be true, but unless they've played your violin, their advice is moot. There are $1300 violins that genuinely sound as good as $10,000 violins, but they're rare. You may have one of them.

February 6, 2020, 4:33 PM · If you've saved enough for the 6k range, why would you sell your $1300 fiddle for a mere $200 more than you paid.? It seems like pittance since you spent so much time choosing it from so many violins. Buy a better violin if need/want one, and then you'll have a nice second violin.
Edited: February 6, 2020, 4:49 PM · Maybe your violin sounds big to you, close tou your year, but not as much at distance. Have you asked someone else to play it for you? As also the others? "bright, massive sound", classic description of a cheap violin close to the year.
Edited: February 6, 2020, 6:10 PM · thanks for all the sound advice everyone, greatly appreciated.

@henry, if i sell this violin for 1500, then i'll have 5-6k to work with, as of now i'm in the 4k range. which puts me in a different category according to a number of violin shops i visited.

@david, i previously stated a number of people have played it, i also had a accompanying violinist with me when i compared it with violins in the 5-6k range last week. me and her both do not feel the tone is any worse than the ones we tried in the 5-6k range. maybe these 5-6k violins weren't that great? i need to visit more shops to find out.
there is someone on here that can attest to everything i claimed,but i'm not sure if he comes on here anymore since i haven't seen him posting.

@andrew victor, i agree with many things you mentioned, for example this $1300 violin had a comestic flaw next to the fingerboard, i didn't care as it sounded the best out of everything i tried at the time, that i purchased it and had it repaired.

@michael, like you said, all these violins i tried were great, but none grabbed me.
also as you said, never quit your job til you land something else, i have about 5 months to work with here til shes ready to buy.

just to mention this, i did play two violins that i felt was superior than mine in every way possible by some magnitude, that was during the Reed Yeboah violin exhibit last year. however the price tag of 22k and 12k respectively, is way out of my price range.

if any of you guys are in the NYC or tri state area visiting nyc, i would gladly have you over to try my violin.

February 6, 2020, 6:20 PM · yeah, 4k should get you a nice fiddle....?
February 6, 2020, 6:24 PM · Even if you do find a better violin my advice is to keep the violin you currently have and love. If you do buy another violin, keep playing them both so that you can sound your best on both.

That way should one of your violins need to go into the luthier for repairs, you'll still have a violin you know and love to play until the repair is completed.

And you'll have two different instruments to choose from whenever you play, so if one doesn't suit your mood on a particular day or for a particular piece, you can use the other one.

February 6, 2020, 6:57 PM · @David Duarte
used a db measuring app on my phone, distance from desk to me playing around 1/2 meter.
getting avg 88db with peak 101db when i shift from open E to 5th position.
my room has carpets on floor and heavy drapes so its not very acoustic.
current strings, dominant with pirastro gold E
https://imgur.com/a/PYgmdYo

@henry, 4k should, but sadly that only place me in the upper chinese violin territory. couple shops told me my budget should 5k and up to really upgrade from my current. however if i find a nice mirecourt for under 5k i'll be more than happy :)

@David bailey, thanks for the advice, as of now i wish to keep 1 violin. i feel if i have 2 i'll just neglect the 2nd one.

Edited: February 7, 2020, 2:25 AM · Make sure that someone you trust plays your instrument for you and any prospective replacements. What you hear under the ear may be deceiving. I remember going through a variant of this in high school. My generic century-old Czech "Strad" (nearly black varnish) was apparently blown away by a Hill Brothers fiddle worth 4 or 5x. The Hill was easier to play, also. Then my teacher suggested we switch places-- and from 50 feet away, they were indistinguishable.

So, keep trying. But if you're genuinely finding that your current axe punches above its weight, don't assume that $5k will get you anything better.

While you are trying alternatives, do check out really good bows. They can teach you a lot about technique, while pulling much-improved sound out of the violin. And the amount of money you have available might get you something with a little name recognition.

February 7, 2020, 4:09 AM · Two points:

1. If you're already considering swapping out might as well sell and get more. If you trade you'll get purchase price minus a reconditioning fee so selling will put you ahead.

2. You seem focused on projection. Don't sacrifice tonal qualities of warmth and tone for volume. Loud isn't better.

February 7, 2020, 7:26 AM · @ A W. i wouldn't mind trading some projection for more warmth. this violin is very bright so anytime i'm looking for that warmth its definitely struggling. hence my thoughts of getting vision solo for my next string. i'm definitely not trading in since i know the shop will at max give me 2/3 of the value.

this violin definitely punch above its price tag, but i'll be very ignorant if I think this can compete against a nice benchmade violin in the 10k range.

February 7, 2020, 7:58 AM · Maybe give Warchal Timbre a shot for strings. Not sure if they are at their best on cheaper fiddles, but they are extraordinarily good under some circumstances. While they project, they are warm as well as clear.
February 7, 2020, 8:30 AM · I didn't read all the responses, so maybe someone already said this. But if you're going to get a pittance for your current violin, and you like it, but you also are thinking about upgrading, then keep your violin AND get a new one. Two violins are better than one. You have something to play when one violin is in the shop or when one of your violin-playing friends or relatives pops in for a visit.
February 7, 2020, 8:32 AM · I wouldn't let the offer of a friend rush my search for a better violin, if indeed you want a different violin. IF I were you and I weren't ready before the friend's offer expires, I would see if I could borrow 1000-1500 from someone or put it on a credit card, and purchase a better violin before selling the old one. If yours is an excellent violin in the 1300-1500 category, you should be able to sell it RELATIVELY quickly to someone else.
February 7, 2020, 8:48 AM · Selling quickly and getting top dollar are two things that don't go together!!
February 7, 2020, 11:25 AM · I agree entirely with Lyndon. Selling a violin to get anywhere near what you paid for it, on your own, is very hard.
February 7, 2020, 1:22 PM · i agree, i know full well when i bought mine for 1300, if i want to sell it later im expecting at least 1/3 of the value off.. its just like buying a new car, you lose 10 grand just by driving off the dealership lot.

thats why i was caught off guard when my friend offered to buy mine for 200 more than what i paid for. but in all honesty, it is the best violin me and my teacher tried out of 30 or so, compared to couple jay haide, upper tier chinese, and some old german models well asking above 2-3k.

February 7, 2020, 3:01 PM ·


its a 'no brainer'.....

first time I ever used that expression...

February 9, 2020, 4:54 PM · Sounds like you really like the violin you already have, so I'd keep it! Don't even think about how much you'd take for it, it's not for sale! As time goes by, you can acquire more instruments, each with a special personality that suits you at certain times and for certain pieces. I'm not very good yet but already I have 3 violins plus an electric, each has its time and place, none are for sale.
February 11, 2020, 12:35 PM · Going from a 1300.00 violin to a 6k violin may not be much of any on an upgrade. 6k will still generally get you a workshop violin, who’s sonic quality is a crap shoot. You need to spend 8k to 10k to get you into the single make world, and more consistent performance. I tried the same thing and was very disappointed in the offerings less than 8k
February 11, 2020, 1:50 PM · I think if your violin is very good for its $1300 price tag, and competes successfully against workshop violins in the $3k-ish range, you probably need to go up to at least $8k for it to really get a significant step up. Yes, starting at $5k-ish you get single-maker-made violins, but it's really a crapshoot. There will be obscure dead makers, contemporary makers who make very few violins (for instance, as a sideline to a primary job running a violin shop), apprentice makers, and sometimes, nicer-but-heavily-repaired violins. You might luck into another fabulous deal for the price, but you're going to again have to try dozens of instruments to get a lucky find -- and you might not get lucky at all.

If you really want to sell, find the violin you want before selling what you have.

February 11, 2020, 1:55 PM · Let's put a finer point on it, shall we? If your $1300 violin sounds like a $5000 violin, then I'm interested in buying it.
February 12, 2020, 7:10 AM · first and foremost, i would like to thank every single one of you for your comment on my predicament.

since i started this thread, i have tried couple more mirecourt from 1890-1930, a 1930 mittenwald, more contemporary violins made by local luthiers, as well as eastern europe. they are all lovely instruments but i still haven't found anything that i feel is convincingly enough for a purchase, they all do sound good, don't get me wrong, some are better than my current, but are of minor differences and not something so significant.

i have learned more about my violin through this process, finding more of its quirks when being compared to violins of higher caliber.

@lydia, hello lydia its nice to see you again, thank you for the reply, so far the general conscious from me and my teacher is that out of the 30ish violins i tried in the 1-3.5k range, this is the best one both me and my teacher have tried. i'm slowly wrapping my head around this idea that both the luthier and my teacher have suggested similar idea as you just suggested, however i'm not in a financial position to fork out another 3k. maybe that will change in 4 months time when my friend offer to buy the violin.

@paul, ha if you are in nyc or close, i'm more than happy to welcome to you test it out, but my friend do have first right of purchase though. she finds it much more enjoyable and easier to play than her rental. which i believe is worth 1-2k.

February 12, 2020, 5:47 PM · Kyle, I'd discourage you from pursuing an upgrade until you are dissatisfied by your current violin and have a clear idea of what it is that you want out of that upgrade. It's possible that many years could pass before that time, and you might never feel like you need an upgrade.

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