Fiddlerman Soloist vs Eastman VL-305
Yes I know I should go to a reputable violin shop and try in hand. But I'm not there yet. I have had unpleasant experiences in the few I've been to. I have walked away with the same feeling I get when buying a car. Anyway...
Has anyone played both and how do they compare? Both seem to have good reviews and I'd like an opinion from someone who has had first hand experience.
I'm an amateur getting back into playing after a 20 year hiatus. I am currently playing an Eastman VL-100 which I got from Goodwill which is far above the Mittenwald German violin I had started on years ago when I was taking lessons as a teenager. Mostly interested in Irish Traditional Music for my own enjoyment.
These both seem to be within my price range.
They're both factory instruments. My first violin was one of those Eastmans they use for rental instruments. You can't expect the tone to be particularly inspirational, but the violins are well-made from a technical point of view. Better than starting on an instrument which was made with non-standard proportions and then having to readjust when you upgrade!
My adult son has been very pleased with his dealings with the Fiddlerman shop (he has spent thousands on bows from them). I have only bought a few accessories there.
Cotton and Victor, thank you both for your replies. Victor, I did buy a Fiddlerman Carbon Fiber bow from them back last year and it has become my favorite bow. I will take your advice and call them regarding tonal variations and a bow upgrade for the kit.
I just answered on a post similar to this,
Thanks Ben I will look into Infinite Strings as a contender
Personally, I think Infinite Strings is a bit lower in quality compared to the Soloist or Eastman 305; all three are Chinese workshop violins though. The Infinite Strings Master violins are not bad from the sound, and I did consider one when I was looking for my most recent violin purchase, I just don't think they match the quality of the other two you mentioned.
Richard thanks for your reply. Could you tell me more about why you think the Infinity is a lower quality? What does one look at to see the quality differences? I’m new to all this and any direction is appreciated.
Ben just to clarify a couple of things:
All crap fiddles, get your head out of the gutter and buy a real violin!!
Lyndon I was wondering if you'd chime in.. We may never agree on this, but the Soloist is definitely not crap at all, its a fantastic violin and I absolutely love mine. Though I am surprised to hear you bashing new German workshop instruments (Gotz and Gewa)... I thought you just bashed the Chinese ones. :)
Your claiming to be an expert on crap fiddles, who cares!!
I'm claiming the knowledge that I have that's relevant to this post; about midrange, well-made violins. I know from personal experience that at least the Soloist, Gotz, Gewa, and Ming Jiang Zhu's are well made, good sounding, quality instruments for the price, easily the equal or better to any antique violin in the same price point ($1500-$2000).
@Lyndon - I'm sure you do have antiques for $800. Whether they sound better or not I can't say since you don't post sound samples of your instruments :). The ones I heard and saw in the under 2k price range were just not as good as the Soloist I chose. Not as good projection, too muddy, or in some cases too bright; I like a violin that's a little warm in the lower registers, and singing in the upper ones, but not muddy at all; the Soloist was perfect for what I wanted.
If you had your way you'd put every real violin shop out of business and all we'd be left is Fiddlercrap and Shar, wouldn't that be a nightmare??
@Lyndon - Yes that WOULD be a nightmare; absolutely and totally agree with you. Fiddlershop is a great company but having CHOICES is incredibly important, that's why I checked 5 different shops before deciding. Everyone has different tastes and opinions about instruments and the more choice we have, the better. Having great options like Fiddlershop and great local violin shops also helps keep the less reputable places from gaining much of a foothold.
they're a Chinese virus! The sooner we get over them the better.
@Lyndon, I don’t know if you really think like that, or if you just like to stir things up with those kind of comments. Either way, they serve no purpose at all.
Thank you all for your input and advice. What I took away from this discussion was 2 votes for Fiddlerman and 1 vote for Infinite Strings. Looks like the Eastman is out of the race.
Sounds about right, though I’d suggest talking to Fiddlershop and tell them what you want, such as bright, warm, etc and ask them to do a video for you with a couple of instruments for comparison. It’s free and it really helped me with my decision a lot. They could do two different Soloists or a Soloist and another instrument or two. Good luck!!
@Neil, not sure how much help I can give, but I would definitely agree with at least doing home trials of several instruments if you'd prefer not to go in store. I haven't purchased any instruments online, but I have a few friends who have. (Disclaimer: This is just my experience. Results may vary) I tried my friend's Fiddlerman Soloist before and while I agree it's a decent sounding instrument, certainly miles above Amazon VSOs, if you're hoping to really push yourself to the next level, I'm not sure how well it will do that. However, it served my friend a good few years (from a beginner's stage) before she realized she wanted something "more" and borrowed a German instrument.
@Ida, good points and good advice; though I would point out that Fiddlershop does offer home trials on every instrument above 1k, and the instruments they carry go up into the 30k range.