Advice choosing cheap student violin

Edited: September 20, 2020, 8:04 PM · I would like some advice picking two violins from this online store and price range:

A cheaper option and a more expensive one.

Any that stands out?

Replies (20)

September 19, 2020, 10:09 AM · "Gewa Maestro 6 Antiqued Violin 4/4
Violin made completely out of solid food"

Not sure if it's Google Translate, but I'd avoid that one.

September 19, 2020, 10:32 AM · In my opinion you cannot expect a violin in this price range to be good. However, there might be some "outliers" superior to the average. You can only tell by playing each one before choosing.
September 19, 2020, 11:03 AM · Looking at your CV, this seems like a strange question.
Who is the violin intended for?
Edited: September 19, 2020, 12:48 PM · @Andrew I know...

@Rosemary It's for two of my students, 12 year olds who are learning for 2 years. Unfortunately I'm predicting this is already "too expensive" but I'm going to try and convince them. My school's 4/4 violins are in terrible condition, one of these would be a very good upgrade, and of course, it's better for them to have their own violin.
I have close to zero experience with online purchased violins, but unfortunately that's the only option my students have. I believe someone here may have more experience with this instruments, because the same way with everything, I'm sure it isn't as easy as choosing the more expensive one, price doesn't tell everything.

@J Ray fake profile? I've been posting on this forum for some time, I use my real name and I have a CV with a link to my Linkedin, that's more than we can say about your profile and most here. But thanks for the advice, I will avoid Gewa violins.

September 19, 2020, 12:03 PM · "...Violin made completely out of solid food"

No nutritional analysis?

September 19, 2020, 12:55 PM · David, we've had some issues with fake profiles posting ads about cheap violins under the guise of asking for advice, previously.
Edited: September 19, 2020, 1:09 PM · My apologies David, we do see posts with fake profiles linking to sites without any further engagement from the OP at times. Thanks for responding and correcting me.

Online shopping for violins is not generally advisable, unless it's money that you're willing to risk just for the experience or something like that (and then you might be better off ordering directly from China). If you're going to buy a branded violin, you'd be better off buying them at a local store, thereby supporting it to some degree, and also getting the benefit of their service (assuming they're good), and an opportunity to try them out. When I was shopping for a violin, I'd get them on trial, bring them to my teacher for appraisal and get his feedback.

As violins are handmade and vary considerably because of that irrespective of the brand, etc., especially at the lowest price points, there's no way to ascertain the quality short of examining it yourself. So I think there's no reliable advice we can provide on the basis of brand and model alone.

Online shopping naturally has risks and uncertainty, and a good store should offer some return options to mitigate that. So perhaps it'd be possible to buy/try a few, examine/select, and return as a means for determining quality if there are no alternatives to online.

September 19, 2020, 1:18 PM · If you have to shop online, please use a dedicated violin shop, who will properly set up the instruments.
Edited: September 19, 2020, 7:39 PM · This might not be practicable in your situation, but I’m sure there have been programs set up like this :
(There was an appeal in my area of Melbourne last year, to adults with violins they weren’t playing any more to donate them to disadvantaged students. )
I often wonder about the large numbers of these violins sold around the world. Most people who buy them are either going to give up playing, or upgrade. What happens to them ?
If one could only track down discarded student violins to pass on to someone who would appreciate them, at least for a while.
Just ‘dreamin”
September 20, 2020, 5:13 AM · Dear David, as online shopping for a violin seems to be necessary for you and your student... I've bought my violin at Thomann as well. It's a Otto Jos. Klier, though way beyond your limit, now ca. 2400€, and I've visited their shop in person. But Klier is a real company/manufacturer, not just a distributor like Gewa, and so they would be risking their reputation if producing crap.
Thomann has a really good return policy if you dislike the instrument (even in Portugal if Google translator got it right), and professional musicians for advice. They even employ luthier, so you might ask them for setup, but I'm not sure if they do it in that price range or if it impairs return.

Disclaimer: I've got no bearing on Klier other than playing one of their violins, or thomann other than shopping regularly for strings or CR/SR.

Good luck and sorry for my mistakes!

Edited: September 20, 2020, 7:37 AM · Boa tarde, David. I purchased a Hidersine Veracini online in 2017. Here is a thread about Hidersine student violins where I explain my experience with it:

My teacher thought my violin sounded much better than anything he could get in local shops here for its price and ordered one for at least one of his students - maybe more, but I stopped playing the violin and talking lessons shortly afterwards due to personal problems... although I am back now! Anyway, he and the student were also very happy with the violin and he didn't notice much difference in terms of sound between hers and mine. He ordered from the same instrument shop I did, where the violin is supposed to be revised before shipping. They arrived properly set up, but the bow is a bit disappointing compared with the violin. I think the Veracini and the cheaper Vivente and Piacenza might be available at Thomann too, but I haven't checked.

Like Anne, I have no connection whatsoever to Hidersine or the shop where I got the violin - in fact, I can't even remember its name right now -, except as a happy customer. Hope this helps!

Edited: September 22, 2020, 9:09 AM · I have a Gewa model 400.088.
There is nothing wrong with it, but I bought it set up by a luthier. That website's prices seem good, but I don't know if what they sell will be properly set up.
Edited: September 22, 2020, 3:21 PM · Ohh I know the thing with fake profiles, we find them in most forums/networks. I get it.

We don't have any "violin stores" or Luthier here. It would be ideal to try some and send back, but it's too tedious. It takes 3 or 4 weeks just to get here.
I was hoping someone would recommend me a particular model that most of times stands out from the competition, between 450€ and 600€ but I'm seeing that it's not going to happen.

Three of my students already have a Stentor from that website, for more than a year, they're ok, as expected... sometimes the bridge feet may not be perfectly cut. I guess in this price range my best bet will be to tell them to buy the most expensive Stentor they can afford.

@Sue Violin Sounds interesting... Is this the violin you're talking about?

September 22, 2020, 3:25 PM · The most important thing with "cheap" violins that you obtain via mail-order or on the internet is to take them to a competent luthier to get them properly set up.

While these instruments may not have a very good sound, you can make them play and tune well, and in the early stages, that is most important.

Edited: September 22, 2020, 5:50 PM · David, I have the Veracini. The Piacenza is a bit cheaper than mine, but that's indeed the brand I was talking about. It's a pity they don't have the Veracini at Thomann - or the Venezia, which is a bit more expensive than mine, but didn't exist when I got my violin. Both are closer to the price range you mention and intended for intermediate players rather than beginners, as I think the Piacenza is.
September 23, 2020, 2:02 AM · Hi,
As a teenager I ended hating the violin because I could never make it sound good enough; it was always sounding like a tin can and I lost interest on it.

My father, the one that was paying for the violins, was of the opinion that it wouldn't make much difference an expensive violin in the hands of an inexperienced player. He was always giving the example of an expensive tennis racket in the hands of a starter... I made it to 5th year of conservatory and ended giving it up. What a mistake!

Well, I can tell you now that my father was wrong. It makes a lot of difference, playing an instrument with a nice sound, even for a starting student.

I would look for other options, like renting the violin.

Edited: September 23, 2020, 5:46 AM · "Three of my students already have a Stentor from that website, for more than a year, they're ok, as expected... sometimes the bridge feet may not be perfectly cut. I guess in this price range my best bet will be to tell them to buy the most expensive Stentor they can afford."

Indeed I also have a Stentor Conservatoire II, an inferior model to the ones on that website, but I bought it from the same luthier as my Gewa, and the first thing I noticed was that the nut height was perfect, unlike that of the Chinese VSO I used to have.

My feeling is that Stentor offer too many models within too narrow a price range; therefore, in agreement with you, get the most expensive you possibly can, and don't try to interpret any of the blurb.

September 23, 2020, 6:33 AM · I would choose one of the two Götz violins, preferably the Audition model (Götz is a very reputable German maker of instruments and accessories) or the Gewa Maestro 6 at that price range. Thomann offers 30-day returns in case you are not satisfied. I once complained about the bow that came with my first violin and they sent me a new one without problems.
Edited: September 23, 2020, 7:12 AM · When I say 'luthier', I mean violin store that also deals online and employs luthiers and is recommended by my teacher. The problems come when you buy violins from a keyboard and drum shop!

This is my violin (Maestro 11. I didn't know that). It is slightly superior to a Maestro 6, in theory, but it's only about 20 euros dearer.

So perhaps Gewa are a bit like Stentor in that respect.

September 24, 2020, 12:05 PM · I ordered two really cheap violins for my kids to start out on. They are a bit younger at 6 and 9. I got a pair of Cecelia CVN200's. A 1/2 and 1/4 size. I received two absolutely crappy violins and 4 worthless bows. I threw the bows out, and got some decent carbon fiber ones that work well enough. Years back, I used to build guitars, so I still have all the tools and a bit of knowledge in working on instruments. Smoothed out the pegs and added some lube so they hold well. Most of the tuning is done on fine tuners anyways, so I didn't spend too much time there. Adjusted the nut down, a little sound post adjustment, shaved down the bridge to the correct height and thickness, redid all the notches to get the strings in the right place, sanded down the bridge feet to fit and threw on a set of Prelude strings. I wish the fingerboard wasn't painted, but no biggie. Overall the violins now work as they should and don't sound all that bad. I was actually impressed at how much better they sound. Great for a beginning student.

Now the thing is, is that there are basic things that I believe any cheap violin will need to get up and running, but we're also talking a few hundred bucks in work from your local luthier. I would say this. Make sure you have an actual ebony fingerboard, the grain on the soundboard is tight and it has a varnish finish. You can swap tailpieces, tuning pegs bridges, chin rests and soundposts easily. Don't worry too much about one being slightly better than another at a slightly higher price. Spend the additional cash on getting a luthier to get it up to speed.

Even expensive violins need a little work to get them going!

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