I don't think $100 violins are as terrible as people say.
If you check online, you'll see lots of people who say that $100 violins sound like crap. I have a $100 violin myself, and from my experience, that isn't true.
My violin doesn't sound like a Strad obviously, but it sounds OK when I play it, and I'm only an amateur. This means it would sound even better in the hands of someone highly skilled. It definitely doesn't sound like crap.
Here's a recording: https://voca.ro/1d8QkL3abEZe
Here's a recording involving all the strings: https://voca.ro/1bvclR2soIlG
Its nice. Can you add a recording of the G and D strings? If you can, work your way up each string at least one octave.
Whenever I’m dissatisfied with the sound of my <€400 violin I just ask my teacher to play something with it, and It fixes the problem really fast, as he makes it sound quite nice...
I quite agree. I have had a $200 violin (Australian money) which was much better than my $1200 violin. It is all the luck of the draw !
Enjoy it and play it a ton!!!
You don't have to work on them!
As a dyed in the wool frugal person I love inexpensive violins. I don't like the word cheap because to me it implies carelessness in manufacture.
There is no such thing as a new $100 violin that was not careless in manufacture,
Sound quality can be subjective and the player is responsible for at least 90% of the matter. Often it takes a trained ear to discern a master instrument from a mediocre one. If you’re satisfied with a $100 fiddle that’s great. But I think that type of instrument can take a musician only so far.
Is it a $100 violin because that is what it is worth, or because that is what you paid for it (i.e. it would go for a higher price but you got a crazy deal and only paid $100)?
But the setup of the bridge, pegs and fingerboard is not subjective and is abysmally bad on $100 violins
If you're enjoying your violin, that's all that matters. As your playing progresses, you might find that your "ears are opened" a little more and your ability to produce sound creates increasing demands on your instrument, and you may wish to upgrade. But you also might decide that the violin is not for you, and then you haven't overspent.
Lyndon I agree completely. A decent set of strings runs $100 these days. A proper setup as your describing would be substantially more given the amount of time and materials.
People don't like $100 violins because they are typically made of inappropriate materials that (for instance, the fingerboard is not ebony but rather wood painted black), poor construction (commonly pegs that don't fit and won't stay), and poor setup. It's not uncommon for a $100 violin to be entirely unplayable. By the time you fix it up enough for it to work at all, you could simply have bought something that is, at least, functional (generally about $300 or so).
John Alexander wrote: "A decent set of strings runs $100 these days."
Elise : would you consider the Warchal Ametyst strings better than Pirastro Tonicas ? They are not much cheaper than Tonicas in Australia but I am curious to try something new.
Hi Brian: sorry, I have not tried the Tonicas yet. Are they a high- or low-tension string?
tonica are the best value for the buck I know of and available for about $35 a set, just as good as Dominant that sell for $50+
If the instrument works well for you, that is wonderful. It may be all you need.
A $100 violin is a violin that took less than 10 hrs to build, a proper violin takes 200 hrs to build, that should tell you something about the quality or lack thereof of $100 violins
Thanks for the four-string recording Kennedy. I'm going to guess that you did this using your cell (which is fine). I hope you can hear that there are good, and not so good qualities to the sound. The good news is that the tone is clear and the violin sounds responsive - there is no obvious hesitation to the start of the sound. That is critical for playing anything other than moderato pieces. Also, it sounds fairly even - the sound is consistent between strings.
Lyndon - have you tried the Ametyst? I'm intrigued as to how they compare with the Tonicas too.
Ive tried the much more expensive Amber and found them not any better than Tonica, if not worse.
The advantage to Tonicas is, much like Dominants, they are a neutral string that sound decent on virtually all instruments. And they are way less expensive than Dominants. (Though it's worth mentioning that Visions are very good on many student violins, and they too are inexpensive and long-lasting.)
Brian, I believe the strings are spelled the way the word is pronounced in German.
It all depends on to whom you paid the $100 and when you paid it.
Do you still have them Andrew? And of course I have to ask, have they been revalued?
I had the bows revalued 41 years ago.
I merely meant that it isn't careless to make them so that they can be readily affordable.
To start, a proper set-up costs more than $100; bridge, sound-post, pegs, etc. Sometimes a surprisingly good instrument will come off of the assembly line by dumb luck. I have a $400 Viola that after about $200 of work I played professionally, and it fooled a lot of my colleagues.
Years ago I went through 20+ Chinese carbon fiber $100 bows and found one that, as Joel said, was actually quite good. I showed it to my then teacher who was a career violinist with the Toronto Symphony. He was so impressed he asked me to get him one. I went through the pile again and found a second one, about the same. My teacher was so happy with it that that night he left his Peccatte home and used it at a symphony performance! However, I don't know if he ever repeated the stunt.
Just weighing on the Warchal Ametyst strings. I used them on a Chinese made violin, and very much enjoyed them. Not as stable as I would have liked, but a nice sound nonetheless. However, if you want a good all-round sound, I would go for the Tonicas. Of course, every violin behaves differently with different strings, trial and error is often good.
@Rebecca Brown, I actually got my violin second-hand from someone who was going to get a better one. He sold it at about $100, so it's likely he bought it at a higher price. Perhaps it originally cost $150.
I have been using Tonicas for a long time now but in Australia the price has crept up to $56 (plus postage). This is still reasonable but there now seem to be many forgeries on the market and I have been caught out so I am looking for something else to try.
I've not tried the Karneol strings, but my antique violin really likes the Warchal Ambers. They enhance the warm resonance that already existed and really opened up the sound. My former Vision Solos sounded fine on it - or at least I thought so until I tried a set of Ambers (at half the price) and was really surprised at how much better they sound. My Luthier (who refurbished the violin) was also surprised - it was his first experience with Ambers.
I have not tried the Warchal Amethyst yet, but have tried the Karneol and Amber. The Karneol is certainly competitive with the other nylon core brands like Corelli crystal and D'Addario Pro-arte, and less expensive than Dominant. Amber is great , and the E-string is --unique.
Actually Guarnieri del Gesu was under a lot of pressure to produce many violins since Stradivari was so successful. Some Guarnieris are asymmetrical, the f-holes were sometimes asymmetrical too. It looks like he had to produce violins in a great haste to be able to sell them cheap. Today his violins are considered by many to be the only ones matching Strads or are even preferred by some violinists.
Joel - your comment on the Amber E string made me laugh. My Luthier had no idea what the Amber strings are - especially that E - when he offered to change my strings on my new (to me) violin. His eyebrows climbed quite a bit when he took that string out of the envelope :-)
Joel - Ametyst ;) Don't ask me why. Maybe so we post twice as much about it!
In German "th" is "t" so amethyst is pronounced ametyst.
Ah! Thanks Ann. That explains it, well sort of. Since (I just looked it up) Amethyst is spelled 'Amethyst' in German too. LOL!
In fact, Warchal is based in Slovakia, hence Ametyst is the slovakian spelling - at least as far as Google Translator is concerned ;-)
And some so-called Swiss cheese is properly called Emmenthaler, pronounced Emmentaller. Aren't languages fun!
Everyone pronounces Beethoven in that funny way without thinking about it, but just memorize it as one of those quirks. In fact, that pronunciation is completely normal according to German rules. On the other side of the coin, consider how in German, Volkswagen is pronounced "folks-vagen" - literally, the people's car.
Charlie, I once lived in a town in northern Wisconsin where just about everyone pronounced Volkswagen "correctly." The town was about half of German descent, half of Polish descent. Lots of great food there.
Thal is an older spelling of Tal (dale - valley), kept in traditional things like place names.
Hi Ann - you wrote "Warchal is based in Slovakia, hence Amethyst is the slovakian spelling - at least as far as Google Translator is concerned ;-)"
Blimey, Gordon, it's MOE-zaaaaarht.
That was a joke really. You often hear in England, "it's not moe-zart, it's mote-zart" and I'm always tempted to be snotty, but I know it wouldn't go down well.
Gordon, sometimes it's "interesting" to give in to temptation.
It's not Larry's art. And it's not Curly's art. It's Moe's art.
@Paul, it took me a while but I got it!! :-)
A similar thing can happen with bows. The bow that I practice with the most is a $50 "brazilwood" octagonal bow. For bows what counts is weight, balance, taper, straightness, strength, ... The price and pedigree are far down the list.
Joel - see also above ;)
@Dimitri I have to credit one of my high-school piano teachers (Jim Amend) for that one.
Over the years, they quality of instruments has improved while prices have steadily dropped. Taking into account inflation of course! As long as the construction is sound and the correct woods are used, there's no reason a cheap $100 violin can't be transformed into a decent instrument. My kids play on $125 violins that were practically unplayable when I got them. After shaving down their overly thick bridges, cleaning up the tuning pegs, adjusting the nuts, changing the strings, and a good set-up, they now play and sound fairly decent. I don't believe you can easily find a violin that one would be satisfied with for many years for around $100, but to start on, yes. Would I recommend going this route? Not unless you can do the work yourself. Otherwise, it will likely cost you a few hundred. Better to spend $300 or $400 at a shop that will properly set-up and adjust the instrument.
I certainly don't see any push to higher quality in modern vs antique violins, if anything there's a push to focus more on appearances and less on sound quality.