Trying out violins
I am currently on the hunt for buying a violin. What do you typically look for in a violin? What do you play/ try (any techniques or passages?) when you are in the violin shop?
It really depends on your skill level, but I'd say at minimum, some medium-paced scales that go from low to high (e.g three octave G major scale) and any excerpts from pieces you're working on that showcase the full range of the instrument register-wise. It may also be worth playing something in, say, the higher positiions of the G string to check for sound quality there kinda thing, but yeah.
Take it home for at least one, preferably two weeks. Violins can sound very open and be very easy to play--for a time. Then they can reveal their "true colors."
When testing an instrument I have always liked to go as high on all the strings as I can possibly reach. It can make a very big difference to your ultimate satisfaction when tackling some music in the future that you don't even imagine at the time of purchase.
How long did it take for you to find "your" violin?
1 hour, my luthier is very trustworthy, I tried a few different ones and the one I picked with his input, I have had 4 years and its still improving all the time as I learn. Maybe eventually I will outgrow it, but I don't think so., maybe I was very lucky.
If you have to ask - then I think you have to get help. At the least you need to hear the instrument played by a competent violinist - but you also need to have expert opinion on the aspects of the violin that you may not have reached technically yet. And I learned this all the hard way. One of my first violins (since returning) was a French Dieudonne workshop instrument. It was fine for my level at that time - but just died in the higher positions when I was ready to explore.
When my daughter (then a teenager) needed a new violin we followed the advice of her teacher. She chose two contrasting test pieces that she could already play from memory, one with a lot of passagework (baroque) and the other requiring tonal beauty and expression (romantic). Plus scales. Using pieces she already knew well meant she didn't have to think about playing the music, she could concentrate on what it felt like and how easy it was to get the effects she wanted. We took her current violin along as well for comparison, and used the bow she was familiar with for everything.
Just to complicate the issue, I recently discovered that an unfamiliar violin I'm trying out may make a quite different impression according to which bow I'm using. This game doesn't get any easier.
I agree with Elise. Always have another player play it.
And bring your best bow(s), and don't be afraid to ask for a better one from the shop when you are auditioning.
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