1/2 size violin from local shop

September 7, 2023, 6:03 AM · Hi! I have a nine year old that is very serious about studying violin. We started him with a 1/4 size Hoffman Danube from shar and now he’s ready for a 1/2 size. I ordered a Hoffman concert from shar and it’s been awful. I plan to return it. I took him to a local violin shop yesterday and they let him play a few 1/2 size violins. They let us take our favorites home to try. We have an Albert nebel 601 and an H.Luger Cv500. The nebel is significantly more expensive (about double) than the Luger but my son loves the Nebel. It’s not really cost prohibitive because the shop has a great trade in policy when he moves up to 3/4 size but it’s still a lot of money. That being said, I want him to be happy with his sound as he works really hard. Does anyone have thoughts on these violins regarding quality or comparison? Thanks in advance!

Replies (10)

September 7, 2023, 7:06 AM · I know nothing about any of these specific instruments, but from my own life experience I can tell you that having an instrument you love can make all the difference in motivation to play it and keep getting better.

The name and number of an instrument does not tell you anything about it. Being made of natural materials, and made by human hands, every instrument is different (bows too).

September 7, 2023, 7:38 AM · No opinion about brands. But, at that age we were able to find lots of decent older German violins that sounded great and were a similar price to newer ones. (Not that age always matters, but might give you more range to look.
And, in terms of the trade in game, make sure you are investing your money at shop that will meet the needs quality and choice wise of your child as they progress. So, in general, depending on your location, one of the larger shops, like Robertson's, Potter's, etc..
September 7, 2023, 9:14 AM · Both brands are modern Chinese factory instruments intended for student players. The Nebel is intended as a step up from the basic rental level.

The Nebel brand came from the Violin House of Weaver originally, where violins were imported “in the white” and varnished in-house. When Mr. Weaver sold the rights to the Rudoulf Doetsch name to the Eastman company in the early 2000s, several of his other brands, including Albert Nebel, were also included in the deal. At first, Eastman continued to use the sources Weaver used for the instruments, but they eventually decided to cut costs by having everything made at their factory. As a result, the quality is not what it once was, although they still make decent instruments for students. They aren’t really much different from any other Chinese factory brand, other than having the well-known brand name.

If your child has played them and finds one to be easy to play and it’s set up well, there’s no reason why the Nebel would be a bad choice. It’s probably a little prettier than the Luger and may have slightly nicer wood in the back. For fractionals, a good trade-in policy is a big benefit, as the resale market for violins that aren’t full-sized is not very good.

September 7, 2023, 9:22 AM · Thank you for all of this great information, Rich! Do you think the nebel is worth twice the price of the h. Luger in terms of quality? I definitely feel like both are better than then Hoffman concert. Although I guess they’re all made in China now.
September 7, 2023, 9:40 AM · If the trade-in policy allows for you to not lose much money, and they have a good selection of full sized instruments, I’d go ahead and get him the instrument he prefers. My daughter moved up to somewhat better instruments when she went to 3/4, and again at full size instruments, and we had a good trade-in deal as well. That violin has been more than adequate for her to travel with, take to school orchestra and youth orchestra, and hold her for a few years until she gets a much nicer instrument.

It’s important for kids that they have an instrument they enjoy playing. If the teacher agrees that it’s a better sounding/more responsive instrument, I wouldn’t hesitate to buy the more expensive one.

Edited: September 7, 2023, 10:17 AM · Dig deep and get the violin your boy loves. He'll want to practice. That is what happened to me. I was given a choice (turns out, between two pieces of firewood -- my teacher was on the take) and I picked the prettier one, and even though it was not even a true full-sized violin I enjoyed practicing on it and I wanted to show it off at every opportunity. And even though it was evaluated 35 years later by Dalton Potter as essentially worthless and not worth trying to improve, I don't believe it every truly "held me back." What held me back mostly we poor tutelage. I still have the violin -- it's a bird's eye violin, very beautiful, but only as an objet d'art.
September 7, 2023, 1:49 PM · It's very hard to comment on a "brand" of violin, because even within brands and makers, the sound of the violins varies so much. Go with the sound, as long as everything else is in working order. I would probably check with your teacher, just to make sure, but if it's all the same, go with the one he likes, and then you are also investing in helping your son learn to trust his own good instincts.
Edited: September 7, 2023, 5:25 PM · Buy what will make him want to play. That way there’s no “I wish they bought me what I really wanted not this stupid thing.” He’ll be be happy and you’ll be happy. Enjoy the journey

If he changes his mind go back to the shop. Rinse and repeat

September 8, 2023, 7:16 AM · Reiterating what others have said, I think selecting the shop that will have the best trade-up policy and selection of instruments and quality of repairs and service going forward is just as important as any particular 1/2 size instrument.
September 9, 2023, 1:30 PM · Always get the instrument you love the most. You're getting motivation too, not just the instrument.

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