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Violin recommendations?


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#21 Mountain Luthier

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Posted 23 April 2011 - 03:46 PM

I stop at Robertsons in Albuquerque several times
a year to try violins. When I get there the might have
bundle of Andreas Colas, Petersen or von Aue to sort through.
There are a lot of choices between $1200-2500. The give
you full trade in value on your purchases there when you want
to up grade. I had on of their nice rental violas and a
violin I purchased there for about $1500 that I was able to
trade in for a violin for $2500 that I couldn't put down.

Consumer Reports and endorsements can't help you with this
choice. Play on a lot of different instruments to see what
you like.
Tim Black
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#22 JoshD

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Posted 23 April 2011 - 05:26 PM

What about the Romanian Gliga violins?

#23 Addie

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Posted 23 April 2011 - 05:41 PM

What about the Romanian Gliga violins?


They have been mentioned in several of the responses.

If you want to hear them, search for Gliga on youtube. There is a nice series of comparison videos. IMHO, the lower priced ones sound better than other lower priced instruments, but in the higher price range, they lack brightness that other violins have. If you want a dark sound, that's good, but if you want an all round good sound, it is very limiting. Again, JMHO, and I think I would enjoy having a Gliga. Posted Image

#24 JoshD

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Posted 23 April 2011 - 11:00 PM

Well, after my calculations, my total budget would be $1100 but the violin itself would have to be at the most $700. This is to allow for a case and bow/s if possible. I am at my wit's end right now as contest is coming up soon and I have spent at least five months looking for a good instrument. My violin just doesn't really "blend in" with the rest of the orchestra. I have been contemplating to try out an instrument and see what the feel is like.

#25 viola_license_revoked

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Posted 24 April 2011 - 12:53 AM

Well, after my calculations, my total budget would be $1100 but the violin itself would have to be at the most $700. This is to allow for a case and bow/s if possible. I am at my wit's end right now as contest is coming up soon and I have spent at least five months looking for a good instrument. My violin just doesn't really "blend in" with the rest of the orchestra. I have been contemplating to try out an instrument and see what the feel is like.



HI Josh

i would suggest that use your old case if you can. hang up the old chinese fiddle and spend all you've got on a good fiddle, good bow and decent strings. go chinese again, but at a much higher quality. they have quality and price points that are hard to beat because of ridiculously cheap labor and mass production.

never mind the fancy pegs, tailpiece, maple shoulder rest with gold plated this or that and etc. you are shopping for a good, stripped-down workhorse to help you achieve new musical heights , not a suped-up, well painted stuffy fiddle.

look up southwest strings or shar. they are competitors who would love to have your money, so take advantage of their trial programs. i know a couple of local shops i trust around here. but unless you already know them pretty well, and that they specialize in strings, they may not have the most competitive price or availability of stock for you. some guys will put their names on chinese fiddles and sell them for a substantial mark-up.

ask someone knowledgeable that you trust, hopefully your teachers, for comments on which ones play and sound better. hopefully there is no conflict of interest.

for under $1000, its more about WHICH instrument rather than WHAT BRAND. having a brand on it already tells you it is mass produced, so you are looking for the best in a bunch, not which company made it.

good luck

r

seroiusly, why not?

請多多指教!

 

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#26 baroquecello

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Posted 24 April 2011 - 09:17 AM

Ok, so some might hate me for doing this.

The best price quality ratio I have found so far for cheap instruments is without any question the Ebay seller Yitamusic. They are based in china and you get exactly what they advertise: a newly made chinese violin which is well made and has the sound characteristics they describe on the website. They have several quality standards, and my girlfriend has three violins by them of different quality standards.

One 5 year old baroque violin which is quite good, well balanced, but not so loud/projecting. The wood is beautiful, but the varnish is a somewhat exaggerated version of an old german violin, almost black, the purfling is not as well executed as is could be. Back then it was an order and costed 500 Euros. The second one she bought about four months ago and is of their second best quality. The workmanship is very good, (including the purfling) the varnish looks a little unnatural and small things like where the varnish ends at the neck and at the scroll and a little at the f holes are not so beautifully executed, but nothing extremely ugly. Varnish is a matter of personal taste too! Back wood is beautiful. Response and functionality (fingerboard shape etc) are all good, but the violin is not one that projects very far. In total (including import taxes, a case and a mediocre bow that could better be replaced) the thing costed 280 Euros. It will be sold to one of her students at some point, she got it mainly out of curiosity.

The third violin she bought recently is another baroque violin she auctioned from ebay from them. She bought it because it looked beautiful on the picture, and because after buying a second quality modern violin, which was superior to her 5 year old baroque one in many ways (small details, but purfling especially), she hoped this one would also be better than the one she already had. And indeed it is the most beautiful of the three in terms of sound (richer, fuller and good projection), workmanship and varnish. The price including everything mentioned before was around 350 Euros.

My girlfriend is a professional violinist, both on baroque and modern violin. She plays an 18th century french violin in modern state valued at 15.000 Euros, and used to play a german 18th century baroque violin by Witting in value of about 8000 Euros. Both chinese baroque violins sound and work better than the 18th century german one.

What are the drawbacks? It is hard to compare the violins to other violins since you can't pick one hanging there and play it next to another one. But on the other hand, Yitamusic is, in our experience, very relyable, with fast delivery and correct handling, also there was immediate response on emails with questions, so I am sure that they will keep their promise of a refund minus postage costs (although consider that postage costs are about half the price of the violin!), in case you are not satisfied. Another drawback is that some makers in the west do react very unpleasant to presenting them a chinese violin (for instance when you want the setup to be improved). One I know has simply refused to handle the instrument, and admitted it was not because he thought the quality of the instrument was not good enough, but because he felt it ruined his business. It is impossible for them to deliver this price/quality ratio and I think understandably, it hurts seeing costumers get their instruments elsewhere. I think a good reason to not buy these instrumets is that you want to keep your local lutier in business (I'm seriously not being cynical here!), but it is a luxury if you can afford this. Some may take up the work but not be very motivated to do a top notch job.

The setup of the instruments is not very bad (my girlfriend called the way the pegs work 'a dream') like you often see on chinese violins. However, there is definately room for improvement, and also, since the violin is shipped with the bridge off, the soundpost can move. In the cases of the violins my girlfriend bought, she played them a couple of weeks to months before going to the lutier in order to have a new sound post and bridge made, which invariebly improved the sound. But this is something one very likely needs to do anyway after a few moths of intensive playing on a new violin, since especially those first few months many things in the violin change. But at the price Yitamusic is offering its instruments, it is easy to pay a first class new setup. Oh, you will need to have a set of quality strings there, before setting up the violin. The strings they come with are not very good (although they could pass for beginner strings, I have heard worse), and you will notice a big difference with good strings on.

So,in short, if I were in your position, I'd advise you to look around on their website for a few weeks and make your choice for a t20 or m20 model violin (that is their best model range) which appearance and description you like. In our experience, the description of the sound that they give is fairly accurate. They seem to have acquired good knowledge of what certain woods and models do.

Leonard

PS here is a violin very similar to my GF's baroque violin: http://cgi.ebay.com/...=item231017e374 I see now that they have turned very much more expensive! The lucky buys are the ones that are auctioned, not the ones at a set price. When the auctions end in the middle of the night during the week, you will get the lowest prices, usually. The ones during day in the weekend are most expensive)

#27 Mountain Luthier

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Posted 24 April 2011 - 10:19 AM

I like to audition an instrument to get a good feel for it.
Play an etude on the g string from Mazas.
Play something bright like the Prelude from the Bach E Maj Partita
or #5 of the Telemann Fantasies.

I don't have any current recommends out of my work.
My favorite player is the cherry fiddle.
Some of my work:
http://www.flickr.co...audition&m=text
My "touring quartet":
http://www.flickr.co.../in/photostream

Some fiddles I've recently tried and loved:

Ken Pollards work:
http://www.flickr.co.../in/photostream

Some vintage and gently used violins I approved of:
http://www.flickr.co.../in/photostream
Tim Black
Mountain Luthier
[img]http://www.flickr.com/photos/14995534@N05

#28 skiingfiddler

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Posted 24 April 2011 - 11:07 AM

Well, after my calculations, my total budget would be $1100 but the violin itself would have to be at the most $700. This is to allow for a case and bow/s if possible. I am at my wit's end right now as contest is coming up soon and I have spent at least five months looking for a good instrument. My violin just doesn't really "blend in" with the rest of the orchestra. I have been contemplating to try out an instrument and see what the feel is like.


Here's another scheme for dealing with this:

Let's first of all, forget about replacing your case. On your budget, it sounds like you'd be replacing your current $50 case with another $50 case.

Between your current bow and violin, decide which of the two is holding you back the most, and use your $1100 to replace only that.

If you, as a serious, developing player, spend $1100 on a new bow, you might well find a bow that you would be happy to own as one of your bows for the rest of your life. If it doesn't remain your favorite bow, it still will serve you well in the future as your 2nd bow.

You might be surprised at how much better your current violin sounds and how much easier it is to play if you had a really good bow.

If you, as a serious, developing player, spend $1100 on a new violin, you'll probably want to replace that violin in a few years, because it will probably serve you well for only a few years. And if you're very lucky, it might serve as a backup violin for you later on.

Unless your current violin is really terrible, my advice would be to replace the bow now, with your $1100. You can actually get a very good playing bow for that money, or maybe just some of that money ($500 to $700), and save up another $2,000 to $3,000 for a nice Chinese violin down the road.

Given your limited time to make a decision, I also think trying to replace both violin and bow will be juggling too many variables to make a good decision.
Caveat lector!

#29 Addie

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Posted 24 April 2011 - 02:17 PM

Hey Josh,

so far we don't know anything about your bow, and we only know your violin is "crappy" and maybe doesn't project well.

If you approach this like the professional player you want to be (they have budgets too Posted Image), why not evaluate what's good about your violin, what you don't like, and what you most want out of a new instrument? It doesn't project well. OK. Does it have an overall muted sound, is it bright, dark, are some of the strings muted, or some of the stops, but others sound freely? Does it resonate evenly, or do some stops not resonate at all? Do you have to wrestle to get a sweet sound, or does it just happen like magic?

If you are playing an 80 dollar outfit, an $800 violin and $300 bow will be a huge step up. If you have a $400-$500 outfit, $800 won't be such a huge step up in sound (see skiingfiddler's post).

You mention Shar and Gliga. They both have intermediate violins in your price range (around $800). With Gliga you get a case (say no thanks on the bow they include), but Shar will probably have a better setup. You can also go "Guarneri Model" with Gliga, FWIW.

If that is the way you go, I would get the instrument first, and then get the bow locally, so you can try a huge pile of them, and get one that really compliments your instrument and technique. Bows are just as individual as violins.

#30 JoshD

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Posted 24 April 2011 - 02:36 PM

My mom said if I want a better violin than can be financed, she will look at financing options but I will have to wait about a month or so. What I am looking for in my new instrument is a bright, ringing tone with a dramatic e and g string. Dramatic overtones would be a bonus, but not very necessary. My current violin lacks all of these and sounds muted not only to me but to other people. It definitely lacks good resonance and it is hard to get a good forte or piano. My current bow is a no name pernambuco bow which I love the feel of it. It does make the sound a little more complex. The varnish is also extremely thick on my current violin. Hopefully the financing option may be able to extend my horizon budget-wise. At the most $2000 USD.

#31 Addie

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Posted 24 April 2011 - 02:50 PM

Very well written! I guess you are already thinking like a pro. Good that you mentioned varnish, as there are two basic options: spirit and oil. Oil can give darkness and richness, while spirit tends to brightness... but I am over generalizing. Maybe start a new topic on oil vs spirit varnish?

#32 skiingfiddler

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Posted 24 April 2011 - 05:13 PM

My mom said if I want a better violin than can be financed, she will look at financing options but I will have to wait about a month or so. What I am looking for in my new instrument is a bright, ringing tone with a dramatic e and g string. Dramatic overtones would be a bonus, but not very necessary. My current violin lacks all of these and sounds muted not only to me but to other people. It definitely lacks good resonance and it is hard to get a good forte or piano. My current bow is a no name pernambuco bow which I love the feel of it. It does make the sound a little more complex. The varnish is also extremely thick on my current violin. Hopefully the financing option may be able to extend my horizon budget-wise. At the most $2000 USD.


I hate debt. Personally, I don't think it's worth going into debt to buy a $2,000 violin, if all you can pay, hard cash, is $1,100. But if that's the way you want to go, make sure you compare those $2,000 violins to the $1,100 ones to see if there is a substantial difference. Definitely play them yourself and have a more experienced player, possibly your teacher, also play them so that you can hear how they sound away from you. And get the opinion of the more experienced player, too, about the violins.

Make sure your extra money isn't going to cosmetic things which may have no tonal effect, such as antiquing, European tone woods, oil varnish, whatever. And the only way to sort that out is to play the instruments and judge based on tone and playability.

However, some "cosmetic" things (as possibly defined by a dealer as "trivial, cosmetic issues") are worth worrying about: Scratches on a new instrument -- Get a discount if that's the instrument you want. Cracks on a new instrument -- Stay away from that instrument.

Getting back to FiddleDoug's #2 post, find a reliable, in-person dealer you can talk to about what you want, someone who will allow a trial period of about a week or so with full refund and will, if you do buy, take back the instrument for full credit if you move up to a better instrument.
Caveat lector!

#33 JoshD

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Posted 15 May 2011 - 09:44 PM

UPDATE: I am now the proud owner of the same violin I talked about earlier worth $1800, reduced to $900. It is a "specially made for Montgomery ward & co. Special copy of antonius Stradivarius louis lowendall, Berlin. I absolutely love it and sure am glad about my decision.

#34 Addie

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Posted 16 May 2011 - 01:07 AM

Well done, Josh!

You may find this interesting:

Attached Thumbnails

  • Lowendall.jpg


#35 lyndon

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Posted 16 May 2011 - 01:23 AM

well it seems you did much better than the chinese stuff people were reccomending, lowendals are great i have one for sale for 2000 and i really like the tone, plus there about 100yrs old, plus there going to hold their value over time or appreciate, new violins rarely do this
Taylor's Fine Violins, Redlands, S. California
Specializing in the research and restoration
of baroque, transitional, and modern violins.

http://www.violinist..._johann_taylor/
(violin shop ad, with links to instruments for sale, pictures of
violins I restored, and recordings and pics of my clavichords)

#36 Fellow

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Posted 16 May 2011 - 03:58 AM

UPDATE: I am now the proud owner of the same violin I talked about earlier worth $1800, reduced to $900. It is a "specially made for Montgomery ward & co. Special copy of antonius Stradivarius louis lowendall, Berlin. I absolutely love it and sure am glad about my decision.


+++++++++++++++

The quality of the wood is a good indication if you have gotten a
good deal. The sound is hard to say. It depends on who is playing it.




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