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Fractional-sized violins
What should I do?
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julia0
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April 16, 2016 - 6:03 pm
Member Since: September 16, 2015
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My son started taking violin in 4th grade.  He is going to continue with it next year in middle school.  Currently, he's playing a 1/2-sized violin, but just had a growth spurt and will likely be in a 3/4-sized one come Fall.  

I, being a bargain hunter (and, truthfully, a shopaholic) found three different violins on Ebay, all of which I purchased (I spent about $200 total).  I got an used August F. Kohr K515 (I couldn't find this model# for the August Kohrs anywhere, but have seen it for the Johannes Kohrs, but the label inside definitely says "August F. Kohr".  The second violin was also secondhand; it's a 300 Series Performance model from Baroque Violin Shops (this model currently sells for about $950).  The third is a customer returned (?) opened box Cecilio CVN-300.  

Here's my dilemma: 

The August F. Kohr violin came with corroded strings, so I just changed them out (just for testing) with the extra set of cheap steel strings that came with the Cecilio, and this violin just sings (even with the cheap strings).  So, I had my son play all three to see which one he feels is easiest to play.  Here are his rankings.  

 

For sound:

1) August F. Kohr

2) Baroque Shop

3)Cecilio

 

Here's the problem,... for ease of play:

1) Cecilio

2) Baroque Shop

3) August F. Kohr

 

It's very obvious, as well, that the harder it is for him to play it, the worse he sounds (scratches and screeches all over).  Basically, when he played them all, he made the Cecilio sound better than the August Kohr, even though when he played all the strings individually and slowly the August Kohr is, hands doen, the best.  Based on this, he thinks he wants to play the Baroque Shop violin cuz it's "in the middle".

My question: 

Should I have the August Kohr fixed (wondering about cost), or just get a better set of strings for the Baroque Shop or Cecilio Violins?  To be fair, I do believe a good set of strings will benefit the Cecilio,... it is very loud, but not in a bad way.  The Baroque Shop violin has a mellower sound, but also does not project well (I suspect that might be due to the fact that previous owner(s) had cranked the fine tuners down too far, and have gouged the top of the violin). 

 

Any advice would be greatly appreciated.  Thanks.

S

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julia0
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April 16, 2016 - 8:41 pm
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I should add that there *appears* to be nothing wrong with the August Kohr.  My son just says that it's "harder to play".  Bridge or nut issue, perhaps?  

I'm tempted to get the Kohr fixed vs. just letting him play one of the poorer sounding ones, but that would depend much on cost.  (I purchased his 1/2-sized violin via Ebay also, and while it turned out to be a very nice violin, it had cost me a *lot* in repairs due to unseen and unmentioned issues, like the pegs were glued in, etc.).  

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Fiddlerman
Fort Lauderdale
April 19, 2016 - 9:28 am
Member Since: September 26, 2010
Forum Posts: 11717

There are so many factors that can cause an instrument to be harder to play. One of them is a sound-post being jammed in too hard or not fitting properly.

You should use the cheap Chinese strings though. Prelude is as cheap as you should go for that instrument IMAO. 🙂

"The richest person is not the one who has the most,
but the one who needs the least."

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julia0
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April 19, 2016 - 5:38 pm
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Thanks, Fiddlerman.  

I just threw on the cheap strings since we had the extra set.  I did intend to change them to Dominants (since his current 1/2 sized instrument has Dominants) IF we decided to use the Kohr.  The Kohr has the best sound, hands down, but is the hardest for him to play.  His teacher has poo-poo'd the Cecilios based on what the luthier the school uses has told her in the past, which is unfortunate as, in this case is, the Cecilio instrument has been easiest for him to play (and it's loud).  I got that one basically just for him to use at his dad's house as he's forgotten to bring his violin home before, and it becomes a mad rush in the morning to try to get it.  He's willing to use the Baroque Shops violin, but that one is not very loud; in fact, it really doesn't project much at all.  I'm just wondering what others would do; fix the Kohr or let him play the Baroque Shops violin at school? 

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Fidelestre
Texas
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April 19, 2016 - 6:10 pm
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I would probably take the Kohr to a luthier and adk what he or she recommends to make it easier to play. If there is nothing obviously wrong, maybe it just needs something that is not too expensive like a new bridge or soundpost.

 

$200 is an amazing deal for 3 violins that are not junk!  Even if you don' t count the cecilio it's still a great deal for two.

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julia0
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April 20, 2016 - 12:59 pm
Member Since: September 16, 2015
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Thanks, Fidelestre,

Yes, they were a bargain.  Sometimes, they don't turn out to be as much of a bargain though.  My son's current violin (Satori Soloist) ended up costing almost a *lot* in repairs (pegs glued in, bridge glued on, and fingerboard not properly angled).  I think I am leaning toward taking the Kohr to the luthier (it sounds the best, and my son said that it was just harder to do the fingering).  I'm just hoping it doesn't turn out to be something as big as needing the fingerboard re-angled again.   >_<

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Fiddlerman
Fort Lauderdale
April 20, 2016 - 9:12 pm
Member Since: September 26, 2010
Forum Posts: 11717

When you say that the fingerboard was not properly angled do you mean that they had to reset the neck? Was the projection too low?
There are at least 3 ways of doing this. The cheapest isn't always possible, which is to take off the fingerboard and plane the underside with a slight angle.
Another is to loosen the top by the neck so that the block is disconnected and insert a wedge between the neck and violin at the top, then re-glue. The most costly option is to remove the neck all together and adapt the neck socket.

"The richest person is not the one who has the most,
but the one who needs the least."

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julia0
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April 21, 2016 - 12:40 pm
Member Since: September 16, 2015
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Hi, Fiddlerman, 

The fingerboard was practically parallel to the body of the violin verses angled upwards away from the body (does that mean the projection was too low?).  Our local luthier (who is very reputable, and is known for his electric violins) told me that he took the fingerboard off, shimmed it, and re-planed it on the underside before glueing it back on.  By the time all was done (including re-reaming peg holes because of glue), I could've purchased a new, decent beginner violin (and that's not even including what I originally paid for the violin).  I'm just hoping that the fix this time will be simpler and less costly.  ;p

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Fiddlerman
Fort Lauderdale
April 26, 2016 - 4:43 pm
Member Since: September 26, 2010
Forum Posts: 11717

Yes, the projection was too low.
The way he did it is the easiest and wouldn't take us much time to do.
Probably 2 hours at $50/hr.

We only do this if the fingerboard is also way too thick. It's an easy solution if applicable.

"The richest person is not the one who has the most,
but the one who needs the least."

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