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Which violin should I get?
A total beginner trying to decide between three violins to start with.
Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 (4 votes) 
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Sunny
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February 15, 2016 - 8:00 pm
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***The first paragraph is more or less the story of how I came across Fiddlershop, the next is where I discuss the question, so you can skip the first one to save time.

 

Okay so... I'm new to this forum and to the world of violins, 16 years old. I always wanted to learn to play either the violin or the viola (I love both), though I sorta recently chose to go with the violin because it costs less. After years of persistent begging, my parents have finally agreed to sign me up for violin classes in the near(ish) future. I don't know any violinists in person, and the nearest luthier isn't reachable to me by train (not to mention nobody is really willing to drive me there.) So for about the last two months, I've mainly been looking around the internet doing a lot of research, searching for a violin to buy online. The first violins I saw were brands like Cecilio/Mendini, Stentor, and the cheap eBay violins. The first thing I found out was that the generic eBay violins are junk most of the time. Mendini and Cecilio had very mixed reviews, and even the good reviews I found warned me that a Mendini or Cecilio violin (well, the ones I wanted to buy at first) probably wouldn't last long if I planned on advancing. Stentor violins looked pretty okay, though I couldn't find many reviews on them aside from those from the snobby violinists that the only good violins are the ones that cost at least $1k and you get straight at the shop, basically all that great stuff I can only dream of right now. It was one day when I scrolled through "The Online Piano and Violin Tutor" reviews on Youtube that I found a Fiddlerman video in the related videos section, I think it was either the video on the MV650 vs. the CVN 500 or the Fiddlerman 5-string violin review. Either way, it got me to discover the Fiddlerman website, and the prices, being astonishingly high compared to all the Mendinis, Stentors, and Cecilios I had been looking at earlier, got me to do MORE research on them, and find out about the different types of materials, wood, etc needed to make a good violin. I looked at some other online shops (AKA just Shar Music and Kennedy Violins) but I dunno, they aren't bad, but didn't rub off on me the same way Fiddlershop did. I briefly thought about getting a used violin off eBay, but after some thought and research, decided that I would be risking getting ripped off if I did that, as well, and as a total novice, I don't even know most basic red flags in a violin to know when to get suspicious of a picture. So yeah, I'd rather pay a little more if I was being assured that I'd be getting what I pay for.

 

Now to explaining the question since I have that out the way. I was trying to decide between three Fiddlerman violin outfits: the Fiddlerman Apprentice, the Fiddlerman Concert, and the Fiddlerman Acoustic-Electric. (Though the AE one doesn't come with a shoulder rest, I figured I wouldn't mind getting one separately if I get it.) The Apprentice costs less, but the Concert also seems really good. The AE one is a really nice looking black (I heard somewhere that color affects sound though, so I'm sorta mixed on that aspect) and I figured I could use the "electric" aspect to my advantage at some point or another. I'm not sure how it sounds acoustically though; I haven't found a video on that. Basically, I can see them all having pros and cons. Before making this account for the forum here, I tried asking the same question on Yahoo Answers. I was met with responses telling me that since Fiddlerman gave a Cecilio violin a good review and has them on Fiddlershop, he must not be a professional and therefore the quality of everything on Fiddlershop probably isn't good. Even I, clueless as I am, have to admit that seems like a bit of an... irrational conclusion. Anyway, I just wanted to see what you would pick out of the three. 

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Dan-Hur
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February 15, 2016 - 8:12 pm
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You'll find most on here are pretty willing to recommend Fiddlerman merchandise. Personally, I've owned a cheapie Cecilio and it wasn't an awful way to start, but I upgraded to the Fiddlerman concert and the difference was shocking. I could very easily recommend that you consider the concert as your first instrument. The price is fair and their crew is great also. I don't know about the AE you mentioned. As for the color, I have heard that paint and heavy varnish can dampen the sound, but I've no experience with it.

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intrepidgirl
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February 16, 2016 - 12:10 am
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Hi, Sunny.  I have been playing for about 1 year and I started with the Fiddlerman Apprentice.  I got it used from someone in my town here, and that is what led me to the Fiddlerman website, all its learnings, and of course, another, even nicer violin.

In my opinion, the Apprentice is a great place to start.  It will serve you well to learn on, with consistent sound and quality and great service, and you can achieve improvements above what it initially delivers with by getting a better bow and better strings if you want to start upgrading.  I would spend time learning on something like that first before getting a concert level instrument and then you will have more of an idea of what you would like, also.  My second violin was purchased online from Fiddlerman and it does sound very good compared to the Apprentice, but there are many choices at that point.

I was shopping online and looking at Ebay etc when I started, really wading through too much information and what I do know is Fiddlerman gives good demo's of his products and has very good support so if anything is not quite right he will fix it.  That made me look at his products versus other names.

Good luck with your fiddling, and you have to let us know when you get one!

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BillyG
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February 16, 2016 - 9:53 am
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sunny - said -

I was met with responses telling me that since Fiddlerman gave a Cecilio violin a good review and has them on Fiddlershop, he must not be a professional and therefore the quality of everything on Fiddlershop probably isn't good. Even I, clueless as I am, have to admit that seems like a bit of an... irrational conclusion. Anyway, I just wanted to see what you would pick out of the three. 

   Yup - that's just "sour grapes" and you can quote me on that...   Each violin passing through FiddlerShop is individually checked, set-up, and tested by playing.  Just because they DO happen to offer the "bottom of the range" that means nothing at all other than an "option some 'uncertain if I'll really like playing violin' folks might pursue"  - look at some of the real FINE instruments they currently have.   Pierre specifically seeks out good workshops and constructors, and the upper-range instruments are, I am sure, suitable for the most demanding of experienced soloists or orchestral players.

  Personally, I have the FM Concert, and as a beginner-to-intermediate violin/fiddle I have been very very happy with it.  It serves me equally well for the (few) classical pieces I play, and for the many, many "fiddle tunes" I like.  Like all instruments, its "playability and tonality" will change with different strings - I have three different types I swap around - just-because-at-times-I-want-a-different-feel-or-different-sound/playability.

  Equally, the service and support from FiddlerShop is, as attested to not only by myself, but many other forum members - second to none.

  I "feel so much at home" with the violin now ( had it for about 18 months ), I just *know* I would like something "better" - what "better" is is very difficult to quantify in words - but don't misunderstand me for a moment - I would never part-with or trade-in the Concert - it would be kept.....     You can never have too many fiddles....

  A final word - take some time to express what you want, and how you would like your playing to evolve with FiddlerShop - they will be happy to respond to you.  And - there is no "hard sell"....  it's all up to your own choice....   

  Welcome to the forum, and good luck with your journey into violin - 16 ?  I am told I was that age once upon a time - and I just SO WISH I hadn't had a "wasted youth" ( was into bad rock electric guitar back then !!!! )

I seriously recommend not copying my mistakes.  

Please make your own, different mistakes, and help us all learn :-)

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Leana
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February 16, 2016 - 10:23 am
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I am also struggling with this choice, but my choice is limited to either the concert, or the Master.  I have only been playing for 7 months.  I am an adult playing on a 1/2 size cheapo instrument (probably worth every bit of the $100 price tag), but… I know the bow is awful, the strings might be ok, and who knows- maybe the violin in fine.

ANYWAYS, I am wondering if the Master might be an over the top violin for me- can that be a bad thing ?

decisions, decisions !!  I am excited about the possibility that I will sound better, and afraid that maybe……. I wont  :/

My timeline is another two months- in the mean time, it's practice, practice, practice for me !

violin-bang (LOL)

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damfino
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February 16, 2016 - 12:10 pm
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leana I don't think the Master would be over the top... but then I did jump from the Concert to a MJZ 905 after only playing what... 3 months? lol

 
The way I look at it, is there is nothing wrong with getting a violin that might be more pleasant to your ear, etc, if you can afford to do it. I joke that my violin mocks me while I strive to be worthy of it, lol, but I am happy that I did the big jump now, instead of getting one somewhere in the middle that I would feel the need to upgrade from again down the road.
 
Only thing I personally want next is a cheap antique fixer-upper to tinker with.

~ I'm not torturing cats... I'm learning to play violin! ~

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Leana
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February 16, 2016 - 12:16 pm
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damfino said

 

I joke that my violin mocks me while I strive to be worthy of it, lol, but I am happy that I did the big jump now, instead of getting one somewhere in the middle that I would feel the need to upgrade from again down the road.

Thanks @damfino - I value your opinion- and it happens to match mine !  🙂

 

 
 
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BillyG
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February 16, 2016 - 2:40 pm
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Nice comments above - I get that entirely - and - I suppose - it kind of depends "what you are aiming at" in your playing.....   from my words earlier - you can probably tell - I have a "similar issue" - my ear tells me "there is always something better" ( even in the "few moments of what *I* personally feel was "great playing for me on acoustic" - it is SUCH a difficult call to make - and all depends on what you want to do and how your playing evolves...  besides - although I would love an upgraded acoustic - my next instrument choice may even be the 5-string Yamaha EV ( which is currently under VERY serious consideration... hmmm )....   yup...  

Just to share things-I-have-found- I might add - when I first fitted Larsen Virtuosos on the FM Concert - I couldn't play it.....  ?????    Really.    They were the lowest tension stings I ever had fitted - they are hugely responsive and vibrate more, and with wider vibrations, and especially on G and D when my finger was on D and A respectively - it always "buzzed" back at me playing forte ( like playing HARD on G somewhere, with the next note to be played already fingered on a stopped note on the D, if you follow me - the still-vibrating-G would rattle against my fingernail on the D string... )  

It was really all my fault and big fingers, nothing to do with the strings, and I overcame that by more careful positioning - I love the Larsens ( although I do swap strings around for other purposes )

These decisions ( to upgrade / choose an initial instrument / etc ) are NEVER easy.... and it also "depends on how, as a beginner" you grow into both the instrument and your own desire to perform, and WHAT to perform...   and you eventually sort of feel that 'what you get from the instrument could be better' - never easy at all - and you'll only know that once you have played for a few months ( even years... LOL )

I have had some of my most satisfying playing moments on an "old" ( 1980, Chinese - LONG before the fine workshops of today ) fiddle - it was "horrible" in many ways - and aside from other changes, I eventually re-strung it as a viola - along with a few other adjustments to SP and bridge position / height / contour and so on.....  tell you what  for something that is valued "close to nothing" - man - it makes a lot of good sound - it really does - "awesome" would not be misplaced as a description  on some fiddle tunes !!!!!!  ( horrid for any degree of  subtle/expressive playing - no way it plays pp/ ppp - any sort of subtle expression, absolutely impossible - but as a "viola-fiddle-being-thrashed-into-submission" -  it rocks... !!! )

And that goes back to the original post really - that's where I was going with my ramblings here - in many ways - "price does not matter" - it is "what you do with the instrument and the pleasure you get (and give to others)" ...  it truly is....  I understand, the first step is never easy...  

BillyG

I seriously recommend not copying my mistakes.  

Please make your own, different mistakes, and help us all learn :-)

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Sunny
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February 19, 2016 - 9:43 pm
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Thanks for the responses, everyone 🙂 Based on all this, I've decided to go with the Concert! It'll probably last me longer than the Apprentice without a huge leap in price, and I don't want to risk getting the Fiddlerman AE and then getting a teacher that doesn't allow colored violins (for perfectly legitimate reasons, I understand.) Now, just one more question. I found a used Concert on Ebay, for $320 including shipping. (Not really a huge discount in my eyes, but a discount nonetheless, I suppose.)

From what I can tell, it just has a couple of small, yet noticeable chips on the back, which aren't exactly a sight for sore eyes when compared to how beautiful the rest of it looks, but then again, sound matters more and I won't really be staring at them while I play, anyway. According to the description, it was used for almost  half a year, and the violin already has Dominant strings on. I've heard a lot of stuff about the E string on Dominants being a bit unpleasant, so I might just switch the E string out if I get it, probably with a Fiddlerman E string or something. It comes with the violin, the case, the carbon fiber bow, rosin, and the shoulder rest. The seller additionally states that he'll include a wooden bow with the outfit. It seems really tempting, for the price, and the seller seems legit enough. 

 

But my dad is saying I shouldn't get a secondhand instrument and it'd be better to just get a new Concert... I admit, while it'd be fun to be able to grow with the violin, at the same time the Ebay offer looks nice too. I mean, two bows! And aside from the chips, which seem to be more of a pain to look at than anything, the violin appears to be in pretty good shape.I mean, obviously if some lucky Joe jets to it before me, I'm out of luck, so I've been trying to resolve this final issue as quickly as possible... should I get it new or used???

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risk
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New, maybe they dropped it or covered a crack you never know and if you get new straight from fiddlerman you know you are getting the best service to back it.

 

As far as the comments about fiddlerman being of poor quality because of cecilio, would someone selling shoddy stuff open a forum up for comments and regularly visit and comment himself?

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Kim D
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February 21, 2016 - 7:01 pm
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I would wonder too if the violin was dropped.  When I started looking for a violin, I started Googling.  I was ecstatic when I found Fiddlerman because I live 30 minutes from his shop.  The advantage to that is that I could rent one before investing alot of money in a hobby that I may not like.

Fiddlerman first helped me find the sound of a violin that I like (I prefer a darker tone).  Then, he place a couple of violins in my hands.  I couldn't believe the difference in pulling the bow across the strings.  The higher quality violin was easier to bow and the sound was super nice!  If you know that you will play the violin for years to come, then my recommendation is to get a better quality violin (at a price that you can afford).  

Now I'm at the crossroads where I'm asking myself if I should purchase my dark violin (Ming Jiang Zhu 903) and get a 2nd violin that sounds bright.  Or, purchase one violin of even a higher quality that may have a sound that's in between bright and dark (if there is such a thing).  If anyone has any suggestions or thoughts, then please share!  It may come down to me visiting Fiddlerman again and trying out more violins.

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damfino
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February 21, 2016 - 7:20 pm
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kim-d I'm of the mind of having one of each, lol. After all, you can't have too many violins, right? 😉 

~ I'm not torturing cats... I'm learning to play violin! ~

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intrepidgirl
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Damfino, I'm with you.  Same as shoes, I will never regret violin purchases.

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Kim D
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True @damfino and @intrepidgirl. smile

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coolpinkone
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sunny I hope you get the concert of your dreams.  If you can return the violin, I see nothing wrong with getting a second hand.  But ONLY if you can return.  That is just me.  I think you made a great selection on a violin.

@Leanna how exciting to be getting a new violin in the future.  I love what you do with the violin you have.  Keep up the good work! Your playing makes me very happy.

 

As for anyone thinking that they might be getting  "too good" of a violin for their newbie-skills, I wouldn't think of that at all.   Somethings it is just best to get the best you can afford. And I recommend that with violin. My violin journey has went from Concert, to Soloist to Ming 905.  

I play both Soloist and Ming often. Both are out and tuned and ready to play.  I love the sounds of both of them and I have zero regrets on the violins.

oh oh oh.. how I love to hear about violin shopping. Oooooo I love love it. 

Fiddlershop is a family business, and they are all splendid to deal with.  They have my support and business on all things violin!

Vibrato Desperato.... Desperately seeking vibrato

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Leana
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February 22, 2016 - 3:28 pm
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coolpinkone said

@Leanna how exciting to be getting a new violin in the future.  I love what you do with the violin you have.  Keep up the good work! Your playing makes me very happy.

 

So-  I was about to start day 30 of the challenge, and I read this in my email-  I was feeling really good, so thank you @coolpinkone.  I really hope that you meant it for me, (as I noticed just now that the 2N Leana was mentioned) but even if you didn't, I got inspired !  LOL  :))

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coolpinkone
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leana - Hi.. oh yes.. I meant it for you. Oops.. I miss tagged.

I definitely mean it for you.  I still am thinking about the fun video by the water when you were channeling Lindsey!!!  Keep up the wonderful work.

Cheers.  Coming here today inspired me too!

Have a great week.

Toni

Vibrato Desperato.... Desperately seeking vibrato

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Leana
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February 22, 2016 - 10:47 pm
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coolpinkone said
leana - Hi.. oh yes.. I meant it for you.   I still am thinking about the fun video by the water when you were channeling Lindsey!!!  Keep up the wonderful work.

Cheers.  Coming here today inspired me too!

Have a great week.

Toni

🙂  funny thing-  I belong to a writer's group here.  I am just as good a writer, as a violin player, but this weeks theme is- INSPIRATION !  I know what that means- sometimes, just coming here, even if I don't socialize, - I learn a lot, and am inspired !  Thanks, Toni - I kinda look like Lindsey, cept for the hair, age, and ability to carry a tune- but it was way fun- as I was at the time the only one I knew of that realized she was not actually playing in the woods- technology is the bomb !

the possibilities are endless, and the company- priceless !  🙂

I also want to say to @Sunny - cant wait to hear about, and maybe see a pic of your final decision !  It is one that stopped me years ago from even buying one in the first place.  Get it, and play on !!  🙂

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Fiddlerman
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February 24, 2016 - 10:50 pm
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Thanks so much everyone. I won't comment but I just wanted to say that I enjoyed reading this thread. 🙂
Welcome to the forum Sunny!

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

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Mark
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Sunny,

Welcome to the Forum, I personally don't think you can go wrong buying your Fiddle from fiddlershop good people there to deal with. Just my two cents.

 

Mark

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