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SVoyager
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March 4, 2015 - 1:26 pm
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Hello, I am new to this site having discovered it only yesterday but from what I can see, it seems like a great place for information and the people here appears to be a great bunch!

I am looking to buy my first violin and was looking for some tips / suggestions as to what to get. I see on this site that there is quite a few violin options and many with very positive reviews etc, but not quite sure what to get for my skill and the style I want to play.

My background on music and instruments in general is not all that huge. I had played trombone for about 3 years at school but in the end, the instrument wasn't all that interesting to me even tho I was doing fine with it. I still had the urge to play things once in a while so I decided to buy an electronic keyboard just for the fun of it and thought myself how to play to a standard I am satisfied with!

The reason I am telling this is that, when I bought the keyboard, I wanted to have a minimum of quality to my ears. I was looking for the normal piano/grand piano sound but I preferred to add a few $$ with a keyboard that had pressure sensitive keys (a Yamaha PSR-273) rather than just on/off triggers. Pressure sensitive keys add the ability to put some nice "emotion" touch to the play which can't be done with the very cheap on/off key keyboards.

So I am looking for something that can give me that minimum of quality like my Yamaha keyboard did at the time, even tho I had never played the instrument before.

The style that I want to play is not all set in stone right now. I have to say that listening to some Lindsey Stirling opened up new horizons and is the main reason as to why I want to try to learn the instrument. I do listen to classical music but the upbeat and modern use of what Lindsey is doing is really fitting my style (even tho I don't like dubstep all that much heh) but that is not to say that I wouldn't play more classic things as I do like that too. I often just start some random song, power on the keyboard and play to it and I am looking to do something like that with the violin too.

So, with all this, what should I get?? I am 34 years so a full 4/4 violin would be needed I guess. I hear a good violin can be had at around 300$ however I see 100-150$ options here with very positive reviews (however some reviews say that sound is so-so).

Thanks in advance for the help and sorry for the wall of text!

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LyleA
Little Rock, AR
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March 4, 2015 - 2:51 pm
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I have only been playing for about three years.  In that time, I have had three different violins.  A cheap $120 outfit made by Cecilio, a much nicer August Kohr K550 for around $550, and my current GCV Replica.

If I had known that I was going to be as dedicated and passionate about playing as I have become, then I would have sprung for the August Kohr or GCV right off the bat.  The main reason is not only does it sound better than the Cecilio by leaps and bound, but it is also much easier to play.  It is made with quality materials by people who care about their products and it shows.  The Cecilio was more akin to a wood box with strings and was violin only in shape.  It was not setup properly, the stings were too high off the fingerboard causing them to bite into my fingers and leave marks, and at one point a seam opened up from the glue coming unstuck.  

I don't think it is easy to say what an exact price would be for a beginner, some people may have found a good instrument at the $150 price range, but I didn't.  

I do know that at Fiddlershop.com, the Fiddlerman instruments receive almost universal praise.  The are setup and tested by Fiddlerman himself, so you know when they leave his door they are in the best shape possible.  

The only thing I can really recommend is to read as many reviews as possible and keep asking questions.  Good luck finding something!

http://fiddlershop.com/fiddler.....approved 

Never mind maneuvers, just go straight at them.

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DanielB
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March 4, 2015 - 3:13 pm
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Violins don't vary as much in regards to options as something like an electronic keyboard.  But the idea of a certain standard of quality is understandable.

You haven't mentioned it you are thinking of an acoustic or an electric violin, so I will assume acoustic. 

Structurally, acoustic violins are all of the same basic shape, so the sound would be your first consideration, followed by a lack of problems.  When I bought my current acoustic, I decided by hearing a sound/timbre I liked on the violin of someone who posted some of their playing here, and asking them if it was comfortable to play and etc. 

The sound of the violin is largely dependent on the player.  More like trombone than electronic keyboard in that regard.  So the problem with expert reviews is that while they may check points of quality that a beginner wouldn't know to think of, someone who is a good player can make almost any violin sound good (at least to beginner ears).

I'll assume you have already checked out Fiddlerman/Pierre's reviews of assorted violins in the price range you are talking about, so I'll post another one I have seen.  This is not an endorsement on my part, since I have owned a violin of this same exact make and model and I would personally recommend that a beginner try for something at least a bit nicer on quality..

So my advice would be to listen through some videos by members who are just in their first few months of playing and when you hear one where you like the basic sound of the instrument, you can ask them about it.

"This young wine may have a lot of tannins now, but in 5 or 10 years it is going to be spectacular, despite the fact that right now it tastes like crude oil. You know this is how it is supposed to taste at this stage of development." ~ Itzhak Perlman

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Uzi
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March 4, 2015 - 4:53 pm
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I like what everybody else said.  I guess first you need to decide whether and electric or an acoustic or an acoustic-electric would best suit your needs.  Then, decide what your budget would be. Certainly, you don't want to put yourself in financial jeopardy with the purchase, but you don't want to cheap out either, unless you have to.  Occasionally somebody will come along with a very inexpensive violin that is truly great, most of the time, however, that's not the case. So unless you're the gambling sort, I would suggest getting a violin at the upper end of what is within your budget.  All of that, of course, is predicated on a fairly serious level of commitment to learning to play.   Keep in mind, that if later you decide that it's not for you, the violin will have a fairly high residual value and you can likely sell it without a huge loss -- at least if you buy it from Fiddlerman.  I would suggest that under no circumstances should you buy an instrument off of Ebay or from any company that does not offer a 100% money back, no questions asked, guarantee.

A positive attitude may not solve all your problems, but it will annoy enough people to make it worth the effort. ~Herm Albright

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Christine (moonlitday)
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March 4, 2015 - 6:45 pm
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I'll go a bit against the grain here - seeing as you are very new to the violin I'd really recommend renting one for a few months to see if the violin is indeed for you. I also come from a piano/woodwind background and the violin is a completely different beast to learn. If you discover it's not for you, then you are only out a few rental payments. If you do fall in love with it then you can easily invest in something worthwhile. 

I will echo the others and agree that if you do go the purchase route to get something "decent". You will want to purchase from a violin specialty shop (such as fiddlerman.com) who will ensure the instrument is set up correctly, and do not purchase off ebay. I would suggest to purchase an outfit in at least the $400 area as you will quickly outgrow a $200 violin. Also keep in mind that a "cheap" instrument can make it more difficult to learn to play (which is the boat I'm in now myself). 

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SVoyager
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March 4, 2015 - 11:24 pm
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Thanks a lot for the replies, very appreciated!!

Yes I was looking more towards an acoustic violin, sorry for not mentioning. Christine's suggestion seems like a good choice for my situation I think. If I were to buy, I agree with what ya'll said about a higher budget (higher than 150$). I think Fiddlerman's apprentice violin appears to be a good choice.

But, there is the fact that I am a complete newbie here and maybe renting might be a better choice. I was reading some more about the process of learning to play it and I wasn't expecting the violin to top the charts of the most difficult instrument to learn (well, I knew it was hard but didn't thought it was the hardest).

However, I am a very patient and stubborn person and was always good at learning things by myself. I know that if I can accept the initial challenge of getting a good sound out (versus a piano which does that part of the work for you) and then find that I could enjoy the potential result, then I know I'm gonna go all the way and have some real fun with it.

On the flipside, since this appears to be the hardest instrument to learn, it could be demotivating if I were to make no progress after a month of playing it. But I doubt that would be the case. It is true that my resolve is shaken a little after reading all the "this is really hard to learn" posts after only doing a few google searches. Youtube videos are indeed plentyful of ear destroying beginners ;-). (All my respect goes to them tho. That remark was not meant to be taken negatively).

But is it THAT hard??? Can it be self thought?? Can one make a decent sound after only a few months of training?? I've got a feeling that my ignorance in the steps involved in training with the violin is catching me up right now haha.

Hopefully, things are a bit brighter than they seem but I think that renting might be a good idea ;-).

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SVoyager
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March 5, 2015 - 12:05 am
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Well I should have checked the learning video's here first. Ok, I don't have a violin in hand but still, the basics appear not too bad. Good amount of practicing is needed alright but it doesn't sound like the end of the world as it seemed to be :-). Confidence restored :-)

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Schaick
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March 5, 2015 - 8:17 am
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My $.02 - RENT!!

I was lucky enough to have someone to borrow a violin from when I first decided to learn to play.  Then a great friend GAVE me a 1930-40's violin.

That first violin - I had no idea how thin and tinny the sound was until a couple of months later when I had the gift violin in hand.

Then the gift violin sounded better and better.  Was it me improving and the violin airing out after years of being cooped up in a case in a cold damp house?  The gift violin does have a value of $600.

Now recently 1 1/2 year later I have realized that the gift violin sounds better playing folk, bluegrass, Irish then classical.  The tone is just not there.  Or is it that I need more improvement?

Sooo... is a more expensive violin in my future?  Hope so!!  I am thinking it should be a reward for me when.... Haven't decided yet.

Anyway the point to all this - it is a real learning experience.  I have loved every minute of it - it is a blast!!

Violinist start date -  May 2013  

Fiddler start date - May 2014

FIDDLE- Gift from a dear friend. A 1930-40 german copy, of a french copy of a Stradivarius.  BOW - $50 carbon fiber. Strings - Dominants with E Pirastro Gold string.

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mischa91
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March 5, 2015 - 9:29 am
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I agree that renting is the best idea for you at least at first. Can i also suggest maybe a few lessons to begin with, just so you get a proper hold and technique right off the bat, trust me bad technique at the beginning will stay with you and be so hard to fix later on (i'm in that boat and i had a teacher who just didn't correct my bad habits, it's so hard to fix a bad left hand).  Oh and when renting if you get a violin you're not happy with ask them to swap it, try out a few to see which sounds you like.

 

Also, don't be disheartened, yes the violin is a hard instrument to learn and i wouldn't expect to sound decent for a while but it's fun and if you can get past the occasional screech owl noises you should be fine.

 

If and when you do decide to buy i also suggest staying away from ebay, go with a reputable shop.  I got sort of lucky on ebay with an old student violin but have still put money into it to make it better and actually playable and i will upgrade at some point i'm sure.  

 

Good luck!

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coolpinkone
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March 5, 2015 - 3:10 pm
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I would suggest getting the best violin you can comfortable afford.   Welcome to the forum.

It seems to me if you buy a violin for 150 - 200 dollars, then decide you don't want it in a few months, you should be able to sell it  for maybe the same or what it would have cost you in a few months of rent.

Renting is not a bad option.  I rented my first violin...and bought it outright after 1/2 through the contract.  I loved it and still own it... it is a good violin. 

Happy shopping and be sure to let us know what you buy.

Cheers.

Vibrato Desperato.... Desperately seeking vibrato

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Uzi
Georgia
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March 5, 2015 - 4:00 pm
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@SVoyager, with regard to all the people who say it's the hardest instrument to learn, keep in mind that there's probably not more than a handful of them that play more than three instruments. Most of them don't, if the truth were told, play any instrument at all -- at least not well. So the best they could ever claim is it was harder for ME than the other instrument(s) I "think" I play.  Anything that is not a kazoo, has a significant learning curve. The fiddle is the same -- except different.

Don't get me wrong, it's far from easy and it may well take years to get to a point where people are asking you to play and are, afterwards, thankful that you did. However, the same is true for most instruments. With the exception of the few savants and child prodigies that can pick up any instrument and play it well in a few weeks, most of us have to work at it for years, regardless of what instrument we choose. So make sure that you choose one where you; 1) have the proper physical requirements,  2) enjoy the learning process and 3) really, really like the sound it makes, because you'll be doing it for a very long time, if you want to be really good at it.   


A positive attitude may not solve all your problems, but it will annoy enough people to make it worth the effort. ~Herm Albright

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DanielB
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March 5, 2015 - 6:18 pm
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Yeah, I let the idea that violin was the most difficult (and one of the most expensive) instruments keep me from trying it for many years.

Don't make the same mistake. 

Sure, it is challenging.  But pretty much any instrument is challenging to learn to play at least reasonably well.  Violin may have a bit more of a learning curve than some other instruments, but it is also remarkably versatile and portable.  And fun.

"This young wine may have a lot of tannins now, but in 5 or 10 years it is going to be spectacular, despite the fact that right now it tastes like crude oil. You know this is how it is supposed to taste at this stage of development." ~ Itzhak Perlman

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Fiddlerman
Fort Lauderdale
March 5, 2015 - 9:50 pm
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Welcome to the forum SVoyager.

Whatever instrument you end up getting, I hope that you love learning and playing as much as we do. :) The important thing is to enjoy the baby steps in the long journey towards perfection.

If you don't mind, we always love an official introduction at the Introduce Yourself forum. Even if you end up reposting a lot of this post. :)

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

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SVoyager
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March 5, 2015 - 10:13 pm
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Well I gotta say that coming here for help was indeed the right choice!! What a great bunch ya'll are and it was certainly appreciated! I guess it would have been easy to discourage someone like me here but on the contrary, everything was positive while also being genuinely informative! Thanks a lot!

So, the good news is that.... It is done! I have called various local professional music shops and I will have my first violin ready tomorrow! I am sooo looking forward to it!! Just in time for the weekend too. I foresee that the workday tomorrow will be quite long :-).

I can't say much about what brand I'll get, dumb me, I forgot to ask but I'll see that tomorrow. The store's violin expert did seem to know what he was talking about and understood my need for a good starter violin (while not being ultra-cheap, certainly good enough to not make things harder early on, hopefully heh). So he suggested an equivalent in price of a 250$ violin which they are renting 15$/month. Sounds about right? They also have their own Luthier who will assemble it and tune it, its not a pre-built violin (if there is such a thing??).

In any case, things seem to be doing well. It's certainly been a while since I've been this excited to learn something new like this. Wasn't the case with my trombone or piano. Good sign!!

Thanks again and I'll certainly stop by again here with pictures of the preciousss!! Now, I've got some reading to do, gotta be ready :-)

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Fiddlerman
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March 5, 2015 - 10:24 pm
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Glad to hear it. Hope everything continues to go smoothly for you...

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

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SVoyager
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March 7, 2015 - 2:39 am
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Just quickly stopping to say that I have gotten it in my hands now!!

Wow what a blast, I am dead tired tho so pics for later heh. Didn't thought that I would be that happy to play and hear twinkle twinkle little star. The sound is, well... interresting haha! But actually I am happy with what is coming out of it, the notes are there, maybe not exactly at the right pitch but still, things are coming along. The sound definitely degraded as I got more tired, maybe also wrong amount of rosin as I see some are getting left on the strings.

My first reaction after playing a few notes is that it requires _a lot_ more precision than I thought. A few millimetres off with the fingers and you sure hear it. The wrong angle with the bow and you hit two strings at the same time. Practice will fix this in time so I don't worry too much but it will be a challenge... Challenge accepted!!

I see however that my fingers seem a little big to the point where they will prevent the string next to it from playing should I still have my fingers on the first string I am transitioning out from. Been trying to put the fingers more vertical but not easy, more practice. Gotta take things one step at a time tho.

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rockinglr33
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March 7, 2015 - 6:09 am
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congrats SVoyager! it really is a fascinating journey once you get going and after some practice you get the hang of hitting the notes and all the multi tasking that goes along with it! I'm excited for you. :D

Lead me, Follow me, or get out of my way!

             ~General George S. Patton

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Schaick
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March 7, 2015 - 8:15 am
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Yeah!! @SVoyager!! I am so excited for you!!

Yep!, took me learning one aspect every other month [slow learner]- how to hold the violin, then the bow, then how to hold both without pain, etc. Then learned I was gripping the neck of the violin.  Then I was moving my bowing shoulder too much, I had to learn to bend that elbow!

I gave the new holds a couple of months each because - was I just stiff and not used to the positions or was something else going on.  In the end minor adjustments were needed.  

Now playing feels so natural.  I don't even think of my bow hold when I do glance down to my hand everything looks good! I feel as though my tone is getting better. My ears are hearing what they could not discern before.

My hubby actually said with no prompting,you are playing better!!

Violinist start date -  May 2013  

Fiddler start date - May 2014

FIDDLE- Gift from a dear friend. A 1930-40 german copy, of a french copy of a Stradivarius.  BOW - $50 carbon fiber. Strings - Dominants with E Pirastro Gold string.

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SVoyager
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March 7, 2015 - 12:28 pm
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Heh thanks good times ahead certainly!!

Now I'll have to check with a teacher so to get my posture corrected early on as suggested! My arm holding the violin is kinda weak right now after the 3 hours of playing I did last night.

As promised, pictures!! These are gonna stay in an album for sure! violin.jpgImage Enlargermefirstviolin.jpgImage Enlargerreadytogo.jpgImage Enlarger

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Bunkei
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March 7, 2015 - 8:05 pm
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Wow .. congratulations on your first violin.  I am impressed!!  By my estimate, your posture is 100% correct.  Your teacher may suggest getting a shoulder rest to make sure you don't injure yourself by holding the violin with your upper shoulder/neck.  However, you may not need it.  All depends on comfort :)  

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