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Advice on getting a violin for beginner?
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stregga
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March 12, 2017 - 10:11 pm
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Hello, my name is Aurea, and I currently live in Latin America

I'm picking up violin again and I'm very excited to start this journey. However there are limitations as to the type of violin I can get my hands on. I want to purchase a reliable violin. I'm an adult, and I'm not planning to be a profesional musician but I'm super serious about learning to play the violin (I play the piano). I believe getting the proper material is essential to make good progress.

To make a long story short the brands of violins in Latin america are very very limited. I went to several music stores and yamaha (V3skA model and model 7) seems to be the leading brand, followed up by Hoffner, the Sandner SV-4 and the Luthier (there's a violin brand named luthier, yes). There is a Yamaha store a block away from my house. Most of the instruments I've ever gotten are yamaha so I trust in that brand a lot. That should be the end of the story, right? Well, it isn't.

Most of the sites recommend the Stentor II. A friend of mine who is a professional violin player recommended that brand as well. She doesn't like for personal reasons the yamaha brand...

So far I've decided on Yamaha or the Stentor. Even when neither of the sites on line (including this one) ships safely to where I am, I can hire a proxy service to ship me the stentor (or travel abroad for that matter) and that would be the end of it.

My question is: would any of you recommend the Yamaha model 3 (model 5 is not available here, and even if it was is way too expensive for me right now) OR the Stentor II (bringing the stentor over here with the aid of the proxy would amount to the cost of the yamaha, so price is really not an issue here. Roughly both violins would cost the same).

I just don't want to go to the yamaha store because it's close to my house, purchase a not so nice violin and get stuck with something bad that I might will out grow quickly. 

What do you guys recommend? 

Should I buy the Yamaha (is that model good at all?) or should I go the extra mile and pay extra to get the stentor II here.

ANY advice on the matter would be greatly appreciated, because I want to make a good purchase!

(I know it would be awesome to test several violins or rent them, but I'm afraid this is something I'm not able to do, since the city where I live at is HUGE and I rather have my own instrument to practice with from the start. )

Thanks in advance!

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Adaleona
Ohio, USA
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March 13, 2017 - 1:58 am
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If you are able to test out the instruments from a friend or such, I would definitely recommend that. But personally, I recommend the Stentor II. Despite not having playing this instrument personally but I have heard many good things about it and have heard sound samples from it. I think it would be a nice instrument to start out with if you can't get a Fiddlerman violin!

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damfino
oHIo, USA
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March 13, 2017 - 9:29 am
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I am not familiar with Yamaha violins, so I can't comment on those, but for the Stentor II.... I would recommend steering clear of that violin. When I was first starting, I bought a Stentor II. It was such a piece of junk I shipped it back the next day (horrible tone, tailpiece built in fine tuner was broke on the G string). After that I ordered the Fiddlerman Concert violin, which was a giant step up in quality, the look the sound...

What will be as important as which violin you choose, is will the violin be professionally set up, or just coming the way it was set up at the factory (which is hit and miss)... does the Yamaha store do this for you as part of your purchase? A proper set up makes a world of difference in how pleasant and easy the learning process will be. 

If the Fiddlerman OB1 is in your budget that might be one for you to consider, since I know they ship out professionally set up https://fiddlershop.com/fiddlerman-OB1-violin-outfit.html 

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On a journey to learn the fiddle since July 24, 2015
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Fiddlerman
Fort Lauderdale
March 13, 2017 - 2:42 pm
Member Since: September 26, 2010
Forum Posts: 12740

stregga said
Hello, my name is Aurea, and I currently live in Latin America

Hey Aurea, nice to meet you. Which county in Latin America?

I'm picking up violin again and I'm very excited to start this journey.

Congratulations. 🙂

However there are limitations as to the type of violin I can get my hands on. I want to purchase a reliable violin. I'm an adult, and I'm not planning to be a profesional musician but I'm super serious about learning to play the violin (I play the piano). I believe getting the proper material is essential to make good progress.

You are wise for being careful and trying to get the most for your money. Good equipment make the job easier for sure.

To make a long story short the brands of violins in Latin america are very very limited. I went to several music stores and yamaha (V3skA model and model 7) seems to be the leading brand, followed up by Hoffner, the Sandner SV-4 and the Luthier (there's a violin brand named luthier, yes). There is a Yamaha store a block away from my house. Most of the instruments I've ever gotten are yamaha so I trust in that brand a lot. That should be the end of the story, right? Well, it isn't.

Most of the sites recommend the Stentor II. A friend of mine who is a professional violin player recommended that brand as well. She doesn't like for personal reasons the yamaha brand...

So far I've decided on Yamaha or the Stentor. Even when neither of the sites on line (including this one) ships safely to where I am, I can hire a proxy service to ship me the stentor (or travel abroad for that matter) and that would be the end of it.

I don't want to be pushy but I disagree that we don't ship safety to Latin America. I look forward to hearing which country and city you are referring to. If you would like to speak to someone here who speaks Spanish, just ask for Felix if you give us a call.
Fiddlershop's number is 954 530 5999

My question is: would any of you recommend the Yamaha model 3 (model 5 is not available here, and even if it was is way too expensive for me right now) OR the Stentor II (bringing the stentor over here with the aid of the proxy would amount to the cost of the yamaha, so price is really not an issue here. Roughly both violins would cost the same).

I believe you are comparing a $200 dollar violin outfit to a $600 dollar outfit. Between the two I would choose the Yamaha but not if it meant paying 3 times more. 

I just don't want to go to the yamaha store because it's close to my house, purchase a not so nice violin and get stuck with something bad that I might will out grow quickly. 

What do you guys recommend? 

Should I buy the Yamaha (is that model good at all?) or should I go the extra mile and pay extra to get the stentor II here.

ANY advice on the matter would be greatly appreciated, because I want to make a good purchase!

(I know it would be awesome to test several violins or rent them, but I'm afraid this is something I'm not able to do, since the city where I live at is HUGE and I rather have my own instrument to practice with from the start. )

Thanks in advance!  

Any time!!!

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

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coolpinkone
California, the place of my heart
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March 13, 2017 - 6:12 pm
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Welcome to the forum.

So happy to meet you.  I can't wait to hear of your violin.  Good luck on your journey.

Welcome to our "family" here.  My advice is to get the best you can get.  I know it is not out of the country. But my Violins have travelled from Florida to California (freight) and they have arrived looking so fresh and perfect. 

I have no experience with shipping out of Country.  Good luck and Happy Tunes.

Cheers.

Toni

Vibrato Desperato.... Desperately seeking vibrato

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Charles
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March 16, 2017 - 11:25 am
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I don't have any experience with the Yamahas, although they generally have a good reputation.  I have the Stentor Conservatoire, one step up from the Student II.

On both of those instruments, you're going to run into the same problem. They're factory-made instruments, made in mass quantities, and one of the prime criteria in how they're designed is that they not get sent back to the factory as defective.

So the action is very high (there's a standard set in 1951 (when gut strings were in use) that defines how high strings should be. It is much too high for modern instruments, but manufacturers still make instruments that way.)  The fingerboard has a deep scoop. Both the high action and the deep scoop are to make sure that strings don't buzz.  But it can be so bad (and was on my Stentor) that you couldn't play a D on the A string and the open D string as a double stop. The A string was depressed so far it wasn't reachable.

There were numerous other problems.  I was fortunate enough to run into a very good local luthier, who worked it over extensively, and it sounds quite nice now. But it ran me $350 to have all that done, and I paid $250 for the outfit to begin with. (A good price at the time.)  From what he told me, most of the stuff that was wrong with it was typical of instruments in that range, and it's all because their profit margins are low. They can't afford to have many come back to the factory as defective, so any time there's a choice to make, they err on the side of "won't get it sent back".  That means it's pretty much guaranteed to be a mediocre to poor instrument.

If the place you get it from will do a proper setup, like Fiddlershop does, that's worth quite a bit of money, I'd say at least $150.  If whoever you get it from is going to ship it to you straight as it comes from Yamaha or Stentor, you're almost certainly going to have an instrument that will fight you, and limit you, and you'll have to spend significant money having a luthier work on it to get it halfway decent. I'd recommend spending more money (spending time saving up the money if necessary) and getting an instrument that is properly set up to begin with. Getting one of the cheap ones will just tend to discourage you.

I was hesitant at first to recommend the Fiddlerman Apprentice, because I hadn't heard much about it, but I went and looked at it. It's got a five star rating with 27 reviews, and I listened to several videos of it, both on the site and on youtube. For $330, that's a damned nice violin.  And, if you ask as part of the ordering process, you can get things like an low (easy playing) action, or a high (high volume) action at no extra charge.  For an extra charge, you can also get things like Wittner pegs professionally installed, for just the price of the pegs. (I love those things, but in fairness, the Fiddlershop folks do a good job with the standard pegs, and it has four fine tuners, so you don't actually NEED them... 🙂 )

With shipping, the Apprentice would probably be about $380. I'm not sure my Stentor (which now has cost me $600) sounds that good. I'll guarantee it didn't sound anywhere near that good when I first got it.  I would expect the Yamaha to sound about as good as the Stentor, until a good luthier has had a chance to work it over.  I'd talk to your local shop, find out if they do the sort of setup that fiddlerman does (and in particular, will they customize it some for you). If that's included free, play one of the Yamahas (you can at least play open strings) and have them play one for you. Compare it to the what the Apprentice sounds like on Youtube. (Anything on Youtube will not sound as good as real life, remember.)  If they will NOT make those adjustments for free, find out how much they will cost. If they don't do that kind of work, find a luthier, and ask them how much that kind of work will cost (it will be hard to get an estimate without an instrument in hand, though.)
I suspect you will find that to get either the Yamaha or the Stentor in good enough shape to compare with the Apprentice, it will cost you a good bit more than the Apprentice will, even figuring in the shipping.Hope this helps, and didn't just confuse the issue further.

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Fiddlerman
Fort Lauderdale
March 16, 2017 - 12:15 pm
Member Since: September 26, 2010
Forum Posts: 12740

Thanks Charles. 🙂

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

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stregga
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March 16, 2017 - 8:23 pm
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first and forthemost, thank you all for your thorough replies to my question. I have found that the site does ship to Mexico, so I'm quite thrilled about it and I've had had a chat with Mike and he recommended the OB1 to start with. Even the shipping fee is  still on my budget. I'm quite happy about that, as if I went for the Stentor I would have to buy a new bow and new strings and that's just a deal breaker (but I'm not going to buy that violin now, because I've been reading all over the net that getting one that actually works is like flipping a coin and  I don't want to meet a luthier just yet. I just want to get it out of the box and hit the strings and that's it).

As I'm not knowledgeable with violin I didn't know I had to watch out for a proper set up (I've learned so much with your replies. Thank you!). As I said I played for a little while with an instrument that was a gift. I still have it but it's all messed up.

And, if you ask as part of the ordering process, you can get things like an low (easy playing) action, or a high (high volume) action at no extra charge. 

Charles would you mind to elaborate on this? I didn't know that you could customize the tone of the sound of the instrument! 

Again, thank you so much for all your replies. You guys are very kind 🙂

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Charles
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March 17, 2017 - 9:17 am
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The Fiddlershop folks go through a 10-point setup process for each violin they sell, except for the really inexpensive ones, like the Cecelios, which are "drop-shipped" (i.e. ordered from Cecelio's factory and sent straight to you. Their only virtue is that they're cheap. You'll be a lot happier with one of the ones they do set up.)

Part of that process is adjusting the nut and the bridge. Since they have to do that any way, if you ask them to make the action low (or easy), they can do that as easily as making it high, or normal.  At worst, you might have to wait a few days extra until they had some new ones come in, but most likely you won't even have that.

If the nut and the bridge are low, the strings take less effort to press down, and the violin is easier to play. That's my preferred setup. The disadvantage to that is that since the strings are closer to the fingerboard (especially at the top), if you play very, very loud, the strings may buzz, and you don't get quite as much maximum volume. I don't care about high volume, so that doesn't bother me.

If you do want a lot of volume, and the extra work for your left hand doesn't bother you, go for high action.

If you don't want either of the extremes, don't say anything about it, and you'll get the standard setup, which is in the middle. That's how they normally set things up, so they'll be able to take one that's already set up and ship it that much sooner.

 

Another customization you could ask for, since you're a beginner is for the bridge to have a slightly smaller radius of curvature (i.e. be more rounded). That will make it easier to hit just one string at a time without accidentally hitting one of the ones next to it.  (Don't worry about double-stops (playing two strings at once) - it doesn't make those any harder.)

Actually, I just looked at the 10-point inspection list, and these would be a bit beyond what they normally do, but for any competent luthier, setting up this way instead of the standard one wouldn't be any harder, as long as he knew that's what was wanted before he started. Knowing how they are, I'd be very surprised if they were unwilling to those things. 

I'd suggest talking to Mike about which things would work best for you and order accordingly.

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Charles
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March 17, 2017 - 4:58 pm
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@stregga, I just reread what you wrote. "Customize the tone of the instrument" might be a bit strong. You're customizing the playability of it much more than the sound. They DO customize the sound, by adjusting the bridge and the soundpost, but they're optimizing it for that instrument. To get the sound significantly better, you have go to a significantly better instrument.

The adjustments I'm talking about are designed to make it easier (physically) for you to play.

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