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Best beginner violins
What instruments would you reccommend for an adult beginner?
Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 (7 votes) 
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python
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November 3, 2014 - 11:44 am
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I've been playing guitar for 45+ years, have several and know a lot about them. Now I want to learn violin and am in a quandry as to what to buy. The internet is filled with contradictory advice regarding Cecilio, Gliga, Knilling, Yamaha and I can't find any reviews of Fiddlerman's shop products. One "expert" warns about VSO and lauds Cecilio, another calls Cecilio a VSO! I don't want to spend more than about $350, because I don't know if the instrument and I will take to each other. Any advice is greatly appreciated.

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Uzi
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November 3, 2014 - 12:12 pm
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First, of those you've listed, the Gliga would be the one I'd choose.  On the other hand, I'd get a Fiddler Man over the Gliga for a first fiddle.  To see what's available from Fiddler Man, it's really easy.  Click on the Violin Shop link up on the navigation bar at the top of this page.  You can see each of the fiddles that he's got and watch a video of him playing it to get a really good idea of how it sounds (although not how it sounds in the hands of a beginner).  There are also reviews from customers associated with each violin.  My recommendation is to look at the $399 Concert Violin <-- click that.  I have one, as do a lot of people here, and I've not heard a single complaint about what you get for the money.  An excellent carbon fiber bow, rosin, a shoulder rest, a really nice case and a well-made, good sounding fiddle for 400 bucks.  You can't beat that anywhere.  

Also since, like me, you are a guitar player, I'll tell you that the violin business is much, much different than the guitar business. There aren't "brands" of violins, for the most part, that give you a clear idea about the manufacturer or quality of instrument, like there are for guitars, where one can say, I'm going to get a Martin, a Taylor, a Fender or a Gibson and everyone knows what you are talking about and has an expectation of the quality and the sound.  Violin manufacture is much more uncertain and brands don't mean much, nor does country of origin.  For example, China produces some of the world's worst violins, and they produce some of the best and it's the same with every other country, they may be great, or they may be terrible.  The only thing that you learn is that names don't mean much at the lower end (under $5,000) of the violin world. 

The good thing about the Fiddlerman shop, is that if you don't like it, you can return it.  Regardless of where you get your fiddle, make sure they have a satisfaction guaranteed return policy.  I hope this helps. 

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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BillyG
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November 3, 2014 - 12:37 pm
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@python - WELCOME !!!!  Same here - 40+ years guitar....  with the odd few months some years back "messing" with a fiddle.   This year, I decided to get serious with violin - and I started by getting a "VSO" ( a Harley Benton electric violin from "Thomann" ) - only 110 Euros - not expensive at all and absolutely STABLE.....  virtually no observable tonal drift once the strings (which - given the price were like cheesewire - I immediately replaced with Dominants) settled down.  (I've subsequently upgraded these strings - but that's for a different reason ).   That was at the end of March 2014.

 Come late June, once I got my intonation more or less under control, I was happy to go back to an acoustic - and (OK, yes, I was a member here - but that's NOT the reason in itself) - and I purchased a FiddlerMan Concert.    There are, if not actual third party "reviews" - then at least demonstrations of the FM kit - many violins sold by Pierre are briefly played and posted - check out https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCytTZDaLZaplTKMnTHh-hTQ you'll find a lot of the different instruments demonstrated there...

I may add that I am 100% happy with the Concert - I'm very, very critical - not just of my own ability but also of the final sound I can achieve - I know for a fact that the instrument I chose will serve me well for a few years - although as (or,  if ) I progress I *may* discover I "need something better" - but honestly right now - I doubt it....  (most of my playing will tend towards fiddle-style rather than classical, and I'll use the Harley Benton EV with FX for, hopefully, BAAAAD ROCK ! LOLOL )

You asked for advice - well - don't take my word for it - you have come to the right place - you'll get more responses from others.

Cheers, and welcome to the fretless journey !!!!!!!

Bill

EDIT:   LMFAO - I *said* others would respond - @Uzi hit "Submit" before I did !!!!! Hahahaha - honestly - you need have no worries with the FM kit and their service - check it out...

I seriously recommend not copying my mistakes.  

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

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bfurman
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November 4, 2014 - 8:12 pm
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Depending on where you are, I recommend renting.

Why?  First of all, you will be getting a better-quality instrument up front than if you were to spend $200-400 online, and the rental fee will apply toward purchase in the eventuality that you buy.  Secondly, you will be able to select from among a half-dozen or so different instruments.  There is a lot of variability in the lower-end stuff.  Just like with guitars, there are gems and duds, and you can't tell by just looking at 'em.  Thirdly, someone will be able to demonstrate them for you in person.  No microphone can capture what your ears can.  Fourth, you will establish rapport with a local music store.  They should provide setup and periodic adjustments as a courtesy, and they will be there for you when you need items in a hurry.  Lastly, some shops sell enough volume (school programs, etc.) that they have their own exclusive lines.  It's the same Chinese workshops building 'em, but they are spec'd properly and sorted to eliminate the duds.

If you can't rent, then use an online dealer with personalized service like Fiddlershop.  A few of them have been around awhile and have really good reputations.  Oftentimes, proper instrument setup makes all the difference, yet that is the area where costs are most readily cut.  I would rather pay a few bucks more to get an instrument that has been properly adjusted than a slightly cheaper one with a factory setup.  Oftentimes, there isn't even a price difference.

I bought a Gliga for my son from their U.S. distributor a couple of years ago.  It's okay, but we ended up renting anyway.  I was shocked at how much nicer the rental instrument sounded.  For all I know, that could have just been the bridge fitment.

Edit to add:  if you are an experienced adult musician and are serious about learning, then my suggestion is to make a commitment to a quality instrument like Scott Cao, GCV, etc.  You will very quickly reap the benefits.  We aren't getting any younger. :)

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happyjet
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November 9, 2014 - 11:59 am
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I would get a Gliga.

I have a Gliga Gems 1 (I know that I said that I have a Gliga Gems 2 on earlier posts but I got it wrong.)

I would recommend a Gliga Genial or Gliga Gems.

They sound very nice and do not cost too much.

Playing a piece is easy... Playing it right is not...

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cdennyb
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November 9, 2014 - 12:15 pm
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In the past, I have analyzed several violins, a few Cecilio's, a Soloist, some others that the name escapes me, and when I get home tonight I will dig out those sound analysis charts and let you see what a "VSO" sounds like on paper compared to others of more cost, even wood violins of over a 100 yrs old.

You'll be surprised. I've probably analyzed 300 or so sound samples and the results are a real eye opener.

You will find that in the beginning, YOUR ability will be far less than the violin's ability to sound good. After a year or so, even bying a cheaper ($300-500) violin and using it to "see" if you two like each other will be productive, as you can sell it right back into the beginning violinist world.

You can also keep an eye open for an older violin at yard sales, auctions, pawn shops, ebay, etc. and if you find one that you just can't live without, even if you have to put some money and time into bringing it up to par, it's well worth it... IF you stick with it.

Playing the violin is NOT like playing a guitar or other fretted instrument as you already know. Memorize a few finger positions and the cords come out fine, try to do that on a violin and... well you know. Violin is an "everday" kind of thing... if you skip a day or two, you might notice the loss of ability, skip a week and your friends that listen will notice, skip a month and everybody will notice! Ha.

"If you practice with your hands you must practice all day. Practice with your mind and you can accomplish the same amount in minutes." Nathan Milstein

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cdennyb
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November 10, 2014 - 2:23 am
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I promised to post some sound charts after I got home and here we are. These are just some random charts of instruments I've done charts for. Ask any questions after you take a look.

Jims-analysis-on-bows.jpgImage Enlarger

 sound-analysis-for-drum-patch.jpgImage Enlarger

 The-HOFFMAN-AMADEAUS-is-the-top-trace.jpgImage Enlarger

"If you practice with your hands you must practice all day. Practice with your mind and you can accomplish the same amount in minutes." Nathan Milstein

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Hermes
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November 10, 2014 - 8:58 am
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Python, wether you buy, or you rent, just make sure it is not a low end instrument. You say that you play guitar for 45+ years, and you do not know if you and the instrument will match.

You are not new to playing music, so it would be likely that you give up an instrument that does not sound that good by itself. 

 

In other words, I suggest that you either rent if possible a more expensive instrument than what you'd get for 350 USD, or directly buy a more expensive one. 

My experience with Gligas priced under this amount of money, was not that good. They were good looking instuments, but that was all (not that perfect bridge and fittings, scratchy pegs, weird nut for my liking) but it could be an exception.

On the other hand, if you notice what Yamaha say about their instruments of low cost (something like the V5) is that they make sure they are good for the young player, and that their playability and stability is not compromised. BUT that leaves the sound part out of it

Please take into consideration, that a violin does not simply sound good. It sounds good TO someone. 

If I were you I would either rent, or buy something more expensive. It would retain a higher resell value after all than a 250 USD instrument.

 

Since you are posting here, I'd highly recommend that you contact fiddlershop. They would help you out on deciding, and they check every instrument...

 

P.S If you like the instrument, in no time you would want to upgrade...Of course you know this, since you are a long time guitar player. Do yourself a favor and begin with something more expensive. 

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EricBluegrassFiddle
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November 10, 2014 - 1:45 pm
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Maybe I'm the odd man out but I agree and kinda disagree with a few points here. First, from what I've seen, ALOT of the rental Violins IMHO are very inferior to alot of student Violins you could get out there for the same price, even after a decent set-up. Now, you could check with Fiddlerman to see what he has in stock because he's a professional violinist and examines, inspects and plays any line before he sells it in his store.

I, after much research, decided to pull the trigger on a "Gliga" violin. It was the Gliga Genial-1 Antiqued Oil varnished Violin, that they call a student violin. Maybe I'm wrong but even it's appearence to me seems "light-years" better than many of the Violin rentals I've seen in lots of music stores. It's very well built, light, resonates well and has nicely flamed quality tonewoods and a nice, smooth Ebony fingerboard. I only paid U$S350 for mine ( minus the bow ) and it's the highest of the Genial-1 line. The next step up would've been a "Gems-1"

The first few weeks it was very "closed" and tight sounding, ( it's brand new ) but it still sounded good and had decent volume and resonated well, much better than what I had before. Lately after playing it pretty heavily, I've noticed the "A" and "E" strings coming in rather nicely on it. The "G" string is still a bit weak but I wonder if that will change as it opens up with time and more playing? Besides, I'm using the junk strings that came with it and it still sounds good. This Violin has what I'd describe as a very "smooth, even sound" and is not overly harsh or bright, or whiney sounding, definately not when compared to the junk I used to play on! The set-up was actually suprisingly good. The soundpost seems to be well placed. The nut was also well fitted and filed very low with the string spacing being ideal, so no need to touch it. The fingerboard was nicely planed and polished as well. The only thing I did was lower and flatten the bridge radius ( a little as I'm an aspiring Bluegrass fiddler ) and then recut the string slots. The pegs were very well fitted, I just took them out, added a little Hill peg compound stuck them back in gently and rewound the strings. It's a joy to play and I can't wait to get it out when I get home! Some may not like the cheap soft Maple bridge that came with it, but it was well fitted and cut, so I'm leaving it alone for now. Hey, "if it aint broke, don't fix it" LOL

As an aspiring Fiddler I'll never need a really fancy Violin with all of the power and complexity needed for a pro classical player. But for fiddle playing this is a very affordable and ideal purchase for the money indeed for any budding beginner or even intermediate Fiddler/Violinist IMHO. I think this Fiddle would hold up nicely in a small Bluegrass or folk jam and do well, which is all I need right now. ...and I'll recommend Gliga's to anyone who's interested in getting one, I'll say this: If you spend U$S350 for a Gliga, you'll get every bit of what you pay for, I really believe that. Don't expect the "Lady Blunt Stradivarius" by any means, but, I think you'll be making a purchase for a Violin that's in the "top tier" of quality for it's price range without a doubt.

" I just keep telling myself...."It's all about becoming one with your bow"

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rockinglr33
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November 10, 2014 - 9:25 pm
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hey python! welcome!

I thought i'd add my 2 cents. When i started out, i bought a cheap violin from a local violin dealer. I have never played any other instruments except for a brief foray with piano when i was a kid.

At the time i hadn't found this site yet and i was just thinking i might like violins. My violin cost about $350 i think, for the violin, case and rosin. i had to buy the bow separately. I can say i was really happy with my purchase at the time. It doesn't have a brand name, and i had the shop owner play the violins so i could pic out the sound i liked best within the price range i had(FM will do that for you via Skype if you decide to buy from the shop). I didn't have a clue what to look for in a violin at the time and i probably should have researched a bit more but meh, it worked out.

As i started learning, I'm self taught as there are no teachers around here, it took a while before i realized i was really into violin. After a while i realised my violin wasn't quite cutting it then i bought the GCV Bourree of the FM shop and am EXTREAMILY happy with it. I doubt i'll ever need to upgrade again unless one catches my eye and ear and i impulse buy it :D

I will say find something on the cheaper side until you know for sure you will stick with it but don't just grab one at random. Take some time to find one that fits you. Since you have a background in music that will probably be a lot easier then someone like me who just jumped into it.

The student violins will service the beginner steps really well and even into intermediate and advanced, depending on the instrument. You'll know when its time to upgrade if you do stick with it. And the great part of a cheaper one, like many have said, is that they usually come with most of what you need and, that you don't have a ton of money wrapped up in it. so you can use it for decoration or sell it if it doesn't work out :D  

What i can say about buying one of FM's student kits from his site is it comes with a great bow. A big thing people look past is the bow. The bow i bought with my violin for $50 at the time i thought was good until on a whim i bought the FM carbon fiber one. I didn't realized how much a properly balanced bow effects playing. My playing became so much easier. The store owner where i bought my first one said my bow was a great and cheap student bow....find a bow that is balanced, light and easy to move.

ok i think i've rambled on long enough....and probably repeated myself a time or two haha. Good luck in you endevor! 

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

             ~General George S. Patton

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EricBluegrassFiddle
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November 11, 2014 - 7:37 am
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If I was going to consider a rental, I would actually recommend only contacting a shop like Fiddlermans shop. At least you can rest confidently assured that he's a professional Violinist and can spot the good ones from the band ones and in his shop I'm sure you get an excellent Violin as a rental.

Even so Violins like Gliga are really good choices, Eastman also makes good Fiddles, also Knilling, Scott Cao and a whole slew of Chinese built instruments out there that are good. I don't think U$S300 or so is a bad budget for a decent, playabable beginners Violin at all. Just ask around, do the research, read reviews, or, you could even consult with Fiddlerman as I checked his website and he has a Violin seemingly to fit every budget.

Some quick tips: It's important to make sure that the Violin has real Ebony fittings, and fingerboard and also a solid hand carved Spruce top. Some cheapie Fiddles have cheap Pine or Alder fingerboards that are white, and then painted black to make them look like real Ebony. The issue I've found with these Fiddles is that it's difficult to slide once you start learning "shifting" and sliding on the neck. The fingerboard must be at least Rosewood or Ebony and polished for smoothness. Laminate backs and ribs are not AS much a big deal, as long as it's at least laminate Maple. However, from what I've read, the top of the Violin MUST have a solid carved Spruce top, not laminate or a pressed solid top, but a carved solid Spruce top, for it to sound half way decent. Alot of VSO's ( Violin Shaped Objects ) that are real bottom of the line have laminate backs, sides AND tops, avoid that at all costs! However, many companies like Gliga, they'll rough cut CNC the parts and get the shapes down and then they'll finish them out by hand....that's what you want to look for, in even a low budget Violin...at least.

Also, there are many older "German Trade" Violins and Czech "turn of the century" Violins like "Maggini" "Hopf" "Juzek" and others which sometimes can be had at a bargain and sound really good for their age. However, many were heavily built and don't resonate well. Also, to the untrained eye, you might miss cracks, bad repairs, fingerboards that are "scooped" or "humped" twisted peg boxes or scrolls. So I'd recommend avoiding some of those.

Don't be suprised that if you do purchase a Gliga or Eastman "sight unseen" if you have to drop a little more cash into it to get set up. Another reason why choosing a Violin with Fiddlerman is a bonus is because he personally inspects and sets up the Violin. And, I think if you have a special set-up request he'll honor that as well if I'm not mistaken.

It's a buyers Violin market out there and there is good and bad from everywhere. If you do the research and are patient, you should be able to get some pretty good bang for your buck in that budget.

" I just keep telling myself...."It's all about becoming one with your bow"

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Hermes
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EricBluegrassFiddle said

Some quick tips: It's important to make sure that the Violin has real Ebony fittings, and fingerboard and also a solid hand carved Spruce top. 

Python, this is really important. Fake "Ebony" would be any wood painted black. And especially if the fingerboard is painted, it's bad. Besides not working carefully, your fingers would be black in no time :P. Also you may distinguish that painted fittings, because their paintjob would not be a perfect one, you can almost see brush strokes in some violins.

 

EricBluegrassFiddle said
Don't be suprised that if you do purchase a Gliga or Eastman "sight unseen" if you have to drop a little more cash into it to get set up. Another reason why choosing a Violin with Fiddlerman is a bonus is because he personally inspects and sets up the Violin. And, I think if you have a special set-up request he'll honor that as well if I'm not mistaken.

I support this 100%. Every real and decent violin shop would not let an instrument leave the workshop without a perfect setup. If you take a look on instruments by yourself, try to move slightly the pegs as well. Scratchy pegs in a shop might be indicative of it's owner not really caring. Peg drops could do a trick, but in most cases I think that pegs or peg holes are not shaped right. And this could take extra money, if you leave a shop with such an instrument.

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EricBluegrassFiddle
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Gliga.jpgImage Enlarger

 

Totally! And, I know from experience!

My first Fiddle was a total VSO...I paid only $90 dollars for it. When I first got it, the nut was "super" high and the strings were reeallllly close together, virtually unplayable. I had to file the nut down, slowly with a rasp to where it was about the thickness of a business card height off of the fingerboard .( on the A and E string side ) and then re slot it, and widen the string spacing to get it playable.

Even then, the intonation wasn't exacly "perfect" lol. But, then again, neither is mine....

Then I filed down and had to refit the soft Maple bridge and also sand it thinner, it was so thick. All in all, it took me close to a weeks worth of work to get it even playable, and even then it could be better. However, where I live in Argentina, their are no luthiers around so I had to learn on my own. I got it to where it was playable and it got me my start, but if I had it to do all over again, I wouldn't LOL.

Ohh...and my fingers would dig in the fingerboard and yes get a bit discolored. So, I took some alcohol and a cotton cloth and basically took all of the black dye crud off of the fingerboard and left it in the white. Believe it or not, this made the fingerboard much smoother and much easier to play and slide on.

So, I had to put alot of elbow grease into it. However, on the flip side, I learned alot about set-up and how Violins "tick" a little better. So, although my first purchase seemed to be a "set-up" "set-back" in the long run, it helped me. Now. I can do alot of set up myself  minus the soundpost setting. I haven't been there and done that yet LOL.

Even today it's still playable. It's whiney, metallic sounding and has the tone of a dying tom cat, but, at least it plays. I'll take it camping and stuff LOL.

 

Here's a picture of my new Gliga Genial-1

" I just keep telling myself...."It's all about becoming one with your bow"

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Fiddlerman
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November 11, 2014 - 9:28 am
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Congratulations on your new fiddle. Hope you are satisfied with it.

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

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EricBluegrassFiddle
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Fiddlerman said
Congratulations on your new fiddle. Hope you are satisfied with it.

Thanks Fiddlerman! It's definately a "huge" step up from what I had before and I'm pleased with it.

The only thing I had to do was flatten the bridge arch just slightly, lower the bridge a little and recut the string slots, the nut was nice and low and string spacing evenly spaced.

For the price I paid I'd say it's adecuate, also for my novice skill level. It's enjoyable to play and makes me want to get it out even more! Eventually, assuming I continue approving and honing my skills I'll need to upgrade, but even so, as a Bluegrass, folk fiddler, I think this one would make for a good back-up.

" I just keep telling myself...."It's all about becoming one with your bow"

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DanielB
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@python: Don't let the whole "VSO" thing throw you.  It is largely a snob term that some people find amusing but more belongs on a grade-school playground than in any discussion among actual musicians.  One of those "my dog is better than your dog" type things.

If you think about it, isn't a 6 million dollar Stradivarius an "object" that is "violin shaped"?  Of course it is.

When you get right down to it, "VSO" is an insulting/abusive term applied usually to someone else's instrument.  Or used by people to describe an instrument of their own that someone else has made them feel ashamed of.  It helps no-one..

Much like with guitars (or anything else), you will sometimes find inexpensive instruments that are real gems, and high priced instruments that should never have left the factory's quality control department.  So ignore labels and consider 4 basic things..

1.) SOUND  Do you like the sound?  Sure, as a noob, you could probably make Itzhak Perlman's fave Stradivarius sound like a cat being put through a document shredder.. So go by what sounds good to you of instruments owned by people you know (including online) where you can hear a sample, and where they have been playing for maybe a year or two.  If they can get sounds you like, chances are you can too.  Demos by a pro like Fiddlerman can be good, but also can be a bit misleading (unintentionally).  He can make some instruments sound good that a beginner couldn't.  To take the example from guitars, since you've played those for years, YOU could take a cheap guitar with a lot of flaws and still get some ok or even good sounds out of it.  But that doesn't mean a beginner could in a year or two, or that it would be a good instrument for someone to start on. 

Fact is, though, if you can't get any sounds you like after a reasonable amount of practice, then you aren't likely to play.  Game over.

2.) FEEL  To put it simply, if the action is bad enough that you feel like you are playing on a cheese slicer rather than a musical instrument, you will not be likely to enjoy practice.  Some of that may be just set-up and stuff that can be fixed, but do you really want to start right out with having to learn how to do that?   Especially when at first you won't have any idea what "right" should feel or sound like?

3.) QUALITY  Yeah, there's a lot that a beginner may not know to look for.  But obvious things, like is it put together neatly and straight where parts come together?  Can you spot any glue "slop" or loose splinters of wood anywhere you can see of the inside?  Does it feel like it can last a while?  Giving it a good look-over, does it look like a pound of wood that was worth what you are paying?  If it's put together crooked, crappy workmanship that even a beginner can see and etc, then it likely won't play right or last long.  

4.) LOOK  Yeah, this may seem superficial, but if you can't take at least some personal pride in your instrument then you aren't as likely to want to practice and play.  So it having a color, appearance and fittings that you like looking at is important.  Especially as a beginner, you want the instrument to have some aesthetic value that you personally appreciate.  For some that is "showroom sign", for others it might be "weathered and well played".  Whatever works for you personally.  

 

Ideally, you would go to a shop and meet the instruments in person before making a choice.  Failing that, at least make sure that any place online you order from will give you a money back guarantee if you just don't like the thing when you get it. 

So that's another 2 cents of gasoline for this particular fire.

"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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EricBluegrassFiddle
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DanielB said
@python: Don't let the whole "VSO" thing throw you.  It is largely a snob term that some people find amusing but more belongs on a grade-school playground than in any discussion among actual musicians.  One of those "my dog is better than your dog" type things.

If you think about it, isn't a 6 million dollar Stradivarius an "object" that is "violin shaped"?  Of course it is.

When you get right down to it, "VSO" is an insulting/abusive term applied usually to someone else's instrument.  Or used by people to describe an instrument of their own that someone else has made them feel ashamed of.  It helps no-one..

Much like with guitars (or anything else), you will sometimes find inexpensive instruments that are real gems, and high priced instruments that should never have left the factory's quality control department.  So ignore labels and consider 4 basic things..

1.) SOUND  Do you like the sound?  Sure, as a noob, you could probably make Itzhak Perlman's fave Stradivarius sound like a cat being put through a document shredder.. So go by what sounds good to you of instruments owned by people you know (including online) where you can hear a sample, and where they have been playing for maybe a year or two.  If they can get sounds you like, chances are you can too.  Demos by a pro like Fiddlerman can be good, but also can be a bit misleading (unintentionally).  He can make some instruments sound good that a beginner couldn't.  To take the example from guitars, since you've played those for years, YOU could take a cheap guitar with a lot of flaws and still get some ok or even good sounds out of it.  But that doesn't mean a beginner could in a year or two, or that it would be a good instrument for someone to start on. 

Fact is, though, if you can't get any sounds you like after a reasonable amount of practice, then you aren't likely to play.  Game over.

2.) FEEL  To put it simply, if the action is bad enough that you feel like you are playing on a cheese slicer rather than a musical instrument, you will not be likely to enjoy practice.  Some of that may be just set-up and stuff that can be fixed, but do you really want to start right out with having to learn how to do that?   Especially when at first you won't have any idea what "right" should feel or sound like?

3.) QUALITY  Yeah, there's a lot that a beginner may not know to look for.  But obvious things, like is it put together neatly and straight where parts come together?  Can you spot any glue "slop" or loose splinters of wood anywhere you can see of the inside?  Does it feel like it can last a while?  Giving it a good look-over, does it look like a pound of wood that was worth what you are paying?  If it's put together crooked, crappy workmanship that even a beginner can see and etc, then it likely won't play right or last long.  

4.) LOOK  Yeah, this may seem superficial, but if you can't take at least some personal pride in your instrument then you aren't as likely to want to practice and play.  So it having a color, appearance and fittings that you like looking at is important.  Especially as a beginner, you want the instrument to have some aesthetic value that you personally appreciate.  For some that is "showroom sign", for others it might be "weathered and well played".  Whatever works for you personally.  

 

Ideally, you would go to a shop and meet the instruments in person before making a choice.  Failing that, at least make sure that any place online you order from will give you a money back guarantee if you just don't like the thing when you get it. 

So that's another 2 cents of gasoline for this particular fire.

Regarding VSO - Not true at all. The fact is, some Vioilins ARE better than others and I'm hoping to inform the OP to save them some of the hastle that I went through in the beginning. Look, I have a VSO myself, as I said, and I was able to make it playable, but not after alot of work and trial by error, even so, the tone and volume is minimal, at best. So, it's doable, and yes sometimes you can find some of these very low quality beginners instruments that can be set up to sound half way decent, but the odds are that alot of folks won't. And if you do purchase one, be willing to accept the fact that it probably will take further investment to make it playable enough to use.

However, I think it's important to find a Violin that's decent enough to be played that will inspire the student to want to continue. And besides, some of these cheaper Violins, by the time you take them to a luthier to have them set up and be "playable" you've already invested potentially another $100 or more into the instrument.

So on those merits, it would've been better to go ahead (IMHO) and invest in a Violins, per say, that's a few hundred dollars more, that will likely sound better and require less set-up and offer a more pleasurable playing experience than one that could end up being more trouble than it's worth.

You have some excellent points in your post, I totally agree, however I think VSO is just a term used to describe lower quality budget Violins that even though the price tag is appealing, may in reality be more trouble than their worth. So, I would try to steer the OP away from instruments like those. Even if it means waiting a bit longer for a better Violin to have the available funds, I think the patience will pay off IMHO.

" I just keep telling myself...."It's all about becoming one with your bow"

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Uzi
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I think we may be talking to ourselves at this point. 

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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EricBluegrassFiddle
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Well, it was a poor choice of words on my part then. I didn't mean to offend anyone, if so, I apologize.

" I just keep telling myself...."It's all about becoming one with your bow"

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coolpinkone
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I have enjoyed all the conversation here.  It is good that we can have this discussion.  I know when I was looking before I found this site the conversations where I went basically told me if I didn't spend $500 dollars, I was wasting money and time. I was so discouraged.

Now. almost three years later, I have a good violin, a  decent violin and a cheap as heck violin. (there is another violin I own also.. I don't know what category it falls into.)

I always hold out that if someone wants to learn and has limited funds, they can buy a less expensive violin and learn and it can last them a while, until  they save or have access to another instrument. 

I reluctantly post this video.. the playing is not great.. but it is 11 months ago on a $59 dollar cheap, poorly painted pink violin... My only point is that you can learn and play with a lesser quality or "cheap" violin.  And it is what some (most) would call a VSO.  However, you will see that it does play, and an earnest and eager student would be able to learn the basics on it. 

list=UUEBlAX_r5hKX78moP0ZbmhA

I am not pushing cheap instruments.   From what I understand it can be a crap shoot... sometimes it can be a disaster.  I do know a few that have learned to play on the lesser vessels and been okay.

I trust the violins offered at Fiddlerman.com as the best violins for the money with an honest family service team to make sure you are satisfied. 

Vibrato Desperato.... Desperately seeking vibrato

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