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Student violin: old versus new
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iamnotanoctopus
Iowa
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December 15, 2014 - 11:45 pm
Member Since: November 12, 2014
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So I have been borrowing a 27 year old Suzuki 101rr, which I have to give back shortly, because me being excited about playing has made the lender excited about picking it up again. Boo hoo, parting is such sweet sorrow, etc. Oh, well, she told me when she loaned it to me that it was nothing to write home about, so onwards and upwards. I decided to rent a violin until I could figure out what I want as a replacement. They gave me a 2 year old Scherl and Roth R101.

Long story short: I HATE IT, I HATE IT SO MUCH. They told me it was a $1000 instrument, which I am fairly sure is not true, but I just wanted to keep practicing while I'm looking, so that is not my issue. This thing... honks? It booms and screeches and the low strings rattle my teeth, it feels like Ikea furniture and smells like chemicals and barbecue for some reason. And yet it appears to be in perfect shape. I cannot get a decent sound out of it to save my life, despite being able to make some very nice sounds with the Suzuki straight off. This is supposed to be a nice student instrument, and I dislike it so much that I actually don't even want to touch it, let alone play it. It's marginally better with the borrowed bow, as opposed to the icky fiberglass one it came with, but not by much. It squeals a little less, honks just as much, if that makes sense.

So my first question is, am I being a brat? I have had all of three lessons, I am not an experienced player, I am fully expecting to have the shop tell me it sounds that way because I suck, not because the violin sucks. And it's totally possible that a better player could make it sound decent, but I sure can't. Should I just be sucking it up until I get better? They didn't offer me a choice of violins to rent, they just gave me one. Would it do any good to ask for a different one?

My second question is, is it possible I just don't like it because it's new? It's in mint condition, it still smells like factory chemicals; I sort of wonder if it's ever even been played. Maybe it just needs some love, but I am not feeling very inclined to love it right now. I was always itching to play the Suzuki, but I am kind of mad that the rental even exists right now. (I might be having a tantrum. Maybe. A little.) Anyway. Thoughts? Advice?

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Tucson1
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December 16, 2014 - 12:16 am
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Hey ,

I feel yer pain ...there's nothing wrong with asking to try a few different violins when u rent one ...never seen a shop that would object ...

When first starting out we don't have the skill to make 'em perform well so we need the easyest , best playability we can get ...so try a few to rent as one would do when buying ...

That instrument would sell new fer around $500-$550 i think ...u can check prices online , and yep , that glass bow is like a club compared to a better bow but will do fer now ...

It will get better sounding as u get a line on proper bowing ...bow halfway between the bridge and finger board and bow away from u on the downstroke with the bow rotated in yer fingers so that it lies flat on the strings ...yer likely only bowing on the edge of the hair , sounds like ...

There's also sleeping violin syndrome where in the instrument needs to be played to wake it up to it's potential ...play the heck out of it ...

So , balls in yer court ...what's ya gonna do ?

Good playing to ya and welcome to Pierre's family of violin folk ...violin-1267

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Hermes
Agrinio, Western Greece, GR
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December 16, 2014 - 8:04 am
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I would change the violin, a.s.a.p.

I believe that the main rule is that if you don't like it, you won't play it. Why should you after all?

 

A salesman saying that a violin is in the 1000 usd price range, could mean absolutely nothing. 

Good violins in this price range that are new as well, should sound good, and could be "acceptable" by most players. Even if they are not played in (btw, @Tucson1 is right, most violins need time and proper playing to reach their full potential) they should not sound and feel that bad, as you are describing....

From what you mention above, I don't think that you are responsible for not liking the violin. It could be a violin that simply doesn's suit you, or it could be high-priced-junk (the ikea furniture exaple and the odd factory smell, add some serious points to this theory). After all, if you were the problem, you would have complained about the first violin too. (which I may assume that it had not been played for a long time -so it could behave as new in a way-since the lender decided to pick it up again? )

Return this violin, and try many other violins -maybe somewhere else- , till you find something that you really like :)

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Fiddlerman
Fort Lauderdale
December 16, 2014 - 8:36 am
Member Since: September 26, 2010
Forum Posts: 11694

iamnotanoctopus said
So I have been borrowing a 27 year old Suzuki 101rr, which I have to give back shortly, because me being excited about playing has made the lender excited about picking it up again. Boo hoo, parting is such sweet sorrow, etc. Oh, well, she told me when she loaned it to me that it was nothing to write home about, so onwards and upwards. I decided to rent a violin until I could figure out what I want as a replacement. They gave me a 2 year old Scherl and Roth R101.

Long story short: I HATE IT, I HATE IT SO MUCH. They told me it was a $1000 instrument, which I am fairly sure is not true, but I just wanted to keep practicing while I'm looking, so that is not my issue.

It really doesn't matter if they told you it was a million dollar instrument if you don't like it. True or not true doesn't make it better.

This thing... honks? It booms and screeches and the low strings rattle my teeth, it feels like Ikea furniture

What's wrong with Ikea furniture. ROFL!!!

and smells like chemicals and barbecue for some reason. And yet it appears to be in perfect shape. I cannot get a decent sound out of it to save my life, despite being able to make some very nice sounds with the Suzuki straight off.

This is proof that instruments suitable to you exist. The new instrument might not even be set up properly. I see great instruments all the time that sound terrible.

This is supposed to be a nice student instrument, and I dislike it so much that I actually don't even want to touch it, let alone play it. It's marginally better with the borrowed bow, as opposed to the icky fiberglass one it came with, but not by much. It squeals a little less, honks just as much, if that makes sense.

I wouldn't waste another second with it. I have a feeling it has a terrible sound.

So my first question is, am I being a brat?

Can't say if you are or not, but definitely not regarding this violin.

I have had all of three lessons, I am not an experienced player, I am fully expecting to have the shop tell me it sounds that way because I suck, not because the violin sucks. And it's totally possible that a better player could make it sound decent, but I sure can't. Should I just be sucking it up until I get better? They didn't offer me a choice of violins to rent, they just gave me one. Would it do any good to ask for a different one?

Completely irrelevant. If the shop says that, your reaction should be anger and not shame. Doesn't matter if you do or do not suck, you know you like the way the other violin plays and sounds way better and it's not even supposed to be a great instrument. They probably didn't give you a choice because you didn't ask for one. It would definitely be worth requesting, even demanding a different one. Also, be honest with them.

My second question is, is it possible I just don't like it because it's new? It's in mint condition, it still smells like factory chemicals; I sort of wonder if it's ever even been played. Maybe it just needs some love, but I am not feeling very inclined to love it right now. I was always itching to play the Suzuki, but I am kind of mad that the rental even exists right now. (I might be having a tantrum. Maybe. A little.) Anyway. Thoughts? Advice?

We only sell new violins at FiddlerShop.com and some of them can sound as good as my $30,000 Jan Larsson violin IMAO, almost as soon as they are strung. Depends on which violin of course, and all instruments tend to get better over age as they open up, etc.
Blame your dissatisfaction on taste but don't let them get away with not satisfying you.
If they cannot, please give us a call. We usually only rent to locals but I would make an exception. We can even set up a rent to buy contract for you. If you don't like it, BTW, you send it back, exchange, or refund, your choice.

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

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Tyberius
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December 16, 2014 - 3:29 pm
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Let me cut to the chase, Yes, you most certainly are being a brat. blink

Like has been said, if you are not comfortable with it, dislike it for whatever reasons then as a consumer of goods, you have the right to have it replaced. If the place you are renting from continues to give you a hard time with it, there's a very reputable shop close by (looks over at the sidebar links).  I have 4 Violins right now. 1 I like less then the others. I seldom if ever play it. In fact, I have stripped even the 2nd class strings from it to replace badly worn strings on one of my others.

The smell is more then likely a wax that was put on it to "spruce it up". that in itself is a big no-no. A newer instrument, you might smell the varnish a bit, but still all things else being said, get another one.

You wouldn't take a fly in your soup at a restaurant. Even if it was a world class establishment and their soup was $200 a bowl. The fly still doesn't make it good soup.

"I find your lack of Fiddle, disturbing" - Darth Vader

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DanielB
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December 16, 2014 - 6:08 pm
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I'd think of it as you are paying for an instrument that will be suitable for what you need.  If you are not getting that, then you need to talk with the shop.

But just as a thought, why did you accept the instrument in the first place, if you really don't like how it sounds?  If you really didn't like the idea of a fiberglass bow, why agree to it in the first place?  

I'm not trying to give you a hard time here.  Honest.  But did you maybe just accept whatever they handed you sight-unseen and only find out what you were dealing with when you got it home and opened the case?   The usual big benefit to buying from a bricks and mortar store is that you can try different instruments in a given price range, and select the "pick of the litter", the one you like best..

I would also suggest, if possible, that you get your teacher or any other person you know who has been playing longer than you to play it a bit while you stand maybe 15-20 ft back.  It may actually sound better than you think, from an audience perspective.  But that may or may not be what you actually want at this stage in your development. 

"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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iamnotanoctopus
Iowa
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December 17, 2014 - 6:22 pm
Member Since: November 12, 2014
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Thank you all for your responses! So yes, everyone is correct, I did take the first one they gave me without asking for others. I've never rented any kind of musical instrument, the shop intimidates the bejeezus out of me, and I didn't really know what to do or ask. If it seems like I'm putting the shop down at all, I don't mean to, they're very nice and helpful. I played the rental in the shop for a minute or two but it just felt unfamiliar. I didn't immediately hate it, and prior to that I had only ever played my borrowed violin, so I figured that was probably normal. It didn't even occur to me that they might rent me a better bow if I asked.

I'm sure they'll replace the violin if I ask, I'm just cynical and expect to be treated with annoyance when I'm a squeaky wheel. That has nothing to do with my previous experiences at this shop, just retail in general. So thank you all for reassuring me that it's totally fine to be picky, and giving me a better idea of what to ask.

And I guess I should clarify that I do make more scratchy, squeaky noises on the rental than the Suzuki, but the violin itself is the source of the honkiness I mentioned. It's not a particular thing the violin does depending on what I do to it, that's just kind of how it sounds all the time. Like Charlie Brown's mom yelling in my ear. It does seem a little better since I've been stubbornly playing the crap out of it over the past few days, but whether it's opening up or I'm just getting used to it (or I've damaged my hearing, did I mention it is LOUD), I couldn't say. The lower strings still rattle my teeth, and I still don't find it particularly fun to play. So back to the shop it goes.

Thank you so much for the offer, Fiddlerman! My friend actually has another violin she's going to let me try out for a while and buy if I like, but if that doesn't work out I will definitely give you a call. I just got my FM bow in the mail, and I am extremely pleased with it so far.

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DanielB
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December 17, 2014 - 7:10 pm
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Just one thought for you, iamnotanoctopus..

You are renting.. That involves paying money regularly. 

So you are NOT a "squeaky wheel".  You are the kind of regular customer that pays the bills at any shop. 

This means that you should be at the top priority for service, advice, and if any exception or special consideration gets given out, you would be the first in line to get it.

I know that it can seem intimidating, since it is an unfamiliar place to you... But really, unless they are a really poor quality place, they *will* do everything that you let them to make you comfortable coming in, and happy with anything you get there.

Or they will not be in business very long. LOL

You are not a "squeaky wheel", you are a VIP.  If you can possibly manage it, it may be good to give them a chance and see what they can do for you.  You may be pleasantly surprised.  Or, if not.. then you will know that you should take your business elsewhere.

"Hi, I'm (insert your name here), and I started a rental on this violin recently.  And your name is?  Nice to meet you (insert their name here).  You guys have been really great on service, but I'm not sure I'm getting along with this violin so far as tone goes.  Do you have some others of this model that I can try?  Oh, and do you have any bows that are a little lighter than this one?  I might be interested in a small upgrade there, if it wouldn't cost too much.. "

Hey, it's worth a try.  Give them a chance and see what they can do for you.  That's not being "a brat" or anything like it.  Just a customer that wants to be happy with the money they're spending at a shop.

"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
December 17, 2014 - 9:40 pm
Member Since: September 26, 2010
Forum Posts: 11694

Glad to hear that you will bring it back. Chances are you will be happier with the next one. :)
Daniel is right too, you help pay their bills.... They must treat you with respect.

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

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bfurman
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January 1, 2015 - 11:15 pm
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Just to chime in with agreement on what Daniel and FM said, you are the paying customer and should be treated with nothing less than respect.  You deserve a good-sounding rental instrument, and I can assure you that there are plenty out there.

I hope things work/worked out well for you.  Happy New Year!

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