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Upgrade my current violin / Or new violin?
Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 (5 votes) 
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Ginnysg
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August 8, 2013 - 11:40 am
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I almost derailed another thread, surprised  so I wanted to  start a thread and ask this question. 

I have a very inexpensive violin ($100)  it sounds ok, - and I thought the so-so quality was jus due to my inexpereince in playing.  The E string has what I can only equate to a fingers-on-the-chalkboard screech, even when I’m on the right note.  And G sounds a little gravely.  And Really, I thought it was just my poor playing.  But this weekend I had the chance to play a better violin, and the sound  was so sweet!  No gravel, no Chalkboard.

My question is, do I invest the money to try to make this one sound better (strings, bridge, and I don’t even kwno what else) or do I use that money toward a better violin?

“Music expresses that which cannot be put into words and that which cannot remain silent” 

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Kevin M.
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August 8, 2013 - 11:47 am
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From your description of the sounds you might get the biggest bang for your buck with a sound post adjustment. The next thing woulb be new strings.

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Fiddlerman
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August 8, 2013 - 1:05 pm
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Ginny,

It's very hard to answer that question because we can't know for sure how good your violin can sound. First of all, it doesn't hurt to invest in the things that Kevin suggested above even if you will later invest in a better violin. Your current violin will still hopefully be better for having done those things. It's also possible that your post is too short causing it to be located to far out, giving a brighter than usual sound.

I would start with the sound-post as Kevin suggested, then strings, and lastly have a good look at your bridge. Are the feet of the bridge flat against the violin belly? Is it thick? Was it carved additionally?

You can always buy a better instrument but this one is yours now and you want it to sound as good as possible. Some things you can do yourself but others may be benefited by consulting a luthier.

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

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DanielB
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August 8, 2013 - 1:50 pm
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Well, did you play on that better violin with your usual bow and rosin?  If not, then there are some other possibilities for the sound difference as well.

How much more expensive was the better violin you tried?  Would it or one like it be something you could possibly afford?

I was in kinda the same position a few months back, Ginny.  I had a 60$ violin I'd put some work into, and I had scraped together some budget and was thinking of getting a new bridge blank, new fingerboard, and new fittings (pegs tailpiece and perhaps chinrest).. With a new set of strings, that comes to a bit even if you've done a fair bit of price shopping.

My wife asked how much more it would cost to just buy a new violin.  Well, there were some options in the range of what I was thinking of spending on an upgrade.  One of them had a return policy if you just didn't like the sound and was a brand played by a friend on the boards here where I really liked some of the sounds she got out of it.  The place also, while it is violins made in China, check and adjust the instruments at their shop before shipping them out.
So it was worth a try, and at the worst I'd be out for postage to send it back.  I liked it from the first moment, though, and while it came with a set of steel student strings, it played and sounded quite nice.  A set of synthetic core strings and it was very much more the sound I had been hoping for.  I had put in some time playing and working on the 60$ one, though, so there was some emotional attachment.  My solution was to give my "old" violin to a buddy to get him started on playing.I'd say it depends on what you want to focus on at this time.. Learning about the instrument and how it is put together.. or how to play it.  Both very worthwhile objectives, and I personally feel a good player needs to know a fair bit about how the instrument is put together.  If a better sound for playing right now is more what you want at this time, then try some violins in a range you can afford, and see if any of them are "magic" to you. Because you might spend money for parts and the time doing assorted upgrades to your current instrument and still not get the sound you want.

"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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Kevin M.
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August 8, 2013 - 3:48 pm
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Fiddlerman said
Ginny,

It's very hard to answer that question because we can't know for sure how good your violin can sound. First of all, it doesn't hurt to invest in the things that Kevin suggested above even if you will later invest in a better violin. Your current violin will still hopefully be better for having done those things. It's also possible that your post is too short causing it to be located to far out, giving a brighter than usual sound.

I would start with the sound-post as Kevin suggested, then strings, and lastly have a good look at your bridge. Are the feet of the bridge flat against the violin belly? Is it thick? Was it carved additionally?

You can always buy a better instrument but this one is yours now and you want it to sound as good as possible. Some things you can do yourself but others may be benefited by consulting a luthier.

It was my thought exactly about the sound post being too far to the treble side of the violin and it might be too short. This would give the violin too bright of a sound on the E and too dark of a sound on the G.

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RosinedUp
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August 8, 2013 - 3:56 pm
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Ginnysg said
My question is, do I invest the money to try to make this one sound better (strings, bridge, and I don’t even kwno what else) or do I use that money toward a better violin?

I say to at least put some new strings on it.  That's because a set of Preludes will run you about $15 and could bring a big improvement.  Foolishly I played half a year on the original Cecilio strings, so that's how long I waited to hear the strings ring sympathetically when I finger a G, D, A, or E.

After strings, I think you arrive at the questions of how much you want to learn about adjusting a violin and how much you want to spend.

You want to be sure the bridge fits the belly and gives you the right string heights.  You could adjust the one you have or make a new one.  A decent bridge blank might be $7.  Besides that you need some time and some sandpaper and a few tools.   I would be inclined to make a new one so that I could always get back to where I was.

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coolpinkone
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August 8, 2013 - 5:12 pm
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Good question Ginny!

Good luck with your modifications or...... New instrument.   

Obviously I don't know much about any mods except string.... But the topic always gets my attention....

Vibrato Desperato.... Desperately seeking vibrato

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Ginnysg
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August 10, 2013 - 8:29 am
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Thanks for all the great suggestions.  I defiantly didn't want to touch the sound post, myself, and since I don't have a luthier in the area (dang... why did I move out of the city!)  I called one and he was nice enough to take the time with me over the phone.  He agreed on sound post adjustment, new bridge, and strings, and a couple other suggestions  (from his experience fixing up cheap violins)  He estimated about $200-$250, but of course that could change after he actually saw my violin.

I don't mind spending the money, but my violin only cost $100 to begin with.  So I've decided on a new violin, and then I can 'fiddle' with doing some of the work on my old one... kind of like a science experiment (and those never go wrong... right?)

SO hopefully you'll be hearing from me and my new violin soon, and if I don't blow up my old one I may post a video after improvements.crossedfingers

Thanks all!

“Music expresses that which cannot be put into words and that which cannot remain silent” 

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DanielB
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August 10, 2013 - 8:53 am
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Good thinking, Ginny.

While the price he quoted you is definitely reasonable for the work, you can almost certainly get a new violin that you like better for about that amount.  Keeping the old one to learn about doing some of the adjustments and modifications yourself turns it into a def win/win situation.

thumbs-up

"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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Picklefish
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August 10, 2013 - 9:07 am
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This is by no means a reflection of your decision or judgement on my part, I am just curious.

So, the origional cost $100. Add the $250 to upgrade it/ adjust it. When finished you have a $350 violin essentially that should sound pretty good for the skill level of the player. Still a student violin though.
or,
Purchase a new violin for $250 and still need to have all the work done to make it sound better essentially, in my opinion..... or will it?

am I wrong? Seems better to save up for a better quality violin which would be in the what price range Pierre? $500-$750 is that the next step up in quality ?

These are all the questions that rattle around in my head....for me I have a impossible time trusting others but I would definately trust Pierres opinion on purchasing. I hope you get a good un!

"Please play some wrong notes, so that we know that you are human" - said to Jascha Heifetz.

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Ginnysg
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August 10, 2013 - 9:19 am
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Yea, DanielB, I love a good win/win!

You are right Picklefish,  I'm actually just adding that $250 to my fund toward a much nicer violin.    I only started with a little cheapie because I didn't know if I could actually play the violin... but I'm enjoying it so much, and after seeing how nice a "good" violin sounded I think it's time to make a good investment.

“Music expresses that which cannot be put into words and that which cannot remain silent” 

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Picklefish
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August 10, 2013 - 9:26 am
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Ginnysg said

Yea, DanielB, I love a good win/win!

You are right Picklefish,  I'm actually just adding that $250 to my fund toward a much nicer violin.    I only started with a little cheapie because I didn't know if I could actually play the violin... but I'm enjoying it so much, and after seeing how nice a "good" violin sounded I think it's time to make a good investment.

I am glad my post didnt offend...the question remains though....At what price point will you make the leap in quality that exceeds the $100 instrument in materials and construction of the generally considered non replaceables ie glued on parts? Are all instruments machined until $1,000 price point where hand tuning comes in? Fiddlerman has found fine sounding instruments for less, he has previously posted...so how do you know what to buy and from whom?
Again, not to freak you out or anything.......just sayin.

"Please play some wrong notes, so that we know that you are human" - said to Jascha Heifetz.

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Fiddlerman
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August 10, 2013 - 9:39 am
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Ginnysg, You are completely right. For $250, which I feel is too much, you can do more than a new post, bridge and strings. Of course some luthiers charge full retail price for strings that we sell for less than half of the suggested retail cost. We sometimes only make 1 or 2 dollars on certain string sets. We do it to be competitive and to have a full service violin shop. We know that we will make profits through mass sales and the more expensive instruments. So far it is working for us and sales are increasing steadily. To be fair to the fiddle shop owners, they are not ripping you off, they need to charge more to stay in business and cover all the extra expenses of running a retail store.

The Fiddlerman Approved violins don't need new sound-posts or a new bridge or strings. They come correctly set up. If you would like to upgrade for example an apprentice ($299 complete outfit) to Zyex or Dominant strings for example, we'll only charge the price of the strings, put them on for you and you keep the original strings. Just leave a note for us to change the strings for you when checking out.

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

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Fiddlestix
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August 10, 2013 - 10:56 am
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$ 100.00 initial cost + $ 250.00 for upgrade's and adjustment's = $ 350.00 invested, but you still have a $ 100.00 violin that no matter what you do to it, still may not have quality sound you're trying to achieve. You don't up the value of an automobile by putting new tire's on it.

Check with Pierre, he'll get you a great sounding violin at a reasonable price and you won't have to porn, "lolol" rofl, your cheapy to afford it.

 

Ken.

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Fiddlerman
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August 10, 2013 - 11:03 am
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I like the idea of you keeping the original for experimenting. It's a great way to learn.

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

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Picklefish
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August 10, 2013 - 11:22 am
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Fiddlestix said

$ 100.00 initial cost + $ 250.00 for upgrade's and adjustment's = $ 350.00 invested, but you still have a $ 100.00 violin that no matter what you do to it, still may not have quality sound you're trying to achieve. You don't up the value of an automobile by putting new tire's on it.

Check with Pierre, he'll get you a great sounding violin at a reasonable price and you won't have to porn, "lolol" rofl, your cheapy to afford it.

 

Ken.

Thats what I originally thought but, there is no guarantee that the "box" ie glued together bits of a $300 violin are any differnt than those of the $100 violin. Since that in my opinion has more of an affect on how the violins potential could be, at what price does the quality improve significantly enough to justify it? Perhaps I am reading too much into the construction of these instruments. Price is set by markets, supply, demand, vendors etc...But am I wrong that the basic construction of say under $1,000 instruments is essentially the same mass production methods? So then the diffenrece between a $100, $500, and a $750 instrument is essentially the setup?

"Please play some wrong notes, so that we know that you are human" - said to Jascha Heifetz.

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DanielB
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August 10, 2013 - 12:08 pm
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I'm not an expert on quality violins, by any means, but just a few words about musical instruments in general? 

Price alone can be a very poor way to determine quality.  A Cecilio CVN 200 (to pick one more or less at random) lists with a suggested retail price of $239.99 and some vendors/shops will be happy to charge you that much.  Pierre sells them for $99.99, though.   It is going to be the same violin, whether you bought it from Pierre or paid somebody else more for it.  

Sometimes instruments that were briefly used or have only minor cosmetic blemishes can cost less, but they can still sound and play as good as the same models that were never owned or have no blemishes.

A higher price is no automatic guarantee of quality.  I don't know why, but violins seem to be even worse than guitars for people saying "Oh, you should spend this much.." 

Figuring out what you want, and paying a reasonable price for that, is more sensible than figuring out how much you can possibly afford and just hoping/assuming it will be worth the price tag.    

Ideally, you want to be able to play the instrument before buying it.  If that isn't possible, then a place that can check over the instrument and do any necessary adjustments, rather than that just has a box from a warehouse drop-shipped to you is better than just "spend a lot and pray"..

 

"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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Picklefish
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August 10, 2013 - 12:13 pm
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so then for my own interest apart from actually playing the instrument, at what price do the instruments start at that have the hand tuning and attention to detail that I personally think will make a better instrument......or does it really matter in the long run?

"Please play some wrong notes, so that we know that you are human" - said to Jascha Heifetz.

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Fiddlerman
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August 10, 2013 - 12:34 pm
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That is completely random. You can pay thousands for a violin that should have been sold for a few hundred.
The individual attention that can go into some violins varies enormously from one maker (factory) to another. Some violins are made with the heart and others are made purely for profit.

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

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Picklefish
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Well, poo in a shoebox then! I guess it all comes back to play it first or trust a pro to recommend for you.

"Please play some wrong notes, so that we know that you are human" - said to Jascha Heifetz.

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