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Opinions Wanted: Rent vs. Buy?
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gracefulsong
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June 19, 2012 - 1:21 pm
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Hello,

I have a soon-to-be 8yo daughter who is ecstatic about learning to play violin. (Thanks to Lindsey Stirling's YouTube videos.) We have a local music shop that rents instruments in connection with our local school music programs. They have pretty decent rental plan for violins: $9 Trial period (1st 3 months), and $15/ month after. 100% of the rental fees go toward the purchase of your final instrument. However, I about died when they put the balance down on the contract for over $800. She is only renting a 1/4 size student violin. I asked if that figure was the actual cost/value of her violin. No, it is apparently the "starting point" for the full size violin that we will eventually need to purchase (since she will be changing sizes as she grows), and the final instrument cost is determined by which violin we choose to buy. Which makes me think that we are looking at something in the several thousands ballpark?!? That scares me a bit. Especially since I am financially responsible for the full balance if anything were to happen to that little 1/4 student violin. 

Now, on the other hand, I am at a complete loss when it comes to knowing what to look for and what would be a decent starter violin to buy. Obviously, I'd like to only spend less than a couple hundred (not $800), on an instrument at this point. I stumbled across Fiddlerman's reviews as I was doing some online research and they have been very helpful. I kind of like either the CVN-500 or the Concert Master on the Fiddlershop site. Are these fairly comparable to a student rental violin in value, quality and sound? I don't want to buy her something that is cheaper only to find that it is impossible to learn to play on.

Can anyone tell me which route will be the most cost-effective (considering we will need to be changing sizes)? I am really unsure about what my best option is. Your thoughts and opinions are most welcome.

Thank you!

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SaraO
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June 19, 2012 - 2:08 pm
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Yep, we started my eight yr old on violin last fall. We were in a very similar position. One of our local music shops has a rent-to-own program similar to yours, with the price of a full size instrument starting at around $800.

I smiled, and thanked them very much and went to the other stop that sells instruments. We bought her a starter violin that has ebony pegs and fingerboard for about $150. It is a fine starter instrument. I'll admit that the sound it had with the strings it came with was not great, but I let her wear them out before I upgraded to a nicer, synthetic core set. It made a huge improvement on the sound. It was sort of like a reward for all her months of hard work, lol.

There's nothing wrong with buying an instrument online, particularly if there is a good return policy.

Now all three kids are playing the violin. When they outgrow them, I'm confident I can resell them.

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gkeese
Amarillo, Tx
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June 19, 2012 - 4:21 pm
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N regards to buying an instrument the Cecelio is a 50/50 gamble. You'll either get a good one or a junk one. The plus side... If you get it from Fiddlershop, Pierre will always have your interest in mind. If you happen to get a bad one, he fixes the problem. He's not about making the money, but getting you or you daughter a good instrument. So there is that.
However, for rentals... I am currently waiting on my rental to arrive from another site. I've heard a lot of good things about this rental, so I'm trying it out. I'm only paying $15 a month for mine and after 24 months it is mine, free and clear OR half of my payments go towards an upgrade. It's a good deal, but I dont know about their quality. When I get mine, a fellow member is going to dobeg a sound test to see how it compares. So if you have a week or two, I can let you know if my rental is worth it.

"Everyone is a genius. But if you judge a fish on its ability to climb a tree, it will live its entire life believing that it is stupid." -Albert Einstein

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gkeese
Amarillo, Tx
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June 19, 2012 - 4:25 pm
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Also forgot to mention... My rental is new, not a used or refurbished one. Plus comes with rosin, brazil wood bow and case. dazed

"Everyone is a genius. But if you judge a fish on its ability to climb a tree, it will live its entire life believing that it is stupid." -Albert Einstein

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MikeV
Wisconsin
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June 19, 2012 - 6:14 pm
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I bought a cecilio 300 ebony. I have been happy with it. It arrived in one piece, no problems. Of course I ordered it before I found fiddlerman's website. I felt better after watching his reviews. wink

"The dictionary is the only place where success comes before work." - Mark Twain

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Kevin M.
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June 19, 2012 - 7:21 pm
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Here's how I feel about this.  I purchased a 1/4 purple Cecilio violin for my niece.  The price was around $80.00  I was shocked at how well it did sound and how easy it was for her to play. The rental violin total price is the MSRP and no one sells a violin for the MSRP. By the time you have paid off that $800.00 violin you will have a violin with an original selling price of at most $200.00 but now it's used and only worth $100.00. In the time it took to pay it off your daughter has grown and now needs a 1/2 or 3/4.  If you bought the cheaper Cecilio when time came to get the next size up the most you would be out is $80.00 and your daughter has continued her love of violin or decided to stop playing.  Now if she wants to continue buy a better quality violin.  Always remember this. No one rents anything for free. Another thing is kids love color and the color doesn't make the violin less playable just more enjoyable.

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eoj02
mooresvill, in
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June 19, 2012 - 8:57 pm
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I have to chime in.  Found an Ebay cheapy for $25.  It normally sold for about $80 with a case.  You can get all sorts of colors.  My kid loves playing on this one more than mine.  Even if it's not the best sounding violin, you can still find the notes; and with a little adjustment it doesn't sound that bad. 

Anyway, when i bought mine, the store tried to sell me on the rental, but i would have ended up paying $1200 for the violin.  I payed for it up front and only payed $400. 

 

Kids play something they think looks cool above something that sounds good.  buy pink

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springer
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June 19, 2012 - 9:55 pm
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Plus if you buy you can save the first Violin and display it some where and give it to her when she grows up.

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Fiddlerman
Fort Lauderdale
June 19, 2012 - 10:54 pm
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The Concert Master is actually a violin that even I would use on a gig. At least the demo that was sent to me was.
I had a student and her mom come to my house today and they had a violin that the shop was renting to her and the price tag is $2000. She tested the Concert Master and liked it way more.

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

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gkeese
Amarillo, Tx
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June 19, 2012 - 11:19 pm
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I love the concert master.  I want one sooo bad!  Love it! lol  I can't quit watching the vid!!

thumbs-up

"Everyone is a genius. But if you judge a fish on its ability to climb a tree, it will live its entire life believing that it is stupid." -Albert Einstein

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DanielB
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June 20, 2012 - 5:49 am
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Well, it can depend on the teacher as well.  Some teacher may have a deal going with a shop where the shop recommends them as a teacher or where they get a kickback from the shop for getting students to rent.  If that ends up being the case, they will very possibly claim anything except what the shop is renting out is "unsuitable".

Also, if you go *too* cheap, you may end up getting something that actually is in fact unsuitable in any sane person's judgement to expect a beginner to learn on. You haven't mentioned if you play, gracefulsong.  If you do, then you'll know if a violin you buy is playable enough for a beginner and how it stacks up against the rental one.  If you don't, do you maybe know anyone who could look over a violin you buy and play a few licks on it to check it out?

If you have found a teacher already, they might be willing to help.  Assuming they aren't just promoting some particular shop that makes a substantial amount of money off rentals.

Another thing that you get with a rental (at least theoretically) is it will be set up right.  If you play and know how to do at least basic set-up (or you know someone in your area who would help with that), then it is less of an advantage for rentals.  But from what I have heard and seen myself, the setup is often not well done or not done at all with inexpensive instruments you can find online. 

If you play and can check over the instrument and do any necessary set-up, or you know someone who can, then I would say buying an instrument outright is at least worth a try.  If not, and considering you don't know at this point as the child will continue her interest, that 9$ per month for the trial period sounds pretty sensible and sweet.  During that time, you can get to know some people and you'll at least have seen what an ok violin looks like so you can tell if one you buy from online seems to be as good or at least good enough. 

"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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gracefulsong
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June 20, 2012 - 9:56 am
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Thank you for all your comments!

I do not play an instrument myself, although I was a vocal performance major in college and took some music theory, I couldn't play the piano to save my life. I know nothing about the violin, except for the Fiddlerman videos that we have been watching on this page. Now, I think I could very likely play the violin if I took the time to learn. (Yikes, now I'll probably need 2 violins!)

 

So far, it looks like the general consensus is in favor of buying over renting. I had already gotten the rental violin from the shop to start the trial period (that's how I found out about the $800, it wasn't exactly disclosed up front.) I figured the $9 trial period (for all three months, so $3/mo.) was a good deal either way, whether we continue renting or not. At least I will know if she likes it and then we can decide what to buy.

 

I liked the idea of the purple Cecilio as Kevin suggested, but I am not seeing them available in anything smaller than full size. (I had seen the KK Music store's ebay listings for purple violins, and that is what eventually led me here.) If I thought that she'd be needing a larger violin quickly, I would probably start with one of these. However, she is very petite and grows slowly, so I think she'll be needing the 1/4 size for at least 2 years because it is still feeling a little big for her even now.

In that case, I might be looking at making a bit more of an investment. Which is why I was considering the CVN-500, since it looked like the reviews were favorable for it as a beginner instrument. But, I am a little concerned about the issues of quality and possible problems with a Cecilio (the 50/50 mentioned above). So, if I do end up having problems, is the time spent and the potential hassle worth it? And then there's the steel strings...

Now, at about $100 more (if the price holds), I could go with the Concert Master, which sounds like it doesn't have the potential quality issues of the cecilios plus it is already fitted with synthetic core strings (so I save myself the cost of replacing them). And I would assume that the bow included in the outfit is also of a better quality? So, in my mind, this sounds like the way to go. I just don't know (since it's on the weekly special), if it will still be that price in 2-3 months when I will be able to purchase one. Then again, maybe this is the one to consider in a couple years when she needs a larger size.

 

Our teacher we found is a family friend who is also a freelance violin instructor. She is not affiliated with the shop. I am just really excited that she gives beginner lessons for $10/lesson. It's so nice to have found something that's decently affordable. 🙂

One last question, IF I did decide to do this with her and learn to play also, since I am left-handed, would I need a different type of violin?

Thanks!

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DanielB
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June 20, 2012 - 10:27 am
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I would at least try playing it the same way that right-handed people do, gracefulsong.  I am left handed, but play violin (and most musical instruments) right handed.  I don't have any problems with it, so it is at least worth a try.

If you think about it, having your hand with the best dexterity on the fingerboard where the most complicated tasks are just makes more sense.  I've always found it kind of puzzling that right handed people play with their weakest and least agile hand being the one that has to move fastest and with most precision to finger the notes.  I don't know, tradition or something?

"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
June 20, 2012 - 2:13 pm
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In that case Barry, be patient and save because you deserve a great instrument as much time as you put into playing and learning. smile

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

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gracefulsong
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September 19, 2012 - 5:26 pm
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Well, the trial period is over and we returned the rental. My daughter enjoyed her lessons but never practiced. (I honestly think this might have been because we were all afraid to touch the thing for fear it would break and we'd be responsible for the whole $800+!) I don't really know if her exposure to the instrument was efficient enough to get a good determination on if it's something she really wants to do or not. I would like to offer her the opportunity to continue, but I now know that I want to keep the cost of her violin to around $100, so that it's not a big expense if she decides it's not for her. So, now my question is: For $100 violins, which is better? Cremona or Mendini? Or something else entirely? And why? Thanks!

P.S. Please bear in mind, we are looking for a 1/4 size, outfitted with all four fine-tuners, and I figured a colored one would be fun since she is only eight. Thanks!

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Picklefish
Merritt Island, Fla
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September 19, 2012 - 7:30 pm
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The FM has a vid about a 99$ violin he bought (full size) over the internet. came with the full outfit. so check out their website and see if it comes in 1/4 or 1/2 sizes. at 8 she might do with a full size unless she is petite.

"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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September 19, 2012 - 9:57 pm
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I know that Cremona makes good violins but they also make REAL bad ones. I had one sent here and it was so bad I just sent it back and didn't bother talking about it.
That being said, you can get lucky with either one.
If you have the chance to pay an extra $30 you should look at the CVN-300 which has ebony fittings. IMAO very important if you plan on keeping a violin for a while.

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

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Fiddlestix
Michigan, USA
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September 19, 2012 - 11:24 pm
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My son just went through the same thing with a flute he was renting for my grandaughter's school orchestra. The amount he was paying for the rental was $ 30.00 per month. He figured it out and by the time he would finish paying for rental, it was just under $ 1,400.00 for a $ 500.00 instrument. He bought one at the pawn shop for $ 150.00 and he own's it. The same make and model flute.

Too many people get sucked in by that rent to own business.

 

FM.. I posted yesterday in another topic that i'm wanting to buy a new violin and was kinida looking toward the K-550 until I saw your review on the Concert Master. Like Barry, there's a money thing, unfortunately Uncle Sam doesn't factor in musical instrument's in my Social Security check, so today I put my piano up for sale. I haven't played it for a few year's now and it's just setting there doing nothing.

Do you think that all the CM violin's are pretty much the same ?

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Kevin M.
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September 20, 2012 - 11:15 am
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Gracefulsong,

 

Are you sure about the1/4 size.  I would think a child at 8 would be closer to a 1/2.

 

VIOLIN SIZING GUIDE
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*Measure from the middle of the left palm to the neck, with left arm and hand fully extended out perpendicular to body (as if holding a violin).

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Fiddlerman
Fort Lauderdale
September 20, 2012 - 1:12 pm
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"The richest person is not the one who has the most,
but the one who needs the least."

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