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Upgrade Parts & Setup or New Violin?
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FortyNothing
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March 5, 2019 - 1:02 am
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 I'm going to take my $400 student violin on a luthier tour around the city tomorrow and see what they have to say about it, but I want to hear your thoughts about this as well.

I know it depends on the instrument on a case by case basis, but if one or more of the local luthiers thinks they can improve my violin's sound and playability with a few part upgrades and a setup, should I go for it? And how much should I trust their opinion? I'd hate to waste a couple hundred dollars on something that doesn't make a big difference.

I'm going to hear what they have to say tomorrow and update this post with their responses, but do you think I might be on the right track with upgrading parts and getting a good setup? (my setup might be fine already, idk) instead of buying an intermediate violin? Or am I wasting my money?

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Gordon Shumway
London, England
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March 5, 2019 - 4:28 am
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I can't remember what they say over on vcom. Most of the time their advice is "$10,000 is the minimum you should spend on a starter violin" (lol)

I'd guess if you bought it from a good supplier, it will probably be playing as well as it ever will.

If you got it somewhere else, then a set-up may improve it or may not, depending on whether there's anything wrong with it, like soundpost placement or a new bridge. Think of it as like servicing a car. Compared with a fiddle upgrade, it will only cost a little bit, but if you want to upgrade, upgrade.

Andrew

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bocaholly
Boca Raton, Florida
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March 5, 2019 - 8:18 am
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Enjoy your tour around town with your violin, Forty!

If possible, take your time and use the trip as an opportunity to try and compare as many violins as possible for future reference. Eventually you'll be entering into an ongoing relationship with your luthier... not just buying an upgraded, one off object so enjoy the people part too 🙂

From your 1-week-in video, it looks like the action is reasonably comfortable but a good shop will, of course, check the bridge specs and nut, and the sound post placement and may give them a free nudge as a gesture of good will. A brand new bridge (probably not necessary) shouldn't cost more than $70.

If that's all OK and you've decided to save up for a year or more before your next level violin purchase, consider swapping out that tailpiece with all of those heavy looking fine tuners. Try the Wittner or Wittner ultra-light with integrated fine tuners... or, if your pegs are in good working condition, just remove the fine tuners from G, D and A strings. Those are relatively inexpensive mods that, even I, have done a couple of times.

Looking forward to hearing about your trip around town biker

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Batto
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March 5, 2019 - 9:34 am
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I think the main question is not "if it can be improved" but *what* do you want to be improved? 

What do you feel is lacking? Sound, response, feel. Do some of the strings feel off?

Once you narrow down what you feel needs to be improved you can do a little bit of research and see what mainly affects that sound. Keep in mind depending on so many different factors I've seen that even minor things like a new bow can help.

(I've proved that to a friend by grabbing his cheap violin and my old bausch bow and showing the difference in sound.)

But it's hard to say on the internet without having any idea what you want to have improved.

Also it can save you money if you have an idea of what's *wrong* per se.  Rather than being like:

slaps down violin MAKE IT BETTER! Just do it!

I can see the option above being a bigger hit to your wallet. Mainly because improvement can be such a nuanced and opinionated thing. What sounds good to your ear might be flawless to another person's ear and so on.

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GregW
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March 5, 2019 - 7:17 pm
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Im with Batto on this.  Id try some different bows first.  Just dont pick up one you know you cant get.  Itll leave that ache inside..  Trust me..  facepalm

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Batto
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March 5, 2019 - 8:09 pm
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GregW said
Im with Batto on this.  Id try some different bows first.  Just dont pick up one you know you cant get.  Itll leave that ache inside..  Trust me..  facepalm  

What do you mean I can't afford the Francois Xavier Tourte bow! 

 

Yes while it's nice to dream, please be realistic. its better for the soul.

(And actually going to sleep at night)

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FortyNothing
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March 5, 2019 - 8:59 pm
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UPDATE: I took my violin to a luthier to give it a look over and make sure its setup was good. He said the E string was a little high, but within acceptable standards and not worth adjusting, and otherwise, it was a good setup and he said nothing he could do to it like replacing the bridge or tailpiece would make a noticeable difference.

While I was there I tried out a bunch of old German workshop violins, my favorite being a $2500 1890 Thomas Ernst. I also tried a $950 Martin Beck, but I didnt like it very much.

On my way home I took a sharp turn and went to Y. Chen's shop, a Chinese luthier who lives here but has a workshop in China where he makes his instruments.

I tried 4 in my price range and noticed a big difference compared to my current violin. They were actually very nice, resonant, and loud!

I especially liked the $800 Arcos Brasil A. Carualho silver pernambuco bow I got to use in the shop. Even made my current violin sound much better.

So at least I figured out that my current setup is fine and in order to improve the sound I need a new violin and a new bow.

So now I will start saving money and go back to these two places (and probably a couple more. I hear there's a Romanian workshop dealer in town as well).

Overall, a good day

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bocaholly
Boca Raton, Florida
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March 5, 2019 - 10:53 pm
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Thanks for the update, Forty. Always exciting to shop vicariously 🙂

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GregW
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March 5, 2019 - 11:07 pm
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Batto said

What do you mean I can't afford the Francois Xavier Tourte bow! 

 

Yes while it's nice to dream, please be realistic. its better for the soul.

(And actually going to sleep at night)  

Haha.. I had to google Franco's Xavier bow.  Learned something tonight!

 

Forty glad the fiddle was found to be ok but some cool new violin photos would've been kinda nice as well. cool

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FortyNothing
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March 5, 2019 - 11:30 pm
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@GregW here ya go.

 

First one is the $2500 1890 German Thomas Ernst

Second one is a $1500 2018 Y. Chen Azalea that I really liked

AlhfD9El.jpg

 

g9LJmUal.jpg

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GregW
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March 5, 2019 - 11:54 pm
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Well whatta yah know.  Noice! Oh youve got that itch now..better watch out fella.  😉

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Fiddlerman
Fort Lauderdale
March 6, 2019 - 10:45 am
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FortyNothing said ...........I especially liked the $800 Arcos Brasil A. Carualho silver pernambuco bow I got to use in the shop. Even made my current violin sound much better.

We sell the Arcos Brasil bows as well and offer a best price guarantee for anyone who is interested. We also buy bows made by one of their own makers available for less. Call us for more information.

In-home trials cost you nothing if you end up making a purchase and don't even cost you as much as they cost us with shipping and insurance if you don't like any of the bows. 🙂

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

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mookje
The Netherlands
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March 7, 2019 - 6:51 am
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Nice to hear that your current setup is fine, so you have time to save money for a new one 😃

 Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass. It’s about dancing in the rain!!

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