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My name is Amanda and I am 28 years old. I currently do not play an instrument but I have long had the dream of learning to play the violin. I wanted to play as a child however, my parents wouldn't let me. I've been watching a lot of YouTube videos and tutorials on the violin. Money is tight right now but I hope to save up for a decent beginner violin within the next year. I actually have a violin that I found at my boyfriend's parent's house when they were moving. The body itself looks to be in good shape, however, the strings and bow look to be in terrible shape. I have a feeling it is a cheap violin. On the inside, I can see the name Lark and Shangai, China. If anyone knows a section in this forum that would be the best place for me to post some pictures and information about the violin in my possession to better help me find out more about it, please direct me.
Thank you Fiddlerman for directing me to this forum. I look forward to learning from this site and hopefully someday soon I can get my own violin or get the one I have in playing shape.
From what I could find, Larks are a low end starter violin, but other than that, I have no experience with them. It might be worth putting some new strings on it and giving it a go 🙂 You could post your pictures here in this thread or in this forum: https://fiddlerman.com/forum/the-violin/ 🙂
If you're not in a hurry, and don't want to be paying down a credit card payment, I would suggest putting the money aside to buy your violin vs renting. I know for me, when money is tight, I prefer to spend money on something I'm keeping, unless the shop lets the rent payments go toward buying it (I've never looked into that myself).
Hope you get to start playing soon 🙂 We'll all be happy to be here to encourage you when you do 😀
World's Okayest Fiddler
I'd say this ( https://fiddlerman.com/forum/the-violin/ ) would be the best place to post a question about that.
I'd recommend taking a picture through one of the f-holes (probably the bass side), while shining a flashlight in through the other. Depending on how close you can get the camera, you may have to take two or three to get the whole label.
I have read about the Lark brand in passing, as an older instrument that was, I hate to tell you, truly horrible. The worst that the Chinese make these days is at least bearable (although you could still get burned trying to go super cheap), and it ranges up to some very good ones. But back in the 70s and 80s, the quality wasn't nearly so good.
One bit of advice on buying a violin, based on my personal experience. Buying a relatively inexpensive one off of someplace like Amazon will probably cost you in the long run. I did a fair amount of research and bought what I thought was well away from the bottom of the line (it was the Stentor Graduate for about $250). It had enough issues that I had to take it to a local luthier and get it worked on. He did a lot more than the basics, so that ran me about $350. I hadn't discovered the Fiddlerman site at that point. If I had it to do over again, I would either get the Apprentice (so I wouldn't be spending too much to find out how much I liked it), or saved up some more and gotten a Master, as an instrument that would last me through 3-4 years of learning.
Although I do think well of Fiddlerman's stuff, I'm not saying they are the only people you can/should buy from. But wherever you get it from, make sure a professional setup is part of the price. It will cost you more in the long run that cheap-up-front + repairs will, and you'll have a better instrument after it's all done with.
If you are considering the rental option, look into places that do a rent-to-own program. In many cases, 100% of your rental goes toward the purchase. (Never have figured out how that's economical for them, but they are out there.) There are also some where you can trade in one violin that you've been renting and upgrade to a better one, and a high percentage (maybe even 100%, I can't recall now) of the money you've put on the first one applies to the second. So you can start cheap, but not lose much in switching to a better instrument when you can afford it. It would take 2-3 years, but you could end up with a fairly nice instrument that way.
I don't think Fiddlerman has that option unless you're local to them (Miami, Fl, roughly), but it wouldn't hurt to call and ask. They aren't high-pressure sales types, so they're "safe" to call. 🙂
If they don't do it (and aren't near you), I think Shar Music has a program like that, and they ship all over the US. (Don't believe it's available internationally.)
If your looking for inexpensive, watch the video review of the Cecilio Fiddlerman ordered online because it was under $100.00. It was to come with a case, bow, and extra pair of strings. He discovered it came with 2 bows, extra strings, a digital tuner, a shoulder rest, an extra bridge and a case. He played it and was suitably impressed with it to carry them as a super cheap option for beginning players. The + of buying it from The Fiddlershop, is the replacement guarantee on things ordered from them, and they setup all the violins they ship out. Worth taking a look. Better than buying a $99.00 violin from Amazon and being dissatisfied. Of course, there are better violins, and it is recommended you buy the best you can afford. However, if around $100.00 is all you can afford, go for it! Oh, FM has free shipping on all orders over 25.00.
As others have said, you don't have to order from the Fiddlershop but it is a definitely good option! I personally am sold on their integrity.
"Reality is an illusion, albeit a persistent one".- Albert Einstein
A couple of minor corrections: The $99 price was several years ago when Pierre first made the video. The price is up to $109 now. (I believe the shipping is still free, though.)
It is also one of the few they sell that they do NOT do setup on. There's a note in red at the bottom of the page to that effect. These are what is referred to as "drop shipped", meaning FM gets your order, forwards it to Cecelio, who then ships it direct to you. It's one of the big reasons they're so cheap while still being halfway decent.
Cecelio has done good things for the market. Their low-end stuff (the $100-$200 range) are cheap violins, as opposed to the dreaded Violin Shaped Objects.
Amanda, which I'd recommend for you depends on how sure you are that you want to learn violin. If you're sure, save up your money for a better one. If you're not sure, one of the low-end Cecelio's wouldn't be a bad way to experiment. (Be aware, even in that price range, you don't get what you don't pay for. A CVN-300 or CVN-500 is going to be a better instrument than a CVN-Colored is going to be. (On the other hand, if a red or blue violin will get you hooked for sure, go with the CVN-Colored. 🙂 )
Thank you all for responding. After reading what advice you all have given me, I have decided that I will not be renting. Also, upon further research and study of the violin I have in my possession, I will not be restoring that instrument as I feel for such a cheap violin, I'd be better off saving for a violin that will last me longer.
I have decided to save up for this specific violin with the jacket included:
In the meantime, I will continue to learn as much as possible without actually having an instrument. I look forward to sharing my progress with you all when the time comes.
Thank you all for taking the time to help me out. It is a pleasure to "meet" you all.
Edit: Fixed spelling.