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Cecilio CVN-500
Review from an illiterate. Review from an illiterate violinist.
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agoldarbit
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July 20, 2020 - 2:23 pm
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Just bought a used CVN-500 from Goodwill.  Paid $70 for the violin and with shipping came out to a hundred.  No idea how old it is but the violin appears to be untouched, including the case.  The original rosin is a little used but my guess is someone bought it, played a little and then put in a closet to  rest.  I am completely new to violin and will be using Alison Sparrow's internet course to learn.  Played guitar on and off for 57 years.  Going to be 72 in December.  Just hope my fingers will work and I can learn to play my first song before old age gets me.  For what it's worth, the Cecilio CVN-500 is okay.  Nothing wonderful about it.  Sound is not great but very passable for a cheap factory made violin.  The tuning pegs are horrible and I put some Hills peg stuff on them which helps a bit.  I plan on purchasing a decent fiddle when President Trump distributes his covid checks again.  Got it narrowed down to an OB1 or a Cremona 588,500, or 600.  We'll see.  Problem with Fiddlerman is he has no stock right now.  It's a shame cause I live in New Port Richey Florida and it would be nice to deal with a local person (although not nice to pay the sales tax).  Wish me luck.

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MrYikes
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July 20, 2020 - 4:13 pm
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Hi and great buy.  If it were me, I would stick with the violin you have right now.  No need to think about getting something different.  I would though put on some better strings.  I suggest Fiddlerman's perlon strings or preludes if you want a steel string.  It's going to take some time for you to develop a good tone, it's not the violin it's you.  I mean no disrespect in that.  The violin you have does have a very good tone.

A very many learners try to buy a good tone and it doesn't work that way, you have to earn it.  ha.  Ever heard that before?

The other thing.  As you are learning pay attention to any pain or stiffness you feel and stop as soon as you feel it.  Walk away, take a short break.  When you come back decide what was causing that feeling and correct it.  We don't heal like we used to.

Learn all your scales.  Work on one a day maybe.  Yes I know you know them but fingering is different.  Then play old slow songs where you can have long bowings.  And then before you stop practice work on your speed.  I failed to do that part and it hinders me now.

Glad you are here.

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AndrewH
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July 20, 2020 - 5:11 pm
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MrYikes said
Hi and great buy.  If it were me, I would stick with the violin you have right now.  No need to think about getting something different.  I would though put on some better strings.  I suggest Fiddlerman's perlon strings or preludes if you want a steel string.  It's going to take some time for you to develop a good tone, it's not the violin it's you.  I mean no disrespect in that.  The violin you have does have a very good tone.

A very many learners try to buy a good tone and it doesn't work that way, you have to earn it.  ha.  Ever heard that before?

  

I disagree about this. Not because of tone, but because of the "horrible" tuning pegs. Although I agree with you that a beginner can't buy good tone, it's also important to have a violin with decent basic functionality. If the pegs are so bad as to make it hard to tune, that's a problem.

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damfino
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July 20, 2020 - 5:35 pm
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I'm with Andrew on this... no, you can't buy good tone, but if the violin you're learning on is causing more trouble than it is worth, no harm in upgrading to one that makes playing easier and more enjoyable. 

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MrYikes
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July 20, 2020 - 9:08 pm
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It doesn't take a rocket surgeon to get pegs turning well in their holes.  The violin he purchased is a decent quality violin and the pegs worked very well when it was new.  It has been sitting in a closet for x number of years without being touched.  The pegs need some exercise.  Throwing money at a new hobby is fun, but that's how his violin ended up in the closet in the first place.

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AndrewH
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July 21, 2020 - 12:37 am
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MrYikes said
It doesn't take a rocket surgeon to get pegs turning well in their holes.  The violin he purchased is a decent quality violin and the pegs worked very well when it was new.  It has been sitting in a closet for x number of years without being touched.  The pegs need some exercise.  Throwing money at a new hobby is fun, but that's how his violin ended up in the closet in the first place.

  

It really depends. That may be true if the instrument has been sitting for a relatively short time (say, up to two or three years). But the longer it has been sitting without turning the pegs, the higher the likelihood that the pegs need to be replaced or refitted because they have deformed -- and that would most likely cost more than it did to buy the violin in the first place. Also, the pegs themselves may have been poorly fitted. If common DIY solutions like peg compound don't solve the problem, and it doesn't resolve itself after a week or two of playing, then refitting may be needed.

Also note that, because violins are made with natural materials, two violins of the exact same brand and model may be vastly different in quality. This is especially true of factory violins, which are made to a pattern that ignores the natural variations in wood.

In my view, the minimum basic checklist for a beginner violin outfit is:

* Pegs and fine tuners work properly and do not slip or stick

* Bridge feet are flush against top plate when bridge is in proper location

* Strings are not too high above fingerboard

* No warping in fingerboard, bridge, or bow

* Bow hair has even tension and can be tightened without the bow going straight or pulling to one side

Defects in any of the above make a violin difficult to play and can easily cost over $100 to fix. They are really not worth tolerating if you can afford to buy something that functions better. Note that none of the list is about tone, and most reputable shops offer at least some inexpensive instruments that satisfy all the basic requirements.

I'm not saying that it's necessary to throw money at it in order to learn -- I just think it's a mistake to dismiss problems with basic functionality that someone has reported actually having.

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MrYikes
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July 21, 2020 - 8:09 am
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And I think it is a mistake to tell a new violinist that his new violin is not worth having and he needs to go out and buy a new $700 violin, when in fact the violin he has is just as good.  Having a problem with pegs is common among all of us at some time, we all learn how to deal with it and make it better.  My thinking is that this is the perfect time for the OP to learn how to make his pegs work buttery smooth again.  Because it is fun and gives a sense of accomplishment and also because I believe the violin he has is a very nice violin.  It will also allow the OP to know how much help he can get in this forum and why it would be a good thing to stick around.

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AndrewH
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July 21, 2020 - 10:23 am
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Did I ever suggest that anyone has to spend that much? Please re-read. Two of the violins that OP is considering are in the $300-400 range. I wrote out a basic checklist that one should expect even in a cheap violin, mostly things a beginner can inspect for without necessarily being able to play, and that you can find for under $200 if you shop carefully.

I'm not the one who's telling someone that he's wrong to have made plans to upgrade.

I'm also not the one who's insisting, sight unseen, that someone should continue to fight a problem that may well be (often is) an actual defect and not easily fixable. Note that I qualified my statement with an "if" -- if the pegs are still causing problems after trying the usual solutions, and giving them time to get moving again, why continue to fight them?

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MrYikes
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July 21, 2020 - 11:25 am
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Let us not get into a hissy fit.  I respect you, Andrew and what you know about violins.  I could be wrong in this, but I think I have more experience dealing with less expensive equipment and besides, I'm 75 so I have that old age thing going for me.  Let's be at peace.  Bob.

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AndrewH
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July 21, 2020 - 12:09 pm
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You do probably have much more experience with less expensive violins, as I've only ever owned one violin. But I've played some; I've tested old student violins that a surprising number of my friends have recovered from long years in storage (so I've seen some truly horrible pegs), and I've been the more experienced player going to shops with two people who were buying their first violins.

I actually think we agree more than we disagree -- I'm in total agreement with you that beginners can't buy good tone. And I think the OP got a pretty good bargain at $100 for a decent student violin whose only real problem seems to be bad pegs. I mostly wanted to point out that there are indeed good reasons for a beginner to want to upgrade very quickly, not so much for tone but for playability issues that may frustrate a new learner and may be expensive to fix.

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agoldarbit
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July 24, 2020 - 2:51 pm
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Thanks everybody for your responses, but I didn't mean to start a bunch of arguments here.  The peg problem is always fixable, and the paste seems to fix it.  Outside of that, the violin is very nice.  I was trying to decide whether to keep it or not and have ordered a set of Tonika strings to try on the fiddle.  I would rather have synthetic strings for the warmer sound.  My thoughts on which violin if I replace this one are now leaning to Cecilio CVN600 or Stentor Conservatoire 1550 and I'll probably change my mind 50 times by the time I purchase it.  I'm like a little kid in that respect.  We'll see.  Whichever I get or do I'll probably die before I get really proficient at it anyway.  At least I'll die having fun.  lol  As far as me producing tone I agree that tone is produced by my technique BUT a good instrument with good tone will sound better than an instrument that doesn't possess natural tone.  The CVN600 wood is aged for over 7 years which helps tone dramatically.  It is handmade rather than factory made, which creates a tonal difference, too.  As far as tuning pegs go, Cecilio is notorious for tuning pegs that are improperly fit.  I might even buy new pegs and a reamer if I decide to keep the 500 and fit them myself.  I used to build acoustic guitars and am more than capable of doing that.

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Irv
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July 24, 2020 - 3:40 pm
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@agoldarbit and others.  I would hesitate on upgrading to a cvn600 or, for that matter, a cvn800.  I purchased both and found them to be constructed to withstand the abuse of a football player.  You might want to go the other direction and try a Mendini MV500, which I think is the pick of the bunch.

If you are at all handy with hand tools, these are my suggestions to get the best out of your current instrument, in no particular order.

1.  Swap out current strings for fiddlerman strings.

2.  Swap out current pegs and get knilling perfection or similar by Wittner.  Remove fine tuners on tailpiece.

3.  Swap out current tailpiece with a 3/4 sized harp style tailpiece.  If you do not mind having a mis matched violin accessory, consider a box wood tail piece since it is lighter.

4.  Swap out current bow for the basic fiddlerman carbon bow.

5.  Take photo of current bridge so we can see curve, thickness, and fitment to belly plate.  Also measure height between g and e string and end of finger board.  Also, make sure that back of bridge is 90 degrees to belly plate.  A business card is a handy gauge for this.

Without deviation from the norm, progress is not possible.         —Frank Zappa

The future is already here—it’s just not very evenly distributed. —William Gibson

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Fiddlerman
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July 30, 2020 - 11:17 am
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agoldarbit said
Just bought a used CVN-500 from Goodwill.  Paid $70 for the violin and with shipping came out to a hundred.  No idea how old it is but the violin appears to be untouched, including the case.  The original rosin is a little used but my guess is someone bought it, played a little and then put in a closet to  rest.  I am completely new to violin and will be using Alison Sparrow's internet course to learn.  Played guitar on and off for 57 years.  Going to be 72 in December.  Just hope my fingers will work and I can learn to play my first song before old age gets me.  For what it's worth, the Cecilio CVN-500 is okay.  Nothing wonderful about it.  Sound is not great but very passable for a cheap factory made violin.  The tuning pegs are horrible and I put some Hills peg stuff on them which helps a bit.  I plan on purchasing a decent fiddle when President Trump distributes his covid checks again.  Got it narrowed down to an OB1 or a Cremona 588,500, or 600.  We'll see.  Problem with Fiddlerman is he has no stock right now.  It's a shame cause I live in New Port Richey Florida and it would be nice to deal with a local person (although not nice to pay the sales tax).  Wish me luck.

  

I bet that our Tower Strings violins are better than most Cecilio violins and guarantee that they are set up better. I've tested almost every Cecilio violin model.

Tower Strings is our inexpensive beginners brand and it's our own product made in our Chinese workshops. Since we don't have middlemen/distribution and ship the instruments on a container to keep costs down you get an incredible deal.

Not to say that it's not the same idea with our Fiddlerman products but you may be amazed at how good the Tower Strings Legend, Rockstar or Entertainer violin is. 🙂

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

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agoldarbit
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October 14, 2020 - 11:29 am
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I agree with Fiddlerman.  I have decided that the cvn500 I got for70.00 is worth 70.00.  I will be purchasing an OB1 or an Apprentice in beginning of December for my birthday.  I really don't want to play junk. When I built guitars I realized how critical the construction or the guitar was relative to tone.  I also know very little about violin building so don't want to play with the cvn500 any more than I already have.  After using the cvn500 for a while I don't like it.  It's sound is very variable, much more so than changes in humidity would account for  My house is set at 49% humidity continuously.  

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