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Better violin or upgrade cheap one?
Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 (1 votes) 
February 7, 2013 - 1:15 pm
Member Since: January 21, 2013
Forum Posts: 13
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Hello again, and thanks to everyone who made me feel welcomed when I introduced myself. I have a feeling this is going to be a great and friendly group of people.

I have a question about the violin I bought a few weeks ago. It was more of an impulse buy than anything and I didn't have much to choose from (one music shop in town, which mainly have guitars). I was just eager to get one and start playing :) . Anyways, it's a Palatino V-350 (I think that's the number) for $100 even. After reading a few reviews off of Amazon, some of the feelings about it ranged from a OK beginner violin to being a piece of trash. Now seeing I want to make a commitment to learn to play, I would like to invest more into it. Someone suggested that it was a pretty good violin once you changed the bridge, and strings, and bow, and maybe even the tailpiece.

Since I don't have much experience with this type of thing yet, I was just wondering about any of your opinions? Would it be worth it to "upgrade" the one I have, or should I invest in a better beginner violin? I kinda had my eyes on the Concert Master on the shop, if I get a new one.

Thanks for your help.


February 7, 2013 - 1:51 pm
Member Since: December 14, 2012
Forum Posts: 256
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Hi Darren,

I had a used Palatino V350 outfit this past summer, bought off eBay, when I was testing the current crop of inexpensive Chinese violins. It wasn't bad, overall. All these cheap outfits need better strings--that's the first thing I'd do. I suggest Fiddlershop's Pro-Arte synthetic strings. The bow could stand to be replaced too, though if you're just starting out it will do for now. Fiddlershop's nice carbon fiber bow would be one you'd never have to upgrade. The nut on the violin is usually too high on these cheap violins, but varies from violin to violin and maybe you got lucky and yours is low enough for easy string-pressing. So for a relatively small amount of money you could just get better strings and use the violin as-is for some time. Or if the expense isn't a problem, of course buying a better violin outfit such as the ConcertMaster you mention from Fiddlershop would be a very nice present to yourself. Then you could donate your V350 outfit to someone, or keep it as a backup. 

Merritt Island, Fla
Pro advisor

February 7, 2013 - 2:01 pm
Member Since: June 25, 2012
Forum Posts: 1281
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Steves' hit the nail on the head imo. You will have to put better strings on it eventually anyways, a better bridge too. I dont think the tailpiece would matter unless you just dont like the looks of it. There is something to be said for string afterlength though and the right tailpiece will help with that. The single best thing you could do for yourself after the better strings is get the carbon fiber bow and Fiddlershops is the least expensive one I have seen. I say this because even if you upgrade the quality of the instrument itself you will still want a better setup and bow on that one too. Fiddlerman approved concertmaster may be the last one you ever need to buy though.

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


February 7, 2013 - 7:35 pm
Member Since: May 4, 2012
Forum Posts: 2379
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@mushroom_ff: Well, it's most likely better than nothing, anyway.  Personally, I think if it got you to want to get started, it was worth what you paid. 

I think the most important question is "What does it sound like right now?"  Do you like it, or at least like it well enough for right now?

But the question is whether it is worth putting more money into, and that largely depends on how much you want to learn about working on violins, as opposed to playing them.   If you put on new strings and a new bridge (or maybe trim the one it has, depending on how bad it is), you probably would barely recognize it so far as sound and feel.  Even just better strings than what came on it from the factory tend to be a big help.  

So say at a minimum, new strings and rosin, maybe a new bow.  The rosin and bow you could also use later if you decide to spend a bit more on a violin instead of upgrading this one, so they're pretty safe purchases.

On the other hand, putting on some moderately nice strings, a new bridge, and a new tailpiece could easily run over 50-60$.  That's assuming you do the work yourself and don't make any serious mistakes, and you buy the parts from online.  Paying actual music shop prices or having a shop or luthier do the work, you would most likely pay more than that.  

That can be very worthwhile if you want to learn about the instrument itself, how it is put together and what part does what.  But if your interest is more just on getting playing, you might be better off shopping around for another violin.  You could probably find something you'd like better for 200 or less.

"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

February 8, 2013 - 9:45 pm
Member Since: January 21, 2013
Forum Posts: 13
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Thanks for the feedback guys.

I think I may go ahead for now and get some new strings and bridge for the one I have right now and get a nice bow and rosin. Like you said, I can use the bow and rosin on the next one I get, so no problem there. Maybe later on in the year I'll get a new violin, once I get some experience under my belt.

Fort Lauderdale
February 8, 2013 - 10:08 pm
Member Since: September 26, 2010
Forum Posts: 14479

Good plan. You never know, this instrument could turn out great. Be sure to follow some good instructions on fitting your new bridge.
We have a couple great ones on this site. Here is Kevin's guide:

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

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