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Last weekend I purchased used a 1/16 Franz Hoffman Maestro violin in almost new shape with a bow and a case.
I am trying to ascertain some kind of a pedigree for this violin. I know that the Franz Hoffman Maestro violin is currently sold, most notably by Shar Music. The current versions of the Maestro are made in China. Apparently the Maestro is an upscale version of the Franz Hoffman series of violins. The violin I purchased was made in 2009. Apparently this was before manufacturing was started in China for this model because the sticker inside the violin says Made in Romania. Apparently Franz Hoffman no longer makes the 1/16 size in the Maestro model.
This violin is for my grandson who wants to start learning the violin, so I'll never be able to play it because it is too small. And it is a student violin. I was just wondering if anyone wants to comment on the quality of this violin maker and this model.
I'm mainly interested in whether his eventual violin teacher will be somewhat impressed with this model or unimpressed.
My son bought a tiny cheap violin for my grandson off ebay. It can be tuned correctly and I can pick out a tune using just my pinky, but it does not have a very good tone - it is just too small.
My son bought it knowing that my grandson will grow out of it and my son can then use the thing for wall art!!
Violinist start date - May 2013
Fiddler start date - May 2014
FIDDLE- Gift from a dear friend. A 1930-40 german copy, of a french copy of a Stradivarius. BOW - $50 carbon fiber. Strings - Dominants with E Pirastro Gold string.
I agree with the FM. FH is a pretty reputable brand for a student violin in my opinion.
IMHO, brands does not matter for fractional size violin below 1/4 because they have a small voice. A used one may have a better tone, but not necessarily true. Quality strings may help improve the quality of tone, but not much.
Many people said children out grow their violin fast (I used to think, "Fast, a few months, a year?) In general, a child may out grow a violin from less than year to three years, depending on how fast the child grow and if he/she is already about to out grow the violin when he/she starts to use that specific size. For example, when my daughter first started, she used a 1/8 size violin, her arm length to center of palm was 17. or so then, at the border of using a 1/4 size, so I took the FM's advice and got her a 1/4 size and she out grew that one in two years.
I have a Hoffman, but it is from the bottom end of the line as opposed to the Maestro, which is at the top end.
I've played it for about a year and a half now with no problems. It's a solid instrument, holds tune well, and I like the sound of it.
When I got it, my old piano teacher (who was also some folks' violin teacher) dropped by to check it over for me. She said the setup was a good basic beginner setup, and she liked it. Noted that the pegs tuned smooth and held well, and that other than a couple minor cosmetic flaws she said it would be good for at least a few years to learn on.
The only thing she had an issue with was the tailpiece being carbon fibre with built in fine tuners. Some like those and some don't. She gave me a plain ebony tailpiece for xmas, so I put it on and I like it. But I'd say that is more a matter of tastes, since plenty of teachers seem to be fine with the CF tailpieces with built in fine tuners.
Anyway, it has held up well and I have had no problems with my Hoffmann. It's a 4/4, though so I do have to say I've never tried their fractional violins. As Pierre pointed out, kids grow so fast that the smaller fractionals are going to be outgrown so quickly that it may be rather pointless to spend a lot for them.
It is a beginner line though, so an advanced or even intermediate student might need to look a bit further. Judging just from mine, though, I'd say they are dependable and good enough to start on. Obviously they don't just fall apart after a week of playing or anything.
"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
I think I should take back my words about brand doesn't matter. I would like to add a few more about quality of the violin itself:
To cut down cost of production, some companies/brands do not use ebony for the pegs, nuts, saddles, tailpiece, and no purflings. The last two may not matter much but the others do especially nuts. I have seen a cheaper end violin that did not have hardwood nut on and the strings dug into the wood and thus changed the set up (string height). Also, they used painted black fingerboard that wear out much easier than ebony fingerboard (for fractional size, if a child only used it for a couple years, then it may not be a problem). They also do not use maple wood for bridge, which strings may eventually cut deeper and deeper and change the tone (cut down vibration of strings).