Please feel free to share. “The Little Drummer Boy Project”
So, I've always loved hearing the violin. No matter what style of music, I love the sound of the instrument. I play guitar (kind of), and I can read music a little, and I have a decent ear, I thought it couldn't hurt to try.
I ordered a violin with some WalMart gift cards I got for X-Mas, the Mendini MV-300. I waited with great anticipation for UPS to show up at my door. I'm 47, and happily married for 26 years, so it was an odd feeling being this excited over something. I understand it's a good thing, but still, my life has been in a rut for years. A good rut, but nothing new or exciting.
Yesterday, the violin arrived. Wow, what a let down. First, it's not fully finished. There is a lot of bare wood showing. Two of the fine tuners were not screwed into the tailpiece, they were just rattling around in the case. The holes were bad, but luckily I had the right size taps in my toolbox from back when I flew RC helicopters.Then, trying to tune it up, the pegs didn't hold. So, I haunted YouTube for a while, and came up with the info I needed to fix them. Kind of. Also, it seemed like the nut was not spaced right, the G and E strings seemed to be too close to the center of the neck. I checked YouTube yet again, and I was right. I haven't fixed this problem yet, but I do setup and repair guitars, so I'm not afraid to try at a later date. Also, by bow swings hard to the right.
I was so frustrated, but you know what? I can play it. Sure, it's not perfect, but I can make almost correct sounds and I really enjoy playing. I ordered a carbon bow and some better rosin (from here), and I guess I'll be making the best I can of this sub - standard violin until I can get something better.
I went for the Cecilio CVN-500. Cecilio is the same company that makes the Mendini violins. The CVN-500 cost a bit, but it is a nice instrument. But even at that price range, the workmanship and varnish job could have been better. But I was lucky to get one with a good flaming pattern, and the defects are not too bad. At least it plays well and sounds good.
It seems to me that buying any of the affordable violins is like playing the lottery. You could get one built by a beginner, with no skill or aptitude, or someone more experienced with skill and aptitude, and there is no way to know which one of these, or at what end of the spectrum between the two, you will get. Nor are you guaranteed that you will get an instrument with good grain patterns, and/or flames markings if it comes with those (or was supposed to come with those).
First I own 3 of this companies violins. 2 Cecilio and a Mendini.
That said I know that quality control is not their strong point.
all 3 sound good but the finish on 2 leave alot to be desired, but I got what I paid for as the 2 with the questionable finishes are the low end models. This does not bother me as they sound good.
I hope that you enjoy your violin, and make good strides with it till you get good enough to need a better one.
With violins there is no fretting over the music.
I am thinking that this is the perfect violin for you. I believe this violin will cause you to learn more about violins than any other you could have purchased. Here is what I think you can purchase to help you on your journey:
Hill peg compound $10, until you get that you can use a birthday candle and some chalk
sound post tool $10, until you get that you can use a loop of thread through a straw
Fiddlerman strings will cause an immediate improvement in sound
Within 6 months plan on getting a Fiddlerman carbon bow. It is the best.
I'm glad you are here.
Hi! Welcome to the forum!
World's Okayest Fiddler
Thanks everyone for the encouragement. I did already order a CF bow (from this site) as I discovered the store before I noticed it had a forum. As it was pointed out to me, I'm just looking at this the wrong way. I do have an intimate knowledge of the violin now after having to dive into the repairs (I chose to fix it rather than return it) but I already know what I'm buying next. That Fiddlerman concert violin looks nice, and it comes set up already.
Just a note of caution:
GAS (guitar acquisition Syndrome) is something with which you might be familiar. VAS is even more powerful,,and never ending. And then chasing the perfect chin rest, shoulder rest and even worse the perfect set of strings!!! It might cause you to start mumbling like the rest of us.
damfino, I will be YouTubing it. So far, I'm doing alright. I bought a fiddlerman bow, it's a lot nicer than the bow that came with my violin (but I think I over did the rosin), and today I bought a new set of strings and it made a HUGE difference. Not so much in tone, more in tuning stability. Luckily, I am a guitar player, so I can hear when my intonation is off and adjust easily. Plus, I know some theory, so that helps. My biggest issue is bowing, but that will come in time.
MrYikes, GAS is actually Gear Acquisition Syndrome. Not just the guitars, but pedals, amps, strings, etc. Unfortunately, I have developed a taste for the finer gear (Gibson, Jackson, Orange amps) because I've been doing this long enough to feel or hear the difference. I already bought my second violin, a Cecilio electric (style 1), but only because I need variety to keep me interested. I know it won't make me any better.
Also, honestly, I am in shock that the strings made such a huge difference. They are just D'Addario preludes, but they stay in tune way better and sing more. Normally, the differences in gear are not so profound.
I've been using the Helicore's on my basic violin and my 5/4 one (a viola restrung as a violin). I like them pretty well. My teacher recommended them, said they sound warmer than normal steel strings. Not as warm as good synthetics, but they last a lot longer, so if they're warm enough to suit you, they're a good deal.
I may try out a set of Helicore strings soon-ish then. Not right away though.
I think my fingertips prefer synthetic core strings. Steel core strings seem to feel harder and do more nerve damage. I am getting used to the loss of feeling at my left hand fingertips, but it is still not desirable.
In addition to getting older, I am diabetic and prone to nerve damage, unfortunately.
LOL - after a "bad experience" with Thomastik Visions ( the basic ones, not the Solos ) - which, when I have time, I'll expand upon - I'm exchanging them via the UK supplier for a set of Helicores !
Although I prefer synths in general, I do like the Preludes for some things but I've also heard a lot of good words about the Helicores.... They should arrive by the weekend, but not sure when I'll get around to playing them - it may be another week before I can fit them... still - always good to get get to know a new sting-type.... looking forward to it !
I seriously recommend not copying my mistakes. D'oh -
Please make your own, different mistakes, and help us all learn :-)
@Cleverpun Welcome to the forum.
I started to play the violin at 46/47 also.
I so understand your frustration. I am very pleased with your attitude. You can actually learn to play on the violin. If you can wait, I'd see about a return. Sometimes they just send a new one if you call and let you send the old one back at your leisure, if at all. It can not hurt to try, or perhaps they will send a refund. It is worth trying. (16 years in customer service...).
I hope the violin takes you out of the "rut" and into a vast world of discovery and new passions for all kinds of violin music.
Cheers, and welcome.
Vibrato Desperato.... Desperately seeking vibrato
Well, it's been two weeks. A lot can change. 🙂
I'm sure that WalMart would have taken care of me. That's not an issue. I tend to have good customer service experiences where ever I go, because I have a well adjusted attitude. Not being an asshat works wonders. Since I bought the MV-300, I have also purchased a CEVN electric violin. Since I had a violin to play, I hit me workshop with the MV-300.
As I've said, I "play" guitar, and part of that hobby was learning setup and repair, because a lot of people in this world who say they can fix things actually can't. I pulled the MV-300 apart, installed a new nut (99 cents from StewMac), reamed the peg holes, finished the body, sanded and oiled the fingerboard, repaired the tailpiece, replaced the strings, cut the bridge correctly, and now this violin has become my favorite to play. With the peg holes reamed correctly and the peg compound, she holds a tuning now, correct string height and new strings make it easy to play, and it's thicker than the CEVN which makes it easier to hold. For me, anyway. So, late at night I play the silent violin, but when I can make some noise, I like the MV-300. Sure, it's not great tonally, but I've managed to make it playable, and at my beginner level that's all I need.
It would be nice to have a fully setup and stocked workshop. 🙂
My current setups is geared for working on computers. A few basic tools, and a few specialized tools, get me by for that.
Now, I have to start getting woodworking tools, and tools specific for the violin.
Fortunately, my CVN-500 does not need a lot of work, but it does need a nut job. I have found that fixing a bridge arc, on my CEVN, was easy enough though, so I will be doing a bridge arc fix on my CVN-500 too, but it's arc is not off by as much as the CEVN's was, so it has not been a priority to fix.
One of the things I do want to work on with the CVN, at some point, though, is the varnish. Cecilio did a sloppy varnish job on my CVN-500. I need to research how to fix a bad varnish job. I did start looking that up last night, but was not finding a lot of help. Mostly, people where showing off what they could do, not telling people how they did it.
I do plan to tackle that nut job before too much longer. I will need to get the hide glue, and find instructions for the best way to remove an existing nut. I know there are pages with instructions for that job though, I just need to find them again when I am ready.
At least the nut on the CEVN is fine as it is.
Well, I was wrong about that bridge arc being better on the CVN-500. I finally took it off and checked it out. It was wrong on both the G and the E side of the bridge.
I think I remember the D and E strings were hard to play on that violin. I can see why now. Although the arc was bad, it was still more playable on the A string than the CEVN was before I fixed its bridge.
Now both violins have well shaped bridges. And having learned my lesson about sinking those string slots too low (although not too too low), I was more careful this time and the strings are more on top of the bridge and not sunk-in a touch too much.
Next, the nut, and then the varnish.