Community
You must be a member to respond to discussions.
Discussion

Kevin Johnson
New member to vlab, I have been playing for 4 or 5 months. My question is, I purchased one of those $100 packages from eBay, and I think it sounds horrible. The A ans E strings especially sound tinny. At this level do I try and improve the sound by investing in New strings, or start over with a better instrument...or keep on hating the sound. I am super committed, and fully intend to learn this instrument. If a new violin, what are some reccomendations? Thanks I love this site!
Kevin Johnson
22 Responses
Posted: February 8, 2015
Last Comment: February 15, 2015
Replies

Gian Paolo
Posted: February 15, 2015
Great video Beth! Thank you!

Kevin Johnson
Posted: February 15, 2015
Thanks Beth and husband, the measurements were near perfect, except, the last one at the bridge. This one, unfortunately, was closer to 24 mm max.  Not sure what to do with that but it is still a major improvement over what I had. Btw, I have decided that even though I have been using the American Fiddle Method, I am going to back up and review the Suzuki books as I think I can get better instruction here having them. And they are available for Kindle down load for $5 or $6.

Beth Blackerby
Posted: February 15, 2015
This discussion includes members-only video content

Hi Kevin,

For $295, a vintage instrument from a local shop is a great deal!!  Even if you have to spend money on the set up, its still a great deal, so good for you! The bridge thinness isn't a problem except that it will be more susceptible to warping. Most importantly though is how well the feet fit. I'm posting a video my husband made (informally) for someone who lived very far a way and needed some guidance as to what to check for in searching for vintage instruments. Sometimes over time, the neck angles will droop. I hope this helps.

E.J.
Posted: February 15, 2015
Your gear-type tuners should do a good job and be very convenient. I wouldn't worry about the thinness of the bridge as long as it sounds OK. I use the rubber mute that has five prongs like a little comb. It stays put on a thin bridge.

By the way I like Henry's big black nose! Too bad he doesn't appreciate your playing. I have two cats and they like the violin. One of them got up on the back of the sofa when I was playing and I thought he was going to jump up on my shoulders!



Kevin Johnson
Posted: February 15, 2015
I have had a few comments on the lack of fine tuners. My cheap(er) violin had them so I am familiar with how they work. The pegs on this violin are not friction pegs, but actually screw in, they seem to be easy to tune as you can move them in very small increments, and they stay put.  I have read both positive and negative about this type of peg, but as they were made about 60 years ago, and seem to work really well, I don't see a problem.  Here's another question, the bridge is very thin, so thin my mute will not fit, is that a bad thing??

george #
Posted: February 15, 2015

HI KEVIN..LOOKS LIKE YOU GOT A DESCENT VIOLIN !  IT DOESN'T APPEAR TO HAVE THE FINE-TUNERS , ON THE TAIL PIECE THE STRINGS ATTACH TO, BEHIND THE BRIDGE-----IT LOOKS AS IF YOU NEED TO TUNE ALL 4 STRINGS WITH THE PEGS ???     ...A TOUGH JOB FOR EVEN A STUDENT OF SEVERAL YEARS......IF THERE IS NO ''FINE TUNER'' little knob ON THE 'E' STRING-YOU SHOULD GET ON PUT ON--THE 'E' BREAKS EASILY ...WITH VERY LITTLE TURNING OF THE PEG.....

JUST AN OBSERVATION  AND  SUGGESTION....GOOD PLAYING !!


Jaime - Orlando , Fl
Posted: February 12, 2015
Kevin, welcome to violin lab'
I too have a Chinese fabricated student violin. I got it as a gift from one of those exclusive catalogs ( http://www.hammacher.com/) .  I think I was lucky because the violin turned out decent! Very few issues at the beginning with the pegs stability and fine tuner knobs, but other than that, so far so good!
Yours look good indeed! Hope that if you take it to a luthier will be a matter of minor adjustments! 

Good luck! 

E.J.
Posted: February 12, 2015
Kevin, your violin looks very nice. But you will wish that you had fine tuners on the strings. Talk to the music  store about fine tuners.

Kevin Johnson
Posted: February 12, 2015
Thanks again Diane we do have a luther about 30 miles away, so that will be my next stop. If I get brave enough I may post a video to see what everyone thinks. As far as the bow, I am not entirely sure it's a weight issue, I just don't think it sounds as good, clean maybe, not sure, is there such a thing as a break in period? Thanks so much for your input, I so impressed you would take the time for a total stranger.  Oh regarding Henry, the dog, he really doesn't seem to appreciate my music, I try not to get offended.

Diane in SOCAL
Posted: February 12, 2015
  Hi Kevin…one other thing I thought of:  go down on the Community Page here and read about another new member, Gian Paolo from Italy.  Read his story of his violin purchase. 
Some good comments from Beth and others that might help you as well. 
Stay tuned. Diane in SOCal

Diane in SOCAL
Posted: February 12, 2015
    Hi Kevin.  I think you good a good deal with the violin…we have several of those violins here in our shop…we use 2 of them for rentals and they are good sounding instruments.  So, here's the possible not so good news.  Music stores do not have trained
 violin luthiers working in them.  So your setup…the string length from the nut to the bridge and then the string length from the bridge to the saddle may be off, the  height bridge, the cut of the bridge and the shape of the fingerboard, along with the height of the nut..the small eboy piece that holds the string up and over the fingerboard up at the end of the pegbox, all these things might not be set up to professional standard.  By that I mean, there are certain standard measurements that train luthiers will adhere to so that the instrument sounds the best and will be easy to play.  If the nut and bridge are too high, then you run the risk of not being able to play good intonation or worst, hurt the tips of your fingers.  Here's what I would recommend to you.  Take the violin and bow to a good violin shop with a luthier and ask them to check the violin  over for you…so you know what you have in a setup instrument.  While your there you might want to look at carbon fiber bows, ask for a bow in grams weight around 60.5 - 62 grams, those will be a good weight so you will not tire your bowing arm with too heavy or too lite a bow. …the music store probably gave you a fiberglass bow which can be on the heavy side….we give these to kids so they don't break!!!!  LOL.   The violin looks lovely and your dog seems to like it as well from the expression…so cute a pup.!!!!!   I think you did ok…I would just get another bow and have the violin checked for setup and possibly a good set of synthetic core strings.  Zyex, or Tonica strings with a Lenzner, Goldbrokot E string, ordered from Sharmusic.com) would be a good choice for a student setup that will sound good and perform well and tune easy.  Each violin will be different with different sets of strings.  That why when you look at bows and try them out…take the violin with you and play the bow your looking at with your violin…hopefully with a good set of strings on it!  : >)
So glad for you…you did all right.  I too am fond of vintage instruments and bows..it's a very bad disease…violinitis I call it.  : >)   Hope you don't catch it…its rare buy costly!
Stay tuned and have fun.    Diane in SoCal

Kevin Johnson
Posted: February 12, 2015
Forgot to say I love it! Except the bow.  Thanks for your Feedback.

Kevin Johnson
Posted: February 12, 2015
Well ok, confession, while many of you gave me wonderful advice, and I did look at instruments on each of the sites, I ended up doing something completely different. I am a sucker for buying vintage and used instead of new, and finding good deals. Got the first not sure about the second.  I went to our local music store (I know not a violin shop) and purchased a 1950s German made Ton Klar "The David".  While my research shows the we're not the highest quality, "the David" was supposed to be the exception.  With original case, and he put in a new fibreglass bow, all for $295. Ok besides the obvious did I just through good money away, what's the deal with the bow, feels really heavey compared to my "cheep" bow.  See pictures.

Kevin Johnson
Posted: February 9, 2015
Thanks Beth and everyone, makes feel better that I'm not alone, and that the sound is not totally my fault. Yes Monica very close to Bentonville, and I will check out Beth's suggestion. The current violin will make nice wall art I guess. Thanks everyone this place is awesome!

Elke Meier
Posted: February 9, 2015
Kevin, if you are new here, you might not have heard of Christa's experience with her violins, she might be able to give you good advice on where to rent a violin and where not to. I started with a rented violin, because I did not know whether I could even learn at my age any more, nor whether I would enjoy it in the long run. When I told a good friend about starting to save for my own violin (that was after playing for about three or four months), she told me: "Don't buy one now. Wait until you have played for about a year." She is a musician herself and she said that in her experience, if people made it past the first year, there was a good chance they would stick with the instrument. The first excitement has blown off and reality has set in. I didn't quite like to hear this kind of advice (how could she question my passion for this instrument???) but I still thought it was wise advise and I took it :).

george #
Posted: February 9, 2015
HELLO KEVIN, YOU ASKED THE RIGHT QUESTION QUICKLY !..WHEN I STARTED -I HAD NOT DISCOVERED BETH'S 'VIOLIN LAB' ...SO DIDN'T HAVE THE BENEFIT OF ALL THE WISDOM AND EXPERIENCE AVAILABLE FROM BETH AND THE COMMUNITY... ...I DID BETTER THAN YOU DID !!!! I FOUND ONE FOR $59 ! IN A MAIL-ORDER CATALOG , FREE SHIPPING !!! SO '' I'LL BET BETH IS RIGHT ABOUT THE CHINEESE VIOLINS'' !!! IN A SHORT TIME I DISCOVERED THE SAME PROBLEMS WITH THE 'VIOLIN SHAPED OBJECT' THAT YOU DID...I WENT TO A MUSIC STORE ( BIG ON GUITARS) FOUND AN INSTRUCTOR AND TOOK A FEW LWSSONS, TOO...BOUGHT A VIOLIN THAT ''LOOKED'' LIKE IT WAS SET UP PRETTY GOOD----EASIER TO PLAY--BUT B A D TONE AND PLAYING WITH DESCENT INTONATION WAS NOT POSSIBLE... AFTER A WHILE I STUDIED WITH BETH -HERE- AND PURCHASED A NICE VIOLIN FROM THEIR STORE.. AND LEARNED THAT 'DIANE,SO CAL' WAS ALSO A TEACHER AND HER HUSBAND IS A VIOLIN MAKER -LUTHIER , WITH A VIOLIN SHOP...DIANE HAS TAUGHT ME A LOT OVER THE LAST SEVERAL YEARS , TOO !...ONE BIG THING I FOUND WAS THE BOW IS AN IMPORTANT AND NECESSARY PART OF THE 'VIOLIN'..A GOOD STUDENT/INTERMEDIATE BOW CAN BE PURCHASED FOR AROUND $300 -FROM A ''REAL'' VIOLIN SHOP..I bought a great bow from Diane's shop..and I had purchased 1/2 dozen cheap bows from the internet and they all may as well have been dowel-rods-from ''home depot''..!! enough said...[ there was no violin shop near me--or I would have rented a student violin as Beth and Diane and the folks suggest..] Hope this is of some help ..George

Hélène Mathers
Posted: February 9, 2015
Kevin, welcome!  Here's my cheap violin story.  

Years ago, way before I was ready to start learning, I bought a package deal:  violin, bow, rosin and case for $120.  I knew absolutely nothing about violins so it looked just fine to me.  A few years later, I started lessons.  I was all proud to finally use my violin.  That's when I really found out about the ''deal'' I had had.  

My teacher couldn't even tune it...  Or rather, she could tune it for a few seconds and it would go out of tune immediately.  You could actually see the pegs turning back and she couldn't push them to lock them in position.  Then, when it was time to put everything back in the case, all proud of my restricted knowledge, I said ''and now I should release the tension in the bow so the wood doesn't bend'' and she replied:  ''no need, your bow is not wood, it's plastic.''  At that point, I had to laugh and knew that I would need a better violin and bow before my next lesson unless I wanted to stick to theory forever.

The good news is that you don't have to pay an exorbitant price for a good student violin and bow.  They have to be good enough not to hinder your progress.  I replaced mine in stages.  A new violin first, a few weeks later a new bow and just recently a new case.  Now, I'm experimenting with different kinds of strings and bows.  It's a wonderful adventure, you'll love it!

Monica Seebode
Posted: February 9, 2015
Kevin, are you anywhere near Bentonville? I know that Janet Davis Acoustic Music is located there. I bought my violin from them because they donated the guitar I won at a raffle and I wanted to give them my business. I found them to be very helpful. I think they support the bluegrass community more than classical instrumentalists, but they know their instruments.

Beth Blackerby
Posted: February 9, 2015
Kevin, Can you return your $100 special? I would sure try and do that. Those instruments aren't even meant to be playable. I heard that some Chinese companies make no money selling these things, but make money by receiving bonuses from the Chinese government for the amount of exports they are able to make. This is not true of all Chinese violin companies of course, but anything that cheap is really that cheap. I did a quick search, as I'm sure you did as well and found this shop:  http://www.palmerviolins.com/.  I hope this shop is nearby for you. They look very reputable.

Kevin Johnson
Posted: February 9, 2015
Thanks Diane for your quick and informative response, I am in NW Arkansas, so I am not sure what is available, but now know what to look for, and will start researching. Thanks again!

Diane in SOCAL
Posted: February 9, 2015
  Sorry Kevin, that should read:  music store is not the same as a violin shop.  Diane 

Diane in SOCAL
Posted: February 9, 2015
  Hi Kevin…welcome to the Community here and the joy of the violin. Your $100 special could be fixed but at what cost.  Do you live near a violin shop with a luthier…a music 
is not the same thing BTW, they do not have trained luthiers…but they can try and make you believe so.  Taking your violin to a luthier and asking what it might need in the way of setup.  These inexpensive violins usually have problems with the bridge, the nut, the shape of the fingerboard. and other assorted problems.  Sometime the woods used are of very poor quality.  The woods are not seasoned and the black wood parts…fingerboard, tailpiece, nut and pegs are usually painted soft woods and not ebony which is a hard wood. You could try a new set of strings.  I would recommend not putting a lot of money into a set of strings.  Pro-Arts, (D'Addario) are a synthetic core string that you can find on Ebay or Sharmusic.com. They are not expensive.
What I would recommend is going to a violin shop and renting a good student violin, one that is setup correctly by a luthier and has good strings…you rent an outfit…a violin, a student bow and a case.  A shoulder rest is something you would have to buy.  Renting a nice student violin will give you a better chance at progress.  Ask the violin shop to help 
you with a chin rest that is the right height with your shoulder rest so that your playing
comfortable.  Then when you rent you can shop around for a better violin…most shops have rent to own programs..where the cost of the rental is applied to the cost of the violin..sometimes 80 to 100 percent.  Sharmusic rents, so if your in the states you can call their 800 number and they will set you up.  There are some violin internet stores that rent, but in our experience (my husband and I own a shop here in SoCal), they are more trouble than they are worth.  If your in the Austin area…Beth has a wonderful store and they sell and rent instruments as well. 
So, there are two ways to go here:  fixing up your $100 special (that could run up to a few hundred dollars) or renting one until you find a good, student violin that will be good for a few years while your learning.  If you have a teacher, ask the teacher for recommendations on rental/violin shops.  Hope this helps.  Finding a nice instrument will be a pleasure to play on, will sound good and the most important factor…you will progress in your learning because the violin is setup correctly and plays well. Nice strings help to.
Stay tuned. Diane in SoCal