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Hello all, 
I strongly need your advice (which is typically why i post), so PLEASE read this fully to understand where I'm coming from, as I'm on the verge of making a very rash decision which I hopefully will not regret. This is where you all come in...

My Violin Background:

So, I've been playing violin for... a little over a year now (around october/november 2010) and I'm alright. I started off with group fiddle lessons provided freely by our school, and let's just say my technique was far from proper or anything close to ideal. 

I joined violin lab around... July (?) of 2011, and i feel i have improved a lot! No, i haven't learned very much repertoire, however I feel my technique has come a long ways since my fiddling days (which i still take). However I strongly prefer classical music, and I've been aspiring to become a classical violinist for some time. 

That being said, i'm primarily a pianist so I don't have as much time as I'd like to play my violin. To top it off i also try to fit some guitar in there!! (aside from high school and friends, family, etc.)
However not long ago I restarted Beth's video lessons again to revise and correct bad habits, as I don't have a violin teacher (I've had a handful of lessons, but nothing serious -  my main source is violin lab), and I feel I've once again improved (especially with my bow hand! there is an ASTOUNDING amount of improvement!! Thanks beth!!).

So, i suppose you could say I'm content with how i'm progressing.

Main Story of Post:

Before christmas, while looking for present ideas, i was searching online and I came across a violin - I immediately felt a connection. If you guys are familiar with Harry Potter, you will know what I'm referring to when I say this, but similar to how 'the wand chooses the wizard' in their world, I felt as if this violin had chosen me; i had seen others on the site, but when I saw this one I just knew - I had to have it.

So I stared, oohed and awwed and established a strong desire for this instrument.
But... I never asked for it as it was very out of a christmas gift price range. Instead, I asked for an electric guitar and other things.
Over the next several weeks, up until last night, i had basically forgotten about this violin.
However, last night I got this urge: so i went on my phone and eventually found myself on the violin webiste: and it was still there! I felt so relieved that nobody had bought "My violin". That's when I realized - i must buy this violin!!!

So throughout all of last night and today, I have been thinking of means to purchase this violin. In order to buy it, I would most likely have to ask family members for loans and pay them back as soon as i could. If I was to borrow around 1 500$ from them, with the money I have, I would have enough money to buy the instrument.

I know already that in the end it will ultimately be my decision, but I truly do not know: do i buy the instrument? Despite not having played it, I feel already as if this instrument and I have a 'connection'. I can't really describe it... do you guys know what I'm talking about?
On the other hand, i almost don't feel as if I am "good" enough to own and instrument of this caliber. However, I fully intend to become good enough one day and I feel as if my 'soulmate in the instrument world' has already presented itself, and if I don't buy it then I will never have a shot at 'true love' (don't mind the cheesy figurative language). 

Well... Thoughts?

P.S. - According to the website, there is a 7-day refund.

Thank you for all of the time you have put into my new novel, which should be on the New York Time's Bestseller List very soon! (lol)

5 Responses
Posted: January 23, 2012
Last Comment: January 23, 2012

Posted: January 23, 2012
Sean, I enjoyed your marathon missive and I think that if you re-read it carefully, you will find that you have essentially answered your own question. You may not like your answer but you HAVE answered it. You have articulated many solid reasons and facts on the NO side. These far out weigh the unconvincing arguments presented for the Yes side.

Beth, Jack and Simon have detailed many persuasive arguments for not purchasing on-line, which I whole heartedly agree with. I'll will also just add that I think it is a big mistake to borrow money for anything outside of an education and a possibly a home. 

My advice (FWIW):
First, ponder this paradox -- If you are currently having trouble juggling your time with respect to the violin, guitar, piano and school work how will working to pay off a debt affect your already tight schedule? ...doesnít leave much time for your new love does it?

Secondly, answer this honestly: Would you really consider buying a bike, a pair of skates, or a Nimbus 2012:-) before a thorough inspection and test drive first?

Lastly, get to know the soul of your current violin first ...and donít forget the bow -- it has an anima too!  If you want to inject some new life into your current setup-- buy a new set of strings, or have your luthier give the violin a minor tune up, or have the bow rehaired -- you would be surprized at how quickly you can fall back in love with the gal in your hands.

The bottom line: Reason before passion

Posted: January 23, 2012

... I also wanted to add that buying a violin (and viola, cello etc) is very different from other instruments, including (electric) guitars, but also flutes, trumpets etc etc. 

Those instruments are all made repeatably and reliably from materials like metal and plastic whose properties are known and managed.  Each of those instruments produced will be identical to others of the same model, so buying over the internet (from well known stores) is less of a risk - you can be confident of what you're getting.

I'm sure you're aware of the unique and individual nature of (orchestral) stringed instruments so that even instruments from the same model range will be slightly and subtly different.  Buying one of these is a very personal thing and you need to spend time getting to know it before committing.

Posted: January 23, 2012
Oh dear, Sean!  I feel for you!  This is one of those head-vs-heart decisions and as you're still in high school (I think?) it won't be the last! 

Unfortunately I have to go along with the others, and the head wins this time.  I don't know whether you've seen this on ebay (private seller) or in a reputable on-line shop (perhaps you can post the link?), but spending that much money without knowing the instrument is one heck of a gamble.  Firstly, how do you know it's worth the money?  You can't always believe the price someone puts on it - especially if it's a private seller.  You will need to check the build quality of the instrument yourself, see how it plays and evaluate the tone.  Even better if you can get someone more experienced to help you with this. 

My advise would be save up the cash and take a day out to a local shop where you can handle the instruments, try several of them and discuss them with the shop staff.  I'm pretty sure you'd end up with a better quality instrument that way.

The 'connection' you have with the instrument you've seen is purely visual appeal, but it must surely be the sound and tone of the instrument that is the most important thing?

I would consider very carefully before parting with your money...

Good luck!

Posted: January 23, 2012

I'm with Beth on this one.  We all get infatuated at one time or another and while this may not be the case, I'd still proceed with caution.  An instrument, specially a stringed instrument, is something that requires you to try it first.  Get somewhat intimate with it.  I'd suggest that you play it first and see if the sound is what you imagined that it would be.  Get a feel for the instrument and then make your decision.

The seven day money back sounds great, but DO READ THE FINE PRINT.  Does it mean 7 days after purchase or 7 days after you've received it?  With shipping times, that could be something important to consider.  Some very reputable shops will let you try an instrument after you make a deposit.  If I were you, I'd try to contact the vendor and see if you can arrange something likewise.

Another thing that you might want to consider is "service".  Upon making an expensive purchase you might want to think about how repairs and or adjustments are needed and how will that be accomplished.  Do you have a reputable luthier close by? Will you have to send your instrument back for repairs if instruments are still under warranty or a service plan?  What if the instrument, for no fault at all, becomes unglued and needs repair?

These are somethings to consider before you make that investment.  I'd honestly think twice before buying an expensive violin off the internet without having a chance to try it first.

Good luck! 

Beth Blackerby
Posted: January 23, 2012
Sorry for the motherly tone, but......Sean, you are asking advice from a group of people who have surpassed your age by a long shot. When we hear your story, we are reminded of the many "crushes" and "infatuations" we experienced at your age. I think you're personifying this violin, honestly. You are falling for the outside cover. (Have you ever had a crush on someone, then get to know them, and the crush fizzles quicker than an alma seltzer tablet? If you've never played the instrument, you can't possibly know how you'll like it. I'm afraid you might be disillusioned once you draw the bow across the strings. I have seen instruments that looked as though they should sound like a million bucks, then after playing it, heard all kinds of flaws. Likewise there are those ugly ducklings out there that play beautifully. 

Having said all that, if you can get your money back after a week of playing on it, then no harm done, except shipping costs, if it isn't "the one".