Tips and Tricks: How To Choose A Suitable Violin

It is very important to choose a violin which is set up properly for ease of playing. Below are some very important guidelines to consider when choosing a suitable violin.

WHY YOU SHOULDN’T BUY A CHEAP VIOLIN ON THE INTERNET (OR ANY PLACE ELSE, FOR THAT MATTER!)
Often we are asked: “What’s the difference between your violins and the ones we see on the internet for $39.99?” We welcome the question as an opportunity to EDUCATE and enlighten a concerned customer. The differences are huge, easy for us to observe but somewhat difficult to put into easy-to-understand terms. For simplicity, we are going to address the question of a good, student-level violin. As you might expect, the selection process gets much more complex the more advanced the violins and the player become. Here are the four things that set a “good” violin apart from those that are inferior and inappropriate for a student to use.

1. QUALITY OF THE WOODS AND COMPONENTS.
Violin construction has evolved very little in the past 350 years. Tops are still made from spruce, backs, sides, necks and scrolls from maple and the fittings from ebony, some other hardwoods like boxwood or rosewood or from a few, newer composites. If a violin has inferior components, sound, structural integrity and playability will be compromised. A poorly made violin will be prone to warping, cracking, going out of tune and just plain sounding bad. The saying goes: “It’s easy to make a good violin sound bad, but almost impossible to make a bad violin sound good!”. A new learner needs to have an instrument that is as easy as possible to make “sound good” to reward those hours of practice.

2. QUALITY OF THE SET UP
How a violin is “fitted” is also important. Proper bridge height, fit and curve; fingerboard shape and curve; nut height and adjustment; tailgut, tailpiece and fine tuner adjustments; properly fitted pegs; and soundpost adjustment are just some of the important aspects in well fitted violin, viola, cello or bass. Many people think that a student learner or beginner needs a violin that is set up even better than a professional. Think about it, a seasoned professional could pick up a poorly adjusted instrument and make the necessary adjustments to try to get the instrument to make a decent tone. A beginner needs the violin to work right, right away. Poor or improper adjustment will lead to struggle and difficulty, all too often causing the student to quit in cacophonous frustration.

3. QUALITY OF SERVICE, REPAIR AND FOLLOW UP.
Owning a new violin, and beginning a lifelong adventure of learning music requires a solid support tam behind the student. Teachers, parents, friends and a good violin shop will all prove to enhance the enjoyment along the way. When things go wrong with the instrument (and things often do go wrong), having a skilled team behind you to fix the issues is critical. Violins are still fragile instruments and require care and maintenance to stay “fit as fiddles”. Good service, repair and follow up will ease a lot of frustration and enhance your musical experience.

4. TAKING THE NEXT STEP—TRADE IN/TRADE UP.
You aren’t going to be a beginner forever. We hope you continue to enjoy the violin and move on to bigger and better things. Look for a good violin shop that has a wide selection of instruments in many price ranges from all over the world. Preferably both old and new instruments.

MYTHS GETTING YOUR FIRST VIOLIN:
Myth # 1: My son or daughter is just starting out so we don’t need anything good.

Fact: If you were teaching a child to drive a car for the first time, you wouldn’t say: “They are just a beginner, so we don’t really need a steering wheel, good tires or brakes”. No, you would want them to have the essentials since failure is not an option. A poorly crafted and fitted instrument is a recipe for failure. The difficulty and struggle to make a “bad” violin play will cause frustration and contribute to dropping out. A properly made and fitted violin will give the student the best chance of success and reward.

Myth # 2: I don’t want to invest a lot because they just might quit anyway.

Fact: A good rental program allows you to get a great beginning violin without the long term investment. Look for a plan where 100% of your payments apply toward an eventual purchase, and you can quit at any time. Now you have provided the best “no excuse” platform for your child to learn to play. Should they decide to move on, it will be by choice, but not because their opportunity was limited by their equipment.

Myth #3: I want to buy the best, most expensive violin for my student. That will make it even better to learn on.

Fact: Good student instruments are crafted to provide the best opportunity for the student. Bridge curves, nut heights, fine tuners and choice of strings are chosen for their ease and consistency. Often, older, more expensive instrument come with “quirks” and inconsistencies that require a skilled technician to get the best sound. A good student instrument is like the Ford pick up: good, solid and will get you there safely. When it’s “time to go to the prom”, it might be time to step up into a better instrument. The following article explains various costs of poorly set-up violins.

The Good, The Bad and The Ugly Presented by: The Loft Violin Shop
The Ugly “Make it Right”
Cost to Purchase: $50.00

New Fingerboard = $50.00 Good, not best quality
New Nut = $25
Install & level board = $225.00
Replace Bridge = $55.00
Replace strings = $30-$60.00
Replace pegs = $65.00
Replace sound post = $ 25.00
Replace tailpiece = $40.00 Wittner® includes fine tuners and new tailgut
Replace bow = $55.00
Shoulder rest = $5.00 Total Cost = $600-$655.00 Resale value = $25.00 “You could have had a V- 8!” And… With all that, the extra you save will pay for your book, music stand and tuner
The Bad “Make it Play”
Cost to Purchase: $50.00

Level fingerboard = $50.00
Adjust Nut = $10
Replace Bridge = $55.00
Replace strings = $20-$60.00 (INTERNET PRICE)
Tweak (reshape) pegs (if possible) = $25.00
Adjust sound post = $ 10.00
Rehair bow (usually not possible)
Wait for bow to fall apart and break then replace with a new one = $55.00
Shoulder rest = $5.00
Total Cost = $315.00 Resale value = $25.00

“You could have had a V- 8!”
And… 1 year’s rent ($240.00)
Music stand: $14
Method book: $8
Kun Rest: $30
Electronic tuner: $20
Free maintenance and the peace of mind knowing you have a well adjusted quality instrument: PRICELESS‼
All that and still less ($302) than “The Bad” The Good “Throw it away”
Cost to Purchase: $50.00 Or Recycle, put a candle or a nice silk plant in it (but don’t display it where any of your friends will see it)
Total Cost = $50.00
Resale value = $0.00

“You could have had a V-8!” And … Two months rent $40.00
Method book = $8.00
Free maintenance and the peace of mind knowing you have a well adjusted quality instrument: PRICELESS‼
100% applies to purchase — $40.00 (you get all of it applied toward the purchase of a quality instrument)
Plus… (Keep the book $8.00 value)

The Good “Throw it away”
Cost to Purchase: $50.00

Or Recycle, put a candle or a nice silk plant in it (but don’t display it where any of your friends will see it)

Total Cost = $50.00

Resale value = $0.00

“You could have had a V- 8!

And…

Two months rent $40.00

Method book = $8.00

Free maintenance and the peace of mind knowing you have a well adjusted quality instrument:

PRICELESS!!

100% applies to purchase — $40.00

(you get all of it applied toward the purchase of a quality instrument)

Plus …

Keep the book ($8.00 value)

This information was brought to you with permission from the Loft Violin Shop.