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looking to buy a violin
MUFF WIGGLER Forum Index -> General Gear Goto page 1, 2  Next [all]
Author looking to buy a violin
windspirit
So I have learned to play at 4 - 5 instruments that are all unwieldly for one reason or another, I would really like to learn the violin or viola because I can A) dance with it B) travel with it easily and C) play it when just walking around. I have learned to play 2 stringed instruments, the upright bass and an indian instrument called the sarangi. Even though the sarangi is portable, you have to sit down to play it and if any damage happened to it I would be totally hosed.

So I am getting into the mindset of buying a midrange violin (and bow obviously). My budget is about $500. I guess Im hoping to hear from people things like what to look for, what features arent that necessary, which brands/ makers are good to look out for, what kind of hair is best for bows etc. Also the arguments for and against a violin or a viola.

My main goal is to play clesmer/ folksy kind of stuff but I would also like to learn classical and jazz to round the whole thing out.

Thanks!
Nelson Baboon
I took violin lessons starting at 6.

I currently live in a city apt, and an acoustic is too loud, so I play a solid body electric.

I think that you're going to have to work very hard if you're starting as an adult and expect to play classical and jazz with some technical facility.

I think that you also greatly underestimate the expense if you're talking about a 'midrange' violin and bow for $500. You're not going to get anything approaching a decent hand made instrument for that price.

You really wouldn't even get a good electric + composite bow for that that price.

though if you're willing to look at elecric instruments, check out www.electricviolinshop.com

I'm not sure what you mean by 'features'. Violins are not like synth, where you compare features. And well known makers would be making instruments well beyond your budget, unless you're talking about electric instruments. There are quite a few decent electric violin makers, though in that price range, I wouldn't be quite sure what to recommend.
windspirit
Hmm, yeah I guess mid-level is pretty relative. What I meant is more like a beginner violin that I wont grow out of for awhile.

I am not interested in an electric because I want something that I can move around with and play outside, like at a park or on the street.

When I was thinking features I guess I was thinking of mostly of materials used or differences in the shape. Something that a layman like me could look for and identify without needing to play it.
GovernorSilver
If you're going to get a teacher, I'd find the teacher first, then ask the teacher to help shop for a proper instrument.

If you don't want to go that route, an alternative is to ask your local string players what their go-to shop is, then go to that shop.

When I started out, I asked this Indian classical teacher (she taught vocals and violin) and she said "just get any cheap violin". I think her advice had some validity in that when you first start out, you have so much to learn that it's only after a few years of playing that your ear starts to pick up on which violins/violas sound better than others - then you'd be ready to go shop for an upgrade instrument and maybe sell your cheaper one to help pay for it.

As far as violin vs viola goes, it seems like a lot of Irish/Scottish/American folk fiddle stuff is more accessible on the violin, whereas to play the same fiddle melody on the viola, you might have to go higher on the neck.

For bows, most people shop by what the bow is made of rather than the hair. They all use horse hair. Carbon fiber bows are the most affordable. Wooden ones cost more and aren't really worth it for beginners.
Carci
Yeah, 500$ is definitely going to be low range at best...
To me 500$ is low low low range for the bow only...

Composite bows are cool but cheapest wood bows are often cheaper that composite.

If portability is key, you don't want an electric instrument.

Violin is smaller so it's more portable.
I play the viola. Viola is awesome.
Try both, see how it feels.
Carci
Sorry, double post.
Nelson Baboon
yes - finding a teacher to help you is an excellent idea.

As far as portability - a solid body electric with a small amp would certainly be portable. It would also allow you to practice at very low volumes.

I don't quite agree with the notion of buying any violin at all. What you especially want, when you're starting out, I think, is something that is set up well, and is relatively easy to play. It's a difficult instrument to start out on, and you don't want to make it harder than necessary.
GovernorSilver
Carci wrote:

Composite bows are cool but cheapest wood bows are often cheaper that composite.


You are right, I did not take into account the $15 wood bows from China that you can now find on eBay.

Good to see another viola player here. Guinness ftw!
windspirit
Ok so I can at this point either buy a used violin on craigslist for around $100-200 dollars and make all of the serious violin players yell at their computers or I can go to a shop and buy a not-quite-as-crappy violin for $500. I found a shop close to me that has stellar yelp reviews and also teachers. Im guessing the consensus will be that I should go to the store and buy a better violin, even if its a crappy one but my question is whether the quality will actually be worth the extra $400 since everyone seems to be telling me that most violin/ bows that I can buy for $500 are going to be crappy anyways. Keep in mind that I am just getting started and have never played a violin before but that I want to develop and become at least a decent player.

Its becoming clear to me that violin is much more competitive than upright bass was, which I am kind of now remembering from being in orchestra. I think its because no one wants to have to carry the bass around (including me :p)
Carci
GovernorSilver wrote:
Good to see another viola player here. Guinness ftw!


Yay ! Guinness ftw!


Violin/Viola is indeed difficult and needs a lot of work before you can pull out something satisfying out of it.
And it's a rather expensive instrument. (though that doesn't really make sense to write that on muffwiggler where people spend a shitload of money on modules)

But if you play the sarangi, you're already familiar with the strings, the bow...
I'd say give it a try.
Maybe rent a violin for a month.
Then try a viola.
Then try a fiddle. (definitely worth a try if you're into irish stuff)
See how it goes.
Nelson Baboon
A fiddle is a violin

Carci wrote:
GovernorSilver wrote:
Good to see another viola player here. Guinness ftw!


Yay ! Guinness ftw!


Violin/Viola is indeed difficult and needs a lot of work before you can pull out something satisfying out of it.
And it's a rather expensive instrument. (though that doesn't really make sense to write that on muffwiggler where people spend a shitload of money on modules)

But if you play the sarangi, you're already familiar with the strings, the bow...
I'd say give it a try.
Maybe rent a violin for a month.
Then try a viola.
Then try a fiddle. (definitely worth a try if you're into irish stuff)
See how it goes.
Just me
Nelson Baboon wrote:
A fiddle is a violin

...with a different shaped bridge. (At least where I grew up.)
I rent from the local big music store different band instruments for a few months at a time to try my hand at them inexpensively. I really think I will buy a clarinet and an oboe as those are the two I've had the most fun with. I've got a good violin with a better bow that I inherited. Can't suss it at all. I loaned to a fellow who plays in the symphony as he can get good use out of it. (The appraiser said the bow was worth twice what the violin was worth and gave me a value of $3500 for both.)
Nelson Baboon
no. perhaps because one is not playing classical music, and some of the solutions are more 'home made', you can find variations like a flatter bridge for some people who play fiddle music, this is not always the case at all. A fiddle is a violin. Absolutely.
baboo
I've never played a violin in my life so take my advice with a grain of salt.
Yet I think this is true for all acoustic instruments- you seriously want the best one that you can afford. And by "afford" I mean when you sell anything you can sell and stretch your budget to the maximum and beyond.

the violin seems super hard. i play the trumpet which is not exactly the easiest instrument around but i honestly don't think i could play the violin- you have to do absolutely everything by ear on it and developing that ear-to-body coordination will take time for sure!

that said, good luck and have a lot of fun learning!
GovernorSilver
windspirit wrote:
Ok so I can at this point either buy a used violin on craigslist for around $100-200 dollars and make all of the serious violin players yell at their computers or I can go to a shop and buy a not-quite-as-crappy violin for $500. I found a shop close to me that has stellar yelp reviews and also teachers. Im guessing the consensus will be that I should go to the store and buy a better violin, even if its a crappy one but my question is whether the quality will actually be worth the extra $400 since everyone seems to be telling me that most violin/ bows that I can buy for $500 are going to be crappy anyways. Keep in mind that I am just getting started and have never played a violin before but that I want to develop and become at least a decent player.


No, it's not a consensus, though you do have the right to decide whose advice to follow and whose to ignore.

The harsh reality of learning to play the violin or viola is that your tone is going to suck anyway, regardless of how much money you spend on your instrument and bow. Everyone new to the instrument thinks the hardest part will be playing notes in tune (the left hand fingering). Now, that's a bitch to work on for sure - don't get me wrong. But soon you will find out what is even harder than that is getting a tone that sounds good with your bow - that is where it REALLY gets to be a bitch! In your first year or two or three, it'll be way too easy to get unwanted wolf tones, squeaks, etc. - and on top that intonation will be a struggle - you'll experience such frustration you'll want to throw your violin against the wall on some days. That's why in retrospect, I think you should just buy a cheap student model violin that's not too hard to play physically - won't sound the greatest, but your technique is gonna suck so it won't matter anyways. It's not my intent to discourage, but just to help you arrive at realistic expectations - this ain't the guitar we're talking about after all - it's a much more demanding instrument. But if you persist, you'll be rewarded.

The good news is with diligent practice (paying attention to what the hell you're doing), your tone will improve over time.

windspirit wrote:

Its becoming clear to me that violin is much more competitive than upright bass was, which I am kind of now remembering from being in orchestra. I think its because no one wants to have to carry the bass around (including me :p)


If you're hoping to land first chair in the orchestra or get a soloist gig, yeah, the classical violin world is competitive as hell. If you mainly want to play folk music, maybe not so much - though I'm not greatly familiar with the worlds (Irish, Scottish, klezmer, Swedish, Cape Breton, etc.) of folk violin (eg. "fiddling"). If you go for viola, you might find orchestras trying to recruit you because there are fewer violists than violinists. I got talked into taking up viola because it was the next lower instrument after the cello, and I was promised it was the rhythm guitar of the orchestra and thus would be easier to handle (not really!!! Composers like Copland and Bernstein wrote some hard to play parts for viola).
NYMo
I still remember the tears streaming down my face as i was playing Baa Baa Black Sheep at my violin lessons 45 years ago hihi

It's a hard instrument to get a decent tone out of..hence my tears ,as the resulting noise was excrement to my ears as well as the teachers.

Doesn't matter what quality of violin you get, as you'll most probably sound as bad as I did.
But for the sake of this thread, you can't go wrong with a Yamaha.
( I sold instruments for 20 years)

Cheers
Carci
Nelson Baboon wrote:
no. perhaps because one is not playing classical music, and some of the solutions are more 'home made', you can find variations like a flatter bridge for some people who play fiddle music, this is not always the case at all. A fiddle is a violin. Absolutely.


Well there's definitely a bridge and fingerboard difference to me.
A violin is a violin.
If the fingerboard and the bridge are flatter so that it's easier to play 3 or 4 strings at once, it's no longer a violin, it's a fiddle.
That's how I see it as a player but I'm no violin semantics expert.
Harlyn
I realize this is an old thread, but I keep running across these old discussions and finding I have suggestions or better info to offer

hey, I 've been practicing the violin for 11 years now.
Tell you what: Every violin is differentfrom the other, even if they are constructed by the same factory. This happens because the biggest part of the function of the violin is based on the exact position of a tiny piece of wood -known as "the soul" connecting the up and down surfaces of the instument.

So your best choice would be to ask your tutor to find one for you. wink

If you do not want to do this, I would suggest a Yamaha one, they are cheap and usually good enough for someone who has just started playing :thumbsup:

If you want to dispose a looot of money, try a Strandivirus ( I don't know if I have typed it correctly) but you'll pay it through your nose, it's about 50,000 euros...

Any other brand,for example like these new violins https://violinio.com/ would be also convenient, but you have to find a good one. It is not up to the brand...
dubonaire
I keep running across these old discussions being resurrected by new members and finding I ask... why?
cycad73
dubonaire wrote:
I keep running across these old discussions being resurrected by new members and finding I ask... why?


It's become a norm not to start new threads, but to search for old ones and extend them. I think the preceding poster really just wanted to talk about violins -- seems legitimate, no? New posters (for the most part) err on the side of caution, they don't want to risk anything that will break etiquette. They don't want to be continually reminded of the search feature, for instance.

I don't like the necro-thread trend either, because sometimes what the poster really *wants* to say gets suppressed as they try to fit themselves into the framework of the old thread.

A deeper problem with necro-threading is that the meaning of particular technologies continues to change (which thankfully isn't much of an issue here). This is perhaps why some old threads are indeed "necro", they are truly dead because the meaning is no longer fully comprehensible. A synth or module means something different in 2018 vs. 2011 because in 2011 nobody heard what Caterina Barbieri or Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith or rbeny did with it, and so the 2011 discussion is really about something different, maybe achieving a different kind of sound that's no longer interesting today, or perhaps even inaccessible.

Unfortunately, necro-threading has gotten to the point where it's just a matter of course. The only way to discourage it is to break the search feature, and that creates its own problems.
Alphaman
you can buy it now

https://www.ebay.com/itm/Fine-antique-Viennese-master-violin-c-1910-go rgeous-Stradivarius-model-old/362493011736?hash=item5466446718:g:69kAA OSwSidb9sKj:rk:1:pf:0
smetak
dubonaire wrote:
I keep running across these old discussions being resurrected by new members and finding I ask... why?


I found the discussion kind of interesting while procrastinating at work and having played the violin myself in my teens (and being terrible at it - whatever piece I've attempted, always sounded has if I were flaying a cat.....)

And if it wasn't for the resurrection, I never would have found it, buried under tons of newer posts and threads.
calaveras
It's funny, people complain if you ressurect old threads.
People complain if you start new threads.
People just like to complain.

As far as violin. They have to be one of the most unergonomic instruments ever devised. I am pretty sure they were invented during the reconquista, as some kind of sadistic torture device to help discern witches from just ordinary terrified people.
How else do you explain the absurd angle one must put their left hand, in order to finger notes. And the higher one goes on the fingerboard, the more ridiculously contorted one must make their hand!
Now do it with vibrato!

Get a concertina. Chicks dig that.
umma gumma
this thread makes me want to play violin

I have this old beatup stradivarius in the basement, maybe I'll get it fixed & have a go at terrorizing the local cats in the neighbourhood
dubonaire
calaveras wrote:
It's funny, people complain if you ressurect old threads.
People complain if you start new threads.
People just like to complain.


I'm not really complaining calaveras - I just asked the partly rhetorical question - why?

And I asked because it's mainly been new members and the common end result is you start reading people giving advice to an OP who doesn't even use the forum anymore, which is a truly odd conversation to be reading.
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