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Violin/advice needed on buying a new violin

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QUESTION: i am 18 years old and am interested in learning playing voilin. But i don't know a single thing about what to look for while buying a voilin. So help me what type of voilin should i get as in material, strings etc. If you can suggest a specific model that will be very helpful. My budget is US $500-$600

ANSWER: Hi Shubham,

Thanks for your question.  There are two separate issues when considering an instrument in this price range.  The first, and most important, is the 'setup'.  By this I refer mainly to the carving and placement of the nut, bridge, post, and tailpiece.  The choice of strings, bow, and rosin also have an important role.  The good news is that a proper setup does not necessarily cost a lot.  The bad news is that it can be difficult to tell a good from a bad setup without some training.  Dealers (shops) typically receive instruments from the manufacturers without setup and do the setup themselves, so the quality can vary greatly from one shop to the next, even on the same exact model of violin.  A cheap instrument, properly setup,can sound pretty good.  An expensive instrument, badly setup, will always be hard to play and will often sound bad too.

So, I'd recommend buying from a reputable shop.  And, if possible, have the instrument checked out by a teacher (or another shop) for the quality of setup.  At the very least, the strings need to be the right height off the fingerboard and the correct distance from each other.  I would insist on synthetic strings like Thomastik Dominant.  (Stay away from plain steel strings like Red Label.)  And, the nut must be fit to accept synthetic strings without stripping the windings.  (Look closely at the nut to see that the strings are not pinched in the grooves.)  

The second issue, other than the quality of the setup, is the quality of the instrument itself.  This goes to the quality of the wood and the time and talent put into constructing it.  The better the wood and the more time spent in making it, the more expensive the instrument is going to be, and the better it's going to sound.  Also, better instruments tend to be easier to play.

Most instrument manufacturers offer a range of instruments in different qualities.  The cheapest will tend to sound nasal or closed off.  The more expensive will be more powerful, easier to play, and have a more open, warm sound.

So, to put is briefly . . . Get an instrument from someone you trust - a shop with a good reputation.  You don't need to spend a lot.  You should be able to find something that sounds decent in your price range.  If you can get up to the $800 - $1000 range, you find a lot more choices.  But, be sure it is properly setup.  And play as many as you can to find something that sounds good to your ears.  If you like, give us a call at 800-372-4151 and I can tell you what we have.  (All our instruments are well setup, by me.

Good luck,

Jim Fisher


---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: firstly, huge thanks for such a detailed answer. And since you have instruments that you have setup yourself, i would very much like to get it from you but i live in New Zealand so i want to know if i still can get it from you.

Answer
Hi Shubham,

Sorry, but we ship only within the United States.  A local shop would be your best bet, if you have one of good reputation.  You need to have somewhere you can go for help, new strings, and bow re-hairing.  You can learn to put on your own strings, but still it's good to have a local shop you can trust, if possible.  And, it's worth a couple of hours drive to find a shop that does good work.  I would avoid general music shops and find somewhere that sells only bowed string instruments.

If that's not possible where you are, you might try J.R. Judd Violins.  I don't know if they ship internationally, but I can vouch for them doing good work.  Or, you could try Johnson String Company.  Sorry, I'm only familiar with U.S. shops.  I'm sure it would be more practical to find someplace that isn't an ocean away.

Best of luck with it!

Jim Fisher

Violin

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James S. Fisher

Expertise

Please Note: For an accurate appraisal of your instrument's value or history, I must advise you to take it to a local luthier or string shop for an evaluation. It's really not possible to do this with any accuracy via email.

However, I am happy to answer other questions about violins, bows, violin playing, and violin/bow repair. I can also talk with you about what bows, rosin, strings, cases, shoulder rests, etc. might work best for you and your particular instrument. (There are some great new products on the market.) I've taught violin and fiddle playing for the past 18 years and will answer questions about playing and technique.

Experience

I've been studying the violin for over thirty years. I started teaching in 1996. In addition to my training at Lebanon Valley College and at the Violin Institute, I handle violins, bows, and customer questions of all sorts on a daily basis in my shop - J.S. Fisher Violins, www.fisherviolins.com.

Organizations
NAAM, ASTA

Education/Credentials
I hold a Bachelor of Music degree from Lebanon Valley College, as well as certificates in violin repair, violin maintenance, and bow rehairing from the Violin Institute at the University of New Hampshire.

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