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 ARCHIVED TOPIC: Testing out a violin


Please note this is an archived topic, so it is locked and unable to be replied to. You may, however, start a new topic and refer to this topic with a link: http://www.fiddlehangout.com/archive/55180

Quincy - Posted - 05/02/2021:  05:17:53


I'm going to make an appointment to test out a type of violin my teacher described as brilliant and fierce , what has my interest, because the violin I rent is more a warm instrument in tone so I was told and yes I can hear it too now. I can hear other violins sounding pretty different from mine.

Anyway , I'm really excited.

I don't know if I'm far enough to test out a violin, but hey, I can play a bit now and my ear knows what it likes.

Price is pretty fair, my teacher said it was almost a give away for that price.

I'm going to find out myself.

My teacher got her one of these violins for herself.



For those of you who started off with a rental instrument : when did you get your own violin?


Edited by - Quincy on 05/02/2021 05:18:51

DougBrock - Posted - 05/02/2021:  07:08:45


I’ve never rented, so can’t directly answer your question, but I’ve bought cheaper violins and am trying to educate my ears to what different levels of violins sound like. (That’s definitely harder in the current Covid world.)

Thursday night I was happy with an old German violin I bought a year ago. Friday I bought another old German violin for only $100 more, but to me the newer one sounds SO much better. Suddenly the first violin sounded thin and quiet. What happened to it??? The second violin seemed so much richer and fuller. I sat and played each violin and wondered how in the world the brain and ear can make such drastic changes in perceptions of sound.

I’m interested to hear how you like this other violin! (And would you mind telling us the brand and price? More education for us!)

pete_fiddle - Posted - 05/02/2021:  09:03:28


Don't forget to take your own fiddle and bow along for a comparison. You would have to live with them both for a while before you know which one "You" prefer. Classical players tend to like brighter instruments, folk fiddlers tend to like more mellow instruments imo.

The Violin Beautiful - Posted - 05/02/2021:  11:52:51


Quincy ,

You have every reason to be excited! It sounds like you’re at a point where you can get a sense for some of the differences between different violins, so playing more of them can be a a fun and enlightening experience.

Having someone to guide you can help you narrow things down—looking at lots of violins can become overwhelming
very quickly. Be open with the shop about your goals and what you’re looking for, and they can further assist you. Most likely you can take a violin or two out on approval if you feel fairly certain you want to make a purchase. If you do buy something, many shops offer full value less a small fee for a new setup back on a trade-in as long as condition is good.

I never rented a violin, but I can say that it was a really influential experience when I received the 1/2 size violin my grandfather had made me. I had played a couple cheap instruments before that. They were decent, but my 1/2 sounded so much better, and I loved that the label said it was made for me. I didn’t want to stop playing it when I outgrew it, so my father let me use it until I was almost big enough for a full size. We had been given a mediocre 3/4 since we didn’t have one, so I played that one for one week before switching to the full size just to get used to the changing scale. I didn’t think anything could be like my half size. Then I played my full size violin for the first time and couldn’t put it down.

Quincy - Posted - 05/02/2021:  13:10:11


quote:

Originally posted by pete_fiddle

Don't forget to take your own fiddle and bow along for a comparison. You would have to live with them both for a while before you know which one "You" prefer. Classical players tend to like brighter instruments, folk fiddlers tend to like more mellow instruments imo.






Thank you, that is a good advice! But: I will solely choose an instrument based on my intuition,regardless of what classical versus folk players tend to prefer.



I just watched a YouTube video in which a guy tests out 5 violins without telling which one was the cheapest and which one the most expensive.



Guess what I picked as my favorite. The 10 million dollar Stradivarius.


Edited by - Quincy on 05/02/2021 13:17:47

Quincy - Posted - 05/02/2021:  13:16:29


quote:

Originally posted by The Violin Beautiful

Quincy ,



You have every reason to be excited! It sounds like you’re at a point where you can get a sense for some of the differences between different violins, so playing more of them can be a a fun and enlightening experience.



Having someone to guide you can help you narrow things down—looking at lots of violins can become overwhelming

very quickly. Be open with the shop about your goals and what you’re looking for, and they can further assist you. Most likely you can take a violin or two out on approval if you feel fairly certain you want to make a purchase. If you do buy something, many shops offer full value less a small fee for a new setup back on a trade-in as long as condition is good.



I never rented a violin, but I can say that it was a really influential experience when I received the 1/2 size violin my grandfather had made me. I had played a couple cheap instruments before that. They were decent, but my 1/2 sounded so much better, and I loved that the label said it was made for me. I didn’t want to stop playing it when I outgrew it, so my father let me use it until I was almost big enough for a full size. We had been given a mediocre 3/4 since we didn’t have one, so I played that one for one week before switching to the full size just to get used to the changing scale. I didn’t think anything could be like my half size. Then I played my full size violin for the first time and couldn’t put it down.






Was you grandfather a luthier then?



I have no idea if it's possible to take a violin out on approval, I'll see what the luthier says tomorrow. 



On his website he only advertises for his rental instruments.

Lonesome Fiddler - Posted - 05/02/2021:  13:42:06


All I can say is that, as a complete musical instrument nut, I was lucky enough to live near the Hollywood studios when I was still in my shopping days. Because the studios need quality musicians and instruments I had maybe a half-dozen high-end stringed instrument stores to haunt and annoy. My gray hair (then, just 'graying') gave me enough gravitas to lure the salespeople into taking their good instruments out of the glass cabinets and into my hands. The sales staff would play them for me so I could hear how the instruments sounded at a distance. In time I developed a good sense for what is genuinely good and what, though not quite as good, might be able to satisfy both my ears and my pocketbook.

Woodcutter - Posted - 05/02/2021:  16:59:59


Several years ago now my wife wanted to move up to a better instrument. She asked me to come with her as she tried several new (and some much more expensive instruments. For each instrument she would play a passage on her old one and one of the new ones, while I just listened BUT with my back to her so I didn't know for sure which was which. After both of us taking notes for several 'pairs' we went back and compared which of the 2 sounded better to me, to her, which played more easily for her, etc. After more than an hour of comparisons, we left with only her original instrument. Our conclusion was that it just wasn't the right time to 'move up' to a more expensive instrument and we simply agreed to try the same thing perhaps a year later.

The moral --- you might be playing the right instrument for you at this time. I completely understand wanting to advance to a better instrument but it's only really worth it if it'll truly help you along your musical journey.

The Violin Beautiful - Posted - 05/02/2021:  19:28:07


quote:

Originally posted by Quincy


Was your grandfather a luthier then?

I have no idea if it's possible to take a violin out on approval, I'll see what the luthier says tomorrow. 



On his website he only advertises for his rental instruments.






Yes, my grandfather was, and so were my great- and great-great-grandfathers. 

 



I hope you have a pleasant experience trying violins out. When I was young, visiting the Moennig shop in Philadelphia was like entering another world, one filled with wonders from an old world that was long before my time yet completely familiar. I'll never forget it, and nor will I forget the shop a very dear fiddler friend owned in my hometown for some time or the luxurious Southern charm of John Montgomery's shop in Raleigh and the hand-painted gold letters in the plate glass that read "Violin Maker." 



 

Quincy - Posted - 05/02/2021:  21:45:55


quote:

Originally posted by The Violin Beautiful

quote:

Originally posted by Quincy


Was your grandfather a luthier then?

I have no idea if it's possible to take a violin out on approval, I'll see what the luthier says tomorrow. 



On his website he only advertises for his rental instruments.






Yes, my grandfather was, and so were my great- and great-great-grandfathers. 

 



I hope you have a pleasant experience trying violins out. When I was young, visiting the Moennig shop in Philadelphia was like entering another world, one filled with wonders from an old world that was long before my time yet completely familiar. I'll never forget it, and nor will I forget the shop a very dear fiddler friend owned in my hometown for some time or the luxurious Southern charm of John Montgomery's shop in Raleigh and the hand-painted gold letters in the plate glass that read "Violin Maker." 



 






Very nice, it's like your destination and fate the same time to play the violin !  Do you make violins too now?



My friend likes 3D printing, I want him to one day print one for me (hope you don't start cursing now , it feels a bit like sacrilege to tell this to a member of an ancient family of luthiers ;-))



Anyway, I hope it will be a nice experience too, not that I suddenly freeze and can't play anymore while standing there in the shop.



I'll take my rental instrument and my wooden shoulder rest with me. Can't do without my own shoulder rest, said it before here , but still very happy with my choice for a nice wooden Match One and my teacher she has a Match One too, we found out after I bought mine.  Besides a violin I will also need my own bow and a case. I wish I could afford myself a Codabow same time but most likely it will be another cheaper type of carbon bow.


Edited by - Quincy on 05/02/2021 21:56:12

RichJ - Posted - 05/03/2021:  06:14:55


The voice of a fiddle is one of the holy grails of fiddling. Only thing I'll say is how a fiddle sounds when one person plays it is no guarantee how it's gonna' sound when someone else plays it.

farmerjones - Posted - 05/03/2021:  06:29:12


quote:

Originally posted by RichJ

The voice of a fiddle is one of the holy grails of fiddling. Only thing I'll say is how a fiddle sounds when one person plays it is no guarantee how it's gonna' sound when someone else plays it.






Yes. The violin under your ear sounds different  from the one in front of you. I picked out one from eight or ten. Then I had the shop owner play it for me.  He was quick to put on my favorite strings too.  



(Different/separate story) Some rental agents keep a few "cherries" back for sale too. I've got a couple better violins from my favorite rental agent. At really good prices too. 



Both of these people would bend over backwards, for you as far as service support also. 

RichJ - Posted - 05/03/2021:  06:57:10


quote:

Originally posted by farmerjones


The violin under your ear sounds different  from the one in front of you.  







That for sure, but different even when two people in front of you play the very same fiddle.

Quincy - Posted - 05/03/2021:  09:33:45


I feel even more excited, I can visit the luthier this week and I can take my favorites out of the six instruments he has of this type home to practise and make a decision!

KCFiddles - Posted - 05/03/2021:  11:48:12


A good friend came up from Branson, MO, to try to find a better fiddle than the one I sold him six years ago. It's a really good fiddle, but he's a pro, and always looking for "that certain sound". I had a good idea what he was looking for and had six or eight instruments set aside that I thought might fit the bill. He agreed they were all "killer fiddles", and we soon got down to specifics. I'd have him play a passage on one fiddle, and then play the same passage on another fiddle to compare, and comparing "apples to apples" we soon had the choices boiled down to a couple of instruments. His partner was there to lend a voice, and I would play for him to listen from a distance, as well, even though he's ten times the player I am. All told, he had his choice in a couple of hours. I asked him to run through the other instruments just to be sure, and after our comparisons, there was no remaining doubt. I know him; he's not gonna be back in six months wanting to trade for something else, and he's not very likely to find an instrument that suits him better, not even at twice the price; I had instruments worth a lot more money at market value that didn't suit him as well.

So, my recommendation is decide what you want in the abstract, get 6 or 8 instruments that fit those requirements, make comparisons in pairs, on similar passages that are revealing, make choices among the pairs. Each time there will usually be a clear winner. Eliminate the loser from contention. If there is no winner, save them for a later round again. That way you will go quickly from 8 to 4 to 2 or 3, and then you will be down to only 2 or 3 to choose among, and if they are that close, let price be your determining factor. Yesterday, there were two fiddles that were clearly winners, and one was a lot more expensive and not clearly better than the other. The choice was easy.

Quincy - Posted - 05/04/2021:  00:36:56


quote:

Originally posted by KCFiddles



So, my recommendation is decide what you want in the abstract, get 6 or 8 instruments that fit those requirements, make comparisons in pairs, on similar passages that are revealing, make choices among the pairs. Each time there will usually be a clear winner. Eliminate the loser from contention. If there is no winner, save them for a later round again. That way you will go quickly from 8 to 4 to 2 or 3, and then you will be down to only 2 or 3 to choose among, and if they are that close, let price be your determining factor. Yesterday, there were two fiddles that were clearly winners, and one was a lot more expensive and not clearly better than the other. The choice was easy.






There are six similar instruments he has , with some variety , and I can test these them out and choose then which ones are my favorites and then take them home to practise.  I have a strong intuition and often eventually listen to what I am attracted too, although I always will take all options into consideration, and would carefully think over the alternatives, search for objective comparisons ...  most often I always end up with what was intuitively my first choice. I wonder if this will be the case now too. To compare the instruments I am glad to have the help of the luthier, hoping he can tell me more about the origin and maybe adaptations he made of the instruments.



 

Earworm - Posted - 05/04/2021:  09:21:33


Try not to learn too much about the instrument except the sound and how it feels to you as you play it, until you're close to making your decision. Ideally, you would not even know the price until it's time to narrow down options.

This is exciting! I'm so happy for you!

Lonesome Fiddler - Posted - 05/04/2021:  12:25:34


quote:

Originally posted by Earworm

Try not to learn too much about the instrument except the sound and how it feels to you as you play it, until you're close to making your decision. Ideally, you would not even know the price until it's time to narrow down options.



This is exciting! I'm so happy for you!






All that's well & good. ...Until you learn the five figure price tag...

The Violin Beautiful - Posted - 05/04/2021:  19:28:40


quote:

Originally posted by Earworm

Try not to learn too much about the instrument except the sound and how it feels to you as you play it, until you're close to making your decision. Ideally, you would not even know the price until it's time to narrow down options.



This is exciting! I'm so happy for you!






I agree that it's not helpful to just look at the price tags, but I would strongly advise against playing instruments outside your budget. Let the shop know your range so they can lay out instruments that are appropriate, then you can play them and not pay attention to the prices until you've formed opinions of the sound.



If you play instruments that are outside your means, you're bound to either be disappointed in the instruments you can afford or to fall in love with something that will cause you financial issues. There's always going to be a more expensive violin out there that will be a little more amazing, but you have to draw a line in the sand before you end up mortgaging your house for cash (it happens more often than you might think). It's not an absolute rule, and it is sometimes helpful to play a really good violin just to see how it differs, but you have to be very careful. Violins are captivating!

Quincy - Posted - 05/05/2021:  14:49:18


I came back with two of the most brilliant of the six similar volins to try out, one has this very special reverberation on it, cannot explain, my ear likes this one so much.



I also tested out two bows, and when I got the third one in my hand and started playing I immediately said: this one I want, and it was not the most expensive of the three. It felt like magic a bit. But I got all three of them with me to try out.



Playing goes a lot easier all of a sudden. I can 't believe what is happening hehe.


Edited by - Quincy on 05/05/2021 14:50:12

The Violin Beautiful - Posted - 05/05/2021:  16:35:35


quote:

Originally posted by Quincy

I came back with two of the most brilliant of the six similar volins to try out, one has this very special reverberation on it, cannot explain, my ear likes this one so much.



I also tested out two bows, and when I got the third one in my hand and started playing I immediately said: this one I want, and it was not the most expensive of the three. It felt like magic a bit. But I got all three of them with me to try out.



Playing goes a lot easier all of a sudden. I can 't believe what is happening hehe.






That's great!



 



There really is something magical about finding a violin and bow that fit you. 


Edited by - The Violin Beautiful on 05/05/2021 16:35:54

Quincy - Posted - 05/05/2021:  16:49:55


Cannot add a video but this is what I sound like now:
youtu.be/eOfeIN6T3JQ

LukeF - Posted - 05/07/2021:  13:19:25


Thanks for the update. Hope you find the one that is right for you.

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