The fiddle reviews database is here to help educate people before they purchase an instrument. Of course, this is not meant to be a substitute for playing the instrument yourself!
214 reviews in the archive.
Where Purchased: Amazon.com
Year Purchased: 2017
Price Paid: 89.95 ($US)
The original strings are steel and shrieking, so I upgraded the strings to D'Addario Prelude and now the whole thing sounds about right. Not excellent, but OK.
Sound Rating: 5
Strings were loose and bridge was not attached, but the bridge's legs match the violin top surface perfectly. The bridge is too high, maybe for classical music playing? But for a novice student like me, the local luthier advised to lower the bridge and reshape it and I took his advice. After the bridge has been lowered and reshaped, the sound comes out with better clarity and melody!
Setup Rating: 4
Not extradionary shiny nor flashy, it has a rather matte darker brown tone of varnish. Its varnish is a quite thick (but evenly coated) layer; very typical of Chinese violins I've seen.
Appearance Rating: 5
This violin looks sturdy but bulkier than European made violins. It is also heavier (in weight) so it is harder to hold on your shoulder. It weights 485 grams, whereas a typical violin should be less than 450 grams. I speculate that it is made a viola and then got strings like a violin? The strings, the pegs, etc. look OK.
Reliability Rating: 5
Not sure anything about warranty! Nothing written document about warranty is found with the violin. I've not contacted nor attempted to contact the manufacture as they are a Hong Kong company and there is not much of contact info available. Hopefully, I will never have to contact them in the future either!
Customer Service: 3
The fittings, fingerboard, etc. seem to be real ebony wood and made to the proper violin shape of a copy of Strad model 1721. The bridge, however, is too high and in generic shape. The bow is unusable because it is stiff, unbalanced, and literally very heavy (a wobble of 72 grams!). It original steel strings sound shrieking to the ears!
Components Rating: 3
Price is so-so for this kind of Chinese violin in the U.S student market today (2017), and it is made of fairly quality wood components with proper shape and OK craftsmanship. It looks classic, but not too flashy. It sounds bright and has plenty of sound projection power. Still, to make it play better, I had to invest some additional money for upgrading it to a better quality set of strings, for having the bridge reshaped, and for buying a higher quality bow. After all these additional investment of money and effort, it sounds OK! Would I buy it again? Probably not. Too heavy!
Overall Rating: 5
Where Purchased: Ebay
Price Paid: 90,00 ($US)
I purchased a VIF model 250 several months back and was quite pleased with it, so I decided to try a less expensive VIF model, the 200. (That a fiddle could be even cheaper than the 250 seems ludricous, but the 200 model is 10 to 30 dollars cheaper, depending on who is selling them). So here is my report ---
First of all, this fiddle is less rich and resonant than the higher priced and more elaborately finished 250, though it compensates in a way by being louder. The tone is what I would describe as "hollow" sounding, which is not necessarily bad for playing old-time, but with the cheap steel strings that came with it, it was brassy and a shrill on the A and E strings particularly. I changed to an inexpensive set of Perlon strings, which made a big improvement in sound, though it still doesn't match the richness and mellowness of the 250 (which also has perlon strings).
Sound Rating: 7
Action was set-up fine. As usual, I lowered and flattened the bridge somewhat to suit my playing needs.
Setup Rating: 9
Where the Model 250 has a heavily applied high gloss lacquer finish as seems to be customary for many Chinese fiddles, the 200 has a matte and thinner finish which I was expecting would have superior sound -- I was wrong. I suppose that just proves that the graduation of the plates, better wood, and better workmanship have more to do with sound than the finish. Not to say the sound is bad on this fiddle. With decent strings and a little breaking in, it is probably quite a lot better than other cheap fiddles that I've heard and certainly better than the price would suggest.
Appearance Rating: not rated
All the accessories are good -- witner style composite tail piece, nice ebony fingerboard and chinrest. Decent workmanship and nice wood (modest flaming on the back), though the purfling is a bit sloppy and the color quite dark -- a deep cholocate with slightly rubbed out areas in both the upper and lower bouts. The bow that came with it is very nice - straight, well balanced and octagonal. Nice case, just the same as the Model 250 comes in.
Reliability Rating: 9
Had no contact with the company.
Customer Service: not rated
All components seem of good quality except the original strings. They are pretty bad. I think perlon or nylon strings are more approrpriate for this fiddle over steel, to my ear anyway.
Components Rating: not rated
Overall, I think this is a pretty good starter fiddle and my intention is to use it for cross tuning to save having to re-tune so much. As a beginner's fiddle, l think it is pretty good and probably beats its competitors in that bargain price range. It has reasonable workmanship, decent sound (with upgraded strings), and looks very attractive. For what it costs, it is way better than it has any reason to be.
However, for the extra few dollars that the Model 250 costs, I would recommend it unless you are just on such a budget that every dollar counts. The 200 cost me 90 dollars shipped; the 250 was 101 dollars shipped and is, to my ear much richer and more resonant. It also has more attractive flaming, seems lighter and easier to hold (the way I hold a fiddle weight is important to me). Both of these instruments are quality student instruments, but the more expensive model is an even better bargain, IMO.
Overall Rating: 8
'5-strings' 1 day
'Squeaks and scratches' 2 days
'Pre WW2 Fiddle' 3 days