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!
208 reviews in the archive.
Where Purchased: Ebay
Year Purchased: 2015
Price Paid: 101.00 ($US)
In my never ending quest to find the perfect "cheap" fiddle, I bought this VIF 250 series model from an Ebay ventor for $101 in Dec of 2016 (it was listed at $112, but for reasons unknown to me I was given a discount of 11 bucks). Follows is my accessment of this model as best I can relate it.
The fiddle came with cheap perlon strings, but nevertheless has a full, rich sound and good volume. The G and D strings are particularly good - mellow, not harsh, and very rich. For a fiddle in this price range, I think it is outstanding. It is better than about any other of my inexpensive fiddles (which include an antique German made Bergonzi model, a pre WWII German made Stainer model, and two relatively new Song Chinese made instruments) -- better than the two German models and equal to the Song models (which were also relatively cheap - less than $150 with shipping from China 6 years or so ago). Altogether, I think the VIF is a superior instrument with remarkably good tone considering the price and is competitive in both sound and appearance to models costing much more..
Sound Rating: 8
Perfect setup at the nut and bridges, though as an old-time player I am obliged to flattern and lower the bridge substantially from the classic violin set-up. That is my choice, but this violin was perfectly set-up to student classical standards, as far as I can tell.
Setup Rating: 10
The appearance is very attractive with a dark chocolate stain, covered by the usual Asian application of mutiple coats of lacquer or whatever (fairly evenly applied), giving it a very beautiful high glossy shine, and tough to damage for those students who like to bang their fiddles off the wall. What effect on tone a more traditional varnish finish would have, I don't know. In any case, it is very attractive with a highly flamed back and sides and good purfling.
Appearance Rating: 9
You'd need to run a Mack truck over this thing to mar the thick finish (see above), but all the fittings are good. Seems very durable.
Reliability Rating: not rated
No contact with the makers (Chairman Instrument Trading Company, Ltd), but quick and well packaged shipping from the Ebay vendor. Label says "Antonius Stradivarius model, established 1995, Design in Italy, VIF, series 250"
Customer Service: 10
All the components were first class, except perhaps the strings and the bow (which was functionable but with a slight curve in the middle) and the cheap rosin cake. Though inexpensive Chinese perlon strings, they are ok but I am expecting to upgrade to a better string later .Lovely carved ebony chin-rest, very nice genuine ebony fingerboard and tuning pegs with "French" eye inlays. The case was also good, the bow ok .
Components Rating: 10
This is a very nice sounding, easy playing carved student grade fiddle with excellent components and a beautiful appearance, and strikes me as near highway robbery considering the price I paid. I cannot imagine how a company could make such a superior instrument for this price, but then I have read that many Asian workers make less that $3 an hour (compared to the average American worker wage of $38 per hour, or $42 in Germany - 2014 figures, I think). I guess those low factory wages and low profit margins (plus mass production) can account for it, but certainly the materials used are first rate. Inexpensive it is, but there is nothing "cheap" or shoddy in this instrument. I am very impressed and pleased with my purchase. I doubt Perlman will want to trade his genuine Strad for it any time soon, but if you are looking for an excellent fiddle at dirt low prices, these folks have got 'em.
Overall Rating: 10
'Mississippi Sawyer' 12 hrs
'Fiddler's Pastime' 1 day
'High Ham' 1 day
'Smith & Wilkes' 1 day
'Notched bridge' 1 day