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
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
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