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: 2018
Price Paid: $100 ($US) (bought USED)
How many times have you heard the saying "you get what you pay for?" It's a common comment but often not true. Many times you get far less than what you pay for, as most people can attest. Less often, you get much more.
Such is the case with this Knilling Bucharest fiddle with Perfection Pages I purchased from a Kentucky music store on line. The $100 listing (plus $20 shipping) seemed unreasonably low, judging from the condition shown in the photos. An Internet search confirmed these models usually go (new) for anywhere from $400 to $600 retail, depending on where you get it and what is included (case, bow, Perfection pegs, etc.). True, I've seen used models for $200 to $300 on Ebay, but usually without the geared pegs and almost always scratched and worn. This fiddle appeared to be brand new in the photos (albeit, not strung up). So I bought it just to see why I shouldn't.
When I took it out of the box (it came with a nice Knilling hard shell case and worn out bow), I couldn't believe it wasn't brand new. It had literally not a mark, scratch or dust particle on it. It was perfect in every respect, as if just off the factory line. Were it not for the label, which read "Knilling. Bucharest, copie of Antonio Stradvari, Made in Romania, (five digit SN), Faciebat Anno 2008 and P4KF" in ink in the corner, I would have certainly believed it brand new and never played.
In any case all the pieces were there except strings. So I reset the included soundpost (perfect fit), carved the bridge down to my preferences, installed new Lenzser German made steel strings and exchanged the included Wittner style tailpiece with a nice ebony one I had sitting around, and tuned it up. It played like a dream, the Perfection Pegs worked perfectly and the sound was even better than I expected. For a violin of less than a thousand bucks the sound is rich (though not terribly loud), smooth and balanced across all four strings. For a $100 fiddle, is sounds outrageously good, frankly
Sound Rating: 9
As noted, this instrument wasn't set-up which surely accounts somewhat for the low price, but I'm used to doing my own so that wasn't an issue for me. The construction quality, purfling and finish are very, very good indeed. Such good sound from a student grade instrument couldn't be accomplished without excellent graduation of the plates and quality construction throughout. I simply can't find a flaw. Even the scroll and F holes are perfectly done and the finish, while clearly a sprayed nitrocellulose lacquer, is evenly done, not too thick, and nicely rubbed out.
Setup Rating: 5
This is a very pretty instrument in every respect. The top is a rather broad grained spruce and the back a nicely figured, though fairly modest, maple, as are the sides and the scroll - which, incidentally, is much larger than any scroll on any of the other fiddles I've owned over the years. Again, I simply can't find a flaw, and believe me, I've tried.
Appearance Rating: 10
Frankly, I could live without the Perfection Pegs, though they do work ok and are perfectly installed, and the lack of fine tuners on the tailpiece is very attractive to me. Nevertheless, the Perfections are kind of a pain when stringing, and I find the standard built in tuners at the tailpiece easier and more precise for "nudge" tuning. I'll keep the Perfections as long as they are working right because I love the look of the instrument without fine tuners, but I wouldn't cry much if I had to change them out in the future.
Since I don't play professionally I don't know whether this instrument would be reliable without a backup, or what the long term durablility will be. I can't see anything that would cause me any alarm. The finish is tough, the construction solid, from what I can see. I have no idea what to expect concerning the durability of these planetary pegs. Time will tell.
Reliability Rating: 10
No warranty, as is. Shipping was fast, everything was as it should be. I had no real interaction with the dealer except to pay him so I can't give a customer service rating but since I'm required to, for reasons best know by whomever designed this form, I'll give them the best.
Customer Service: 10
Very nice ebony fingerboard and end pin. I supplied my own ebony tailpiece, but the instrument came with a nice Wittner Composite (or so it appears) tailpiece and good maple bridge. I lowered the bridge arch, but the feet were perfectly matched to the top and the soundpost was an easy, perfect fit..
Look, this is a student grade instrument, no doubt about that, and I know I've kind of been gushing about it. But in fairness to Knilling, this is a very good student violin, much better than most of the others I've had -- though, under normal circumstances, it would have cost me 4 or 5 times what I paid for it. That being the case, I can't really rate it against other violins in that price range, but cost aside, this has quickly become my favorite trade fiddle of the 4 I own and is now my daily player. I am impressed with its quality and perfectly satisfied with its sound and play ability. I wouldn't hesitate to recommend it to a friend IF the price was right.
Components Rating: 9
Overall Rating: 10
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