I'm Amanda, a beginner violin student from Oslo, Norway. Been playing for a little over a year now using rented violin. I've been dreaming to get my own and looking for suggestions. Found Stentor Student II 1500 from this review, but i'm not sure whether i should buy or not. Does anyone have experience with this violin or can recommend other options? Budget $200.
Hello and welcome, @AmandaDandre!
I can completely understand sticking to a tight budget for a violin, especially at times like this. When there are violins online that are so much cheaper than those in shops, it’s tempting to take the plunge and buy. Please resist that temptation, though. Let me explain why:
I’m quite familiar with many of the instruments on the list you linked. The information on that list is extremely inaccurate. Those instruments are what players and luthiers refer to as VSOs (violin-shaped objects), meaning they are made with the worst workmanship and materials on the market. To get the purchase price down so dramatically low, the factories have to cut corners that sacrifice sound and playability. Nothing will make you want to quit faster than an instrument that’s dead in your hand. The lists you see online or in generic music magazines are utterly useless and are often sponsored by the companies that are on the lists. The online reviews for the violins always look great, but they’re fake. Many shops refuse to even touch these instruments because they’re just too full of issues to be worth any time.
As an alternative, I would suggest renting a violin from a good shop. The monthly payments are generally easy to handle (on average around $20-$40), and the costs of maintenance are included in the rental. Just not having to pay for strings and a bow rehair every six months will save you a lot of money. Also, the violin will be set up well and will be easy to play. If you stick with it, you’ll build up credit that you can use toward a purchase later on. That credit that most shops offer can significantly lower the cost of a better instrument, and you’ll have some time to save up for it.
If you’re sure you want to make a purchase now, you really can’t find much that’s playable for under $1000. Keep in mind that a proper setup for a violin will cost several hundred by itself, and factory instruments are not set up properly. Find a luthier or shop you can trust and look at several instruments in your price range. Play them all, or if you’re not confident in your playing, bring a friend that plays and listen to them. You don’t have to spend millions to get a good instrument, but you do need to spend a bit more to get one that will work well. Steer clear of VSOs!
Edited by - The Violin Beautiful on 03/25/2020 06:33:27
Song Chinese violin
Most of the name brand fiddles recommended by the site you posted are cheap student grade beginner instruments and are probably over priced.
However -- Take a look at the link above. There are handmade, decent sounding and playing student violins for well under $1000 out there. I can't vouch for the exact violin shown in that link, of course (it does look good for the price). With shipping, it is $202 (to US - I don't know if that applies to Norway).
Here is something I can vouch for, however - I've purchased 3 of these inexpensive Song violins over the years, each one for less than $200 shipped and all three are excellent advanced student grade fiddles that were set-up nicely right out of the box (with change to better strings, naturally). In fact, my favorite fiddle, the one that I play daily, cost me $175 and sounds terrific. Naturally, I am not saying these are professional grade instruments, but they are far better than the brands shown in your link, IMO.
I am not suggesting you buy online unless you are comfortable doing that. But Song Violin (no financial interest) is a small, family owned violin company in China and they do NOT make junk. They don't cut costs and they use only high quality materials in my experience. They claim they price their instruments by sound and appearance and occasionally post ones like this one for under $200. I'd recommend you keep your eyes open and keep track of this maker. There are bargains out there if you are willing to look.
Alternatively, save more money to buy an instrument you can play first - new or used. I'm not recommending buying on-line, but I have done so successfully on a number of occasions and when dealing with reputable companies like Mr. Song, I am comfortable doing so.
Edited by - echord on 03/26/2020 15:43:10
Thanks so much for detailed explanations. I'm having second thoughts now and probably wait a little more once i get a bigger budget.
Germany was THE student violin making center from the late 1800s to WWI. Over here they are called German trade violins. I love them. Paul Warren also played one. Usually around $500. Check out violin stores in Oslo and bring a more experienced friend along.. By the way, if you click on the left of the home page, then more, then member pages. You can pull up all the othe FHO members in Norway. Some specifically say they are willing to help other fiddlers. Good Hunting
Edited by - stumpkicker on 03/27/2020 05:35:29
'5-strings' 11 hrs
'Squeaks and scratches' 2 days
'Pre WW2 Fiddle' 2 days
'Flash jams?' 2 days