Hello! I just signed up here and am getting ready to rent my first violin and begin lessons. Initially I was looking at buying one of the beginner recommendations from an article I read around $300, but after learning about rentals & renting to own I'm planning on renting a nicer violin as I know having a better sounding, more responsive violin will make me want to play more. I'm looking to rent from Johnson, and thinking about starting out with their advanced option. They use Eastman VL305 or VL205 for their advanced violins. Yesterday I tried playing my first violin at Sweetwater and I liked the Eastman 305 out of the several $1200 and up options I tried, so I was planning on requesting the 305 when I fill out the rental form.
I know nothing about violin, but I want to learn in more of a bluegrass style rather than classical (fiddle I guess?). Do the Eastman 205/305's make good choices for this style, and is there any reason I shouldn't start out with an intermediate violin as opposed to standard? The standard Scherl & Roth that Sweetwater uses as their student violin wasn't nearly as responsive & good sounding to me as the Eastman I tried (and the monthly rental rate is $12 more). I was able to really make the Eastman ring on the G string, and it sounded so beautiful to me.
So I'm curious about these models, from what I've read people seem to like them. I'm also wondering if I'll need a different type of setup for the style I'd like to learn. I think bluegrass style uses different strings? The two Eastman models have a fine tuner for the E string, hopefully this is good enough. I feel like have fine tuners on all the strings would be better for me as a beginner. I know I can change to them once i buy the violin.
Sorry for the lack of knowledge and if I'm totally wrong on my thoughts. I'm completely green here but eager to learn. I've always wanted to learn violin & figured I'm 35 and just getting older so why not. Excited to be here & can't wait to learn! Thanks in advance!
I used to own a music store that rented violins, cellos, violas, etc. If you had blindfolded me and put one of the instruments in my hand, there would be no way I could tell what the brand was because they all spoke with a different voice. Some of the inexpensive ones sounded better than the supposed superior brand.professional ones. My advice would be to go to a store near you that has many available instruments for you to play or hear someone else play and pick the one that sounds good to you. Also, I would advise that the bow you get is very, very important.
I'm a classically trained Violin and Viola player and teacher, I do play many different kind of music from folk to jazz and blues and old time fiddling...
I know eastman violins are very good instruments so I think you can go with it, about set up and strings I don't think there is difference between classic and bluegrass set up
So Happy fiddling
Don't hesitate to ask if you need more help
I believe that one reason they advise to get a less expensive instrument as a true beginner is that it's likely that the differences in the sound will not really affect your ability to learn on it, and also your ear won't quite be tuned into fine differences yet. I suppose it's a little less investment until you start to get your wheels on the ground. As your skills grow with the instrument, it will make sense to upgrade, and you'll have a better idea of what you want. But it should still be good enough quality to make you want to play. That's the fine line.
But ... if you have access to a fiddle that already gives you goosebumps, and you can afford it, go for it. Looking forward to hearing more about your adventures!
Edited by - Earworm on 11/20/2022 17:05:55
Eastman makes dependable student instruments, and it’s no coincidence that they’re used by shops everywhere for rental programs. Getting something that’s decent is so important especially when you’re getting started.
As one of the biggest shops in the country, Johnson has a lot of resources and should provide a well-setup outfit. I think they’ll be happy to put a Wittner tailpiece on the violin you rent. A tailpiece can easily be exchanged by a knowledgeable luthier and the original can be kept in the case should you wish to go back.
Don’t worry about whether your violin is suitable--if it's a violin, it's suitable for fiddling. I would say that a lot of fiddlers are drawn toward a deeper, darker, viola-like sound, but that is certainly not everyone’s taste. Fiddling is much more about the player than the instrument.
In regard to the setup, there is what’s known as a “fiddle bridge” that has a flatter curve. Some players prefer it, but many play with a standard curve. Steel strings are more common in fiddling, but certainly not required. The strings that come on your rental will be fine.
An advanced rental will be leagues better than anything you can buy for $300.
Edited by - The Violin Beautiful on 11/21/2022 01:09:36
Thank you to everyone who responded! It's good to know I don't need a specific violin for fiddling. Once I get a little further along I'll look at checking out steel strings.
When I went to Sweetwater I think I played 6 or 7 violins just to hear the tones, playing mostly open notes with their wooden demo bow with real hair. I'm sure it wasn't their best bow, but it seemed to work well enough. With my boyfriends help, I was even able to play a few notes. It seems violin is played backwards to guitar.
With no expectations I did start with a used $300 model since that's what I was planning on spending initially. It took some coaxing to get it to play, and when it did it didn't sound very good. The strings & instrument looked to be dirty though, so I'm sure that had something to do with it. To me I liked the sound of the VL305 better than the $5,000 model I played (not sure what it was). I agree expensive isn't always better. We made 3 different 3 hour trips to get a Martin D18 and ended up choosing a Larrivee D40 that cost $1k less on the last two trips, even with the intent of exchanging it for the D18 on the third trip.
I personally like darker, mellow tones. It makes sense I liked the Eastman after reading the bio page and seeing it's a smooth, mellow, darker sounding violin. I think I might just go for it, since it's only $35/mo to rent. Although I did hear an Antonio Strad Legacy yesterday that sounded pretty dang good (and it has all 4 fine tuners out the gate). I'm fine with making payments towards a better violin while ensuring I'm going to stick with it, but don't like the idea of forking out $1500 when the possibility of not seeing it through is there. I already did that once for pottery and haven't used my wheel in months! I don't see that happening with violin as I've always wanted to learn & that's all I can think about since I picked one up, but sometimes life gets in the way, you know?
Anyway, thanks again for the advice & welcoming me to the forum!
Edited by - MissyLee5 on 11/21/2022 04:35:27
I'm 90% sure my first violin was an Eastman. It wasn't long before I traded the Eastman in for a better instrument, but I got to say that playing the Eastman gave me enough of an emotional charge to get me started on what is now a twenty year+ bout of fiddle madness.
That's great to hear! I'm hoping the same will happen for me. I mainly want to get an intermediate violin so I'm not discouraged by starting out with one with poorer playability and sound. I have the opportunity to buy a used VL305 in good condition for $650, but no bow. I'm now thinking about just pulling the trigger on that since it's only approx $200 more then renting another used one for a year, and a lot less than it I were to buy it at the end of that year.
Embrace the madness.
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