I played first chair Violin from 94-96 in middle school, demoted to fifth chair for not practicing, still had first chair skill, got mad, and quit. Now 25 years later I want to play again, but my nice Violin is in my sisters closet in a different state. I have a $20 Jackson Guldan garage sell violin. I bring it to the local rural shop for strings and a bridge. They make a crued bridge and fit Dominants on it. 5 days later I'm at my first private lesson and my flat A string breaks from a fine tuner adjustment. Teacher looks at my strings and says there is no way they are less than a week old. So shop sold me junk strings. I realize after 25 years that all though my playing ability is gone, my ear is still there. I order a cheap $100 "The Guldan" off eBay to tide me over until I pick a nicer Violin, and I know its cheap but I love American History. Bring to to the "best" shop 3 towns over and tell them it sounds bright can they restring it and mellow it out. Pick the Violin up ($110) Obligato's later and come home, it will not stay in tune for more than 5 seconds. I find that the pegs have been swapped around, holes in wrong location, tons of brown wax/grease, and they cracked the peg box near the hole on the E string. I say screw it and go to order the fiddler man Concert Delux, out of stock. This brings me to the problem.
I can't trust any of the shops to look out for my best interest and not try to rip me off. What I really want to do is get a nice $500-800 instrument, play it hard for 6-12 months and then upgrade to a nicely restored American classic in the 5k range. I like fiddlerman because the Violin will come ready to play, meaning I can stay away from the "expert" shops in my area. My choices are the Symphony 1200, Ming Jiang Zhu 903, or Ming Jiang Zhu 905. I can afford it, just didn't want to spend that much on a Chinese Violin aka the classic American upgrade next year. My second option is to buy from Yitamusic on eBay and hope it doesnt need a setup. Third option is to find a reasonable setup guy near Houston TX.
I know I could get a nice Violin from a local shop but their $1k Violins are what fiddlerman sells for $500, so the value is off. What I would prefer to do is get a well set up Yitamusic T20 or master and go for an expensive classic next year. At this point Im really frustrated and angry. Does anybody have any recommendations?