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Any advice for a returning player?


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I would like to return to playing the violin after a 20+ year

"hiatus".  As we live in a place with no violin shops and I

have not yet located an instructor (though I've asked the nearest

symphony orchestra for any feedback), I'm most likely going to buy

from online.  While I'm very nervous about buying an

instrument without touching it (let alone playing it) first, I must

do what I can.

I'd like to get what I would call a "respectable" instrument -

nothing fancy, of course, as it's not like I will be playing for

anyone outside my immediate family.  Something I might be able

to hand down to my kids eventually.  I just don't want

something that looks like it's made of plywood or sounds like it's

made of cardboard.  New or used, I don't care - the sound is

most important to me.  The idea of a piece with "history" is

appealing, but the new ones usually come as a complete package, so

I'm not sure.

What advice can you give me as to suitable instruments I might

look for and/or avoid?  Should I concentrate on getting a

"package" (violin, bow, case) or should I select the pieces a la

carte?  And on a side note, having played violins and

violas and not quite sure which I should buy, what's the general

consensus on 5 string violins?  I realize the mantra of

strings in general is "tradition", so perhaps I'm just going to

have to decide one way or the other.

As I have a family with 2 young kids to take care of, money is

scarce though not as scarce as it was when I was in school.

 I'm thinking I could afford perhaps $500 for a violin, $150

for a bow, and $100 for a case.  Am I dreaming or could

this be possible?  Should I pay more to get a suitable violin

and sacrifice on the bow and case for now?  All in all, I

can't see myself paying more than $1,000 for all three, so

obviously, I'm not talking about masterpieces.

I would appreciate any input provided.  I've been perusing the

forums for a while now and the expertise and experience of the

members is obvious.  My apologies for the lengthy post.

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Hi JayTee, I was in the same position as you 2 years ago, after 25 year break, with small children, etc. What I did was buy a Stringworks Virtuoso package, which is a reasonably good violin, bow, case deal. It was enough to get me started, although I did not know anything about sound, setup, etc. Of course once I got on this board I developed violin envy and traded in my Virtuoso a few months later. Looking back, it was an okay starting instrument, but you'll need to communicate with them about setup, stringheight, stuff like that. I've also bought a 3/4 violin from giannaviolins.com which my daughter loves, and is adequate for her. Steve, the owner will play violins over the phone as well as talk to you about setup, comfort, strings. He can set you up with more personal attention. He does post on this board, as well as on fiddleforum.com

All the best!

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Originally posted by:

what's the general

consensus on 5 string violins? .

Firstly I have to say I have only once seen, and never played a five-string violin/viola.

I know that some specialist players use them and I think both Kim Kaskashian and Simon Rowland-Jones

have both commissioned and recorded with such instruments, to the best of my memory.

They seem to be successful up to a point.

I wouldn't recommend you invest in one until you have tried it for yourself and are sure how much use you will get out of it.

I'm sure there are satisfactory solutions to the problem, but the addition of a fifth string to the fingerboard must broaden the width to some degree and call for some adjustment at least, if not discomfort.

You might end up with something that is "neither fish nor foul" - an ugly duckling? I don't think you would find much acceptance among regular violists of such an instrument in their section.

You'd also probably have to outlay quite a bit more than you are intending for your budget for one of these instruments, perhaps?

As to your other questions, since your music-making may be restricted to the home(?), perhaps it's best to look for a package - instrument, bow and case. Shop around and see what's within your budget.

Good luck!

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My guess is that in your price range a 5 string violin wuld be out of the question. You can get a prety decent violin or viola for $700 or so. The first violin in my quartet picked up a viola package with bow and case for $700 that really sounds great He is not a violist but just wanted to have something if he needed to sit in somewhere, but the set sounds great.

For bow and case, my son is in NJ regionals and Youth Orchestra of Central Jersey with a $180 John Brasil bow and $69 case from International violin.

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If I were doing it, I would buy a plain, inexpensive, perhaps used, student-grade case for maybe $35, since unless you plan to travel extensively with your fiddle shipped as checked baggage (shudder) you don't need much more than protection from dings and drops.

I would also choose a carbon-fiber bow, since I think everyone here will agree that, at the low end, they're much better value for money. There are several useful ones in the $100-$350 range. I'd probably go with a $200 Glasser or a $250 Musicary, but if I were feeling the pinch, even the $100 Glasser would be fine.

Whatever I had left over, I'd put into the best reputable factory fiddle I could buy. There are several Maestronetters who can advise on that.

Hope that helps!

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