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Lewiesc

First Time Buying Violin, Please Help

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Hello forum users, I apologise for the disturbance (I'm sure you get many people like myself seeking advice). Though I know it is impossible to correctly evaluate an instrument based upon a very small few photos, I would just like to inquire as to whether or not this violin appears to be reasonably priced, thank you very kindly for your time http://www.gumtree.com.au/s-ad/camden/other-musical-instruments/4-4-stradivarius-cremonensis-violin-case-reduced-/1123405813

 

Thanks, Lewie

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I'd say no. If it were nicely set up I might be happier. Even then its not a great looking instrument. And then you have to worry about unknowns that are not apparent in the photos that could completely destroy playability and value.

 

For that price range I'd head to a shop and look at new Chinese instruments. Or look at the selection of things from a mail order company like Shar.

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Hi Lewie - seeing that the seller is in Camden, Australia, I take it that you are also deep down in the southern hemisphere?

 

Advice based on pictures is usually very limited in value. Although I'm always amazed how our panel of resident experts can pinpoint which family member made an instrument. 

 

I'd do my best to get a professional violinist to play the instrument. It's a short drive from Sydney. That way you get a chance to hear how it sounds. After all that is the full and final purpose of any stringed instrument. "Eye-candy" is a bonus.

 

Good luck - edi

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Post WW2 Australia received a lot of immigrants from war-torn Europe, passengers naturally bringing with them numerous musical instruments to while away the 6w long sea journey.

60yrs+ & 3 generations later, after scraping off decades of ciggy tar many are "rediscovering" Gramps' old fiddle stuffed in the back wardrobe is a STRADIVARIUS!! 8) ...Cremonensis Faciebat Anno 17xx?

Timeline wise, the earlier arrivals would be German & the later ones most likely Czech.

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It may be "reasonably priced" but it is no bargain.  And there seem to be some questionable things, such as the neck/fingerboard on the G-side near the peg-box.  IMO, unless you can play it and examine it closely, why bother with it?  Get to a shop! 

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Really sorry for the late response! I haven't had wifi for the past few days. Thank you all so much for the advice, I don't think I'll be purchasing this violin. The reason I haven't been to a store is that in my experience (albeit my only experiences with music stores have been purchasing different instruments; drums, guitars and keyboards), stores have ridiculously high prices compared to the internet/2nd hand. How it typically ends up with these instruments is that in-store you'll pay $2000, on the net it'll be $1500 and 2nd hand it'll cost as low as $800. Cosmetic condition doesn't concern me at all, I only care about playability and tone (for learning and recording purposes). So I suppose my question is, are violin stores any different? Is one likely to come across violins that are reasonably priced in stores? Also, thank you very much mysticpaw for the offer, I will most probably PM you in the near future. Violins are so much harder to buy than other instruments D= Thanks again everyone =)

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I didn't realize you were in Australia. I probably don't understand your purchasing power as much. You may have to pay significantly more at a shop for something decent, but a good shop should hand you an instrument that's set up well and immediately playable. Something you often don't get in a second hand older instrument. And it doesn't look like the case here.

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Okay well thank you very much for the recommendations! I'll check that website out and further delve into the pros/cons of buying in-store vs second hand in Australia. Again, thanks for all the help everyone.

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 So I suppose my question is, are violin stores any different? Is one likely to come across violins that are reasonably priced in stores?

 

I think the question is not perfectly easy to answer.  A "store front" type shop has expenses that a guy on e-bay doesn't.  The advantages are several: you know where to find the guy; he should stand behind the violin if problems develop either with authenticity or condition; and he probably knows a lot more about set-up.  However, in an imperfect world just because someone does have a shop doesn't guarantee perfect expertise.  But, IMO, the odds of getting a good serviceable violin at a shop are better than getting one on line.  And—also just in my opinion—you usually get what you pay for.  Skimping on a violin will often and maybe usually get you problems.

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I think the question is not perfectly easy to answer. A "store front" type shop has expenses that a guy on e-bay doesn't. The advantages are several: you know where to find the guy; he should stand behind the violin if problems develop either with authenticity or condition; and he probably knows a lot more about set-up. However, in an imperfect world just because someone does have a shop doesn't guarantee perfect expertise. But, IMO, the odds of getting a good serviceable violin at a shop are better than getting one on line. And—also just in my opinion—you usually get what you pay for. Skimping on a violin will often and maybe usually get you problems.

Lewiesc, I just want to reinforce what Will is saying here.

Really sorry for the late response! I haven't had wifi for the past few days. Thank you all so much for the advice, I don't think I'll be purchasing this violin. The reason I haven't been to a store is that in my experience (albeit my only experiences with music stores have been purchasing different instruments; drums, guitars and keyboards), stores have ridiculously high prices compared to the internet/2nd hand. How it typically ends up with these instruments is that in-store you'll pay $2000, on the net it'll be $1500 and 2nd hand it'll cost as low as $800. Cosmetic condition doesn't concern me at all, I only care about playability and tone (for learning and recording purposes). So I suppose my question is, are violin stores any different? Is one likely to come across violins that are reasonably priced in stores? Also, thank you very much mysticpaw for the offer, I will most probably PM you in the near future. Violins are so much harder to buy than other instruments D= Thanks again everyone =)

In your example you show a pretty wide spread between retail, online sales, and private party sale. In my experience it isn't that wide of a spread. It may appear that way partially because you don't know what you are and are not getting. These are not apples to apples, and the markup isn't just price gouging. When you go to a decent shop you will be able to try an instrument with the help of a knowledgeable salesperson. The instrument will be set up and maintained by a qualified luthier, and if you are interested in the instrument but want lower string heights, perhaps different strings etc... There will be someone who will help you walk away wih the instrument adjusted properly for your preferences. You'll have the option of a trial for a week or two to make sure you really love it. You'll usually have free adjustments in the first year to make sure it settles in to your home environment without issues, and some sort of warranty coverage, although this varies.

Compare that with a private sale (usually 60-75% of retail) where you can't count on disclosure of devaluing damage (like a button crack or post crack that may be had for the layperson to see, and may not be adequately reinforced), if the setup needs adjustments you're on your own, if any significant issues arise you have no coverage, and setup will often need quite a bit of work. You can easily spend $300-$500 fixing a bad setup. If you discover something like a button crack after purchase it's well over $1,000 in repairs, and ignoreing it may result in a catastrophic failure of the joint, and extreme damage. This risk can be mitigated by having a shop assess the instrument before purchase, but you can blow a lot of time bargain hunting this way.

Online shops fall somewhere in between. I've seen some pretty rough setup from online retailers. (Even those with a better reputation) your choice is to pay to have it redone or pay to shop it back to be redone. I hardly think the headache is worth it. Then again, I run a shop with a store front, so I have that bias. I've made the mistake of buying a couple big purchases online that cost me much more than my savings. For example; When my snow tire had a flaw in the treads I was told I'd have to ship it back to be evaluated. Warranty didn't cover shipping either way, so if they replaced it is still be paying the reads end price in round trip shipping. The cheaper online price wasn't worth the headache.

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 You can easily spend $300-$500 fixing a bad setup. If you discover something like a button crack after purchase it's well over $1,000 in repairs, and ignoreing it may result in a catastrophic failure of the joint, and extreme damage. 

Prices not so high everywhere! No NO No!

 

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Wow, okay well thank you very much for these detailed responses, I think that after all I probably will get one from a store considering I know so little about violins. I'll also be able to audition a number of violins to get a better idea of the tone I'm after.

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Hi Lewie,

Don't rush things. You can borrow a couple of nice violins from me to try if you wish....as long as I know where you live and you check out bona fide !! :D 

Cheers

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