barnett25

3/4 Violin for an Adult?

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Hello,

I am a guitarist who has always had an interest in the violin, but have never taken the plunge. 

However yesterday at a pawn shop I found what I thought was just the violin for me. It was a West German made better quality 1960s student violin for only $65 with a case (and a bow that is not in the best shape and is not very good quality). I bought it thinking I would do some basic setup work on it and probably get a new bow and have a beginner instrument that I am drawn to more than I would have been with a new $60 Chinese VSO on Amazon. However after getting the violin home I realized that it measured up to be a 3/4 size (and the case and bow match of course). 

So now I have two questions. 

1. Can I, as a 5' 11" adult male, learn to play (at least at a basic level) on a 3/4 size violin? I have no aspirations to play in an orchestra, just get to the point that I can play some recognizable tunes for my own enjoyment.

 

2. I believe the bow is bad and needs replaced. Should I get a 3/4 bow that fits nicely in the case, or do I absolutely need a 4/4 bow even if it means having to come up with a storage solution (maybe a cheap full size case)? I was looking at the $25-$50 range on Amazon. Obviously not the best, but you can probably tell it fits the theme of my overall budget.

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3 hours ago, barnett25 said:

 

So now I have two questions. 

1. Can I, as a 5' 11" adult male, learn to play (at least at a basic level) on a 3/4 size violin? I have no aspirations to play in an orchestra, just get to the point that I can play some recognizable tunes for my own enjoyment.

 

2. I believe the bow is bad and needs replaced. Should I get a 3/4 bow that fits nicely in the case, or do I absolutely need a 4/4 bow even if it means having to come up with a storage solution (maybe a cheap full size case)? I was looking at the $25-$50 range on Amazon. Obviously not the best, but you can probably tell it fits the theme of my overall budget.

1.Yes. You could move the bridge and the sound post South to create a longer string length. You might make another upper nut with standard string spacing, 5.5mm center to center. It's been done many times and one notices that 3/4 violins can sound absolutely super. Bring the tail piece as close to the lower saddle as possible, almost right on it.

2. Get a 4/4 bow. A 3/4 is uncomfortable. Usable, though.

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4 hours ago, barnett25 said:

Hello,

I am a guitarist who has always had an interest in the violin, but have never taken the plunge. 

However yesterday at a pawn shop I found what I thought was just the violin for me. It was a West German made better quality 1960s student violin for only $65 with a case (and a bow that is not in the best shape and is not very good quality). I bought it thinking I would do some basic setup work on it and probably get a new bow and have a beginner instrument that I am drawn to more than I would have been with a new $60 Chinese VSO on Amazon. However after getting the violin home I realized that it measured up to be a 3/4 size (and the case and bow match of course). 

So now I have two questions. 

1. Can I, as a 5' 11" adult male, learn to play (at least at a basic level) on a 3/4 size violin? I have no aspirations to play in an orchestra, just get to the point that I can play some recognizable tunes for my own enjoyment.

 

2. I believe the bow is bad and needs replaced. Should I get a 3/4 bow that fits nicely in the case, or do I absolutely need a 4/4 bow even if it means having to come up with a storage solution (maybe a cheap full size case)? I was looking at the $25-$50 range on Amazon. Obviously not the best, but you can probably tell it fits the theme of my overall budget.

I say get a 4/4 violin.  Your fingers will need to be trained to hit the strings at correct spots for specific notes, and unlike the frets on a guitar, any small shift of the finger whether up or down will change the pitch.   It will be harder to retrain your fingers once they get used to the 3/4 size.  I know from experience as a teen-ager ---- I played a 3/4 size much too long before my parents realized I should be using a 4/4.

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2 hours ago, carl stross said:

1.Yes. You could move the bridge and the sound post South to create a longer string length. You might make another upper nut with standard string spacing, 5.5mm center to center. It's been done many times and one notices that 3/4 violins can sound absolutely super. Bring the tail piece as close to the lower saddle as possible, almost right on it.

2. Get a 4/4 bow. A 3/4 is uncomfortable. Usable, though.

I like this idea! Would I be looking to move the bridge the entire 21mm to match a 4/4 violin, or a bit less to at least get closer to a full scale length?

 

I definitely agree with everyone's recommendations that I get a full sized instrument instead. Unfortunately right now my options are probably limited to either finding a way to make this violin work for me or not play at all.

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10 hours ago, Trenchworker said:

I say get a 4/4 violin.  Your fingers will need to be trained to hit the strings at correct spots for specific notes, and unlike the frets on a guitar, any small shift of the finger whether up or down will change the pitch.   It will be harder to retrain your fingers once they get used to the 3/4 size.  I know from experience as a teen-ager ---- I played a 3/4 size much too long before my parents realized I should be using a 4/4.

I do not think that is an issue in the slightest. 

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15 hours ago, barnett25 said:

I like this idea! Would I be looking to move the bridge the entire 21mm to match a 4/4 violin, or a bit less to at least get closer to a full scale length?

No need for 21mm - move it just so that it's "more" comfortable. Lots of real old violins are quite small - 3/4 is not that far from what once was 4/4. When you place a finger down, listen to the pitch. Move the finger if the pitch is not what you wanted. :) 

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On 6/16/2017 at 1:58 AM, carl stross said:

I do not think that is an issue in the slightest. 

I was writing of my experience --- I do not presume to generalize to others.

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1 hour ago, Trenchworker said:

I was writing of my experience --- I do not presume to generalize to others.

I understand. But that sort of experience is a bit of an odd one out and should not've happened in the first place. There is a procedure a teacher follows when moving up in violin size. Let's not scare the OP for no good reason. :)

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Will L   

I don't like the idea of messing around with trying to get a different string-length and odd post adjustments, and a 4/4 bow.  I'd recommend getting the violin set up well with the intention of selling it to a kid who can use it in its correct form, and get a decent carbon fiber 3/4 bow.  Then play the violin for a few weeks and see if you even want to continue.  If you can live with it, fine, but if not—or if you want to move up to a 4/4— it will be ready to sell.  If it is as good as you suggest, your profit will go a long way toward paying for a full size.   

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5 hours ago, Will L said:

I don't like the idea of messing around with trying to get a different string-length and odd post adjustments, and a 4/4 bow.  I'd recommend getting the violin set up well with the intention of selling it to a kid who can use it in its correct form, and get a decent carbon fiber 3/4 bow.  Then play the violin for a few weeks and see if you even want to continue.  If you can live with it, fine, but if not—or if you want to move up to a 4/4— it will be ready to sell.  If it is as good as you suggest, your profit will go a long way toward paying for a full size.   

I think I am going to take a stab at learning on it setup with a proper string length as you suggest. I can always change that down the road if I want to experiment.

As to the quality of the violin, it is a E.R. Pfretzschner "hand made Stradivarius copy" adjusted and sold by Scherl & Roth. I believe these were standard quality factory made instruments sold to schools in many cases. Nothing amazing, but I think I would have to pay a few hundred dollars to match the quality of woods and workmanship in a new instrument. I also like that it has honest age on it. As with my guitars, I find myself enjoying my instruments better if I know they have had a long life before me.

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14 hours ago, carl stross said:

I understand. But that sort of experience is a bit of an odd one out and should not've happened in the first place. There is a procedure a teacher follows when moving up in violin size. Let's not scare the OP for no good reason. :)

I was not trying to scare anyone, only writing of my experience.   Yes, it was "a bit of an odd one".  I had no teacher.  I taught myself to play the violin when I was 7 years old, from a book called "A Tune A Day".  6 years later, when I was 13 I had my first violin lesson with a real violin teacher.  She was the one who said I needed a full-size violin.

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GeorgeH   
On June 16, 2017 at 4:58 AM, carl stross said:

I do not think that is an issue in the slightest. 

Of course, you would not. You have eloquently expressed your thoughts about adults learning the violin. You would likely not think it an issue of the OP were starting using a cement block. :D 

In the meantime, I'd suggest the OP sell the 3/4 violin on Craigslist and then buy a full-size one from Craigslist.

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10 minutes ago, GeorgeH said:

Of course, you would not. You have eloquently expressed your thoughts about adults learning the violin. You would likely not think it an issue of the OP were starting using a cement block. :D 

In the meantime, I'd suggest the OP sell the 3/4 violin on Craigslist and then buy a full-size one from Craigslist.

I would prefer to get a 4/4 violin, but my question is; is it better to have a decent quality 3/4 instrument, or a Chinese vso in 4/4? I have yet to find a used violin for sale in my area under $200 that even has a spruce top. In fact it seems that barring finding a fluke deal (which I am still looking for) I think the $60-$100 violins on Amazon are a much better deal for the money than anything I can find used around here.

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55 minutes ago, GeorgeH said:

Of course, you would not. You have eloquently expressed your thoughts about adults learning the violin. You would likely not think it an issue of the OP were starting using a cement block. :D 

Actually, that's not a bad idea. Less noise, more exercise. Exercise is good for you. Noise is irritating.

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6 hours ago, Trenchworker said:

I was not trying to scare anyone, only writing of my experience.   Yes, it was "a bit of an odd one".  I had no teacher.  I taught myself to play the violin when I was 7 years old, from a book called "A Tune A Day".  6 years later, when I was 13 I had my first violin lesson with a real violin teacher.  She was the one who said I needed a full-size violin.

I'm glad you explained. You will appreciate that your warning applied to your particular situation which is quite uncommon.

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2 hours ago, barnett25 said:

I would prefer to get a 4/4 violin, but my question is; is it better to have a decent quality 3/4 instrument, or a Chinese vso in 4/4? I have yet to find a used violin for sale in my area under $200 that even has a spruce top. In fact it seems that barring finding a fluke deal (which I am still looking for) I think the $60-$100 violins on Amazon are a much better deal for the money than anything I can find used around here.

OP Says they are going to set it up, I expect a 4/4 Chinese in the white from a reputable dealer on eBay would be much better than any used 4/4 for a hundred or less. A little elbow grease and patience and you have a "decent" sounding and playing violin. And sell the 3/4 on Craigslist and get you money back. 

(Edit: I would keep the 3/4 play with it while finding and fixing up the white.)

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GeorgeH   
2 hours ago, barnett25 said:

I would prefer to get a 4/4 violin, but my question is; is it better to have a decent quality 3/4 instrument, or a Chinese vso in 4/4? I have yet to find a used violin for sale in my area under $200 that even has a spruce top. In fact it seems that barring finding a fluke deal (which I am still looking for) I think the $60-$100 violins on Amazon are a much better deal for the money than anything I can find used around here.

You could also advertise for a "Wanted: Full Size Violin Under $XX" on Craigslist instead of waiting for one to show-up.

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A4tune   
On 16. 6. 2017 at 11:37 AM, WorksAsIntended said:

You should be able to relearn the positioning fastly. Its getting narrow in higher positions anyway. 

 

As an adult violin beginner myself (after playing guitar for years too), I'd be careful with "fastly" ;-) - even after more than a year of practising, I'm not really happy yet with positioning, sound and everything...  Then again, the 1st position might be a bit more convenient for the start with 3/4 before your left hand gets used to the violin - but if I were you, I'd switch to 4/4 as soon as possible.

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Thank you everyone for your help and suggestions!

I have been keeping an eye out for a 4/4 violin and finally ran across one today on facebook marketplace. It is a handmade (supposedly) violin made by someone local probably in the 90s. It needs a bridge, sound post and new strings, but I think it should work well for me to learn on. I am going to make a separate post in the appropriate forum to try to find out more about this new violin as it uses some odd woods (I would swear it has a curly elm neck). 

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Just a thought. Your 3/4 violin bow is probably just as long (perhaps longer) than my baroque bow. You can play the chaconne with such a bow, just don't tell anyone.

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33 minutes ago, WorksAsIntended said:

Shorter bow does not make it baroque and I doubt a beginner can play the Chaconne (either by Bach or Thomaso)

Right now I am lucky to scratch out a little Ashoken Farewell. I actually bought a $30 carbon fiber bow on Amazon. Although it leaves me constantly wondering which screeches are my fault and which are the bows fault. But in any case it is an upgrade from the 3/4 bow since it no longer has the proper curve and I have to get it almost straight before it starts to get any kind of tension.

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