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Luthier Setups and Upgrading Parts

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I've got a question about luthier setups and upgrading parts.

I've been looking around for an intermediate level violin to upgrade to from my $400 student violin, but I'm starting to wonder if I'd be better off just upgrading the parts on my current violin and getting an excellent setup.

So my question is 

1. How much could I potentially improve a student violin by just having a luthier upgrade things like the bridge, soundpost, and tailpiece, and giving it a proper setup? 

2. how much of a difference would a setup by a good luthier now have from the simple setup the violin had a year ago when it was sent to the shop for sale?

3.  Is it worth taking my violin to a good luthier to see what he can do to make my violin better or is it better to just save up for a $2000 or so violin in the near future?

UPDATE: I took my violin to a luthier to give it a look over and make sure its setup was good. He said the E string was a little high, but within acceptable standards and not worth adjusting, and otherwise, it was a good setup and he said nothing he could do to it like replacing the bridge or tailpiece would make a noticeable difference.

While I was there I tried out a bunch of old German workshop violins, my favorite being a $2500 1890 Thomas Ernst. I also tried a $950 Martin Beck, but I didnt like it very much.

On my way home I took a sharp turn and went to Y. Chen's shop, a Chinese luthier who lives here but has a workshop in China where he makes his instruments.

I tried 4 in my price range and noticed a big difference compared to my current violin. They were actually very nice, resonant, and loud!

I especially liked the $800 Arcos Brasil A. Carualho silver pernambuco bow I got to use in the shop. Even made my current violin sound much better.

So at least I figured out that my current setup is fine and in order to improve the sound I need a new violin and a new bow.

So now I will start saving money and go back to these two places (and probably a couple more. I hear there's a Romanian workshop dealer in town as well).

Overall, a good day


Edited by FortyNothing

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I’d recommend you take it to a good shop and have a luthier (NOT a salesman) evaluate the instrument and its setup. A lot of the violins that retail for $400 aren’t worth the investment of about the same amount for a basic setup because they have other issues that will hurt sound and functionality.

If you do decide to look at another violin, get something that has a good in-house setup. If you’re looking in the $2000 range, many shops will have an option for you. 

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One way to check if it is worth the new set up is to hold it by the bottom bout, one hand on each side. Talk to it, if you feel the vibrations in the instrument, then it may be a good candidate for a new set up. If you feel no vibrations, just look for a better instrument.

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Don’t upgrade.   You are fairly new.  Focus on getting better.  

Case in point, I sounded awful yesterday and spent today wondering if I need to upgrade.   Instead I did some basic exercises in tone production and my tone was back, and then some.  

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