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Jon P.

Cheapies

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Having played a 50 buck plywood chinese violin since a year now, I thought that I might upgrade to a cheapie, which is to say a Manukirchen box, as you say here. What I would like to know is what should I look for and where. The obvious answer is ebay but it seems to me that someone somewhere on a Maestronet forum wrote that you can find cheaper and better elsewhere. I am very attracted by the fake stainers with dark finish and one piece back but they seem to have a bad reputation as far as sound goes and even though in the cheapies I cannot expect a good sound I hope to find something better than what I have now.

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The real issue you have is not which violin/ type of the trade fiddles to go for. Your real issue is condition. If you buy on ebay and you are lucky, you still might look at $500+ to get the violin into a playing condition. In most cases the attic finds on ebay have actually seen a luthier and been told that the cost of repairs would exceed the value of the violin. Hence, they are not being repaired but sold on ebay as is. As a player, I would avoid ebay. Might be a little better to keep an eye on your local classifieds where you can at least inspect/ test the violin. But even that takes experience and some knowledge in what to look for. And you will need patience.

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14 hours ago, Jon P. said:

Having played a 50 buck plywood chinese violin since a year now, I thought that I might upgrade to a cheapie, which is to say a Manukirchen box, as you say here. What I would like to know is what should I look for and where. The obvious answer is ebay but it seems to me that someone somewhere on a Maestronet forum wrote that you can find cheaper and better elsewhere. I am very attracted by the fake stainers with dark finish and one piece back but they seem to have a bad reputation as far as sound goes and even though in the cheapies I cannot expect a good sound I hope to find something better than what I have now.

 

1 hour ago, Guido said:

The real issue you have is not which violin/ type of the trade fiddles to go for. Your real issue is condition. If you buy on ebay and you are lucky, you still might look at $500+ to get the violin into a playing condition. In most cases the attic finds on ebay have actually seen a luthier and been told that the cost of repairs would exceed the value of the violin. Hence, they are not being repaired but sold on ebay as is. As a player, I would avoid ebay. Might be a little better to keep an eye on your local classifieds where you can at least inspect/ test the violin. But even that takes experience and some knowledge in what to look for. And you will need patience.

eBay is a paradise for experienced amateur luthiers, and a very dicey proposition for players.  Like Guido says, most of the antiques and vintage sold there need repair work, and one can expect that the new Chinese will require a real set up (new strings, new and properly cut bridge, new or at least recut soundpost, nut corrected, afterlength adjusted, pegs polished or replaced with geared, all that jazz).  Another worry is the lack of ethics shown by some of the sellers, not a day passes but I see blatantly faked fiddles and bows being offered.  If you aren't good at research and self-education to know the subject (I advise newbs to specialize in a particular type, and not go chasing phantom Cremonese rabbits, etc.), along with use of image processing to meticulously examine photos, you are certain to get burned.  Don't be shy about contacting sellers and asking pointed questions, either.

One other piece of advice, if you decide to get into this, forswear all eagerness and hurry.  Grind the databases long enough, and the prize you seek will come to you, almost effortlessly.  :)

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Thank you for your advice, very appropriate. As for grinding the databases goes, it has been a while that I have been doing that but the subject is vast.

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On 8/13/2019 at 9:03 AM, Herman West said:

just go to a brick and mortar shop rather than eBay.

Indeed!  This is the best option and you get a reasonably priced  instrument,  properly restored, well set up with guarantees - and you can try a number of options.  Free on going advice and adjustments and a free 12 month service to check that you are still happy. It will turn out cheaper that eBay

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If you have some basic luthier skills (setting soundposts, shaping bridges, etc) and enjoy the thrill of the hunt, you can find some nice fiddles on eBay. Just be prepared to find yourself reselling some of those fiddles after you fixed them up because they’re just not that great. 

I would not advise this approach for anyone without those skills, though. It has to be a labor of love in order to be cost effective much of the time. 

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