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cj-vm

Comments on tailpiece/setup on this fractional violin?

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Hi all,

Background - I am the parent of 2 violin kids, with only 5 years of experience with string instruments, rented and purchased.  I am looking to purchase a step-up violin for my child who is ready for a (better quality) 3/4.  Bear with me!   I do not live in an area with much beyond a chain music store.  The local rentals are pretty ordinary beginner variety.  The one or two good luthiers within striking distance do not carry fractionals.  Therefore I am looking on-line (not ebay), mostly for something pre-loved.  I ran across what reads like a possibility - a used 3/4 made by a regional craftsman who was not very well-known outside the area.  I have researched so that I am confident that the named maker in question did reside regionally, played violin at a semi-professional level, and built more than 50 violins.  I don't know beyond that and I'd rather not name them publicly.  It would be wonderful to have something locally made though I know I could get a very good quality Chinese 3/4 within my budget - I am considering those as well.

Here's my question.  The seller assures me their child used it and it plays beautifully, but in the picture, the tailpiece appears to me to be maybe the wrong size for the instrument, and the bridge and setup seem wonky?  I am a bit suspicious.  Does it seem wrong to you?  I am torn between wanting to continue negotiations for an instrument produced regionally, and thinking something is up.  I'm tempted to contact the family of the maker to ask about a 3/4, but they might not have any idea of the history of the instrument and how the current seller obtained it.  It was built in the early 2000's, the maker died about 10 years later.  You might recommend I go see it in person and we try playing it.  But, our geography means a 4+ hour trip to go see it.  I'm fine with having to buy a new tailpiece, new bridge, new strings, and getting set-up done professionally.  I just don't know what to think of the picture.  Is it just a pattern I am not familiar with, where the tailpiece would extend past the bottom of the F-holes, or just some kind of set-up choice?  Sorry for the poor quality picture, it's all I have.  Thank you for any information/opinions!

violin.jpeg

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Until someone more knowledgeable chimes in, yes it does look like full-size tailpiece to me. We'd be able to see it better with a straight-on photo but that can't be right. As regards the instrument itself, I'm reminded of my first violin, also made by a recently deceased local amateur with a few dozen instruments under his belt. It got me through all the grades but looked like what it was, as does this one, namely a hobbyist's project. But isn't the important thing how it sounds and plays, so..?

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Yes it's a full size tailpiece on a fractional violin. It probably plays fine as it is, but it would most likely sound better with a shorter tailpiece.

Fortunately this is not an expensive item - you could buy one yourself for under $10 - but if you buy a 3/4 violin off Ebay and take it to a luthier's, you run the danger of being hit with a huge (and expensive) list of all the reasons you shouldn't have bought something off Ebay.

As matesic says, the instrument itself looks like an idiosyncratic hobby maker's instrument - it might sound good, it might sound terrible. No way of knowing without playing it. But I would definitely check the measurements and make sure that it's a regular 3/4 size.

 

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54 minutes ago, martin swan said:

 if you buy a 3/4 violin off Ebay and take it to a luthier's, you run the danger of being hit with a huge (and expensive) list of all the reasons you shouldn't have bought something off Ebay.

 

A bit like not going to the doctor, ‘cos he might tell you that you have some acute illness

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A doctor once tried to chop my left index finger off quite un-necessarily (and it wasn't because he'd heard me playing the violin) ...

Seriously, the violin looks a bit wacky but it also looks like it's happily being played.

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I experimented with my daughter’s Chinese 1/8 cello and a tailpiece two sizes too big made the cello sound much better. Maybe that speaks poorly of the cello but it’s the case.

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10 minutes ago, BassClef said:

I experimented with my daughter’s Chinese 1/8 cello and a tailpiece two sizes too big made the cello sound much better. Maybe that speaks poorly of the cello but it’s the case.

Yes, some instruments sound better with a bit of extra damping.

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In addition to the issue with the tailpiece, the fingerboard appears to be shorter than standard. If your child will not play up high before moving on to a full-size, this may not matter, but neither are confidence-inspiring. If we can see some issues from one photo, I would expect there to be more upon closer or in-person examination.

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Are you watching the local on-line "for-sale" classifieds, including Craigslist and Facebook? 

I don't think this violin is worth the 4 hour drive to try it. 

You could also call and talk to local teachers and let them know what you are looking for. They may know families that have good 3/4s to sell.

 

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I'm always wondering why people are making a single shot of a violin from an odd angle when it's very easy to take many straight flush and detailled views with a modern phone camera alone.

So this one photo doesn't tell much, just the mentioned tailpiece issue. I won't dare to say what's about the FB, could be too short, could be due to the bad angle. Before making a 4 hour drive I wanted to see the bottom, the sides, the saddle and endpin, scroll with all four pegs, string action and more. What's the price for a "beloved locally made fractional!"? If it's not significantly less than for a good quality Chinese minus all the expected costs for set up work, strings and more one shouldn't take it into consideration.

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OP here. Thank you for your insights and opinions so far.  It helps to know I'm not crazy that the tailpiece looks to be mis-sized, and the hobbyist level work is obvious to knowledgable people.  It does make sense to ask for a lot of better pictures before committing to a trip to try it.   I'll admit I find the idea of supporting local materials and the legacy of local craftspeople really attractive, but in the end it needs to sound good and help an intermediate-level child develop.  It's really just a matter if I can gamble with this amount, and still have enough for a better "advancing student" market violin left, and make this one a back-up violin if it doesn't work out after burning through some setup budget.  -- Oh, yes, I have been watching the more nearby boards like Craigslist for many months, but I had not thought to contact local teachers.   The boards have mostly VSOs people want to unload, or 60s-90s stuff I'm not sure we'd be able to judge in isolation.  I hope to just get lucky, because a 2-string-playing-kids parent doesn't have a ton of time for the hunt for a decent violin, especially outside of major metropolitan areas!  Thanks again for taking the time to help!  (Apologies for my late reply - I am still under moderation.)

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20 hours ago, BassClef said:

I experimented with my daughter’s Chinese 1/8 cello and a tailpiece two sizes too big made the cello sound much better. Maybe that speaks poorly of the cello but it’s the case.

That is something I have sometimes observed in small Cellos too! Do Need an Ultra short tail cord then

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