Sign in to follow this  
Lex Luthor

Violin for my student daughter

Recommended Posts

Hello, 

I am looking for some advice please. My daughter currently grade 6 student aged 11 needs a full size Violin, her teachers advice was the older the better, she also said French or German.

I have been researching this fascinating subject and Mirecourt 19th Century sounds like a wise direction to look at. We are visiting a violin dealer who has several examples we can trial and the tutor can confirm which would be her choice for my daughter.

Can anyone 0lease name a few French and German makers we should look at possibly end of the 19th early 20th century? Price range from £800 to £1,200.  Also I will need to purchase a bow that can match enhance the violin..I have seen the price from £50 to several hundred, I take it a modern Permambuco is considered worthy but again will this need to be trialled or would any £100+ Pemanbuco bow be on par with a 100 + years old French or German violin.

Thanks

Stephen

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm no expert in the market, but I think that any violins in the price range that you're looking are not going to be by individual, named, makers. They're probably all going to be some kind of workshop violins. With that, the condition of the individual violin is going to be what you need to look at. The playability and sound are very important. Rather than looking for a specific violin, you need to take your daughter, and visit some shops, so that she can play them. I good shop will also have bows to try. Don't overlook carbon bows- some of them are very good

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I would say that is a bit of a tight Budget to be making demands on the provenance of the violin. If it Comes to playability, stability and tone, in that Price range, modern Chinese is almost unbeatable, really. Look at Yitamusic M20 and up, Jay Haide, Maybe Gliga (Romanian!). You may get lucky with an older Markneukirchen or Mirecourt trade fiddle, if it is well restored or survived the years well, but usually they Need quite some work to make them playable. To believe that you can hear the provenance in an Instrument is to believe in fairy tales, mostly. For your Purpose, ditch the ideas About age and provenance, use your ears and eyes, and your daughters Hands. 

You should pick a bow after you picked an Instrument. Every bow and Instrument is different, and one bow may work great for one fiddle but Sound mediocre on another, so you really have to pick one that fits your particular Instrument and Hand/arm. Even Carbon fibre bows have individuality. Cheap CF bows that work are Carbondix, but you will find others for a bit more that Sound better. A good rule of the thumb is to calculate 1/4-1/3 of the Price of the violin for the bow. If wooden, don't go under 250 Euros. As opposed to the Instruments, Chinese Bows are usually crap, by the way.

I would assume the teacher is helping you pick an Instrument and bow? I'm a Cello teacher and NEVER let my students buy an Instrument without having given my OK.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
4 hours ago, Lex Luthor said:

 her teachers advice was the older the better, she also said French or German.

That's a great example of the many prejudices which can come into play.

Posts above have given some valuable advice.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

A perfect opportunity to point out that some dealers/teachers have a relationship where the teacher receives a commission based on the price of the instrument you buy. If you offer to pay the teacher a consulting fee based on the time expended then they will be responsible only to you rather than the dealer. Much better for all concerned. 

Yes, I know that everyone loves the teacher and is sure their teacher is not involved with this practice but they should be compensated for their expertise in this regard and far better if they are working exclusively for the buyer not the seller.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
19 hours ago, Lex Luthor said:

Hello, 

I am looking for some advice please. My daughter currently grade 6 student aged 11 needs a full size Violin, her teachers advice was the older the better, she also said French or German.

I have been researching this fascinating subject and Mirecourt 19th Century sounds like a wise direction to look at. We are visiting a violin dealer who has several examples we can trial and the tutor can confirm which would be her choice for my daughter.

Can anyone 0lease name a few French and German makers we should look at possibly end of the 19th early 20th century? Price range from £800 to £1,200.  Also I will need to purchase a bow that can match enhance the violin..I have seen the price from £50 to several hundred, I take it a modern Permambuco is considered worthy but again will this need to be trialled or would any £100+ Pemanbuco bow be on par with a 100 + years old French or German violin.

Thanks

Stephen

Stephen,

I think it would be best to visit some shops, and try a number of instruments, both old and new in your price range, so your daughter can get a feel for what she may, or may not like. Neck dimensions, weight of the instrument, dimensions of the top bout can all make a huge difference to comfort.

Most shops will offer an approval period, so you can try things at home, and show them to the teacher with no obligation to buy. It is worth visiting several shops if possible, not just the one put forward by the teacher (if they have suggested one to you).
For your price range I would be more concerned about getting something that sounds good, which your daughter enjoys, rather than how old it is, or where it came from originally. Once you have settled on an instrument, it would then make sense to look for a bow. In the interim, maybe the teacher will have a spare 4/4 bow your daughter can use until you are able to find one to compliment the violin.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I wonder if there is a buyer so subject to the consequences of ignorance as the buyer of a violin? 

The proper process of buying an instrument is to spend a lot of time studying and playing instruments, but you are pressed for time, it would seem. Your daughter is in sixth grade, which gives 6+ years of time befor graduating high school. I would recommend that you rent for one more year, and spend that year learning and studying. See if you can contact people in the local symphony, but be aware that they don’t necessarily have much knowledge either, and have your daughter play as many instruments as possible. Even if she’s a young player, if she has a good ear she will develop a sense of what she likes and doesn’t like. Talk to multiple shops. Don’t buy “a kit” that includes a bow, because the bow is very important even at this stage.

I guess you are in England, and I might suggest one of the old cottage industry violins from Germany. I’ve owned a few, and they’ve all been very charming instruments and sounded good( thought they were all in excellent condition)and none of them sold for more than about $1800-$2000 at the time, although this was 20 years ago.

Play and learn and only then should you buy.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
5 hours ago, nathan slobodkin said:

working exclusively for the buyer not the seller.

Why? Sellers are people too. They need to benefit as much as the teacher and the student. I think it just needs to all be on the table.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Youngsters have real good high frequency hearing.  Most beginner violins are made with thick plates to minimize breakage.  These often have excessive high frequency output and can sound terribly harsh sounding for young players who are trying to learn how to bow correctly.

Thus practicing is a form of self torture and as a result they may not enjoy it and might quit.

So I think it is important to let the young student pick which violin to purchase rather than the teachers or parents.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I might add that for a Little more Money you might get a lot more violin value. I don't kow the market in the UK, but in Germany, if you look for it Long enough and have a bit of patience, for around 2500 Euros you will be able to get an Instrument that sounds really good and could serve a professional Player quite well. Under 2000 that is very hard to find.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
14 hours ago, nathan slobodkin said:

rice of the instrument you buy. If you offer to pay the teacher a consulting fee based on the time expended then they will be responsible only to you rather than the dealer. Much better for all concerned. 

That’s entirely valid, but bear in mind, the teacher made very well take the “consulting fee” and steer the kid to a commission paying dealer anyway. Because the hidden commission is hidden, no one will now about it.

I tell my students from day one  that I consider helping them to find an instrument as part of my job as a teacher and I accept no commission of any kind. One family gave me a couple of six packs of Guinness once, though.

Edited by PhilipKT

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
9 hours ago, deans said:

Why? Sellers are people too. They need to benefit as much as the teacher and the student. I think it just needs to all be on the table.

Exactly my point.The seller benefits when they make a sale but having the buyer consult their trusted teacher for advice not knowing the teacher is a commissioned sales person working for the seller stinks to high heaven. If the teacher receives a commission from the seller then they cannot possibly be objective even if they try to be.The best that can happen is the student limits their choices by only considering instruments from shops which pay commissions. At worst it is an invitation for egregious fraud as unscrupulous dealers can offer any instruments in any condition  at whatever price they want knowing that only their instruments will be recommended by the teacher.  

If the teacher is working directly for the student the whole thing becomes completely above board. The teacher is then responsible for helping the student find the best instrument at the best price and those who are good at this can negotiate a fair price for their services, The dealer still makes the same amount without having to pass along the teachers fee to the buyer and the buyer pays exactly the same amount because the dealer can charge the real price of the instrument without adding on the teachers fee or commission.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 1/4/2020 at 8:21 AM, Lex Luthor said:

Hello, 

I am looking for some advice please. My daughter currently grade 6 student aged 11 needs a full size Violin, her teachers advice was the older the better, she also said French or German.

I have been researching this fascinating subject and Mirecourt 19th Century sounds like a wise direction to look at. We are visiting a violin dealer who has several examples we can trial and the tutor can confirm which would be her choice for my daughter.

Can anyone 0lease name a few French and German makers we should look at possibly end of the 19th early 20th century? Price range from £800 to £1,200.  Also I will need to purchase a bow that can match enhance the violin..I have seen the price from £50 to several hundred, I take it a modern Permambuco is considered worthy but again will this need to be trialled or would any £100+ Pemanbuco bow be on par with a 100 + years old French or German violin.

Thanks

Stephen

I'm sure the teacher is a nice well meaning person, but unfortunately they have bought into some "wives tales" 'propaganda' or whatever you want to call it.

the fact is that while her statement may hold some truths, but for the most part it's bad advice that has sent you down a path you need not follow.

I would suggest bringing your child to a proper shop and let her play some instruments in the price range, at this point paying special attention to the one she finds easiest to play. While tone is important, [you and others may help by evaluating the instruments as she plays them] but at this point play'ability is paramount imo....

I think the best way to put it is this; when she is 18 and if she has stuck with it, at that point seeking "the one" might make more sense.

in the mean time if you bring her to a shop and let her play several, I'm sure one of them will"speak" to her.

This advice is more for the "average" student as there are 11 year olds out there who are ready for the big time and my advice wouldn't apply, but for most students ease of playing with good set up will be the thing that "drives" desire by making it something they can control.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

What is your total budget? You probably need to spend $500 to $750 on the bow alone, if you intend to buy a decent bow. That will probably be a carbon-fiber bow or a Brazilian workshop bow at that price; you probably won't be able to go below $250 for the bow. 

So I assume that leaves you at less than $1,000 for the violin. At that price point you will find better quality rentals than what you could buy. I would suggest that you rent for at least a year, save more money, have your daughter try plenty of violins, and then try to buy.

At that price point, the best deals are likely to be contemporary Chinese workshop violins. Ignore what your teacher said about old French/German. Such instruments are still workshop violins, and at that price point you will be buying a heavily-repaired instrument or one that's not particularly high quality.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 1/5/2020 at 11:39 AM, nathan slobodkin said:

some dealers/teachers have a relationship where the teacher receives a commission based on the price of the instrument you buy

This is surely unethical and illegal?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I agree that the £800-£1200 budget is going to make it difficult for the OP to get what he seeks. Even French workshop instruments tend to be priced above that level. An old German workshop may be a possibility but will not leave enough room for a good pernambuco bow.
 

However, I would not necessarily suggest that the teacher is as ignorant as some posters have claimed. We don’t know anything else about the teacher and we don’t know at what level the OP’s child plays. If the skill level is fairly high, an old German or French violin might be the perfect choice. It’s important to remember that most violins purchased for children will eventually be traded in for something else, so buying a Chinese workshop violin, unless it’s sold at a price close to its cost to the dealer, can be a horrible decision, as it will have  next to no value when it comes back, whereas an older violin (properly cared for) will hold value or even appreciate. Getting something that’s easy to play and sounds pleasant is a must, but it’s only one aspect of the decision-making process. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, reg said:

This is surely unethical and illegal?

To my mind it is certainly unethical but here in the US laws about this vary from state to state. Unfortunately in my home state of Maine there are no laws against it. Even where the law prohibits these kind of kickbacks it is almost impossible to prosecute because the whole thing is done in secret. Unfortunately this practice is very common world wide and I am sure will  remain so until teachers have the courage to ask their students to pay for this consulting service and the buyers realize the money is well spent.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
5 minutes ago, The Violin Beautiful said:

we don’t know at what level the OP’s child plays. 

 

On 1/4/2020 at 4:21 PM, Lex Luthor said:

My daughter currently grade 6 student

ABRSM grade 6 is the level.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

In that price range, you should not be looking at "brand names."  In fact, unless your daughter is a prodigy, brand names at this point is pretty irrelevant.  Your daughter's teacher should know that she needs a violin that will take her to the next level.  Sound and playability is first and foremost.  

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Just now, nathan slobodkin said:

To my mind it is certainly unethical but here in the US laws about this vary from state to state. Unfortunately in my home state of Maine there are no laws against it. Even where the law prohibits these kind of kickbacks it is almost impossible to prosecute because the whole thing is done in secret. Unfortunately this practice is very common world wide and I am sure will  remain so until teachers have the courage to ask their students to pay for this consulting service and the buyers realize the money is well spent.

I doubt it has anything to do with courage. It would seem fairly straightforward to use the time of a lesson, or lessons to cover the search, and be paid as usual. Most people would value the teachers input and be happy to pay for their advice and knowledge. They would be less happy knowing that the more an instrument cost, the more the teacher got paid to stitch them up.

It is done in secret because it is unethical, and the revenue service never know about the envelope of cash the teacher gets.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...
Sign in to follow this  

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.