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Recommendations for an 'advanced/step-up' violin under or around $1000-1500


jmaya
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16 hours ago, jmaya said:

Any specific model recommendations from the below Carriage House list, apart from the previously suggested Jay Haide, Eastman

I always liked the Rudolf Doetsch violins, and still have one going back to when Weaver just sold them out of his shop. At the time they helped a lot of students, but now there is much more competition in this category.  I believe that brand is now made from Chinese instead of German bodies, but I suspect they still offer a lot of sound for the money.

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15 hours ago, jmaya said:

Wonder how the Ma Zhibin M20 or Master (from Yitamusic on ebay) compares to other contemporary chinese labels like Jay Haide, Eastman, etc.

Not as much quality control, often not the best set up, and no service. But sometimes you can get lucky. You may pay more for a Chinese violin from a shop, but you usually get much better setup, which is extremely important. And you start a good relationship.

Your Reverb choices are pretty random. Most sellers on this site are general music/guitar shops, which are often not the best places to buy a fiddle. Although some probably do drop ship decent stuff from Eastman etc.

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On 3/6/2022 at 1:54 PM, jmaya said:

Wonder how the Ma Zhibin M20 or Master (from Yitamusic on ebay) compares to other contemporary chinese labels like Jay Haide, Eastman, etc. and to other 20th century (possibly fake) German/French 'antiques' like the below:

Karl Hofner 1960 - https://reverb.com/item/43252132-vintage-karl-hofner-violin-4-4-germany-c-1960s-stunningly-beautiful-very-good-sound

Carlo Micelli 1900 - https://reverb.com/item/37229363-vintage-1900-carlo-micelli-4-4-violin

Rudolph Wurlitzer 1930 -  https://reverb.com/item/32836272-rudolph-wurlitzer-cremona-german-4-4-violin-ca-1930

Snow - https://reverb.com/item/31560520-snow-liuthieria-pv900-4-4-violin-90044-631-no-case-or-bow

Eastman Andreas - https://reverb.com/item/39512533-eastman-andreas-eastman-vl605-violin

Earl 20th century German - https://www.ebay.com/itm/194508422523

 

Tons of thanks everyone for taking the time to help and educate me!

Any of these is a crapshoot except if you involve a luthier to set it up, check for cracks, carry out the likely necessary routine maintenance/repair (refitting pegs, planing fingerboard, make new bridge...). That is, if you are ready to add a few hundred dollars on top and can live with hearing you bought something that has a major flaw ... and dealing with returns etc. 

(Any of those could make a suitable instrument ... but I would buy none of them online!)

I can see why you're thinking that $500/year in rentals is a chunk of money and buying your kid a good instrument as her first full-size makes sense. It does! But what I'd do is to select a few luthier-run violin shops based mostly on trustworthiness, take along the rental, figure out what price range you're aiming for to replace the rental with something a notch or two better (most likely, your first range sounds just fine, and don't be fixated on brands, provenances etc.) narrow it down to a few (2-3) options of instrument + bow, and then have your kid take those to a lesson and figure out, with the help of her teacher, which one is the winner. 

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On 3/6/2022 at 5:35 PM, jmaya said:

Thanks. Will check them out. Any specific model recommendations from the below Carriage House list, apart from the previously suggested Jay Haide, Eastman, etc. Any other specific 'good shop'/luthier recos in the New England area?

https://www.carriagehouseviolins.com/cgi-bin/music/scripts/vvc-f.cgi?search=Violin-Instruments and Bows-0-4999-Acoustic Instrument&size=1&f=size

OK. The teacher is a big shot busy lady with back to back classes all weekend and weekdays are a bit of a struggle for me. But will try. Thanks. 

Wow. You are lucky to have an expert teacher with such integrity.

OK. Will try with Carriage House.

"Any other specific 'good shop'/luthier recos in the New England area?"
I've had excellent luck with a luthier named Brad Dorsey. (You may recognize the name from one of the posts above this one :D). He's in Southern NH. 

In Boston, Paul at new England Violins is a nice guy and does great work, but be prepared to pay big city $$$$$$ for any work done there...they gotta pay their rent.  

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On 3/5/2022 at 3:15 AM, Vafan said:

But what is a good idea is to buy a decent instrument which she likes to play. I remember that my first violin was just not good-sounding, and it discouraged me from playing, until my parents bought an old Mittenwald violin in quite a bad state, but that sounded better. Though I knew that I did not want to become a professional in my teens, I never stopped to play and startet with lessons again as an adult. So I guess it is not a bad idea at all to get your daughter a decent violin that she likes, even if she might not become the next Anne-Sophie Mutter :)

A properly set up 1500$ chinese violin is miles ahead of what you could get 30 years ago in the same category. My son was in orchestra and plenty of violins end up dropped, stepped or sat on.

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On 3/4/2022 at 8:10 PM, Guido said:

........You have two options. You can become an expert yourself (not realistic)..........

Not necessarily unrealistic.  It depends on an individual's existing situation, skills and abilities.  :)

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On 3/6/2022 at 7:35 PM, Brad Dorsey said:

The only way to compare the sound of violins is to play them and compare the sound.  You cannot compare the sound by reading reviews or descriptions or advertising.

I get it, you are right. But I also keep hearing that brands/labels can mean something and can play a part in terms of some base quality, hence the quest 

On 3/6/2022 at 7:50 PM, Michael Darnton said:

Thank you! The European wood version of it seems great. And the description says the luthier modeled it after his own original antique violin. Will go and try it out.

On 3/7/2022 at 9:54 AM, deans said:

I always liked the Rudolf Doetsch violins, and still have one going back to when Weaver just sold them out of his shop. At the time they helped a lot of students, but now there is much more competition in this category.  I believe that brand is now made from Chinese instead of German bodies, but I suspect they still offer a lot of sound for the money.

I see some Doetsch violins at Johnson strings. You might be right about them now being chinese made with chinese wood.

On 3/7/2022 at 6:23 PM, pyrola_asarifolia said:

Any of these is a crapshoot except if you involve a luthier to set it up, check for cracks, carry out the likely necessary routine maintenance/repair (refitting pegs, planing fingerboard, make new bridge...). That is, if you are ready to add a few hundred dollars on top and can live with hearing you bought something that has a major flaw ... and dealing with returns etc. 

(Any of those could make a suitable instrument ... but I would buy none of them online!)

I can see why you're thinking that $500/year in rentals is a chunk of money and buying your kid a good instrument as her first full-size makes sense. It does! But what I'd do is to select a few luthier-run violin shops based mostly on trustworthiness, take along the rental, figure out what price range you're aiming for to replace the rental with something a notch or two better (most likely, your first range sounds just fine, and don't be fixated on brands, provenances etc.) narrow it down to a few (2-3) options of instrument + bow, and then have your kid take those to a lesson and figure out, with the help of her teacher, which one is the winner. 

Sounds like a very sensible plan. Will follow this.Thanks.

10 hours ago, _Alex said:

"Any other specific 'good shop'/luthier recos in the New England area?"
I've had excellent luck with a luthier named Brad Dorsey. (You may recognize the name from one of the posts above this one :D). He's in Southern NH. 

In Boston, Paul at new England Violins is a nice guy and does great work, but be prepared to pay big city $$$$$$ for any work done there...they gotta pay their rent.  

Oh. Great to know we have some local luthiers on this very forum! Thanks.

9 hours ago, avandesande said:

A properly set up 1500$ chinese violin is miles ahead of what you could get 30 years ago in the same category. My son was in orchestra and plenty of violins end up dropped, stepped or sat on.

OK. Thanks for the insight.

5 hours ago, Violadamore said:

Not necessarily unrealistic.  It depends on an individual's existing situation, skills and abilities.  :)

:) Thanks for the confidence/encouragement. I see I have a very uphill path to even start on that front and build up expertise.
 

*****Thanks everyone for your insightful comments and education!!****
 

###########################

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Now I have a new quandary. Bumped into this post on craigslist for a local 'antique' violin supposedly made by an immensely talented luthier who apparently passed away after building only 10-15 violins.

Searching on this forum resulted in a 10 yr old post asking about this same luthier, and a reply by the said luthier's granddaughter. So, sounds somewhat intriguing, although I can see it might need $200-500 worth of setup work (he says he will include dominant/pirastro strings. Anyone familiar with the said luthier - Julian A Lapinski

https://boston.craigslist.org/gbs/msg/d/danvers-violin-4/7452831262.html

Violin 1 outta 10 built by Julian A Lapinski in the 1920s. Was a Luthier and Violin Maker for The NY Symphony very Rare. I will put new strings on it.

Although correspondence with the poster was a bit awkward, to say the least:

Me: 

What kind of strings do you plan to put on the Lapinski violin? 
 
Any additional insights into the authenticity of the two vintage violins that you listed:
 
- how did you procure them 
- are they formally appraised/examined by a luthier, 
- how sure are you about the claimed provenance?
 
Also, have either of these been recently serviced by a luthier? 
 
Do either of these need additional setup/adjustments for the bridge, soundpost, etc.?

https://boston.craigslist.org/gbs/msg/d/danvers-violin-4/7452831262.html


Poster's reply:

Today: You still want to see Lapinski Violin.  Sold the other.   It needs a basic setup.  So we can put Dominants. PIRASSO (sic!) WHATEVER

On Mon, Mar 7, 2022 at 6:16 PM, ****broker
Look i discounted these Violins to sell less than there Value Lapinski has a unique way of marking his Violins its there.  Geo Bryant the build quality is exquisite  on both these Violins. They are real.   Your talking like your buying an Amati.   I dont sell junk or fakes.    

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On 3/5/2022 at 5:32 PM, jmaya said:

Thanks for weighing in. That aligns with my thinking too! Are the violins labeled 'Mittenwald' trustworthy enough?

Mittenwald is a town in Germany where violins were mostly mass-produced for the world market in the 19th/early 20th century. Most are just cheap, less many may be decent.

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4 hours ago, jmaya said:

The condition is far beyond "excellent". It needs a serious restoration, and you don't know if it sounds good at all... Just have a look at all the cracks in the top plate that are clearly visible, and there might be many more hidden somewhere... This looks to me like a factory violin from Markneukirchen or similar, but that's a question for the experts here ;) 

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Don't go on Craiglist, please. If this Lapinsky produced a grand total of ten violins he hardly would have qualified as a reliable luthier. After fifteen violins you're barely starting...

Also, if you don't mind, the idea that your daughter, who has yet to reach age ten, will be in an orchestra at twenty is, shall we say, speculative. So why don't you get her a 4/4 for age ten to fifteen and see what happens?

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I think your initial instincts weren't bad to look for a reasonably set up factory violin being sold used. I'd look at the haide/cao lines, 300 and above Eastmans, yamaha v7 or v10, or some of the reputable Chinese brands. I'd get a nice bow (maybe a $500 codabow) and good strings. That can be their school/knockaround violin and in a few years they can upgrade. It also can be nice to have a backup violin if one takes a tumble before the concert, or if they don't want to carry it back and forth every day, or if they need to play out in the sun/rain.

The advice to family members to go to shops and to try out violins is good advice only if they have good ears. The dilemma for a lot of us is that we (and our children) can't really distinguish a great violin from a loud violin or just a pretty looking violin. It takes time to get there. I recently took my eldest to look at violins and they consistently picked the violin the shop rated lower. For a lot of us it can also feel like a lot of pressure. If we use several hours of someone's time, we feel obligated to buy, but we also may not really know what we're getting. At some point it's worth it for kid and teacher to go try out multiple violins, but OP may not be there yet.

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Posted (edited)
17 hours ago, Strad O Various Jr. said:

If its $500 or less plus $300 set up it might not be that bad compared to what $800 would buy you in a new violin, for example, hand made American violins can be quite bad, though, but this one looks a bit better, is there any way to hear it before you buy?

OK. It's listed for $1295 on craigslist. So, even if I can bring him down to $1000, it might be a total of $1500-1800. I will certainly be able to hear it before buying, but I don't have the expertise to tell between a loud/resonant 'decent' sounding violin from a better sounding violin.

17 hours ago, Strad O Various Jr. said:

Of the other ones you mentioned, the Carlo Micelli violins can be decent

OK. Thanks. The below Carlo Micelli from reverb.com checks a bunch of my other non-expert checklist marks on various other fronts, except for the 'no online buys' clause, although the seller has 100% ratings on reverb, and it's supported by 'reverb's protection' and a full return policy minus shipping. So, am very tempted to take my chances on this one.

https://reverb.com/item/37229363-vintage-1900-carlo-micelli-4-4-violin



The above one has a video of it being played, which sounds great to my untrained ears: 

1900 Carlo Micelli being played https://youtu.be/FuQ52jKJ0yE


 

17 hours ago, Vafan said:

Mittenwald is a town in Germany where violins were mostly mass-produced for the world market in the 19th/early 20th century. Most are just cheap, less many may be decent.

OK. Thanks.

17 hours ago, Vafan said:

The condition is far beyond "excellent". It needs a serious restoration, and you don't know if it sounds good at all... Just have a look at all the cracks in the top plate that are clearly visible, and there might be many more hidden somewhere... This looks to me like a factory violin from Markneukirchen or similar, but that's a question for the experts here ;) 

OK. Looks like I might be better off to pass that one. Thanks.

16 hours ago, Herman West said:

Don't go on Craiglist, please. If this Lapinsky produced a grand total of ten violins he hardly would have qualified as a reliable luthier. After fifteen violins you're barely starting...

Also, if you don't mind, the idea that your daughter, who has yet to reach age ten, will be in an orchestra at twenty is, shall we say, speculative. So why don't you get her a 4/4 for age ten to fifteen and see what happens?

OK. I get it. Thanks. I had since adjusted my mindset based on the feedback here. I'm no longer looking for a 'good forever' violin. I'm only looking for a 'better' sounding violin than a typical 'intermediate' violin, with the hope that it might be better value for money (vs. renting or buying a typical student grade violin) and a better chance for my daughter to enjoy her music better, and hence a better incentive for her to stick with it.

9 hours ago, Cincitaipei said:

I think your initial instincts weren't bad to look for a reasonably set up factory violin being sold used. I'd look at the haide/cao lines, 300 and above Eastmans, yamaha v7 or v10, or some of the reputable Chinese brands. I'd get a nice bow (maybe a $500 codabow) and good strings. That can be their school/knockaround violin and in a few years they can upgrade. It also can be nice to have a backup violin if one takes a tumble before the concert, or if they don't want to carry it back and forth every day, or if they need to play out in the sun/rain.

The advice to family members to go to shops and to try out violins is good advice only if they have good ears. The dilemma for a lot of us is that we (and our children) can't really distinguish a great violin from a loud violin or just a pretty looking violin. It takes time to get there. I recently took my eldest to look at violins and they consistently picked the violin the shop rated lower. For a lot of us it can also feel like a lot of pressure. If we use several hours of someone's time, we feel obligated to buy, but we also may not really know what we're getting. At some point it's worth it for kid and teacher to go try out multiple violins, but OP may not be there yet.

OK. Thanks.

My DD already has 2 other cheaper school/student grade violins (a William Lewis & Son and an E.R. Pfretzschner) for use at regular school-based lessons and other unsupervised public settings, and I have a non-labeled 'Made in Germany' violin that I use for my casual, beginner/intermediate level playing.

This new violin I want to buy for my DD would be for her exclusive use at private home classes and daily home practice, and I'm always with her in her private classes at home and during home practice. So, not too worried about knocking this one  out/breaking it, playing in sun/rain, etc.

I seriously hope the marketplace for uber expensive carbon fiber bows and strings at least is a bit more standardized/streamlined and not as utterly confusing littered with fakes/overpriced junk as the violin space seems to be. So, hoping that if I buy a $500 Codabow off amazon.com or some store, then I'd be guaranteed to get the real thing and not some fake or some 'antique copy' of some famous luthier.

Edited by jmaya
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jmaya, one of the links you posted had this suggestion down at the bottom.  I've always been interested in stuff from the Anton Krutz shop but never played any of it.

https://reverb.com/item/31894076-krutz-artisan-500-series-violin-4-4-xmk-w-case-bow

 

But having said that, Michael I know has heard every violin there is to hear and has a reputation I've heard of and I would take his suggestion

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Posted (edited)

Thanks everyone! I'm now down to 2-3 choices, based on your expert recommendations here:

Choice #1: Jay Haide Balestrieri European Wood version from Johnson String

https://www.johnsonstring.com/cgi-bin/music/scripts/violin-viola-cello-music-itm.cgi?itemno=WEB-HAIDE-BALEST-VN

Choice #2: Carlo Micelli

The below Carlo Micelli from reverb.com checks a bunch of my other non-expert checklist marks on various other fronts, except for the 'no online buys' clause, although the seller has 100% ratings on reverb, and it's supported by 'reverb's protection' and a full return policy minus shipping. So, am very tempted to take my chances on this one.

https://reverb.com/item/37229363-vintage-1900-carlo-micelli-4-4-violin

The above one has a video of it being played, which sounds great to my untrained ears: 

1900 Carlo Micelli being played https://youtu.be/FuQ52jKJ0yE

 

Choice #3: Anton Krutz from reverb.com

https://reverb.com/item/31894076-krutz-artisan-500-series-violin-4-4-xmk-w-case-bow

Edited by jmaya
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Why the interest in the Micelli? Have you tried it? Instruments bearing this label can be pretty good, but there is a lot of variation. Just looking at that video, it does not seem well set up, bridge doesnt look great. This could be decent after a run through a good shop, or it could be a money pit.

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10 hours ago, Rue said:

Without playing them, hard to tell.  If I was just going by 'on-line info' I'd lean towards the Haide.

OK. Thanks!

10 hours ago, Bill Merkel said:

^Yes, definitely

Thank you!

9 hours ago, deans said:

Why the interest in the Micelli? Have you tried it? Instruments bearing this label can be pretty good, but there is a lot of variation. Just looking at that video, it does not seem well set up, bridge doesnt look great. This could be decent after a run through a good shop, or it could be a money pit.

Yes, going by the label and Strad O Varius Jr.'s reco above. Was leaning on a basic 200-300 setup working out fine. If not, it has full 'reverb protection' and a 14-day return period that might be handy.

 

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