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Is this a good first full size violin?


AmyV
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My son has been playing the violin for a little under a year now with a rented 3/4 - he is 11.  I also started playing (at 48 and previous clarinetist) so I can hear the differences in violins but not at an expert level. What I have learned is that there is such a huge variety and I have been researching quite a bit to try and make sense of the myriad of considerations when purchasing a violin - honestly buying a clarinet is waaaay easier - hahaha.  We are prepared to spend a couple thousand on his first full size to give him time to determine if he will continue and grow into what sound he likes to help him decide on his first professional level violin.

With that in mind, I still want him to have the best sound for the money so that he can really appreciate the music he is playing and hopefully not get frustrated and give up.  He has been actively listening to different violins and is a big part of this process. We also went to several shops to hear different violins. He has fallen in love with this lionhead violin.  Just wanted to get some opinions from others here who are way more knowledgable as this is a large purchase for us and we likely won't be able to do this again for a while. Should I try and stear him away from this violin?  - Thank you!

Here is the seller description of the violin:  

Johann Haslwanter 1872.  Finely carved scroll in shape of a lion's head and accurately inlaid purfling. This beautiful violin shows former repairs on the front, but no open cracks or open seams, and only some minor marks due to its age in it´s old amber varnish. The table is finely grained spruce and the 1-piece back - as well as ribs and neck - is nicely flamed maple. The violin has been checked by our luthier and by our violin player on playability. In our workshop it received ebony pegs, an old ebony tailpiece, an old ebony chinrest, a new bridge and new strings. total 59,3 cm / 23.3", body 35,4 cm / 14", vibrating chord length 32,7 cm / 12.9", weight 433 gr / ~15.3 oz.

 Here is a sound clip:  

 

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Just now, Strad O Various Jr. said:

Looks ;like it might be a decent Mittenwald violin, depends a lot on the price they are asking, I wouldn't go over $1500, if this is that seller in Portugal, all the labels are going to be fake.

Yes this is the Portuguese seller 

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eBay is a great place to buy a $300 violin for $1500, and it could need $1000 worth of work.  This may or may not be a good-sounding/playing violin, and that's part of the problem.  People do get good instruments from eBay--it can be done--but they are generally experts or being guided by an expert.

It sounds like you have a decent budget to get what you need, but the way to do it, if it's at all possible, is to go to an actual violin shop, where your son could try a few violins, and you could get a sense for what's out there.  But--this is important--you'd also build a relationship with people who can set up the violin properly, fix problems, and would stand behind their inventory.  That's worth money, too.  Maybe your son's teacher has suggestions for a good shop, or you can say where you are and get a recommendation here.  It would be great if you could bring the teacher or a good player with you so you can get their input, too. 

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Haslwantner came from Krinn, which is the next village to Mittenwald, and was a zither maker. Any violin he might have sold in his shop, was not made by him, but bought in from Mittenwald and sold by him in his function as a musical instrument dealer. That said, it is a perfectly good “Verleger” violin, which could be expected to retail in a violin shop (as opposed to an ebay tinker) for about €2,000, although such with a (typically Mittenwald) lions head are generally less popular, and thus to be had at a discount

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This type of violin could be fine for your purpose, but all has to be well, especially set up. The really amateurish bridge is enough of a clue to run away. A good first sign that there are other problems that will lead to frustration. 

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Thanks all for the thoughtful responses. The fact that this shop has a bad reputation and is know for changing labels is enough for me to walk away.  As suggessted, I reached out to the violinist teaching my son and I and they had recommendations.  I am going to go to two good Luthiers near me to make a selection - Okkyum Kim and Antonio Rizzo. I'd rather increase the budget a little then overpay on something that isn't worth the investment.  I look forward to hearing him practice on something else then the rented violin!!!

Thanks again for the great input!

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1 hour ago, Shelbow said:

I think there are better things to buy for that level of money. It's looks better than most things they sell, but still nothing too exciting.

It depends. It looks as if bridge and pegs (at least) were poorly made and the belly crack not well repaired, but OTOH there was a claim recently that "Mathias Neuner" violins, which are the same "in green", fetch 5-8K on the US market.

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Something tells me at 11 the "real" reason he likes this one is because the lionhead ,because it looks cool , which is a perfectly ok reason. I like the fiddle, just not the fact that it comes from so far away, you should really try to shop local in this case imo so you can have some recourse if something is not right. 

With these older ones many unseen things could be wrong and really your trusting the sellers "expertise" which being so far away could really be a problem dealing with any issues , let alone shipping problems. As "everything" is "messed up" right now shipping has really gone to crap. Delays, damage and getting lost seem to be way up as compared to the consistency of the past.

 

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4 hours ago, Blank face said:

It depends. It looks as if bridge and pegs (at least) were poorly made and the belly crack not well repaired, but OTOH there was a claim recently that "Mathias Neuner" violins, which are the same "in green", fetch 5-8K on the US market.

Well I guess they got the price kinda right then :lol:

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