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Thu Nov 29, 2012, 11:01 PM

Question about buying a used stringed instrument...

My grand daughter (age 10) is learning to play the violin in school. She is using a borrowed one for practice. We are thinking of buying her a used one, my question is...what do we look for? I know nothing about stringed instruments and don't know how to tell a good one from a piece of junk. Can someone give me some pointers? Thanks for any help.

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Reply Question about buying a used stringed instrument... (Original post)
madmom Nov 2012 OP
theKed Nov 2012 #1
coalition_unwilling Nov 2012 #2
Hoyt Nov 2012 #3
HooptieWagon Nov 2012 #4
spanone Nov 2012 #5
aint_no_life_nowhere Nov 2012 #6
kentuck Nov 2012 #7
Manifestor_of_Light Nov 2012 #8

Response to madmom (Original post)

Thu Nov 29, 2012, 11:03 PM

1. There's places

Around here, anyhow, where you can rent instruments on a monthly basis - for students, or casual players, that want something of good quality to play but don't necessarily want to shell out a big chunk of money on a good instrument (especially if it's a newer player)

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Response to madmom (Original post)

Thu Nov 29, 2012, 11:05 PM

2. Once you go Strad, you'll never go back! JK - any way to touch

 

base with her orchestra\band director? He or she might be able to point you in the right direction. (I'm a guitarist, so can't offer any help on violins other than poor puns

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Response to madmom (Original post)

Thu Nov 29, 2012, 11:11 PM

3. Good advice on contacting band instructor. A good instrument makes

a big difference in progress if they really want to play. Good grandmom, I'd say.

Don't know a lot about violins, but I'm big into mandola. Somewhat similar.

Good luck.

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Response to madmom (Original post)

Thu Nov 29, 2012, 11:14 PM

4. Quality and price can vary a lot.

Many beginner level instruments are often heavily discounted when new, so don't pay too much. Check Musician's Friend online for typical selling prices of new beginner instruments. You can check Ebay or Craig's list to see what a specific model usually sells for used. The best bet is to ask around and see if an older student is looking to upgrade, and buy their old instrument. Your granddaughter's teacher might know of one.

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Response to madmom (Original post)

Thu Nov 29, 2012, 11:30 PM

6. When she borrows one, is she playing on a 3/4 size or full adult size?

When I was 10, my parents stopped renting the 3/4 size I was using and bought a very nice handmade full-sized German violin. That was back in 1959 and you could find real quality back them at an affordable price. I kept that violin all through school until college because it had wonderful tone and projection. If your grand daughter is still playing on a child's size violin, it would be better to wait until her hands are ready for a full-sized instrument before making an investment in a better instrument unless money is not a factor. Her teacher is the one to consult.

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Response to madmom (Original post)

Thu Nov 29, 2012, 11:36 PM

7. I have a Virginia homemade violin..

that my uncle swapped me for an old beat up Gibson guitar.

I have never tried to play another "violin" so I don't know how it compares to others.

I know it is hard to turn since they have tuning pegs instead of keys but once you get them set, they stay pretty much in place without getting out of tune.

They are fascinating instruments. I hardly pick up my guitar anymore...

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Response to madmom (Original post)

Fri Nov 30, 2012, 12:49 AM

8. I started violin lessons at age ten on a full sized instrument.

I am short and small boned (five foot two) and I was not quite big enough for the full sized instrument, but I managed. I remember I could not get to the last four inches of the bow even with my arm fully extended and my elbow straight.

the whole thing is only 14 inches long.

If she grows up and becomes a lady with slightly bigger hands and reach, she might want to switch to viola or cello. But that is in the future. Please talk to her orchestra director about finding a decent quality violin and bow. Good bows are not cheap either. People never think about bows. Cheap ones are fiberglass. Good ones are pernambuco wood.

The instrument needs to be strung properly, with nylon (Perlon) strings, the pegs should be snug, and the soundpost needs to be placed under but close to the base of the bridge on the E string side. It will be easier to get a good, full sound out of a good instrument than a cheap instrument as she gets better. Also, I think it takes about three years to stop scraping with the bow!! It takes longer to get good on a fretless string instrument (violin, viola, cello, string bass) than on piano, for example. I also play the piano.

For a good musical foundation, I suggest piano lessons first or at the same time.

Good luck!!!

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