Sunday, August 21, 2011

The Cheapest Violins - Maybe Not Such A Good Deal

Written by Andy Fein, luthier at Fein Violins
 and Angie Newgren

As time passes and technology improves, the number of people worldwide who shop online continues to rise. It's easier for customers to shop and see what's available, and our shop's online store has given us customers and friends from all over the world! But how do you know when you cross a deal for violins, violas or cellos that is too good to be true? This blog explains why the cheapest violin (viola or cello) you find online (or in a store) is the wrong violin to purchase. Visit our other blog  Finding Your Violin Online to read about purchasing the right one for you!

If you're just starting out, it's hard to fathom why you should spend any more than the cheapest price you can find. Unfortunately, stringed instruments are pretty hard to learn and if everything (& I mean EVERYTHING!)  is not set up pretty close to perfect it makes it almost impossible to learn to play. In fact, the set up on a beginner instrument is just as important as on a fine soloist instrument.

Violin Values range from under 100 dollars to over 100,000 dollars.
 Understandably, not everyone wants to get top-of-the-line instruments: whether because you're not sure if you or your child will like playing, you have a limited budget, or other factors. But picking the cheapest price you find for an instrument will probably do you more harm than good. Cheap prices means cheap quality. And I'm talking to the extreme here. The $99.00 steal you see online for an instrument more often than not comes with a flood of problems that offset the money you think you are saving.

Manufacturers who sell instruments at such low prices such as $99.00 most likely set up an instrument wrong, or not at all. They slap on the cheapest strings they can find - so bad that tuning your instrument to perfect pitch is probably not an option for you. The pegs will not be fitted correctly, the sound post in the instrument will be improperly positioned, the strings will be placed unevenly, and the bridge might not even be set on the instrument at all. 

The cheap price you found comes with cheap everything. The "deal" you've received now gives you an instrument that isn't set up, isn't able to tune, and is harder to learn on. If you're trying to get your child into playing, starting him/her off on the cheapest instrument you find will guarantee they won't stick to playing. 

Okay. So let's say that the $99 violin deal is too good to pass up. How much will it cost to get it set up to be able to play well? Considering you will probably need a new bridge, new soundpost, new pegs, new strings and a new bow, it would not be unusual to spend $500 to make that violin-shaped-object play like a violin. 

If you are willing to invest time into learning an instrument, it's not always best to go with the lowest priced instrument you find. Online shopping is a great way to expand on your options when purchasing an instrument. Just don't get fooled by the "unbelievable" deals you see, because they indeed are unbelievable...

Our store sells small violins for children and violins for adults. The prices range from $300 up to more than $20,000, but all our instruments are set up properly and to our standards so that they are easy to play and easy to learn on.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for telling it like it is. I'm a music educator and last year my neighbor called me in a panic because she bought a $99 violin on sale for $79. "It looks okay, but we can't get any sound out of it at all." She was naive, it didn't look okay. The strings were attached to the tailpiece in the opposite order and slipped up loosely into the peg box. The bridge was in the storage area under the instrument in bubble wrap. I told her she should return it, insist on a refund and let me help her choose a good instrument from somebody who deserved her business. The saddest part of the story is that this was a local music merchant, not a mail order. Her daughter had violin lessons the next day, I caved and set the instrument up.