Why You Should not Buy an Instrument Online
Often we are asked: “What’s the difference between your violins and the ones we see on the internet for $39.99?”
We welcome the question as an opportunity to educate and enlighten a concerned customer. The differences are huge, easy for us to observe but somewhat difficult to put into easy-to-understand terms.
For simplicity, we are going to address the question of a good, student-level violin. A violin suited for a beginner or early violin learner. As you might expect, the selection
Here at Sono Strings, we provide Violins, Violas, Cellos, and Double Basses. All of our instruments are setup and have a sound which we are proud to provide. If you already have an Instrument, we can try our best to setup your instrument to your liking.
process gets much more complex the more advanced the violins and the player become.
Here are the four things that set a “good” violin apart from those that are inferior and inappropriate for a student to use.
1. Quality of the woods and components.
Violin construction has evolved very little in the past 350 years. Tops are still made from spruce, backs, sides, necks and scrolls from maple and the fittings from ebony, some other hardwoods like boxwood or rosewood or from a few, newer composites.
If a violin has inferior components, sound, structural integrity and playability will be compromised. A poorly made violin will be prone to warping, cracking, going out of tune and just plain sounding bad.
The saying goes: “Its easy to make a good violin sound bad, but almost impossible to make a bad violin sound good!” A new learner needs to have an instrument that is as easy as possible to make “sound good” to reward those hours of practice.
Myths getting your first violin
1. My son or daughter is just starting out so we don’t need anything good.
If you were teaching a child to drive a car for the first time, you wouldn’t say: “They are just a beginner, so we don’t really need a steering wheel, good tires or brakes!” No, you would want them to have the essentials since failure is not an option. A poorly crafted and fitted instrument is a recipe for failure. The difficulty and struggle to make a “bad” violin play will cause frustration and contribute to dropping out. A properly made and fitted violin will give the student the BEST chance of success and reward.
2. I don’t want to invest a lot because they just might quit anyway!
A good rental program allows you to get a great beginning violin without the long term investment. Now you have provided the best “no excuse” platform for your child to learn to play. Should they decide to move on, it will be by choice, but not because their opportunity was limited by their equipment.
3. I want to buy the best, most expensive violin for my student… that will make it even better to learn on.
Good student instruments are crafted to provide the best opportunity for the student. Bridge curves, nut heights, fine tuners and choice of strings are chosen for their ease and consistency. Often, older, more expensive instrument come with “quirks” and inconsistencies that require a skilled technician to get the best sound. A good student instrument is like the Ford® pick up: good, solid and will get you there safely. When its “time to go to the prom”, it might be time to step up into a better instrument.
2. Quality of the set up
How a violin is “fitted” is also important. Proper bridge height, fit and curve; fingerboard shape and curve; nut height and adjustment; tailgut, tailpiece and fine tuner adjustments; properly fitted pegs; and soundpost adjustment are just some of the important aspects in well fitted violin, viola, cello or bass. Many people think that a student learner or beginner needs a violin that is set up even better than a professional. Think about it, a seasoned professional could pick up a poorly adjusted instrument and make the necessary adjustments to try to get the instrument to make a decent tone. A beginner needs the violin to work right, right away. Poor or improper adjustment will lead to struggle and difficulty, all too often causing the student to quit in cacophonous frustration.
3. Quality of service, repair and follow up.
Owning a new violin, and beginning a lifelong adventure of learning music requires a solid support team behind the student. Teachers, parents, friends and a good violin shop will all prove to enhance the enjoyment along the way. When things go wrong with the instrument (and things often do go wrong), having a skilled team behind you to fix the issues is critical. Violins are still
fragile instruments and require care and maintenance to stay “fit as fiddles”. Good service, repair and follow up will ease a lot of frustration and enhance your musical experience.
4 Taking the next step – Trade in/Trade up.
You aren’t going to be a beginner forever. We hope you continue to enjoy the violin and move on to bigger and better things. Look for a good violin shop that has a wide selection of instruments in many price ranges from all over the world. Preferably both old and new instruments.
Handling an Instrument
Violins, Violas, Cellos, Bass, and bowed instruments in general are extremely fragile, one should always keep this in mind when holding, performing or practicing on one. It is recommended that you wash your hands when handling an instrument or bow, our fingers are home to various germs and natural oils that may potentially harm the varnish or stain the bow hair. We advise that you take any sort of jewelry off prior to playing, to avoid possible scratches or dents on your instrument. When walking with an instrument be sure you hold it close to your body for further protection. Your instrument should be put away in its designated case with its blanket or instrument bag to protect it from possible damage. Make sure you secure the zippers or latches on your case. Above all DO NOT let anyone, other than your instructor, play or tune your assigned instrument.
The cleaning and polishing of an instrument should be left to a professional Luthier, certified repair man/woman, or string shop personnel. Do not attempt to polish your instrument as you may damage the wood, color, or varnish of your instrument. Refrain from applying alcohol, water or furniture polish. Cleaning a bowed instrument with water may hinder its acoustics and may result in an open seam. You are allowed, however, to wipe the dust and rosin off from the body of the instrument or strings with a soft cleaning cloth.
The most essential part of a Bow is learning how to tighten and un-tighten the hair. In order to tighten the hair on the bow you must turn the button clockwise or to the right. It is important to not over tighten the bow; you want at least a pinky length between the hair and the wood. Over tightening the bow can result in hair breakage and in extreme cases the wood may snap. Un-tighten the bow when not in use by turning the button counter-clockwise or to the left. Ask your music teacher or local string shop if you are unsure or feel uncomfortable with this process. Again, desist from touching the hair with your fingers or hands. Our oils can tarnish or stain the hair making it harder for the hair to grip the strings.
Storage and Temperature
A bowed instrument is happiest inside its case where the temperature is not extreme. Under no circumstance should you leave your instrument inside a car unattended. Wooden instruments enjoy being in a controlled environment, meaning that they dislike places where it is excessively hot or cold. Excessive heat or direct sunlight may cause the varnish to blister or soften. In extreme cases, the heat may cause the instrument to become out of tune and result in the un-gluing of the top plate of the instrument. Instruments left in really cold conditions may result in pegs unwinding and/or a grain crack, due to dry weather, humidity, and the shrinking of the wood itself.
Although an integral part of learning how to play a bowed instrument, tuning can also be a tad scary and tricky at first. This is why we recommend that you leave all tuning to your school music teacher or private instructor. Beginners should refrain from touching the pegs; strings are expensive and over-tuning might result in breakage. If you have an uncontrollable desire to learn how to tune your instrument ask your music advisor to teach you how to use the fine tuners, they are user friendly. You should consider purchasing an electronic tuner for precise tuning results. If your music instructor is unable to help you tune your instrument bring it to your local Violin Shop for further assistance.