How long to hold onto cheap fiddle?

How long to hold onto cheap fiddle?

I got my beginner’s Primavera 100 violin with 2 bows, case, rosin, spare strings and practice mute for £56. Because I have prior advanced training in music, I’ve learned very quickly on it. I’ve had 6 lessons and am already playing 50 tunes from memory with some ornamentation and experimenting with varying bowing patterns. I’m also taking grade 4 classical in April.

My fiddle seems to have a wonky bridge that has begun tilting towards the fingerboard even after loosening the strings and setting it back upright again, the feet fully in contact with the surface of the violin, etc. Additionally I’m thinking there might be a seam starting to open as I’ve tested them by knocking around the edges of the instrument and I hear a snap if I knock on the left c rib.
There’s also a horrible high pitched sound that gets set off by trying to bow across the A and E strings. The bridge shape isn’t great so the E string sits up a bit too high and it’s easy to touch it by accident when going for the A string.

I guess I’m wondering if the kind of tlc this fiddle needs is going to cost as much as or more than the instrument cost me in the first place. Is it worth bringing to a luthier to get it working as well as possible? Or is it better to begin shopping for a better fiddle considering my pace of learning might cause me to outgrow this one soon anyway?
So

Re: How long to hold onto cheap fiddle?

If you can afford a better one, go ahead, and buy good strings if you haven’t got them on your present fiddle. The difference in sweetness of tone will be very cheering I’m sure. HOWEVER, I had a fondness for my first £25 fiddle and got it seen to by a good repairer and it did become a better quality instrument as a result. I regret now that I sold it on eventually. Why not have a joyous few hours in a music shop trying out fiddles?

Congrats on your rapid progress!

Re: How long to hold onto cheap fiddle?

One of the things I’ve found is even with the mass produced apprentice instruments, there’s a wide variation in tone and quality among them. Certainly, if you can afford a better grade of instrument, go for it. It’s an investment. Having your low end instrument checked out, repaired and properly set up, potentially could cost you more than you paid for it. So beware of that trap. By all means take it in and have it looked over, but get a quote before going that route. Otherwise you might spend 2 or 3 times what you originally paid for it. Which in that case, the money’s better spent on an upgrade. Kind of like dropping a thousand dollar engine into a two hundred dollar car. You still have a two hundred dollar car. Dont discount used instruments in your search. One of the sweetest sounding violins my wife has, was built right before WW 1 by Thibedeau Lamy of France. One of their mid grade violins, it’s unique in that it has a solid back, not two piece. After setting it up, she retired her 1860’s Ohyde Valley violin to the role of spare. It’s much more pleasing to the ear than any of her others, with excellent and even response across the strings. I’m embarrased to say that we paid $50 at an estate auction for it. The auction appraiser did not know what he was doing. The same violin from the era usually sells for $1800 to $2400 depending upon condition.

Re: How long to hold onto cheap fiddle?

My German-made student fiddle from 1910 has been in my family since at least the 1930s. Does it have the best tone? Not necessarily. Are there a few cracks in the wood? Yes. Is it playable? Absolutely. I have bridge problems, but that has more to do with the fact that it sometimes falls off. It’s certainly not wonky. If you’re having those sorts of major problems, as you describe, it’s probably worth getting a new fiddle. Otherwise, for other people, it depends on the instrument’s playability and the personal value you attach to it.

Re: How long to hold onto cheap fiddle?

Year before last I got hired to play outside a museum in Philadelphia. Some days the temps were literally
100F, and I decided I was NOT going to subject my good 1870 Hornsteiner fiddle to such brutality. I stopped
in a music store on the way home and asked for the cheapest thing in the store. They brought out a Chinese ‘student’ violin kit…. the fiddle, case and bow for $180. It sounded GREAT. I was stunned. So I’m playing away back in Phily and a lady comes up and asks to try the fiddle. Now usually when a stranger asks this, I turn it down as politely as possible ( we’ve all been there)…but for 180 bucks? Sure..l have at it. She starts doing Bach. Turns out she had studied with Yehudi Menuhin. Whoa…. when I told her what it was, she couldn’t believe it. So from that point she said she wouldn’t discourage her students from looking into the Chinese instruments.
Point is: you don’t have to break the bank to get a decent instrument anymore…they are out there. The most important thing is to get your hands on the actual instrument to try it… online sales can be very hit or miss.
Good luck!

Re: How long to hold onto cheap fiddle?

Your fiddle cost £56. Getting a seam fixed, new bridge and setup will cost you more than £56 (let’s face it, a decent set of strings will cost you more than £56) and at the end of the day the fiddle will still be worth £56. So it’s probably time to move on and use it to light the fire. The good news is that when you move up market a bit fiddles, bows and cases are generally sold separately, not as outfits. So if you’re happy with your bows and case you don’t need to replace them, just the fiddle itself.

Re: How long to hold onto cheap fiddle?

I’ve gotten a couple really beautiful sounding violins on eBay made by Song in China.

Re: How long to hold onto cheap fiddle?

You have a golden opportunity to modify your fiddle to Shape the bridge making it a flatter
profile, also put a piece of sandpaper face up under the bridge and make the bridge slant slightly to the tail. Also mellowness and brightness can be sought by small movements of the sound post. Experiment on the old fiddle

Re: How long to hold onto cheap fiddle?

The problems you describe would be easy to fix but if you dislike the instrument you would probably be better to get another one if you can afford it and pass the one you have on to someone who wants it. Some people who play both classical and folk keep different instruments for the two genres. Classical players are all aiming for a certain sound and the instruments are expected to look normal and nicely finished as well as sounding classical, so an objectively "good" violin is important. Folk instruments can be as quirky as you like with strange finishes, embellishments, damage and oddities to the sound. This might be a good moment to spend some time thinking about what you want to play and how you want to play it before you open your wallet.

Re: How long to hold onto cheap fiddle?

Thank all of you for replying! Well, what I decided to do with my free afternoon today was go to a highly recommend luthier, and I was blown away by the difference in playability on his instruments vs my current one…!!

He taught me loads about how a violin actually works. Showed me a wide price range first, but told me not to worry about buying or anything yet, just treat it as a learning experience to find out what I should look for in a violin. He advised me to play long loud notes as well as soft ones, and what to listen for in those be what to listen/ feel for in short fast notes. He didn’t lead me on at all, asked me what I thought and if I noted a particular characteristic he’d explain the components of the instrument and the build/restoration that made it work that way.

I had an amazing 2 hours trying fiddles priced £1200 to £8000(!!). All old renovated instruments. I found the £1200 priced ones great, perfectly set up, easy to play, responsive, resonant, consistent across all 4 strings (mine sounds like 2 different fiddles on the lower 2 strings vs the upper 2!) so I think I’m going to get myself one of those. He told me that if I’m considering buying from him, to take 2 fiddles to my teacher to hear him play them for me. Then said that payment is flexible, to just let him know how much I can afford over what period of time.

So.

I’m a very excited little fiddler tonight!!

And I’m glad someone mentioned busking too, I’m going busking next month and I assume it’ll be cold and miserable so maybe keeping the basic fiddle for that purpose is a good idea, and as someone else mentioned, doing some DIY on it as it’s worth very little anyway… Although I could get a few bob selling it on again… Hmmm

Re: How long to hold onto cheap fiddle?

My posts keep vanishing!!
I got a new fiddle everyone, her name is Cara and she’s lovely! A restored violin from the late 1800s or early 1900s, I’m not sure. Feels and sounds worlds apart from my first fiddle. The difficulty now is putting it down and remembering to practice my other instruments!!