Lilting Fiddle

Learning to Play Fiddle as an Adult

Breaking Down, Buying a New Fiddle

Posted on February 7, 2019

I knew that no matter how many improvements I made to my cheap violin that I’d eventually need to upgrade. I told myself that if I practiced consistently, I’d look at buying something better nearer to my birthday (in May). But then, something changed. I started to learn how to bow notes instead of pluck them.

I’ve moved into bowing during practice for the past three days. At first, bowing open strings, everything was just fine. But the moment I put my finger on the strings to make notes, everything goes out the window. It sounds absolutely terrible — and I know it will not sound great for a while since I’m just a beginner.

However, I have a hunch that at least some of the problem I’m having is with the quality of the instrument. I’ve tried everything suggested – bowing different locations on the strings, more rosin, less rosin, tighter bow, looser bow. Nothing I do produces a good, consistent sound that allows me to play even the short practice songs with any pleasure. And when I do manage to make a non-squeak sound, the notes come off as harsh and tinny to my ear.

I kept trying to pass it off as me being a new player, and some of it probably is that. But I won’t really know what the issue is until I rule out the instrument quality… so…

I’ve done a lot of research on brands and instruments and which violins come fully set up and inspected… that sort of thing. I knew that I wanted something that I wouldn’t have to take into a shop and pay an extra $100 to get set up properly on top of the cost of the instrument – that’s nuts and really shouldn’t be a standard. So I started investigating the shops that sell violins that are well set up right out of the box.

Really, I’m still hesitant to put more than $200 into a starter kit. After almost three consistent weeks of practicing, I want to continue on with it, but I still don’t want to put too much money into a hobby that I’m only just starting and that requires such a lot of my time.

After a good deal of shopping and research, I leaned towards instruments from Kennedy Violins. I liked what I saw in terms of customer service, instrument quality, feedback… and the fact I could buy from Amazon to get Prime Shipping and a bit of extra reassurance that if something went wrong, Amazon usually has your back.

I was fairly set on the Ricard Bunnel G2 Student Violin Outfit… but at a price point above $300, it was a bit more than I wanted to invest. So, I turned to the clearance section — Bunnel Premier Clearance Student Violin Outfit. Basically, these are the exact same violins, but the clearance versions are marked down due to small cosmetic blemishes. Most reviews say that these blemishes are so small they’re hardly noticeable, so while I’m a little worried about how the kit will look, the price cut it so significant that I’m willing to take a risk. It’s still a bit more than I wanted to pay… buuuut…

The kit comes with a bunch of stuff — not that I need another tuner, shoulder rest, bow or rosin… but it’s probably good to have backup. It’ll be arriving tomorrow, just in time for the weekend!

Hopefully this will put an end to my shopping around and provide an instrument that will last me for many years! I’ve heard that with the right strings, it could even be used as an intermediate instrument on down the line… and that the tone grows richer the more its played and the instrument ages.

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