FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
"How much do string instruments cost to rent each month?"
A Rent to Own program is a good idea for beginners. Rentals are usually per month and depending on the type of instrument can run from $18- $45 a month.
We highly recommend investing in a rent to own program with a reputable violin shops
(PLEASE SCROLL to the END OF THIS PAGE for our LOCAL RECOMMENDATIONS!).
The percentage of your rental monies will go towards a future "upgrade" to a finer quality instrument.
When students are ready to dedicate a higher amount of practice/playing for private lessons or the orchestra programs in Indian River County- this is when you may decide to buy an instrument. We recommend doing this with the reputable established violin shop you are already renting from.
"May I buy a violin on the internet or on Ebay?"
Why is a fiddle on eBay to begin with? Someone doesn't want it! Generally good violins in good shape are wanted by the owner. We suspect a substantial number of the violins on eBay are being dumped because they don't work well enough. If this is just a setup problem, then it can be easily fixed. If it is more, then you may end up with more money in the violin than it is worth. Consider some other important reasons purchases on Ebay should be avoided:
Fraud. Ebay is also inhabited by a certain number of crooks. If it seems too good to be true, it probably is. Unfortunately some of these ethically challenged individuals are violin dealers of one kind or another.
The beginner violin. Its only $100!!! Usually these violins have heavy front and back plates, have painted or dyed fingerboards and fittings, and have absolutely no setup. They squeek and are very hard to play, if they are playable at all. If playable at best, the limitations of these types of violins will be very discouraging to a beginning student in learning a string instrument. We DO NOT RECOMMEND buying an instrument without guidance from someone with more experience- such as your orchestra director.
The pretty new violin with special features. For example, statements that "it's the wood." Well, to some extent a pretty violin may indeed sound nice. But again, consider the setup needs- strings, bridge work etc., For either beginner violin or the pretty violin, the buyer can expect to spend from $45 to $150 to get basic setup work done on the violin. A reputable shop will have violin rentals available with the setup already made. So, in reality, you may end up spending more on your Ebay "find" then on a quality made, adjusted string instrument.
Older violins may be a good deal. Or they may not. They are very difficult to judge. One may get a bargain, but need to spend $300 on repairs. Or one may end up with a piece of junk painted pretty. Damage and setup problems are very difficult to see on pictures and are rarely described well.
Availability of repair. Another factor is whether you'll be able to get your eBay prize restored. Many shops are very busy. Will they really be willing to set aside a loyal customer's work to fix up a cheap German trade fiddle needing a fingerboard and setup? Is it really fair to ask them to do so? Setting up junk, low-end Chinese trade fiddles is even less rewarding. How to tell someone their $80 violin needs $100 in minimal setup before it will work?
Violins aren't expensive from shops. I find that people think violin shops are too expensive. Some are if they have lots of overhead. Some aren't. Regardless, violin dealers must support their customers. They must sell at a competitive and fair price AND back up the products they sell. They have to keep a repair capability in hand, which is a non-trivial matter. Auction buyers don't get this support.
Final caveats. If you are going to buy via eBay anyway, look at the images carefully and ask lots of questions (especially of your orchestra director before buying!) Make sure you know who the seller is. And read this. Be very careful about auctions offering no return. Expect that some work will be required. But one can expect violins bought at private sale to require some work as well.
Good deals exist on eBay, but we urge rank beginners to stay away until they gain sufficient knowledge to buy intelligently.
"What is the difference between an entry-level, a student, and a professional instrument?"
BEGINNERS: Entry level instruments tend to be inexpensive, as they are for beginners. They are made in large workshops by many hands, and, depending on what part of the world they come from, they are often made of pre-carved or pre-assembled parts; and usually the wood is plain looking and the varnish monochromatic and shiny. There is no excuse, however, for them to be badly made or cheap looking; and they should always be set up properly. (Prices range from $500- $800.)
STUDENT GRADE INSTRUMENTS: These range from entry grade boxes made with fancier wood (usually called “step up”—a term I don’t like) to beautiful instruments. (Prices range from $800 -$2,500).
These instruments are made by many hands in small workshops with better materials and with more attention to detail. This is where you start to see “highly flamed” wood. Remember, “flame” (which is sometimes called “tiger striping”) has nothing to do with sound—it just looks good. Also, “antiqued” varnish is quite common, and, when done well, can really enhance the appearance, as well as reduce the amount of varnish on the instrument, which can improve the sound.
PROFESSIONAL INSTRUMENTS: These are quality instruments that would be acceptable to a professional musician; and this usually means a musician in an orchestra or a soloist.
They are typically made and varnished by an individual maker. Professionals, more than anyone else, are more likely to own either fine vintage instruments, or new products of today’s best makers.
Prices for these instruments range from $3,000- $15,000, and if you read the papers you’ll know even how much higher than that they go! The great thing is, that unlike a car, a string instrument retains and gains value over time. So it's important to view this as a valuable investment. The best vintage instruments are so expensive simply because there are x number of them left and x2 number of musicians and collectors who wish to obtain them. (x2\x=$$$$$)!!!! :-)
RECOMMENDED AND DIRECTOR APPROVED LOCAL STRING SHOPS:
Atlantic Strings- Melbourne, FL
Muni Strings - Orlando, FL
W.H. Lee- Chicago, IL
Shar Music- Ann Arbor, Michigan
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