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Violin for higher grades

(31 Posts)
user1469360472 Fri 29-Jul-16 06:11:27

What violins do you use for grade 5 and higher, how much did they cost and where did you get them?

onlymusic Fri 29-Jul-16 20:55:30

user1469360472 Fri 29-Jul-16 22:37:53

Thank you, only music. Do you or your child play and what grade, which of these violins+ price?
I'm realising that there's a whole world of violins out there. I've had a couple of people comment that they'd spent thousands on their violin and I'm wondering how much of a difference it really makes and whether I'm the only one whose child is learning grade 6 on a £130 violin. How did she manage the merits and distinctions she's had so far?

I'm keen to get more replies to find out what others did/do.

onlymusic Sat 30-Jul-16 00:48:29

We had Gem 2 (1/2 size) for about an year. It was about £300. Only played grade 4 with it and Stentor and Primavera before. Exam wise, didn't really made a difference, all grades were with high marks, but it would be difficult to compare different makes anyway as sizes are different and 1/2 size sounds better than 1/4 by definition.

We also have 1/2 Stentor to play (not musically but as a toy to spare smile) - it does not sound as good, even my non-musical ear can hear the difference. Saying that Gligas are sold set up and this particular Stentor was not set up.

I must admit I was a bit hesitant to spend £300 on violin for a child who was just about to do grade 3 at a time but never regretted buying it. It also feels good when holding it - just a nice well made high quality violin smile

onlymusic Sat 30-Jul-16 00:52:19

Sorry, in case it is not clear from my answer - she did 4 grades, so will be preparing for gr5. She took grade 4 with Gliga.

user1469360472 Sat 30-Jul-16 07:39:45

Thanks a lot. That's helpful.
I just noticed my strange user name!

onlymusic Sat 30-Jul-16 12:43:55

Not at all smile
I would personally avoid buying too expensive violin unless it is full size. But would not buy too basic model either. But it is just my opinion based on my child (who is not very accurate either smile). When I spoke to a professional violin dealer he said that quite a few parents buy antique 3/4 size.... So this is another opinion....

user1469360472 Sat 30-Jul-16 14:32:44

She's actually on a full size violin now. Are the antique ones expensive because they are antique as in old or because they actually do give £££ worth of better quality sound?

onlymusic Sat 30-Jul-16 15:16:15

Oh, is she? I would definitely invest the maximum affordable then. Because
1) There is a chance that it may become her instrument "for life", I mean if she has a good full size violin why to change it?
2) There is a school of thought that the older violin the better (if played regularly). I am not a an expert but the way I understand it - it is smth to do with the sound "touching" the wood and affecting it.
Antique violins are different too and have different "voices", but yes, I would ultimately invest in the old one.
I have been on one of the violin competitions recently and there was a descriptions of violins played in the competition. Taking into account that the competitors were very skillful anyway, yes, some violins definitely sounded better than the others. And yes, 4 out of 5 were old violins.

user1469360472 Sat 30-Jul-16 15:47:09

I see. Thank you. This is much appreciated. My research begins in earnest. I'll check out your site again as well.

ealingwestmum Sat 30-Jul-16 15:50:34

We went through this dilemma too when we were advised to upgrade in Y5. After lots of research and trials, we went with a German school circa 1900s (I think it was their equivalent version of mass produced like the new Chinese ones nowadays). It cost us £800 (ouch), with the violin restorer saying he'd take it back at same cost but it would get us through from G5 to senior school/HE level. It's now 2 years old, and sounds better and better with play, coupled with good strings, and more importantly, a decent bow (we paid £400). That in itself was trying to find the illusive Harry Potter wand!

Plenty of kids at my DD have much more superior violins, and you can hear the difference, but this was the right level for her, and she's very protective over it due to the passing positive comments it receives due to its rich sound. Either that or people are being super polite grin

Good luck with your search!

ealingwestmum Sat 30-Jul-16 15:51:32

DD's school...sorry!

Pradaqueen Sat 30-Jul-16 16:04:40

OP we used Woodbridge violins. Ask for Russell. Plenty of full and 3/4 size antiques to suit all budgets but let him know honestly how much you are thinking of spending. Definitely a better sound on an antique. My DD (9) tried around 8 without knowing the price of any only that they were all in my budget. That way, she chose the one she most liked the sound of. Merits / distinctions have nothing to do with the quality of the Violin but it is much easier to get through tricky higher grade pieces more quickly when the sound quality enhances the early stages of them. My DD is now working towards G7.

user1469360472 Sat 30-Jul-16 17:50:44

Thank you, prada queen and EalingWestmum.
Prada queen, you're the second person to mention woodbridge violins. I've called him and will go over there next week. I look forward to trying them out with my daughter in person with them providing guidance.
I'm grateful for the experiences and advice on here. I didn't want to feel like I'd been coaxed into spending money unnecessarily which is why I started this thread. I never imagined I'd be talking about spending so much money on a violin! A prada bag, maybe haha! Sounds like it'll be worth it, though.
I'll update this thread when we've chosen. Thanks again.

ealingwestmum Sat 30-Jul-16 18:07:58

I thought the same OP and then on the music thread some of the parents shared what good brass costs. I felt very greatful!

Looking forward to your update. There's something quite magical about a child trying prospective instruments...

littlepinkmouseofsugar Sat 30-Jul-16 19:32:45

We have a gliga gems 2 half size at this point as DC is quite small for their age so will prob go to grade 4/5 level for us at least, maybe even grade 6. Once we need a size upgrade we'll prob go with a gliga gama as we've been happy so far as they sound good and they don't break the bank.

One of my concerns re upgrading in the future is whether the violin goes back and forth to school a lot for lessons/groups or whether lessons are after hours so we can supervise what happened to the instrument more. I'd not be so keen on a valuable instrument going to school and being stored somewhere where other people could potentially damage it or getting left behind accidentally. Insurance would be worth checking out as valuable instruments may not be included in your house contents insurance as standard.

user1469360472 Sat 30-Jul-16 19:59:20

Hi littlepinkmouseofsugar. Thanks for your reply. I'm liking the sound of these gliga machines 😃 I'll definitely do more research on them and hopefully get to try some out.
Regarding insurance, a friend who spent £2,000 on a violin got declined an insurance payout when the bow (which cost an extra £500) broke at school. Apparently the bow isn't automatically includedshock
So they bought a regular bow and found it made no difference in sound anyway....Apparently.

ealingwestmum Sat 30-Jul-16 20:28:16

That insurance experience is very unfortunate. We have cover with Endsleigh. It covers everything itemised, including case! And I added theft from car later to the usual mishaps and didn't break the premium too much.

The storage is an issue in some schools. We are fortunate to have a 2nd music locker but this is admittedly a luxury vs other schools

Pradaqueen Sat 30-Jul-16 21:30:14

User - Russell at Woodbridge wouldn't sell us a bow for more than £90 as he was very honest about the difference at age 9 and G5. Now she is a little older and working on more complicated pieces it is clear she needs a different weight so we are going on a shopping trip back to him to see different options. £500 is out of the question though!

cingolimama Mon 01-Aug-16 11:13:35

Hi OP, I just had this whole dilemma to deal with and really did a lot of research and tried a whole lot of violins. My DD used a Gliga up to Grade5. Gliga's can be good instruments, bu aren't set up properly (unless you buy them at a specialist string shop), so will definitely need at the very least a new bridge and possibly some neck work. Also, they are wildly inconsistent.

The advice I got over and over again for advanced grades (Grade 5+) is invest in either a hand made or antique violin, and don't stint on the bow. I was surprised at how much a decent bow was, but as a rule of thumb if you've got a good violin you should think of about 1/3 of the cost again towards a bow. We tried both carbon fibre and pernambuco bows, and eventually settled on the Coda Prodigy Bow which is carbon fibre and fantastic.

The big decision for me was choosing between an antique violin or a modern (hand made) Chinese one. Good antique violins arguably hold their value better, but there's a lot of crap antique violins out there. I was a bit sniffy about Chinese violins at first, and the more I found out and the more we tried, the more I leaned towards them. The other upside of a modern violin was we could take advantage of the Assisted Instrument Purchase and save the VAT, which saved us a ton of money.

It was really important that there was a good trade-in policy, and specialist advice and service I could trust. Eventually I dealt with Cardiff Violins (ask for Cecile) who were fantastic helpful. Cardiff is nowhere near me - I dealt with everything online and over the phone. We have a beautiful violin and bow that makes an incredible sound.

Oh, and don't be afraid to try more than one violin "on approval". Good luck!

user1469360472 Mon 01-Aug-16 21:05:26

Very interesting, cingolimama. Thank tut for sharing. So which violin did you go for, in the end and for how much? I've not heard of this assisted instrument purchase. What's the criteria for this?

cingolimama Tue 02-Aug-16 09:15:22

We went for a Con Passione violin, which was £1000. The Coda Prodigy Bow was around £300. Also the case was £200.

The Assisted Purchase Scheme allows you to purchase new instruments and accessories without paying the VAT, so it saves you 20%. Does your DC go to a state school? And do they either 1) take lessons through their school or 2) participate in a local orchestra supported by the music service. It generally runs through the school or the music service. Not everyone knows about it (my DD's school didn't, but were willing to do it). It's a small amount of paperwork but it can save you a lot. What county/area are you in?

cingolimama Tue 02-Aug-16 09:16:36

I should add that all those prices were including VAT, so we paid less.

cingolimama Tue 02-Aug-16 09:30:17

The Con Passione was a Chinese hand-made violin.

user1469360472 Tue 02-Aug-16 20:26:52

Thank you. She goes to an independent school but I'll still ask. Unfortunately, with school out, there might be no-one available but I'll email and see what happens. She takes lessons in the school as well as outside the school. Thanks for the tip!

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