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PostPosted: Sat Dec 01, 2012 3:15 pm 
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I played saxophone for a lot of my youth and so I found picking up whistle quite easy and then for a challenge I got a flute and have done ok with that. So I was trying to think of what I could get for Christmas. I've broken the whistle acquisition disorder and don't need any more whistles. Pipes are very interesting, I love the sound, but they're very expensive and wouldn't be that much different from the whistle & flute as far as fingerings go. I'd like something chromatic so I can play jazz and other non-ITM music. I was planning on getting a silver flute but then my daughter started taking violin lessons this year and I just love the sound of the violin. Like the silver flute, the violin has good advantages:

- plays in concert pitch so no transposing necessary (saxophone is a bit of a pain for this, although I have found a C soprano sax available which is very tempting)

- plays chromatically making it suitable for all music

I've been playing my daughter's 1/2 size violin and it isn't as hard as I imagined, but I have a hard time fretting the strings on such a tiny instrument. So I'm debating getting my own. I enjoy learning new instruments and I help my daughter practice her violin almost every day so I'm learning violin (unintentionally) as a result. Which is pretty cool. The other day my daughter said "Why don't you just get one so we can play together?" I currently play my flute (Copley Delrin keyless) with her but I know soon she'll be in other keys and I won't be able to do that.

All that was long-winded and what I'd like to know is if there are any flute or whistle players who got a violin and if so how did you get on with it? From what I gather, most tunes could be played using only first position and don't seem that difficult to play but I know getting a beautiful sound out of the violin will take a long time.

The other question I have is how much should I spend on one? I haven't went to visit a luthier yet but I did read up on some websites of the luthiers in Paris and I saw one has a "set up" Stentor II model for 200 euros. This is a Chinese brand that has an ok reputation and the luthier puts good strings on it and adjusts it, so this seems a safe route to go. A Yamaha silver flute would be 700 euros minimum and a Yamaha saxophone over 1k, so I'm wondering if I'm kidding myself thinking the 200 euro violin would be decent. I really don't know. Violins seem a lot simpler than flutes & saxophones. I'm wondering if I should expect to spend an equivalent amount on one or not. I don't know how serious I will get but at the same time I've never been one to buy super cheap because I figure I'd end up replacing it for something better if I did.

Hopefully a fellow whistle or flute player will have a similar experience, if so I'd love to hear your story. Thanks.


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PostPosted: Sat Dec 01, 2012 7:03 pm 
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I see a lot of value in taking up the violin to encourage your daughter. I'd been working on the violin on and off when my daughter started Suzuki violin lessons. I never felt I had much facility with it, but having me play, too, helped keep her motivated. She left me in the dust 'round about age six. You're likely to last longer than I did. Conversely, as you've already discovered, her violin lessons are going to help you learn; that wouldn't help you with any other instrument.

As for instruments, I think the price point that defines decent starter instruments is around $350 - $400 here. Direct translation puts that around 300 euros, but there may be market considerations I don't know about. If you get serious about it, it may not be too long before you're shopping in the 1000 euro range.

For myself, I'm more comfortable on the whistle than I ever was on the violin, 'though there is some of the repertoire I miss.


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PostPosted: Sun Dec 02, 2012 7:41 am 
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I've been playing fiddle tunes for many years on banjo and dulcimer, so when I saw an advertisement for a professionally setup student violin for under $200 I bought it. 4/4 size with bow and case made in China. I don't take lessons but play a hour a day sometimes two. It's a fun toy to play with. I have no illusions of being a great fiddle player. There is a great line from an old Kentucky fiddle tune that inspires me. " I tune up my fiddle. Rosen the bow. Make myself welcome. Wherever I go"... I hope I will be able to do that someday... Bob

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PostPosted: Sun Dec 02, 2012 8:15 am 
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Go for it!

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PostPosted: Sun Dec 02, 2012 6:05 pm 
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When I read the thread's subject, I was about to suggest the mandolin, which is also nice and portable, chromatic, and none of the bowing to learn. However, since you're already playing your daughter's fiddle and doing OK, I'd say go for it. Down the road, if you want to try something a bit different, I'd still suggest the mandolin- by then you'll already know the fingering.

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PostPosted: Sun Dec 02, 2012 6:16 pm 
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I can't further the violin discussion, but I thought you might be interested to know that Aquila Sax is making tenors in C.

http://www.aquilasax.com/C-melody_Tenor.php


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PostPosted: Mon Dec 03, 2012 9:16 am 
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Like Paul, I too was going to jump in and suggest mandolin. But playing and encouraging your daughter is too noble a pursuit for that. How much to spend? How much have you got? LOL! I will say that I've tried my hand at violin several times and have owned instruments in the $200 - $600 range. Because it's such a widespread and popular instrument you can get something good enough to start on in that range, but if you catch the bug be ready to spend a lot more. Definitely go for it and have a blast! Good luck.

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PostPosted: Mon Dec 03, 2012 1:07 pm 
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I don't have any answers for you, but I always wanted to learn violin. I dabbled a bit with bass guitar as a teen and I remember finding it kind of difficult. I've always played woodwinds since I was 11. I wonder now if I returned to a string instrument as an adult if I would find it easier or even more difficult than before.

It would be nice to play an instrument that doesn't require wind power, if only for the simple reason that frequently when I'm practicing, my significant other likes to come in the room and ask me a question and then gets annoyed when I don't stop the passage I'm on to answer. Being able to speak and play at the same time, what a novelty that would be! Plus, he has taken up the mandolin again, and I'd imagine there would be some overlap there, so that would be fun.

I encourage you to go for it. I grew up naturally drawn to a lot of different hobbies in the arts, and my parents were not on the same wavelength at all. I think I would have progressed a LOT more if either one of my parents had encouraged me. I took music lessons for a few different instruments, and every time, it was my idea and my parents never really reminded or pushed me to practice. If one of them had played as well, that would have been so inspiring to me. And imagine the quality time you'll have with your daughter, I'm sure those are memories she will treasure. I'm sure she'll eventually get to a point as a teen where hanging out with dad isn't as high on her priorities list, so you might as well get that time together while you can. :)


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PostPosted: Mon Dec 03, 2012 3:26 pm 
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Quote:
" I tune up my fiddle. Rosen the bow. Make myself welcome. Wherever I go"


I love that quote. So cool.

Thanks everyone for the encouragement.

For those suggesting mandolin.. I thought of that and actually got a baritone ukulele for my birthday a few months ago. I got it to strum, I didn't really intend to learn to play melody on it. And strumming has been a lot of fun. I tried to play scales on it and it was confusing to me because I kept thinking "I know the strings on violin so why not just play violin". I can see where mandolin would be good for someone who already knew the violin strings. But I really like the bowing aspect of the violin and being able to sustain notes.

Regarding the C tenor.. aquilasax is the maker of the C soprano I was thinking about. I'm just not sure of the quality of the sax. I still have my alto sax so I'd probably get a soprano just to be different. I find the alto takes a lot of breath, I'm used to whistles & flutes now.

I'm going to try to visit a luthier in Paris after work one day this week and see what they propose. I kind of feel like this is a racket. So many choices.. Chinese, Korean, Romanian, German, fake German (Romanian with German varnish marketed as German), and then French.. It will be interesting to see what they say. I'm hoping that since I'm not playing classical that I won't need an expensive one. My daughter's (a rental, Shimro which is korean) seems nice to me and I'd be happy with that quality.

Thanks for all the feedback. I'd still like to hear from more whistle/flute players who dabble on violin. :)


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PostPosted: Tue Dec 04, 2012 9:05 am 
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I play flute mostly (rarely whistle), and I picked up fiddle few years back but stopped, as I decided to focus on accumulating more tunes on flute rather than spreading myself too thin learning too many instruments. Not to long ago I started on the fiddle again after feeling more comfortable on flute. Since I already know enough tunes, it's a matter of scratching them out of the fiddle. It's not to bad really but I'm not up to session standard yet. I mostly practice at a slower pace because bowing can be tricky in the beginning and I don't want it to sound rushed. Still trying to find the right tone as well. Also, getting a good tone on flute would've taken me some time too so it's just practice, practice, practice on the fiddle. I'm still working on making my left pinky strong enough to press down on the strings for notes in the correct spots. I've only ever used it for the G# and long Fnat key...and this is a whole new picture.

I'm enjoying it heaps so I'd say go get a fiddle. I spent as much as my budget would allow...it was about $250 for the set-up. I have the Stentor 2 as well - but I had the pegs, soundpost, and bridge fixed. And I changed the strings. I used the bow that came with the set up until half a year passed by and I got fed up with it and went and bought a new carbon fibre one...it made a difference! This will probably be good for a very long time. Once I start sounding better, I can justify my practice with buying a new fiddle!

The good thing about the fiddle is that I can still play even if I have a cough/cold. It's real hard to play flute with a tickle down your throat! The downside is that I can't blow my lungs out with the foot stomping Bucks! There are some tunes that I only ever want to play on flute!


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PostPosted: Tue Dec 04, 2012 1:29 pm 
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Regarding the bow ... I recently picked up a K. Holz fiberglass bow for about as cheap as it is possible to get a bow. It is so nicely balanced in the hand, it is a joy just to hold it. On my fiddle, the tone might be a bit harsher than the old wood bow if you listen carefully, but the old bow is in such sorry shape that anything would be more playable. K. Holz also makes a modestly-priced carbon fiber bow. I considered it, but the fiberglass felt about the same, and produced a slightly nicer tone. Both are excellent value for the money, if they are available where you are.


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PostPosted: Tue Dec 04, 2012 2:09 pm 
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I went to two luthiers in Paris on my way home from work. They had similar offerings. The cheapest they had was a chinese kit (case & arch) for around 400 & 500 euros respectively. The 500 euro one did not have an attractive varnish at all. Basically it was ugly. that could have been a sales tactic though, showing me an ulgly one to get me to spend more for the pretty one? I wasn't expecting the entry level to be so high. The next higher quality was around 600 euros (700 euros for the kit) and they were nice looking.

There is another luthier in paris who advertises Stentor II violins for 190 euros on his website. They're about 150 mail order so for the extra 40 euros you get it set up and new strings. I plan to visit him next but he's a further away from my work.

At this point I'm not sure just how much better a 400 euro Chinese violin would be over a 190 euro Stentor Chinese violin. It's hard to shop for these because we really can't compare them. They all sound great to me. I think it would take me a year before I could learn to appreciate a nicer violin. So the question is spend 190 euros now and upgrade later or just spend 700 now and hope I like it and stick with it. :)


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PostPosted: Tue Dec 04, 2012 3:05 pm 
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I don't know what the practice is there, but in this neck of the woods, any reasonable luthier expects that you will want to take the instrument home to try it out, certainly when you get up to some of the prices you're talking. Some of them also rent out instruments in their less expensive lines, and even give you a purchase credit for a good chunk of the money you pay in rent. Is that an option?

Can your daughter's teacher offer any advice on violin selection?


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PostPosted: Tue Dec 04, 2012 3:25 pm 
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Tunborough wrote:
I don't know what the practice is there, but in this neck of the woods, any reasonable luthier expects that you will want to take the instrument home to try it out, certainly when you get up to some of the prices you're talking. Some of them also rent out instruments in their less expensive lines, and even give you a purchase credit for a good chunk of the money you pay in rent. Is that an option?

Can your daughter's teacher offer any advice on violin selection?


They didn't mention any trial period but since thomann and other internet stores give you 30 days, I think they should do the same. One of the stores does rentals. it's 15 euros/month and if you buy they apply 3 months rent towards the purchase so that'd be 45 euros. minimal rental is 3 months. the second store said renting isn't a good deal. if I rent a cheap chinese instrument for 1 year, that's 180 euros which is the price of the stentor II and half the price of a 400 euro chinese violin. they said to buy it and if I don't keep up with it, resell it. that made sense too. so rental makes sense to me for 3 months or so but not for more.

my wife takes my daughter to her violin class, so I never see her. Her advice at the beginning of the year was to go to a luthier and one of the two I went to was the one she recommended. I don't know how it is in the US or elsewhere but here no one wants to promote buying a violin online. and I have a hard time buying from a luthier when I don't know the brand or anything else. that makes it impossible to compare and shop around.


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PostPosted: Tue Dec 04, 2012 7:30 pm 
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I kinda like it too.

But the Problem is most violin are for right handed, and I am left handed.

Bowing with strength will be my weakness if i play it right handed.

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