Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Support Your Local Violin Shop!

I was at The Long Island Violin Shop, my local shop, to attend one of their many informative seminars and noticed that the violins played by the children during the seminar sounded very good. This was no accident. The shop owner is violin maker Charles Rufino, who learned his trade at several great violin shops.

Most people find the lowest price and buy things over the internet. This may be fine for things like electronic gadgets or certain violin accessories. But it is definitely NOT recommended for violins. There are huge variations in the quality of violins. Even the same model violin from the same source can be different because every piece of wood is different. That is why your local violin shop is so important. A good shop will select the best instruments for the money, and most importantly, they will set them up so they sound their best and are easy to play.

The importance of setup cannot be overemphasized. Poor setup can turn any violin into a bad violin. Small, children’s violins are actually more difficult to set up (due to their small size) than adult, full-sized violins. Inexpensive violins are also more difficult to set up. Good setup requires the skills of a well trained violin maker.

Some of the more obvious examples of poor setup are:

  • Tuning pegs that will not stay in tune
  • Bridge and soundpost not adjusted properly. Since the string vibrations travel through the bridge to the violin body, the bridge can make a big difference in sound. It takes a lot of skill and time to cut a good bridge
  • The fingerboard and neck is not shaped properly, making it difficult to play
  • Cheap strings that sound terrible and are hard to play

When you buy or rent a violin over the internet from an unknown supplier, you don’t know what you’re getting. Even if you do business with a reputable shop over the internet, the violin can easily be knocked out of adjustment during shipping, requiring a re-adjustment.

Finally, it does not make sense to buy children’s instruments. For the same price, you can rent a much higher quality instrument from your local shop and they are responsible for the proper setup. If you can buy an instrument cheaper than you can rent it, it will undoubtedly be what is politely called a “violin shaped object.” Your child will soon outgrow their instrument anyway, or worse, quit because they are so frustrated by a bad instrument.

So please, please support your local violin shop. And use D’Addario strings (we make fractional sized versions of our most popular strings such as Prelude, Pro-Arte, Helicore and Zyex) for the best sound and easiest response!