Many instruments purchased from the web and other sources do
not satisfy the needs of beginning string players. They might look nice and
have an attractive price, but often they are of insufficient quality to
function properly, and simply guarantee that the player will quit. We offer
the following information to help you remedy this problem:
Beginners, more than any other players, need three things from
their instruments, or else they will quit:
1. Easy tuning. The instrument must
be easy to tune, and should stay in
tune. Tuning pegs and fine
tuners must turn easily and not slip. Slipping or too-tight pegs are frustrating!
2. Easy playing. String heights and
other adjustments should meetall specifications used on professional
instruments. No player should
have to fight their instrument. This is most important for beginners.
3. Good sound. This encourages
students to continue developing their skills.
Materials—Poor instruments are
made from inferior materials. Instrument wood and parts are available
in a huge range of prices, from a few dollars to more than $800 for
materials to make one violin. Expensive wood is obviously a luxury, but it
is worth looking for a real black ebony fingerboard and pegs, a straight-grained
spruce top, and nicely flamed maple for the back, sides, and neck.
Similarly, it is worth getting name-brand strings by Thomastik,D’Addario, or Pirastro. Bridges should be stamped with the name of a respected
French company, preferably “Aubert” or “Despiau.” High quality composite tailpieces
with precision screws are preferred.
instruments are made rapidly by unskilled workers using power tools on an
assembly line. Varnishing is done by spray-painting. In contrast, better instruments
are made by better makers, and high-quality work requires extensive
training, fine hand tools, diligent effort, and considerable time. Look for
real inlayed purfling edge inlay, not drawn-on black lines. Applying
varnish by hand is especially slow and difficult, but is worthwhile
visually and acoustically. Consequently, properly made instruments are slow
to produce and justify a higher cost.
come with bad setups, or no setup at all. Adjustment of strings,
bridge, and soundpost is critical for good sound and easy playing. The
bridge and soundpost must be good quality, properly carved, and well
positioned. The fingerboard must be planed and dressed. Good setups are done only by trained
luthiers, not by sales staff. If you buy a cheap instrument with a bad setup, expect to pay
an additional $200-500 at a violin shop to make your wonderful bargain
1. Demand properly made
and setup instruments. Good signs are genuine ebony parts, inlaid purfling,
flamed maple, and name-brand strings and accessories. Setup should be to
2. Only consider
instruments that can be played and evaluated by trusted people prior to
3. If you are sold a bad product on the web, give them a negative
review and try to return it!
4. Look for local shops
offering a service guarantee that covers flaws in materials and
craftsmanship. If adjustments are
needed, or problems develop, the shop will do free repair or replacement.
5. Look for local shops
offering a “trade-in” guarantee. This means that the shop will accept your
initial purchase from them as a future trade-in towards items of higher
quality so you can easily “upgrade” your equipment as you become a better
player (this is a sign of good quality products, because shops selling poor
products certainly don’t want them back).
All instruments sold
at Kenmore Violins are properly made and set up, and have service guarantee
and trade-in guarantee.