Master Hand Violin Shop

  • 546 S Main W Street
  • Broadway, VA 22815
  • 630/ 292-2641

    Store Hours

  • By Appointment Only
  • Owner

    Elizabeth Ecklund

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    Stereotyping at its finest ... Every Unique Violin from a Given Country is the Same

    By Diane Bruce

    Has your friend or teacher ever told you that you need to buy an instrument from "X" country? Usually your contact sends you for a German violin, and you've probably wondered why, right? Do you really need to buy an instrument from Germany? Your child doesn't care what country the instrument is from; some other country's violin is prettier anyways. Here is a brief rundown of what you can more or less expect out of totally unique instruments from unique makers of different countries.

    American Violins: American violins are among the harder to characterize instruments. Due to a lack of large factories, American instruments are often handmade and variable. They tend to ring well, project moderately well, and be neither particularly bright nor particularly dark.

    Bohemian/Czech Violins: Most people don't come in looking for a Bohemian violin because it is too vague a description for a teacher or friend. Bohemian violins can be very nice. They are usually medium-bright instruments that are ringing but perhaps not as full. They are pleasant to the ear but not always the loudest of instruments for an orchestral setting.

    Chinese Violins: No teacher ever sends their students in for Chinese instruments. It's rather unfortunate, as I discussed in a previous blog, since Chinese instruments sound pretty good, especially for their price. Higher end (or, basically, what we stock) instruments tend to be sweet sounding instruments that are not overly bright. They tend to be quite full sounding.

    French Violins: Everyone wants a French violin. This is partly because everyone has *always* wanted a French violin. The French did not make many beginner instruments. The instruments they made are brighter, so they project well, but they manage to be sweet and rich at the same time. French instruments frequently deserve their reputation.

    German Violins: Many people settle on a German instrument because Germany has a long history of decently made instruments. Most German factory made instruments are bright sounding, and they tend to be more bold than sweet. Germany also has produced some of the darkest sounding violins, and these tend to be very rich. Older German violins can be all over the place in terms of sound.

    Italian Violins: Italian violins tend to be rich and full. The older ones are not typically bright instruments, but they manage to project very well by incredible construction and the help of bright strings. These are the best sounding violins, but they cost a pretty penny.

    Romanian Violins: Romanian violins actually sell well when people try them because the prices are generally quite good. They are loud and often a bit hollow sounding because they don't have as many overtones as other instruments. They can help a child who is struggling with good projection.

    All of the above are, of course, stereotypes. Every instrument is different and you might be surprised at what you find. If your teacher recommended an instrument from a certain country, we strongly encourage you to listen to your teacher; he/she knows your musical abilities and what instrument may be appropriate for your skills, strengths and weaknesses. However, if your recommendation came from a friend, hopefully you can now make a more informed decision about whether or not to listen to your friend's recommendations.


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