This page will focus on explaining cheap instruments as well as indicating where to look for bad signs in crucial areas. Let us begin by saying that cheap instruments are made all over the world, not only in China. Many times they can have a label with a German or Italian sounding name. This does not mean that the instrument is authentically German or Italian. Generally speaking violins, that are priced under $300.00 would be considered a CHEAP INSTRUMENT ALERT (C.I.A.)
1. C.I.A. instruments will make an already-difficult skill even more difficult to learn and will cause persistent frustration in your practice. Your violin will refuse to be in tune, the angle and placement of the strings will be off, the tone of the instrument will be squeaky and unappealing, and the tuners will likely bend and break.A poorly crafted and fitted instrument is a recipe for failure. The difficulty and struggle to make a “bad” violin play will cause frustration and contribute to dropping out.
2. For a teacher a C.I.A instrument is the worst nightmare, because instead of giving a lesson they have to spend the first 15 minutes of a lesson on adjusting and tuning the instrument. For a student, instead of spending time on learning to play the instrument, their time is wasted and is thus lost money for the parent during precious lesson time.
There are a lot of parents bringing C.I.A. instruments to our shop with a list from the teacher about what needs to be done to the instrument in order to make it playable. In most of these special cases, the cost of completing all the work far exceeds twice the value of the instrument itself. The most common trouble areas are: the pegs, bridge, fingerboard, fine tuners, strings, and the nut.
Below you can find a detailed list of things to look for to help you make the right choice.