Very long but hopefully useful review of the Master Violin:
I purchased a Fiddlerman Master Violin outfit without upgrades. I did order it to come with all 4 fine tuners. My child played other violins in the music stores locally, friends' very expensive violins, as well as a teacher's child's violin. I read excellent reviews both on the fiddlershop site and on other music sites. It was backed up with satisfaction guarentee so I felt it would be worth taking the risk to try this out and compare with the others. One brand I remember trying was a used but in like new condition 600 level Eastman for the same price. My child loved that she could listen on the computer to the different sounds of the instruments and choose the one that appealed the most before we ordered from this site. This is for a 5th grader who has played for over 2 years in lessons and a beginner community symphony. The child needed to upgrade to a full size violin. I wanted something that would suit the need through middle school and high school.
Pro 1. Delivered in excellent condition. Both the box and the items inside came in perfect condition. Packaging was excellent. Surprising as it had extra long handling and storms to go through.
2. Excellent case it comes with. My child loved the sleeve the violin was stored in as well as the strap that holds the violin in place. The shoulder strap was a welcome addition.
3. Sound - My child loves the deep, rich, loud sound. All 3 of the teachers commented on what a great sound it makes and asked for the website information for fiddlershop. They were so impressed as they put the violin through it's paces, looked at grain, workmanship, etc.. They will try these out. They said there were no squeaks. The symphony conductor was thrilled with the new, louder sound. "I can hear you. I love it!" As it is a full size, my child could reach the notes appropriately and it improved the sound she made. It came pretuned but due to the extra travel in colder climates (mentioned below) it is not surprising that it was slightly out of tune upon arrival.
4. Appearance - Beautiful. Not overly shiny. The neck wasn't sticky. (All things the teachers checked for.) Excellent quality strings (again surprising to the teachers that for any other place these would be an upgrade). My child loved how beautiful it looked.
5. Customer Service - They are quick to respond and very helpful. I feel confident that if we have any other issues arise that they will continue to be quick and helpful.
Con -1. All 3 teachers mentioned the bridge was too high. The upper notes on the neck are fine. The strings become a problem as you move down the neck. It is harder to press the strings down to the neck which prevented them from moving as quickly as well as tiring the fingers quicker as they aren't used to pushing down so far and hard. They all suggested getting a shorter bridge as it was very noticeable.
(I want to add, as I have used them as a reference, that I do not remember the background of each teacher. Two conduct middle school and high school symphonies, as well as community children symphonies. They studied at universities. One of them has also taught privately for many years. The third one competed nationally and received additional training. I am no expert in these matters but enjoy listening to the violin, so I defer to their judgement.)
2. Shipping: Someone in customer service said that regular shipping would take 5 days. I purchased the faster shipping in hopes to get it in 4 days. When I received the tracking information it said it would be 5-7 days. I called C.S. and they refunded me the money due to the misinformation. Fast would be 5-7. It took 10 days to arrive from the first business day after I placed the order. The shipping label was mixed up with another violin and my violin was sent to New Hampshire before being forwarded to southern Arizona. They apologized and corrected the mistake. I wish I would have asked for an overnight shipment instead of accepting shipment by truck, as time was of the essence for a concert. Hence, wanting shipping faster. But I didn't think of that until afterwards.
My child has been playing the instrument for 15 days now and enjoys it. No new issues have arisen. The next concert is tomorrow! I person love hearing the new sound that my child makes on this violin. It is truly beautiful. My child has enjoyed playing everyday.
Thank you so much Bonnie. :)
We set our bridges to MENC standards at the shop which is generally good but slightly on the high side. Some players want higher bridges for more power, and some want closer action for more sensitive fingertips and not overly powerful projection. That being said, it's easy to lower the bridge but impossible to raise it without making a new bridge.
Also, in some climates the fingerboard curves down vs our humidity bringing the fingerboard up which increases the distance to the strings. Please accept our apologies for this inconvenience. If you can't find a luthier in your area to lower the bridge, please give us a call and we'll figure something out.
As for the shipping issue, it's not common that we have those kind of issues. Please accept my sincere apologies and we'll send you a $20 gift certificate to make up for the inconvenience.
Once again, thank you so much for your kind words. :)