I received my Fiddlerman Soloist via FedExp today 9/13, and after playing it for a good 40 minutes or so, here are my observations:
1.) The Soloist Violin:
I chose the yellow/brown Soloist. I love how they did the varnish on this violin! I love how the varnish "plays" with the flame of the maple back. What I mean is that, depending on where sunlight or any other light hits the back of the violin, there is almost like a holographic effect where some "flames" will be more pronounced than another. I am very impressed by this. I wish I had a better way of explaining it. The flame on the maple back of my Soloist is more on the finer side than what I've seen in pictures or videos from Fiddlershop. My Soloist has very distinguishable marks on it, which kind of reminds me of some of Lorenzo Storioni's violin backs.
I can turn the pegs very smoothly without any issues - which is very important to me. As Fiddlerman promised, their 10-point adjustment checklist is top notch. Everything looked very good and properly adjusted. I'm very happy with it.
Very smooth. Not too dark, but not bright either. At first, I really didn't like the Vision strings too much. Under my ear, the Visons sounded "metallic". Maybe because I'm used to Obligatos. But I guess the strings started to settle down, and I started hearing overtones, and the violin was resonating so beautifully. Even my wife commented on how smooth, deep, and powerful it sounded. I am really happy with this violin, and maybe I'll stick with the Vision for now, and see how it does.
2.) The Bow:
Very nice. If you don't look at the stamp near the frog on the bow, you won't be able to tell that it is a yellow sandalwood bow.
The YS bow is just a tad heavier than what I'm used to. My current bows are around the 59-60g range. I'm sure the YS bow is a little over that.
However, it was very responsive, and once I got the proper tension on the bow hair, I started loving it! It produced a very smooth and focused sound on the Soloist. I had no problem doing sautille, martele, and spicatto on it. The bow is on the firm side, but not too firm -- just the way I like it. The YS bow also did very well with my Scott Cao. I just needed to get over the "weight" shock of the bow. But once I got over that, I started loving the bow.
3.) The Fiddlerman Shoulder Rest
Very nice looking shouldrest. Quality of the material is also very decent.
I'm still trying to figure this one out. I use Kun Voce Carbon Fiber shoulder rest. But so far, once I was able to find the right fit and adjustment on the Fiddlerman shoulder rest, it seems to work nicely.
4.) Holstein Premium Rosin
I'm still evaluating this rosin compared to what I am using now. But so far, I'm liking it.
5.) The FC100 oblong violin case
Very nice. The case had it's own violin bag as well, but I like the Fiddlerman violin bag better. The Fiddlerman violin bag that came with the outfit is made of better material, I believe.
6.) Customer Service and Shipping Experience:
Clare was very professional and helpful to my questions. I received my Soloist on time, and without any damage. It was very well packed.
I'm very sure I will have hours and hours of enjoying my FM Soloist. I will have no qualms bringing this violin to performances or when I play in church.
My other violin is a 2002 Scott Cao stv1500 made by their ex-luthier Ken Su (Scott Cao didn't have any signature series back then, and Ken Su had gone to open his own shop, and won the VSA violin competion in 2014).
Although I love my Scott Cao, I promised my daughter I will give it to her when the time comes. I bought the Soloist for myself in preparation for giving her the Scott Cao. I started shopping for a violin that will not break the bank to keep my wife happy (lol). I chose this violin just by listening to the youtube videos. In my case, I know enough to know what I want to hear, and what I am looking for. Although I don't necessarily recommend doing this to everyone, Fiddlershop has proven to me their integrity in marketing their products. In short, I trust them! And I was not dissapointed! I'm a very happy camper!