Teacher Grace Tan's students in action.Well done for the first rehersal for next mini recital! They are all using violins between RM400 to RM1,000, and are able to produce a wonderful sound. These students really have passion and determination towards their music education. We are proud of you. Guess what strings they use? Strings made in China of stainless steel cost around RM18 per set. These strings sound very sharp and vibrate a lot of steel overtones. It is advisable to use synthetic core or semi-synthetic core violin strings to create a good, round tone.Allocate more budget more strings. We at Mama Treble Clef Studio always emphasize that you don't always rely on expensive instruments to produce a good sound - sometimes you must master the fundamentals then you move on to expensive instruments.

It does not mean we encourage you to buy 'ciplak' or 'cap palang' instruments but we recommend you to buy a good student instrument to start up with. Branded instruments will not neccessarily produce good sounds or be of good quality. It may be of a good brand but you must test and listen first, as everything depends on the quality control of the instrument. Of course branded instruments are expensive (and expensive means better quality control, manufacturing, R&D, etc) but sometimes unbranded instruments can be better (depending on instrument, however; electronic equipment such as keyboards, mixers and speakers must be of a good brand in order to function well).

Listening ability is a must and do not be attracted by the outlook of the instruments. The first criteria to choose an instrument is by the sound and playability, and apart from a few other minor issues that should be the priority and not the brand, colour, outlook, design, etc. Sometimes a slight modification on the instruments will make sounds different, sounds better. We don't want to commercialise music education in Malaysia and make it an expensive affair. For beginners, you can always buy an average RM 350 to RM1000 (if you have the budget) and change the strings (recommended brands are Dominant, Pirasto, D'addario, Thomas-Instfield) If your violins falls under RM1,000 category, do not use the original strings on the violin that you bought (at least not for a long period).

Cheap violin always come with cheap wood and laminated plywood. When it comes to tuning, expect the tuning pegs to give you a lot of trouble as the tuning will go flat and the tuning pegs will bounce back because of the low quality of the wood. It can, however be modified and be made better... The golden rule still applies to everything though; what you pay for is what you get. You can fine-tune and polish up some aspects of a cheap instrument but some aspects are built in - i.e. a Kancil can always be modified to be faster than a Mercedes, but the interior and build quality can never be changed.

The country of the manufacturer is not an important issue when choosing violin (especially when you are on a low budget). Many people prefer violins from Germany & Italy but let me tell you, many of the European countries are importing violins from China as well, just rebranded it and make it "European". For your information, China has emerged as the largest violin manufacturer and exporter in the world! Genuine European violins are very expensive, ranging from USD5,000 to USD 40,000.

Dominant series violin strings are one of the most widely-used synthetic strings. A highly flexible, multi-strand nylon core makes these comparable in sound and feel to natural gut. Its multi-strand perlon core offers the tonal warmth of gut, without its disadvantages. Made in Austria. Various models are available with a price range between RM140-RM190.

Pirastro as the world-wide leading manufacturer of strings has gained extensive knowledge since 1798. During all this time gut strings have been considered as the most beautiful sounding strings. However, the violists’ expectations to easiness of handling made gut strings to be less accepted. Today Pirastro offers an alternative to the needs of violists with its new Passione for viola: The gut string for the 21st century! Please read below the product description. Pirasto Tonica , made in Germany has upgraded string construction, livelier open and direct tone, with less side noises. Recommended to all violin students, price range between RM120-RM18o.

Video above: Pachabel Canon in 'D' violin practise and rehersal. Kevin Wong, Hooi Ching Hui En is using the F.Scarlatti version of violin. Eizaz on drums, Mr Cheng on Bass guitar and Benny on keyboard. Check out the next video next week! Thank you for viewing.