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Fiddleheads Violin Studio Testimonials & Feedback: Polish Workshop and Bench Violin/Viola/Cello Reviews

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- Workshop Instruments

- Bench Models

 

Workshop

I will definitely not be turning this viola in [at end of the trial].  Honestly, even though I have only been playing a couple of months, I know enough to say that I absolutely love this viola.  

I am sure to drive my family crazy with all the playing I'll be putting in, but thanks to you, at least they will be listening to an excellent quality viola with a fantastic sound . . . even though the player could use a year or ten of experience! :) Thanks again!

- Shelli, Blind Bay, BC

The cello arrived today and has a lovely sound . . . it is so much louder than my old cello, I am playing duets with my son for the wedding and I had to keep telling him not to play so loud with my old cello as he easily could outplay my sound - I think he's met his match with this cello! 

I've gone back over a few pieces I've been working on in the past that I couldn't seem to get enough volume on, there's no problem now - I have all the volume I'll ever need!  

I very much like the cello... The projection of sound [is] amazing, even one of my sons said he could really hear the difference in sound from my old one.  My husband said he heard a lot of comments in and around the church when we played that we sounded so professional, so that's always nice to hear.  The music minister writes his own arrangements for the choir and string quartet and the cello is written more as a bass line than a true cello line, but with this cello the sound is so nice in the bass range as well, and it sounded beautiful yesterday when I played with the quartet.

Thanks for all your help, it's going to be hard to get anything else done this week besides play the cello! It's been tough to get much of anything else done . . . I'd rather be playing cello!

My cello teacher played my cello today and he was very impressed and pleased with the sound of it.  He said it was a very nice sound and it also looks nice, he would have no problem recommending this cello (or one like it) to his other students.  I'm glad he's just as pleased with it as I am! Thanks for all your help with this.

Thanks for all of your help - how privileged I am to be able to play and learn on this cello.

- Bev, Lethbridge, AB

 

Bench Models

Koscielny

OK, are you ready for the [viola] feedback?? One word: WOW

This [Jarek Koscielny] instrument absolutely ROCKS!!!! The C-string is so loud and deep. My wife came into the room and thought I was playing a Cello. The instrument is so well balanced and powerful. I am completely blown away - so, yes, it's definitely a keeper.

Let me know what my balance $$$ is so I can get you paid. Thanks for hanging in there - this one's a home run.

UPDATE: This viola continues to absolutely amaze me. I have a new dilemma - I don't want to play my other instrument any longer!!! My wife keeps telling me that the lower notes on the C string sound like a cello, I tend to agree. It has amazing projection and power.

- James, Redmond, WA

Wanted to let you know the violin arrived last evening and I only had a few minutes to play it. My initial impressions are very similar to the Koscielny Viola you ordered for me - WOW !!!

This violin has a really wide lower bout and it certainly shows in the G string (nice deep bass sound). The violin also has great projection. The Evahs that are on it seem to be a great match. I will get more time this evening to play but my initial reaction is that it's a keeper :) Jarek sure does make some nice instruments.
 
UPDATE (1 month later): My wife took my Koscielny tonight and wouldn't give it back. Now her Hiroshi Kono, which is a nice violin is no longer good enough. I do have to say the Koscielny sounds better.

The violin is working out very well, it's just getting my brain around treble clef and then alto which really screws me up.

- James, Redmond, WA

First, everything is going well with the new cello, it plays beautifully and it is such a joy to play. 

- Bev, Alberta

 

Topa

I am writing this to share some good news with you. My son used his new (Topa) violin to participate in a violin competition (SYMF) last week. He successfully demonstrated the excellent sound quality of that violin and won first place in one category and second in another.

After the competition he said his "best partner, the new violin," helped him make it through.

We would like to thank you, not only for the excellent product, but also for your professional services. You provided us with detail and valuable information. You always answered our questions with patience, and in great depth.

Thanks to your guidance and expertise, it has been a smooth process for us from searching to owning such a wonderful violin.

- Ryan, Fullerton, CA

After waiting less than what I was expecting, I am happy to tell you the Topa has arrived at my house unharmed :) My son took the violin and instantly loved it. It sounds truly AMAZING. It has been about an hour now and my son cannot take his hands off tis violin. I will give you updates as we play into the wood and wait for the new violin o true nature transformation.

[UPDATE 1 day later]: When my son first took out the violin he was amazed at the sheer power and volume of the violin. He loves the smell of it and he has not been able to take his hands off ever since. I have seen him clean the violin of rosin almost every 1/2 hour!

I am quite amazed at the care he is giving this violin as I thought he would just let rosin pile up like his old one. After a few days of playing, he tells me the A and E strings are effortless to play in the left, although require just a bit of fancy wrist work in the bow arm to get the pure sound he wants out of the violin on any string.

He tells me after playing a few days, he feels less vibrations under his chin, and that the volume of the violin is a it decreased (maybe 10% less?) but he says the power of it is still there and that the sound is starting to become focused and warming a little. He says e string articulation is the cleanest he has seen out of every violin he's played. Overall he says he cant wait to see the violin turns out 2 weeks later, and a year later after we finish the buying process.

UPDATE [1 week later]: I am happy to tell you that we showed the violin to my son's violin teacher, who is very very picky with violin sounds, and she said she loved it. She said the G string has the texture of chocolate (I dont understand what that means but i guess she likes it ). The metallic sort of [new string] sound is gone from the violin but now it is taking on the sound of a warming violin.

UPDATE [1 month later]: As promised, here is the results after a month. After a month of playing on it, my teacher is amazed. My son has grown to love it and even with insurance if it breaks, he says he wouldn't want it to break because he loves the deep tones and the lush sound he gets with his vibrato.

My son's [other] teacher, who is a second violinist in the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, just absolutely loves [my son's] new violin. We were worried about passing his inspection, but we passed it with an A++. My teacher has a student who is interested in buying a Topa violin, and my teacher with his wife may be interested too-- they like the violin so much! They can't keep their ears away from it. I gave them all the goodword of your wonderful business!

I will have a video of my son playing on his new violin with the sound warmed up as soon as he polishes the spots he has trouble with. He now roughly has something that sounds like the Wieniaski Concerto no 2, so we should have a video for you on that later. Thank you for doing business.

- Peter, Ellicott City, Maryland

I had set my heart on a slightly cheaper Chinese violin but [Rhianon, Fiddleheads' Owner] gave me good reasons why Topa would be a better fit. I followed her advice and I’m glad I did.

My previous violin shopping taught me that that one must take time and effort to allow a new violin to show its true face. The difference between my first impression of this Topa and now (after having played it for a little over a month) is incredible. It’s amazing to watch the violin opens up each day, more playable, more colors and more projection.  

The second week, I got a “Review Committee” running, which consists of my husband (also a violinist), one of Canada's finest string quartets, a solo violinist, couple of their colleagues in our local professional Symphony Orchestra, and an award-winning luthier.  We played the Topa in different venues such as a cathedral, studios and different homes.  The consensus is it's a really good fiddle with rich sound, highly playable and powerful. [READ FULL REVIEW HERE]

The advice I got was, “Take it!”  The rest is history :)

Now more than a month later, I'm very happy to report that the Topa and I are very much bonded. I can hear a lot of colors that I didn't before, especially on D and G strings. With the clarity of sound, it's much easier for me to spot out of tune notes.  I can't believe a good violin can motivate me to play so much.  It literally has tripled my practice time!

- Yixi, Victoria, BC, Canada [READ FULL REVIEW HERE]

Yo fiddle woman - Finally got home and tried out the Topa tonight - nice hunk of wood !!! Should burn just fine in the fireplace !!!! It's definitely a brighter instrument than the Koscielny I got from you. I guess it will be a keeper, though. Beautiful finish and the lower strings projection quite well.

- James, Redmond, WA

Just to let you know that my violin arrived! It's packed really nicely underneath the tail piece and around the bridges etc.! I can see that you have take extra caution in all these. Once again, thanks a lot! I will let you know how it goes when I get a chance to try it out soon....

It's only been my second day [playing the violin], and it already exceeds my expectations. I want to let you know that I am very satisfied with this violin. I know this violin will open up more and more as times go on. It hasn't really reached
its full potential. But so far I find that the tonal quality over all strings are very consistent.

In terms of projection, it's great! Among all strings, I like the D string the most. For the G string, the higher position seems to give a warmer sound the lower position. (But it's still good with lower position). All strings give excellent clarity and this violin really sings!

With this violin and the [Fiddleheads Simpatica] VN-65 bow, I feel that I can draw lots of power from it and the response is very excellent. [More feedback on this bow by David here]

UPDATE [1 month later]

The E and A strings have opened up, the edginess all disappears and are very responsive. I can hear the projection, power and volume loud and clear even in orchestra settings without much bowing effort. I am hearing more and more different tonal color every day so I believe it still has not reached its full potential.

Also, the tones are getting more and more consistent across all 4 strings. I have not yet tried new strings apart from the Evah Pirazzi strings put on by Rhiannon to examine if there are any differences yet.

With this violin, I have been consistently enjoying playing it for at least 3-4 hours everyday. I do not realize that a good violin can be such motivation. Practicing violin becomes such a thing to enjoy even after a long day of work!

Sometimes I still play the old violin that has been with me throughout all these years. However, as the new violin opens up more and more, I find that the gap in sound quality and responsiveness is widening every day! It is unfortunate that I think I am going to spend more and more time with the Topa violin, leaving my old violin behind.

In addition to the sound quality of the Topa violin, the workmanship of the Guadagnini definitely amazes me. The video took by Rhiannon could not do justice for what it looks like. Everything on this violin is professionally hand-made with such a unique touch from the luthier.

- David, Blaine/Vancouver

Thought I'd let you know the Topa arrived safely today…that was very fast!

First visual impressions:  very nice overall, my daughter likes the dark varnish and tasteful antiquing as well as its smaller size. It's a funny shaped thing isn't it – not symmetrical between treble and bass (perhaps there is some reason based on physics or acoustics behind this?)

Apart from this interesting feature, on the sound side, you're right again, it needs more time on it and perhaps could use a sound post and bridge adjustment, but it has good projection and a darker tone that will be great in a few months.

I'm pretty sure the Topa will be staying here and my daughter won't want to part with it. Thanks again for the speedy shipment and enjoy your week!

- Jeanne, SK

Well I got it and my first impression. Wow, is it ever a beautiful instrument. Sounds great, looks great. Very responsive, high playability.

To use a food analogy, I'll be sipping the fine wine especially as I say because I'm a novice; but I do see that it is a refined instrument. It's going to take me a while to fully appreciate it, but my first impression is that it's very beautiful.

Thank you for the terrific service. You're very professional, it's great dealing with you. It looks like we have something here.

- Tom, Calgary, AB

The Topa violin arrived safely from Fiddleheads.  It was packed so well with all the details taking care of by Rhiannon at a very high standard. It looks beautiful and sounds incredible as per your description.  It sounds very well right out of the case, of course, after some tuning. 

My first impression was it looked so nice with a lot of personal antiquing touch by the maker.  Apparently, it was originally made perfect allover before varnishing, and Topa had applied some antiquing techniques at the corners and occasionally along the purfling on the top and back plates.  At upper bout of the top plate, it was purposely roughened to make it looks like it's an 200-years-old instrument. The most admirable of all is the precision of works at the arching of lower bout.   

[In comparing this violin to photos I saw on the web of other Topas] you can see the maker is applying a lot of personal touches to his design over the years as his confidence building up while his original great ideas are maintained.  I especially appreciate his mildly bulged peg box.  It allows the E and G-string having more rooms to maneuver within the peg box.  It's an instrument made by a violinist, which suit his own use and likings, I think. 

It has the kind of high projection character.  I bet it will give stunning improvement after playing for a few months.  Thanks for selecting this gem for my us.  When I look at [the violin], I have more respect to the passion, care and details of the maker.   

As Topa is a rock-star, I can guess the sonic character of this violin before hearing it. Sound-wise, it's the kind of powerful sounding violin with high projection ability which matches with Topa's music gender so well.  Initially, it has deep and colorful lower register.  Believe me, it's nothing close to nasal noise.  It has reasonably sweat E-string, but its A-string is not as delicate as the others for the time being.  As everything are brand new, I really can't judge its ability now but I know it will sound much better after babying it for some time. In fact, I've surfed through the net for Topa and revealed that apart from professional musicians, young violinist are also using it for competitions.  
  
UPDATE [1 Month later]: Just wanna give you an update of its tonal development. I've changed the strings to all Pirazzi Evah for a week already.  Everything is great except the whistling E, which I replaced with a Jargar.

Sound gradually turning mature with less edginess.  The whole spectrum is dark and sweet now with the feeling of better control, and I think Evah should be a good match with my Topa.  It demonstrates the potential of the Topa very well.  Thanks for your recommendation, it's really a great instrument.

Buying quality violins is a better investment than entering the stock/property market. It is a very happy buying from Fiddleheads.  Told you, it is my wisest decision of the year!

UPDATE [6 Months later]: FYI, my Topa has great tonal improvement over the last few months.  Time is one of the major reasons and I'm sure the change of fittings and strings contribute the rest.  It's now got boxwood fittings and Peter Infeld strings.  They are great match for each other.

- Daniel, Hong Kong

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