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Frequently Asked Questions

We've compiled a list of frequently asked questions and answers regarding V.A. Hill Fine Strings Ltd., and our instruments in general. Do we offer violin rentals? When should children start lessons? If you still have questions after reading through this list, please contact us!

Do you offer lessons?

No, our shop does not offer lessons. We do, however, have a teacher list and often refer students to teachers in their area of the city.

Do you sell music books at the shop?

Yes! We stock the more widely-used lesson books including Suzuki, Royal Conservatory, Mark O'Connor, and Fiddle Club. We also carry books of general interest including Celtic fiddle, country/ swing, gospel, jazz, wedding, seasonal, and classical.

Do you have a string instrument rental program?

Yes, we have a rental program both for child- and adult-sized instruments! Our contract has the first month of the rental and a $100 damage deposit paid up front. Following the first month, a charge to a credit card automatically continues the rental term for the duration that you wish to use the instrument. When you choose to return it, the contract ends. Your deposit is returned at that time unless, in rare instances, there is any damage to the outfit.

Should you decide to purchase the instrument you are renting (or any other instrument instead!), the first 6 months and the deposit will be applied towards the purchase price. For parents not wanting to invest in ownership until they know if a child is really going to enjoy lessons, a 6 month trial is usually sufficient to know the outcome. If the outfit is purchased at the end of the 6 months, all of the money spent will be put towards that purchase. Parents often decide to take lessons with the child, to offer encouragement and motivation, and to experience the satisfaction of learning an instrument firsthand. Our oldest new customer was 81, and our youngest new customer was 2 years 3 months old. You're never too old or too young to benefit from the joy of music!

Do you offer a trade-in policy?

Yes, we most certainly do! Our trade-in policy is 80% of the instrument's original purchase price (less the cost of any maintenance, devaluation, or repairs required to bring it back up to our high standards prior to resale) to be put towards your next instrument purchase. Even if the instrument or outfit was purchased elsewhere, we will typically accept it as a trade-in provided that it is in good condition. (In the case of an instrument purchased elsewhere, we would determine our selling price for the items and the same policy would apply.) Whether you require a larger size, an upgrade, or you wish to switch to a different type of instrument altogether, our trade-in policy can help!

Do you ship to locations outside of Calgary and what is the charge for shipping & handling?

Yes, we most definitely will ship to other areas. Our shipping cost is dependant upon your choice of transport. We charge the actual cost of the shipping, and only in rare cases do we charge a handling fee.

Does your shop do repairs?

Yes! Our luthiers are fully-trained makers/ restorers capable of handling any repair that might come into the shop. Our repairs are done in a timely manner, with many repairs going back to the customer earlier than the promised due date.

Does your shop rehair and repair bows?

Absolutely! With only a few exceptions where more intricate repairs are required, all bows are ready to be returned to the owner within a week.

Can I ship my bow to you for a rehair?

Yes, we do many out of town rehairs. Please contact us and we will have your bow done and on its way back to you, typically within a week of receiving it.

What is the average price for an adult beginner outfit?

An adult beginner violin outfit (violin, bow, and case) will start at about $750, depending upon what is currently in stock. (The prices of viola, cello, and double bass outfits start proportionally higher.) While many outfits can be purchased for less, especially off the internet, all of our instruments have been properly set-up with new strings, a properly cut bridge and sound post, a reshaped fingerboard and properly fitted pegs. Very few instruments of lower price have had these set-up details improved. While the shop could provide a cheaper version by eliminating the improvements to the set-up, we refuse to lower our standards. If the set-up is not correct, the instrument will be difficult to play, sound poorly and be a source of frustration. Many teachers recommend this shop because of the quality of our instruments and set-ups.

What is a good age to start a child in lessons?

A great age to start a child in lessons is 3 to 4 years of age. At this age, children love repetition, do not have a social life, and consider 20 minutes of a parent's undivided attention during practice as bonding rather than supervision. A 3-year-old child is very capable of learning to play the violin, and many teachers are eager to accept them at this age.

Why do my pegs pop or slip?

The most common reason for pegs to pop is a drop in humidity. When the level of humidity drops, the pegs shrink. At the same time, the wood of the scroll shrinks and while the wood of the scroll gets tighter and smaller, the holes become larger. With larger holes and smaller pegs, things are bound to let loose. Should all four pegs pop at the same time, the bridge (and perhaps the sound post) may fall. If you feel unable to put things back in order, don't hesitate to bring the instrument into the shop. We can have it back together and tuned up for you in short order.

Slipping pegs are generally associated with their improper fit. This may be caused by long-term use, requiring peg maintenance, or by the non-fitted pegs of a new instrument. Either way, the investment to have the pegs refitted will greatly enhance your playing experience.

What is the difference between a violin and a fiddle?

Generally nothing, as the terms are quite interchangeable. Often what is being referred to is the style of music being played on the instrument, rather than the instrument itself. Some players choose to play only old-time fiddle music and opt to reduce the string height and bridge curvature, and use sharper sounding steel strings.

Is there something we missed? Get in touch with us directly.

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