A Modern 3/4 Size Stentor II Violin Fitted With Piastro Tonica Strings

Stentor II 3/4 Size With Pirastro Tonica Strings. Played by Ursula Donnelley of Mapperley Park Nottingham.

This violin provides teachers, students and parents with a good baseline against which to compare more expensive antique and vintage student violins.

Nottingham based professional violin teacher Ursula Donnelley, who reviewed this set up of a standard 3/4 sized Stentor writes:

‘Stentor is about as standard of a new starter violin that you can get. They usually come with some equally standard violin strings. Dr Sutton has replaced these strings with Pirastros, which are very nice strings. I was intrigued to hear what the result would be as I don’t think I have ever heard this combination.

When I played this first, I felt it had a thin but consistent sound. However, listening back to the recording, the sound is much better from the listener’s perspective. Usually Stentors do have a thin sound, so I believe the difference is down to the better quality strings.

I used a full size bow which bounced a little bit particularly in the higher positions. However, if you were to use a 3/4 size violin bow, which is lighter, this would most likely remedy the situation.

I found the fine tuners rather stiff, but I was able to tune the instrument from the main tuning pegs. This could be fixed very easily I believe so perhaps this is something Mike will be able to adjust.

Overall, for a new starter age 9-12, (due to the 3/4 size), this violin would be a great choice for those looking for quality on a budget.

Although Stentor are standard, they are also perfectly adequate new starter violins. With the added benefit of decent strings, this makes the violin sound just that bit nicer which will keep the student more interested in playing.’

Dr Sutton’s Notes On This Setup for Teachers, Students and Parents

Interesting to see how the Stentor II performed in Ursula Donnelly’s review with the better strings. I think this setup provides a good and honest point of comparison for parents on a budget. I reckon all violin shops should always lay one out set up like this next to the violin they want the parents to pay more for. Ursula’s excellent video provides a virtual version of such an exercise and the written review she proves above will help with such comparisons. In effect, a second hand 3/4 Stentor can be purchased on eBay around £35 plus a set of Tonica strings can be bought from Amazon around £25-£30) = a £60 violin that sounds better than a new Stentor.

In fact, following consultation with Ursula, I would actually recommend a Stentor be fitted with Thomastic Infeld Vienna Alphayue strings. These are warmer and cheaper, and I think longer lasting, than Pirastro Tonica strings. Again, I recommend Amazon as the place to buy them at a good price if you are able to fit them yourself.

At some point soon I’ll re-string the Stentor II in the collection with those and provide a further useful comparison.

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