About the Barcelona BC-50 Violin
This is a review for the Barcelona BC-50 Violin set, made by Austin Bazaar.
Barcelona is a private label of the Austin Bazaar Company that focuses on manufacturing stringed, Wind, and Percussion instruments. I contacted Austin Bazaar and asked them if they would be interested in sending a violin for my review. Austin Bazaar recommended the BC-50 violin and sent it over for me to test it out. the Barcelona BC-50 Orchestra violin is the highest quality violin in the Barcelona series and is listed at about $115.
The violin set includes the following items-
- · An extra set of strings,
- · Rosin,
- · Shoulder rest,
- · Two bridges,
- · Two bows,
- · Protective cloth,
- · Violin case,
- · And one 4/4 violin
The Barcelona BC-50 violin is made out of-
- · Chin Rest: Rosewood,
- · Tuning Pegs: Rosewood,
- · Tailpiece: Synthetic,
- · Body: Spruce top and hand-carved solid maple for back and sides,
- · Fingerboard: Rosewood,
- · Bridge: Maple,
- · Bow: Brazilwood,
- · Fine tuners: I believe they are nickel plated.
I’m not completely sure what happened but for some reason the BC-50 violin was delayed with its shipping time, so I contacted the company and the customer service was great. The Austin Bazaar representative that I talked with acted quickly in resolving the issue to get the violin shipped correctly. When the violin arrived I opened the box and found the violin case inside; there was no other padding inside the box but that didn’t matter because the case held the violin and kept it safe.
Both of the violin bridges were wrapped in paper and rubber band to the neck to keep them secure. I found no problems with the bridges and I was able to get them on without any problems. However, the BC-50 violin set had no instructions that came with the violin for how to set the bridge or get the instrument in tune.
The Austin Bazaar website has complete instructions on how to care for the violin but does not tell how to install the bridge.This isn’t a problem if you already know how to set it up, but If you are new to playing the violin I recommend that you read the instructions on their website for basic instructions for your violin and check out some Youtube videos to get the bridge on.
The Bad news
While inspecting the Barcelona BC-50 violin I found a very small problem with the paint, but to be honest I liked it because it matched the violin and gave it a bit of character.
Three out of the four tuning pegs were too stiff. They were so stiff that I literally could not turn them, and when I tried to force it to move the E string broke on me. I should have known better and loosened all the strings first, but for some reason I tried to turn it up to pitch. After the string broke though I loosened all of the pegs and lubricated them so that they could turn smoothly.
The two bows that came with the violin were basic Brazilwood bows; you see them all the time with beginner violin sets. Both bows look identical in appearance, one was a bit dirty but it had no problems. The second bow however was already tight when it arrived and upon further inspection I found that I could not loosen it. The violin bow hair was about half an inch too short so it was always being pulled taut, I think you can imagine why this is a problem for a number of different reasons.
It was a good thing the set included a second bow. I suppose the problem could be fixed if you rehair the bow, but it would be better to just eventually upgrade to a better violin bow.
The Good news
The BC-50 violin only had the one paint flaw named above, but I still liked how it looked because it blended in with the slightly old and rustic look of the violin. In my opinion the violin looks better than the photos posted on the Austin Bazaar website. The BC-50 violin has a more natural color to its paint job and varnish, which gives it a higher quality appearance in comparison to some of the other beginner violin sets out there that are in the same price range.
The violin has nice ball end fine tuners that are raised up a bit higher than the standard small black fine tuners you see on most beginner violins. The problem with the standard small black fine tuners is that it is hard to get a good grip on the middle fine tuners without hitting any of the others.
The BC-50 violin fine tuners makes it easy to adjust and keep the instrument in tune.
The case was slightly dirty as if it had been sitting around for a long time, but upon inspection it had no flaws. The case is pretty sturdy and durable in terms of protecting your violin from scrapes and bumps. The thing I noticed about the case was that the small compartment on the inside was actually bigger than the average beginner violin case and I was able to fit several small items- such as an entire pack of violin strings, a cleaning cloth, and two boxes of rosin inside without any problems.
The violin rosin isn’t the best quality but it does work. When I put the rosin on it slightly crumbled and fell apart on me. The cloth that the rosin is connected to looks a bit raggedy and isn’t very appealing. The rosin sounds a bit mellow and it took awhile for it to stick to the bow to produce sound, but when it did stick I suppose that it did produce a nice sound. The rosin do clean up nicely, so it didn’t dust up the violin and leave a mess. Overall, the rosin is of mediocre quality. I recommend that you buy some new higher quality rosin.
UPDATE: I have been mixing the Barcelona rosin with other rosins and testing it with different bows to see how it would sound. I found that the Barcelona rosin actually sounds really nice when mixed with the Super-Sensitive Clarity rosin, it gives the violin a lovely soft and sweet sound.
The collapsible Shoulder rest that comes with the violin is able to fold up slightly for storage and it can also be adjusted for comfort, but it isn’t as nice nor is it as comfortable as the Everest violin shoulder rest. Regardless, it works just fine as a starter violin shoulder rest. Eventually you will need to upgrade because it slowly becomes uncomfortable to use while playing for long periods of time.
UPDATE 9/14/2013: One day while playing the shoulder rest hinges broke on me. The way it broke there is no way to repair it or glue it back together. This is only a minor problem in my opinion seeing how the violin’s starting price is already so cheap. So use the extra money you save to buy a better shoulder rest (see link above for Everest violin shoulder rest).
UPDATE: 11/11/13: The violin case is now starting to tear up. The left hinge that holds the top of the case to the bottom of the case came off and I can see where the screws are supposed to hold it in place but isn’t. I tried fixing it myself but the angle is a bit strange and I can’t screw it back together. The zippers are strong and are holding up, but the material that holds the zippers together is tearing so there is nothing holding the zipper to the case, it will completely tear off soon. Overall, the case will last about six months before it gives out. I have no problems with the violin and the bow, they are both still holding up great, so you might want to buy a better case to keep them safe.
The strings on the violin were actually pretty good. After I got the violin in tune the violin produced a very nice sound. The Barcelona BC-50 violin is a bit mellow and nasally in terms of its sound quality, but depending on the rosin you use it can also have a soft and sweet sound. In my opinion for a violin under $200 it sounds a lot closer to what a violin should sound like. After owning the violin for about six months now the strings are still holding up and the violin sounds great. I will post a new audio demo up on Youtube soon.
I love the way the Barcelona BC-50 violin looks, it will be great as a first beginner violin or a replacement for those looking to upgrade a step up. Eventually you will need to upgrade and buy new rosin, new strings, and a new shoulder rest, but for the time being everything that comes with the violin will help you get started in learning how to play. You will also need to get your tuning pegs looked at in case they are too stiff because that will cause problems when you start out, but after I fixed that one problem the violin was great.
If you want to learn more check out the Austin Bazaar BC-50 violin official website page because there is also a special bundle pack version that includes additional items to help you get started.
Make sure to also check out my Austin Bazaar Barcelona BC-50 unboxing video on YouTube.