Best Wall Decoration 2024: Mendini 500+92D Violin by Cecilio

by | Feb 10, 2024

Overview

The Mendini 500+92D beginner violin by Cecilio is a worthy inclusion on any list of products that make great wall decorations. It is a very pretty thing to look at. If you are purely looking for a decorative violin shaped object that will never be played, then this is the instrument for you. Seriously! Just look at it!

However, at $160, it has all of the problems typically associated with cheap beginner violin outfits and is a terrible buy. Just to put this in perspective, I bought my review instrument for $190 back in 2022. During that time, the price of all legitimate brands on the market has gone up significantly due to inflation while the price of the Mendini 500+92D has dropped to $160 (or $124 with the current 30% discount). Back in 2020, the bottom-end acceptable violin was $200. Today, it is $350!

And I recommend spending at least $350 on your beginner violin outfit, with $400 to $500 being the preferable range. Consider Shar Music’s Franz Hoffman line, Gliga Violins, Fiddlershop, Bunnel (also on Amazon), or DZ Strad (also on Amazon) instead.

So what is so wrong with the Mendini? Read on to find out.

Why Having a Good Beginner Violin Matters

Especially for a brandnew beginner, who this violin is intended for, it is really important to have an instrument that is comfortable to use and that works well. The violin is already deeply uncomfortable to lean due to it requiring us to contort our hands into really awkward positions. Having strings that are difficult to work or that feel like they are cutting into our fingers only makes the experience even more unpleasant for the new player.

We also need an instrument that is at least halfway decently set up. This is because, as our technique begins to form up, we need to know that it is us and not the violin that is causing us to have sound quality issues.

The Mendini 500 Has All the Issues

The Mendini 500 I reviewed, purchased new, had a poorly cut bridge, improper string heights, a poorly haired bow, uncomfortable strings, stank horribly for the first several days after I got it, and had a poorly cut nut. Additionally, one of the fine tuners on the tailpiece broke the first time I tried to use it.

But it looks amazing!

The Stench

Fortunately, technology does not allow us to convey odors via the internet yet. So my words will have to do. Think terpentine mixed with treated pine, and you have about the right idea. It was so overpowering that, when I first get the violin, I could only stand having it out of the case for about 10 minutes before I started to get a headache. The odor did improve eventually, but it took a while to off gas enough for me to be able to handle the violin for an extended period of time.

Yall, please don’t do this to your kids.

The Bridge

If the stench was not enough, the bridge on the Mendini 500, alone, is. The bridge is one of the most important parts of the violin and requires time and cae to get even to a basic level of serviceability. The Mendini’s bridge is no where on any of the basic things it needs to meet serviceable standards.

Two Bridges

First off, any violin outfit that comes with two bridges is a bad deal. That is a major red flag that should never be ignored. Unfortunately, this a red flag the Mendini let’s you see once you open up the case. The issue with two bridges is that bridge is actually one of the most labor intensive parts of the instrument. Each bridge needs to be fit to the instrument it is intended for. The height, thickness, shape of the feet, and grooves for the strings need to be tailor cut to the individual violin or viola the bridge will be installed on. None of the $350 beginner violins from reputable companies come with two bridges because of the labor involved in getting one bridge cut even half-way properly. Mendini gives you two bridges because both bridges are ‘blanks’ – that is, they are raw, uncut bridges.

String Height

The proper string height for a full-size violin like this one is 5 mm for the G string and 3.5 mm for the E string. The Mendini’s sting heights came in at a staggering 7.5 mm for the G string and nearly 5.5 mm for the E string. This translates to a whole lot of pain for you or your child when trying to learn this instrument. Remember, your fingers are already not conditioned for repetitively pressing the strings down. Now imagine having to work twice as hard to get a note out! Excessively high strings also impacts our intonation (or ability to play in tune).

Excessive Thickness

A properly cut bridge will be around 1.3 mm thick at the top, 4.5 mm thick at the bottom, and have feet that are likewise thinned down. The Mendini runs a full 2.2 mm wide at the top, over 5 mm wide at the base, with the feet completely uncut. All of this extra thickness means extra mass in the bridge. The job of the bridge is to pass the vibrations of the strings down into the body of the violin; however, a thick bridge like this one will just end up absorbing and dampening a lot of the stings’ vibrations. This leads to a duller, more lifeless sound that will leave you hating your instrument or falsely thinking that there is something wrong with your playing.

Little Details…

Just as final example of how little attention or care was put into this violin, we can look at the place where the E sting crosses over the bridge. The E string is really thin and will cut into the bridge over time. Normally, to prevent this, the bridge has a little piece of plastic or other reinforcement on it to ensure the E string stays sitting on top of the bridge. You can see in the image here that this piece is missing on the Mendini 500.

The Nut

Another significant component that can tell us a lot about the buildquality of an instrument is the nut. The nut is a place where strings leave the peg box at the top of the violin or viola. A properly cut nut has straight channels that are open with just the right amount of depth and that are not pushed too close to the edge of the neck. The Mendini 500 gets full marks for failing to meet these standards. The nut is really telling because of how easy it is to get right. Where a master luthier might charge $250 for a well done bridge, it only costs $50 for them to do the nut.

Fine Tuners

It is easy to overlook these little guys, but they ae a big deal. On beginner instruments, they are a vital aid for students, teachers and parents, alike, in keeping the instument properly in tune. Good find tuners are easy to turn and can keep up their job for years without issue. The Mendini fine tuners? One broke the first time I tried to use it, with the pin punching through the tuner lever. The others were functional but very hard to turn. This tailpiece and its fine tuners would have to be replaced ($30) before the instrument could go into regular use (not that you would want it to…).

Strings

The strings that come with the Mendini 500 are extremely cheap, costing about $3 for a full set of 4. To put that into perspective, budget strings on more legitimate brands cost between $10 and $15 for a set (and they are actually quite decent). This biggest impact purchasing higher quality stings has on the violin or viola is not the sound quality (which is important) but in how easy the strings are to use. The cheaper materials in the Mendini strings actually make them harder to use. The effect on my test violin was for the E string to feel like I was pressing my fingers down into a cheese cutter as I tried to play on it – not a pleasant experience.

The Mendini 500+92D Outfit

The rest of the outfit is not much better than the violin, itself. Here is the breakdown.

The Bows

Remember what we said about two bridges? Two bows is another major red flag when looking at any beginner violin or viola outfit, and it is a red flag the Mendini proudly flies high in its promotional material.

Yall, you only need one decently made bow ($35 if it is wood).

But, because Mendini gives you two, that means they had to split their resources across making two super cheap bows instead of consolidating resources into one decent bow. And it shows. You can see in the hair of the Mendini bows that the hair is billowy and has substantial gaps and holes in it where a properly made bow has straight, even, full hair. The cheaper hair of the Mendini bows will translate to weaker sound and, again, more difficulty in knowing whether it is you or the instrument that is at issue.

Shoulder Rest

The shoulder rest has two main jobs. First is to hold onto the violin or viola well and not fall off. The second is to be comfortable during long hours of play. The little rinkydink shoulder rest included with the Mendini 500 fails on both of these counts. The feet are not stable and will not reliably hold the violin. That tiny platform for contacting your shoulder? Long story short, no. Just no. The Empire featured in the image is $10 while a Kun is around $30 (and will last a decade or more).

92D Tuner Metronome

The tuner-metronome is the “92D” in the product title, so you would expect it to stand up, right? I mean, it worked. For about a month. First it would just shut off involuntarily. Then it just wouldn’t turn on. And no, it wasn’t the batteries. A basic functional tuner metronome from Shar is $15, where the legendary Korg TM-50 is $35.

The Case

Just for thoroughness, the case was, well, a case. It has all the basic things a case should have. As to how it would have held up under daily use, I can’t say, but I haev my suspicions.

Second Hand Market

If you are shopping second-hand, you will likely encounter Mendini instruments on the second hand market. Always pass them over. You won’t be able to return them the way you can when buying new, and you will want to return them. “But the price is so nice! Just $50!” Plus the cost of your time to go and get it from somebody, plus the pain and suffering of your and you child, plus the sorrow of learning the hard way that you made a mistake and need to go spend another $350 to make up for it.

Conclusion + Recommendations

Seriously, yall, if you want a decorative violin, the Mendini 500 is a great buy.

Otherwise, please steer clear. I highly recommend spending at least $350 on a beginner instrument. $450 is a safer minimum if you want to get something modestly decent. $350 is simply the minimum for something that is serviceable for a brand-new beginner to learn on. Menidini’s by Cecilio are all a no-go. Shop these brands instead:

Shar Music’s Franz Hoffman line

Gliga Violins

Fiddlershop

Bunnel (also on Amazon)

DZ Strad (also on Amazon)

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This