violin brands

Top Five Violin Brands for Beginner and Intermediate Students

violin brands

Are you just starting to take violin lessons? Below, violin teacher Delilah B. shares the top five violin brands for beginner and intermediate students…

Thinking about purchasing a violin? Choosing the right violin brand can be difficult, as there are many options available.

While you want to stay within a certain budget, you also don’t want to compromise on quality. What’s more, you want a violin that’s going to last and retain its value.

So, what do you do?

To help guide you through this complicated process, we’ve rounded up the top five violin brands for beginner and intermediate students along with some tips and tricks on how to successfully purchase a violin.

Things to Consider When Buying a New Violin

From price to quality, there are a few important things one must consider before purchasing a violin. Below is a short list of things to keep in mind while you search.

  • Price range: Before you start searching for a violin, it’s a good idea to set a budget. Quality violins usually start at around $500, then go up from there depending on the violin brand you choose. Remember, you will most likely have to buy a violin bow and case separately, so be sure to factor that into your budget, as well. By setting a budget, you’ll be able to narrow down your search by weeding out instruments that are not within your price range.
  • Quality: In addition to setting a budget, it’s important that you know what to look for in terms of quality. After all, you don’t want to get coaxed into purchasing a low-quality violin at a high price. Make sure that you check the instrument’s construction and structure. A high-quality violin shouldn’t look warped or creak when you apply pressure.
  • New or used: When purchasing a violin, you have two options: You can either purchase a brand-new violin or a used violin. If you’re on a tight budget, buying a used violin may be in your best interest. Just make sure that you do your research to ensure that the instrument is in good working condition and that you’re getting the most value.
  • Size: Violins come in different sizes. For children, there are sizes 3/4, 1/2, 1/4, 1/8, 1/10, 1/16 and 1/32 violins. There are two ways to properly measure a child for a violin. With the student’s left arm fully extended away from his or her body, measure from the base of the neck to either the wrist or the center of the palm. The neck-to-wrist measurement will indicate the most comfortable size for the student.

Difference Between Student, Intermediate, and Professional Violin Brands

Student Violins

In general, a student violin is made from lower-quality wood and involves less hand work. These violins usually have some parts made of plastic, such as the pegs and chin rest. Student violins are great for children who are interested in learning, but are not yet sure if they will play for very long. Prices for student violins can vary from about $100–$400.

Intermediate Violins

Violins classified as intermediate are a good compromise between student and professional instruments. The price range can vary from $400 to $1,000. Intermediate violins are great for musicians who want something better than a beginner instrument, but are not quite ready to invest thousands of dollars in a professional violin.

Professional Violins

Professional violins are usually constructed from highly-quality wood, hand-built and assembled by a luthier, and finished with high-quality components, such as an ebony fingerboard. These instruments, which are only appropriate for professional and advanced musicians, can cost anywhere from $4,000 to $10,000.

Buying a Violin Online vs. In-Store

If you’re debating whether you should purchase a violin online or in-store, below are some pros and cons to help you make your decision.

In-store

Pros:

  • You can try it out: One of the great things about buying a violin in-store is that you can try it before you buy it! It’s common for buyers to request to try out a violin brand at the shop. In fact, many shops have practice rooms for that exact purpose. Also, most violin shops are open to letting students borrow a violin for up to two weeks.
  • Knowledgeable staff members: If you’re a first-time buyer and don’t feel comfortable purchasing online, then you might want to opt for buying in-store. Most music shops have knowledgeable staff members on the floor who can match you up with the best violin brand.

Cons:

  • Limited inventory: Do you have a specific violin brand in mind? Music stores usually only carry a limited number of violin brands in-store. The last thing that you want to do is drive around town searching for a specific instrument that isn’t in stock.
  • High prices: Because they have less inventory, violin shops tend to have higher prices and less frequent sales. If you’re on a budget, you may want to shop around online for the best price.

Online

Pros:

  • You can shop independently: When shopping online, you aren’t bombarded by pushy salespeople trying to sell you the most expensive violin in the store. You can gather recommendations, read reviews, and shop peacefully and independently.
  • Larger inventory: Typically, online violin stores will have a larger inventory of violin brands to choose from. If one site doesn’t have what you want, chances are you can find another site that does.

Cons: 

  • Higher risk: When purchasing goods online, there’s always a certain amount of risk involved. Some websites will try to coax unknowing buyers into purchasing a violin that they think is of a much better quality than what it actually is. If you decide to go the online route, make sure you purchase from a certified violin dealer.
  • Uncertainty: If you’re stuck deciding between two violin brands, there’s no way that you can “try them out” online without having to purchase both and then return the one you don’t want.

Top Five Violin Brands for Beginner and Intermediate Students

As previously mentioned, violins vary by type. Some are designed for beginner and intermediate students, while others are customized for professional violinists. Most of the major violin brands carry a variety of different styles, each designed to best suit a customer’s specific playing needs.

So, what are the best violin brands? While the question is slightly subjective, we’ve rounded up the top five violin brands based on peer reviews and recommendations.

1. Stentor

When looking for a student-grade violin, Stentor violins are at the top of the list. Ranging anywhere from $150 to $180, these violins are reliable and well-built. For true beginner students, the Stentor Student I Violin is the most popular option and features a quality fingerboard and pegs. For intermediate students, the Stentor Student II Violin is a great option, as it offers better quality and tone due to its ebony pegs and fingerboard.

2. Knilling 

Knilling violins are well known among violin teachers and students. In addition to it’s high-quality craftsmanship, the company’s student violins have unique pegs for optimal tuning. Unlike regular friction pegs, Knilling violins feature Perfection Pegs, a 4:1 gear reduction inside the peg that makes for quick and precise tuning. Beginner Knilling violins are priced at around $500.

3. Cremona

Cremona is another great and affordable violin brand. Cremona violins are designed to meet the specific needs of both beginner and intermediate students. Besides using the highest-quality woods, the company takes quality very seriously and has 22 staff members in charge of quality control. The company’s student violin, the Cremona SV-175 Premier Student Violin, starts at around $300.

4. Cecilo

Cecilio is another teacher-approved violin brand. The instrument comes strung with the bridge attached so students won’t have to assemble it on their own. Also, you’ll be happy to know that the company puts their violins through rigorous tests to ensure they are fit for purpose. They also pride themselves on using quality wood, mainly maple and spruce, and top notch ebony. Student violins come in at a low cost of $200.

5. Mendini

Mendini is another brand ideal for beginner and intermediate students. Almost all factory made, the instruments offer good value at the low price of $199. Additionally, although the violins are low in price, they are durable. However, you’ll most likely have to replace the strings at some point, as the quality is not as great when compared to other brands.

 

Purchasing a beginner violin is a very exciting experience. What one person may see as a must-have feature, others are not so keen. Therefore, it’s important that you take into consideration the tips above. Keep in mind that you may want to get advice from a violin teacher or somebody who is experienced in buying musical instruments before you make a purchase.

 

18 replies
  1. Susanna
    Susanna says:

    Hi. I am a strings teacher and have been teaching over 20 years. I have never heard of Stentor. I would recommend Knilling out of the brands listed in this article. You can also look at instruments from Shar Music or Southwest Strings, which both specialized in string instruments and have been around for years. I hope this helps.

    Sincerely,
    Susanna Sonnenberg

    Reply
      • mark s cobb
        mark s cobb says:

        I’m not sure how anyone could be a teacher for 20 years and never heard of stentnor. My first music teacher played a stentnor and that was 40 years ago.
        Knilling is a heavier student violin, Projection is okay but not great and that may be why a teacher would recommend it. It is harder to play on due to the weight.
        Mendini is a Cecilio brand. It is the lower end Cecilio violin. Not sure why it would make the list. Whether you buy from shar music, kk, or any other well known dealer, the instrument ships from the California warehouse with the factory set up. The set up is not exactly great.
        When you talk about Cremona violins, you are referencing GCV or Guangzhou Cremona Violins, Replica’s of the violins from Cremona Italy. Of everyone you have listed, The GCV is the only real choice. Despite what anyone else on this thread has said, GCV is an award winning company. Some of the best violins I have played when bought through the Fiddlershop.com store. Owned by Pierre Holstein, a professional orchestral musician for over 40 years and his shop of master luthiers, turns out some of the best violins I have ever seen
        If a person was interested in a high quality instrument at an extremely affordable price, they go to the Fiddlershop. The violins can be seen on youtube under the fiddlershop or under Pierre’s channel, Fiddlerman, where he teaches and demonstrates the violins he sells. Quality student models as low as 160$ and are approved for Suzuki and NAfME students.
        Also I am surprised that Scott Cao didn’t make this list considering he has one of the best violins on the market including Scott Cao 017 Violin Outfit which sells for just over 530$$.

        Reply
  2. Diane M. Gravlin
    Diane M. Gravlin says:

    Hi Sheraz. I’m a Takelessons violin teacher in San Diego and my husband is a violin luthier; we have a violin shop here as well as my violin studio.
    I would NOT recommend any of these violins with the exception of the Knilling violin for your daughter. These violins posted here are no more than inexpensive, low grade student violins that will not have the best tone qualities because they are made with poor quality woods and poor quality workmanship in large factories in China or Romania. The price might be great…but remember you get what you pay for. When any of these violins are bought, for the most part, they have not passed through
    a professional luthier hands to be setup to professional standards. Most of these violins will come with setups that are horrible…pegs not fitted, nut and bridge too hi, fingerboards not smooth or shaped correctly and poor quality strings and tailpieces. The bows that come with these outfits are very poor quality and usually too heavy and crooked. They are a mess and will cost you $$$$ to be fixed up to standard at a good violin shop. Most students will not progress on these cheap instruments and most will quit because the instrument does not sound good and it has a poor setup. We certainly do
    not want our kids to fail. I would suggest you going to a good violin shop and trying out violins to rent with an option to buy. These instruments will come with a good, student bow and a proper setup and usually good set of strings. Sharmusic.com and southwest.com are another option for you for rentals with an option to buy. If your in the SoCal area…we have a shop and you can come and try out violins that are setup and in the $500 to up range. This will be a better option to rent or buy from a reputable shop…80% of rental fees goes into an upgrade at most shops. You can find my teacher page under 92003.
    I hope this helps.

    Reply
  3. Lisa Holland
    Lisa Holland says:

    Hi I am 52 and just started playing about 6 months ago I love it. I stared out with a cheap violin one and cheap 35 dollars and then quickly discovered it wasn’t my playing that was bad it was my violin. I then moved up to a Rothenburg love it. But I feel I want to get a better quality I’m self thought at the moment going to start to look for a teacher. But I would like to know what’s a better quality but good in price as well as I can’t quit afford a Stradivarius. Thank you Lisa Holland

    Reply
    • Dulal Chandra Borah
      Dulal Chandra Borah says:

      I am 60.I have no knowledge about.Very recently I hv purchased Palatino VN 300 Genoa violin from USA ( on line shoping).Woud you somebody tell me the quality of the violin?

      Reply
    • Sheri Peterson
      Sheri Peterson says:

      How much can you spend? Go to a shop. Buy one That has been played for a couple of years to mellow it out. Plan on spending 800 to 2000

      Reply
  4. Jason Templeman
    Jason Templeman says:

    Here is my situation. I played very briefly about 40 years ago. I’m looking for something to play around with, just for myself. Will probably learn by video and NOT take classes. As Tevye would say I’d be “trying to scratch out a pleasant, simple tune”. Is there really anything wrong with a sub $100 violin in this case? I mean they do play and sound like a violin. So what if the tonal quality if not as good as one of the ones mentioned.

    Reply
    • Jeffery Luikes
      Jeffery Luikes says:

      I would not waste money on a sub $100 violin. They are truly terrible. Instead look for a used student violin for around $300. It will be a much better setup,easier to play and better sounding. I got so frustrated with my first one I just wanted to quit. I m so glad I upgraded. PS im 51 and just picking this up after decades.

      Reply
  5. Audy Barr
    Audy Barr says:

    I notice that Suziki is NOT mentioned as as good starter instrument but their teaching method is….yet some are in the &1000 bracket????

    Reply

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