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
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.
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 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.