Buying A Beginner Violin – How To Make Sense Of Your Options
We know that buying a beginner violin can be a little scary if it’s the first time you’re doing it. You have an overwhelming number options of here. Things are further complicated by the fact that there is no real consensus as to what the specs are of a “student violin” vs. a “professional violin.” Generally speaking, however, a professional violin doesn’t have a model number, is painstakingly hand-carved using rare wood, and costs tens of thousands of dollars. As a beginner violinist, that is probably not what you should go for.
The right option for you depends on several circumstances. Here is what we have found that usually works very well for people just starting the violin:
Our Top Recommendation: Buy a New Beginner Violin Outfit Online
These outfits (packages that usually include a violin, a bow, and a case) are inexpensive and designed specifically for beginners.
Our Favorite Beginner Violin: Cremona SV-130 Premier Novice Full Size Violin
The Cremona SV-130 is an instrument designed specifically for beginner violinists. It comes with a violin bow and violin case, which if you bought them separately would cost about the same price as this whole package. See details and reviews here.
What we like about Cremona violins is that they have a very good track record (including quality, price, and popularity) in beginner violins. The construction of the violin is very good, and can be improved substantially with just a few adjustments (more on that in a minute).
We like this beginner violin outfit because it will carry you through at least the first 6 to 12 months (and a lot further), which is a critical period where most people decide whether they will stick with the violin or not. In the meantime, it won’t break the bank.
If you go with this option and then decide that playing the violin is not for you, then you have invested a minimum amount in your violin and can resell it (violins don’t depreciate in value unless damaged, and in some cases they appreciate over time, especially if you have the violin professionally adjusted).
Our Personal Experience With Cremona
A few years ago we actually bought an instrument from Cremona for $350 that, after we got it professionally adjusted (another $130), sounded as good as instruments appraised at $1,200 (several professionals told us so). It’s possible we just got lucky, but needless to say, we were very happy with the instrument, which we played at the University level and still continue to use over 12 years later.
Tip: Get Your New Violin Professionally Adjusted To Improve Playability and Sound
One of the first things you should do when you get your new instrument is to take it to a violin shop and have them adjust it. They will make good recommendations on what you can do to improve the sound and playability.
Cremona violins tend to come out of the box with low-quality strings that ride too high on the violin, making them harder to press down, especially for beginners. Fortunately, this can be adjusted very inexpensively.
- Adjust the Bridge ($25) – In our experience, Cremona violins tend to have the strings raised up a little too high for comfort, especially for beginners, so we had the bridge (the part that holds up the strings) lowered and re-arched slightly. This improved playability a lot.
- Replace The Strings ($50) – Getting new violin strings goes a long way toward improving the sound quality. This is highly recommended.
- Replace The Soundpost ($65) – The soundpost is a small column of wood inside the violin (you can see it by looking through the holes on the front of the violin) that helps to support it structurally and also to help it project the sound. Getting it replaced is definitely not necessary on every instrument, but when we took our instrument to the violin shop they recommended it, and in our case it improved the sound a lot.
This is not necessarily a comprehensive list, but it is what we paid to greatly improve the Cremona instrument we bought.
Why You Should Not Buy Beginner Violins From Violin Shops
Many violin buying guides will tell you not to buy online, and to only buy violins you have tried out first. This is great advice for advanced players who have developed the performance skills and personal preferences to test the subtle differences between expensive violins.
But for beginners, it is best to first start with an inexpensive violin, develop skills and experiment with personal preferences and get a general feel for the violin. Then, when you are ready, we can show you what to look for when you visit violin shops to find a professional violin.
Important! Make Sure You Know What Violin Size You Should Get!
Violins come in various sizes. As an adult player, you would only consider a full size (sometimes described as “4/4”) violin. For children, you may need a smaller violin (usually the smallest is 1/16 size, for the very young). In another article we show you how to figure out the right violin size for a kids violin.
Other Options Beyond Our Recommendation
If you decide that a beginner violin kit is not for you, then check out our article on what you should know before walking into violin shops, where we’ll walk you through buying a violin the old-fashioned way.