Mendini’s MV400 is available in ¼, ½, ¾ and full-sized. So whether you’re buying for an adult player or a child, there’ll be the perfect size to fit their needs.
You’ll be getting everything you need in this very well-priced package. As well as the violin, it includes two horsehair bows, two bridges, a rosin cake, and a full set of spare strings.
There’s also a well-padded shoulder rest covered in black velvet and with soft rubber feet. And it comes with a lightweight hard case with attractive red interior.
The violin itself is, of course, the star of the show. The front is made of solid spruce, while the back and sides are maples. The color is rather orange, which won’t be to everyone’s taste. The fingerboard is made of ebony.
It comes with four integrated fine tuners, avoiding the need to buy these separately. They’re black rather than metallic, so they blend in with the tailpiece. Note that this is made of plastic, rather than ebony.
The sound here is bright and crisp – a great deal better than you’d expect at this price point. You won’t get the subtlety of tone of a more expensive instrument, but it’s pleasant and responsive.
The two bridges are quite high, so depending on your finger strength you may want to have them lowered.
Ditto the chinrest, which some players will find rather bulky. If that’s the case, it’s easily replaced without much expense.
The bows here aren’t the highest quality. The hairs are thin and fairly uneven. Spend some time applying rosin carefully before you use them. And if you can’t get on with them, upgrade to a new bow. You’ll still be getting a great set for the money.
Note that you will need to set up the bridge and tune the violin yourself. It’s not difficult, but take your time. If you find the pegs slip, add a little rosin to the peg holes.
Overall, this is a great violin for intermediate players, with a robust case and a whole pile of accessories. The price is frankly astonishing. If you find you need to upgrade the bows or chinrest, you’ll still be getting an excellent deal.
Exceptional value set including case, bows, shoulder rest, rosin and spare bridge and strings
Bright crisp sound
Integrated fine tuners
You’ll need to spend some time on set-up
The bows aren’t great – upgrade them for a better playing experience.
This outfit from Bunnel is another that includes everything you need. It’s two thirds more expensive again than the Mendini outfit. So what do you get for your money?
Well, there’s a case, shoulder rest, spare bridge and set of strings, a pre-rosined bow, and a protective blanket. It may cost more than the Mendini option, but it’s still great value.
The violin itself comes with steel cored D’Addario Prelude strings, already installed. The top is made of spruce with a satin oil finish, while the sides and back are maples. The tailpiece is made of composite and includes four black adjusters for fine-tuning your instrument. The fingerboard and pegs are ebonies.
It has a warm, mellow tone that will sound great in the hands of intermediate players. You won’t get the fine sound quality of a very expensive violin, but it sounds far from cheap.
There’s only one bow here, but it’s a cut above the two included in the Mendini package. This one is made by Guiliani and is strung with Mongolian horsehair. The frog is made of ebony, the grip is leather and there’s a silver winding knob.
The case is lined in plush velour in a choice of navy, light blue or amber. Unfortunately, though, if you’re buying online, you’ll have to take pot luck about which shade you get.
It incorporates a hygrometer, so you can keep an eye on humidity levels inside. There are velour straps to hold your violin in place, and satin-lined holders for two bows.
There’s a compartment for rosin and other accessories, and a second one to hold your shoulder rest. And there’s a lined blanket to protect your instrument too.
With this one, all the set-up is done for you. You won’t have to install the bridge, though you may need to adjust it slightly if it’s moved in transit. And we’ve heard good things about Kennedy Violins’ follow-up customer care.
Comprehensive outfit includes high-quality case with hygrometer
Good quality Guiliani horsehair bow
All the set-up is done for you
No spare bow included
If buying online, you’ll have to take your chances with the color of the case interior.
Just slightly more expensive than the Mendini MV00 outfit, this is another option that comes with plenty of accessories. The Cecilio CVN-300 outfit includes a case, two bows, a shoulder rest, an extra bridge, and a rosin cake. You’ll even get a Cecilio chromatic tuner and lesson book.
The front is made of spruce and the sides and back are maple. The fingerboard, pegs, and chinrest are ebony. The same goes for the tailpiece, which in less expensive instruments is often plastic or composite. It comes with four integrated metal adjusters finished in silver.
The tone is bright yet warm, lively yet smooth. It produces a clear sound, and is nicely responsive. It’s available in ¼, ½, ¾ and full-size, suiting all but the very youngest of players.
If you like a shinier finish to your violin, this one may appeal. It’s coated in a high-sheen varnish for a mirrored look.
It comes strung with D’Addario Prelude strings, but there’s not a spare set. The bridge is installed, though, as ever, you may need to adjust it if it’s moved in transit.
It’s also worth checking that the strings have been wound cleanly onto the pegs. We’ve heard of some cases where they’ve been crossed. If that’s the case, rewinding them will for easier tuning and reduce the risk of snapped strings.
We’ve also heard of some issues with the pegs. Slipping pegs is a perennial problem and can be affected by changes in temperature – but these are particularly tricky. You may want to add a drop of Peg Drop to help.
One other thing to watch out for is the bows. We’ve heard of cases where they’ve been received taut. Any bow should be loosened off after playing, so check that straightaway. If necessary, loosen them before storage.
Overall, though, this is a good quality violin with decent accessories for a very reasonable price.
Warm, smooth tone
Comes set up for use straight out of the case
Comes with a host of accessories including two bows, a shoulder rest, tuner, and lesson book.
The pegs are prone to slipping
Check the bows on arrival – they may need to be loosened.
Mendini’s MV500 outfit costs 25 percent more than the MV300. Nevertheless, the price still compares well to other instruments on our list. So what do you get for your money?
The short answer is: a lot. As well as the violin itself, there are two horsehair bows, a lightweight hard case, and an adjustable shoulder rest. You’ll also get a spare bridge, a tuner, an extra set of strings, and a cake of rosin.
Be aware, though, that you’ll need to set up the violin yourself. That means carefully winding the strings onto the pegs, positioning the bridge, and then tightening and tuning the strings. Take your time – it’s a job that can’t be rushed.
Tuning will be made easier with the Cecilio 92D chromatic tuner incorporated in the package. That also includes a metronome to keep time while you play. It even comes with the batteries installed.
The violin has a carved spruce top with a lacquered finish. The sides and back are maples, and the back has a beautiful flamed maple finish. Note though, that the precise finish does vary between instruments.
The fingerboard and pegs are ebonies. The tailpiece comes with four adjusters already in place to fine-tune your instrument.
The case is attractive, with a pale blue plush interior. There’s a storage compartment for rosin, your mute, and so on, and holders for the two bows. Note, though, that there’s no separate storage for your shoulder rest.
Note too that the strings and bows aren’t the highest quality. They’re perfectly usable, however, and are easily upgraded if you wish to do so.
A more serious issue is that we’ve heard occasional reports of the fingerboard leaving a black residue. This simply shouldn’t happen. If you find it does, return your instrument. It comes with a one-year warranty against manufacturers’ defects.
Attractive flamed maple back
Tailpiece comes with four integrated adjusters
Comes with a range of accessories including a case, two bows, spare strings, and a shoulder rest.
The strings and bows included aren’t the highest quality
We’ve heard of cases where the fingerboard has left a black residue on violinists’ fingers.
The Antonio Guiliani Etude outfit supplied by Kennedy Violins includes everything an intermediate player could need. The violin comes in a case with a Guiliani brazilwood bow, extra strings, rosin, shoulder rest, and clip-on tuner.
There’s also a cloth to clean your strings and fingerboard, and a Suzuki Violin School lesson book.
The front of the violin is made of spruce, whilst the sides and rear are maples. There’s an attractive low-sheen oiled finish. The strings are steel-core D’Addario Prelude. The tone is mellow and full-bodied – a distinct step up from beginners’ violins.
All the fittings – including the tailpiece – are made of ebony. And four black adjusters are integrated in the tailpiece for fine-tuning.
It comes pre-assembled, so you won’t need to worry about stringing the instrument yourself. More than this, the luthiers at Kennedy Violins will smooth the fingerboard and shape, finish and fit the bridge. They will also shape the nut, fit the pegs, and give the instrument a final polish.
The Portland Oblong case is very high quality. Its velour interior comes in dark blue, pale blue/gray, or amber. There’s a hygrometer in the lid to monitor humidity. And there are separate compartments for your shoulder rest and other accessories.
There’s even a large zippered pocket at the front, perfect for holding music. You won’t need to carry any extra bags – everything will fit into your case.
The Guiliani bow is the only one included with the violin, but it’s also very good quality. It’s strung with Mongolian horsehair and has a half-mounted ebony frog. The grip is leather, and the winding is silver.
While this isn’t an expensive violin in the scheme of things, it is more expensive than others on our list. You could buy two of the Mendini MV400, and have change left over, for the price of this outfit.
But you won’t have to spend anything extra on upgrades. And you will be getting an instrument with a markedly better tone. We think that makes this an excellent deal.
Warm, full-bodied tone – knocks spots off many cheaper violins
Includes high-quality bow and case
All set-up is done for you by trained luthiers
More expensive than most other violins on our list
A step up again in terms of price, the G2 from Louis Carpini is the most expensive violin on our list. So what do you get for your investment?
Well, the violin is made from rich tonewoods for a warm sound. The front is spruce, whilst the back and sides are maples. In this case, the maple on the back has an attractive flamed appearance. It’s hand-polished with a medium sheen, rather than a mirror finish.
There’s inlaid ebony purfling (the narrow decorative edge on the upper surface) and ebony pegs and fingerboard. The tailpiece is composite, which makes it resilient. It comes with four metallic adjusters pre-installed.
The bridge is French Aubert and it’s custom-fitted by the luthiers at Kennedy Violins. Note, however, that there’s no spare bridge included in the outfit.
What you will get is a great quality case, complete with a hygrometer and two storage compartments. One is large enough to fit your shoulder rest inside. The other will be perfect for rosin, a spare bridge, mute and so on. There’s also a zip-up compartment for music.
There are holders for four bows too, enough even for professional musicians. The interior is attractively lined in midnight blue velvet with a cream velvet cut-out for the violin. And there’s a plastic tube to keep your spare strings straight.
The exterior has a protective weatherproof flap to cover the zippers and prevent any moisture from getting inside. Metal bumpers keep the fabric from being damaged when the case is placed on a hard surface.
The other accessories are similarly good quality. The violin arrives pre-strung with Portland strings, and the bow is a Guiliani made of Brazilwood and Mongolian horsehair. The frog is ebony inlaid with mother of pearl, and the winding is silver. Even the rosin is a good quality cake of Kaplan Artcraft.
This is a top-end violin for an intermediate player, and you’ll need fairly deep pockets to buy it. But if you’re able to make the investment, you’ll get an attractive violin, warm sound, and excellent quality accessories.
Warm, mellow sound
Top quality case, and a range of other good quality accessories too
Stentor is well-known as a quality maker of violins and 1550 doesn’t disappoint.
The front is made of spruce and the back and sides are maples. The color is a rich reddish-brown with a lacquered finish. The fingerboard and pegs are ebonies, the purfling is inlaid, and the chinrest is made of an unspecified hardwood.
It comes with four integrated black adjusters to help with fine-tuning. It’s capable of producing a full, warm tone – but you’ll get better sound if you replace the strings. The standard Red Label ones it comes with can sound a little scratchy.
It comes with an attractive case with a plush grey interior. There’s only one storage compartment. The good news is that it’s generous enough to hold a shoulder rest plus rosin, a pencil, and so on. There are two bow holders, plus a hygrometer to monitor the humidity inside.
The exterior is covered in a weatherproof fabric. There’s also a large double-zippered pocket to hold your music.
Also included in the package are a shoulder rest, horsehair bow, Stentor rosin, and an instrument blanket.
We’ve heard differing reports about the pegs. The majority of people have found them rather stiff. A few, on the other hand, have complained of their violin slipping out of tune.
The different experiences suggest that environmental conditions are playing a part here. If you choose this violin and find the pegs slipping, apply some Peg Drop to add friction.
Warm, full tone – as long as you replace the strings
Attractive and practical case
Comes with shoulder rest, horsehair bow, rosin, and an instrument blanket
That brings us to the end of our reviews of seven of the best intermediate violins out there. But before you make your choice, here are some final things to take into consideration.
Choose the right size
Violins, like clothing, come in different sizes – so make sure you know which size you need.
Almost all adults will need a full-sized violin. But younger players may need a quarter, half or three-quarters. And very young prodigies may need something even smaller: the smallest violin is 1/32.
In order to take the measurement, the player should stand with his or her left arm fully extended. The measurement begins from the base of their neck and finishes at either the wrist or the center of the palm.
If the measurement is taken to the wrist, that will be the most comfortable size. If it’s taken to the center of the palm, it will give you the largest instrument that should be played. The latter can be useful if you want to minimize replacing the instrument of a growing child.
If the distance is 23 inches or more, a full-size violin will be appropriate. For 22 inches, a three-quarter will be the best fit. 20 inches will suit a half, and 18 ½ inches will suit a quarter-sized violin.
Check the wood
The quality of sound from a violin is determined by the materials it’s made from. All the violins on our list are made from the classic combination of spruce for the top and maple for the sides and back.
But that’s not where the story ends. The better tone will be produced by instruments made from denser spruce grown in colder climates. The best way to tell whether that’s the case is, unfortunately, usually the price.
Nevertheless, all the instruments on our list are capable of giving a good tone – and some are very reasonably priced. Note that the strings, bow, bridge height, and even rosin will also affect the sound quality. Look for horsehair bows for the best results.
Also, look for fingerboards made of ebony. There should be no black residue on your fingers from a genuine ebony fingerboard. Similarly, ebony chinrests and tailpieces are a mark of better quality. Tailpieces are often made of composite, however, so that they’re more robust.
The aesthetics of your violin are important too. You’re going to be spending a lot of time playing it, so choose a shade that appeals to you. As for the finish, it’s worth noting that thick coats of lacquer can diminish sound quality.
Finally, check whether your violin will be set up for you or not. You’ll inevitably have to tune it before you play – and integrated adjusters and firm pegs will be helpful here. But you may also have to string your instrument and install the bridge.
That can take quite a lot of time, and if you’re not confident you may need to take it to a music shop. The violins supplied by Kennedy Violins take away that headache by doing all the set up for you. They’ll even give your instrument a final polish.
Ready to choose your intermediate violin?
That brings us to the end of our review of seven of the best intermediate violins. We hope we’ve helped you in your search for the perfect instrument.