Are you in the market for a new violin? With so many types of fiddles all in different price ranges, buying one can seem daunting. You are making an important investment and you should get value for your money. In this guide, we will help you understand everything you need to know to buy a violin that meets your needs.
How to Buy a Violin
1. Inspect the instrument’s overall construction
A well-constructed violin will be easy to play and will produce a high-quality sound. When you identify a violin you want to purchase, you should look for several important things:
- Gently press the body of the instrument. It should feel solid and not produce any squeaking sounds.
- Check other parts for defects including the pegs, strings, scroll, f-hole, tailpiece, and chinrest. There should be no breakage, wrapping, or looseness.
- Peer through the f-hole to inspect the soundpost inside the body of the violin. This piece of wood increases pressure to the top of the violin’s body to regulate the sound. If the soundpost has shifted or you cannot see it, an experienced luthier will need to reposition it.
2. Check the type of wood the violin is made from
The type of wood used to construct a violin will determine the instrument’s price and tone quality.
- Most violins are built from spruce or maple but even these two kinds of wood will vary in quality depending on the species.
- The top surface of the violin, also known as the soundboard, is built from spruce. Spruce is tough and dense and produces superior resonance than softer woods.
- Check the grain pattern when assessing the quality of spruce. Finely crafted violins have a beautiful, intricate flame-like grain pattern.
- The neck, sides, and back of high-end violins are built of maple while the fingerboard is constructed from ebony. Cheaper violins will use less expensive woods and materials including plastic and alloy.
- Lastly, assess the finish. Premium violins are polished using a thin high-quality varnish that attractively highlights the wood’s grain pattern.
3. Consider the size of the violin
There are nine different sizes of violins. The price of the violin will vary with size.
- Opt for a full-sized violin, also known as a 4/4 for an adult aged 11 and older. For children, you can choose 3/4, 1/2, 1/4, 1/8, 1/10, 1/16, or 1/32 violin.
- To measure whether a violin is the right size for you, hold the instruments between your left jawbone and shoulder.
- Stretch out your left arm with the palm facing up. If you can easily hold the scroll in your palms then the violin is the right size.
- If your fingers cannot reach the scroll, the instrument is too large and if you have to bend your arm to play, the violin is too small.
Pro tip: If you are shopping for a violin for a child, consider buying a slightly larger instrument that he or she can gradually grow into as opposed to buying a smaller one that they will soon outgrow.
4. Determine whether you need an outfit
- More experienced players prefer to buy the bow and case separately. If you are a beginner, consider buying your violin as an outfit. You will save yourself the hassle of looking for a bow or case that matches your instrument and you will still get good quality accessories to play your fiddle with.
5. Keep in mind the player’s skill level
The player’s level of experience will help you narrow down on the best violin to invest in.
- If you are a beginner or buying a violin for one, you first want to be sure that you will continue playing the violin after your first attempt.
- For a beginner, opt for a less expensive violin. You do not want to spend thousands of dollars on a premium instrument before you are sure that you will be playing for a long time. Beginner violins will usually be constructed from lower-quality woods and some parts will be made from plastic.
- High-end violins that cost hundreds of thousands of dollars are better suited to advanced players looking for a more refined sound and are keen on craftsmanship.
The above are the most important considerations to make when you are shopping for a violin.
Below are some extra tips to help make your purchase a success:
- Ask for guidance from an experienced luthier
A luthier is a professional string instruments maker. If you are buying your fiddle from a store, ask a luthier to vet the instrument for you.
A good luthier will help you identify any construction and tone issues and can identify the brand of the violin.
If purchasing from a luthier, ask an experienced violinist or your instructor to help you test the instrument
- Test out the instrument before buying
You need some time with a violin before deciding whether it is the perfect match. Most stores will have a dedicated area where you can play your instrument and check for tonality and playability.
In addition to this, well-known luthier and violin sellers will offer a return policy allowing you to play the instrument for some time, and if you are not satisfied you can ask for a full refund.
- Beware of low-ball prices
It is possible to buy a good quality violin online. The benefits include access to a variety of choices and the ability to read reviews and compare prices and quality. However, you should think twice about instruments that are way below the average prices.
If you decide to buy your fiddle online, look for sellers with a reasonable return policy and a solid warranty to protect your investment.
To buy a violin that is the perfect match, take time testing the instrument and ask for some guidance from an experienced luthier, violinist, or trusted instructor.
Do you have any questions or comments on purchasing a violin? Leave them below—we’d love to hear from you!