Posted Apr 5, 2011 by Brian Jenkins - 2 Comments

How to Buy a Beginning Violin

How to Buy a Beginning Violin

Buying a violin is considered an art for the violin enthusiast. There are so many intricate details that make up a fine violin that it is easy to get stuck in the professional aspects of the instrument. Most students just want an inexpensive alternative to begin lessons. That’s what this article is all about.

The Wood

If you are looking into buying a used violin, you have to be careful that there are no cracks in the wood. Cracks can often be repaired, but if left unfixed they will not only make the violin difficult to play, but they can also lower the value of the instrument. Cracks that you need to watch out for are on the back of the violin. Small imperfections near the top of the violin will often be less of a problem to repair.

The ribs, meaning the sides of the violin, also deserve your attention. The ribs of a poor quality instrument will often start to bulge out toward the front or back. This happens because the wood was not prepared correctly which causes it to shrink.

Alignment

Whenever buying a used violin make sure that it is aligned correctly. You need to look down the instrument to see if everything is symmetrical. The neck/bridge needs to be centered around the two holes on the violin called “F Holes” (named for their “F” like shape).

Set up

The setup includes making sure the strings are the proper height away from the violin, the strings don’t buzz, the pegs turn smoothly, and the tone is adjusted properly. Most brand name instruments will come completely set up. Some used instruments that have not been played for quite a while might need some extra care. If this is your case, you can have it adjusted in your local violin shop.

Violin Bow

Professional violinists can spend thousands of dollars for a well made violin bow. Fiberglass or Brazilwood will run you much less than the professionally preferred Pernambuco wood bows, and you won’t notice any problems if you’re a beginner.

Violin Sizes

For child students violins come in many different sizes. The best way to decide what size violin to get for your child is to have your child hold different sizes until they find the one that is most comfortable for them. Age can be used as a general guideline.

  • 1/16 – Ages 3 and below
  • 1/10 – 4-5
  • 1/8 – 5-6
  • 1/4 – 6-7
  • 1/2 – 8-9
  • 3/4 – 10-11
  • 4/4 (Full size) – 12 and older

For a more complete sizing guide, you can read the sizing chart at Thackeray Suzuki Studio.

Violin Strings

Before buying strings make sure they are the right size for your violin! As explained above, violins come in many different sizes. The strings that come with most student violins are steel core strings which produce a somewhat bright tinny sound. With the beginner of course this isn’t a problem, but upgrading to Perlon strings (a type of nylon) can make a big difference in tone.

Conclusion

Don’t decide a new violin isn’t worth your time with just your first impression. Violins need a breaking in period to sound great. Remember, if you are looking for violins for sale, you can always find a good selection at your local violin shop. If you are a beginner looking for a student violin, you can also look online. As always, amazon.com is a great resource. Because of their multiple reviews, you can get a good idea of the quality of an instrument before you buy it. Don’t forget that it is always a good practice to speak to a violin teacher before you make a purchase.

Please comment with any questions you have about making a good purchase, and we’ll do our best to help you out!