What's the difference between all the student violins?

September 8, 2008 at 05:37 PM · My 7-yr-old daughter is moving from a 1/8 to a 1/4 violin. She is only a beginner (just starting Book 2 in Suzuki). Some of her teachers say she may have perfect pitch, but practicing for her is such a chore! I'm not sure what kind of violin to buy her. We're on a budget. Is there much of a difference between the Franz Hoffmann Etude (from Shar Music), the #110 Klaus Mueller Etude (from Southwest Strings), or any other comparable student violin for someone like my daughter? Please help. Thank you.

Replies (19)

September 8, 2008 at 06:02 PM · Hello,

I am not sure that the difference would be so huge. I would reccommend for you to check out http://www.grawert.com.au/instruments.html (The caprice violin) Most musicians that i know starts their kids on those. If you have extra money to spend I would recommend that you spend it on other than violin music education so that may actually spark more interest for your daughter. It is too early for her to specialize, and even if she ends up going into music, she should know analysis, piano, conducting, composition, etc.

It can only help:)

Good luck

September 8, 2008 at 06:26 PM · Thank you so much for your response. I will check out the website. We also do plan on exploring other areas of music that may "spark" more of an interest in her. She is also taking piano lessons, which she seems to enjoy more, but we are also strongly encouraging her to continue violin. Thank you so much for your comments!

September 8, 2008 at 06:41 PM · I would wholeheartedly suggest a Scott Cao violin with an Aubert brand bridge and Dominant brand strings. The STV017 is a very good fractional violin. Least expensive place I have found is here:


I would go for the STV-500 if your child is doing well.

That website also offers violin by numerous other makers which may be less expensive compared to others.

September 8, 2008 at 06:55 PM · I second the Scott Cao 017 student violins. I have a full size one for teaching, and it's amazing for the price!

September 8, 2008 at 07:20 PM · Thank you so much for your responses. Your input helps me significantly!

September 8, 2008 at 08:00 PM · I just had the opportunity to epair a Cao student instrument recently. Previous commentors are correct..... not bad for the money.

Gammuto Violins, Philadelphia

September 8, 2008 at 08:33 PM · I would encourage you to consider renting from a decent violin shop. You'll be able to audition a pile of violins and pick one that sounds almost violin-like; also you'll be able to trade up when the current one is outgrown, and not have to try to sell it on your own.

September 8, 2008 at 09:51 PM · Thanks to all who have responded. This was my first time using this site/forum and I have found it to be extremely helpful. What a great resource!!! Thanks so much!

September 8, 2008 at 11:43 PM · Regarding practicing...just so you don't feel alone, many 7 year old violinists don't like to practice. There are ways to make it more enjoyable for you and her. I found the book, How to get your child to practice without resorting to violence, a good resource. I'm sorry that I don't remember the name of the author.

September 8, 2008 at 11:51 PM · I've had a number of small-size students who rented Jay-Haide violins (1/4, 1/2, and 3/4 size) and I always marvel at the mature sound these instruments can produce. The rent-to-purchase option is not great, but the rental price at Ifshin Violins of about $25/mo for such good instruments is hard to beat (about 5 years to pro-rate the monthly cost).

The problem is going to be eventually buying a full-size violin that can equal the quality of these rentals.

And - "YES" it makes a big difference what sound children can get from their violins. It can be the difference between quiting and progressing into a lifelong love of music and music making.


September 9, 2008 at 11:53 AM · Janice, you have gotten really good advice here, and I really don't have much to add, except that within the field of classical violin study, the word "gifted" is not tossed around lightly. The bar for "gifted" is very, very, very high. Recent "gifted" young performers include Sarah Chang, or Chloe Hanslip. When I have a beginner student that takes well to violin, I usually say "have a knack".

Having perfect pitch is not really "gifted", although it is quite useful! (I know, I have it! But that doesn't make me gifted!).

Good luck with your kid. Don't despair about a seven year old not wanting to practice. Just make violin practice a part of the routine, use positive reinforcement, and listen to your teacher. Happy trails!

September 9, 2008 at 12:38 PM · Thanks, Anne. I appreciate your insight, comment and encouragement. I certainly do not mean to use the word "gifted" lightly and I hope I have not offended anyone. However, to someone like me, who is not very musically talented, I view most musicians, and especially violinists, to be truly blessed with a gift. Although you do not see yourself as gifted, to a person who is tone-deaf or to someone who has to learn how to distinguish between pitch, or to a person who can't keep a beat, a person like yourself with "perfect pitch", for example, is in fact gifted/blessed with something not everybody has. So to me, you are "gifted". But I do understand what you are saying and I will be more careful not to use such words lightly. Thank you so much.

September 9, 2008 at 01:17 PM · Well, all is good in the world. (Insert smiley face here). I didn't think you were being pretentious or anything like that (again, another smiley face here). The field of classical music performance has had an astonishing range of freakishly talented children.

It is always good to see a parent that is willing to see to it that their child gets a decent fiddle to play on, a good teacher, and encouragement. Happy Trails Again!

(Sorry, "Happy Trails To You" has been stuck in my head since yesterday. One of the "perks" of a musical ear...)

September 9, 2008 at 02:30 PM · My 5 yo uses a 1/8 Gliga Gems1. His teacher commented that his violin sounds better than his brother 1/2 sized Suzuki.

I wonder if anyone had Gliga and Scott Cao compared side by side ( models of similar price range)? What are you comments?

Rental sounds like a good idea if the rentals are of good quality. My son started using his 1/8 since April, and he needs to upsize soon. So $25/mth seems like a good deal.

September 9, 2008 at 03:33 PM · Here is a comparison (by an Austrailian luthier) of Gliga vs. Scott Cao on youtube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b-tBVYLmLsA

Go to the 2:00 mark to skip the intro. In Australia, Scott Cao sells under the "Ragetti" name. The final conclusion was that the Gilga had a "mellower" sound while the Cao was "brighter" and had more volume. That being said, the conclusion also diplomatic in stating that it would be dificult to say which one was best and that choosing one over the other was a matter of preference. This guy is trying to sell violins after all :)

September 11, 2008 at 01:37 PM · Thks, Anthony.. Too bad he is comparing the entry level Gliga model, which I am not looking for.

My experience with my Gems 1 Gliga is that it has a nice mellow sound, not unlike a bigger sized violin. But it has to be paired with the right strings, some strings like Obligatos will make it sound too dull. It's good to have the right balance between - mellowness, and brilliance and projection, for fractional sized violins. Of course the price must be good, for most kids only use it for a few months before needing to upsize!

October 4, 2008 at 01:50 PM · Anthony, have you seen any comparison between Jay Haide (L' Ancienne) and Gliga (maybe the GAMA or Maestro)?

There is a huge difference in price. Jay Haide L'Ancienne sells at abt $2400. Gliga Gama at $700. A Gliga Maestro is in the range of $1200+.

But the thing is that you could rent a L'Ancienne for about $35 a month.

October 4, 2008 at 04:21 PM · I agree 100% with Ann Horvath's comments relative to "gifted" student players. Another word that is used too freely is prodigy. My goodness, I wish I had a dollar for evey proud parent that has visited my workshop looking for a suitable instrument. I think a $500-$750 fractional size violin, with a bow, would be more than enough for any 7 year old. A prodigy, or gifted child will need a very serious instrument when she can handle a 4/4.

October 5, 2008 at 02:55 PM · The violin advice is great. I would rent for a while and many shops have a plan where the rentals apply to the purchase. A word on gifted. I understand your wonder about those who can play instruments and count beats but I agree you should avoid the word gifted when you talk to her about it. In education (not violin) gifted means "at promise to achieve". Gifted in music is more like some marketing term it seems. The "have a knack' definition is a good one. Prodigious means a child who able to meet the standards and be recognized by adult peers as is the case with young accomplished players mentioned. A 5 year old who does calculus at a graduate school level is a prodigy for example. So your daughter may be "at promise" but many gifted students do not realize their promise. Very often people use the words as synonyms but they really have different and precise meanings in education at least.

I have had the privledge of working with kids labeled as gifted and to be honest, many "have a knack" of learning things quickly but also a "knack" for giving up easily when the going gets tough. Many gifted kids I know are slackers in a way because they feel entitled to learn things fast and easy and don't have a work ethic yet. Additionally, many parents tell their kids how gifted they are and that can make it worse unless you teach them a work ethic. If you never play the notes you can't play them wrong, or some such logic is the root cause when those deemed gifted don't achieve and turn into slackers. We all know a few. Break the pattern with her now. Don't tell her she is gifted but only give her compliments if she works hard. Make her practice. Yes. Make her do it. If it is a "chore" then she needs to do her chores. That needs to be the deal before you spend more on instruments and lessons and everything else that makes parents go broke for these kids. You can buy stuff all day long but many children don't like to practice at her age and the fact that she "could" "have a knack" is only valuable if she applies herself. Giftedness alone, by the definition I provided above, guarantees nothing.

Sorry for the hard line but I see so many kids who are just spoiled due to this gifted label and it starts on issues like you describe and then gets worse as they get older. Their poor parents try to cajole them giving them lessons, rewards and opportunities, spending tons of money on lean budgets that would be better used for other things, but the kid never learns to work hard on things that are difficult. "The harder you work the luckier you get". Tell her that one today and make her do it. Good luck to you and your daughter.

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