A violin for a very young child?

November 18, 2008 at 09:31 PM ·

We're looking into getting the first fiddle for our 3-yr. old, on a tight budget. I'd love to hear some recommendation from teachers and parents. 

My husband and I both play violin and other instruments, and we would like our kids to start early - as long as they enjoy doing it, without putting too much pressure on them.

The question is, how cheap a starter violin can be? Can a $100 instrument be acceptable? Surely, our Zoe will grow out of it fast and it will be only something she'll learn to scratch out her first tunes on. How much sound can you get out of a 1/16 fiddle anyway? Still, I would like her to be able to enjoy playing.

There isn't a violin shop in our town, therefore we're mostly limited to looking online. I have no experience with choosing a tiny beginner-level violin, and we're going to teach Zoe play by ourselves for some time, so I'd really appreciate some advice on what to look for.


Replies (13)

November 18, 2008 at 10:44 PM ·

Check with some Suzuki teachers in the area. I am sure that a teacher knows about a 1/32 size that a parent is trying to sell. If you don't know of any teachers, try the "locate a teacher" function on the www.suzukiassociation.org website, and email them if they know of any used instruments available. Eastman and Scott Cao (and probably others) have this size available.

November 18, 2008 at 11:15 PM ·

people will bang their violins on my head for saying this:  anything within reason will do, particularly if both of you play and can check things out.

the notion that a great sounding violin for a kid will allow the kid to develop better this and that is intuitive at best and imo does not apply to kids at 3 :)

oh, suggest high gloss varnish,,,much easier to clean.:)

November 19, 2008 at 12:47 AM ·

"There isn't a violin shop in our town, therefore we're mostly limited to looking online."

You may want to check out Gliga's US based online store at www.violinslover.com. Gliga have several workshops in Reghin, Romania. Their violins come in all sizes and various price ranges and they have become quite popular in recent years, definitely good value for money for beginning and advancing students.

A similar company is Strunal in Luby, Czech Republic. They, too have an operation in the US, contactable via www.strunal.cz/new/index_am.php (click on Strunal America Inc), but unlike Gliga, they don't have an online shopping basket system and I am not sure if their sizes go all the way down to 1/32, it won't hurt to ask, though. They are less known than Gliga, but the instruments are comparable in quality to the Gligas (I can tell from personal experience because I have played instruments from both makers).

Both companies have entry level models below 200 USD. Gliga USA have a 7 day return money back policy, Strunal may also have such a policy but I am not aware of it.

November 19, 2008 at 02:33 AM ·

I don't have kids myself but know from observing my friends' offspring how quickly they mutate into huge hulking monsters...  I would have thought it would make sense to find a decent rental option where you can swap the rental up to the next size when needed without having to worry about more cash outlay for an instrument they may only take a few months to grow out of.

November 20, 2008 at 08:27 PM ·

Thanks a lot everybody! Al Ku, I appreciate your humor :) You've confirmed basically what I thought but I needed to hear this from someone who plays seriously.

November 20, 2008 at 09:21 PM ·

i am serious that i  don't play seriously though,,,:).    my kid's first violin, a 1/8,   from ebay, with shipping, came out to be less than 40 dollars to the best of my recollection.  unlike you two, back then i knew absolutely nothing about violin.   looking back, would i have gotten a better violin if the choice was available,  probably not, because i don't think a better sounding one back then for her would have made any difference.  i dare to say,  for a 1/32 or 1/16,  no good luthiers would have bothered unless it is for their own kids.

your kid is too young to take it that seriously unless i am mistaken.  if it is something that he can grow fond of or attached to,,,drag it to the backyard, the beach, the park,,,hey,,,enjoy.   once he gets to like violin,  then you can pick and choose more seriously.   in my opinion:)


November 20, 2008 at 10:03 PM ·

I wouldnt pay a great deal of money on a 1/16.

My younger kid started at 3 on a brandless 1/10 (second hand), moved on to 1/8 Gliga (love it!). We bought another 1/4 Gliga, which he will move into after Thanksgiving.

My older one started at 5  on a  1/8 then 1/4 and now 1/2, all Suzuki violins, bought second hand frm ebay. Well, he is starting to complain that he doesnt get to play on better violins. I am on the look out for better 3/4 when it comes the time for him to upgrade. For 3/4, I wouldnt mind paying more, since now I'm more or less certain that the younger brother will  "inherit" it.

November 20, 2008 at 10:39 PM ·

Renting from someone like Johnson strings could be a good option because, depending on the situation where you live, you may not be able to sell the violin you buy once you outgrow it.  There are rental programs available that let you put the rental fee toward the cost of an instrument, and will allow you to trade your violin toward the next size up.

November 21, 2008 at 03:28 AM ·

When our daughter was that age we bought a used rental instrument from a violin shop.  It was very reasonable and we kept as a momento.  My daughter is now 21 and  is glad that she has her first violin to show off.

November 21, 2008 at 11:31 PM ·

When I started aged 8 I rented a school violin all the way up to 4/4. Then I bought a cheap violin and now I have ownership of a yamaha violin with a very nice loud sound.

Rental is the way to got for you. Don;t buy now becuase it will be grown out of and you will buy a new one etc... wait until a 4/4 is suitable and then buy a violin.

November 22, 2008 at 03:51 PM ·

Thanks everyone again! Well, in the end we decided to buy the fiddle at Shar, for $139. Here's why: Zoe is actually not quite 3 yet, so it will probably be a good year before she'll need a bigger one, and then she'll pass it on to her younger sister. Also we liked the idea that it could be a keepsake. Renting for a year would almost certainly cost more.

It's a little expensive of a thing for a toddler, but we trust Zoe, and among the stores that specialize in bowed instruments and put some effort in the set-up this seems to be the best deal right now. I'll post here about the instrument when we get it. 

December 2, 2008 at 03:44 PM ·

We've got our little fiddle from Shar. First impression was: "Wow, it looks like a toy!" But it's a real instrument, it is made alright and set up accurately. It tunes well, pegs turn flawlessly, the bridge is shaped and set up nicely, the bow is straight.

So, Zoe is now happily scratching away on it from dawn to dusk - for 5 minutes at a time, then she puts it down, and then picks it up again. Yes, not only a young brain soaks up patterns and structures of all kinds like a sponge, but little children can learn obsessively, they just don't know anything about getting bored of repetition!

December 2, 2008 at 04:41 PM ·

Haha, I can imagine that. I found this video of a 20 month old girl having fun with her cousin's violin, it's very cute, thought you might like it ...


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