So many beginner violins, which one would be right for me?

September 15, 2010 at 05:50 PM ·

Hi guys! Hows everyone? This will be my first post ever on =) Nice to meet you all! I have a few questions concerning beginner violins because i just cant seem to decide on one! I have read i think most of the beginner violin discussions on here and from what i can tell, theres maybe a couple of main websites to purchase a violin from that everyone seems to mention, and those being are: Sharmusic, Violinslover, Southwest Strings, dont remember if there was another one.. But anywho, i cant seem to choose which of those would be my best bet! I am a beginner, i have no experience on the violin what so ever, i will probably be teaching myself till i am able to afford lessons. My budget is about $200 pushing it (broke college student hehe) so i would want a to last me a pretty long time (which i know for my budget might be hard) and yet a wonderful eye catcher =) I was thinking of getting one of Shars violins but then i visited Violinslover Genial 1's and i just cant decide now =( So whats everyones input? Anyone have any experience with any of their violins (or any others i dont know about) I have thought of renting, but i would like a violin i could call my own =) Thanks!

EDIT: By the way, whats the difference between 1 piece back and a 2 piece back? Which one is generally better for violins? Whats the difference between "Nitro" varnished and oil varnished on

Replies (38)

September 15, 2010 at 08:40 PM ·

My experience is with Gliga --  I ADORE it, and when I swapped from a 16.5" viola to my current 16", they were entirely accommodating and very nice.  Minor caveat: I have a Gama-level, so it's one of their better ones.  But I've heard nothing but good things about Gliga.  Others will doubtless sing the praises of Shar.  :-)  In terms of bang-for-your-buck though, Gliga really has a nice reputation.  Even their cheapest student violins are a great dollar value.

September 15, 2010 at 09:05 PM ·

Hi there! Thanks for replying! Yeah, i was thinking about shar at first, but then i looked into violinslover and noticed that the violins you see are the ones you get, so you can already see the violin before you buy it.

Though they have student level and beginner level, the student level i think is slightly cheaper? One of them is "nitro" varnished i think it is, and the other is oil varnished.

Oil varnished is better to go with on a violin?

Cant wait to see other peoples replys and experiences =o!

September 16, 2010 at 12:23 AM ·

I tried communicating w/ Gliga by e-mail  about a Gems 2 model I was interested in.  I received no response from them at all. This troubled me as I have a background in Quality. I then found a fiddle on another forum in the classifieds offered by KC Fiddles.  I wrote a note asking a few questions. He wrote back promptly and was great at answering my questions.  I would say he offers first class service. I get my instrument next week! I am very excited!

September 16, 2010 at 12:36 AM ·

Ohhh, thats pretty cool! You must let me know how it sounds when you get it =)

I havent contacted Gliga or anything yet since i dont know what questions i can possibly ask. Still just shopping around and waiting on what others opinions are on different violin brands. Theres so many, its hard to choose, and on my budget, its pretty hard since i dont want to make the wrong decision so to say. Man, i just want a violin already hehe

September 16, 2010 at 04:53 AM ·

My experiences with gliga is that they need further setup when you get them, some of them are not in an immediate playing condition though not that bad compared to those cheap factory instruments.

You might need some soundpost adjustments, bridge trimming, nut trimming. The rest are quite OK. Gliga violins usually have mellow and gentle sound, perfect for beginners who started to get use to the sorprano sound under the ear, the mellow and gentle sound is a very warm welcome indeed. But they just don't have the power and clarity. Of course, when you need power and clarity, it's time to buy a step up violin and spend more.

In general, avoid buying the more expensive models from gliga, the lack of clarity and power does not justify the price asked, IMVHO. I could be wrong, I haven't heard or seen the recent gliga violins, my experiences with gligas were few years ago.

PS: Regarding the varnish, it means very little when it comes to student instruments. The material used, the construction, and the setup are more important (setup is No.1 priority). Also, even just oil varnishes there're different grades, and of course the skill of the maker who apply it will give different results too.


EDIT: Found this on youtube, you can have a slightly better idea of the sound of gligas.

September 16, 2010 at 09:56 AM ·

 Can't tell which of the two sounds worst. But for an absolute begginer I think the Gliga could do.

Beware that all Gliga's basics outfits are chinese hand made instruments bought in the white by Gliga's workshop and then varnished.

September 16, 2010 at 10:54 AM ·

As already mentioned, the set up is quite important. Most of factory made instruments comes with bad bridge, strings, pegs will not work properly so that a luthier must adjust it to make it playable.

September 16, 2010 at 05:38 PM ·

Sounds to me so far that Gliga isnt all that great. I would like a nice little start violin, dont think i could afford to buy a 200 dollar violin just to waste another 50 or so to get it set up.

Would you guys know of any other sites/ brands i can look into? Would sharmusic be better than gliga? What about a Cremona SV-175 (stated the "best" student violin for the money here would like input on this), Or even Cecilio branded violin. 

This is proving to be alittle overwhelming hehe.

P.S I like the background music on hehe.

September 16, 2010 at 06:40 PM ·

I have heard good sound come out of a cecilio in the 400 dollar range that a friend had, he likes it.  I don't know about the lower priced models. 

Lately, I have been intrigued and looking a lot at this ebay store:  but don't have any personal experience with them, the violins look well made for the most part and a step above all the other chinese junk out there.  I could be wrong, however...

People that work with the owner (Jehpin), have said good things, and you might be able to find one in your price range (I have seen the workshop models sell for ~$130 USD and less), just beware of the $60 shipping costs.

September 16, 2010 at 06:59 PM ·

 @ Cristene,

If you have $200.00 to spend on a violin, I would not buy a new violin from a violin shop..  I would look in the newspaper or criagslist. Since, you are a student, then look around at your school.  I am very sure you can find a decent starter violin. If you were going to buy a high-end violin, then that would be the time to look into violin shops.

September 16, 2010 at 07:05 PM ·

Oh yeah, believe me, i've been looking on craigs list the whole time lol, like 5 violins i saw up for selling was already sold by the time i called up the seller. Someone just posted a Carlo Robelli p105 for 80 dollars, no pictures, yet some of the reviews around the internet states that its pretty bad with the tuning and stuff.. 200 dollars is my most, i would want something cheaper if even possible. The ones on craigs list are cheap on the price, but the violins are also cheap in general, so its pretty hard )= i might have to keep searching a while longer. I sometimes wonder if someone out there is against me getting into a violin hehe.

Also, theres this music store around here that has their own brand of violins.. Can anyone, if possible, just by looking at their photos, tell me if the violin would be any good for me? It's only $120 dollars, and they offer 100% trade-in and a 30-Day Satisfaction Guarantee where if in those 30 days i dont like it, and its in like new condition, they will refund me fully. I'm planning on going to their store on saturday to see if they could help me out abit and maybe even play alittle bit of the violin for me =)

Anyone out there that can tell me what visible things i can look for in a violin, even though im a beginner?

September 17, 2010 at 04:02 AM ·


Unfortunately, it's impossible to tell if a violin is any good by just looking at the photo. Your best bet is to have your teacher or a friend who play violin, following you to a shop and choose a violin for you.

IMHO $200 is just enough for a nice student violin. You really need someone who have experiences on playing the violin to choose for you or else you'll end up buying poor VSO (violin shaped object) or used violins in poor condition. Buying used violin from places like craigslist or ebay always come with risk e.g. poor condition, re-setup due to different climate, or even potential scam.

If the local shop around your place ever carry an entry level gliga, have someone confirm that they're in playable condition. Gligas might not the best performer's violin but it's best for starters due to the general sound character of their violins.

September 17, 2010 at 04:10 AM ·


Unfortunatly, i know no one that plays the violin, nor any teachers. I tried takling to a violin teacher the other day, didnt know half the things i was asking lol. I live in an area where almost anyone you talk to, their main language is spanish, so its kinda hard.

I'm going to visit that shop on saturday, going to see if they have anything i can reconize.. I honestly dont want to waste 200, would like less, but i know thats going to be quite hard =( though i gotta try! i might never know!

September 17, 2010 at 08:07 AM ·

 I know Old Vilin House's violins quite well, as I import them to Spain and are sold to students. They sound in general very well for their price, but need setup. I allways carve a new bridge, reset the soundpost and correct the string afterlenght. Also put soem good strings (I allways set the violins with Tonicas and they work great). Pegs work fine and doesn't usually need to be touched. I have found that the violins mde by the Opera workshop are a l.ittle bit better than the others. One thing I have found a couple of times was a bad fitted neck (low projection), which led to a lower than usual bridge to have the proper string heights over the fingerboard.


You could aso try Yitamusic violins, Their M20-T20 series are more than you could ask for an advanced student at a very good price.

September 17, 2010 at 08:26 AM ·

My Scotti SYV150 is really nice - about $280 for case, bow, and violin. I had to pay extra for everything else. I dont know why Musicians Friend dosent sell those instead of the other cheap kinds they sell. I think they are better. Ive read that you can get good quality if you buy a violin kit and assemble it together because your saving some money on the labor. And you varnish it yourself to. If you think you can. I think thats what my next violin will be. It would be nice to have 2 outfits.

September 17, 2010 at 04:19 PM · Do it yourself violin kits? I dont think thats a good idea for me lol i might mess it up and make it unplayable somehow Yitamusic? I have been reading a few threads on it.. Good violins but requires it to be "set up". Anyone else have experience with Yitamusic violins? I was looking at their T19's, their bids start preeeeetty cheap, but then, how much would it cost to get it set up? Should i, as a beginner, even look into buying a violin off ebay? Was told not to even go there since most are just "VSO's".

September 19, 2010 at 05:02 PM ·

 Hi :) 

As an answer to the last question you asked about looking for a violin off ebay, I would say go for it! I've had a couple of REALLY good violins from ebay but really look for a good one. I will help you look if you like? 

Please please please don't go looking for what I would call firewood made by factory productions. As I say, one ebay, I've had a couple of really good violins and they have cost me no more than £100 (around about $160 USD) and I mean it, these are concert-standard violins all ready and set up. 

One of the links posted earlier to is something I have just looked at and I would definately say take a look at this. Feel free to email me at any time if you like, and we can scour ebay and have a look together? 

If you would like, you can go and look around shops near you area, but to be honest, if you're a beginner then I don't see the hassle in looking for a violin that is 'right for you' as you don't yet know what specifics you want from a violin. 

Take care! 


September 19, 2010 at 05:54 PM ·

If you are only going to spend $200 I think that it will be nearly impossible to beat a violin from yitamusic on ebay. They have quite a few T 19's that would be close to that price including shipping for an instrument, functional bow and basic case.

I recently bought a T19 Maggini copy that was a nice sounding, easy playing instrument and all I replaced was the tailpiece because I like the Wittner with the built in fine tuners. The setup was not bad at all the way it came. They've improved their setups a lot recently.

September 19, 2010 at 05:55 PM ·

 I had an excellent experience with a Cecilio SVN-600. Admittedly  the street price is about $400. In any case I needed an expert luthier to set it up since the bridge did not have the little grooves for the strings. And the job cost me $20. Also think of changing the strings. Most outfits come with the cheapest strings possible. Get yourself a good Pirastro Tonica set, for about $35. 

September 19, 2010 at 07:01 PM ·

You're most welcome to buy one of mine !


September 19, 2010 at 11:34 PM ·

@ Ben

O.o buy one of yours? hum o.o, around how much?

And yeah, i know i shouldnt be really looking for something thats right for me so to say since i just need something to get by in learning the basics and such first =) I have been looking at yitamusic violins though, i think my purse will have flys flying out of it with set up prices and stuff. I can still try to look and wait for that moment where i get a good deal on one of their violins =o And sure, it would be great if you can help me out with their violins, theres so many different "model" types and styles, i dont know whats what.

Lol believe me, im trying to make up my mind, but seeing how my budget is under 200, its really hard to )=

September 20, 2010 at 08:52 AM ·

$200 or $200k ?

hehee, well mine are affordable and sound good, but I'm in Ireland, so trying them is not gonna be easy.

Good luck.

September 20, 2010 at 02:26 PM · @ Ben Noooo LESS than $200.00 dollars hehe Budget kinda went down do to i needed to check my eyes out and get glasses, sighhh. And yeah, that will be kinda hard, even harder since, i cant play a violin, wouldnt know what to do with it on terms of seeing if its good or what not lol. Tell me alittle about them? Are you a luthier or are they just violins laying around? =) Thanks!

September 20, 2010 at 11:46 PM ·

I love the fiddle I got from Michael Richwine at KC Fiddles!!! It is remarkably light, easy to play, set up great with Helicores and sounds excellent! This one will keep me happy for a long, long time,  You won't go wrong with Michael.

September 21, 2010 at 12:34 AM ·

Isnt the violin and fiddle 2 different things? I mean, i know they are stilla  violin. But a fiddle is set up differently, so isnt it, different than a violin?

September 21, 2010 at 06:09 PM ·

Sometimes, we just call them fiddles.

September 22, 2010 at 08:20 AM ·

Check this place out. Seem like a good place for you to start. Don't be afraid to go in and just ask questions. They should have a couple student outfits that will work for you.

They need to be more creative in naming their stores in Miami. I just wonder if you have to go next door to The Bow Shoppe and then down the street to The Case Shop after. HeHe.

September 22, 2010 at 09:37 AM ·

Christene you have a musical background and I presume you know friends that play the violin. I would suggest that you visit a friend that plays the violin, and get a better knowledge of the instrument and find out if it is really your passion to master it. They might know someone who is willing to lend you a violin to practice on. Most violin players have got more than one violin, some have a room full. Even if you teach yourself you will need someone to guide you. 

September 22, 2010 at 11:37 AM ·

You'd have to be very lucky to get anything decent in the sub $200 price range, so the suggestion to try to borrow a friend's instrument is a good one.  If you try to learn (particularly self-teaching) on a cheap violin shaped object you will quickly become frustrated and probably turn elsewhere.  There is no inherent advantage to one or two piece backs.  Either can be good, either can be bad.  It depends on the quality of the maple and the skill of the maker.  "nitro" is nitrocellulose lacquer which is often a sprayed-on finish and would not be found on violins of any quality, but might be used on cheap commercial instruments.  Traditional violin varnishes are either a cooked mixture of resins in a drying oil (like linseed oil, so called oil varnish) or a solution of resins dissolved in a volatile liquid like alcohol (so called spirit varnishes).

September 22, 2010 at 01:54 PM ·

@ Eric: Hehe yeah, i wonder about that myself to. Cant find many around here strangly, guess i need to dig alot deeper. And that is an hour drive away from me! I am wondering why the heck its called "violin shop miami" when its an hour away from miami =(?

@ Dion: Sadly no, i know no one that owns or plays a violin =( I want to learn the violin for my own personal gain. I love how the violin sounds. You know when you hear a lovely piece of music, and that violin solo kicks in, you close your eyes and start to move your hand to the rhythm of it? Yeah thats how i feel, i just love that lol.

@ Douglas: Ohh, so thats the difference, thanks! Was wondering what were the differences between 1,2 piece backs and those varnishes.


September 24, 2010 at 12:08 AM ·

You might want to consider

Elderly Instuments has a very good reputation in the Martin guitar community. Shar offers a few in your price range.  I have bought some accessories from them and they are very good to work with. You might consider the classifieds in the

Enjoy your search!

September 25, 2010 at 04:55 PM ·

I don't think anyone answered your question about a one or two piece back (unless I missed it, and then I apologize for repeating), but, there is no difference in sound or indication of quality.  One piece backs tend to be a bit more expensive as a single piece big enough is rarer.  But that would be it.  Once the two pieces of the back are glued, they are functionally and acoustically one piece anyway.  The only other difference is aesthetic.

September 25, 2010 at 11:38 PM ·

i think you should either use a rental until you have enough money to buy a more expensive (and better) violin, or see if there's a local shop that will let you have a violin that you could pay off each month. If you have a little leftover money each month then it won't be a big, shocking scoop out of your bank account.

September 27, 2010 at 04:00 PM · Thanks everyone for your replys! I went to my local music shop and talked to one of the workers there, asked her what questions i had, she answered them without hesitation (unlike the others at the music store that tends to sell everything, hint hint) she also played the cheapest violin priced ($120) then played the step up to that, then a more expensive one and, of course to my untrained ear, i didnt notice a difference, so they all sounded wonderful to me. She of course tells me, this one has a such and such sound, as the more expensive one is more "mellow" than the cheapest one. I went ahead and bought the $120 dollar one, she tuned it and everything for me on the spot. They have a 30 day money back return, so if i dont like it, i can return it, no harm done =) They also have a trade-in thing where if years from now, i decide to get a step up violin, they give me 100% of the value of the $120 dollar one towards the next violin, which in other places, i didnt really find a thinger like that (cant find the word for it) shar music only had 50% trade in for there franz ones. I did try looking on all the sites everyone here posted, though i had no luck, neither with craigs list (most were chinese violins for the same price i paid for mine, but those brands people say to stay away from, like, skylark, palatino, lidl, etc.) So i decided to go ahead and get lessons aswell! 5 lessons, once a week to give it a go, my first lesson will be this saturday! Cant wait! Was going to teach myself but im being told thats a bad idea.. So im going to take a few lessons, learn the basics and such so i dont learn the violin the "wrong" way, aka, picking up bad habits that might get one of my hands hit with a ruler, hehe. I dearly hope i made the right choice! Cant wait till i can play well enough to play along with favorite songs! hehe! Thanks again! By the way, if anyone has any advice for a beginner like me, by all means, let me know! I would love to hear what people have to say =)

October 6, 2010 at 10:18 PM ·

Just practice, practice, practice!  Good luck!

October 7, 2010 at 10:38 PM ·

 Wow! This is really good news! Well done, and keep the work up! 

October 10, 2010 at 03:13 AM ·

Good luck with your lessons!

October 11, 2010 at 03:41 PM · Thanks everyone! Just attented my first lesson this passing saturday! It was pretty well! Learned to properly hold a violin on my shoulder pretty quick, got rhythem down (Since i know how to play the piano for 3 or so years, i already have abit of rhythem going =)) then i was getting taught how to hold the bow currectly. Now i just got to practice my bowing on open strings for 5 minutes on each string. Got to practice practice practice! hehe. Also, my instructer told me to get the um.. String essencials 2000 i think its called! Got me a 10% student discount on that, so that was nice hehe. Anyone know bout this book? Thanks again!

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