At what point should I buy a new violin?

September 18, 2016 at 05:21 PM · Hello, I am 16, and have been playing violin for about 9 months. When I started I bought a $150 violin, and it has served me well so far. But I am going to take my grade 4 ABRSM test in a month or so. So I am wondering at what point I should invest in a new violin, and at what price range it should be in. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

Replies (21)

September 18, 2016 at 05:40 PM · Invest in a new violin when you feel that you need it. Price range isn't the most accurate definition of quality in terms of sound and feel, which are the most important factors in choosing a violin.

September 18, 2016 at 05:45 PM · Your teacher can probably advise you as to when your instrument is holding you back, and what you will likely need to spend to move up.

September 18, 2016 at 06:20 PM · There is no particular, predefined point when one is supposed to buy a violin. A violin finds you in a mysterious way.

Play as many violins as possible. Ask your school-mates to let you play for 10 minutes or so, and see if it is easier or more difficult to produce sound. Listen to violin solo recordings. Pay attention to differences in sound.

Being a beginner, one of your goals is to develop your inner concept (aural image) of an "ideal" violin sound; in other words, what do you like / dislike when you hear a particular violin.

Once you have that inner image built, next step would be to find a match in reality.

If this sounds like process of finding a partner, it is!

September 18, 2016 at 07:38 PM · An only $150 violin would be limiting to most players, I can't speak for all stores, but at my store you start getting a really decent sounding violin around the $1000 price point, I have OK ones for $600 but at that price the violins still have deficiencies IMHO hope that's some help to you. Violins are not cheap easy to make instruments, and given good choices, you get what you pay for, but I wouldn't think a $300 or $500 violin is going to solve all your problems, instruments in that price range by nature are not perfect.

September 18, 2016 at 07:40 PM · I am speaking about the point where you get a violin that sounds Good as opposed to just OK or even slightly or majorly obnoxious. Unpleasant etc.

September 19, 2016 at 12:57 AM · I think that generally, as long as you are making at least average progress, a good violin is pretty much a necessity at around 3 to 4 years, assuming that your first violin wasn't complete garbage. Personally, I think price does matter until you get to the 1500 dollar price point where violin typically comes down to personal preference


September 19, 2016 at 01:54 AM · @alec it isn't that price doesn't matter it's that anyone can slap whatever pricetag they want on a violin no matter how good (or bad) it is. Not all makers are created equal. The $500 chinese production line violin may very well beat the $1000 "handmade" violin from a local maker. Likewise, someone may be selling something worth way more than what they're asking.

September 19, 2016 at 08:26 AM · Upgrade your strings first. Then upgrade your bow. This will give you most bang for your buck.

Cheers Carlo

September 19, 2016 at 08:47 AM · You can't turn a sow's ear into a silk purse, its a $150 violin, Carlo.

September 19, 2016 at 09:29 AM · I agree with Carlo : Do you still have the factory strings on your violin ? If so, then try a set of may be amazed at the improvement. Most factory strings on cheap instruments are horrendous.

You will not end with a silk purse but it will be a much improved sow's ear !

September 19, 2016 at 02:28 PM · I did what Carlo suggested.

I upgraded strings then bow, then realized that I am putting $60 strings, and $150 bow on a $200 violin bow.

One of the 'issues' I felt was that new strings and bow rehair felt like waste.

September 19, 2016 at 03:20 PM · Steven, I put $80 strings and a $400 bow on a free violin; it was a great improvement! How did your changes work out for you?

September 19, 2016 at 05:10 PM · Steven : A better bow is never wasted as it can be used on any future violin.

A set of Tonicas only cost about $30 and this would be enough to get an improvement over the factory strings. They are excellent strings ; if you have not tried them, then you should. They last much longer than Dominants too.

September 19, 2016 at 08:25 PM · Sometimes poor violin can sound ok at low volume, like a cheap car stereo. But try to crank up the sound, and it sounds terrible. So as a student gains confidence and the technique to produce greater volume, or has to compete against other students in, say, a concerto competition, this can really demonstrate that an upgrade is needed.

One defining characteristic of a better violin is better sound quality at higher volumes.

Especially noticeable with loud double stops. You can't play the Brahms concerto, or a Bach fugue, with a cheap violin.

September 20, 2016 at 02:19 PM · Skilled players can pretty much make any instrument sound good. The husband of a former teacher of mine made his Carnegie Hall debut on a $300 dollar instrument. That being said, one would ideally progress to higher quality instruments, as it is easy to stick to some less than ideal habits on a VSO in an effort to keep it from squeaking.

September 20, 2016 at 02:25 PM · Skilled players are going to modify what they do based on the limitations of the violin, though. They'll still sound good, but they won't sound their best.

Also, the feedback loop is really important. You want a student to do the right thing, and that means the violin needs to respond appropriately to the correct technical approach.

I had a pretty nice contemporary instrument as my first full-size violin, but tone quality deteriorated significantly as you got towards the bridge. That means I developed the bad habit of always staying at the middle sounding point or further towards the fingerboard. It's a habit that I'm still trying to break now.

September 22, 2016 at 11:26 PM · Something I must point out is that at the earlier stages, I got used to tip-heavy bows, and this really hindered my technical development when I finally got to a good, well balanced bow. I was eventually relying on the fact that my bow is tip-heavy. So, when I got a better bow, often on upbow, my bow was bouncing around initially.

Similarly, I'm sure that you may end up getting used to, and start relying on what's not good about your instrument. I personally found that it was easier getting used to new/better instruments, than getting used to a new bow. It probably is because at least the bridge was fitted by the same luthier in between latest violin switch.

September 23, 2016 at 12:30 AM · I would probably at least steer clear of wooden bows under $100. Likely to go out of chamber quickly and will not be stiff enough

September 23, 2016 at 01:01 AM · not true at all, Howard Core sells some really strong and good for the money brazilwood bows for less than $50, they are no more likely to go out of CAMBER than a CF bow.

September 23, 2016 at 02:57 AM · Google doesn't like the word camber and auto corrected me... but if we are speaking technically carbon fiber can't actually go out of camber... Once the resin fails it will all just fall apart... But that will probably never happen either unless you decide to leave your stick in an oven. All the cheaper wooden bows I've used/seen other students with in my orchestra are essentially straight and camber-less at this point.

September 23, 2016 at 04:06 AM · Well then you haven't seen the ones I'm talking about, they have a stronger camber than most pernambuco sticks.

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