Beginner Needing Help Judging Quality Of Violin (Audio)

May 1, 2017 at 05:59 PM · I'm just starting out learning the violin and was browsing around looking for a suitable instrument. I had my eye on the following violin:

Audio of the violin playing

Very new to this, so I'm not entirely sure what to look out for when listening to the violin. Any advice? How would you rate the quality of this violin?


May 1, 2017 at 08:38 PM · Listen for clarity of passages (fast notes distinctiveness and clear sound), response (violin instantly responds when shaping different colours and types of sound), and variety of said tone colours and dynamics.

In the clip of Schindler's List, you can hear that the player had some trouble and delay in getting the sound they wanted, even though the tone is fairly good. For example, the vibrato required some extra effort to respond adequately, and you can hear it when they vibrate notes. Also an issue is that the violin seems a bit muffled, usually a sign that it will have troublw playing quiet passages without undue effort.

I would overall rate the instrument 7/10, most of the score being the rather soothing sound, despite issues with clarity, dynamics and responsiveness.

All in all, very enjoyable for the first few years, until the players starts something slow and expressive in shadings like Melodie by Gluck, where you will really start to appreciate the clarity of pp passages and the responsiveness needed for a more.effortless fast trill. :)

May 1, 2017 at 09:03 PM · This violin is pretty good. Didn't notice the issues A. O. pointed out, but if I played the violin, I may've noticed.

May 2, 2017 at 12:44 AM · Though, the vibrato might just be the odd sound aesthetic of the player, but I do hear the instrument fighting the player somewhat (maybe just incompatible player-instrument reducing expressive potential?)

May 2, 2017 at 12:53 AM · I agree that the vibrato seems a bit... tense; tight perhaps, a bit without depth, but I wouldn't be able to properly tell if that's a problem with the violin or the technique the player is using, without trying it out for myself.

The rest sounds pretty good. I'll go with A.O. and give it a 7/10 based on that small sample we can hear.

May 2, 2017 at 12:55 AM · If I had to guess, this violin is $2500-5000?

May 2, 2017 at 02:30 AM · how do you know the violin in the recording is the same one they are selling and not a much more expensive violin??

May 2, 2017 at 05:31 AM · Whoever is playing / testing this instrument is technically clearly not the player to make you hear the qualities or deficiencies of an instrument.

All one hears is the deficiencies of the player.

May 2, 2017 at 06:57 AM · Well, yes the player is having problems.

What I did realize however is a very weak a string in higher registers, when changing to e string the sound heavily opens up. Might be curable by setup though.

The piano is very bad, but I can hear bad bowing in it too, so this might be the reason.

It is close to impossible to classify that violin by this audio. If I had to guess Id say a decend student violin but far far from professional equipment.

If the price is not above 2k it might be worth testing it in nature together with someone with knowledge (e.c. teacher). Online judging of violins is dismissing important aspects

May 2, 2017 at 07:04 AM · Btw, I have no idea how you want to hear the age of the wood Anne. It is an important factor in building a good violin but to me its like seeing burned cake and from looking at it judging the quality of the flour.

May 2, 2017 at 08:58 AM · Thanks for the fantastic replies! The string of the violin is said to be of the standard shanghai factory strings. Could that be the issue with the vibrato and other issues?


Actually, it's around USD$300, I'm getting it straight from the luthier in China Beijing, could be the reason for the quality to price.

Lyndon Taylor

That is true, I cannot confirm that because I'm buying this online. However, according to the Chinese forums, where he sells his instruments, the luthier is reputable with a 30 day return policy. And when I conversed with him he seemed genuine and extremely helpful.

Anne B.

Wow you are right! The front is made of 2010 Maple from Yunnan And the back is made from 2011 Russian Spruce. It's amazing that you're able to tell that.

Marc Marschall

Noted, might just dive in, buy the violin and report back.

May 2, 2017 at 09:03 AM · I can also tell if a violin is good or not, I can also judge wood if I got it in my hands (before or after crafting). But knowing if the wood or the crafting is limiting the quality by a very bad recording with high compression, woha.also 7 years is a very precise number.

Btw there are Saxonians out there beeing built with wood some makers dream of, still not beeing even decend violins.

I dont say you cannot do it, who am I to judge it if I dont know you, but this sounds a bit like woodo to me. Of

I do agree its a budget violin, but I guess the price will be too. It is likely a budget violin uses budget wood, yeah.

Edit to clarify: The post before was not available when I started typing

May 2, 2017 at 10:06 AM · "Thanks for the fantastic replies! The string of the violin is said to be of the standard shanghai factory strings. Could that be the issue with the vibrato and other issues?"

That could be the reason behind any and ALL issues this violin might have. ;)

Anne B., I have heard of people who say they can hear the 'old sound' that old wood produces, that's an interesting talent.

May 2, 2017 at 05:19 PM · this whole topic is really sad, in the way all advice is bad.

but I guess that's what you get.

May 2, 2017 at 05:36 PM · @Herman: Huh? We are simplying ttying to help a beginner understand sound, what is the problem here? :(

May 2, 2017 at 05:46 PM · The OP said he's a beginner who wants to know how to judge the sound of a violin. First of all sound is not all you're looking for but also playability. Is the violin well-made? Is it responsive? When one is a beginner all these are hard to judge. That's why you have a teacher -- they can help you choose a violin at your budget, especially if you can bring home a few violins from a decent shop just to try for a week and put them into your teacher's hands.

Well, at least that's the old-fashioned way. Nowadays you just stick your credit card number into the big eBay slot machine and pull the lever.

May 2, 2017 at 10:38 PM · @Anne

I'm located in south east asia so the shipping might be slightly cheaper. In case you were wondering this is how it looks like:


In what way it's bad advice?

May 3, 2017 at 02:34 AM · I seem to recall Cao's assistants set-up (and possibly finish?) the China-origin instruments that he imports and sells under the STV-numbered models, so buying one direct in Asia might not result in the same quality as buying the US imports.

May 3, 2017 at 01:40 PM · @Anne B.

Thanks for the recommendation. I've read good things about Scott Cao's violins, I'll surely check them out!

May 3, 2017 at 04:46 PM · My daughter played a Scott Cao violin for a while and it was quite good I think, but it wasn't the lowest model it was the STV-750.

I realize it's easy to say "go to a shop" and "ask your teacher" but if these options are not available and you're just buying a violin out of an online catalog, then you really are rolling the dice. That at least should be recognized, even if it's the best one can do.

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