Which Is Better...the Old violin or New violin?

May 15, 2004 at 01:43 AM · I know this is a question that we ponder all the time :P What violin's are generally better...Old violins...ie at least 100 yrs old...or the new made violins of today? Why do you think so?

Replies (9)

May 15, 2004 at 02:41 AM · Greetings,

thedealer I bought my Batista from makes a useful distinction. Old/modern (last 100 years) and new (within the last five years?)

I would not usually buy an instrument made within the lastcategory because there is an elenet of chance involved in how it wouldtyurn out. This risk is not so hight with the very best makers though.

I have no real urge enter a discussion of how modern instrumenta are just as good as old ones though. Assuming good condition in both cases then the old has -always- been a -lot- better in my experience. Of course I think the prices are appalling though...

If I can"t have a Guadagnin or a Guarneri , sob, then I"d want an Italian from around the turn of the century. Which I do have.



May 15, 2004 at 04:47 AM · I'd have to agree with Buri on all counts.

Coming from the extreme lower end, my turn of the century, no-name, German violin (that I got for about $200 + $150 for my luthier to set it up properly) sounds better than any new sub-$1000 violins I have tried...Actually, my teacher was a bit jealous as she spent about $4000 on her violin and mine has quicker/smoother response and better projection (in her hands as well as mine).

Although, I spent about 2 months of research and shopping before I bought it...

Still, if I had found a 'new' violin that was better, I would have gone with that.

I only mention my experiences because, not all of us have the finances to own an older Italian (Sob indeed, Buri)...But that doesn't mean we have to suffer poor instruments.

As many have recomended before, try as many (new and old) violins in your price range before you make a decision.

May 15, 2004 at 05:07 AM · I have an 100 year old violin that is worth about $2000 and I hate its tone. My new cheap $110 violin sound so much better. So I don't know figure that one out for me.

May 15, 2004 at 05:15 AM · I think an argument could be made for both. In general, it seems that a well-made instrument with good tone will, with time, become mellower and rounder. I've owned many antique instruments, and found this to be the case. A good, new instrument will have a tone that is firmer, with more "woodiness" (to quote the Hill texts). Of course, many examples of modern and antique instruments can be cited to debunk this overly-general classification. In 2001 I purchased a new instrument (so new, in fact, the varnish was practically still wet), and have enjoyed playing upon it more than all my senior fiddles put together. "Playing-in" has opened a whole new world in owning an instrument. For me, nothing has been more enjoyable than hearing the violin open up as it has these past three years.

From another viewpoint, old versus new becomes quite abiguous territory to the scrutinizing ear; try to distinguish one from the other in a blind test. Numerous curtain experiments have shown that in such a setting, new and old become practically indiscernible.

However, health and vitality often trump the defence made for owning an antique which, as in my case, has become too weak to meet the demands of its musician.


May 15, 2004 at 06:04 AM · I have an 150 yo french violin

I am very satisfived with it and so are many great violinist to, including Bron that 3 doubled the price when he guessed its price.

But it looks a bit to old.. Damages and the likes.

I have played a few mordern violins that I've liked better, but to have this old piece of wood under my chin is special... :)

May 15, 2004 at 03:56 PM · I used to have a 170-180 year old violin that sounded horrible (but that's only because the violin it itself SUCKED). I know many old violins can sound very nice, but when I was violinshopping for my new one, I decided to buy a modern Italian. I invested on my philosophy that if it sounds great before anyone has ever played it, it'll sound great after I practice on it for 500000 hours. :D And it does! (Although I haven't been counting hours)

May 15, 2004 at 04:36 PM · I have a 125 year old violin that still sounds great. Although I do have one that was made in 1992 and it is more appropriate for solo playing. Sometimes the old ones lack power, except for those great ones.

Even at that, old italian instruments will start to lose "oomph" when they start getting older than 250 years old.

May 15, 2004 at 05:40 PM · old.....dont feel like detailing

May 15, 2004 at 11:32 PM · personally I don't think that there is any distinction between old violins made by good makers and new violins made by good makers. These new violins will one day be old and if we don't play them eventually the luthiers will stop making them because it won't be profitable, and everyone will end up sharing the same set of violins which will end up diminishing due to accidents (it's horrible to think but some things do happen).

Although I do own an "old" violin (i believe it was made around 1900, though it's labeled 1795, so it might be older), When I purchase my new violin in around 2006-2007, I'll have a good look at a number of luthiers in perth. I'm actually very interested in trying out some instruments that use native timbers from Australia instead of the traditional timbers to see what they sound like in comparison.

Of course, if you get a new violin, You must play it an awful lot so that the tone develops. But hey, we're all practicing at least 3 hours a day here aren't we?

This discussion has been archived and is no longer accepting responses.

Facebook Twitter YouTube Instagram Email

Violinist.com is made possible by...

Shar Music
Shar Music

Yamaha Silent Violin
Yamaha Silent Violin

Pirastro Strings
Pirastro Strings

Find a Summer Music Program
Find a Summer Music Program

Dimitri Musafia, Master Maker of Violin and Viola Cases
Dimitri Musafia, Master Maker of Violin and Viola Cases

Violinist.com Business Directory
Violinist.com Business Directory

Violinist.com Guide to Online Learning
Violinist.com Guide to Online Learning

Dominant Pro Strings

Antonio Strad Violin

Bay Fine Strings Violin Shop

Bobelock Cases



Los Angeles Violin Shop

Nazareth Gevorkian Violins


Metzler Violin Shop

Leatherwood Bespoke Rosin



Johnson String Instrument and Carriage House Violins

Potter Violins

String Masters

Bein & Company

Annapolis Bows & Violins

Laurie's Books

Discover the best of Violinist.com in these collections of editor Laurie Niles' exclusive interviews.

Violinist.com Interviews Volume 1
Violinist.com Interviews Volume 1, with introduction by Hilary Hahn

Violinist.com Interviews Volume 2
Violinist.com Interviews Volume 2, with introduction by Rachel Barton Pine