What should I look when buying a violin?

July 22, 2004 at 02:26 AM · One thing is what you hear next to the instrument while playing and other while you are just listening...How do I know that the instrument I´m about to buy have all the characteristics I´m looking for (tone , projection, bright,...)specially since I´m not familiar with those? Any description that might help? Thank you. Gabi MF.

Replies (7)

July 22, 2004 at 03:23 AM · Well usually the people at the instrument store have advice and if you tell them what you want in a violin they will definitely help you. When I was buying my first violin, I had no idea what kind I wanted nor needed. They found a good beginning one and it has great tone. Just ask (and if you have a certain price you're wanting to spend, they'll still find a good one, whether cheap or expensive). But watchout, I've heard of some who rip you off. Not likely, but be careful.

Try to get a violin higher than $200 though. I've never really heard a good sounding one, and they usually fall apart easily.


October 17, 2004 at 12:38 PM · ebony fittings, solid woods, decent bow with horsehair, four fine tuners are nice.


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October 17, 2004 at 07:53 PM · The tone is whether the sound the violin makes is warm, shrill etc. The projection is how loud it is when it's playing, you need to consider whether you want your violin to be loud as it depends on your situation i.e. do you want to be a solo player? In which case you need a louder violin.

Everyone has their opinions of what type of sound a violin makes is nice. Some people prefer a warm tone to the violin while others prefer it to be 'narrow and shrill'. To understand what I mean-try out different violins and you'll hear that each has it's own 'voice'. Or alternatively, listen to recordings by different people and you'll find that there is a difference in voice of their violins. It's very difficult to describe brightness, when i hear it the sound just 'shines' when it's dark-the sound is more mellow and viola sounding.

It depends what you want to find nice to hear really, don't worry too much about all this tone, brightness things if you think it will distract your own opinion-go with your instinct!


October 17, 2004 at 11:38 PM · I would strongly urge that you have someone you trust who plays and understands the instrument accompany you to help you pick one out. People, this applies to all levels of musicianship as well as for any instrument. Since an instrument can sound very differently to the player than it does to the listener, even a virtuoso should have someone listen from across the room to hear how an instrument sounds before making a selection.

October 18, 2004 at 10:57 AM · http://www.giannaviolins.com/Information/HowFind.html has some of my thoughts. I notice that makers and quite good players often seem to be looking for rapid and consistent response over any particular tone. Get the response and evenness, then look to tweeking the "tone." I always sound the same, more or less, but some violins with the right setup are very easy. Some are an intense effort. Much of the easy comes from setup.


October 19, 2004 at 06:23 AM · Gabi,

When I choose a violin, I would focus on its tone/sound quality, what it looks like is not important, except there is cracking. The overall 4-strings should sound harmonious, even and within the same or closest range, they should all sound belong to same family. Sometimes, we can hear a violin¡¦s G-string or E-sting sounds not so compatible with the other three strings, and it seems there is a string falls into a different tone category, or coming from a different violin. I like a sweet, warm and clear E-string and a round, mellow and vigorous G-string. When you play on the G-string, you can constantly increase the bow pressure, it would sound more resounding, forceful, energetic without changing its tonal quality. The more resonant or higher resonance capabilities, the better the violin is.

For the top-plate (front-plate / belly), its wooden marks should be straight (perpendicular), thin and clear. The distance between each mark should be ranged about 1mm, the closest at the middle then spread more distant towards both sides. The wooden marks are important because they are functional to the delivery of sound from the strings to the sound box. For the back-plate, either two wooden boards or one whole board is all right; usually we find two wooden boards. With wider and clearer crossing marks, the better it is. The older, riper and drier of the wood, the better. Also, you can ¡§lock¡¨ at the near-middle part of backboard (just like locking the door), if it sounds transparent, it is good, also a matter of resonance. Some violins are loud, but you cannot hear far away. Some violins are not so loud, but you can still hear far away, this one is better than the former because it means the latter has stronger sound delivery power. Also, I would find a violin neck fits my hand best. For example, a smaller hand will be more comfortable playing in the higher positions with a thinner violin neck. Play to see if you feel comfortable during string-crossing also, fast, clear without clashing another string.

Try to ask someone who knows about violin to go with you, probably your teacher. Set up your budget then find the best within your limit.

Remember, we can still further improve our violin tone quality by changing the violin bridge, re-positioning the sound post and finding strings that fit the violin best.

Good luck.


October 26, 2004 at 04:27 AM · Choosing a violin is like choosing a wife. Of course, everyone likes to have a very good looking violin but please remember that the violin was designed to produce good music.

If you prefer a good looking violin, take a magnifier and look at the craftsmanship. take a look at the scroll(is it is nicely carved), the holes, and every detail. About the wood, it is nice to have flames at the violin's back and sides and the wood grains of the face should be even(many german and bohemian violins have not even grains). About the varnish, look if it has been changed or not. The best varnish that a violin ever had is its original one(but this rule exempts the cheap fiddles coated with polyurethane).

Most of all, take the liberty of testing its sound. Some violins have a round tone while some have brighter tone. Most Italian and French made violins are good. German made violins and Czech ones are good if you prefer a mellow round tone.

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