best violin one can get for 700 or less

Edited: June 4, 2019, 2:29 AM · hello everyone, i'm in need of some good recommendation for what is the best bang for the buck i can get for under 700, new and used.

i been on and off with a very cheap violin for a number of years now, with combination of school, job, grad school, now i finally have some free time to dedicate myself. however my current violin just lacks projection, and lacking that silvery tone i hear on my tutor's violin.

simply put, besides, or god forbid ebay, is there anywhere i can go besides going to violin shop and get taken advantage of. or is going to violin shops and play what they get me my best bet.

now i know 700 isn't alot for a violin, but unfortunately that is what i can afford right now while paying off that student loan.

this isn't the last violin i'll be getting, but it will be the only violin i'll be getting for a good number of years.

any advice would be greatly appreciated.

Replies (24)

Edited: June 4, 2019, 5:18 AM · If that's all you can spend, I would try craigs list until you find something you like, new violins for $700 aren't going to be very good IMHO Are you in USA??
June 4, 2019, 5:28 AM · NS Design or Yamaha Electric :)
June 4, 2019, 6:57 AM · Check our Kennedy violins. Look on-line then I suggest calling them. I found them to be both very helpful and reputable.

June 4, 2019, 7:31 AM · 1) Not all stores will take advantage of you. True, they might charge more than craigslist or eBay, but that's because they offer more service (like > 1 instrument to try, hopefully setup well with new strings, etc.)

2) You only have $700 TODAY. But be patient. If you're through grad school and have a job, put aside a little each paycheck towards an instrument fund. Then is you find a $1000 instrument six months from now, you can afford it.

3) $700 can buy an okay violin if you're lucky. I'm playing a German workshop violin from 1930. It's not without its issues, but at $650 it was best thing I tried for under $2500 at various visits to two different luthiers.

As for my personal experiences on craigslist, there's this .

June 4, 2019, 7:58 AM · Try to find a shop you like and trust, especially one with a full-value trade-in policy. That means you can have your $700 violin today, but next year you can trade it in and apply the $700 to your next instrument.
June 4, 2019, 9:35 AM · The trade in policy is great, but also for 700$ , rather than buying new, I would also be looking at used instruments with good resale value.

Something like an Eastman VL305 that can be bought for quite cheap, and is fairly recognized. I got one used for 600$ , changed the bridge and tailpiece for a bit more and now it plays wonderfully, and compares quite nicely to certain instruments in the 1000-3000$ range. Of course, every instrument is different even from the same model, but I was able to try mine. The key thing is that I know it has decent resale value if I ever choose to sell it one day.

June 4, 2019, 9:50 AM · You'd be better off buying a Strad, Made in Germany off ebay for $100 and paying $300 to get it set up right.
June 4, 2019, 11:09 AM · You could try an auction but you would need to bring someone very knowledgeable to you to vet your selection(s), or buy privately from a musician.
June 4, 2019, 11:42 AM · Auction is much more risky than Craigs list where you can actually play the violin before purchasing, you're more likely to fall into a repair nightmare with an auction violin that with Craigs list IMHO
June 4, 2019, 1:21 PM · I've been pleasantly surprised by the Carlo Lamberti Sonata (SHAR in-house brand) violin that I impulse bought when it showed up on their clearance page a few months back. They retail new for $550. As has been mentioned above, a shop like SHAR will allow you to trade in an instrument as you want to move up. Many shops have this policy.

The point at which the quality of one's playing is more about the player than the instrument is a topic that has been beaten to death on this forum and elsewhere, but I tend to think that that point comes at a relatively low price point. In other words, a $700 violin (or less) isn't going to hold you back. It really isn't.

Edited: June 4, 2019, 2:00 PM · hi Lyndon, yes i'm located in nyc, i been to one shop so far, and tried 3 violins there, all 3 of them offered better playability when i found the notes for couple bach and especially mozart concerto 5 came off alot cleaner and sharper than my current violin, out of 3 of these 1 particularly stood out, however i felt he def marked some of these up when the store owner set the price of all 3 at exactly 650.

i'm a bit wary of going to auction cause i really don't believe i have the expertise and the friends i do have who are violinists, their time is precious (one of them is actually a professional soloist and performed at carnegie hall) so unfortunately i believe this is a solo endeavor.

James Steven, i actually did check out kennedy, their g2 is within my price range and i was inquiring to them about a german trade but unforunately that talk fell through when they discovered that particular violin had a unrepaired crack. but they are definitely on my list.

i have also contacted couple other violin shops and unforunately their starting price is 1500+, the spokeperson at one of them i spoke to recommended i try sam ash.

other than that i learned couple other places who does have it in my price range import the violin from china and set it up professionally,

Edited: June 4, 2019, 1:59 PM · Have you considered the Jay Haide model 101? I think that one retails for $700 and I've heard is a decent workshop instrument for students. Plus they are sold at many dealers, and certainly sold in NYC.

I have not any personal experience with this particular model, but I have played their L'Acienne pattern instruments and they are actually pretty good dollar for dollar.

Additionally, doing it retail at a luthier instead of an auction means any outright problems with the instrument can be fixed with little to no charge at the place you bought it from.

June 4, 2019, 3:19 PM · "out of 3 of these 1 particularly stood out"

so the obvious thing to do is get that one.

June 4, 2019, 3:35 PM · What part of "bring someone with you to vet your selection" did you not understand Lyndon? I was not saying to go to ebay, I said an auction - like Tarisio - where you can in fact go and trial your potential purchase as many times as you like during that auction period. Doesn't matter it if is the fancy auction or the T2 auction, you can make an appointment to trial.

NYC is a great place to look for instruments - there are so so so many around! You might see what David Segal has, he has a trade-in/upgrade option for future purchases. Don't know what he'd have in your pricerange, but it's worth a look. Don't discount those Chinese-and setup by pros- violins.

June 4, 2019, 3:49 PM · I second the Eastman brand -- we've had a lot of good luck with them for my kids. However, I think their tiny violins (1/10, 1/8, 1/4) are far superior to their 1/2 and full sizes. Not sure why.

My younger kid is currently playing on a 1/2 rental that is marked Angel Taylor and made at Century Strings. It's an amazing instrument for the price. They seem to be pretty widely available. The one we have is well used, but I imagine the quality is likely still similar.

June 4, 2019, 10:39 PM · hi pamela, david segal's shop is actually on the list of shops i contacted, and they have nothing in the sub $1k price range, so unless i pony up another 800 bucks up to 1500, david segal is out of my price range.

herman~ i was very tempted, but it was also literally the first shop i went in my life, but looking back i believe i should've at least rent it for 2 months and test it out.

everyone about the eastman, i looked up on some reviews and heard some sound click, maybe the reviewers weren't doing a good job or the setup wasn't right, but it didn't quite have the sound i was looking for, the 650 violin i tested out had a much better impression on me thus far, ofcourse i'm gonna have to test out the eastman 305 on my own, i just need to find a place that have it.

June 4, 2019, 10:47 PM · As far as the Eastmans are concerned, whether they're good or bad sound wise is subjective. To be fair, my friend tried all their violins at NAMM and didn't like most of them, but did find some of the lower end models to be better than the higher end models... But what is definitely true is that the VL305 violins do have decent resale value if you already buy them used.

I know the youtube demo you are talking about. The sound is bad because the microphone settings were set too high so the audio is completely distorted. I don't understand why they wouldn't just remove that video or redo it!

I was able to try mine before buying and I liked it enough for the price that I paid for. Especially after having spent an afternoon trying over two dozen instruments int the 3000-12000$ range.

I stand by what I said, if you can get one for 600-800$, you should have no problem selling it for roughly the same price if ever you want to sell it again.

Anyway, try before you buy is always the way!

June 4, 2019, 11:15 PM · thanks denis! yeah that video was pretty horrid and was very turn off by it.

as long as i can play mozart concerto 5 or any other composition in high octaves without the violin holding me back, i'll be a happy camper.

June 6, 2019, 12:22 PM · For what is worth, I'm playing a Yamaha V5, that is worth around €400, and I'm using a €300-400 bow.

The violin is loud and bright, and the metal strings that come with it are horribly shrill. But by using a better bow (this is essential), changing the strings (I'm currently using Tziganes on it) and playing on it over time, the shrillness has been tamed (although it's still a tad more brighter than what I'd like). The sound is not what I would call "refined", but it definitely has power.

And after hearing my teacher playing it I can also say that, with a proper technique, it has a lively character and sounds way better than other instruments at this price point.

June 6, 2019, 12:35 PM · Interesting to see Eastman recommended - I nearly clicked on an Eastman Master Viola the other day.
June 7, 2019, 12:48 PM · Re:Eastmans. I just picked up a 2003 Andreas Eastman 405 violin from Goodwill for $272, but it was never set up properly and was missing a bridge. It was obvious that it had never been played in properly. I’ve set it up with geared perfection pegs, and matched boxwood fittings to it (sounded better than ebony and rosewood.) I’ve tried several bridges and fit the one that matched the best with a good soundpost positon. That amount of work would have brought me close to $700.
I’ll be playing it in for the next few years and have put a ToneRite on the bridge when I’m not playing (I am now sold on that thing- just makes playing-in easier.
June 7, 2019, 12:49 PM · I think it will be a nice bright modern instrument in a few years.
June 9, 2019, 2:23 PM · The low-cost Lamberti / Haide / Eastman lines are all a good value. And there would be lots of used ones available from former violin students who didn't stick with it.

What you absolutely should do with any instrument is spend the money to have a luthier set it up and outfit with good strings. You may have to pay for a bridge or sound post to be cut -- so maybe you'll spend another $200 for adjustments and strings but I consider that part of the purchase essential.

If you buy good strings, a cheap violin can surprise you. A lot of the reason the student lines sound so tinny is simply that they're outfitted with steel or really bad composite strings and nobody ever bothered to put the bridge in the right place.

If you feel like an adventure, shop on Ebay from Yitamusic Violins, an outlet for several Shanghai workshops. Their mid-grade fiddles can be had for $300 or $400 and they're nicely made with good wood. I bought a fiddle so I'd have a beater violin for outdoor gigs and travel, but after it was set up right, it turned out to be remarkably good, quite comparable to my very expensive American master-made fiddle.

June 9, 2019, 9:11 PM · I agree on having a luthier set it up. The only reason that I have not is because I’m learning how to fit pegs, tune bridges and adjust soundposts (this is about the 20th instrument I’ve worked on) as an amateur enthusiast. I would not venture far beyond that sort of set-up, especially with my good instruments. This is to be my outdoor, extreme midwest cold weather, and pit instrument.

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