What should a nice quarter size violin sound like?

January 25, 2021, 12:41 PM · I feel it’s difficult to find a nice 1/4 violin. Maybe due to the size of the instrument, most of them sound flat and e string can be terrible. It’s also rare to find a 1/4 violin fully handmade by reputable luthier. I understand why most luthiers prefer not to “waste” best material on a fractional size instrument. However I am willing to spend a reasonable amount on this as it will accompany my kid for 2 important years where she learns intermediate skills and have numerous performances on school stage. And I would rather collect it as souvenir than trade in for larger instrument. If you have a kid playing on 1/4 violin, can you share your thoughts and preferably a video clip to demonstrate the sound?

Replies (11)

January 25, 2021, 12:43 PM · We no longer own it, but when my oldest son was that size, I bought a nice quarter sized violin from Robertson. It was not luthier made but it was definitely several steps up from the typical fractional rental.

There are inherent limitations with the sound when you are talking about a smaller fractional.

January 25, 2021, 6:40 PM · I think as long as you find something with some depth and warmth in tone you should be fine. I think most reputable violin shops should have decent instruments that cost a few hundred, but yeah the sound will be limited because it's a fractional.
January 25, 2021, 8:37 PM · For one of our little superstars, I found a superb 1/4 Mittenwald workshop instrument from the early 1900's, quite powerful and complex-sounding for the size. Pair whatever you find with a bow that brings out its best qualities!
January 25, 2021, 9:24 PM · I suppose it depends what you mean by "reasonable amount". You should be able to find a decent amount of inventory in the $1,500 to $2,000 range. These are going to be workshop instruments, but some of them can be fairly decent.

A nice 1/4 is going to have the same characteristics as a nice violin in general, subject to the limitations of the small size. I'd look for responsiveness first and foremost, as that's going to make the biggest difference in technical development. You need good responsiveness across all four strings but at the intermediate level don't need it all the way to the top of the fingerboard.

And the bow is very important.

January 26, 2021, 2:21 AM · Thanks for the sharing of your thoughts and opinions. I have recently got one for my daughter at the price of $1500. It is an old workshop instrument from Germany. It sounds very nice in my opinion compared to most 1/4 violin instruments that I have seen in Shanghai’s local violin shops. I would like to benchmark it with those used by kids overseas just out of curiosity. I just tried YouTube and glad to have quite a lot reviews, comparisons with demonstration.
January 26, 2021, 12:05 PM · I always try to keep nice small instruments around for one teacher in particular. He appreciates them more than most. I've got a couple of quite fine Mittenwalders and a couple of nice Mirecourt fiddles, as well as a really cool small fiddle, American, but wonderful sounding.

I've built 1/2 and 3/4 sized instruments, but not a 1/4. We have a particularly fine 1/2 sized violin made by David VanZandt. Sounds like a full-sized instrument, in the right hands, if you aren't in the same room watching it played.

They are out there.

January 26, 2021, 12:20 PM · I think great fractional size instruments should have an open tone with any strident character in a throughout the registers. Usually the bass isn't a given, so the best scenario is for the treble to have a cleae, round, smooth, and bright tone with some malleable response. I think evah pirazzi and spirits are great for small instruments, 1/4 sizes included. On occassion I'll rent these nice antique small violins to students on a case by caae basis that are offered for sale. Small 20th century JTL french can be set up well, as are 19th c French, and 19th c German workshop fractionals. The secret is in the setup too!
Edited: February 10, 2021, 9:21 PM · Jay Haide (l'ancienne model) from Ifshin violins should be quite reliable and should support intermediate to advance level learning pretty well. I believe they start from 1/4 and up.

It's good to make sure that kids use good violins in their learning journey, since lessons cost quite a bit too.

btw, what is the range of your 'reasonable amount'?

February 11, 2021, 1:46 AM · What's so special about Jay Haide, its just another overpriced mass produced Chinese factory violin!!
February 11, 2021, 11:17 AM · My very first post, and the resident troll strikes! lol
February 11, 2021, 11:20 AM · I would say you are the one trolling

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