Best 3/4 Violins for Adults (and cases for them)
My apologies for being a bit wordy…
I’m an adult student doing some research to prepare for a hopeful upgrade to my violin this holiday season, and a case more urgently.
I currently have 3/4 violin I picked up used from a local music shop, and while I am an adult, I am extremely petite and my instructor believes this is still the correct size for me and I will injure myself if I try to move up to a 4/4, so I’m looking to stay with a 3/4 but I want a good quality one that I can expect at least a few years out of before I’m longing for more. I would prefer to stay under or as close to the $1,000 mark as possible. Ideally, I would like a combination of the best instrument and value. (If a $1200 one is 1,000x better than a certain $900 one, I’d be more interested in the $1200 one - my budget isn’t firm here.)
Second, I’m looking for a better 3/4 violin case. I’m not fully happy with the one I have - it’s a hard case with no storage for a shoulder rest or music, although it does have a single shoulder strap and a pocket for rosin, although I don’t like that the rosin pocket is underneath the violin neck so you have to lift the violin to get to your rosin… that drives me a little bit nuts because I like to prepare my bow prior to removing my violin from the case, but I’m nitpicking there!
I would like something protective and with extra storage for my shoulder rest, snark, and lesson book/music, so I don’t need a second bag. A backpack strap option would be nice, and I would prioritize protectiveness over weight; I don’t mind if it’s not the lightest. I want it to survive trips to lessons, and potential knocks and drops from kids and dogs.
Thank you all so much!!!
Amanda, what is it that your current violin cannot do that you want your new violin to be able to do?
@Amanda, for violin, have your tried a 7/8 sized violin?
I second the suggestion for a 7/8 violin.
I "third" the suggestion for a 7/8 size. The scale is shorter but the body is almost the same size as 4/4. However, the 7/8 is larger than a 3/4. I suggest trying 7/8 though to see how it feels.
I also suggest a 7/8 size, especially if the problem is that your hand is small. If you do decide to get a 3/4, you might consider the Bobelock oblong case. My kids had one when they were younger and I believe it has the features you described.
My daughter is 4’ 10”, and uses a full size violin. Was maybe an inch shorter when she started with it. You may want to at least try some out before ruling them out as a possibility.
For $198, this case is hard to beat. My wife and I own two of them and used them for most gigs owing to their small size and light weight, and prior to the pandemic it is case I used as a carry-on for flights. The adjustable neck block lets it hold everything from a 3/4 up to a large 4/4:
The one I have currently is a Glaesel made in Romania that began it’s life as a school orchestra rental, so it has fair wear for its over 30 year life.
I understand where your teacher is coming from. I think hand size is more important when it comes to sizing, even more so than arm length. My brother, who has fat fingers and wide palms, sized up earlier than me for that reason. That's also a major reason why some really petite people have absolutely no issue with a full size violin while others can't use one at all.
I agree that hand size is much more important than arm length. I pass the arm length test even with big violas but a 14" viola is a stretch and a 7/8 violin is just right.
Haha, don’t make me talk about my tiny hands!
Yeah I totally get it. What made me realize that there are women with extremely small hands out there was comparing my hands to a distant (non musician) friend of mine ages ago. My hands are already small (my maximum reach on a piano is an octave and even that was a stretch for years until I grew to about full size), and her hands were significantly smaller than mine. She is probably around 5' tall or something like that. If you have hands as tiny as hers, then there's no way you're going to play a full size violin comfortably. On the other hand I have another friend who's like 4,8" and her hands are only slightly smaller than mine.
Amanda, Now I see!
Amanda, I would try to find local shops that offer excellent set-up.
Hahaha! I don’t even come close to reaching across an octave on a piano!
I think this raises a really good question, when your technique on a correctly-sized instrument far outstrips the sound it can produce, at what point do you adapt? There was a fellow in my daughter's orchestra last year who was good enough to win a regional concerto competition, but is under 4 feet and as tall as he will get, but is playing a half-size violin. It makes me think about your question.
My remembered experience with sub-scale violins is quite limited, however I did have a few students approx 20 years ago who rented small-size Jay-Haide violins from Ifshin Violins (when they were still in Berkeley).
That is indeed the caution I’ve read from violin teachers in my research, particularly directed at adult students researching a violin purchase, don’t waste money on a violin your skill will quickly outgrow. Something better will only be easier to play grow on.
Jay-Haide is sold by other violin shops. If your shop doesn't carry it, you can always go online and arrange an in-home trial.
I have a 3/4 Scott Cao Model 750 for sale. I'll be happy to demonstrate it for you over Zoom or Skype.
I was looking at Scott Cao violins, as I read they tend to have nice dark tones and come in 3/4 sizes. What are all your thoughts on them? I imagine there is quite a difference between the workshop and factory violins, and I did not see anything on whether 3/4 are all factory or some come out of a workshop.
Glad to hear that you have a bow that's working for you rather than against you.
The violin I am offering has a normal kind of violin tone. It's not especially dark or bright. There isn't really anything super special about it, but it's a decent 3/4 violin. I might even have an extra set of strings for it (they'd be Vision Solo or Evah Pirazzi probably). It will come with a case and a bow as a complete kit. The bow is a little weird -- the stick has to be tightened until the bow is almost straight. It's actually a really good-playing and good-sounding bow, but the problem is that people like violin teachers, fellow students, etc., will inevitably and relentlessly insist that your bow is too tight when actually it's just fine. It just has a slightly weak stick.
I like the Yamaha v5, and v7 models and would imagine the v10 is even better. They carry fractional sizes and have a very nice, sturdy case (my favorite student case by far).
Both Scott Cao and Jay Haide are Chinese workshop (factory) violins.
Paul wrote: "Kiki the reason everyone is buying a violin is because there aren't any cars to buy."
I also think people buy fractionals because they have siblings that play violin so they can pass their fractionals onto their younger siblings once they're done.
Lyndon is right -- I fully expect that the Scott Cao violin that I'm offering for sale was made in a factory. Probably mostly by hand, but possibly by 20+ different people.
The best video describing a Chinese workshop ("factory" in the words of the narrator) that I have seen is this one by Stentor:
"Factory" is Latin: "workshop" is Anglo-Saxon: "Werkstatt" is German.