Intermediate Violin Recommendations

June 22, 2023, 10:13 AM · Greetings,
I am new to this information forum. I am currently returning to violin play after a 40 year hiatus. I know, so long ago…I am looking for a violin for intermediate player as I was just on the verge of intermediate/advanced when I ceased to play. I’ve been looking online and have had some recommendations on factory violins specifically Krutz 400 series and Germantown Maestro. Does anyone have any recommendation or information regarding the afore-referenced factory violins? I’m not committed to factory models, but I do have a spending limit of $2,000-$2,800. Thanks in advance for your input.

Replies (16)

Edited: June 23, 2023, 10:25 PM · Since violins are made of "natural" materials, which vary, no brand name can guarantee consistency of sound or playability. The choice of strings also affects these qualities.

Some brands in your price range have achieved good reputations The Jay-Haide à l'ancienne brand is one of these, but even these have the limitations of my previous paragraph - as do even instruments made by the world's greatest makers of all time!

I have owned a Jay-Haide å l'ancienne cello for 18 years. I have played some of their violins and violas in the shop. I have a violinist/violist friend who plays one of those violins (often) as a "ringer" in San Francisco Bay Area ensemble concerts.

I recommend contacting to get their latest prices and advice. They used to post prices (which were very stable before the COVID pandemic) on their website but no longer seem to do that. Also, they have introduced a number of new models that it would be worth talking to them about. Given a choice, I would select an instrument made of European woods, even if it stretched your budget a bit. ("Jay-Haide" is a combination of the names of the owner and the lead luthier of Ifshin Violins, Jay Ifshin and Haide Lin.)

Edited: June 22, 2023, 11:44 AM · IMO nothing beats going to your nearest trusted dealer (trusted - find out who your local pros go to) and spending hours testing them. At that price level you will find one that sounds great to your ear and that is easy to play. This is WAY better than leaving it to the random instrument a business will send you - it is also most likely that they have already filtered out the gems from the batch for preferential sale.

And please don't rule out an older instrument....

Edited: June 22, 2023, 11:50 AM · i find affordably priced antiques to be the best option in this price range, names or labels are not important to the sound so try a store that has more than several models to choose from. I have not been impressed by the Jay Haide violins. They are mass produced Chinese factory instruments
June 22, 2023, 11:59 AM · Go to a violin shop (a shop dedicated to strings, not a general music store!) and try out as many violins as you can. I'd recommend widening your price range slightly, both up and down, so you get a good feel for the range of variability.

Try out both new violins and antiques. There's no premium for a violin being either new or old, although antiques in poor condition will sell for less than antiques in good condition.

June 22, 2023, 1:10 PM · Thanks for the collective input and keep it coming. I did go to a shop dedicated to string instruments and tried a few. The factory recommendations referenced in my post were made by them. The violin I owned before I went silent was an Anton Schroetter made in the 1950’s. It had a deep, creamy rich sound.
June 22, 2023, 1:47 PM · Look at Royce Burt. He has a YouTube channel where he shows you mostly old German violins that he has revoiced and put in new bass bars of his own design. I bought one in the last year and paid below your budget. He’s easy to talk to. Tell him and your looking for and he will honestly tell you if he can help you
Edited: June 22, 2023, 1:56 PM · Yes, good advice all around (especially the part not to take anything literally). The right fiddle for $2,000 will change a lot depending on the shop you are in. And if you are advancing, don't forget the possibility of finding a good bow, even if that means cutting the violin budget a bit. The net result might be better, and you will need good feedback on your right arm technique.
June 22, 2023, 2:51 PM · If you have $2500 to spend on a violin, then in reality you have $1500 to 1900 because you need a bow ($350 to 500 for a decent carbon-fiber bow such as Cadenza) and you need a case (I recommend the "Embassy Courier" from Shar as an outstanding value at $160), and then you'll need new strings ($80 to 120), a cake of rosin, a music stand, probably a shoulder rest, and possibly a different chin rest.

Yes, Lyndon is right that you can get a good-sounding antique at the $2000 price point. But I disagree with him about Jay Haide violins. I think you get a lot of violin for your money with those. They are not always set up too well, so once you have selected the model you want, you'll need to have some adjustments -- sound post, bridge, etc.

Unfortunately, playing the violin is an expensive hobby.

Edited: June 23, 2023, 6:38 AM · Anyone familiar with the Otto Ernst Fischer® Bianca Violin? By the way this violin was also recommended. I plan on shopping in person and playing all I can of course but feedback on some of these would be helpful. Thanks!
Edited: June 23, 2023, 7:23 AM · Many of my colleagues who carry "commercial" instruments highly recommend the Jay Haide violins. These are sold to them without the a final "setup", so the quality of the setup on these violins will vary widely, depending on the shop you purchase them from. Typically, a shop which also sells high-end instruments, and with people who also have high-level formal training, will have vastly better setups, and that can make a huge difference in how satisfactory an instrument is.
June 23, 2023, 9:41 PM · Also, from what I understand, the Jay Haides come from a factory but not an assembly line. So there may be some that are intrinsically better just because they came from the right guy’s bench. All the more reason to look around with some care.
June 23, 2023, 11:02 PM · At a high end shop, the top people are working on the high end violins, not setting up Jay Haides, that would be reserved for entry level employees
Edited: June 24, 2023, 8:06 AM · Lyndon, most high-end shops require a certain quality of work, even from new hires.
If the work isn't at a certain level, either they don't get hired, or they are started out on the "rental fleet".
June 24, 2023, 2:05 PM · My viola is from my luthier's own workshop, but he does sell Jay Haide instruments. He is not going to damage his reputation with sloppy setups!
June 24, 2023, 4:32 PM · In addition to the above, some Scott Cao 750 and above instruments fit in this price range and can be excellent. There is a lot of individual variation in all violins, and shop setup matters. Keep looking, and if you have a teacher or friend who has more or more recent experience, bring them.
Edited: June 27, 2023, 11:05 AM · I have a Scott Cao 750 to sell -- however it is a 3/4 instrument so it will not be suitable for the OP.

@Stephen if what you say is true -- that Jay Haide violins are bench-made by individuals -- this would be quite a departure from the way Chinese violins are typically made, and it would drive up their costs significantly. Labor is not free, even in China. This old video (link below) makes a quite compelling argument for the intrinsic efficiency of specialization and the variation in techniques depending on the "grade" of the instrument that is being made. I've watched this several times. The skill and speed of the workers are quite impressive.

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