If you’re thinking of buying a violin, there’s an extensive list of things to consider in addition to the instrument. Making sure you get the right accessories and that you know how to use each one is incredibly important if you want to play well and enjoy it. When you talk about violin accessories, you’re talking about a bow, the case, the shoulder rest, the chin rest, extra strings and tuners. Make sure that when you pick out your new violin you choose to get any of these as well.
You want to start playing the violin? Well, there are some things you simply have to do before you can play. These first include buying a violin. In this guide, I’d like to share with you some tips and places to purchase one. If this is your first instrument, you probably don’t know yet which aspects you should pay attention to. Here are only a few things to keep in mind, so that when it comes time to choose a violin, you’ll have the best experience possible.
This checklist points you in the right direction if you’re more experienced. If so, you might also be interested in checking out some recommendations on who to buy a violin from both online and offline.
Essential Tips for Buying a Beginner Violin
Buying your first violin is important. It will be your first instrument and you will learn the basics on it, so it has to be helpful with a good sound. The sound of a violin will stay with you forever! These are the basic features that make a violin playable in different learning situations:
1. The Violin
If you’re looking for the perfect starter instrument to learn on, start shopping with a violin. We have an entire guide that goes over exactly how to buy one and all of the accessories that come with it so I won’t go through any more details here than that. Your taste in violins is important, and you need to find a violin that suits your lifestyle. Check out our guide to great violin brands if you’re looking for something stylish and unique.
2. The Bow
Buying the correct violin bow can be a difficult task, and requiring skill. It’s important to find out what the appropriate weight and feel are of your instrument before shopping for bows. Failing to find a bow that fits your needs may cost you money! A violin bow guide that might be useful is our violin buying guide.
Beginner violin outfits typically come with their own bows, but as you get more experienced, make sure to test out your options. Whether you’re a beginner or an advanced player, we recommend trying out a few bows to find the one that works best with your instrument. There is a guide on buying a violin bow on our website. If you’re interested, you can check it out right now!
3. The Case
Violins are such delicate instruments that it’s a good idea to have a case for them. You can typically find violin cases in the form of an oblong case, which fits around a rectangular area meant for instruments and accessories, as well as a fitted shape. Most cases for a violin offer at least one compartment for accessories, 1-2 bow holders, possibly a humidifier, and some pockets for extra music and more. Users are recommended to explore our suggested product options if they want a better or more sturdy case.
4. The Shoulder Rest
It’s debated whether or not violinists should use a shoulder rest because the debate went as far back as the creation of violas. Professional musicians only use them because they believe it can affect the sound, while amateurs may not want to chance it. Shoulder rests can provide relief by making playing violin easier on the shoulders. They attach to a thicker part of the violin and let it rest securely when it is held in place by your right arm.
Shoulder rests are typically constructed of a plastic or wooden cushion, plus adjustable rubber feet that attach it to the violin. A few shoulder muscles strains and injuries happen when your violin hits the hard ground or corner; luckily some come with an elastic strap so it doesn’t hurt too much. We recommend reading our guide on the best violin shoulder rests to find out what’s right for you.
Rosin helps with string vibration. When it’s not enough, the violin bow will slip and make sounds against the strings, but if there is enough in there it makes a nice noise. We offer 2 main types of rosin. Amber rosin gives a softer tone and is better suited to cooler, dry climates. Dark rosin is commonly used by cellists who need a darker-toned rosin in order to make the instrument sing. Lighter rosins such as amber are often harder and denser than dark rosins. Being in good condition means they’re tough on the string and provide a good sound.
Some rosins have precious metals inside; gold rosin is said to produce a warm, clear tone and is appropriate for all instruments. Silver rosin creates a concentrated, bright tone and is especially good for performance in higher positions. It’s best used on the violin or viola.
Choosing between boxed or caked rosin is an important decision to make when buying rosin. Most beginners use boxed rosin because it’s included with many beginners kits and other outfits. It can be used on any instrument in the warmer seasons, but you’re out of luck if you’re playing a different one during the colder ones. Caked rosin is used by professional musicians trying to make a better sound.
6. Finger Guide
If you’re a new violin student and don’t know where it’s located, then fingerboard decals are a great option! They’re like stickers that tell you where certain notes are on the board, making it easier for yourself.
Masks are used by the pros and typically come in with a few different types: metal, rubber, wooden, plastic. They’re also typically fairly cheap — most will set you back $5 or less on Amazon. Some more expensive ones can be as much as $50 but are still fairly easy to find and purchase online. Always bring a backup violin with you wherever you go.
8. Extra Strings
We can all imagine the situation where a violin string snaps at an inopportune time. The last thing you want is to be stuck without a spare set of strings when you need them most! Thomastik Dominant violin strings are recommended, but you may want to try out several sets before deciding which one is the right one for you.
9. Peg Dope and Drops
Some people like to use Peg Spin to help with turning difficult-to-turn pegs. It makes a squeaky peg easier to turn and it also helps prevent slipping pegs from moving around too much.
Determine the Right Violin Size for You
“Getting a good quality instrument is one thing,” one musician explains. “The other is the size of the violin that you need.” Violins come in a variety of sizes and the size you need will depend on how your body is changing as you age. When buying a violin, it’s always best to go by the size. A full size one will generally suit most adults and teenagers. With this test, you can make sure the violin that you’re getting is appropriate and affordable for your needs.
Put the violin on your shoulder (much as you would when you’re in a playing position) and extend your left arm. If your fingers can’t cover the scroll of the violin, try a smaller one. It’s always best to think about your own growth rate as well as how old the device you’re using is. For example, if you’re growing very fast and would be able to scroll without any effort, it’s probably time for you or your parent to purchase a new smartphone. Maybe it’s best to not get a smaller size because you’ll end up shopping more, and wasting more time in the process.
A Violin for Your Budget
How much money is your budget? Do you want to spend a bit and buy it from somewhere and see if you’ll like it or do you want to find a better quality violin to last longer? It’s important to answer such questions and set a budget for your purchase. Check out these tips for planning your purchase.
1. “You get what you pay for”
This is true, for the most part, especially when price points are widely different. Avoid expecting a $50 violin to have the quality of one worth three times as much. If you are just starting your violin journey and have to choose the first instrument, it doesn’t really have to be very expensive. But if you’re willing to invest a better price for your first violin, you will get a better one when the price is higher.
2. Minimum price: $100
There are many cheap violins out there but it has been found that they will also have a weak sound. Spend the money on a better instrument and you will love the sound.
3. Target price: about $500
Buy a cheaper tuner. When you’re still inexperienced, you won’t be able to tell the difference in quality between this level and more expensive ones. Spending extra money up front will not help you out in the beginning so buy a cheaper version.
As you get more quality instruments at the start, they can be sold later for a higher price. You’ll need to replace your instrument less often and won’t end up having to sell it as quickly as you might without one. This is especially true in -second-hand goods where violins retain their value.
Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for Advice
It’s always worthwhile to ask teachers or professionals for advice. Even if it means paying for the teacher’s time, take them with you to buy musical instruments in a music shop. They will be able to save you from buying an instrument that is difficult to play or of low quality.
Violin retailers are known for having exceptional customer service, so you might not have to worry about being sold to. Not only that, they may also be able to play the instrument you’re looking at in a store which could be a big help in your purchase decision.
Best practices recommend that if you’re looking for information or advice on buying an instrument, seek out your teacher or another violin professional. They should be able to guide you through the process and give you valuable insights.
Don’t worry if you don’t have a lot of time to work on your project. You can still learn everything you need to know online! In fact, this is the reason that we made this article!
Renting a Violin vs. Buying a Violin
Renting a violin another option you have instead of buying it right away – some retailers or even violin teachers offer this option. While there are more pros than cons, the disadvantages are somewhat important. Here’s what both sides look like:
Advantages of renting a violin
1. Small expenditure at the beginning
As you might start with, Rent to Own programs can be a great option for those who may be on a budget or not want to spend an immediate sum of money.
2. You can just try and see how playing a violin feels
You might not be sure about your choice to start playing the violin, and you want to test the waters with this. It’s a good idea to buy it outright instead of relying on financing or renting it.
3. No need to search for the right instrument
You can also elect for a “rental-only” option where you only choose instruments that are for rent which gives you the liberty to make an informed decision.
4. No need to buy a new instrument when a child is growing
Buying an instrument each time a different size is needed might be quite expensive. Renting a violin is always an affordable option when your child needs a 1/2 sized or smaller instrument.
Disadvantages of renting a violin
1. Unknown condition of the instrument
Rentals are not always reliable. Even if they look perfect, you have no idea how the previous owner treated them or the damage they might have accrued in their time.
2. You can’t keep the instrument (unless it’s “rent to buy”)
Eventually, an emotional attachment will happen to you with your instrument which is good for morale but always be careful to return it one day.
3. The expenditures accumulate
You could take the long route to owning a quality violin without actually buying one.
Where to Buy a Violin
I recommend trying to find a violin shop or music store that will build trust with you in the future. They should offer free string and bow fitting and offer better quality musical instruments. Buying online is a popular option these days as it becomes harder to find retailers who sell instruments close to you. Try doing some research beforehand so that you can find the shop with the best reviews.
Where to Buy a Violin in Person
It can be been hard to find a violin in person, but there are a few options. Which one will be best for you?
1. Go to a music shop/luthier’s shop
Buying an instrument from a store without checking it first is always bad advice. Even if you are happy with your purchase, you should still ask the staff to recommend other instruments within your budget that can give you exactly what you’re looking for. You may have your teacher come over to help you make better choices while you’re trying new things.
Buying at a violin shop may help you find your next best instrument by purchasing from someone who is willing to part with theirs. You may also run into some quality second-hand or antique violins.
You can find quality handmade violins for less than 1000 euros in Europe including Eastern. You’ll have to look at a lot of different continents to find comparable value. In general, you can find many violins shops in Europe that sell an antique instrument for a reasonable price.
If you fancy a violin, maybe you can consider visiting a European country for your vacation? I recommend checking out Poland, the Czech Republic, or Romania to find the best-sounding violin. You know how they say “Everything we do began in Cremona” – so check that out too!
2. Online second-hand websites
When you find an interesting offer, the best approach is to meet with the seller. This can help ensure that you’re buying a great instrument at a great price and includes all of the necessary original parts in addition to it’s warranty.
Here are some platforms that you might want to try:
eBay Kleinanzeigen (Germany)
I bought a viola and 7 violin secondhand. I primarily play a violin so I decided to get this one as well.
3. Put a notice up in a music school
If you’re looking for a good deal on a violin, you might be interested in buying one from an amateur musician. These instruments are also reasonably priced. If the seller does not include a bow and case, they may be willing to toss one of those in as well!
Where to Buy a Violin Online
Online platforms are great for finding a quality violin. You can shop for a good deal and find what you’re looking for with ease. Most reliable Internet stores have been created to allow people to buy merchandise without worrying about getting lost in the process. Here are some of them:
This is a website that I would recommend if you plan to spend more than $1000. They sell quality merchandise including violins, and I have bought two from them and am very happy with the results.
Every musician knows Thomann! They make great products, ship worldwide, and provide amazing customer service. Comparing prices can be your best friend because you’ll save a ton of time on your shopping.
US-based online store Fiddlershop has a wide range of instruments and accessories and is great to use. It also supports players’ needs by providing categories for different levels, as well as videos that show how the items they sell work.
If you’re shopping for musical instruments on Amazon, it’s a good idea to check the products’ FSC or PEFC certification. Amazon is reliable and will offer a wide variety of options, so make sure to compare prices before buying.
This Canadian shop is really eco-friendly! They only use materials sourced from renewable sources.
6. Buy from the manufacturer online
Shopping directly from the manufacturer is always desirable. Many brands do not have an online store but they can list their “partners” in order to help you find one that’s local.
You can always try buying from smaller businesses such as Gliga Violins (available at violinslover.com and violinslover.ca ). However, beginners should only use these tools when they are confident that they can tell right away if a tool is better for them.
Tip: When you know which violin you’d like to buy, eBay is a good place to go for comparison pricing. Maybe you can get it cheaper and compare prices.
Buying your first violin is an experience unlike any other. Hopefully, these tips will help you in your endeavor. Make sure you download the [PDF] when you go to a music shop to remember all the things you need to go over before buying a violin. Always remember, your instrument is your best friend during the process of becoming a better musician. Pick out the one that’s within budget and designed for you and get started!
FAQ for Buying a Violin Checklist
How do I pick the right violin?
You should pick the violin by checking a number of indicators: it should be free from plastic parts, the pegs and tuners should turn with ease, and it should be made of solid wood. Check the strings to see if you can move from one to another easily. Check whether the strings have even spacing.
The next step is to get a feel for the size of the violin and if you like the sound. Sometimes there are things in music that don’t make sense — changes in sounds, colors, etc. But those don’t actually dictate if it’s a good piece of music or not.
How much should you spend on a beginner violin?
You should spend at least $100/€100 on a beginner violin. You should never settle for anything less than the best of the best when it comes to furnishings. Anything that is less than $100 will not be of good quality, or plastic-based. The target price for the first violin should be around $500. If this is your first violin, you don’t have to worry about going out and buying the most expensive one.
How do you pick a violin size?
You can pick the violin size by getting your arm length in two different ways: holding the violin like you would while playing, and putting your fingers over the scroll. You should pick a 4/4 (full size) violin unless you’re an adult or maybe you’re a teenager, in which case you would need to pick a 3/4 (half size).
Should I rent a violin?
Renting a violin is an option if you’ve never really considered playing the instrument, or if there’s a short time frame for how long you can commit to it. Some stores have rent-to-buy contracts which give you more peace of mind during this time, too. You’ll need to factor in the cost of renting an instrument but you can sometimes be in for cheaper prices if it’s a used one. A brand-new instrument will always provide you with high quality readings.