Has one of your children recently started music lessons? Maybe you have decided it’s time to live your dream and finally learn how to play the violin.
Whatever the reason you may be concerned about the price of a new instrument. It’s true. A high-quality instrument is going to cost you. Right out of the gate, the beginning student doesn’t need a top of the line instrument. Invest in a good student violin before worrying about purchasing a concert-quality instrument.
They may look tempting but stay away from the ultra-cheap instruments that you may see available online. When it comes to musical instruments you definitely get what you pay for, and a $20.00 violin, will have a poor sound quality and is not a good instrument to learn on. A reasonable price for a new beginner’s violin starts at around $175.00.
You may not be looking for a student violin. Perhaps you are an advanced player or a professional, and you want a second instrument. Or you have experience but haven’t played for years and want a new instrument.
A decent violin is not going to be cheap. Even used violins can cost in the thousands of dollars. Musical instruments do not depreciate in value like electronics and other items. An electric violin can have new parts added and be as good as new.
Some instruments can even be worth more as they age (Stradivarius, and Ruggieri’s spring to mind). There are many antique instruments for sale that are extremely expensive even though they are technically “used”.
Most violin makers will never be on the level of Stradivari and Ruggieri, however. Used violins can be less expensive than new ones by several hundred dollars. Used instruments have also been broken in already, so they often have a richer sound, and can feel more “playable”. All violins have their own distinctive sound, and in the end, it’s down to personal preference what you prefer.
Not sure where to start your search for a new violin? This guide will help you learn what to look for and help you find where to begin your search.
Table of Contents
Which Brands To Look For
If you are a novice violinist or purchasing for a novice violinist, you may be confused about how to know how to pick the right violin. There are several very affordable brands that are perfect for the novice or intermediate player.
These brands are not only affordable, but they are also easy to find used, which can save you even more. There are 10 brands that stand out when looking for a beginner violin.
Ideally, you want to be able to play an instrument before deciding to purchase. However, sometimes that isn’t possible. All these instruments are available online as well as in stores, and several, Stentor, in particular, are known for producing quality instruments for an affordable price.
When looking for an instrument, all these instruments are some of the best, do not be afraid to purchase a violin of a different brand if it feels right to you.
Before You Start Shopping
Before you start shopping for that violin there are a few things to be aware of. Violins are not all the same size. They come in sizes from 1/16 to 4/4 (full-sized).
Since many people start playing from a young age, this is meant to accommodate the varying age ranges and sizes of children who play the violin. There are size charts available to help you determine which size is right for you or your child. Some older children can handle playing a full size 4/4 violin, while a small adult may need a ⅞ size.
Where to Buy a Used Violin Online
It can be difficult to find a used violin if there are no music stores that cater to string players in your area. Fortunately, the internet makes purchases like these easier by allowing you to find retailers in other states that ship nationwide.
These listings vary from classified ad type postings from individual sellers on platforms devoted to musicians, to independently owned small businesses. Their shipping methods and costs will vary, as will the amount of shipping time.
Reverb is an e-commerce site for buying and selling musical instruments. Along with their new instruments, they have a large selection of used instruments to choose from.
These are posted by individual sellers, and many are open to offers and do not have a fixed price. You can find everything from lightly used student instruments, to antique instruments that could use some refurbishing.
Offerup is an internet marketplace that helps you find items locally. They have a little bit of everything, including used violins.
It is made up of individual sellers, and some may ask for a local pick up, while others may ship. Many sellers will allow you to make an offer rather than remaining firm on their listed price.
Guitar Center carries more than just guitars. You can also find used violins in their inventory.
Since their inventory depends on what people trade in the stock is limited. You can, however, have instruments shipped to you. You can also have them shipped to a Guitar Center near you.
Fiddlershop is a family-owned business that specializes in stringed instruments. They have new and used instruments of all calibers. They pride themselves on providing quality instruments at a wide variety of price points.
Sam Ash Used Gear
Used instruments abound on Sam Ash Used Gear. On this website, you can get an excellent deal on a used violin. Like other used instrument sales sites, their stock is dependent on what people have brought in to trade.
The instruments are sold directly by Sam Ash and not by an independent seller, so you may not be able to negotiate a deal. This advantage of this is that the prices may actually be lower than you might be able to get from an individual.
The Magic Flute
The Magic Flute is a small independently owned music shop. Along with rental instruments and repairs, they also have used violins for sale.
They offer free shipping for orders over $299, and they have staff knowledgeable in music and instruments who can answer any questions you may have. They do ship outside of their area and can be reached by telephone for questions.
The Bluegrass Shack
This small independent instrument shop specializes in acoustic instruments. They have a range of used and vintage violins for sale.
They will not ship their violins to a P.O box, so you must provide a street address when submitting your order. This shop is unique to the rest on the list in that each instrument listed also has a sound clip included so you can hear the violin before you make your purchase.
This family-owned retailer specializes in violins. They offer used stock along with new, and they offer financing along with home trials.
Since they are experts they can answer any questions you have prior to your purchase. They ship their violins nationwide.
StringWorks specializes in stringed instruments, and their employees are all experienced string players. They offer used violins, along with used violas, and cellos. If you sign up for their newsletter you will receive access to listed instruments that they do not advertise on the website. All prices listed are final.
You can find just about anything on eBay. That includes used violins. While you may be able to get a good deal, one of the disadvantages of ordering from eBay is that you will not have access to an expert if you have any questions about your instrument.
What To Look For In the Listing
When looking for your used violin keep your eyes open when reading the listing. Not all violins will include a case and a bow.
Many of the higher-end sellers that also offer rentals and lessons frequently include them, but many of the smaller shops sell only what came with that instrument when it was brought to them. If it does not include a case or a bow these are things that can be easily obtained, either through the retailer or through a site like Amazon.
Read the description carefully to find out what kind of condition the violin is in. Most shops will say they sell instruments in playable condition. Playable does not always mean good condition.
The description should include any dings, scratches or cracks. Some things such as fingerboards and bridges can be replaced, as can tuning pegs. However, refurbishing an instrument can end up costing more than a new violin would have cost. This can be worthwhile depending on the violin, but is not worthwhile for a novice musician.
You will need more than a bow and strings for your violin. There are other essentials that you will need, that you can purchase from the same store where you purchased your violin. Strings are included in this list since there’s more to strings than you would expect.
Depending on the brand it will come in a round cake or a square box. It is necessary for allowing the bow to grip the strings to produce a sound. Rosin comes in light, dark, and even green and runs from around $5.00 to $15.00
They may seem unnecessary, but when it comes to keeping your neck comfortable when playing a shoulder rest is essential. It elevates the violin so your head is not held at an awkward and uncomfortable angle. They can run anywhere from $10.00 to $50.00.
Strings have a huge effect on the sound produced, and some instruments sound better with different types of strings. There are many factors that come into play when selecting strings, personal preference being one of them. If you purchase your violin from a shop with experienced violinists, ask them which strings they would recommend for your instrument.
If your violin does not come with a case, or if it comes with an old case, you will need one as soon as possible to protect your new instruments. Cases can come with multiple compartments, hard or soft sides, and some high-end cases even have humidifiers. If you are just starting out, look for a case that holds your violin securely, has room for your bow, rosin, and chin rest, and that will protect it from any impact.
If the bow that came with your violin is in poor condition, the frog (the bottom-most part) is covered in black rosin buildup, and hair is falling out, or you purchased a bowless violin, you have several choices. You can purchase fiberglass or carbon fiber bows, or a wooden bow. Each has its advantages and disadvantages, and both can be found for a reasonable price.
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