At a Glance:
- Cremona's top selling novice violin for more than 10 years; check out the new video
- Every Cremona student violin comes with US-made Prelude strings; the educator's preferred strings for students
- Properly fitted Swiss-style ebony pegs and quality lightweight composite tailpiece with 4 smooth fine tuners for easy tuning
- Low profile Kaufman-style chinrest; oiled neck for better feel and well balanced bow for ease of playing
- Correct string height and string spacing for accurate finger positioning and intonation
When considering what violin to buy for a beginner, there is a lot at stake. Invest too much and it is overkill, especially if your 4-year-old prodigy turns out to be a painter instead. Invest too little and it can frustrate everyone: won’t hold a tune, sounds tinny, and is generally toy-like.
One very good option in terms of price and value is the Cremona SV-130 Premier Novice Violin Outfit. Manufactured by Saga, the company has a good rep for quality violins aimed at the student market. Saga’s Cremona SV-130 is part of a series developed to walk that fine line between the best quality possible at a sensible price.
So, how did Saga do with the Cremona SV-130?
Highlights of the Cremona SV-130 Premier Novice Violin
Saga says this Cremona model has been its top-seller for a decade. That says something.
The product comes outfitted with American-made strings, ebony pegs, plus a lightweight tailpiece made from a composite that features 4 fine tuners. It has the Kaufman-style chinrest, which is low in profile. The neck is oiled to improve the feel and the bow is relatively well-balanced for the money. A balanced bow is important for new violin players to govern how to engage and sustain notes, so they sound more and more pleasing as they master fingering. Mastering the movement of the bow, evenly and smoothly, is another critical step in the learning process.
Delightfully, Saga has managed to incorporate an ebony fingerboard. Others often substitute other less costly tone woods like maple. So, this is a nice touch to invest in probably the most important portion of the instrument.
The body is spruce and maple, hand-carved. The construction is lightweight, which speaks to good workmanship, not cheapness.
- All-in-one outfit with violin, rest, bow, rosin, and case
- Ebony fret board
- Quality strings for a starter instrument
- Finish-work shows some lack of attention—e.g., glue globs that are just painted over
- Tuning pegs need to be set up from the ground up with rosin, does not come ready to play
- Bridge composite is soft and strings groove into it over time
- Bridge sets middle strings a bit too high in terms of action, so you may need to file those grooves or replace the bridge
If you are buying online or at a music store, please get a chromatic tuner. Ask the clerk to walk you through how to use one on a violin. Write down what note per string should set using the tuner. Tuning is the biggest problem for beginners. The initial joys of just making sound with the instrument go away, and as they begin caring about little melodies, the player may get frustrated.
Fit and Finish: Cremona SV-130
Saga states that it carves each instrument one at a time—truly doing the work of a luthier. Finishes include brown or red. These are relatively well-executed, making the Cremona appear like more costly violins. Some models in the series offer sparkle-finishes for the more adventurous.
We noted earlier the use of ebony for the pegs and fingerboard. These are important distinctions for the Cremona, relative to other entry-level products. If the player has the experience or maturity, try to go to a dealer and try this one versus one with another tone wood fretboard. See if it matters to the player.
The Anton Breton bow is balanced, although some online reviewers claim otherwise. Hard to know if those were exceptions; certainly, one would expect if you found a defect, the seller or the manufacturer would address it for you.
The painted violins in the series come with a case that matches the color and the bow. So, if that little someone is flashy, why not let it all hang out?
Compare these violin models:
The Cremona SV-130 is reasonably resonant, producing a very satisfying tone. This instrument surpasses expectations for a beginner-level product.
The quality of the bow and the plush-lined case, while not as important as the use of ebony in the Cremona, are icing on the cake.