Violin Brands to Avoid
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Violin Brands to Avoid

Should you just take a chance on a cheap violin, or should you avoid them altogether and spend the extra money on good violin brands?

Thinking of Buying a Cheap Violin?

When you are just starting out on the violin, it may seem like a bit of an expensive hobby to start. It is understandable not wanting to spend large sums of money initially but are there violin brands to avoid?

Can you take a chance on a cheap violin, or should you just spend the extra money on good violin brands? Many a beginner, or parent of a beginner, has asked themselves, “What violin brands should I avoid?” and it is a fair question.

The truth is that you do not have to spend a fortune getting the best of the best, but going for the cheapest brand is also not necessarily a good idea either. A badly-made violin will never sound quite right, and this makes it a lot harder to master the skill.

Students might give up, thinking that they are no good when, in reality, it is actually the instrument that is letting them down.

In this post, we will look at what kind of violin brands to stay away from and the best violin brands for beginners.

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Warning Signs of Violin Brands to Avoid

Unfortunately, the price is not always going to be a good indicator. You can get some options priced quite reasonably at around $400 or sometimes less that actually perform pretty well.

Here are some things that might indicate that you need to look elsewhere:

  • The tailpiece, fingerboard, and pegs are plastic: These being made out of plastic is a bad sign. A plastic tailpiece is not going to last very long. Plastic pegs are not going to hold pitches very well, meaning that you will need to tune the violin frequently. This kind of violin is never going to sound quite right.
  • A composite wood violin body: The body and parts of the violin are under a lot of pressure, even when the violin is not being played. A violin made of wood composite is not going to last very long. Go for a model that is made out of solid wood.
  • Deals that look too good to be true: Deals that look too good to be true normally are. You are not going to find a genuine Rosewood violin for under a few hundred dollars. So, if you are looking at one being advertised for $60, you need to be suspicious.
  • The fingerboard should preferably be ebony: Be weary of cheaper fingerboards that have been painted black to resemble ebony. So, if the fingerboard is painted, steer clear.

The Difference Between Student, Intermediate, and Professional Violin Brands

Student brands are entry-level brands. They are not bad quality and are great for learning on, but it is kind of like the difference between student grade and artist grade paints – you are not going to get the same results or longevity from the student grade option.

However, price-wise, the student grade is the least expensive option. If you have a kid that always changes their mind about their hobbies, this is probably the safest bet.

ADM Violin 4/4 Full Size Solid Wood Polishing Varnish Finish Acoustic...

An intermediate brand is better crafted than the student brand and will last longer. It produces a good sound and is a good investment if you know that you are going to stick to it.

A professional violin is the most expensive because of the materials used. It could last for a few hundred years and, if you are taking your playing seriously, could be a good investment.

Features of Better Instruments

Look for instruments that are solidly constructed. The most important features to look for are the bridge and the materials used.

  • Check the shape of the bridge: The bridge should be nicely shaped to compliment the shape of the violin. You shouldn’t need to “customize” it so steer clear of offerings that insist that you do. A curved bridge makes it easier to play individual notes. The bridge should fit flush against the body of the violin without any gaps
  • Avoid plastic parts: The better violins are constructed completely out of wood.
  • Nylon bow hairs are fine: Some companies stress how important it is to get bow hair that is made out of real horse hair instead of nylon. This is not essential, however.

Are There Good Violin Brands That are Cheap?

Yes, there are.

Not all brands are as well established, and that means that they need to charge less for their services. Cheap does not always mean badly made.

And, now that you know what kind of violin brands to avoid and what to look for in a good violin, you can find something that fits your needs and your budget.

Inexpensive Violin Brands You Can Be Comfortable With

Sticking with reasonable budget oriented instruments can make the difference between a new violinist enjoying a lifetime of creating music, or being discouraged right from the beginning.

There are certainly a good number of less expensive violins available under established names.

To help you get started, here are a few examples of good beginner violins:

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Amanda has been chief editor for NewViolinist since 2016. Since then, she and her team have helped thousands of musicians learn more about their instruments and achieve their own musical goals.

4 Responses

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    mike simmonds
    | Reply

    Hi, is there much difference between Westbury violin outfit vs stentor ii

    I’m guessing strings on both best to be changed to dominant ?

    2nd hand one selling for £150 with Wolf Forte Shoulder Rest. Also stand.
    All Includes Violin, Bow and locking case with strap. Does this sound like a good deal?

    I played for 7 years over 25 yrs ago looking to pick it back up again.


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      New Violinist
      | Reply

      Hi Mike,
      I’m so glad you’ve decided to pick up the instrument again. I’m not completely familiar with Westbury, but the outfits I’ve seen originally came with a two year warranty, which is a very good indicator of overall quality so you should have no problem provided the instrument was properly cared for.
      As for strings, feel free to use whatever brand and tension you’re comfortable with – as long as the scale length is correct!

      • blank
        | Reply

        My daughter had a Mendini violin that wouldn’t tune! She didn’t use it because it sounded AWFUL. She wants to learn how to play on something that she can use for a long time. I was wondering if anyone has any recommendations for a nice instrument that will last?

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          New Violinist
          | Reply

          Hi Martha, with many musical instruments, it can be necessary to have it looked at by a technician who specializes in setups. These experts can be found at your local music stores, and can usually get even the most modest instrument playing much better for a nominal fee.

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