Purchasing A Violin? Myths & Warning Signs
When you are trying to choose a violin it can be confusing, especially when purchasing online.
There are so many questions to be answered such as, what qualities should you look for, what factors make a violin good quality, how much should you spend, what’s a good price for the type of violin you wish to purchase and are there any warning signs you should be aware of.
Many of these questions outlined are very common questions people have when shopping for the right violin.
Before you go shopping, its essential that you are aware of violin myths and misconceptions. It’s very important to research this information so you won’t be misguided.
Where To Start
1. Before you start shopping it’s a good idea to know your price expectation and price limit, this will be a good starting point and will help you evaluate which violins are appropriate or not.
2. Once you have decided on a price, you should then narrow your search options based on what tone and feel you want. If you know what tone and feel you require it will help provide a good instrument/player match.
3. While you’re shopping around for the perfect violin, you should be aware of warning signs that indicate a low quality violin, this will help you avoid purchasing a problematic violin.
Common Violin Myths
1. The more expensive the Violin the better quality it is
This isn’t always the case and, as with art, violins are subjective. The tone and feel of a violin is very important and what is ‘better’ for one person may not be the case for another. So to sum it up, it’s really down to the players preference, and within any price range, ‘better’ is simply in the eye of the beholder.
2. Just because your violin is old doesn’t mean it must be really expensive
Ok, the majority of old violins are expensive, however that doesn’t mean all old instruments are expensive and new instruments are cheap. There is such a vast difference in price when it comes to violins, the price scale differs greatly. Besides price, there are many other factors which determine a violin’s value, such as how the instrument looks and sounds.
3. If I’m left handed, I presume I should purchase a left handed Violin
No, just because you’re left handed doesn’t mean you need to play with a left handed violin.
Surprisingly, left handed players perform better using a right handed instrument! Players who are left handed and play a right handed violin actually have an advantage, this is because when playing a violin more skill is required by the left hand.
4. People assume that if there are no strings or bridge on their violin, the violin must be low quality
This isn’t always the case. In some instances, strings have broken and bridges have fallen off. This happens a lot when the violin hasn’t been played for a long period of time and is in a changeable climate. The majority of strings and bridges can be fixed and are relatively cheap to do so, so it shouldn’t be a reason not buy a violin.
5. As violins come in different sizes, people aren’t sure which size is the correct one for them
Most people play with a full size (4/4) violin. Violins also come in sizes 4/4, ¾, ½, ¼, ⅛.
Any violins which are smaller then full size are generally used by children who can’t yet reach down the fingerboard.
Violin Price Variations
As discussed above, just because a violin is expensive doesn’t mean it’s ‘better’.
Once you know your price expectation, you can try to find a violin within your budget. You may try a €700 violin and a €1,000 violin and prefer the €700 version, it’s all about players preference.
The below price ranges will help you evaluate adequate pricing, and how much you should expect to spend.
1. Violins under €600 – For beginners
Beginner violins are for people who would like to learn how to play the violin, but aren’t entirely sure if they will keep it up long term.
In most cases, beginner violins aren’t handmade & are constructed with lower-quality wood.
In this price range, the bow is usually made from fibreglass and the violin may have plastic fittings, such as the tuning pegs and chin rests.
We recommend people spend no less then €160 when purchasing an adult beginner violin, we advise this as cheaper violins are likely to cause problems and won’t have a long life span.
2. Violins between €500 to €2,000 – For an Intermediate Player
Intermediate violins are suitable for people who are between student and advanced level.
When purchasing an intermediate violin you will notice that there will be more variations in comparison to the beginner fiddles. Also sometimes, a bow is included or will have to be purchased separately.
Instruments in this category may be older so should be checked for cracks and damage.
3. €2,000 to €10,000 – For Advanced/Professional
Advanced violins are suitable for professional players or aspiring musicians.
In this category violins differ significantly. Most violins will be older, however some may be new or newer contemporary instruments.
There are a large variety of bows, these bows will differ in weight and weight distribution. It’s best to try a few and then to decide which one meets your needs.
4. €50,000 & above – For Professional players
Professional violins are premium older violins which were constructed by well-known makers or luthiers as they are often known. When spending this amount of money, it’s always best to purchase from a reputable trader. These violins should come with a title and the price should be based on a current appraisal by a string appraiser.
When Purchasing A Violin Tone & Feel Are Essential
When you know into which category and price range you fall you should then start gathering information and make your decision based on your preference of tone and feel.
The feel of the violin
Violins are crafted to a specific size and every part of a violin is sized precisely. There is huge amount of very careful precision involved when crafting a violin. Small differences between instruments exist, for example, the violin neck can vary in terms of the thickness or depth. The chin rest can be shaped differently, it may be longer, positioned higher or a different shape to other similar violins. As players fingers, hands, arms, necks and shoulders are different, finding a good match is like putting a puzzle together.
As the wood used to make violins vary, it means every violin will sound sightly different.
For example, some violins may sound bright, while others have a darker sound and some are naturally louder then others. Sound across the 4 strings will also slightly vary.
It may take some time to get used of a violin and to see if it’s the right fit for you. Thats why at McNeela Music we give customers a 14 day return policy, this lets the player trial the violin accordingly and decide if the violin is the right fit for them.
Some Warning Signs To Consider When Purchasing Your Violin
It’s good to give every violin a proper inspection, here in McNeela Music we ensure that only the best quality violins are sold. Below are some signs you should look out for.
Cracks on a violin can be a bad sign. Cracks along the seams are not uncommon and can be repaired without having any major long term damage, however if cracks appear on the body, this is a big red flag as they may represent more problems and the majority of cracks are expensive to fix and may affect the sound.
Every violin has a slight curve to it, however if a fingerboard is too curved, or is curved to the side this may cause problems and the violin will not play correctly. Uneven fingerboards are very common in cheaper instruments and can result in the fingerboard becoming so curved that the strings are not evenly distributed across it.
The F hole should contain a small wooden post around the bridge called the sound post, this helps create the sound. When purchasing a violin you should always look in the F hole to ensure the sound post is present, if it’s not present it may have fallen out or is positioned in the wrong place and will need to be fixed.
The bridge of a violin is the small piece of wood which is positioned between the fingerboard and tailpiece which holds up the strings. Its common that violin bridges need to be replaced every so often as they can become warped and bent. Every violin bridge must be cut to the specific instrument size/shape. Its common for the bridge to become warped on cheaper instruments and occasionally instruments may be fitted with a bridge which is not suitable for them, this can result in playing becoming different.
When purchasing your violin you should ask the seller if the violin had any previous damage or work done. The seller should be able to explain what faults were present and who fixed them.
To sum up, its very important to take all information into account. Finding a violin can be challenging however once you are aware of the red flags its easier to determine high quality violins & choose the right one.