How to buy a cheap violin


ViolinThe vast majority of the phone calls that I (and many violin makers, I suspect) get on a daily basis are parents looking to buy a cheap violin for a child that wants to start taking lessons. Here is some advice that I normally give them.


  • Violins come in different sizes. Adults play a ‘full-size’ or ‘4/4’ violin. Then you get 7/8, 3/4, 1/2, 1/4, etc up to 1/64. You will need to get the right size violin for your child. That is the only way he/she is going to learn proper technique. To determine what size violin you need is quite easy and involves a simple measurement as described here: What size violin?
  • Stay away from the real cheap violins. They are not really violins – we refer to them as ‘violin-shaped objects’. You will need to spend more money to get them playable and will lose in the long term.
  • Stay away from really expensive, antique violins. Your child is a beginner and is going to sound like a beginner on any violin. Would you teach him to drive in a Porche? Old violins are also delicate and can be damaged by an energetic 8-year old.
  • Consider renting an instrument. Although you might be convinced that little Tommy is the next Jascha Heifetz, he might think of himself more as the next Leonardo DiCaprio. If he throws in the towel after a week, you are not stuck with an expensive toy. Since your child will be growing, you will need to get a bigger violin in any case after a year or so. 
  • Be prepared to spend a little more money. Most inexpensive violins are not properly set up. Spending a little more to get a decent set of strings and setup will improve the sound and playability significantly.

If you are in any doubt, speak to your teacher or local violin repair person.

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