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Invest in the Best Violin

There comes a point when budding violinists know they want to stick with this instrument for a long time, and are ready to find a violin they can call their own. Purchasing a violin can be a good investment, for although violins are some of the more expensive musical instruments, they don’t lose their value over time when treated with care. If the violin sounds good and is easy to play, owning a violin rather than renting one can be an inspiration for a young musician, encouraging them to spend more time playing the instrument. Finding such a violin can be a challenge, however, as every instrument is unique.

There is no substitute for playing several violins to find the one that is right for you. If you don’t have a good violin shop in your area, some shops are willing to ship several violins to you, allowing you to try them out and keep the one you like best. A good student violin will have a pleasant sound, consistent tone quality through the entire range of notes, responsive dynamic range, and will feel easy to play. Good craftsmanship is essential - look for a solid spruce top, aged maple back and sides, ebony pegs which don’t stick or come loose, and fine tuners on an ebony tailpiece.

The list below includes the best violins in 2021 from trusted shops which consistently receive good reviews from teachers, parents and students. They are all available as sets complete with a case and a bow for between $400 and $600. NOTE: If you order any violin from a manufacturer’s website or other online source rather than from a violin shop, take it to a professional local violin shop for setup and adjustment to ensure good tone and playability.

What are the best violins of 2021?

best violins

Marco Polo Violin - Best Violin Overall

In order to provide quality that is a step above mass-produced instruments, many violin shops offer their own "house brand," made overseas to their specifications, then imported and finished or setup in-house. The Marco Polo violins by Metzler Violin Shop are an excellent example of this. These instruments have a rich, warm tone, excellent dynamic response, and good projection, making them a great choice for orchestral playing and solo performance. They are made from aged maple and spruce, with ebony pegs, fingerboard and details. These instruments will suit developing musicians through many stages of their musical growth. Each violin outfit includes a shaped case, wood or composite bow, rosin, and a polishing cloth.

best  Franz Hoffman Maestro Violin

Franz Hoffman Maestro Violin - Runner Up

These violins present an excellent value as a first instrument. Their consistent quality has earned them the recommendation of numerous teachers and students. They have clear, even tones and good projection, making them a good choice for beginner through intermediate-level violinists. Each outfit includes a case, a bow, strings and rosin.

Eastman VL100 Violin Outfit - Honorable Mention

Eastman Violins has been a strong presence in the student violin market for many years, building a reputation for consistent quality. Their VL100 model has been praised by reviewers for its excellent value, with a quality of craftsmanship exceeding many pricier options. It's tone is clear and resonant, so it's no surprise that it's a popular choice among students around the world. Each outfit includes a shaped case and a wooden bow.

Scott Cao 850 Violin - Consider

The Scott Cao 850 Violin earns top spot on this list because it’s very high quality instrument at an affordable price. With a rich, opulent tone on the lower strings, and a surprising brilliance on the higher strings, it is a very consistent model suitable for everyone from an advancing beginner with a larger budget to an intermediate/advanced student. Though you may want to replace the Thomastik Dominant strings with higher-quality dominants, the fittings are all of high quality. The Guarneri chinrest and Aubert bridge are a good match for this instrument, as they're affordably replaced, quality fittings.

best Rudoulf Doetsch 701

Rudoulf Doetsch 701 - Best Violin Overall

My personal violin, the Doetsch is based on a Guarneri del Gesù who some argue to be one of the greatest violin makers in the world and his violins truly have a flair of their own. This model is constructed from European tonewoods, select woods which contain specific tonal qualities other woods don't possess. This instrument is remarkably even across all four strings, producing a reliable, similar tone on all strings.

Though the E string doesn't quite match the rich tone and brilliance of the lower strings, this can be minimized by having dominant lower strings and a brighter, gold E string. This minor upgrade is a small price to pay for a high quality, and affordable instrument. Though it comes with basic black fittings, these can be easily upgraded for aesthetic value, if desired.

best Ming Jiang Zhu Violin 907

Ming Jiang Zhu Violin 907 - Best Violin Overall

Ming Zhu's workshop violins feature a high quality build and produce such a beautiful sound, many musicians are duped into paying a much higher price. This particular model defined by its powerful, full tone and constructed from flamed Asian maple and European Spruce. It's an excellent option for both professionals and students who plan on growing with their instrument.

The 907 was selected over the more popular – and pricier - 909 violin because the tone produced by each model is remarkably similar. Additionally,  both come with a Dominant and Lenzer E string, as well as an Aubert Deluxe Bridge. These violins have become are so popular, the manufacturer has begun issuing certification with their violins to prevent fakes from being sold to unsuspecting buyers.

best Karl Willhelm Model 58 Violin

Karl Willhelm Model 58 Violin - Best Violin Overall

Produced under violin and cello maker Bernd Dimbath, Karl Willhelm violins have been touted as extremely playable, featuring a rich tone and expert set up. Dimbath personally oversees production of these violins and has the spruce and maple wood placed in storage for a minimum of ten years before production even begins.

The manufacturer filters through each piece of wood, selecting only choice materials before matching individual pieces of wood based of off desired acoustic properties. This model in particular has a resonant tone, beautiful flamed back, and is quick to respond to the player's bow. This instrument comes equipped with Thomastik Dominant strings, and black fittings.

Wood Violins Viper Electric Violin

Wood Violins Viper Electric Violin - Best Electric Violin

The one thing really making the Viper stand out is its innovative chest support system. You essentially strap the violin to your body, which gives you the freedom to really let loose on stage without worrying about securing the violin with your chin. I know several violinists who swear by this, saying it's surprisingly comfortable, and has opened up many new possibilities in their playing.

The Viper also has very good tone and the sound is bright and expressive. You can choose from fretless/fretted options and four, five, 6 six or even seven strings. The tuners are guitar-style and fairly easy to use. If you're looking for a unique violin that really lets you break out of the traditional mold, this would be an excellent choice.

best MSI Violins Solid Body Electric Violin

MSI Violins Solid Body Electric Violin - Best Electric Violin

MSI Violins are the creation of Dan Maloney who formerly worked at Zeta Music Systems, the undisputed pioneers and leaders of the electric violin wave for many years. These beautiful handcrafted pieces have a height-adjustable bridge/pickup system giving them possibly the warmest tone of any electric violin on the market right now. The instrument I tested had a few notes that seemed a bit "hotter" than others, but a professional adjustment of the bridge might even out the sound.

The MSI also had a narrower neck than most other electric violins which helped it feel more like a traditional instrument. These violins have been described as having a very "acoustic-like" tone, while still providing the feedback-killing advantages of a solid-body electric instrument. Options include 4 or 5 strings, and traditional or mandolin-style tuning pegs.

Yamaha SV-250 Professional Silent 5-String Violin - Best Electric Violin

The Yamaha Silent Violin made this list because of the range of options it provides for a player. While it may not excel at any one thing, it's a solid entry into amplified music and is very versatile. This is the only instrument to offer a 1/8 inch headphone jack as well as a 1/4 inch output. The onboard dual-pickup system allows you to adjust the sound levels, and play using headphones, without the need for an amp. This is great if you need to practice somewhere but having an amp blasting out your sound wouldn't be appropriate or feasible. It's also an extremely handy way to be able to hear yourself when you're on a loud stage - send the 1/4 inch feed to the sound board, and plug a pair of earbuds into the 1/8" jack to create your own in-ear monitors. The pickups are good enough to give you a very nice tone if you're using a high-quality amp or effects pedals. Because this instrument has the outline of a traditional violin, you can use your own shoulder rest, and the mechanics of the violin feel very familiar.

Buyer's Guide

Playing a musical instrument is a great way to express yourself. Music also offers a creative outlet and a form of discipline that is very rewarding. Violins, in particular, make the most enchanting sound when played correctly. However, competent musicianship isn’t the only factor in making a violin sound beautiful. To get the best sound, you will need to choose a violin that fits you well physically. You also need to find an instrument that is well crafted by a company that knows what they are doing.

Check out our buying guide for everything you need to know about choosing your perfect violin.

What is a violin?

A violin is a stringed musical instrument. Predictably, it is part of the violin family, which also includes the viola and cello. Violins are sometimes known as a chordophone or a fiddle. Due to being the smallest instrument in the violin family, it also possesses the highest pitch.

Most violins are made from wood and hollow in the middle. Traditionally violin strings are made from horsehair. More experimental materials have been used throughout history.

Why do you need a violin?

You may be a seasoned violinist whose beloved instrument has seen better days. Perhaps you are looking for a new hobby. You may simply be looking for a gift for a loved one. There are so many reasons to want to buy a violin.

Self-improvement
You want to learn a new skill. You might want to improve yourself in some way that gives you joy. Self-improvement doesn’t need to be academic. It doesn’t need to make you fitter. Beginning something and seeing yourself get better over time does wonder for your self-esteem.

A violin increases dexterity in the fingers, aids concentration, and stimulates the mind. If you are learning in order to perform, it may also increase your confidence.

You are buying for your child
The benefits of a child learning a musical instrument are numerous. Learning a musical instrument teaches patience. No child starts playing an instrument straight away. There is no quick reward. Your child will carry this lesson throughout their life.

Having violin lessons creates responsibility. The child must take the lessons and practice in their own time if they wish to exceed. They will feel more confident with a different outlet to express themselves. Learning about the violin and its history will expose your child to new music and cultures.

You are buying a gift
A violin can be a thoughtful and beautiful gift. If you have a friend or family member who could use a new creative outlet, why not offer them this one?

Playing an instrument reduces stress and creates a sense of pride. And if the person receiving the violin decides they’re not going to run off and join the orchestra any time soon, it still makes a lovely ornament.

You already play the violin
You may have been playing the violin for a while. Most players start with a beginner’s violin and progress to something better in time. If it’s time to upgrade your current violin for a more advanced instrument, you’ll obviously want to take some time to make the right decision.

Things to consider before buying a violin?Whether you are a seasoned player or not, it will be beneficial to search for your new instrument with a plan in mind. Read on for our list of things to consider before you hit those music stores.

Size
There are eight different sizes of the violin. TEach one accommodates the differences of heights and arms-length in an adult. The sizes also vary for growing children. You will probably need to buy more than one violin for your child if they are not fully grown.

The wrong-sized instrument can cause injuries and sprains. Some music shops and luthiers (violin dealers) offer a trade-in policy. If you return an instrument you may get a discount for the next one. Not all music shops or luthiers adopt this policy, so it is best to check before purchasing.

Check for damage
There are several places on a violin that are well known for acquiring damage. Inspect the instrument for cracks. Some shop owners will put varnish over the crack to try and hide it. Cracks can be fixed and still visible but you will need the shop owner to confirm this. You should check the following parts of your violin for damage before making your purchase:

  • Fingerboard

Look down from the scroll over the fingerboard. You want to ensure it is smooth with no lumps or bumps. Turn it to the side. You want the fingerboard to have a slight convex curve. If the fingerboard curves the opposite way, it is either poorly made or warped.

  • Scroll

Make sure the scroll isn’t broken. The scroll is the top part of the violin. If a violin takes a tumble, this is usually the first part that will break. Look between the pegs to inspect for cracks.

  • Tailpiece

Remember to also check underneath the tailpiece for signs of damage. When players remove their strings or change them, the bridge can fall down. This can leave an undesirable mark on the top of the violin.

  • Bridge

Inspect the feet of the bridge. You want the feet to be flat against the wood with full contact. Any space here will make your violin unplayable.
Wood grainA tighter wood grain generally signals a higher quality of wood. This wood comes from an older tree and is much sturdier. This does not necessarily mean better as some bench-made instruments have wider wood grains on purpose. This provides a softer, more open sound. As a rule of thumb, if a violin has been bench made with a wider grain, it will cost upwards of $5000. When buying a cheaper violin, it is better to opt for a tighter grain.

Violins price range

Violin prices can range from $100 to $100,000. For a beginner violin, you will want to spend between $400 and $2000.

Violin FAQ

What are some well-known violin brand names?
Some of the most popular brands include Stentor, Fiddlerman, Kennedy Violins, D Z Strad, Mendini, Cecilio, Franz Hoffmann, and Carlo Lamberti. However, there are many more brands that produce high-quality instruments.

Are violins difficult to learn to play?
Yes - violins (and string instruments in general) are considered difficult to play. They are sensitive and complex instruments that require a lot of lessons and practice to play remotely well.

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