How To Choose A Violin

As a person becomes a more experienced and hopefully better violin player this will become less of a real challenge or question, and the answers will become more instinctive – by this stage budget and availability will be more in the forefront of the player’s mind. For those just beginning or in the early days of playing, or for those who need to chose an appropriate instrument e.g. their child (and have no experience of violins themselves) this page may serve as a good primer.

Violin Dealer

This would be an obvious and very good way to not just choose he right instrument but also to:
• Learn what the criteria are – learn why it’s a good choice. A dealer can explain this as they go through the process with you.
• Have your questions answered by people with knowledge, experience, and a wide and current perspective of what’s available.
• The violin dealer is very likely to be an experienced violin player themselves and can therefore advise and give useful tips from that perspective.
• Begin to build a relationship with a trusted dealer. This could be beneficial e.g. when it comes to trading in the instrument, future advice and help etc.
• Get the violin set up properly for the outset. The instrument you choose may not be the most expensive, or may not be the most decorative but good set up can help all aspects of playing and the player’s confidence in and perception of their own playing.

Other Things to Consider


Violins are made in fraction sizes with 4/4 being the adult size – ¾ , ½, ¼, 1/8, and right down to a very small 1/16 are available. A primary school child for example will start on the lower fractional sizes. This will mean that if the child continues with their playing a larger violin will be needed not too far down the line. As well as being another good reason to buy from a dealer, this introduces a 2 other considerations (see the next 2 points).

New or Previously Owned?

Other considerations will be involved in this choice e.g. the sound, tone and feel – if this is better in a good second-hand instrument then this could actually be a better choice. Whether new or old each instrument will be different. Mass produced new or older violins are a common starting place but again, a good setup and sound are vitally important. Many hand-made violins (old and new) are made from high quality woods, and have had time and experienced focused on them by a Luthier.

Buy or Rent the Violin?

If the player is a smaller child then renting may be a sensible option because the child will need different sized instruments – there is also the thought in many parents’ minds that the child may decide not to continue playing.

More Considerations

Sound and Tone

This has to be a really important consideration. The smaller fractional sized violins won’t have the same range as a good 4/4 sized violin but with the right combination of setup, strings, and a good construction it can provide a good starting point.


Buying the most expensive instrument won’t guarantee that it’s the ‘best’.

Strings & Bows

Many violin players find that synthetic core strings wound with e.g. silver or aluminium achieve the balance between staying in tune well and giving a more mellow (less bright than steel strung) tone.
‘Better’ and more expensive bows tend to be e.g. carbon fibre or wood (Brazilwood), but fibreglass bows work well, are durable and affordable.

There are of course many other considerations. For more information call us on 020 7249 9398.

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