Purchase a violin

Hints how to purchase a violin

Of course it is not necessary to buy a “Stradivari” for a beginner. All you need is a well working and not too bad sounding instrument. But also not less. So hands off, when you are offered a cheap sale and when you are not able to proof the instrument before the purchase.

Instrument sizes

If you want to buy an instrument you should consider the age and the heights of the player. Adults usually use a mutual violin size, the 4/4 (“full size”). Children start with a small violin and get one size for each of their heights; the smallest one is a 1/8 size, the biggest one is a 3/4 size. 3/4 fits also for smaller adults for instance. To find out, which size is the best for the player, you may ask your teacher or your violin maker.

Hint

Your left arm should make an angle of 90°, when you set your fingers on the violin. If it is over 90° you need a smaller instrument; if under 90° you should have a look for a bigger size.

Rent a violin

Children still grow and need, like with their clothes, pretty fast a new instrument size. That’s why it would make more sense to rent a violin. The best way to do that is to rent it from a violin maker. Sometimes also music schools or private persons lend instruments. Another reason not to buy a violin: children often have the idea of learning an instrument and want to switch, when it becomes too difficult or when they discover another instrument or hobby. As long as their wish to learn violin is not really clear, a purchase would be unnecessary. Also for adults it would make more sense in the first step to rent an instrument. On one hand they also need to become absolutely sure to keep violin playing. On the other hand a beginner can not know the differences in quality and can not already know his personal preferences regarding the instruments’ sound. A useful instrument has got his price. To invest that amount of money should be by good reason.

Purchase a violin

You think it is time or the need to purchase a violin, then maybe these hints may help you: If you are offered an instrument for instance in an online shop for 20,00€ – 50,00€, you can assume, that this item is an asian import and in most of the cases not ready to be played. To buy an instrument online is usually no problem. Make sure, that you can order, try out and send back each of the instruments, until you are able to find a useful an well sounding one. A few hundred Euros should be a normal price. A better way to purchase a violin would be to ask a violin maker or a music store, where you directly can try out instruments and where you could have personal advice by the seller. The best way would be, to bring a friend, who is experienced with violins and who could help you to choose your instrument. The same way would work, if you buy a violin from private.

Value

You will buy an instrument from a privat person often means, you will buy an old one. In such a case you should take the instrument to a violin maker. He could tell you the origin and the real value of the instrument. But you should have your eye on the sound. Is a violin expensive, but doesn’t sound well, it would also not make sense to buy it as an antiquity. Surely the value raises, but you will have huge difficulties to resell it. So the sound should be in a good relation to the violin’s price. Better the switched case: to find a violin for a small money, but with a marvelous sound.

Some violins are already antiquities. Therefore is (was?) a tax existing, which lists all instrument types and their current value.

The Stradivari Myth

Nearly everyone, who is playing violin or is interested in these instruments had already holding a “Stradivari” in his hand…

The violin maker Antonius Stradivarius is for sure the best known violin maker because of the many stories going around. He developed a new type of violin in the 18th century, which is still used until today. So he is the founder of the modern violin making. But especially the sound of his violins are still exquisite, unique and a mystery. So one tried over the past centuries to reach these sounds and to solve the riddle and surely some violin makers already came very close to the solution.

A small amount of real instruments of the Stradivarius family is still existing, but because of their sound and age also uniquely expensive. Some of them are up to some million Euros in their value.

After those instruments came to value, copyists used their chance. They built violins in the same style (or sometimes also in different ones) and sticked a note into the instrument’s body which showed the name of Stradivari and a fitting date. They “aged” the instruments that way and asked for a much higher price, then the instrument’s real value. So until today you will often find “Stradivaris” under your attic discoveries.

Electrical violins

Meanwhile the catalogue of electrical instruments is really big. So the choice not even easy. Often the instruments are much heavier, than the acoustic ones. They have many different shapes, some of them useful, some are not. Some instruments are terrible in sound, others are wonderful or need just a few additional things to come to a brilliant tone.

Hint

The best way to find the perfect match for you: Read through violinist’s forums. Normally they discussed already all types of violins and all types of microphones/pick up systems.

Active violins

An “active violin” has already a preamplifier included. So you will get a strong electrical signal from this instrument. Usually batteries are needed – so take care on stage not to run out of power.

Passive violins

As a “passive violin” you call instruments, who have no own preamp. Sometimes you need an additional amplifying system, but normally the signal is strong enough and the additional used effect units contain amplifying parts. They are used without any battery or power supply, so they are easy to be used on stage.

Carbone

Carbone is a nearly new material, used in the flight industry etc.. There are already some really good sounding violins from carbone available. The best about this material: it is very strong, so you can let fall down your instrument and it will resist. Also in every weather. It is the perfect instrument for any open air situation and a good hybrid between an acoustic and an electrical violin. The only hook: it is still a material of high price.

* All mentioned prices are usual for Germany and the date of 2013.