Are you ready to purchase your first violin? Or, perhaps even more exciting, upgrade a beginner violin to one that meets your more advanced abilities? If so, there are a few things you should know before you start your search.
If you're interested in what to look for regarding a violin's characteristics, check out our post titled, Everything You Need to Know About Buying a Violin.
Check These 5 Boxes Before Leaving with a New Violin
This time, we'll focus more on the important logistics - and what to verify before finalizing the purchase - so you know you've selected the right instrument for you, at the right price and with the right protection in place.
1. Buy from a reputable, authorized music store, instrument dealer or luthier
Even though you can find great, online deals, the internet isn't the best place to purchase a violin unless you're buying a new instrument, from a reputable online source - with a reasonable return policy. For example, here at Connolly Music, we sell high-quality Revelle violins, all with a 2-year warranty.
Experienced musicians know it's essential to play your violin with an experienced luthier or music store professional on-hand to answer any questions or concerns that arise before making a final choice.
If you feel you've come across a great second-hand violin for sale, take smart precautions. Contact a local luthier and see if you can pay him/her a flat fee in exchange for meeting you at the seller's to verify the instrument’s condition and relative value. Or, another option would be to have the seller meet you at a music store you trust and pay the store to perform a structural inspection and price verification.
Even so - with the second-hand option, you forgo two very important benefits of purchasing a violin from a legitimate dealer: a warranty and a money-back guarantee if you're not satisfied, so, keep that in mind. Most music stores sell good-quality, second-hand instruments for a competitive price, and they provide these important post-sale benefits.
2. Always play the violin (and bows) ahead of time
Each violin has its own, unique sound and "personality." Even violins made by some of the world's greatest violin makers of all time (Stradivari, Amati and Guarneri) sound different from one another. Similarly, an instrument that sounds and feels best to you may not sound and feel best to the person selling it or another buyer. Choosing a violin is a very personal choice, so it's important you have ample time to experiment with it ahead of time to get an accurate feel for it.
Don't listen to anyone else's opinion but your own during this process. Again, it's a personal choice, and you'll get the most out of your new violin if you feel a bond or connection with the way it feels and sounds to your body and ears.
3. Verify the return policy
In a perfect world, you'd try out several violins, settle on the one that best suits your size, ability, and preference, and that would be that. Once in a while, though, that's not the case. Also, in the case of online violin purchases, you need some time with the prospective instrument(s) to find "the one."
For this reason, most well-known violin sellers offer some version of a return policy. Policy terms may vary, but ideally you should be able to return the violin (in the same condition as it was when you purchased it) anytime between 14- and 30-days from the original purchase date, for a full refund.
4. The violin should always have some type of warranty in place
A new violin should come with a warranty of some type. One year would be a minimum and the ideal would be a 2-year warranty or longer. These warranties do not cover damage incurred after the purchase (that's where instrument insurance comes in and we'll speak to that next).
A violin warranty covers any workmanship and materials that emerge over time. These warranties typically extend to the original owner only and do not transfer to a new owner should you sell the instrument second-hand down the road. Again, second-hand instruments may not have warranties available unless they’re sold by a dealer who offers a limited version based on their certification of the instrument's condition.
5. Purchase instrument insurance ASAP
If your instrument and equipment cost $1000 or more, instrument insurance is a wise choice. You'll pay only 10% or so of your instrument's value per year, which is a small price to pay knowing it will be replaced if the instrument and/or its case and accessories are lost, damaged or stolen.
When you know what to look for in a violin, and you apply these tips throughout the selection process, you can confidently shop for your instrument. Once you bring the new violin home, you'll rest easy knowing the transaction is backed with return, warranty, and insurance policies designed to protect you "just in case." Now it's time to get shopping!