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For The Beginning Violinist, Should I Buy A Bargain Violin Or Something Higher Quality?

If you’ve recently decided to learn how to play the violin you’re in great company. Some of the most talented, intelligent people throughout history could play the violin; for example, Albert Einstein, Patrick Henry, and Thomas Jefferson all played. Even Meryl Streep and Reba McEntire know the role of violinist, and Larry Fine (of Three Stooges fame) was quite proficient as a teen, asked to embrace it professionally, and later taught music.

However, the question many beginners ask is whether or not they should start learning on a bargain priced violin or purchase an instrument that offers superior quality. The reasoning is that since you’re just starting out, how important could it be to spend a huge amount of money on a violin that you may decide isn’t for you after the first year of instruction?

And although it seems logical, that rationale doesn’t apply when you’re looking to purchase a violin.

The Right Equipment Makes All the Difference

The most important aspect when learning any new skill is to equip yourself with the best tools available. You wouldn’t want to learn wood carving with dull, inferior chisels that might break on first use, or attempt rock climbing using cheap rope, shoes, and equipment, right? Indeed, it could prove disastrous. Starting out with quality gear makes learning any new skill easier, safer, and more enjoyable. And, it’s true for the beginning violinist as well.

Beginner musicians have many things to learn. Musical notation, rhythm, and the proper playing positions are all necessary to know. But with the violin, you have to learn all of those things plus develop an ear for the correct pitch and tone.

For example, when a person learns to play the piano, every key is tuned to produce a specific sound. Each time that particular key is struck the same sound is produced (generally speaking). However, learning to play the violin (or any other stringed instrument) requires you to be able to differentiate between pitch and adjust the tuning pegs to produce the correct sounds.

Buying a bargain violin may seem attractive at first, but there is no doubt that it will make learning very difficult. On the other hand, if you spend a little time searching out the best quality violin you can afford, your progress will be much faster, and your practice will be much more enjoyable because you’ll be able to produce great sounds right away.

Debunking the Myth of Affordable Quality

Another reason that beginners shouldn’t resign themselves to an inferior violin concerns recent changes in the industry. In previous years, violin choices were limited to expensive, hand-crafted instruments or very poor assembly line versions that featured low quality woods and severe performance limitations.

However, there have been recent strides to overcome those challenges. When undertaken properly, a manufactured violin can offer many of the quality advantages that their more expensive, hand-crafted brothers are known for, without the staggering price.

A controlled environment, precision testing for maximum resonance and superior tonewoods combine to make a great violin. And, when the ‘fitting up’ process is completed by a reputable luthier the finished product is a violin that offers lasting quality and sounds great.

These new brands merge 21st century manufacturing with artisan attention to detail in the final process creating an instrument that any student violinist is sure to enjoy.

The Beginner Violin Checklist

Because beginners don't always know exactly what to look for when buying or renting their first violin, this checklist can help you identify the key factors that will impact your learning process.

  • Consider how tightly the sides are attached to the top and back of the violin. Any cracks or spaces will make it extremely difficult to distinguish between pitch, and the violin will not sound good.
  • Steer clear of instruments that are under $300. You can find bargain priced violins for less than that amount, but generally, these instruments contain inferior tonewoods, and other materials that negatively effect the sound quality. Plus, they are very, very difficult to play, which makes the learning process a burden, rather than a joy.
  • Look for a wood chin rest, tailpiece, and fingerboard. These areas are typically downgraded on an in-expensive violin, but can make all the difference in the resonate qualities of the instrument 

And remember, renting an instrument at first might be the best option. Ask your trusted dealer about rental terms, perhaps he or she offers a short-term lease agreement that will give you an opportunity to try out a particular brand or instrument.

For beginners, choosing a high quality violin will always be the best choice. A quality product that is delivered ready-to-play will help you get started off on the right foot and ensure that a lifelong love of playing will blossom in every budding violinist.

Violin being played