How to Choose Your First Quality Violin: A Guide for Students and Parents

When embarking on the journey of musical development, one of the most pivotal decisions for a student or parent is the selection of the right violin.

Upgrading from a beginner's factory instrument to a quality violin can significantly impact the player's progress and enjoyment. This guide aims to illuminate the critical aspects to consider during this transition. The heart of a good violin lies in its setup - the precise arrangement of the bridge, pegs, soundpost, and fittings. While budget constraints might mean not all elements are fully handmade, the key is to find an instrument that facilitates growth as a musician. Let's explore how to navigate this important choice, balancing quality, cost, and future potential.

Understanding Violin Setup: Key to Quality

The setup of a violin is a fundamental factor that often distinguishes a quality instrument from a mediocre one. This setup includes the bridge, pegs, soundpost, and fittings - each playing a vital role in the violin's sound and playability. A well-crafted bridge, properly fitted soundpost, and smoothly functioning pegs can transform an average violin into a superior instrument.

For students progressing in their musical journey, a violin with an excellent setup enables a more accurate and expressive performance. It facilitates ease of playing, allowing the musician to focus more on technique and musicality rather than struggling with the instrument's limitations. This is crucial for developing players, as it supports continuous improvement and keeps motivation high.

While budget is an important consideration, it's essential to understand that not all components of a violin need to be handmade to achieve a quality setup. There are well-constructed violins available that balance cost and craftsmanship. The objective is to invest in a violin that not only fits within your budget but also provides the best possible setup for the price. This ensures that the violin serves as a tool for development, rather than a hindrance, paving the way for the student's growth as a violinist.

Choosing the Right Type of Instrument

When selecting a violin, understanding the different types of instruments available is crucial. Primarily, violins are categorized based on their manufacturing process and historical context.

student violin
Photo of a Stentor Student Standard Violin Outfit

Factory-Made Violins: These instruments are typically priced below £5,000 and are mass-produced with the goal of creating affordable options. While they serve as an excellent starting point for beginners, they often have a limited resale value. This is because potential buyers usually prefer purchasing new instruments at this price range, given the variability in quality.

trade violin
A typical 19th Century German Violin from Mittenwald

Trade Violins: A step up from factory models are trade violins, which include 18th, 19th, and 20th-century instruments originating from Germany, France, Bohemia, and other regions. Priced usually under £10,000, these violins often retain some value, especially if well-maintained. They can offer excellent sound quality, making them a desirable choice for advancing students. However, it's important to consider their condition. Some trade violins might require costly repairs or ongoing maintenance due to historical wear and tear, such as cracks or other damages.

The choice between a factory-made and a trade violin largely depends on the student’s level, budget, and long-term goals. While factory-made violins offer a more accessible entry point, trade violins provide a richer history and potentially better sound quality, albeit with possible additional maintenance considerations.

Contemporary Handmade Violins: A Worthwhile Investment

contemporary violin
A contemporary violin by Sing Him Wong, available at MyLuthier

For those considering an investment in the sub £15,000 range, contemporary handmade violins present a compelling option. These instruments, crafted by skilled luthiers, often represent the pinnacle of modern violin making. Unlike mass-produced factory violins, each handmade violin is a unique creation with its own character and sound.

One of the significant advantages of choosing a contemporary handmade violin is the assurance of quality and condition. These violins are free from the historical wear and damages that older instruments might carry. Furthermore, younger, less established makers often offer these high-quality instruments at more accessible prices, providing excellent value for money.

Selecting a contemporary handmade violin not only means acquiring a top-tier instrument but also supporting the tradition and art of violin making. These violins can be a joy to play and a sound investment, especially for students poised to take their musical journey to the next level.

MyLuthier's Selection and Trade-in Guarantee

At MyLuthier, we understand the complexities involved in selecting the right violin for students and parents. That's why we have curated a selection of contemporary instruments, each chosen by professional musicians for their superior playability and sound quality. Our range is designed to accommodate various budgets and skill levels, ensuring that every musician finds an instrument that aligns with their artistic vision.

One of the key services we offer is the trade-in guarantee. Acknowledging the dynamic nature of a musician's growth, this program provides the flexibility to upgrade instruments as one's skills and needs evolve. This guarantee protects the initial investment, allowing it to be applied towards a more advanced instrument in the future. Such a policy not only offers reassurance but also fosters continuous musical development and progression.

Our commitment at MyLuthier is to ensure quality and satisfaction, making us an ideal partner for anyone seeking a violin that not only enhances their musical experience but also secures their investment for years to come.

Conclusion

In conclusion, choosing the right violin is a crucial step in a musician's journey. Whether it's a factory-made violin, a trade violin with historical charm, or a contemporary handmade masterpiece, the key lies in finding an instrument that supports and enhances the player's development. At MyLuthier, we are dedicated to guiding musicians through this important decision with our carefully selected range and reassuring trade-in guarantee. Remember, the right violin not only resonates with your current skill level but also promises a bright future in your musical pursuits.

Guarneri Model Violin by Colin Cross, 2022

Guarneri "Del Gesu"
Guarneri Model Violin by Colin Cross, 2022
£ 14,000 GBP

Colin Cross created a Guarneri model violin that stands out for its exceptional beauty and tonal quality. The violin showcases a stunning appearance, with its rich and elegant finish that highlights the intricate details of the woodwork. More importantly, it produces a warm and rich sound that leans towards the darker side, making it perfect for expressive music. This violin by Colin Cross boasts excellent projection, clear intonation, and excellent resonance that brings out the best of every note played. It's an instrument that produces a well-rounded and balanced sound, with a pleasing complexity that draws in listeners. Musicians who play this violin will enjoy its depth and complexity, making it an excellent choice for solo performances. Additionally, the competitive price point makes it an attractive option for musicians who want a high-quality violin without the high cost.

About

Colin Cross

Guarneri Model Violin by Colin Cross, 2022

Colin's reputation as a restorer of considerable skill has been well earned. Professional players, violin dealerships across the country, and other players, often bring specific projects hundreds of miles for his specialist restoration.

Violin by Philippe Briand, Canterbury 2020

Violin by Philippe Briand, Canterbury 2020
£ 13,000 GBP

A beautiful instrument by Philippe Briand, who is based in Canterbury, Kent. Philippe specialises mostly in restoration and he is very well known for his beautiful varnish. The violin is very even and is a delight to play. The bow seamlessly travels from one string to another and the sound is very smooth throughout. It has good projection and the sound carries nicely in larger spaces. It would be very well suited to orchestral or chamber music playing.

About

Philippe Briand

Violin by Philippe Briand, Canterbury 2020

Philippe is a French violin maker and graduated with merit from the Newark School of Violin Making, where he trained from 2001 to 2005 under teachers Patrick Jowett, Kerry Boylan, Robert Cain, Paul Harrild and Paul Gossling amongst others.

From 2005 to 2007, he made new double basses for Thomas Martin in Banbury, Oxfordshire, which were commissioned by music students and professionals around the world. During this time, he also studied old Italian and English double basses.

From 2007 to 2013, he specialised in restoration and instrument set up at the workshop of Bridgewood and Neitzert in Stoke Newington, London where he was a senior restorer.

From 2013, he opened his workshop in the city of Canterbury where he offers restoration and repair services, along with a freelance association (since 2015) with the J&A Beares firm in London for whom he has been doing repairs and set ups.

About the Author

MyLuthier was started by two friends while they were studying at the Royal Academy of Music in London. The idea was to provide musicians with exceptional instruments at a price they can afford. We travelled Europe in search for the best contemporary makers and we’re proud of our selection and the partnerships we’ve developed.

Author
MyLuthier
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